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A Class on the Person and Work of
our Lord Jesus Christ

Hosted by:
Living Hope Bible Church
An Oasis of Hope in Christ
6N171 Gary Avenue
Roselle, Illinois 60172
(630) 529-8489

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A. Definition of Christology
1. Christianity is a "monolithic religion of a teleological kind in
which everything is related to Christ, the Redeemer"
2. "Christology is the name for the theological interpretation of the
meaning of belief in Christ; it is the doctrine of the person and work
of Christ" (Wilhelm Pauk).
3. "In the study of the revelation concerning the Second Person of
the Godhead, Christology, the greatest one theme of Theology, is
in view. Because of the restricted character of Theology Proper,
Christology, as a subdivision of it, is limited to the contemplation of
the Person of Christ. As a Person, He is revealed as occupying
seven positions-preincarnate, incarnate, dead, raised, ascended
and seated, returning and reigning, and as having completed and
as having surrendered His mediatorial service. Likewise, three
essential facts as to the nature of His Person, with all their
implications, must be investigated-the absolute and unalterable
Deity of the Second Person in every position in which He is seen,
and in every circumstance in which He is placed; His absolute and
impeccable humanity secured through the incarnation; and the
hypostatical union, or the combining of these two natures in one
Theanthropic Person, in which union no aspect of Deity is
surrendered and no supernatural exaltation of humanity is wrought.
About these three great issues-the undiminished Deity, the
unexalted humanity, and the hypostatical union-the Church, in all
her generations, has borne her testimony and has waged her
contentions" (Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Unabridged Systematic
Theology," Bibliotheca Sacra 91:361:8-23).
4. "Since in Theology Proper only the Person of Christ is
contemplated in the division devoted to the Second Person of the
Godhead, it is reserved to Soteriology to set forth His saving work
on the Cross. As a true preparation for this great division of
Theology, Christ must be seen in all His varied positions and
ministries, as Prophet, Priest, and King, in His sonships, and in His
5. "The saving work of Christ in its fullness is based on His
sufferings in life, His sufferings in death, His burial, His resurrection,
His ascension, His present session, and His return. According to

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the Scriptures, the great theme of Salvation is presented in three

tenses: (1) past, or salvation unto eternal life and from the guilt and
penalty of sin; (2) present, or salvation unto sanctification and from
the reigning power of sin; and (3) future, or salvation unto eternal
perfection and glory and from the presence of sin. Almost every
feature of Christology is anticipated in the types, foreshadowings,
and prophecies of the Old Testament; especially enriched is this
portion of the Scriptures as it bears on His sufferings in life, His
sufferings in death, and His resurrection. In fact, it is probable that
what may be termed the central passage of the whole Bible on the
sufferings and death of Christ is to be found in the first five chapters
of Leviticus. The wealth of truth there revealed is not on the
surface, but is disclosed only to the spiritual mind which is
exercised by long and patient study. First importance must always
be given to the direct, antitypical statements found in the New
Testament; but these are enriched beyond estimation by the typical
teachings of the Old Testament, including Abels lamb, Isaac, the
Passover, various features of the Tabernacle, the five offerings, the
two birds, the red heifer, and the day of Atonement. So, also, the
student should recognize the place given in each book of the Bible
to the sufferings and death of Christ. The result of such extended
personal research is both imperative and priceless.
6. Salvation, as wrought by God in grace, incorporates at least
twelve important subdivisions or doctrines, namely, Redemption,
Reconciliation, Propitiation, Conviction, Repentance, Faith,
Regeneration, Forgiveness, Justification, Sanctification,
Preservation, and Glorification. The extent of this field of truth is
obvious. Added to this, the student should be familiar with the
multiplied details which enter into the divine objectives in the death
of Christ, including the following: He became a substitute for
sinners, presenting His own merit in their behalf and bearing the
condemnation due them because of demerit; He became the end of
the law for all those that believe; He dealt finally and perfectly with
all pre-Cross sins; He became a redemption toward sin, a
reconciliation toward man, and a propitiation toward God; He
spoiled Principalities and Powers; He provided the ground for the
cleansing and forgiving of the Christian who has sinned; and on the
ground of His sacrifice God will yet take away Israels sins and
purge both earth and heaven. A worthy knowledge of Soteriology
includes the theories, both true and false, as to the extent of the
value of Christs sufferings and death. Was it a limited, or was it a
universal, redemption?" (Ibid).
B. Significance of Christology

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1. Significance to the All Theology

a) "Throughout its history the church has realized that
Christology, of the study of what is to believed about the
person of Jesus Christ, is of the greatest importance.
Since Jesus is at the very center of our faith, and since
what is believed about him is the very touchstone of our
Christianity, this doctrinal endeavor is of paramount
importance" (Millard J. Erickson, The Word Became
Flesh, 9).
b) "Beware of studying doctrine, precept, or
experiences apart from the Lord Jesus, who is the soul
of all. Doctrine without Christ will be nothing better than
his empty tomb. Doctrine with Christ is a glorious high
throne, with the king sitting on it" (Spurgeon, MTP,
c) "Christ is the beginning, middle, end nothing is, or
can be found, apart from Him" (Calvin, Commentary on
Colossian, p. 146).
d) Christ is the arch of all theology. If He is taken out, all
must fall into chaotic rubbish. See Luke 24:27
2. Significance to the doctrine of Theology Proper
a) "Christ is that image in which God present to our
view not only his heart, but also his hands and his feet. I
give the name of his heart to that secret love which he
embraces us in Christ" (Calvin, Commentary on
Genesis, 1:64).
b) "Christology constitutes the heart of theology, since
it focuses on God's work of salvation in the historical
figure Jesus of Nazareth. To know the nature of God we
must see his face in Jesus Christ. To know the plan of
God for the world we must see this plan realized in the
cross of Christ and fulfilled in his resurrection and
Second Advent. The way to know God is through
knowledge of Christ, and they way to knowledge of
Christ is by faith in his promises as revealed in the
Bible" (Donald G. Bloesch, Jesus Christ: Savior and
Lord, 15-16).

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c) See John 1:18; 6:46; 14:1-14; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Col.

1:15; Heb. 1:1-3
3. Significance to the doctrine of Anthropology
a) Christ is offered as the only remedy for man's plight
of depravity
b) He is the perfect man
c) He is the model of the image of God, which man
essentially is.
d) "We have seen that man was created to love, serve
and fellowship with God. We have also seen that man
fails to fulfill this divine intention for him; in other
words, all humans sin. Because God loved man,
however, he chose to act through Christ to restore man
to the intended condition and relationship. Thus, our
understanding of the person and work of Christ grows
directly out of the doctrines of man and of sin"
(Erickson, Christian Theology, 661).
4. Significance to the doctrine of Salvation
a) The doctrine of Christ (Christology) therefore follows
logically upon that of divine grace as the cardinal article
of the Christian faith, with which the Church stands or
falls. While usually this expression is applied to the
doctrine of justification, and rightly so, we must not
forget that without the vicarious satisfaction of Christ
there could be no doctrine of justification by grace,
through faith. Hence, as the redeeming work of our Lord
is the foundation of the doctrine of divine grace, so it is
the foundation also of the doctrine of justification"
(Muller, Christian Dogmatics, 255).
"Union with Christ is the central truth of the whole
doctrine of salvation. It is not simply a phase of the
application of redemption; it underlies every aspect of
redemption" (John Murray, Redemption Applied and
Accomplished, 201, 205).

"The whole gospel is contained in Christ" (Calvin,

Romans, 15.


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"All the blessings of God come to us through Christ"

(Calvin, Romans, 19).

Robert Dabney states, It is through this union to

Christ that the whole application of redemption is
effectuated on the sinners soul (Systematic Theology,


(1) Believers have eternal life in Christ (Rom. 6:23)

(2) Believers are forgiven in Christ (Rom. 8:1)
(3) Believers have all the promises of God in Christ (2 Cor.

(4) Believers are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)

(5) Believers are free in Christ (Gal. 2:4)
(6) Believers have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3)
(7) Believers have been raised up and seated in heavenly places
in Christ (Eph. 2:6)

(8) Believers have been created unto good works in Christ (Eph.
2:10; Jn. 15:5)
(9) Believers are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).
Believers have a fellowship with all believers in Christ
(1 Cor. 12:13-27)
Believers have a future resurrection in Christ (1 Cor.
15:47, 49)

5. Significance to doctrine of the Church

a) Ecclesiology, says University of Basel professor,

Karl Ludwig Schmidt, is simply Christology. He
argues that all sociological attempts to explain the
church are futile because the church can only be
explained by its link to the person and work of Christ.
The church is the body of Christ (sw'ma Cristou',
), and Christ is the head (kefalhv,
) of the body (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18; cf. 1 Cor.
12:1213, 27). These metaphors stress the unity of

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Christ and His people, and the term head specifically

stresses that He is leader or ruler over the church. He
exercises a position of power and authority over His
people. The early church witnessed to the headship of
Christ by recognizing no individual man as the head of
the church. Leadership was always invested in a
plurality of leaders (first apostles and soon elders). This
was true of the universal church and of the local church,
which is a replica or a miniature of the universal church.
b) The primacy of Scripture in its teaching that Christ is
the sole head (Chief Shepherd, 1 Pet. 5:4) of the
church was denied in practice soon after the death of
the apostles. A plurality of elders gave way to a
monarchical bishop, and the institutional Church was
ultimately ruled by the Supreme Pontiff, i.e., the Pope, in
Rome. Even in the Protestant churches the pastor as an
officer over the flock is a firmly entrenched tradition a
tradition that denies to Christ His place as head of the
6. Significance to Eschatology
a) "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"
(Rev. 19:10)
b) The design of prophecy is to bear testimony to
Jesus. The language does not mean, of course, that this
is the only design of prophecy, but that this is its great
and ultimate end. The word prophecy here seems to be
used in the large sense in which it is often employed in
the New Testamentmeaning to make known the Divine
will, and the primary reference here would seem to be
to the preachers and teachers of the New Testament.
The sense is, that their grand business is to bear
testimony to the Saviour. They are allwhether angels,
apostles, or ordinary teachersappointed for this, and
therefore should regard themselves as "fellowservants." The design of the angel in this seems to have
been, to state to John what was his own specific
business in the communications which he made, and
then to state a universal truth applicable to all ministers
of the gospel, that they were engaged in the same work,
and that no one of them should claim adoration from

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c) "Thus understood, this passage has no direct

reference to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and
teaches nothing in regard to their design, though it is in
fact undoubtedly true that their grand and leading object
was to bear testimony to the future Messiah. But this
passage will not justify the attempt so often made to
"find Christ" everywhere in the prophecies of the Old
Testament, or justify the many forced and unnatural
interpretations by which the prophecies are often
applied to him" (Albert Barnes, Notes Notes On the New
C. Source of Christology
1. Christology from Above
a) Associated with Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and
Emil Brunner)
b) Key elements:
(1) The key to understanding of Jesus is not in the historical
Jesus, but in the preaching of the Church
(2) Focus is placed on Paul and John, rather than synoptic
(3) Faith in Christ is not based upon or supported by rational

c) Key Quotes:
(1) We are bound to oppose the view that the Christian faith
springs out of historical observation, out of the historical picture
of Jesus of Nazareth. Christendom itself has always known
otherwise. Christian faith springs only out of the witness of the
Church of the preached message and the written word of
Scriptures. The historical picture is indeed included in the
latter. But his picture itself is not the basis of knowledge"
(Emil Brunner, The Mediator, 158).
(2) "If once the conviction is regained that the Christian faith
does not arise out of the picture of the historical Jesus, but out of
the testimony to Christ as such-- this includes the witness of the
prophets as well as that of the Apostles-- and that it is based
upon this testimony, then inevitably the preference for the
Synoptic Gospels and for the actual words of Jesus, which was

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the usual position of the last generation, will disappear" (Ibid.,


d) Fallacies:
(1) Cannot substantiate belief
(2) Is the Christ of faith the same as the Christ of history?
(3) Too subjective

2. Christ from Below

a) Associated with Wolfhart Pannenberg
b) Key Elements:
(1) Historical inquiry is possible and desirable
(2) There is no special redemptive or sacred history
(3) This can give us a human Jesus, but it cannot substantiate a
divine history, especially when it is attached to denying the
supernatural events of the Bible.

c) Key Quotes:
(1) "The task of Christology is to offer rational support for belief
in the divinity of Jesus, for it is this which is disputed in the
world today. Christology from above is unacceptable in that it
presupposes the divinity of Jesus" (Pannenberg, Jesus-God and
Man, 34).
(2) Strictly speaking, a Christology from above is possible only
from the position of God himself, and not for us. We are limited,
earthbound human beings, and we must begin and conduct our
inquiry from that perspective" (Ibid., 35).

d) Fallacies
(1) Divorces the Christ of faith from the Christ of history
(2) Denies the supernatural

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3. Orthodox Christ
a) Associated with Augustine
b) Key elements
(1) Faith precedes but does not remain permanently independent
of reason. Faith provides the perspective or starting point from
which reason may function.
(2) The preaching of Christ is the starting point and is used to
interpret and integrate the data supplied
(3) See how the Pharisees saw Jesus perform miraculous
healings through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:22-32;
Mark 3:20-30; Luke 11:14-23)
(4) There is a supernatural assistance that must take place (Matt.
(5) There is also a considering of the facts of Jesus (Luke 7:19).

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D. Schemata of Christology
1. "The doctrine of Christ is commonly treated under three heads:
A. the doctrine of the Person of Christ; B. the Doctrine of the States
of Christ; C. the Doctrine of the Work of Christ (de officio Christi).
Under these three heads it is possible to group all truths which Holy
Scripture reveals concerning our Lord and His work and to refute
whatever errors have been voiced against them" (Muller, 255).
2. Doctrine of the Person of Christ
a) Deity
b) Humanity
c) Personal Unity
3. Doctrine of the States (or Estates) of Christ
a) Humiliation (e.g., incarnation, death, burial)
b) Exaltation (e.g., resurrection, ascension, session)
4. Doctrine of the Offices of Christ
a) Office of Prophet (Teachings)
b) Office of Priest (Atonement, intercession)
c) Office of King (Second Advent, Millennium)

E. Bibliography of Christology
1. Best Surveys of Available Literature
a) *Dunn, James D. G. Christology in the Making.
Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980.Dunn is
reader in New Testament Studies at the University of
Nottingham. Technically a study on the incarnation, the
work has much to offer the interested student in the
other areas of Christology as well. Dunn must be read
cautiously and judiciously due to his views on the unity
of Scripture (see his Unity and Diversity in the New
Testament) and his adoption of some of the baggage
that accompanies historical criticism. Recognize the

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work as a contribution in the area of biblical theology

and make use of the extensive (49 pages!) bibliography
and extensive (84 pages!) of footnotes.
b) Ramm, Bernard L. An Evangelical Christology. New
York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985. Ramm is
professor of Christian Theology at the American Baptist
Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA. In this
Christology Ramm deals in an ecumenical fashion with
the orthodox doctrines of Christology. The book has an
extended bibliography which lists the major
contributions to theology in the last century of
scholarship. Some strengths of the volume include a
critique of Bultmanns demythologization approach to
the Scriptures and critical examination of some of the
more contemporary neo-orthodox approaches to
Christology. The volume lacks any indices and the
arrangement of doctrine according to creedal
statements does not enhance the book. This is a volume
which can be used profitably by the discerning student
who is well versed in Christological backgrounds. When
used with care, the volume will make an excellent
contribution toward broadening the exposure of the
pastor/student to the literature of Christology
2. Recommended volumes in Christology
a) *Baillie, Donald Macpherson. God Was In Christ. New
York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1948. An important and
penetrating investigation of the historical Jesus by the
Scottish theologian and former professor of systematic
theology at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The
message of Christ is reconstructed and interwoven in
this volume into the NT teaching on the incarnation and
the atonement. There is a helpful appendix on
Christology and mythology.
b) Berkouwer, G. C. The Work of Christ. Translated by
Cornelius van Til. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub.
Co., 1965. Berkouwer was professor of Systematic
Theology at Free University of Amsterdam, the
Netherlands. The study is wide ranging and for this
reason suffers from Berkouwers tendency to say too
much, but it has some excellent treatments of some
individual topics such as the chapter on the Aspects of
the Work of Christ.

