Christology - C R Lord © 12/8/1980The Term Defined
Christology - C R Lord © 12/8/1980
PLEASE NOTE: All scripture contained in this website comes from the King James Version of the Holy Scripture unless otherwise noted.
Christology is a theological presentation of the powerful person and work of Jesus Christ through the minds and hearts of finite man.
1. Scholarly theologians are often quick to admit their human limitations as they struggle to express the ineffable glory of the person of Jesus Christ and the extent of his redemption to lost man.
2. Christ is the Greek Christos or Kristos - ology is logos and combined they form the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
1. The work of Christ in restoring lost men to God including inception, provision, application and consummation.
C. The Pre-incarnate Christ
1. Christ in eternity past
a. The most crucial question in the person and work of Christ is of his existence from eternity past as the second person of the Trinity or Godhead. (The word Trinity is not found in scripture but it is inferred. The word Godhead is found three times in the New Testament).
b. In John 8:58 Christ claimed his deity asserting himself to be God. The literal translation of this verse would be, Before Abraham came to be, I am.
c. The Arian heresy was defeated in Nicea in AD 325. The Arian teaching came from Arius, a presbyter in Alexandria. He taught that Christ was a mere demi-god in which Christ was not quite God and not quite man. The Council of Nicea decided against him and he was banished by Emporer Constantine. So the Jews and the Arians doubted and challenged Christ's deity.
d. The doctrine of Christ's eternity is considered to be the most important doctrine in Christology.
e. Christ, being eternal, is not dependent upon anyone for his existence outside of himself.
f. Micah 5:2 - Everlasting conveys the strongest assertion of infinite duration which the Hebrew language can express. also Isaiah 9:6
g. In John 1:1 "In the beginning" seems to refer to a point in eternity past beyond which it is impossible for us to go. "Was" implies continual existence. "The logos" did not then begin to be, but at that point where all else began to be, he already was." Marcus Dods
h. If Christ was before all creation, it is obvious that he wasn't created. Colossians 1:17
i. Preexistence or preincarnate existence are terms used by various teachers for Christ's eternity.
1) The doctrine of preexistence is stated: "There never was a time when Christ the eternal son was not. The incarnation was the beginning of the theanthropic (literally God/Man) being historically, but there was no beginning of God the son in his preincarnate state as one of the three who are one eternal spirit. The human nature then did have a beginning (Hebrews 10:5) but not the divine nature (John 3:17 and 31 and John 6:38.
j. The fullness of the 'Godhead'
1) "dwells" means permanently dwells or in Christ is all that is deity. AS Peake says; "It is vain to seek it wholly or partially outside of him." (referring to Christ)
2) Kenosis means self-humiliation as described in Philippians 2:7 - The word Kenosis is derived from the Greek verb ekenosen, and is translated "made himself of no reputation" or emptied himself. Theological differences center around the question, "Of what did Christ divest himself?" Conservative thelogians interpret the Kenosis as an addition of humanity and not a subtraction of deity.
k. Nine Evidences of Christ's Deity
1) He possesses attributes of deity
a) eternity - Isaiah 9:6
b) self-existence - John 1:1 -3 and Colossians 1:16-17
c) Omnipresence - Matthew 28:20, John 14:18, John 14:20 and John 14:23
d) Omnipotence - Matthew 28:18
e) Sovereignty - 1 Timothy 6:15
2) He holds the offices and prerogitives of deity.
a) Scripture presents Christ as creator, an office reserved for deity. John 1:3 and 10, 1 Corinthians 8:6 Colossians 1: 16-17 and Hebrews 1:3 and 10.
b) The incarnate Christ acted to forgive sins in the role of divine judge. Luke 7:37-48, Matthew 9:2 and John 5:22
c) The power to restore life is in Christ. John 5:21 and John 11:25
d) Christ is the only way to Heaven and he is to be the object of our faith and worship. John 3:36, John 14:6 and Acts 4:12
3) The Bible identifies Jesus with deity
a) Zecheriah 12:1-10 compared with Revelation 1:7
b) Genesis 1 (the creation story) compared with Colossians 1:16-17
c) Isaiah 6:1 compared with John 12:41
d) Isaiah 40:3 compared with Matthew 3:3
e) Psalms 110:1 compared with Matthew 22:42-46
f) Isaiah 61:1-2 compared with Luke 4:18-19
4) He is given divine names
a) Son of God (the) - an eternal relationship with the Father
b) The Word (logos) of God - He is the living word as opposed to the written word.
