The Man Christ Jesus -- By: Ivan H. French

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 01:2 (Fall 1980)
Article: The Man Christ Jesus
Author: Ivan H. French


The Man Christ Jesus

Ivan H. French

Any study of a single facet of the complex person of Christ requires a statement of limitations and assumptions. This paper on the humanity of our Lord assumes the fact of two complete natures in Christ. He was complete Deity, the One in whom dwelt “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9), the eternal Word made flesh (John 1:14). A real self-emptying of the eternal Son in the incarnation also is assumed (Phil 2:5–8). In Jesus Christ incarnate there dwelt full deity and complete sinless humanity. When the eternal Son joined himself to a real human nature, he laid aside the independent exercise of his divine attributes, while retaining full possession of them. It is a basic maxim of this study that there is a distinction between the possession and the exercise of an attribute. While Christ never ceased to be God, thus retaining the full possession of His attributes, he did voluntarily lay aside the exercise of those attributes of power and omniscience so that he might become truly man. Dependence is a necessary characteristic of real humanity. The testimony of the NT, particularly the narrative of the four Gospels, presents a consistent picture of a true man, walking in dependence upon his heavenly Father.

The church was still in her infancy when the idea was advanced that Jesus Christ did not have a real body, hence, was not fully human. The proponents of this view insisted that the body of Jesus was only an appearance, an apparition. This was arrived at following the basic Gnostic presuppositions that spirit is good and matter is evil. It was evident, even to them, that Christ was a good man; therefore, they reasoned that his body could not be real matter since matter is evil. A distinguished bishop of Laodicea, Apollinaris, taught that while Christ possessed a true human body and soul, the human spirit in him was replaced by the eternal Son, or Logos. This view was intended to protect the full deity of Christ, but it left him with an incomplete humanity. The principal objection to the position is that “if there is no complete manhood in Christ, he is not a perfect

example for us, nor did he redeem the whole of human nature but only its spiritual elements.”1

It was largely to answer this heresy in its various forms that the early writers and preachers declared forthrightly the real and complete humanity of Jesus. Earnest attempts to wrestle with the exceedingly complex problem of real humanity joined to full deity in one undivided P...

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