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c) __________. The Person of Christ. Translated by

John Vriend. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1954. Berkouwer examines the
historical pronouncements of the ecumenical councils,
the Christian confessions, and the nature, unity, and
sinlessness of Christ from a Reformed perspective.
d) Boice, James Montgomery. Vol. 2. God the
Redeemer. Downers Grove, IL: Inter- Varsity Press,
1978. This Presbyterian pastor-scholar in the
evangelical tradition has provided a helpful study on the
provision of God for mans salvation in Jesus. The
section on Christology is helpful and worthwhile reading
for the average person in the pew.
e) Walvoord, John F. Jesus Christ Our Lord. Chicago:
Moody Press, 1978. A traditional study by the
Chancellor at Dallas Seminary. Outline in format, the
work is not an interactive Christology (concerning
modern trends). The main value of the work is in the
systematization of the biblical data concerning Christ
with a minor emphasis on the creedal and historical
perspectives of the doctrine. The book lacks critical
interaction with scolars of opposing viewpoints.
3. On the Incarnation
a) Anderson, Norman. The Mystery of the Incarnation.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978. A work of
some value for its assessment of the various theories
on the humanity of Christ.
b) Erickson, Millard J. The Word Became Flesh: A
Contemporary Incarnational Christology. Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, 1991. The primary value of this work
is its treatment of recent Christologies from a solidly
evangelical perspective. Erickson, who is professor of
theology (and dean) of Bethel Seminary, puts forth a
substantial treatment of recent Christological issues
related to the incarnation from existential, liberation,
black, feminist, functional, process, universalist, and
other Christological perspectives. Erickson finds fault
with Chalcedon inasmuch as it stated what Christ was
not rather than affirming substantially what He is. The
book lacks a bibliography but is well-documented,
cross-referenced, and indexed so that the former

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problem is not overwhelming. of special interest to this

writer is the section on Views of the Continuing
Incarnation (pp. 565ff.) It is doubtful that Norman
Geisler would allow his position on the resurrected body
of Jesus (and therefore of believers) to be described as
semi physical. It seems that Erickson has misread
Geisler on this point and, indeed has not thought out the
consequences of his critique from a consistent logical
and philosophical basis. The suggestion of a two-stage
exaltation is interesting, but one is left to wonder how
the 1 John passages are dealt with in Ericksons
treatment. Students of Christology will be poorer for
their failure to read this exhaustive treatment.
c) *Wells, David F. The Person of Christ: A Biblical and
Historical Analysis of the Incarnation. Westchester:
Crossway Books, 1984. Wells has provided us with an
excellent scholarly interaction with liberals on the
subject of the incarnation. The book is divided into three
parts: Biblical foundations, historical development, and
modern interpretation. Wells considers not only what
theologians have said about Jesus but why they have
said it. He has substantive interaction in some 26 pages
of footnotes. In the first 15 pages of the work he present
some of the basic presuppositions that underlie his
approach (all of them conservative and evangelical contra redaction and form criticism). He sees the unity
and diversity of the NT as complimentary rather than
contradictory elements (p. 15). The advent of the
kingdom in the person of Jesus is the sine qua non of a
proper understanding of Christology in his view. This
volume is a must for the introductory study of
Christology by the Trinity professor.
4. Other Volumes in Christology
a) Buell, Jon A. and Hyder, O. Quentin. Jesus: God,
Ghost or Guru? Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1978.
b) Bultmann, Rudolph. Jesus Christ and Mythology.
New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958.
c) Chemnitz, Martin. The Two Natures of Christ.
Translated by J. A. O. Prues. St. Louis: Concordia Press,

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d) Cullmann, Oscar. The Christology of the New

Testament. Revised edition. Philadelphia: The
Westminster Press, 1963.
e) Dabney, Robert L. Christ our Penal Substitute.
Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1897.
f) Douty, Norman L. The Death of Christ. Irving, TX:
Williams and Watrous, 1978.
g) Dorner, I. A. History of the Development of the
Person of Jesus. 5 volumes. New York: Charles
Scribners Sons, n. d.
h) Green, Michael. Editor. The Truth of God Incarnate.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977.
i) Gromacki, Robert. The Virgin Birth. Nashville:
Thomas Nelson Press, 1974.
j) Gunn, James. Christ the Fullness of the Godhead.
Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1983.
k) Hengstenberg, Ernst W. Christology of the 0ld
Testament. 4 vols. in one. Grand Rapids: Kregel
Publications, 1956. See the review in OT Theologies.
l) Hick, John, editor. The Myth of God Incarnate.
Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977.
m) Longenecker, Richard N. The Christology of Early
Jewish Christianity. London: SCM Press, 1970.
n) MacDonald, H. D. Jesus - Human and Divine. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968.
o) Machen, J. Gresham. The Virgin Birth of Christ.
Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1967.
p) Mackintosh, Hugh R. The Doctrine of the Person of
Christ. 3rd edition. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1914.
q) Marshall, I. Howard. I Believe in the Historical Jesus.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977.

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r) Owen, John. The Glory of Christ. Chicago: Moody

Press, 1949. First published in 1696.
s) Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Jesus: God and Man. Trans.
by L. Wilkins and D. Priebe. 2nd ed. Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1977.
t) Pittenger, Norman. Christology Reconsidered.
London: SCM Press, 1970.
u) Warfield, Benjamin B. The Person and Work of
Christ. Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1950.

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The Person of Christ

A. The Deity of Christ
1. Introduction
a) While often disputed by anti-supernaturalists both in
and out of the church, the deity of Christ is a well
established fact of the New Testament.
b) "Not one recognized religious leader, not Moses,
Paul, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, etc., has ever
claimed to be God; that is, with the exception of Jesus
Christ. Christ is the only religious leader who has ever
claimed to be deity and that the only individual who has
convinced a great portion of the world that He is God"
(Thomas Schutlz, The Doctrine of the Person of Christ
with an Emphasis upon the Hypostatic Union, 209.
c) "But the reason overshadowing all othes, which led
directly to the ignominious execution of the Teacher of
Galilee, was His incredible claim that He, a simple
carpenter's son among the shavings and sawdust of His
father's workshop, was in reality God in the flesh"
(Robert Anderson, The Lord from Heaven, 49).
d) "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really
foolish thing hat people often say about Him: 'I am ready
to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't
accept His claim to be God.' This is one thing we must
not say. A man show was merely a man and said the
sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral
teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with
the man who says he is a poached egg-- or else he
would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a
madman or something worse" (C. S. Lewis, Mere
Christianity, 40, 41).
2. The Savior's claim to deity.
a) The claim of oneness in essence with the Father
(John 10:30-31).

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b) The acknowledgment of the great Petrine confession
(Matt. 16:16-17). In response to Jesus' question, "But
who do you say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) Peter responds,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Rather
than rebuking and correcting him for speaking error or
blasphemy (which the Lord did, not too long after, when
Peter misspoke himself, see Matt. 16:21-23) Jesus not
only accepts the assessment but identifies it as divinely
revealed truth.
c) The absolute "I am" claim (John 8:58).
(1) In three occurrences of this construction ["I am," in John
8:24, 28; 13:19], the omission in the Greek of the predicate
nominative "He" may be explained in light of the contexts, since
there are clearly identifiable antecedents (cf. 8:12, 23 with 24; cf.
8:28a with 28b; cf. 13:13 with 13:19).
(2) The supplying of the pronoun "He" in these cases is in order,
since it is inferred from the context. This is not true in John
8:58. Here there is no antecedent in the context, and the obvious
contrast intended between the two main statements ("before
Abraham was born" and "I AM") is heightened by the fact that
neither a predicate nominative nor a predicate adjective is used.
(3) By the use of prin (before), a word with unmistakable
temporal meaning; by the reference to Abraham, a historical
personage of paramount importance as the physical, natural, and
spiritual progenitor of Israel; and by the use of the aorist
infinitive genesthai (was born), which emphasizes the historical
fact of Abraham's existence, or, better, entrance into existence,
one half of the great contrast is set forth.
(4) Then by a dramatic change of verb (from ginomai to eimi)
and aktionsart (from punctiliar to linear) the second half is
stated. While genesthai describes entrance into existence from a
state of non-existence, eimi describes timeless being and
essential existence (cf. John 1:1).
(5) That Jesus was consciously identifying Himself with
Yahweh of the Old Testament is beyond refutation. The
parallels between this passage and Exodus 3:13-15 are
too exact to be set aside. When Moses asked God His
name so that he could tell it to Israel, the answer was "I
AM." The text then goes on, "And God, furthermore, said
to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, the
LORD [Yahweh, which is derived from hayah , to be; since
eimi is the Greek equivalent to hayah (cf. Ex. 3:14 LXX) it
is apparent that in making the claim "I am" Jesus was

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claiming to be Yahweh], the God of your fathers, the God
of Abraham . . . has sent me to you. This is my name
forever, and this is my memorial-name to all generations.'"
(6) As John 8:59 shows Jesus' hearers recognized the
relationship between Jesus' words and those of Exodus 3:13-15,
and thus they reacted as it was customary to react to blasphemy:
they picked up stones to stone Him (W. Robert Cook, The
Theology of John, pp. 57-8).

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d) Statement at trial (Mark 14:61-64)
e) Equality with the Father (John 10:20-33; 5:17, 18)
f) Same honor due Him as the Father (John 5:22, 24)
g) Knowing Him is to know the Father (John 8:19; John
3. NT Descriptions of Christ as Jehovah/ Yahweh
Of Yahweh

Mutual Title or Act

Of Jesus

Isa. 40:28


John 1:3

Isa. 45:22; 43:11


John 4:42

1 Sam. 2:6

Raise dead

John 5:21

Joel 3:12


John 5:27; Cf. Matt.

25:31 ff.

Isa. 60:19-20


John 8:12

Exodus 3:4


John 8:58; Cf. 18:5, 6

Psalm 23:1


John 10:11

Isa. 42:8; 48:11

Glory of God

John 17:1, 5

Isa. 41:4; 44:6

First and Last

Rev. 1:7; 2:8

Hosea 13:14


Rev. 5:9

Isa. 62:5; Hosea 2:16


Rev. 21:2; Cf. Matt.


Psa. 18:2


1 Cor. 10:4

Jer. 31:4

Forgiver of Sin

Mark 2:7, 10

Psa. 148:2

Worshipped by Angels

Heb. 1:6


Addressed in prayer

Acts 7:59

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Psa. 148:5

Creator of Angels

Col. 1:16

Isa. 45:23

Confessed as Lord

Phil. 2:11

4. Important Passages on the Deity of Christ

a) John 1:1-- "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(1) The term logos, translated by the English term "word," has
as its basic idea that of disclosure or revelation of God. A
comparison of John 1:1 with 1:14 shows that the Word of verse
one must be a reference to Christ. Of him it is said he was (en)
in the beginning (cf. Gen. 1:1; John 17:5). Thus there never was
a time when he was not. Whenever the beginning was he
already was. This refers to the pre-existence and eternity of the
(2) Further, it is said that he was with (pros) God. "With" has
the sense of "toward" or "facing" "giving the picture of two
personal beings facing one another and engaging in intelligent
discourse. The use of the same verb that was used in the first
clause of verse 1 (en) indicates that ho logos and ho theos have
always been two separate centers of consciousness or individual
(3) There should be no confusion of the two" (Cook, The
Theology of John, p. 49). This, then, speaks of fellowship,
sharing, and exchange. It implies equality as well as association
and points to personality.
(4) Not only was he "in the beginning" and "with God," but the
scriptures also declare he "was God."
(5) The third clause of verse 1 speaks of the nature of the Word.
He is of the very essence of deity. The words theos en ho logos
have been the target of various cultic and aberrant forms of
pseudo-Christian theology since John first penned them. They
have been variously translated as "God was the Word," "the
Word was a god," "the Word was divine," and so forth. The only
grammatically and exegetically correct translation, and therefore
the only theologically correct translation, however, is "the Word
was God."

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(6) While Colwell has demonstrated that in such a construction
as this theos does not need the article to be definite (E. C.
Colwell, "A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek
New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, L II, 20-21),
nonetheless it is to be construed as a predicate nominative rather
than as the subject. This is not a convertible statement with
either noun capable of being construed as subject. The article
could have been used with theos or it could have been omitted
with logos had there been the intent to have "God" as subject of
the clause. "God" is in the first position in the clause for
emphasis because this is the climactic statement of a series of
remarkable statements. Not only was the Word already in
existence at the beginning, and not only was He a personal being
in fellowship with God, but He was Himself God. Furthermore,
the statement "God was the Word" is in direct contradiction with
everything else John teaches about God (to say nothing of the
rest of the New Testament). He has already, in the second
clause, distinguished God and the Word, and he will continue to
do so throughout his writing. John was trinitarian and this translation would make him a unitarian. . . .
(7) The translation "the Word was a god" is openly intended to
denigrate the obvious assertion of deity. This, too, does not
stand the test of grammar or of the analogy of faith, and it totally
ignores the development of the argument in the context. As has
already been noted, theos does not need the article to be definite
in such constructions as this. Furthermore, if the sense of an
anarthrous construction is to be captured in English, it is rarely
best accomplished by the use of the indefinite article. Such
constructions rather qualify then specify; so the sense is "the
Word was of such a nature as God is." As the Athanasian Creed
puts it, "the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is
God." Also, the translation "the Word was a god" teaches
polytheism, which is in direct conflict with John's teaching
elsewhere (John 10:30) and with the rest of the New Testament
(e.g., 1 Cor. 8:4-6).
(8) When one translates the third clause of John 1:1 as "the
Word was divine," it is usually with the implication that divinity
is something other and less than absolute deity [see e.g., John A.
T. Robinson, Honest To God, p. 71]. If John had meant "divine"
as the sense of the statement, he had access to the word theios.
Although theios does express a biblical truth, John was
identifying person (logos) with person (theos) here, not person
with attributes (Cook, op. cit., pp. 49-51).
(9) When John 1:14 is compared with 1:1 a note of particular
significance is the change of verbs and the change of the tense of
the verbs. In verse one the verb is "was" in the Greek imperfect
tense, while in verse fourteen the verb is "became" (egeneto) in