5) Jesus is related equally with other persons in the Godhead
a) Scripture pictures
(1) The Father and Son are to be linked together with one another in common purpose, projects and relatioinship which only deity could claim. Ephesians 5:5 and John 14:1 and Matthew 11:27 Divine mutual omniscience (possessing all knowledge)
(2) Relationships of Trinity/Godhead require that Christ be identical in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit
((1)) Classical Trinitarian formulas are the Apostolic Benediction - I Corinthians 13:14, The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19 and the Apostolic Salutation - Romans 1:7, I Corinthians 1:2 and Galatians 1:3
b) Problems in accepting the Trinity
((1)) The incarnate state of Christ
((2)) The Old Testament doesn't define the relatiionship of trinity in deity
((3)) Some cannot accept Jesus as equal with God
6) Divine worship is rendered to and accepted by him
a) Jesus taught men to honor the Son - John 5:23
b) All angels should worship him - Hebrews 1:6
c) Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father - Philippians 2:10
d) We are not to worship man - Acts 10:26
e) We are not to worship angels - Revelation 22:8-9
f) Pliny Ad 62 to 113 reported to Emporer Traejin, "They sing hymns in social worship to Christ as God."
7) Christ consciously claimed to be deity
a) Christ's first recorded words in scripture pointedly establish his deity - Luke 2:49
b) Christ refers to God as "My Father" 16 times in Matthew, 3 times in Luke and 32 times in John
c) The culminating point of our Lord's disclosure is related in Matthew 11:27
d) His teaching and thought revealed an awareness of his equality with the Father - John 10:30 and John 14:9
(1) The I Ams of Christ put his awareness of his uniqueness up front for the world to see
8) The Apostles confirmed Christ's deity
a) John's gospel clearly establishes Christ's deity from the very beginning
b) Christ's works (John 5:36), the Father's testimony (John 5:38) and scripture evidence John 5:39
c) Peter's testimony - Matthew 16:16 and Acts 2:36
d) Paul's testimony - Acts 9:20, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 5:19 and Philippians 2:5-8
9) Christ's life validates his deity
a) His personal and moral life stands superior to human lives and can only be explained in terms of deity
b) More than 38 miracles in the gospels testify to his deity. Who else can speak to the wind and sea and command them to be still and be obeyed?
c) His teaching was authoritative, bold and with power - John 7:46
d) He was the Messiah of promise - John 5:39
e) His resurrection especially affirms his deity - power over death and hell is found only through him
2. Christ in Old Testament History
a. Theophanies (theos-God*plaino - to appear)
b. Theophany historically refers to the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament
c. Another term is ephiphamy which means "appearance to someone"
d) Theophany is an infinite manifestation of god to a human being or beings at a definite time, in a definite place, often in physical form but manifesting supernatural powers
e) Limited to the appearances of Christ in the form of a man or an angel
f) The principle Old Testament theophany is "Angel of the Lord"
g) A theophany is a heavenly visitor who performs deeds, exercises perogatives and accepts names or titles that especially identify deity
h) The angel of the Lord is most frequent Old Testament theophany
1) Old Testament references where the identity of the theophany isn't clear are Deuteronomy 3:28 and Deuteronomy 6:22
2) The first theophany Genesis 16:7-13 - Christ appears to Hagar to give her comfort and assurance
3) The second theophany Genesis 21:17-19 - Christ appears to Hagar to give comfort
a) NOTE: The first two theophanies are to a friendless, comfortless one who isn't in the Abrahamic covenant
4) At the sacrifice of Isaac Christ appears as an angel - Genesis 22:11-18
5) The combined testimony of these Old Testament passages shows the Son of God to be active in dealing with sin, providing for the needy, guiding someone into the Lord's will, protecting his people from enemies, and executing the providence of God
6) Jewish scholars believe the angel of the Lord to be a special mediator who they call 'Metatron,' and whom they regard as the author of all revelation as well as the only mediator between God and man
i. Other theophanies
1) Appearances to Abraham in Mamre as 3 men (the Godhead?) Genesis 18:1-33
2) Jacob's wrestling match - Genesis 32:24-32 (compare with Hosea 12:4
j. The early church fathers testimony of theophanies
a) Justyn Martyr called him angel, God, man and Lord who appeared to Abraham
b) Irenaeus spoke of Christ's appearances to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Noah, etc.
