Jesus: Both God and Man?

How could Jesus be both a human being and also God? The answer is surprising, mysterious, and deeply important to understanding the heart of Christianity.

Updated Feb 20, 2024
Jesus: Both God and Man?

Jesus Christ: Fully God and Fully Man

The following is taken from “Fully God and Fully Man” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission):

Before there was a world, before there were planets, before there was light, before there was matter, there was Jesus. Coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus was with God—and He was God. John 1:1–2 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

We cannot pinpoint the moment in time when there was the beginning, because John was going back in time to eternity past. He was going back further than our minds can imagine.

Jesus is God, and He left the safety of heaven. He entered our world and breathed our air and shared our pain and walked in our shoes. He was fully God and fully man. This does not mean that Jesus had the capacity to sin; this could not and would not happen. Yet He was a man. He was in a human body. He felt human emotion. He faced physical limitations. He felt real pain. It was actual blood coursing through His veins. Yet He was diety. He was God in human form.

Jesus did not become identical to us, but He did become identified with us. In fact He could not have identified with us any more closely than He did. As Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

It was total identification without the loss of identity as He became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God. Jesus left heaven, lived our life, and died our death. He has walked in your shoes—and then some.

How is Jesus both God and Man?

Read an edited transcript of Phillip Ryken from the video above:

One of the great mysteries of the universe is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his complete, full, and true humanity, but also his genuine and true deity. And I suppose you would really have to be God to understand how human nature and divine nature are united in the person of Jesus Christ. But it's clear from the Bible that both of those things are true. It's obvious from the accounts in the gospels, that Jesus was a real man. He grew tired. He needed food. He suffered the physical limitations of the body and particularly he offered his body up to death, dying a bloody death on the cross.

It's clear that Jesus was a true human being, but it's also clear from the testimony of the Bible and from what Jesus said about himself, that he is also truly God. That he claimed to be the same Lord God, as the God of the Old Testament. That he demanded and deserved to be worshiped as God and now has been exalted by God, the father, to a place of a rule and dominion over the entire universe. To believe in Jesus really is to believe both in his genuine humanity and his full and complete deity. And really both of those things are necessary for our salvation.

We need a savior who himself has become flesh and blood. The Bible says that in order to save his brothers, Jesus had to be made like us. And yet, in order to offer a perfect atonement for our sins, the infinitely, precious sacrifice, he also offered the very blood of God you might say, a perfect sacrifice based on his deity and both of these things are necessary for our salvation. They're both biblical truths. It's a great mystery, but we should believe what the Bible says about the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ.

What Happens if We Don't Believe Jesus Is Both God and Man?

Although we do wrestle with various heresies today that stem from the ones listed below, the early church had to tackle them head-on. Many theologians struggled with the concept of Jesus being fully God and fully man, so they often would remove one of those parts from the equation (or lessen one of the parts). This led to a number of heresies.

For instance, if someone tried to diminish Jesus’ humanity they might have committed the heresy of Docetism. This heresy believed bodies to be evil and said Jesus “appeared” as a man but was not really a man. We also have other similar heresies such as Apollinarianism (Jesus had a human body, but a divine mind). Although there are others, these plagued the church in the early centuries and received condemnations.

If we remove Jesus’ humanity, we cheapen his sacrifice on the cross. If Jesus does not have a real body, or if Jesus did not experience temptation in a human sense, then why should we care about his death and resurrection? They would be illusory at best and would not fix the problem of sin.

(Reprinted from “What Is the Hypostatic Union?” by Hope Bolinger)

Quotes about Jesus Being Both God and Man

"Is he the human figure who teaches, inspires, and dies for the cause in which he believes? Or the divine figure who performs miracles, fulfils prophecies, rises from the dead, and is God. The orthodox position is that he is the God-man—both human and divine." - Linda Woodhead, Christianity: A Very Short Introduction

"For in saying that the only-begotten Word was united by hypostasis personally we do not mean that there was a mutual confusion of natures, but rather we understand that the Word was united to the flesh, each nature remaining what it was. Therefore there is one Christ, God and man, of the same essence with the Father as touching his Godhead, and of the same essence with us as touching his manhood. Therefore the Church of God equally rejects and anathematizes those who divide or cut apart or who introduce confusion into the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ." - The Anathemas of the 2nd Council of Constantinople

"Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus." - J.I. Packer, Knowing God

"If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema." - The Capitula of the Second Council of Constantinople

"The conception of Jesus in the Virgin Mary was unique in the history of humankind. Not only did the Holy Spirit supernaturally bring about conception within her apart from the involvement of any human father, but even more remarkable was the uniting of the divine and human natures in Jesus, such that this one would be born the son of Mary (Luke 1:31) and the son of “his father David” (Luke 1:32) while also being “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32), “the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). That is, he would be fully human (son of Mary) while also being fully divine (Son of the Most High). The miracle the Holy Spirit brought to pass, then, was to conceive in Mary none other than the God-man, the theanthropic person, Jesus Christ, son of David and Son of God." - Bruce Ware, "The Strange Math of Jesus"

Further Reading:

7 Proofs that Jesus is the Son of God

Is the Heresy of Adoptionism Still Plaguing the Church?

Photo credit: Ruskpp

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