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the Greek aorist tense. This verb and tense would have been
inappropriate in verse one as well as vice versa. The aorist
suggests that there was a time, namely the incarnation, when he
began a mode of existence, which had not hitherto been true.
Note well that it is the eternal, personal, divine Word
who became flesh, that is, as Word he became flesh. In this
experience there was an addition not a subtraction.
(11) Also note that he became flesh, that is, he was no mere
semblance of man. The term "dwelt" in verse fourteen is better
translated "tabernacled" or more literally "pitched his tent." This
was done "in our midst" or "among us." He not only became a
man in form but also in fellowship, in actual daily living.
The glory which was beheld (etheasametha--refers to
careful deliberate looking; scrutiny) was such as an only
begotten from the Father's side would have. This could well be
an intimation of a personalizing of the Old Testament Shekinah
glory (Exod. 40:34). This one from the Father was full of grace
and truth. There was nothing else than this in him for if he was
full of these things there was no room for ungracious or
untruthful actions, thoughts, etc.
Because he is spirit (John 4:24) God is invisible and thus
unknown by man who moves and understands primarily in the
realm of matter, space, and time. John 1:18 declares that "God
only begotten," that is the one referred to in verse fourteen as the
Word become flesh, and in John 3:16 and 18 as the Son of God
given for salvation, has interpreted (exegesato) or exegeted God
to man in personal manifestation (see Heb. 1:2-3).

b) Romans 9:5-- "Whose are the fathers, and of whom

as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all,
God blessed for ever. Amen."
(1) In Romans 9:5 it is stated Christis over all, God blessed
(2) While it has often been contested as to whether this passage
teaches the deity of Christ the most natural way to understand
the phrases of this passage is appositionally.
(3) Also, they are in keeping with other Pauline teaching
regarding Christ as is seen, for example, in 2 Thessalonians 1:12;
Titus 2:13; Philippians 2:6; and Colossians 2:9.
(4) After a survey of Greek manuscripts, early translations, and
other grammar and structure of the passage, Bruce M. Metzger

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concludes that "if one confines one's attention to the verse itself,
the balance of probabilities favors referring theos to Christ ("The
Punctuation of Romans 9:5," Christ and Spirit in the New
Testament, edited by Barnabas Linders and Stephan S. Smalley,
p. 109).
(5) As Metzger points out Paul does not hesitate to call Christ
Lord of the living and the dead (Rom. 14:9), the Lord of Glory
(1 Cor. 2:8), the one through whom all things hold together (Col.
1:17), to whom all creatures are to bow (Phil. 2:10); he is,
moreover, the veritable image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15) and
the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). Paul represents
Christ as preexistent (Gal. 4:14, 2 Cor. 8:9), as being in the form
of God and having equality with God (Phil. 2:6) (Carl F. H.
Henry, God Revelation and Authority, V, 197-98). (For a full
discussion of this passage from an exegetical standpoint see John
F. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, II, 245 ff.)

c) Titus 2:13-- "Looking for that blessed hope, and the

glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour
Jesus Christ"
(1) Titus 2:13 declares, ". . . our great God and Savior Jesus
Christ." That this declaration is to be understood as stating that
Jesus Christ is God as well as Savior is supported by Granville
Sharp's rule which states, "When the copulative kai connects two
nouns of the same case, if the article ho or any of its cases
precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not
repeated before the second noun or participles, the latter always
relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the
first noun or participle; i.e., it denotes a farther description of the
first-named person" (see H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A
Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 147).
(2) In an article that clarifies the proper use of Sharps rule
Daniel B. Wallace also demonstrates its validity in relation to
Titus 2:13 (Granville Sharp: A Model of Evangelical
Scholarship and Social Action, The Journal of the Evangelical
Theological Society, 41, 4 (Dec. 1998), 604-612).

d) Colossians 2:9
(1) Also supports the deity of the second person in that it states,
"in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead. . . ."
(2) Theotetos means deity or godhood and this is predicated
regarding Jesus Christ.

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e) 1 John 5:20-- "And we know that the Son of God is
come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may
know him that is true, and we are in him that is true,
even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and
eternal life."
(1) This Jesus Christ (the last-named Person) is the true God"
(identifying Him thus with the Father in His attribute, "the only
true God," John 17:3, primarily attributed to the Father)
(Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown)
(2) "There has been much difference of opinion in regard to this
important passage; whether it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, the
immediate antecedent, or to a more remote antecedentreferring
to God, as such. The question is of importance in its bearing on
the doctrine of the divinity of the Saviour; for if it refers to him,
it furnishes an unequivocal declaration that he is Divine. The
question is, whether John meant that it should be referred to
him? Without going into an extended examination of the
passage, the following considerations seem to me to make it
morally certain that by the phrase "this is the true God," etc., he
did refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(a) The grammatical construction favours it. Christ is
the immediate antecedent of the pronoun thisGreek.
This would be regarded as the obvious and certain
construction so far as the grammar is concerned, unless
there were something in the thing affirmed which led us
to seek some more remote and less obvious antecedent.
No doubt would have been ever entertained on this
point, if it had not been for the reluctance to admit that
the Lord Jesus is the true God. If the assertion had been
that "this is the true Messiah;" or that "this is the Son of
God;" or that "this is he who was born of the Virgin
Mary," there would have been no difficulty in the
construction. I admit that this argument is not absolutely
decisive; for cases do occur where a pronoun refers, not
to the immediate antecedent, but to one more remote;
but cases of that kind depend on the ground of necessity,
and can be applied only when it would be a clear
violation of the sense of the author to refer it to the
immediate antecedent.
(b) This construction seems to be demanded by the
adjunct which John has assigned to the phrase "the true
God"" ETERNAL LIFE." This is an expression which
John would he likely to apply to the Lord Jesus,
considered as life, and the source of life, and not to God
as such. "How familiar is this language with John, as
applied to Christ! In him (i.e. Christ) was Life, and the

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LIFE was the light of mengiving LIFE to the world
the bread of LIFE.my words are spirit and LIFE I
am the way, and the truth, and the LIFE. This LIFE
(Christ) was manifested, and we have seen it, and do
testify to you, and declare the ETERNAL LIFE which
was with the Father, and was manifested to us, 1Jo
1:2."Prof. Stuarts Letters to Dr. Channing, p. 83.
There is no instance in the writings of John, in which the
appellation LIFE, and eternal Life, is bestowed upon the
Father, to designate him as the author of spiritual and
eternal life; and as this occurs so frequently in Johns
writings as applied to Christ, the laws of exegesis
require that both the phrase "the true God," and "eternal
life," should be applied to him.
(c) If it refers to God as such, or to the word "true"
Greek it would be mere tautology, or a mere truism.
The rendering would then be, "That we may know the
true God, and we are in the true God: this is the true
God, and eternal life." Can we believe that an inspired
man would affirm gravely, and with so much solemnity,
and as if it were a truth of so much magnitude, that the
true God is the true God?
(d) This interpretation accords with what we are sure
John would affirm respecting the Lord Jesus Christ. Can
there be any doubt that he who said, "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God;" that he who said "all things were made
by him, and without him was not anything made that was
made;" that he who recorded the declaration of the
Saviour, "I and my Father are one," and the declaration
of Thomas, "my Lord and my God," would apply to him
the appellation the true God!
(e) If John did not mean to affirm this, he has made use
of an expression which was liable to be misunderstood,
and which, as facts have shown, would be misconstrued
by the great portion of those who might read what he
had written; and, moreover, an expression that would
lead to the very sin against which he endeavours to
guard in the next versethe sin of substituting a
creature in the place of God, and rendering to another
the honour due to him. The language which he uses is
just such as, according to its natural interpretation,
would lead men to worship one as the true God who is
not the true God, unless the Lord Jesus be Divine. For
these reasons, it seems to me that the fair interpretation
of this passage demands that it should be understood as
referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. If so, it is a direct

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assertion of his divinity, for there could be no higher
proof of it than to affirm that he is the true God" (Barnes
Notes on the New Testament, Op. Cit.)

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5. Old Testament Witness to His Deity
a) Psalm 2, universal dominion (Acts 13:33)
b) Psalm 45, eternal throne (Heb. 1:8, 9)
c) Isa. 9:6, mighty God, everlasting Father
d) Micah 5:2, from of old
e) Malachi 3:12, his temple (Mark 1:2)
6. Divine Atttributes Ascbribed to Christ
a) Eternity (John 8:58; Rev. 1:8, 17, 18; 22:13)
b) Immutability (Heb. 13:8; 1:11, 12)
c) Omnipresence (John 3:13; Matt. 28:20)
d) Omniscience (John 5:17; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 2:23)
e) Omnipotent (John 5:17; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 11:17)
7. Divine Works Ascribed to Christ
a) Creation (John 1:3; Col. 1:6, 7)
b) Preservation (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:16, 17; Providence:
Matt. 28:18)
c) Miracles (John 5:21, 36, etc.)
d) Judgment (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 5:31, 32)
e) Election (John 13:18)
f) Sanctification (Eph. 5:26)
g) Sending of the Holy Spirit (John 10:28)
h) Giving of Life (John 10:28)
8. Supreme Worship given to Christ

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a) Calling on His name (1 Cor. 1:2)
b) Invoked in blessing (2 Cor. 13:14)
c) Adoration and Prostration (Phil 2:10, 11; Rev. 7:10)
d) Receiving Praise (Rev. 1:5, 6).
9. Key Terms Concerning Christ
a) Only Begotten
(1) "Only begotten" (monogenes) means "one of a kind," that is,
"having no peer" or "unique." Due to an unfortunate, although
well intended, set of circumstances this crucial term has come to
us in many of our translations in a form that suggests that the
Son of God was actually begotten, that is, that he had a
(2) The [Old Latin] correctly translated [monogenes] as
unicus, "only," and so did Jerome where it was not applied
to Jesus. But to answer the Arian claims that Jesus was
not begotten but made, Jerome translated it as unigenitus,
"only begotten," in passages like this one [John 1:14] (also
i 18, iii 16, 18). The influence of the Vulg. on the KJ made
"only begotten" the standard English rendition (Raymond
E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, II, 13).
(3) In fact, monogenes is a combination of monos and genos
(unicus; only of a kind, unique) rather than monos and gennao
(monogennetos, unigenitus; only begotten). The point is that
while God has many sons (pollous hious) in the redeemed
company of believers, he has only one Son who is full of grace
and truth, who is in the bosom of the Father, and who has
perfectly declared him (John 1:14, 18). This sense for the word
is well illustrated as it is used of Isaac in Hebrews 11:17. "He
who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and
only Son. . ."In terms of numbers Isaac was not Abraham's only
son but in light of God's promise and his unusual birth he was
indeed unique."

b) Firstborn
(1) The term "firstborn" (prototokos) means "prior in rank" (and
possibly, on occasion, in time) and may be translated by the
English word "chief." (In support of this meaning see Arius
Revisited: The Firstborn Over All Creation Col. 1:15, by
Larry R. Helyer in The Journal of the Evangelical Theological

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Society, 31, 1 (Mar. 1988), 59-67.) It is a title of honor. As used
of Christ it does not place him first (earliest) in the order of
created things but ranks him as chief over the order of created
(2) The sense of the term is well illustrated throughout the Old
Testament and especially in the lives of the patriarchs Isaac,
Jacob, and Joseph. None of them were the first son born to their
respective fathers but each became designated as firstborn as
they were given the place of honor and double-blessing in the
family (see also 1 Chron. 26:10).

c) Son of Man
(1) The Metaphysical Sense
(a) It may be noted that the term is sometimes used in
relation to his essential nature and thus as an indication
of his deity. This may be seen in several ways. Some
passages describe the second person from the
pre-incarnate standpoint by the term "Son" (John 1:14,
18; Gal. 4:4). In the normal historical sense of the term,
then, this means that he existed prior to being made flesh
which strongly suggests that he must be divine.
(b) On occasion the term "only begotten" is used with
the term "Son" (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). This would not be
appropriate if "Son of God" were merely an official title
since "only begotten" means "unique" and serves to set
him apart from all other sons of God.
(c) There are other passages, which indicate that the
Son is divine, such as Hebrews chapter one and
especially verse eight, where the Father addresses the
Son as God. On occasion Jesus addressed God as
"Father" or "my Father" rather than as "our Father"
(Matt. 6:9; cf. 7:21). The scriptural record also gives to
us instances where the Lord used the term Son regarding
himself and he was correctly understood by his auditors
to be referring to deity (John 5:18; John 10:22-39,
especially verse 36)
(d) (See also Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 248, and
J. Oliver Buswell, Christian Theology, I, 105.)
(2) The Official or Messianic Sense
(a) Certain passages use the term "Son" to refer to the
second person as God'
s anointed, the Messiah, or Christ

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(Matt. 26:63-66; 27:40, 42; John 1:49). This sense is
related to the preceding in that it is possible because of
the metaphysical sense.
(b) Of particular note here is the title Son of Man
which is used repeatedly by Jesus to refer to himself.
There is little question that the roots of this title lie in
Daniel 7:13-14 or that this passage is messianic. (On
the basis of Daniel 7:18 some early Jewish
interpretation understood the figure to be a reference to
the people of Israel yet, according to R. Steven Notley,
by the first century opinions had changed (Dispatch
From Jerusalem, 24, 1, Jesus and the Son of Man, p.
15). He notes that in 1 Enoch 46-48 the Son of Man is
identified as the Messiah.) Jesus widespread use of
the title for himself provides clear attestation to his
messianic self-consciousness (see Matt. 16:13-16; cf.
Matt. 26:64-65).
(c) While the majority of the Son of Man sayings in the
Gospels may be understood as messianic this does not
mean that Jesus is not nuanced in his use of the term.
On occasion he seems to be using the term as the
equivalent of I, the Messiah (e.g. Mark 2:10; Luke
19:10); on others he seems to be saying, Messiah, the
Judge (e.g. Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:69); on yet others he
seems to be saying, Messiah, the suffering Servant of
Yahweh (e.g. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:44); and finally
sometimes he seems to be saying, Messiah, a man
among men (e.g. Matt. 8:20, 9:6-8; cf. Ps. 8:3-6 with
Heb. 2:6-8).
(3) The Nativistic Sense
(a) On occasion the term "Son" is used in the sense that
Jesus owed his human birth to God (Luke 1:31-32, 35).
(b) Thus has the meaning offspring of.

10. Key Heresies Concerning deity of Christ

a) The Ebionite Error
(1) Description
(a) By this name were designated one or more early
Christian sects infected with Judaistic errors.

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(b) The word Ebionites, or rather, more correctly,
Ebionans (Ebionaioi), is a transliteration of an
Aramean word meaning "poor men".
(c) It first occurs in Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, xxvi, 2, but
without designation of meaning. Origen (C. Celsum, II,
i; De Princ., IV, i, 22) and Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., III,
xxvii) refer the name of these sectaries either to the
poverty of their understanding, or to the poverty of the
Law to which they clung, or to the poor opinions they
held concerning Christ. This, however, is obviously not
the historic origin of the name.
(d) Other writers, such as Tertullian (De Praescr.,
xxxiii; De Carne Chr., xiv, 18), Hippolytus (cfr. PseudoTert., Adv. Haer., III, as reflecting Hippolytus'
s lost
"Syntagma"), and Epiphanius (Haeres., xxx) derive the
name of the sect from a certain Ebion, its supposed
(2) The Basic Tenets
(a) The doctrines of this sect are said by Irenaeus to be
like those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.
(b) They denied the Divinity and the virginal birth of
Christ; they clung to the observance of the Jewish Law;
they regarded Paul as an apostate, and used only a
Gospel according to St. Matthew (Adv. Haer., I, xxvi, 2;
III, xxi, 2; IV, xxxiii, 4; V, i, 3).
(c) Their doctrines are similarly described by
Hippolytus (Philos., VIII, xxii, X, xviii) and Tertullian
(De carne Chr., xiv, 18), but their observance of the Law
seems no longer so prominent a feature of their system
as in the account given by Irenaeus.
(d) Origen is the first (C. Cels., V, lxi) to mark a
distinction between two classes of Ebionites, a
distinction which Eusebius also gives (Hist. Eccl., III,
(e) Some Ebionites accept, but others reject, the virginal
birth of Christ, though all reject His pre-existence and
His Divinity.
(f) Those who accepted the virginal birth seem to have
had more exalted views concerning Christ and, besides

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observing the Sabbath, to have kept the Sunday as a
memorial of His Resurrection.
(g) The milder sort of Ebionites were probably fewer
and less important than their stricter brethren, because
the denial of the virgin birth was commonly attributed to
all. (Origen, Hom. in Luc., xvii)
(3) Condemnation
(a) The early church fathers as seen above rejected this
heresy early`
(b) Along with Schleiermacher, Ritschl and Walter
Rauschenbusch, Bloesch categorizes Donald Baillie and
contemporary liberation theology as ebionite (op. cit., p.

b) The Arian and Semi-Arian error (4th century).