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3. Christ In Old Testament Prophecy
1) (Greek Messias) a transliteration of the Aramaic form of the Hebrew (Maschach) meaning to anoint.
2) The New Testament form is Christos "the anointed one."
3) General Messianic prophecies begin with local individual, and without noticeable break, go into a more important individual (ie: 1 Samuel 2:35).
4) Personal Messianic prophecy deals completely with one person identified by a specific name or names.
D. The Incarnate Christ
1. The Incarnation of the Son Of God
a. The doctrine of the incarnation covers Christ from the virgin birth through eternity to come.
b. Virgin birth and incarnation aren't synonymous.
c. Incarnation is divinity united with humanity in Christ. It is a taking on or being manifested in a fleshly body.
d. The Virgin Birth
1) Men have wanted God to come down in human form for a long time.
2) Mythology shows "god" cohabitating with a human and producing a half-god or demi-god. Jesus isn't a half-god.
3) The virgin birth is not found in heathenism.
4) No group of people claiming to believe the Bible ever regarded the Holy Spirit as the father of Jesus.
e. Non-Christian historians who wrote about Christ
1) Pliny - AD 62-113 (Roman scholar)
2) Josephus AD 37-100 (Jewish historian)
3) Tacticus AD 55-117 (Roman historian)
4) Suetonius 2nd Century AD (Roman historian and biographer)
f. The Virgin birth is Accepted by the Early Church
1) It is included in all great Christian creeds.
2) Justyn Martyr included it among the cardinal items of Christian belief.
3) Aristides, a 2nd century apologist included it also.
4) Ignatius insisted on the virgin birth.
g. Reference to the Virgin Birth in Scripture
1) Isaiah 7:14 'Almah means virgin. Opponents of the supernatural claim it means a young woman of marriageable age, not a virgin.
Note: Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth 760 year prior to Christ's birth including calling him Immanuel
2) Matthew 1:23 - Parthenos means virgin explicitly. In this verse Jesus is called Emmanuel fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah given above.
3) The Jews translated 'Almah to mean the Greek parthenos in the Septuagint.
4) Parthenos isn't a technical word for virginity but it properly conveys virginity.
5) Research Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-7
h. Truths Concerning the Virgin Birth
1) The virgin birth was taught in Matthew 1:23 as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.
2) The virgin birth is foundational to the right understanding of Christ's two natures. The natural elements from Mary and the divine from the incarnating work of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20) "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
3) The parthenogenesis accounts for the fact that Jesus didn't partake of original sin but was holy - the Son of God (Luke 1:35) Just as Adam was created "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Thus did the Holy Spirit's miracle preserve Jesus from the heritage of Adam's sin. Christ is the "last Adam" the second man (I Corinthians 15:45-47), and as the leader of the new humanity, he had a supernatural creation. The Holy Spirit preserved his formation from any taint of sin and condemnation. (Romans 5:18)
4) Thought the virgin birth is unique as to the natural means of birth, it isn't the only instance of the supernatural connected with the formation of a human life. Adam and Eve were totally without parents. Barren women such as Manoah's wife (Judges 13:2-3), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:2-20) and elderly women such as Sarah (Genesis 18:12-19) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7-25) were given children by God's promise and power. He could have used another method, but the virgin birth was the divinely chosen and unique way.
5) The doctrine of the virgin birth has been universally held through the centuries by the church until the rise of rationalism and liberal theology.
6) If the virgin birth is denied then the documents upon which we base our faith (Matthew and Luke) must be doubted.
7) A theology that denies the virgin birth seldom, if ever, stops short of total repudiation of the supernatural in Christianity.
2. The Person of the Incarnate Christ
a. The second person is described as possessing all the attributes of the Godhead which distinquishes him from the first and third.
b. He has all those attributes eternally, but his human attributes began at a point in time.
c. The deity of the incarnate Christ; combining the infinite and eternal with the finite and temporal (an awesome task). This combination never diminishes his deity.
d. Some Unorthodox Views (Neo Theology)
1) He was a great man. He was a good and sincere man. He was a noble example. All these are Neo Orthodoxy and involve no deity.
e. The Humanity of the Incarnate Christ
1) He had a flesh and blood human body which was similar in appearance but had no qualities that came from human failure.
