The Person of Christ Part II: The Person of the Incarnate Christ -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 117:466 (Apr 1960)
Article: The Person of Christ Part II: The Person of the Incarnate Christ
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Person of Christ
Part II:
The Person of the Incarnate Christ

John F. Walvoord

[Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series on the general subject, “The Person of Christ.”]

The study of the person of Christ is one of the most complicated and intricate studies which can be undertaken by a Biblical theologian. The many single volumes which have been produced, such as B. B. Warfield’s excellent book, The Person and Work of Christ, as well as such massive works as the five-volume set by J. A. Dorner on The Doctrine of the Person of Christ, are evidence of the importance of this subject. Contemplation on the person of Christ is an exhaustless mine of theology and vital preaching as well as at the heart of any true devotion of the Savior. Every systematic theology worthy of the name gives considerable attention to the person of the incarnate Christ.

The Preincarnate Person of Christ

The person of Christ incarnate is best understood in comparison to the person of Christ before He became incarnate. In any orthodox statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Second Person is described as possessing all the attributes of the godhead, being distinguished as the Second Person in contrast to the First or Third Person of the Trinity and as the eternal Son in contrast to the Father or the Holy Spirit. In such utterances as Hebrews 13:8 it is made clear that these attributes are the eternal possession of Christ continuing even in His incarnate state. Even before His incarnation, however, Christ had certain properties and ministries which distinguished Him from God the Father and God the Son. In the plan of God He was designated as the coming Redeemer. In the Old Testament He appeared frequently in the character of the Angel of Jehovah and other theophanies. His person, however, prior to the incarnation did not include any human or angelic attributes, and the theophanies did not involve any change or addition in His nature. In general the preincarnate

person of Christ was not complicated, and does not present the theological problems which originate in the incarnation.

The Deity of the Incarnate Christ

When the Second Person of the Godhead became incarnate there was immediately introduced the seemingly insuperable problems of uniting God with man and combining a person who is infinite and eternal with that which is finite and temporal. Orthodox Christianity, however, has been united in the opinion that the incarnation did not diminish the deity of the Second Person of the Trinity even during the period of humiliation and suffering while Christ was on earth. Su...

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