(1) Basic Tenets
(a) The Father Alone is God
(b) The Son is preexistent, above all other creatures
(c) The Son is a created being; "There was a time when
he was not"
(2) Exegetical Arguments
(a) They argue that Proverbs 8:22 speaks of Christ;
rather it is only a personification of wisdom
(b) Colossians 1:15 speaks of Christ as the firstborn.
However, preeminence is a better understanding of work
(see Psa. 89:26-27).
(3) Arian Propositions
(a) "And before he was begotten or created or defined
or established, he was not. For he was not unbegotten.
But we persecuted because we say, '
The Son has a
beginning, but God is without beginning.'We are
persecuted because we say, '
He is from nothing.'But we
speak this insomuch as he is neither part of God nor
forma any substratum" (Arius, Letters, in Rusch The
Trinitarian Controversy, 30).

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: Christology: Deity of Christ 18 of 19

(b) "He was created by the will of God before times and
ages, and he received life, being, and glories from the
Father as the Father has shared them with him.but the
Son, begotten the Father, created and founded before the
ages, was not before he was begotten. Rather the Son
begotten timelessly before everything, alone was caused
to subsist by the Father. For he is not everlasting or coeverlasting or unbegotten with the Father" (Ibid., 31).
(4) Condemned a the Council of Nicea (A. D. 325).
(a) Subject of 50 years of controversy
(b) Modern day representatives include Jehovah
Witnesses, United Pentecostals, Apostolic Faith
(c) I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of
heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of
God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of
God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not
made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom
all things were made; who for us men and for our
salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by
the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he
suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall
come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the
dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in
the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who
proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the
Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy
Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one
baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the
resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to
(5) Semi- Arianism.
(a) This was a more conservative error, reacting both
against Arianism and the Nicene position which it felt
tended to modalism.
(b) It claimed that Jesus Christ was of similar substance
(homoiousian) with the Father but not of the same.

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: Christology: Deity of Christ 19 of 19

(c) Most contemporary liberal theology is ebionite or
arian in its views of Christ. Some who fit this category
are Wolfhart Pannenburg, John A. T. Robinson, John
Cobb, John Hick, Teilhard de Chardin, David Griffin
and Hans Kung.

c) The Kenotic error (19th century).

(1) This view held that the Logos laid aside some or all of his
attributes at the incarnation. These in turn were redeveloped
during his earthly life in some cases. The milder form claimed
that the emptying of Philippians 2:7 only included the relative
attributes of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence while
he maintained the so-called immanent attributes.
(2) However, to give up any attribute of deity, even
momentarily, is to do what even God himself cannot do, namely,
to lay aside deity; to cease being God. The scripture declares of
Jesus Christ that he is immutable as to his essence (Heb. 13:8).
(3) This viewpoint is usually associated with Chemnitz and
Gess but has also been set forth by P. T. Forsyth, H. R.
Mackintosh, Vincent Taylor, Geddes MacGregor and
Jurgen Moltmann.
(4) See handout for more detail

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Person of Christ
A. His Deity
B. His Humanity
1. Introduction to Christ's Humanity
a) Most attacks on the hypostatic union, the person of
Jesus Christ, have been in the area of his deity.
b) There have been from earliest time, however, those
who attacked his humanity in one way or another.
c) Colossians 1, 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 John 4:1-6 were
responses to those who disparaged or denied the true
humanity of our Lord.
d) John viewed this error so seriously that he
designated those who promulgated it as "false
prophets," "of the antichrist" and setting forth a "spirit
of error" (1 John 4:1-6).
2. Importance of Christ's Humanity
a) It was necessary for his sympathy with mankind
(Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16).
b) It was necessary to his substitution for mankind (1
Pet. 2:24; Heb. 2:9).
c) "It was requisite that the Mediator should be man,
that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to
the law, suffer and make intercession for us in our
nature, have a fellow feeling of our infirmities; that we
might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort
and access with boldness unto the throne of grace"
(Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 39).
d) ""If, however, Jesus was not really one of us,
humanity has not been united with deity, and we cannot
be saved. For the validity of the work accomplished in
Christ's death, or at least its applicability to us as
human beings, depends upon the reality of his

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humanity, just as the efficacy of it depends upon the

genuineness of his deity" (Erickson, ST, 706).
3. Proofs of Christ's Humanity
a) The Old Testament Witness
(1) He was to come from the seed of the Woman (Gen.
3:15 (Cf. Gal. 3:16).
(2) He would be of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8-10)
(3) He was from the tribe of David (2 Sam. 7; Psalm 89).
(4) He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
(5) He was to suffer and die (Isa. 53).

b) The New Testament Witness

(1) The birth of Jesus was the birth of a human child (Matt.
1; Luke 2; Gal. 4:4)
(2) Jesus has human genealogies (Matt. 1-17-- Joseph;
Luke 3:23f. -- Mary).
(3) As a boy he grew in "wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52).
(4) He was subject to pain, pleasure, hunger, thirst,
fatigue, suffering, and death. This is evidence abundantly
throughout the gospels.
(5) He had flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14) and after the
resurrection, flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).
(6) He had a true human soul: he increased in wisdom,
thought, reasoned, felt joy and sorrow; was ignorant of the
time of the day of judgment (Matt. 24:36).

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4. Implications of Christ's Humanity

a) Christ's atonement avails for us
b) Christ's intercessory work avails for us
c) Christ's life acts as an example to us
d) Christ's humanity brings God to us
e) Christ's humanity shows that human nature is
essentially good
5. Statements on Christ's Humanity
a) "We believe that Jesus Christ, being the wisdom of
God and his eternal Son, has put on our flesh, so as to
be God and man in one person; man, like unto us,
capable of suffering in body and soul, yet free from all
stain of sin. And as to his humanity, he was the true
seed of Abraham and of David, although he was
conceived by the secret power of the Holy Spirit. In this
we detest all the heresies that have of old troubled the
Church, and especially the diabolical conceits of
Servetus, which attribute a fantastical divinity to the
Lord Jesus, calling him the idea and pattern of all
things, and the personal or figurative Son of God, and,
finally, attribute to him a body of three uncreated
elements, thus confusing and destroying the two
natures" (French Confession, Article 14)
b) "Christ Is True Man, Having Real Flesh. We also
believe and teach that the eternal Son of the eternal God
was made the Son of man, from the seed of Abraham
and David, not from the coitus of a man, as the
Ebionites said, but was most chastely conceived by the
Holy Spirit and born of the ever virgin Mary, as the
evangelical history carefully explains to us (Matt., ch. 1).
And Paul says: He took not on him the nature of angels,
but of the seed of Abraham. Also the apostle John says
that whoever does not believe that Jesus Christ has
come in the flesh, is not of God. Therefore, the flesh of
Christ was neither imaginary nor brought from heaven,
as Valentinus and Marcion wrongly imagined. A
Rational Soul in Christ. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ
did not have a soul bereft of sense and reason, as

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Apollinaris thought, nor flesh without a soul, as

Eunomius taught, but a soul with its reason, and flesh
with its senses, by which in the time of his passion he
sustained real bodily pain, as he himself testified when
he said: My soul is very sorrowful, even to death (Matt.
26:38). And, Now is my soul troubled (John 12:27)" (2nd
Helvetic Confession, Article 11).
c) "That the eternal Son of God, who is and continues
true and eternal God, took upon Himself the very nature
of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, by the
operation of the Holy Ghost; so that He might also be
the true seed of David, like unto His brethren in all
things, except for sin (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 35).
d) " We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the
promise which He made to the fathers by the mouth of His
holy prophets, when He sent into the world, at the time
appointed by Him, His own only-begotten and eternal Son,
who took upon Him the form of a servant and became like
unto man, really assuming the true human nature with all its
infirmities, sin excepted; being conceived in the womb of the
blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit without
the means of man; and did not only assume human nature
as to the body, but also a true human soul, that He might be
a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it
was necessary that He should take both upon Him, to save
both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of
the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh
of His mother) that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of
the children; that He is a fruit of the loins of David after the
flesh; born of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit
of the womb of Mary; born of a woman; a branch of David; a
shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah;
descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed
of Abraham, since (A.V.) he took on him the seed of
Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren in all things,
sin excepted; so that in truth He is our IMMANUEL, that is to
say, God with us" (Belgic Confession, Article 18).
e) "Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to
himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being
conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb
of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin"
(Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 22).

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6. Issues of Chirst's Humanity

a) His Virgin Birth
(1) Importance
(a) Rex Turner, Sr., said, "There are four cardinal
doctrines of Christianity--the doctrine of the virgin birth,
the doctrine of the vicarious death, the doctrine of the
blood atonement, and the doctrine of the body
resurrection of the Son of Man. On these four cardinal
doctrines the system of Christianity rests, but the
modernist denies all four of the doctrines....Of the four
cardinal doctrines of Christianity, none draws a finer
line of demarcation than the doctrine of the virgin
(b) Sociologist Jeffrey Hadden conducted a poll of
7,441 Protestant preachers on various Christian issues.
Concerning the virgin birth of Christ when asked if they
believed in the virgin birth of Jesus: 60% of Methodist,
44% of Episcopalians, 49% of Presbyterians, 34% of
Baptist, 19% of American Lutherans, and 5% of
Missouri Synod Lutherans said NO!
(c) J. Oliver Buswell said, "If the Biblical doctrine of
the virgin birth is not historically true, there is no room
for holding the other evangelical doctrines, for the Bible
must then be rejected as an authority for faith and life."
(2) Significance
(a) The veracity of Scripture
(i) The doctrine of the virgin birth is closely tied
to the truthfulness and authority of Scripture.
(ii) If one denies the virgin birth, then one is
denying the straightforward teaching of the
(iii) If one denies the virgin birth, then he must
conclude that the Bible is not telling the truth and
that it lacks authority in this area of doctrine.
(iv) Machen wisely observed that "if the Bible is
regarded as being wrong in what it says about
the birth of Christ, then obviously the authority of
the Bible, in any high sense, is gone" (Machen,

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(b) The Deity of Christ

(i) The doctrine of the virgin birth is also linked
with belief in the deity of Christ.
(ii) Frame writes, "While we cannot say
dogmatically that God could enter the world only
through the virgin birth, surely the incarnation is
a supernatural event if it is anything. To
eliminate the supernatural from this event is
inevitably to compromise the divine dimension of
it" (EDT, 1145; see also Machen, 387-92).

(c) The Humanity of Christ

(i) Similarly, the truth of the virgin birth is
connected to the doctrine of the humanity of
Christ. The Apostle Paul alluded to this truth
when he wrote that Jesus was "born of a
woman" (Galatians 4:4).
(ii) Ignatius, a second-century martyr, argued
forcefully against the Docetists, whom he called
"certain unbelievers," by stressing that Jesus
truly was of the Davidic line, that He was truly
nailed to the cross, that He truly suffered, and
that He truly rose from the dead. Ignatius was
also "fully persuaded" that Jesus Christ was
"truly born of a virgin" (AF, 156-157).

(d) The Sinlessness of Christ

(i) Having been born of the virgin Mary, Jesus
was human Offspring. Having been conceived of
the Holy Spirit and overshadowed by the power
of the Most High, Jesus was holy Offspringthe
sinless Son of God.
(ii) Therefore, the doctrine of the virgin birth
impacts ones view of the sinlessness of Christ.
When Mary "conceived, she passed on her
human nature to the theanthropic person, but
she was prevented by the Holy Spirit from
transmitting a sin nature" (Gromacki, 125).
(iii) The other view that one must take into
account is one's view of the transmission of sin
(mediate, immediate, seminal) and the origin of
the soul (traducianism and creationism).

(e) The Descent of the Messiah

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(i) The doctrine of Jesus as the Christ, or

Messiah, also depends upon the virgin birth.
(ii) The Messiah was promised to come as a
descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7:16; 1
Chronicles 17:14; Psalm 89:3-4, 26-37; Isaiah
9:7; Matthew 9:27, 12:23, 20:30, 21:9, 22:41-45;
Luke 1:32-33; see also Ezekiel 34:23-24). In
fulfillment of these promises, Jesus was born
"the son of David" (Matthew 1:1,6).
(iii) The Old Testament, however, not only
portrays the Messiah as a descendant of David,
but also mentions a curse against all of Davids
royal seed descending through the line of one of
Judahs final kings. This king was Jehoiachin
(also known as Coniah), and his wicked reign is
described in 2 Kings 24:8-17 and 2 Chronicles
36:9-10. He was so wicked that God
pronounced a curse against him: "No man of his
seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of
David, and ruling any more in Judah" (Jeremiah
(iv) This presents a problem because, though
Jesus lineage traces back to David and
Solomon (Matthew 1:6-7), according to Matthew,
Jesus lineage comes through the cursed
"Jechonias" (Matthew 1:11).
(v) The virgin birth provides the wonderful
solution to this dilemma. Matthew records Jesus
legal genealogy through Joseph, His adopted
father (Matthew 1:16), and so Matthew
establishes Jesus legal right to the throne of
David. Luke, on the other hand, records Jesus
biological genealogy through Mary.
(vi) Mary too was a descendant of David, but not
through Solomon and Jehoiachin. Instead, her
line traces back to a son of David through a
different son, Nathan (Luke 3:31). In the
sovereign plan of God, the Messiah has the
legal right to Davids throne without its
accompanying curse.

(f) The Salvation of Sinners

(i) The doctrine of the virgin birth is also closely
tied with our own salvation.
(ii) If Jesus had been tainted with sin, then He
could not have been our sufficient Sacrifice.

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(iii) On the other hand, if Jesus had not been

born of Mary, and so had not been the Man,
Christ Jesus, then He could not have died, nor
could He have been a suitable sacrificial
substitute as a Man for men.
(iv) Christ became human in a miraculous way.
The provision of salvation, therefore, is all of
God and none of man.

(g) Summation
(i) It is clear, then, not only that the Bible does
teach the doctrine of the virgin birth and that this
doctrine differs from Catholic teachings, but it is
also clear that the doctrine of the virgin birth is
an integral element of orthodox theology.
(ii) The virgin birth touches upon the doctrines
of Scripture, Christ, and salvation. For this
reason, we reaffirm our belief in this doctrine, we
teach it, and we call on others to do the same. It
is a doctrine that should be proclaimed
especially during the Christmas season.
(iii) Ignatius wrote of "the virginity of Mary and
her child-bearing and likewise also the death of
the Lord" as "three mysteries to be cried aloud"
(AF110, 141-142).

