“The Son of God…did…take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof…being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her: and the power of the Most High overshadowing her; and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures; so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together…which person is…very man…”
Early heresies like Gnosticism and Docetism denied that Christ was a man. The Confession echoing the Creed of Chalcedon, asserts the opposite. Another early heresy said that Christ was mostly man. Rather, as the Confession says, he is “very man” “with all the essential properties” of human nature. The Bible grounds this teaching with at least seven affirmations about the humanity of Christ. He had:
- The Promise of a Man
- The Designation of a Man
- The Consciousness of a Man
- The Appearance of a Man
- The Body of a Man
- The Soul of a Man
- The Limitation of a Man
7 Affirmations about the Humanity of Christ
1. The Promise of a Man—The prophecies of the OT promised that the Messiah would be a man (Gen 3:15; 17:7; Mic 5:2; Isa 7:14; 9:6, 7; 52:13-53:12; Jer 23:5, 6). Gen 3:15 is the first of these prophecies: “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head…”
2. The Designation of a Man—The Scriptures straightforwardly call Christ a man. Many of these speak of Christ as resurrected. Thus, they make clear he remains man forever. This is true of Acts 17:31: “because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed…” It is also true of 1 Tim 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
3. The Consciousness of a Man—Not just His disciples thought of Jesus as a man; Jesus himself thought of himself as a man. John 8:40 records Jesus saying, “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man (anthropos) who has told you the truth.” His favorite designation for himself was Son of man—using this title some 87 times.
4. The Appearance of a Man—Many passages teach that Jesus looked like an ordinary man. Of course, Jesus not only appeared to be a man but was really a man. It is basic, however, to know that He looked just like an ordinary man. Think of John 19:5: “Jesus then came out … Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!”
5. The Body of a Man–The earliest errors to assail the church argued that the heavenly Christ-spirit could not be flesh. Frequent assertions that he possessed a real body contradict this. Hebrews 10:5 says: “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “ … A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME,” 1 Peter 3:18 says: “For Christ also died for sins … having been put to death in the flesh …”
6. The Soul of a Man—There are several arguments for Christ having a human soul. (1) The death of Jesus implies a human soul. John 19:30 reads: “… He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (2) Jesus possessed a human will. Matt 26:39 says: “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (3) Jesus possessed human emotions. Jesus displayed typically human emotions: compassion (Matt. 9:36), anger (Mark 3:5; 10:14), sighing (Mark 8:12), crying silently (John 11:35), loud wailing (Luke 19:41-44), gladness (Luke 10:21). (4) Jesus was tempted. Cf. Matt 4:1: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Heb 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” God cannot be tempted. Cf. James 1:13: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Thus, it must be that Christ has a rational human soul! (5) Jesus underwent a process of intellectual, spiritual, and moral development. Luke 2:40 and 52 says, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him … And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom …”
7. The Limitations of a Man–There are several clear assertions of this in Scripture. The primary assertion is this one. (1) The Primary Assertion: Surprisingly, Jesus confessed there were some things He did not know (Matt 24:36; Mark 13:32). Mark 13:32-33 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (1) The Primary Assertion: Surprisingly, Jesus confessed there were some things He did not know (Matt 24:36; Mark 13:32). No explanation is sufficient except that of the Chalcedon in 451, reiterated in the 1689. Jesus had a perfect & whole human nature. Hence, speaking from the side of His human nature, there were some things Jesus as a man did not know. (2) The Secondary Assertions: Jesus had limitations besides a lack of knowledge which God does not have. He was hungry (Matt 4:2; Mark 11:12; Matt 21:18), but God is never hungry (Psalm 50:12). He was thirsty (John 4:7; 19:28), though God is never thirsty. He grew tired (John 4:6), though God is never tired (Isa 40:28). He fell asleep (Matt 8:24), but God never sleeps (Psa 121:4). Though these limitations are mostly physical, each has aspects that imply a human soul.
7 Reasons Why Christ’s Humanity is Important
Why is Christ’s humanity important? Fundamentalism stressed Christ’s deity against Modernism. But this led to de-emphasizing & ignorance of His humanity. We must understand why it is so important.
1. It helps us take seriously His physical sufferings.
2. It helps us take seriously His spiritual sufferings. He experienced fear. He felt abandoned by men. He felt abandoned by God.
3. It allows Him to be our substitute. Hebrews 2:17 says: “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
4. It helps us take seriously His sympathy. Heb 2:18 says: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
5. It helps us take His advocacy seriously. 1 John 2:1: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
6. It helps us explain difficult passages. Like Mark 13:32; Luke 2:40, 52; Heb 5:8-9!
7. It helps us understand and appreciate the emphasis of the Bible on the ministry of the Spirit to the Mediator.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.