The Hypostatic Union Part 1 -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:367 (Jul 1935)
Article: The Hypostatic Union Part 1
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg


The Hypostatic Union
Part 1

Charles Lee Feinberg

I. Introduction

Of all the phases and divisions of Christology there is perhaps none more interesting than the subject of the hypostatical, or preferably, the hypostatic union. The Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is at one and the same time of vast intrinsic importance and of almost insurmountable difficulty of explanation. It defies and transcends any human intellectual effort to explain or analyze it. No successful attempt has ever been made to fathom the mystery of the hypostatic union. It is all the more inscrutable, because there is, and has been, no situation or pattern similar or analogous to it in the history of the world. “The highest miracle in the world’s history will assuredly be the last of all to be understood.”1

These admissions, however, do not preclude reverent study of the subject. It is only most needful to remember that it is exceedingly easy to fall into error by shifting a little either to the right or to the left. There are so many varying opinions on the subject, even among orthodox theologians, that one must ever be on the alert to test each statement by the word of the Scriptures and the accepted and tested formulas of the Church.

A. Definition and Distinction

With this in mind we turn at the beginning to a clear definition of terms and issues. It was a wise professor who advised his students thus: “Look well to your definitions.” “Hypostatic” is derived from two Greek words, ὑπό “under” and

ἵστασθαι (from ἱστάναι) “to stand,” referring to that which forms a basis. It means that which relates to a subsistence, person, or personality. The Council of Alexandria in A.D. 362 defined hypostasis as synonymous with person. “Hypostatic union,” then, refers to a personal union and has as its technical meaning the union of the divine and the human natures in Christ.

The hypostatic union, let it be said, is not synonymous with either the virgin birth or the incarnation. The last is the broadest of all three terms. It refers to the whole conception of God manifesting Himself in the flesh. The virgin birth, the most restricted of all three terms, is merely the medium of the incarnation. The hypostatic union is that which was effected and brought into being by the incarnation. The incarnation and the hypostatic union are coextensive as to time.

But neither is this union to be confused with a theophany. It is true that the hypostatic union and the theophanies have one great ...

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