(3) Evidence
(a) Prophesied.
(i) Gen. 3:15 "And I will put enmity between
thee and the woman, and between thy seed and
her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt
bruise his heel."
(a) The seed is generally associated
with the male, but here with the female.
(b) It is also specified that the seed of
woman would be a male.
(c) Additional information is given.
(i) All nations will be blessed by
the seed of Abraham.
(ii) God promised the seed to be
through Isaac; Gen. 21:12 "And

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God said unto Abraham, Let it

not be grievous in thy sight
because of the lad, and because
of thy bondwoman; in all that
Sarah hath said unto thee,
hearken unto her voice; for in
Isaac shall thy seed be called."
(iii) God told Abraham to
sacrifice Isaac. But the promise
had not been fulfilled.
(iv) Heb. 11:17-19 "By faith
Abraham, when he was tried,
offered up Isaac: and he that had
received the promises offered up
his only begotten son, Of
whom it was said, That in Isaac
shall thy seed be called:
Accounting that God was able to
raise him up, even from the dead;
from whence also he received
him in a figure."
(v) Abraham knew that God
would be faithful to His promise.
(vi) The Messiah would be of the
tribe of Judah. The Savior would
be from the house of David.

(ii) Isa. 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall

give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive,
and bear a son, and shall call his name
(a) Background.
(i) Rezin (king of Syria) and
Pekah (king of Israel) had formed
a pack to destroy Judah
(ii) In Ahaz's first year they had
attacked and killed 100,000 men
and taken 200,000 captives.
(iii) In his second year they were
again marching on Judah. God is
warning Ahaz not to depend on
Assyria for protection, instead
rely on God.
(iv) God urges Ahaz to ask for a
sign as evidence of God's
deliverance: Ahaz refuses.

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(v) Jehovah gives a sign to the

house of David, a virgin will
conceive and bear a son who will
be Immanuel.
(vi) Before the child reached the
age of maturity (discernment)
these nations would be without
power. This was positive
assurance that Judah would not
be destroyed for the promise was
yet to be fulfilled through Judah
(cf. Abraham's faith concerning

(b) Sign.

Sign indicates a miracle.

(ii) Isa. 7:11 "Ask thee a sign of

the Lord thy God; ask it either in
the depth, or in the height
(iii) Depth would be an
earthquake, flood from the
ground, water from rock, etc.
(iv) Height would be sudden
storm, thunder and lightning, sun
standing still or going
backwards, etc.
(v) Ahaz could not have tempted
the Lord by asking for a nonmiraculous sign.
(vi) How could God give a nonmiraculous sign and anyone
know that it is a sign. A woman
giving birth to a son in a natural
manner would not be a sign. If
we remove the miraculous
element the assurance that God
is giving (the promise to be
fulfilled through Judah) is

(c) Virgin.
(i) This is the Hebrew word
almah and the etymological
meaning is a sexually mature

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(ii) The definite article is used,

thus "the almah," not just any
almah but a specific almah.
(iii) Every Old Testament
occasion of this word refers to a
virgin, and never used for
anything other than a virgin.
(iv) Used 7 times in the feminine
(v) Used 2 times in masculine
(vi) Some state that if Isaiah
wanted to show a virgin, he
would have used the Hebrew
(vii) If inherent in the word, why
is there the need to add they had
not known any man; Jud. 21:12
"And they found among the
inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four
hundred young virgins
[bethulah], that had known no
man by lying with any male: and
they brought them unto the camp
to Shiloh, which is in the land of
It is used of a married
woman; Joel 1:8 "Lament like a
virgin [bethulah] girded with
sackcloth for the husband of her
(ix) Matthew settles the question.
Mat. 1:22-23 "Now all this was
done, that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken of the Lord by
the prophet, saying, Behold, a
virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a son, and they
shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is, God
with us."
(x) Matthew used
(parthenos) which can only mean
a virgin.
(xi) Matthew says this is what
Isaiah said. It is sad that the RSV
translators perverted this
passage to be "young woman.

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(b) The Savior Virgin Born.

(i) No involvement of a male in the birth of
Christ; Mat. 1:16 "And Jacob begat Joseph the
husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who
is called Christ."
(ii) Before Mary and Joseph came together, she
was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit;
Mat. 1:18 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on
this wise: When as his mother Mary was
espoused to Joseph, before they came together,
she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."
(iii) Mary knew not man, but conceived when the
Holy Spirit came upon her and she was
overshadowed by the power of the Most High;
Luke 1:34-35 "Then said Mary unto the angel,
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing which shall be born
of thee shall be called the Son of God."
(iv) Joseph was not willing to make her a public
example instead was going to put her away
privately; Mat. 1:19 "Then Joseph her husband,
being a just man, and not willing to make her a
publick example, was minded to put her away
(v) An angel appeared to Joseph reassuring
him that that which was conceived in Mary was
of the Holy Spirit; Mat. 1:20 "But while he
thought on these things, behold, the angel of the
Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto
thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in
her is of the Holy Ghost."
(vi) The angel announced that Mary would give
birth to a son, His name would be Jesus
because He would save His people from their
sins; Mat. 1:21 "And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall
save his people from their sins."
(vii) It is stated that this was being done to fulfill
what Isaiah prophesied; Mat. 1:22-23 "Now all
this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was
spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall
bring forth a son, and they shall call his name

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Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with

It is stated that Joseph did not know her
till she had brought forth a son; Mat. 1:25 "And
knew her not till she had brought forth her
firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."
(ix) Elisabeth was moved by the Holy Spirit to
acknowledge the divine influence upon Mary;
Luke 1:41-43 "And it came to pass, that, when
Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe
leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled
with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a
loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among
women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my
Lord should come to me?"
(x) An angel announced the birth of Jesus as
Savior; Luke 2:8-14 "And there were in the same
country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping
watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the
angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory
of the Lord shone round about them: and they
were sore afraid. And the angel said unto
them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of
David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And
this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the
babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a
manger. And suddenly there was with the
angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising
God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men."
(xi) Luke connected Jesus with Joseph by
saying "as was supposed" son of Joseph; Luke
3:23 "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty
years of age, being (as was supposed) the son
of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,"
(xii) This makes it sufficiently clear that Jesus
was virgin born.

(4) Denial
(a) Modernist theologians feel that the doctrine of the
virgin birth is not important; they conclude that the
doctrine of the virgin birth is a theologoumenon, i.e., a
story reflecting the faith of the early church in its
attempt to reinforce its Christological myths.

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(b) Most treacherous are those Modernists who claim to

hold the doctrine of the virgin birth, though they actually
deny it by redefining the term as a reference to the
incarnation, with no affirmation of the biological
virginity of Mary.
(c) Contrary to the liberals condescending dismissal of
the doctrine, we reaffirm the importance of the doctrine
and its integral position in a Biblically-based systematic
theology (see EDT, 1143-45).
(d) "As the stories of six day creation of the world
and the fall of Adam and Eve after their temptation by
the serpent in the Garden of Eden are not seen as
profound religious myths, illuminating our human
situation, so the story of the Son of God coming down
from heaven and being born as a human baby will be
seen as a mythological expression of the immense
significance our encounter with one in whose presence
we have found ourselves to be at the same time in the
presence of God" (John Hick).
(e) John Spong (Episcopal Bishop) is convinced that "in
time the virgin birth account will join Adam and Eve and
story of the cosmic ascension as clearly recognized
mythological elements in our faith tradition whose
purpose was not to describe a literal event but to capture
the transcendent dimensions of God in the earthbound
words and concepts of first-century human beings."
(f) Karl Barth has identified the infancy narratives of
the Gospels as saga or legend.
(g) Wolfhart Pannenberg calls the virgin birth an
"aetiological legend."

b) Immaculate Conception
(1) According to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception,
Mary was "preserved free from all stain of original sin" (Ott,
(2) Since she was subject to the necessity of original sin, she
stood in need of redemption; but since she was redeemed from
the moment of conception, she was thereby preserved from
original sin.
(3) Her redemption, therefore, according to this dogma, was
more perfect than that experienced by any other human.

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(4) The dogma was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on December

8, 1854, and a Biblical basis for the belief is argued from texts
such as Genesis 3:15 and Luke 1:28, 41. Reading these passages,
one is left at a loss as to how such a doctrine could find Biblical
support were it not for underlying Marian presuppositions.

c) The Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity

(1) The Catholic tenet of the perpetual virginity of Mary holds
that she was "a Virgin before, during and after the Birth of Jesus
Christ" (Ott, 203).
(2) Accordingly, Mary was not only a virgin at the conception
and birth of Jesus but remained so throughout her life.
(3) According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church "the
deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to
confess Marys real and perpetual virginity even in the act of
giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christs birth
"did not diminish his mothers virginal integrity but sanctified
it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as
Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin" (CCC, 499).
(4) Catholics officially promulgate the idea that "Mary bore her
Son without any violation of her virginal integrity" (Ott, 205).
(5) A few, the Schoolmen in particular, theorized that Jesus
birth did not pain Mary, nor did it nullify her "physical
virginity." For the Schoolmen, then, Jesus was born miraculously
in a way analogous to His emergence from the sealed tomb or to
His going through the shut doors (i.e., Jesus was born directly
through Marys abdominal wall).
(6) The Scriptures, on the other hand, describe Mary as the one
who "brought forth" her Son; they say nothing about a
miraculous birthing of Jesus.
(7) Magisterial Catholic theologians propound the concept that
Mary remained a virgin after Jesus birth.
(8) For Augustine and others, Biblical support for this comes
from an inference based on Luke 1:34, where Marys question is
taken as "a resolve of constant virginity on the ground of special
Divine enlightenment" (Ott, 207). Others look to John 19:26 and
infer that Mary had no other children but Jesus.
(9) However, the aggregate voice of Scripture contradicts the
dogma of perpetual virginity with the repeated mention of Jesus
siblings: Matthew 12:46, 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12, 7:3-5; Acts

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1:14; and Galatians 1:19. In addition, Matthew 1:25 could hardly

be clearer on this point: Joseph "knew her not till she had
brought forth her firstborn son." The words till (see also 1:18)
and firstborn (see also Luke 2:7) provide a double proof against
the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. It is of little
wonder that one Catholic catechism reads, "The perpetual
virginity of Mary is not revealed truth which can be clearly
demonstrated from the New Testament without the light of
tradition" (Lawler, 107).

d) His Sinlessness
(1) Testimony of Scripture
(a) Hebrews 4:15-- yet without sin
(b) Hebrews 7:26-- holy, blameless, unstained,
separated from sin
(c) Hebrews 9:14-- without blemish
(d) 1 Peter 2:22-- committed no sin
(e) 1 John 3:5-- in him there is no sin
(f) 2 Cor. 5:21-- knew no sin
(g) John 8:46-- who can convict him of sin?
(h) John 8:29-- always does that which is pleasing to
(i) Others testify to his sinlessness (Matt. 27:19; Luke
23:41; Matt. 27:4).
(2) Significance of Testimony
(a) A perfect sacrifice for us
(b) A righteousness gained for us
(c) An effectual advocate for us
(3) Rejection of Sinlessness
(a) While Christ's sinlessness is repeatedly
affirmed by scripture Barth, seemingly with

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Bloesch's approval, rejects this witness. Bloesch

tries to mitigate the unbiblical nature of Barth's
assertion as he writes, "Barth contends with some
biblical support that Christ assumed fallen human
nature and not simply human nature (cf. 2 Cor.
5:21; Heb. 2:14, 17, 18).
(b) The implication which he intends, however, is
not that Christ became a sinner but rather that he
identified himself completely with fallen human kind
in its frailty and dereliction" (op. cit., p. 130). An
examination of these two passages, however, will
show that Christ identified with our sin in his death
not his incarnation. The references in Hebrews say
nothing about him assuming sinful nature but only
human nature.
(4) Peccability
(a) Definition
(i) Christ could sin
(ii) Able not to sin (potuit non peccare)

(b) Argument
(i) M.R. DeHaan (The Temptation of Jesus, p.
2) admits this truth, he goes on to argue that
Jesus could have sinned because "the humanity
of Jesus was no different from the humanity of
Adam before He fell" (p. 3) and " ... when He
met Satan in the wilderness, (He) met him as
the Son of MAN, and not as the Son of God" (p.
4, emphasis are his).
(ii) Real temptation admits the possibility of
succumbing to the temptation.
(a) "If Christ could not have sinned, His
temptation was not real." M.R. DeHaan
says, "There is but little glory in not
sinning when it is IMPOSSIBLE to sin"
(The Temptation of Jesus, p. 13).
(b) Again DeHaan says (p. 19),
"Therein lies the glory of His victory --not
that He could not sin but that HE
WOULD NOT SIN. Otherwise there
could have been no temptation."

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(c) The answer to this objection is that

there can indeed be a genuine
temptation without the possibility of
Christ's yielding to it. This is because
temptability does not imply that the one
being tempted must be able to yield to
the temptation Walvoord (Jesus Christ
Our Lord, p. 147) states, "While the
temptation may be real, there may be
infinite power to resist that temptation
and if this power is infinite, the person is
(iii) True freedom involves the possibility of
choosing to sin.
(a) Yet we know that God has free will
(Ephesians 1:11) and it is impossible for
Him to lie (Titus 1:2).
(b) Francis Pieper (Christian
Dogmatics, II, p. 76) remarks, "The
assertion that 'freedom' must always
involve the possibility of sinning
operates with a false conception of
freedom. The saints in heaven cannot
sin, and still they are not unfree, but
enjoy a state of perfect freedom. "
(iv) "If Christ could not have sinned, then He
cannot be our example as Hebrews 4:15 says
He is."
(a) This is DeHaan's argument (The
Temptation of Jesus, p. 8).
(b) The answer to this objection is that
the parallel between our blessed Lord
and ourselves is not that because He
conquered temptation we can also. How
could such a parallel exist? He had no
sin nature. We do. He never sinned. We
do. Our sin nature offers the tempter an
inward point of temptation. This was
missing in Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 does
not say that Jesus was tempted so that
He could be our example, but so that He
could sympathize with us. He was
human. He got tired. He was hungry. In
this sense His temptations were real
and in this sense He can understand
when we, too, become weary. But this is
vastly different from saying Jesus Christ
could have sinned. Berkhouwer (the

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Person of Christ, p. 254-255) clearly

presents this truth.

(5) Impeccability
(a) Definition
(i) Christ could not sinned
(ii) Not able to sin (non potuit peccare)

(b) Argument
(i) Jesus Christ had two natures but they were
united in one person.
(a) It is clear from Scripture that Jesus
Christ had a human nature as well as a
divine nature (see Romans 1:3 & I
Timothy 2:5). But it is also clear that
Jesus was one person (see John 17:23,
I John 4:2, Romans 1:3).
(b) Strong (Systematic Theology, p.
673) says, "The orthodox doctrine holds
that in the one person Jesus Christ
there are two natures, a human nature
and a divine nature, each in its
completeness and integrity, and that
these two natures are organically and
indissolubly united, yet so that no third
nature is formed thereby."
(c) While M.R. DeHaan (The
Temptation of Jesus, p. 2) admits this
truth, he goes on to argue that Jesus
could have sinned because "the
humanity of Jesus was no different from
the humanity of Adam before He fell" (p.
3) and " ... when He met Satan in the
wilderness, (He) met him as the Son of
MAN, and not as the Son of God" (p. 4,
emphasis are his).
(d) This is a contradiction! If Jesus
Christ was one person, then it was
impossible for Christ to be tempted only
as a human being.
(ii) Jesus Christ had two desires (human and
divine) but the human desire always obeyed the
divine desire.