2) His humanity had a human rational soul (Matthew 26:38) and spirit (John 13:21).
f. The Hypostatic Union or the Fusion of Two Natures; God and man
1) Philippians 2:5-11 - Verse 6 - Divine nature was his from the beginning. Verse 8 shows his human nature.
2) John 1:1 -14 - In verse one the Word was God (divine nature). In verse fourteen the Word became flesh (human nature).
3) Romans 1:2-5 - Verse four Son of God (divine nature) and in verse three Seed of David according to the flesh (human nature).
4) 1 John 1:1-3 - In verse two with the Father (divine nature) and verse 1 heard, seen and felt (human nature).
5) The eternal Son of God took upon himself a complete human nature and became a man and the human nature continue forever.
a) Matthew 26:64 The son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of glory.
b) Matthew 28:9b After his resurrection they came and held him by his feet.
c) In his post resurrection appearances he could be seen in his human form.
d) He ascended in his bodily form and they saw him. Matthew 16:19, Luke 24:30-31, Luke 24:39-43, John 20:22, John 20:27-28, Acts 1:11 and Acts 7:56
6) His human name continued into judgment and beyond. No scripture shows a termination of his humanity.
7) In the resurrection his body was raised and prepared for Heaven. His body is the pattern of all resurrected or translated believers throughout all eternity.
8) The Relation of the Two Natures
a) The word nature is derived from the Latin which is equivalent to the Greek physis. Scripture concerning nature in this use are Romans 2:14, Ephesians 2:3 and 2 Peter 1:4.
b) The word nature is now commonly used to designate the divine or human elements in the person of Christ.
c) Nature referring to the person of Christ is seen to be the sum of all attributes and their relation to one another, including all that belongs to his deity and his humanity.
d) So the human and divine nature are united without the loss of separate identity; no less God and no less man (theanthropic),
e) Christ is one person with two natures, and since he is only one person, whatever is true of one nature or both together is true of him.
9) Seven Aspects Describing the Functioning God/man
a) The God/man is prophet, priest and king. As divine he is seens as all three and as a man he holds all three offices.
b) The God/man is eternal. As divine he is always eternal. As a man he had a beginning. Some attributes are only true of the divine, but the whole person is the subject.
c) The divine Christ died. Such a statement is a paradox. The God man thirsted. As divine Christ didn't thirst, bit as a man he thirsted.
d) The human Jesus came down from heaven. This is another paradoz. (John 6:62) Christ had a human and divine self-consciousness. Did he have that in the manger?
10) The Kenosis
a) Christ's Humiliation - Birth, suffering, death and burial emptying himself of majesty and becoming subject to the demands of the law.
b) In Christ's humiliation, his divine nature didn't suffer at all.
c) Humanity was added to deity.
d) Kenoticism says Christ emptied himself of his deity. This is an attempt to make the incarnation more reasonable and acceptable to the scientific mind.
e) Philippians 2:5-11 is the translation of the Kenosis. Verses 3-8 speak of Christ's attitude of surrendering his own rights (our example). Verse 6 shows Christ as being co-equal and co-substantial with God in his divine nature. In Verse 7 the role of Christ is changed by his voluntary acceptance of the form of a slave in order to perform his mediatorial work.
f) He couldn't exercise the role of a slave in his divine nature apart from taking on human nature.
11) Peccability and Impeccability
a) Walvoord stated, "Because Christ was God then by virtue of the attributes of deity it must have been impossible for Christ to sin." A rebuttal by Hodge states; "There couldn't be temptation without the possibility of sin. Why would the Holy Spirit lead him into temptation if it were impossible for him to yield?" Walvoord and Shedd answered; "Temptation doesn't naturally imply susceptibility to sin. He felt the power of temptation but didn't sin." Our view will be determined by how we view the Kenosis or consciousness of Christ.
NOTE: There is so much that could be written above what is presented here and so I leave my readers to search these things out and offer this final word found in the gospel of John.
John 21:25 "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which,
if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could
not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
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C R Lord © 12/17/2018
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