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(a) Our Lord Jesus was under terrific

pressure in the Garden of Gethsemane
and yet His will was submissive to the
will of His Heavenly Father (see
Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).
(iii) Jesus Christ's divine nature, and not His
human nature, is the base of His person.
(a) This is crucial to our understanding
of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Let me
recommend Eternal Sonship of Christ by
J.C. Philpot as good reading in this
(b) Shedd (Dogmatic Theology, II, p.
269-270) states: "The eternal Son, or
the Word, is personal per se. He is from
everlasting to everlasting conscious of
himself as distinct from the Father, and
from the Holy Spirit. He did not acquire
personality by union with a human
nature ... On the contrary, the human
nature which he assumed to himself
acquired personality by its union with
him ... That the personality of the Godman depends primarily upon the divine
nature, and not upon the human, is also
evinced by the fact that this complex
theanthropic (i.e., God-man) personality
was not destroyed by the death of
Christ" (see John 1:1, 14).
(iv) Overall Testimony of the Bible
(a) The overall testimony of the Bible
does not present Jesus Christ as a man
who won victory over sinful temptation,
but rather it presents Him as a
completely holy person (see Hebrews
(b) Berkhouwer (The Person of Christ,
p. 256) comments, "The Bible certainly
speaks, not of a final victory over sinful,
rebellious desire, but of a holiness which
pervades his entire existence, inside
and outside."
(v) The fact that Jesus Christ is unchangeable
guarantees His impeccability.

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(a) Hebrews 13:8 states that. Jesus

Christ is the same yesterday, today and
(b) This does not refer to any specific
act (e.g. it would be improper to use this
verse to teach that because Christ once
created the world, that He must continue
to do so).
(c) Instead, this passage teaches that
Jesus Christ is unchangeable in His
person. He has and always will be God
and as God, (though not the Father but
the Son) He shares the divine attributes.
(d) One of those attributes is holiness.
Best puts it well when he says,
"Holiness is far more than the absence
of sin; it is positive virtue ... To say that
He could have sinned is to deny positive
holiness. To deny positive holiness,
therefore, is to deny the holy character
of God. Holiness is positive virtue which
has neither room for nor interest in sin.
The Lord Jesus could not sin because
the days of His flesh meant only addition
of experience, not variation of character"
(cf. Best, The Impeccable Christ, p. 8).
(vi) The fact that Jesus Christ is omnipotent (all
powerful) guarantees His impeccability.
(a) Walvoord (Jesus Christ Our Lord,
p. 151-152) carefully distinguishes
between having ALL power and
sufficient power. Sufficient power would
enable Christ not to sin.
(b) But our Lord Jesus Christ had more
than sufficient power. He had ALL
power and therefore was not able to sin.
(vii) The fact that Jesus Christ is omniscient (all
knowing) guarantees His impeccability.
(a) Christ knew all things.
(b) Walvoord (Jesus Christ Our Lord, p.
152) states, "Sin frequently appeals to
the ignorance of the one tempted. Thus
Eve was deceived and sinned, though
Adam was not deceived as to the nature

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of the transgression. In the case of

Christ, the effects of sin were perfectly
known, with all the contributing factors.
It was impossible for Christ having
omniscience to commit that which He
knew could only bring eternal woe to
Himself and to the race."

7. Errors relating to His humanity.

a) The Docetic error (2nd century).
(1) Docetism, a form of Gnosticism, affirmed the deity of Christ
but claimed that he only "seemed" to have a body. Another form
of Gnosticism, Cerinthianism, claimed that the "Christ-spirit"
descended on Jesus at his baptism and departed at the
crucifixion. Gnosticism saw anything relating to matter,
including the human body, as evil and in this way tried to guard
deity from any contamination.
(2) Proponents: Basilides, Valentinus, Patripassians,
(3) Denied genuine humanity
(4) While he appeared human, he would really divine.
(5) It was never officially condemned
(6) Late in the first century Ignatius, bishop of Antioch,
already echos the warnings of the New Testament against
those who would deny our Lord's true humanity (Ignatius to
the Trallians, IX/1, The Apostolic Fathers, translated by
Kirsopp Lake, p. 211).
(7) It must be kept in mind that a denial of Christ'
s humanity is
tantamount to a denial of his historicity. He was, however, no
mere phantom on the one hand nor Greek "hero" on the other but
one who can identify with us in temptation, suffering and death-see Heb. 2:14; 1 John 4:1-3
(8) This error is mirrored, although not exactly reproduced, in
some contemporary neo-orthodox thinking which tends to
separate the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history in its
distinction between geschite and historie.

b) Appollinarians (4th Century)

(1) Appolinarius, bishop of Laodicea

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(2) Justin Martyr also seemed to follow this teaching

(3) Denied that Christ was completely human, saying that the
divine logos took the place of the human mind.
(4) They built on a trichotomic model wherein the humanity of
Christ consisted in a body and an animal soul while the mind
(spirit) was provided by the Logos.
(5) This heresy was denounced in the council of Antioch A. D.
378/379 and council in Constantinople A. D. 381. And opposed
by Basil, Theodosius, Damascus (Called a Pope), Gregory
Nazianzen, and Gregory of Nyssa.
(6) If Christ did not have a mind, he would not be truly
human (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 4:1-3).

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The Person of Christ

A. The Deity of Christ
B. The Humanity of Christ
C. The Unipersonality of Christ
1. The Terms of the Unipersonality of Christ
a) Hypostatic:
(1) Taken from the Greek noun
refers to the union of the two natures
Christ, the divine and the human.

, hypostasis which
(ousiai, nature) of

(2) This refers to the union of the two natures in one person. "In
the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was
inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one
person of Jesus Christ, yet with two natures remaining distinct,
whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion so that one
person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man" (EDT, s.v.)

b) Incarnation:
(1) Refers to the act whereby the eternal Son of God "became
(2) It also refers to the whole experience of His human life.
(3) It also embraces the fact that Christ bears His humanity
(4) The term can be traced to the Latin version of Jn.1:14. The
closest Greek equivalent is
,, en sarki: in the flesh,

c) Kenosis
(1) Comes from the Greek verb

, kenoo: to empty,

(2) Refers to the manner in which Christ chose to restrict the

use of His divine attributes during His humiliation.

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d) Essence
(1) Substantia (Latin)
(a) Underlying Stuff of something
(b) Emphasis upon concrete reality
(2) Ousia (Greek)
(a) Essence
(b) Subtance
(c) "Ousia refers to nature, essence or substance. In
regards to the Trinity, orthodox theologians say that
Ousia 'denotes that which is common to the Father, Son,
and Spirit" (Shedd, History of Christian Doctrine,
(d) In regards to the person of Christ, orthodox
theologians use the term Ousia to describe each of the
'natures' of Christ, so that he is consubstantial with the
Father and Spirit as to His deity and consubstantial with
us as to his humanity.
(e) Thus, in the Trinity the focus is on shared nature,
common substance
(f) In the Person of Christ, focus is on integrity of each

e) Person and Nature

(1) Introduction
(a) "The precise distinction between nature and person.
Nature or substance is the totality of powers and
qualities which constitute a being; person is the Ego, the
self-conscious, self-asserting, and acting subject. There
is no person without nature, but there may be nature
without person (as in irrational beings). The Church
doctrine distinguishes in the Holy Trinity three persons
(though not in the ordinary human sense of the word) in
one divine nature of substance which they have in
common; in its Christology it teaches, conversely, two
nature in one person (in the usual sense of person)
which pervades both. Therefore it cannot be said: The

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Logos assumed a human person, or united himself with a

definite human individual: for then the God-Man would
consist of two persons; but he took upon himself the
human nature, which is common to all men; and
therefore he redeemed not a particular man, but all men,
as partakers of the same nature of substance. The
personal Logos did not become an individual anthropos,
but sarx, flesh, which includes the whole of human
nature, body, soul and spirit" (Schaff, History of the
Christian Church, 3:751
(2) Hypostasis
(a) This term is used to denote "not that which is
common to the Three in one, but that which is distinctive
of and peculiar to them, the personal characteristic of
the Hypothesis, or 'subsistence' in the Essence, was
denoted by the Greek word
, and if we use our
English word 'individual' somewhat loosely, it will
convey the idea sought to be attached to the person in
distinction from the Essence" (Shedd, HCD, 1:364).
(b) It refers to the person or subsistence.
(3) Nature and Person distinguished
(a) "The term 'nature' denotes the sum-total of all the
essential qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it
is. A nature is a substance possessed in common, with all
the essential qualities of such a substance. The term
'person' denotes a complete substance endowed with
reasons, and, consequently, a responsible subject of its
own actions. Personality is not an essential and integral
part of a nature, but is, as it were, the terminus to which
it tends. A person is a nature with something added,
namely, independent subsistence, individuality" (Louis
Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 321-330).
(4) Persona does not point to three wills, three emotional beings,
and/or three center of self-consciousness; therefore, the term
person is used differently in theology than in current usage.

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f) Theanthropic: Refers to the person of Christ; the

person was theanthropic (God/Man), not his natures.
g) Enhypostasis: This refers to the impersonality of
Christ's human nature. In other words, the human nature
of Christ was impersonal. (Muller, Dictionary of Greek
and Latin Theological Terms, s.v. 540).
2. The Statements of the Unipersonality of Christ
a) Chalcedonian Definition: "Following then the holy
Fathers, we all with one voice teach that it should be
confessed that our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the
same Son, the Same perfect in Godhead, the Same
perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the Same
(consisting) of a rational soul and a body: homoousios
with the Father as to his Godhead, and the Same
homoousios with us as to his manhood; in all things like
unto us, sin only accepted; begotten of the Father
before ages as to his Godhead, and in the last days, the
Same, for us and for our Salvation, of Mary the Virgin
Theotokos as to his manhood; One and the Same
Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten, made known in two
natures (which exist) without confusion, without
change, without division, without separation; the
difference of the natures having been in no wise taken
away by the reason of the union, but rather the
properties of each being preserved, and (both)
concurring into one person (prosopon) and one
hypostasis - not parted or divided into two persons
(prosopa), but one and the same Son and Onlybegotten, the divine Logos, the Lord Jesus Christ; even
as the prophets from ofmos old (have spoken)
concerning him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself
taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers has
delivered to us" (Translation from Sellers The Council of
Chalcedon (SPCK, London, 1953) p 210-11).
b) When we speak of the hypostatic union we affirm
that the eternal Son of God took on himself humanity. It
was not the man Jesus acquiring divinity. "The Son of
God did not unite himself with a human person but a
human nature" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II,
p. 391).

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c) "We affirm not the transmutation of God into the man

Jesus but the coinherence [mutual indwelling or mutual
interpenetration] of God and man in Jesus Christ (John
14:11). This must be taken to mean not that Jesus
Christ is a third being between God and man but that he
is the one who is fully God and truly man. He is not God
alongside of man but God in man" (Bloesch, op. cit., p.
d) As Athanasius declared, "He became man and did
not just come into man" (Contra Arianos, III, 30).
3. The Evidence of the Unipersonality of Christ
a) The biblical doctrine of the kenosis (Phil. 2:5-11).
(1) His pre-existence (v. 6).
(a) The first statement of verse 6 relates to the
pre-existent divine nature that was his from eternity.
(b) The participle translated "existing" (huparchon)
means "being by nature" while en morphe theou, "in the
form of God," linked with this verb form denotes equality
of being.
(c) As C. J. Ellicott notes, in this context it is in
contrast with morphen doulou, "the form of a
bond-servant," which is intended to refer to human
nature. Therefore, he concludes, it must refer to divine
nature (A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St.
Paul's Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and to
Philemon with a Revised Translation, p. 41).
(d) Kennedy states that morphe "always signifies a form
which truly and fully expresses the being which
underlies it." Thus it refers to ". . . the same kind of
existence God possesses" ("The Epistle to the
Philippians," Expositor's Greek Testament, W.
Robertson Nicoll, editor, III, 436).
(e) Robert Mounce observes that morphe "denotes
a permanent expression of essential attributes"
while schemati, "appearance" (v. 8) "refers to
outward appearance that is subject to change"
("Philippians," Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p.

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(f) In the following statement to einai isa theo,

"equality with God" means "to exist in a manner
equal with God" rather than "to be equal to God"
(Jacobus J. Muller, The Epistles of Paul to the
Philippians and to Philemon, p. 79).
(g) Thus, it is not quite the same assertion as the first
statement. Harpagmos should be understood passively
and translated "a thing to be grasped." Existing in the
same way God does is not something to be grasped
because" . . . it was not something which the Logos,
Christ, still had to acquire but which was his already. It
was a dignity which belonged to the pre-existent Christ,
to which He was entitled, and a right which He actually
possessed" (ibid.).
(2) His kenosis (v. 7).
(a) The kenosis itself, the self-emptying, is best
understood in light of the following two participial
(b) He emptied himself by "taking the form of a
bond- servant" and by "being made in the likeness
of men."
(c) Thus the kenosis involves addition (joining) of
something to the divine nature not subtraction.
(d) It is best translated "took no account of himself" or
"made himself nothing" (NIV) and involves the scandal
of God appearing in flesh as a servant and a man. This
is the truth of John 1:14, "and the Word became flesh,"
viewed from its flip side.
(e) There John emphasizes the glory beheld from the
human standpoint when the eternal, divine Word added
to himself humanity; here Paul emphasizes the
humiliation and ignominy of the incarnation from the
divine standpoint.
(3) His humiliation (v. 8; cf. John 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9).
(a) The extent of his humiliation is not fully recognized
until we see that it involved obedience that led to death
on a cross, a criminal's death.

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(b) It involved becoming poverty-stricken even though

he was rich; it meant some veiling of glory even though
it was rightly his (2 Cor. 8:9; John 17:5).
(c) But all the while he was God. The wonder is not
that he surrendered any of his divine perfection's, for
this he did not do, but that as God he was thus humbled.
(d) As Muller says: "By taking the form of a servant he
emptied himself. Nothing is mentioned of any
abandonment of any divine attributes, the divine nature
or the form of God, but only a divine paradox is stated
here: He emptied Himself by taking something to
Himself, namely the manner of being, the nature or form
of a servant or slave. At His incarnation He remained
'in the form of God' and as such He is Lord and Ruler
over all, but He also accepted the nature of a servant as
part of His humanity" (op. cit., p. 82).
(4) His exaltation (vv. 9-11). As a consequence of this
humiliation he has been given a superior name with a view to
universal worship and universal confession.

b) The doctrine of the incarnation (John 1:1-14).

(1) "While the Incarnate Person is the God-man, or
manifestation of God in the flesh, the divine personality is only
that of the Son, the second Person in the Trinity. As a distinct
Person in the Godhead He brings the entire divine nature into
humanity, and continues His eternal personality through all the
processes of His development and mediatorial work forever"
(Pope, Chr. Th., II, p. 113).
(2) "The full truth of the Incarnation is not contained in the
notion of a union of the divine nature, simply as such, with the
human nature. The subject of the Incarnation was not a mere
nature, but a person the personal Son. The divine nature is
common to the persons of the Trinity: therefore any limitation of
the Incarnation to the divine nature would deny to the Son any
distinct or peculiar part therein. This would contradict the most
open and uniform sense of Scripture. The Father and the Holy
Spirit had no such part in the Incarnation as the Son. Nor could
any union of the divine nature, simply as such, with the human
nature give the profound truth and reality of the incarnation. It
could mean nothing for the unique personality of Christ; nothing
for the reality and sufficiency of the atonement" ( Miley, Syst.
Th., II, p. 17).

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c) Other-passages
(1) Many other New Testament passages likewise set
forth the hypostatic union.
(2) In Romans 1:1-5 Paul speaks of both the humanity (v.
4) and deity (v. 5) of Jesus Christ;
(3) In Romans 9:5 he refers to "Christ according to the
flesh" who is "God blessed forever."
(4) As he writes to the Galatian believers he refers to
God's Son who is "born of a woman" (4:4-5).
(5) To the church in Colossae he says that the very
godness of God, that which makes God to be God, in all its
completeness, has its permanent home in bodily fashion in
Christ (Col. 2:9).
(6) Paul reminds Timothy that the one mediator between God
and man is both God and man (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
(7) The writer to the Hebrew Christians states that Jesus partook
of flesh and blood so as to be able to identify with human kind in
temptation, suffering and death (Heb. 2:14). There is little point
in saying a mere man partook of flesh and blood.
(8) The apostle John claims to be an eyewitness of the
hypostatic union in 1 John 1:1-3. He affirms Jesus' deity as he
speaks of him as being "from the beginning," "the eternal life,"
and "with the Father" while he testifies to his humanity by saying
that he was "manifested," "seen," "heard" and "handled."

4. The Communication of Attributes in the Unipersonality of Christ

a) No direct real communication of attributes
(1) One of the points of divergence between Lutheran and
Reformed theology is in the area of the relation between the two
natures in Christ.
(2) Lutheran theology
(a) Lutheranism has held to the communication of attributes (communicatio idiomatum) "the mutual
participation and exchange of the properties of the
individual natures" (Bloesch, op. cit., p. 134).

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(b) This is set out in the Formula of Concord (ch. 8,

sec. 4).
(c) It seems to grow out of the Lutheran view of the
"real" presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper (taking
the words "this is my body" in a literal rather than
figurative sense) and leads to the concept of the ubiquity
(to be ubiquitous the body must partake of the divine
attribute of omnipresence) of the body of Christ both in
heaven and on earth in the elements.
(3) Reformed theology
(a) Reformed theology, on the other hand, has rejected
this idea (see the (Second_Helvetic Confession, ch. XI,
and the Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 8) holding
that "the finite is not capable of receiving the infinite"
(Bloesch, ibid.).
(b) This Lutheran concept is unacceptable because it
in effect divinizes the humanity of Christ which humanity
must be kept essentially intact if he is to be one who dies
for us (Heb. 2:14) and one who is a "merciful and
faithful high priest" (Heb. 2:17).
(c) As A. A. Hodge says, "It virtually destroys the
incarnation by assimilating the human nature to the
divine in the co-partnership of properties, whereby it is
virtually abrogated, and in effect only the divine
remains" (Outlines of Theology, p. 385).

b) Communication of all attributes to the person in

different ways.
(1) Some are true of the whole person (i.e., both natures)
(a) For example, those evidenced in his offices
(prophet, priest, king).
(b) As he functions as redeemer these attributes are
manifest by the whole person since both natures are
essential to his redemptive work.
(2) Some are true of the humanity, but the whole person is
in view.

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(a) In John 19:28 Jesus declares, "I am thirsty."

This is a distinctively human limitation but it was
true of the whole person.
(b) Luke speaks of him as "increasing in wisdom
and stature" (2:52) which likewise are especially
human qualities yet they are predicated of the
entire person.
(c) The learning of obedience of Hebrews 5:8 may be
understood in this way, as well
(d) In Matthew 24:36 (cf. Mark 13:32) there is noted a
limitation to Jesus' knowledge regarding the time of his
second coming.
(e) Some have seized on this to teach a view of the
kenosis that calls for him to surrender his omniscience
during his earthly ministry and thus account for Jesus'
supposedly mistaken views about the Old Testament
(e.g., Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch) as, for
example, Bishop Gore of England (see J. I. Packer
(Knowing God, p. 52).
(f) We have addressed the fallacy of kenotic theology
previously but this particular issue needs attention here.
As Packer points out, there are a number of occasions
when Jesus' knowledge of both human and divine things
is limited (e.g., Mark 5:30; 6:38). On other occasions,
however, he clearly displays supernatural knowledge
(e.g., John 1:47-51; 4:17-18; 11:11-13; Matt. 17:27).
"The impression of Jesus which the gospels give is not
that he was wholly bereft of divine knowledge and
power, but that he drew on both intermittently, while
being content for much of the time not to do so. The
impression, in other words, is not so much one of deity
reduced as divine capacities restrained" (Packer, op.
cit., p. 54). Packer then continues by accounting for this
restraint in light of "the entire submission of the Son to
the Father's will" (ibid.,). See such passages as John
5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28-29. His conclusion is worthy of
(g) As in heaven, so on earth, the Son was utterly
dependent upon the Father's will. . . . the God-man did
not know independently, any more than He acted
independently. Just as He did not do all that He could
have done, because certain things were not His Father's
will (see Matt. 26:53 f.), so He did not consciously know
all that He might have known, but only what the Father

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willed Him to know. His knowing, like the rest of His

activity, was bounded by His Father's will. Therefore
the reason why He was ignorant of (for instance) the
date of His return was not because He had given up the
power to know all things at the incarnation, but because
the Father had not willed that He should have this
particular piece of knowledge while on earth, prior to
His passion. Calvin was surely right to comment on
Mark 13:32 as follows, 'until he had fully discharged his
(mediatorial) office, that information was not, given to
him which he received after his resurrection.' So Jesus's
limitation of knowledge is to be explained, not in terms
of the mode of the incarnation, but with reference to the
will of the Father for the Son while on earth (op. cit., p.
(3) Some are true of deity, but the whole person is in view
(a) "The person of Christ, constituted of two natures, is
one person. He may, therefore, indifferently be
designated by divine or human titles, and both divine
and human attributes may be truly predicated of him.
He is still God when he dies, and still man when he
raises his people from their graves.
(b) "Mediatorial actions pertain to both natures. It
must be remembered, however, that while the person is
one, the natures are distinct, as such. What belongs to
either nature is attributed to the one person to which
both belong, but what is peculiar to one nature is never
attributed to the other. God, i.e., the divine person who
is at once God and man, gave his blood for his church,
i.e., died as to his human nature (Acts xx. 28). But
human attributes or actions are never asserted of
Christ's divine nature, nor are divine attributes or
actions ever asserted of his human nature" (A. A. Hodge,
op. cit., p. 381).

5. The Errors of the Unipersonality of Christ

a) Issues
(1) One personality two persons
(2) Human nature without personality
(3) Relation of Logos to the humanity of Christ in earthly life of

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(4) Relation of the humanity to the Logos during heavenly life

of Christ

b) The Eutychian error (5th century).

(1) Explanation
(a) Also known as Monophysitism (mono = one; physis
= nature), this teaching was espoused by Eutyches, a
monk who lived in Constantinople.
(b) Eutyches taught that the Logos had two natures
before the incarnation, but after the incarnation Jesus
only had one nature which was clothed in human flesh.
He maintained the full deity and humanity of Christ, but
in explaining the unity of the two natures he denied that
Jesus humanity was essentially the same as all others
humanity because in the incarnation the Logos absorbed
the human nature.
(c) The result was that neither nature retained its
respective properties, i.e. that which makes each nature
(divine and human) what it truly is metaphysically.
(d) Rather a tertium quid (third substance) resulted,
which was neither purely Logos nor human, but
something wholly other.
(e) In the incarnation then, both the divine nature and
human nature fused into one new nature. This new
nature was not "not God" because the deity of the Logos
subsumed the humanity in the union of the two.
(f) Even his body was divine. This is a form of
monophysite doctrine, virtually reducing the two natures
to one, and was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon
in 451 A.D.
(g) Another form of this error taught that Christ had
only one will. Monothelitism was condemned at the
Third Council of Constantinople in 681 A.D.
(h) In contemporary theology there are
Monophysite tendencies in both Lutheranism and
Roman Catholicism.
(i) The Lutheran doctrine of the communication of
attributes tends this direction and the Romanist doctrine
of Mary does the same. As Bloesch suggests, "The

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notions of Mary as co-mediatrix and co-redemptrix also

tend to betray a Monophysite point of view. The logic of
this position is that Mary provides the human side of
salvation while Christ provides the divine side. Both
Schillebeeckx and Rahner see Monophysite tendencies in
the co-redemptrix idea" (op. cit., p. 133).
(2) Evaluation
(a) Eutychianism came close to being the orthodox
teaching of the early church. It was so close to the
Biblical teaching because it affirmed two complete,
authentic natures in Christ, and even confessed that
there was a metaphysical union between the two, thus
avoiding the soteriological problem that Nestorianism
(b) Where this teaching falls into error is in claiming
that the two natures blended together to form a third
substance, which is neither of the original two. Such a
mixture would necessarily produce a confusion of the
natures, and thus the individuality of each nature is
(c) In the end Jesus is no longer God and man, but
other than God and other than man. If this were true,
Jesus could not identify with the sons of Adam, nor could
He identify with Deity. He would be in a class of His
own, thus not fit to be a mediator between God and men
(I Timothy 2:15).
(d) This teaching also ignores the many Biblical
statements that portray Christ as having ministered as a
man anointed by the Holy Ghost. The divine nature of
Christ did not subsume or overwhelm His human nature.
Jesus was metaphysically, and functionally a man. A
Eutychian understanding of Christ ignores the Biblical
portrayal of Christ as a genuine human being with
genuine human emotions and characteristics.

c) The Nestorian error (5th century).

(1) Explained
(a) Nestorius denied any real (organic) union of the
two natures. He held to two natures and two
persons. This error was condemned at the Synod
of Ephesus in 431 A. D.

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(b) The main proponents of this view were Nestorius

and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Theodore confessed the
full humanity and deity of Christ, but suggested that the
union of the divine logos and the humanity of Jesus was
not an essential unity, but a moral unity. The union was
functional, not ontological. The full humanity of Christ
obeyed the full deity of the logos, thus resulting in a
behavioral unity.
(c) Nestorius also confessed the full humanity and deity
of Christ. He identified each nature of Christ with the
Greek prosopon (person), thus splitting Christ into two
persons.. He refused to attribute to the divine nature the
human acts and sufferings of the man Jesus. He did not
see any communicatio idiomatum (a Latin term meaning
"communication of attributes) between Christs two
natures. The two natures of Christ were only joined by
(d) The error of gradual incarnation (19th century).
Dorner held that the incarnation was not an act
consummated at Jesus' conception but rather
progressively realized. The Logos gradually joined
himself to Jesus until there was full union at the resurrection.
(2) Evaluation
(a) Nestorianism is deficient because it makes Jesus into
two persons.
(b) Nestorius did maintain Christs full humanity. He
was correct in confessing Christs complete dual nature,
but was in error when trying to explain how His two
natures functioned together.
(c) Instead of teaching a moral (behavioral) union
between Jesus divine and human nature, the Scripture
teaches that the Logos became flesh (John 1:14). The
Greek word ginomai means "to become."
(d) The Logos did not merely assume a human body, but
became a human being. The union is metaphysical, not
moral. In such a union, whatever can be said of Christ's
divine nature, or of His human nature, can be attributed
to Christ's whole person.

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(e) This is known as the communicatio idiomatum.

Christ's person is one unified whole, not two fragmented
(f) If Jesus' two natures are only joined by the will-the
human nature in Christ always submitting to the divine
nature in Christ-then theoretically, the man, Jesus
Christ, and the Spirit of God could have existed apart
from one another. But in the incarnation, God became a
man. When God assumed a human existence, the deity
and humanity of Christ became forever inseparable,
joined in a metaphysical union in every respect. If this
were not so, then Jesus did not truly become a man, but
only indwelt a particular man. When one becomes
something they cannot be separate from that something.
If God truly became a man it would be impossible for
divine nature to be separate from His humanity.
(g) If God only indwelt a particular man, then at best,
Jesus' sacrifice could only have accomplished a
particular salvation, i.e. His own. His death could not
have saved all of humanity. It is by virtue that God
became a man, identifying with the human race as a
whole, that Jesus can be a mediator between God and
men. What makes Jesus' death of infinite value is not
merely His sinlessness, but the fact that He was God
manifest in the flesh. If Jesus was not metaphysically
God Himself, then His death could not save us. The
infinite God became a man to die for us. This is the
reason for the efficacy of Calvary. If the humanity of
Christ was separate from His deity, however, this could
not be true.
(h) Nestorianism's insistence on the separate natures in
Christ fails to provide a satisfactory explanation as to
the sense in which Jesus can be spoken of in the
Scripture as one person, rather than two. Jesus always
speaks of Himself, and is spoken of by others in the
singular, not the plural as we would expect if there are
two separate persons in one body.
(i) Neither can Nestorianism provide an adequate
explanation as to how it can be said that the logos
became flesh if Christ's divine nature is separate from
His human nature.
(j) Finally, Nestorianism's portrait of separate natures
connected only by will displaces the idea of a true
incarnation of God, denegrating it to a mere possession
of Jesus' human body. If there is no essential,

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metaphysical unity between Christ's deity and humanity

then Christ cannot be considered God anymore than
Spirit-filled believers can be considered God. The
difference between the Nestorian Jesus and all other
believers is limited only by the fact that Jesus is filled
with the Spirit in a special way, and was conceived

6. The Relationship of the Believer to the Unipersonality of Christ

a) Regarding our salvation
(1) It provides a sinless sinbearer (see 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet.
2:22-24; 1 John 3:5). To bear our sin he must be able to die and
thus be human. If the sacrifice is to be acceptable it must be
sinless and thus divine. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it--Q:
"Why must He be a true and sinless being?" A. "Because the
justice of God requires that the same human nature which had
sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but no man, being
himself a sinner, could satisfy for others."
(2) It provides a faithful high priest (Heb. 2:17; 4:15). To be our
high priest he must be one with us-- human. To be faithful he
must be immutable-- divine.

b) Regarding our worship

(1) It reveals God as Father (John 1:18; Gal. 4:4-6).
(2) It places a glorified man in heaven (Heb. 4:14-16). This is
not to be confused with the Gnostic idea of a "heavenly man
(3) That calls for Christ to be man from all eternity that is
contrary to the whole concept of kenosis and incarnation.
(4) What we are affirming here is that from the incarnation on
Jesus Christ is man to all eternity.
(5) It assures us of a glorious future (Col. 1:27).

7. Conclusion
a) Summation: The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology
sums this up saying, "In the incarnation a human
nature was inseparably united forever with the divine
nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the
two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged,

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without mixture or confusion so that the one person,

Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man."
b) The Mystery of the doctrine
(1) The relationship is ultimately inscrutable. We may,
perhaps, illustrate this truth by the relationship between the
material and immaterial parts of man. Even though each
part has its own properties, all that relates to each part is
ascribed to the person.
(2) As Thiessen observes, ". . . Christ had an infinite
intelligence and will and a finite intelligence and will; he
had a divine consciousness and a human consciousness.
His divine intelligence was infinite; his human intelligence
increased. His divine will was omnipotent; his human will
had only the power of unfallen humanity" (op. cit., p. 224).

c) If then we would hold to the orthodox or catholic

(1) We must believe that the union of the two natures in Christ
does not confuse or mix them in a manner to destroy their
distinctive properties. The deity of Christ is as pure deity after
the Incarnation as before it; and the human nature of Christ is as
pure and simple human nature as that of His mother or of any
other human individual sin excluded.
(2) We must reject as unorthodox any theory that would convert
one nature into the other, either an absorption of the human
nature by the divine as in Eutychianism; or the reduction of the
divine nature to the human, as in some of the kenotic theories.
(3) We must hold the two natures in such a union that it does
not divide the person of Christ into two selves, as in
Nestorianism, or such a blending of the two natures into a
composite that is neither God nor man as in Apollinarianism.
The resultant of the union is not two persons, but one person
who unites in Himself the conditions of both the divine and
human existence.
(4) We must hold to a union of the two natures that is
inseparable. The union of humanity with Deity in Christ is
indissoluble and eternal. It is a permanent assumption of human
nature by the second Person of the Trinity.

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The Estates of Christ

A. Introduction (Berkhof, ST, 331)
1. Definition of (E)states
a) A state is one's position or status in life
b) A condition is the mode of one's existence in life
c) The states of the Mediator are generally considered
as including the resulting conditions
d) Normally, the conditions stand out more than the
2. Number of (E)states
3. A difference between many theologians
4. Strict logic requires us to speak of three: Preexistence,
Humiliation and Exaltation
5. Two or Three states are assumed in John 17:5; 2
Corinthians 8:9; Gal. 4:4, 5; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 2:9.
B. His Pre-incarnate State
1. Introduction to the Preexistence of Christ [Douglas Mccready,
"He Came Down From Heaven: The Preexistence of Chrsit
Revisted," Journal of the Evangelical Society 40:3 (Sept. 1993), pp.
a) "The preexistence of Christ is not a doctrine most
people give much thought to. From the early ecumenical
councils until recently, its truth has been assumed. Few
books or articles concentrate on the subject.
Theologians who discuss the doctrine usually treat it as
an appendage to some other aspect of Christology.
Christs preexistence is not part of the readily visible
superstructure of Christianity in the way his incarnation,
resurrection and atoning work are. And this is not

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b) "The preexistence of Christ is part of the foundation

of Christian faith on which these other doctrines
depend. It is a necessary premise for belief in Christs
deity, but by itself it is not sufficient. Because Christs
preexistence is foundational, how one understands it or
rejects it affects the remainder of Christology and ones
overall understanding of Christianity. This has been
nowhere more evident than in the modern attempts to
explain (or explain away) the doctrine. Those modern
theologians who ignore or deny Christs preexistence
do so because it is incompatible with their
understanding either of his humanity or of the nature of
2. Objections to the Preexistence of Christ
a) Liberal Approach:
(1) Friedrich Schleiermacher offered an adoptionist
understanding of Jesus that rejected preexistence. Jesus was not
the eternal Son of God become human, the Logos incarnate. For
Schleiermacher, what distinguished Jesus from other humans
was the constant potency of his God-consciousness, which was
a veritable existence of God in him. (Schleirermacher, The
Christian Faith, Section 97).
(2) Hicks Jesus was a human being extraordinarily open to
Gods influence and thus living to an extraordinary extent as
Gods agent on earth, incarnating the divine purpose for human
life" (John Hick, The Metaphor of God Incarnate, 12).
(3) Hick states the premise that controls his Christology at the
outset: If [Jesus] was indeed God incarnate, Christianity is the
only religion founded by God in person, and must as such be
uniquely superior to all other religions. He disbelieves this and
sees Jesus as simply one teacher among many. He wants to
reconceive Christianity as a religion that is centered upon the
universally relevant religious experience and ethical insights of
Jesus when these are freed from the mass of ecclesiastical
dogmas and practices that have developed over the centuries.
This requires, says Hick, breaking free of the network of theories
about incarnation, the Trinity, and atonement that he says once
helped focus Christian thought.

b) Historical Approach:
(1) God cannot take on the finite

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(2) "There is no way of distinguishing Jesus humanity

from ours which does not deny the reality of his manhood
in every sense which makes the affirmation of it significant.
But the idea that Jesus existence as a man was in some
self-conscious way continuous with his earlier existence as
a heavenly beingand this is surely what has usually been
meant by the pre-existencethis idea does distinguish
his humanity from ours; and there is no way, however
circuitous or ingenious, of escaping that fact or its
consequences We can have the humanity without the preexistence or we can have the pre-existence without the
humanity. There is absolutely no way of having both"
(Knox, Humanity, 106).

c) Ideal Approach
(1) Only in a idea
(2) "Jesus Christ pre-existed in the mind and purpose of
God, and I doubt if one should look for any other kind of
pre-existence (John Macquarrie, Jesus Christ in Modern
Thought, 57).

d) Kasper writes: The message of the exaltation and

pre-existence of the crucified Jesus was an intolerable
scandal to both Jews and Greeks" (The God of Jesus
Christ, 174). And as Mccready points out, " Absolute
claims are anathema to postmoderns because they have
rejected the very possibility of absolutes. Sincerity has
replaced truth as the measure of religious legitimacy.
3. Establishment of the Preexistence of Christ
a) Established by His Relationship Within the Eternal
Triune Godhead.
(1) All proofs for the triunity of God also prove the eternality of
Christ (e.g., Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).
(2) If the trinity is eternal, Christ is eternal (see section on Deity
of Christ).

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b) Established by His Deity

(1) In like manner, all proofs for the deity of Christ are proofs of
his pre-existence or pre-incarnate state (Isa. 9:6; John 1:1- 2;
10:30; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13)
(2) See previous notes on Deity of Christ

c) Established by His Work as Creator

(1) If he is creator he must have pre-dated the creation. (John
1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:2, 10).
(2) Some groups (e.g., Gnostics; Jehovah'
s Witnesses) have tried
to use Colossians 1:15 where Paul speaks of Christ as "the firstborn of all creation," to teach that Christ was created.
(3) This, however, betrays a misunderstanding of the term
prototokos which basically means "chief" and designates rank or
honored place rather than a chronological relationship.
(4) As E. K. Simpson and F. F. Bruce note, the title means "that
Christ, existing as He did before all creation, exercises the
privilege of primogeniture as Lord of all creation, the divinely
appointed '
heir of all things'(Heb. 1:2). He was there when
creation began, and it was for Him as well as through Him that
the whole work was done" (Commentary of the Epistles to the
Ephesians and the Colossians, p. 194).
(5) This truth is further illustrated in a messianic passage in
Psalm 89:27 where it is declared, "I also shall make Him My
firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." To be first-born
is to be highest in a given order. He is superior to all kings
("King of Kings") as the divine sovereign and superior to the
creation as the divine Creator.

d) Established by His Heavenly Origin

(1) The heavenly origin of the Savior is established by his own
statement (John 3:13, 17; 31; 6:33; 38, 42, 50, 51, 58, 62);
(2) By the fact that he speaks of heaven as a matter of memory
(John 17:5, 24);
(3) By the statements of others (John 1:15, 18).

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e) Established by the Theophanies

(1) Theophany is a manifestation of God in visible bodily form
prior to the incarnation. The primary theophanic form is the
Angel of Yahweh which in all likelihood was a Christophany or
pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. The basis for this identification is as follows:
(a) The Angel of Yahweh (Gen. 16:7, 11, 13, cf. 21:17,
19; 22:11- 12, 15-16, cf. 24:7, 21, 40; 31:11, 13;
48:15-16; Zech. 1:12-13).
(i) He is identified with Yahweh (Gen. 16:13).
(a) "Among the narratives relating to the
angel one particular group stands out
because it describes an emissary of
Yahweh who is no longer clearly
distinguishable from his master, but it is
his appearing and speaking clothes
himself with Yahweh's own appearance
and speech" (Eichrodt, TOT, 2:24).
(b) Hagar addresses the Angel as
Yahweh (Gen. 16:11, 13)
(c) Abraham speaks with angel (Gen.
22:11-15) who swears by Himself as
Yahweh (v. 16).
(d) In Gen. 31:11, the Angel speaks in
Jacob's dream; in Gen. 31:13 it is
Elohim who spoke.
(e) In Gen. 48:15, 16, as Jacob blessed
the twins he referred to the Angel "in
parallel terms with Godwho gave him
protection" (Heinisch, TOT, 107).
(f) In Ex. 3:2 the Angel appeared to
Moses, but in verse 4 and 6 the Angel is
identified as the God of the Fathers.
(g) In Exodus 23:21 "My Name" is in
the Angel; this is equivalent to the
identification as Yahweh (Vos, BT, 108).
(h) In Judges 6:11 Gideon's visitor is
the Angel; in 6:14, Yahweh.

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(ii) He is distinct from Yahweh (Gen. 24:7;

Zech. 1:12-13)
(a) He speaks of Yahweh in the third
person (Gen. 16:11)
(b) They are both present in the burning
bush (Ex. 3:1-4)
(c) Yahweh promises to send His Angel
(Ex. 23:20)
(d) Yahweh shows His Angel to Balaam
(Num. 23:31)
(e) He intercedes before Yahweh and
speaks of Yahweh in the third person
(Zech. 1:12; 3:6; Oehler, TOT, 131).
(iii) He is the second person of the Godhead.
(a) Identification with Yahweh is an
affirmation of his divine essence.
(b) The distinction from Yahweh
indicates the fact that he is a separate
person. Apparently, the form in which
he appeared was created but the person
was uncreated (as also in the incarnation). Lines of proof that the Angel of
Yahweh is a Christophany are:
(i) The Second Person is the
visible manifestation of God in
the New Testament (John 1:18).
(ii) The Angel of Yahweh no
longer appears following the
(iii) Both Jesus Christ and the
Angel are presented as being
sent by the Father.

(c) The Angel was a "prefiguration of

the incarnate Christ" (Vos, BT, 75; ISBE,

(b) Other theophanies.

(i) In Genesis 18:1-33 the one who appeared to
and talked with Abraham is referred to both as

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the LORD and man. The one with whom Jacob

wrestled in Genesis 32:24-32 is called both man
and God.
(ii) Other possible but less certain theophanies
are found in Exodus 24:9-11; Joshua 5:13-15;
Ezekiel 1:1-28 and Daniel 10:1- 21.
(iii) Although they are impersonal manifestations
some would consider the pillar of fire and cloud
as theophanies, that is the shekinah glory (Exod.
33:9-23; 40:34-38).
(iv) The question is whether this is merely a sign
of God's presence or an actual physical
manifestation of God. See H. C. Thiessen,
Lectures In Systematic Theology, revised, pp.
209-10 for extended discussion.

f) Established by Certain Titles

(1) All of the following titles imply deity and were his prior to
the incarnation.
(a) Immanuel (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23).
(b) Mighty God (Isa. 9:6).
(c) Father of Eternity (Isa. 9:6).
(d) Son of God (Ps. 2:7; Luke 1:32, 35; John 1:49).
(e) Logos (John 1:1, 14)
(2) The Assumption here is that God is eternal; thus, Christ
being God must have existed eternally.

g) Established in Messianic Prophecy (Micah 5:2; cf.

Matt. 2:6): Micah states of this one who would be born in
Bethlehem that "his goings forth" were "from the days
of eternity."
h) Established by the Direct Statement of Scripture
(1) John 1:1-2, 14. "He was in the beginning with God."
(2) John 8:58. "Before Abraham was born, I AM" (cf. Exod.
3:13- 15).

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(3) John 17:5. He links the glory about which he prays with preincarnate glory.

4. Excursus: Christ in Old Testament Prophecy (See Hand Out)

5. Excursus: Christ in Old Testament Types
a) Various Types: See Walvoord, pp. 62-78; and his
articles in Bibliotheca Sacra 105:419 (Jul 48), pp. 286296 & 106:421 (Oct/Dec 49), pp. 27-33.

(1) Introduction
(a) "Latent in the Scriptures of the Old Testament is a
rich treasury of Christological truth in the form of
Biblical types. Typology has always suffered certain
disabilities and unbelief which other branches of
theological instruction have been spared. For this
reason and others it has been largely neglected, and that
unjustly, in theological discussion."
(b) As Patrick Fairbairn states in opening his classic
work on the subject, The Typology of Scripture has
been one of the most neglected departments of
theological science. It has never altogether escaped from
the region of doubt and uncertainty; and some still
regard it as a field incapable, from its very nature, of
being satisfactorily explored, or cultivated so as to yield
any sure and appreciable results.
(c) Webster puts it, a type is a figure or representation
of something to come. It is therefore prophetic by its
character, and we may expect a considerable
contribution from it to the doctrine of Christ. A study of
Christological typology includes about fifty important
types of Christabout one half of the recognized total in
the entire field of typology.
(d) In the New Testament two Greek words are used to
express the thought of a type: tuvpo" and uJpovdeigma.
As Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer has stated: Tuvpo" means
an imprint which may serve as a mold or pattern, and
that which is typical in the Old Testament is a mold or
pattern of that which is antitypical in the New
Testament. The root tuvpo" is translated by five English
words (ensample, 1 Cor 10:11; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:7;
2 Thess 3:9; 1 Pet 5:3; example, 1 Tim 4:12; Heb 8:5;
figure, Acts 7:43; Rom 5:14; pattern, Titus 2:7;
print of the nails, John 20:25). Dei'
gma means a

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specimen or example, and when combined with uJpov

indicates that which is shown plainly under the eyes of
men. JUpovdeigma is translated by two English words
(example, John 13:15; Heb 4:11; 8:5 ; James 5:10;
and pattern, Heb 9:23). Typology as a branch of
Biblical revelation is well established in the Scriptures
themselves as evidenced by the frequent use made of it in
the New Testament. The problem to be considered here
is not the larger discussion of typology as a whole, but
its contribution to Christology.
(e) "As many writers have pointed out, typology is
concerned with (1) typical persons; (2) typical events;
(3) typical things; (4) typical institutions; and (5) typical
ceremonies. It is manifestly impossible to gather into a
brief discussion the wealth of revelation afforded in the
types which concern Christ in the Old Testament, but
rather than omit this important contribution, an attempt
will be made to summarize the important types and their
prophetic light.

(2) Typical Persons

(a) Aaron. The Scriptures, particularly Hebrews, give a
firm basis for believing that Aaron is a true type of
Christ. As a priest, Aaron was appointed to his sacred
office (Heb 5:4) as was Christ to His priesthood (Heb
5:56). Aaron was appointed to minister in the earthly
sphere as Christ was appointed to the heavenly (Heb
8:15). Aaron administered the old Mosaic covenant
while Christ ministered the new covenant (Heb 8:6).
Aaron was appointed to offer sacrifices daily while
Christ offered Himself once for all (Heb 7:27). The
Aaronic type reveals Christ in His true humanity and in
His priestly work. As Aaron remained a part of Israel
even as he served as mediator, so Christ remains
genuinely human, on earth knowing weakness, certain
limitations, suffering, and struggle, as did Aaron, and
even in heaven continues in His true humanity. While
Hebrews brings out the contrasts between Aaron and
Christ, there is obviously a typical foreshadowing of
Christ in the Aaronic priesthood in the person of Aaron.
The intercession of Aaron is a picture of the intercession
of Christ.
(b) Abel. In this type we have Christ presented as the
true Shepherd who made an acceptable bloody sacrifice
to God in obedience to the command of God. As Abel
was slain by Cain, representing the world, so Christ was
slain. As Abels offering was accepted by God, so Christ

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in His offering is accepted. The fact that Abels offering

was accepted because offered by faith (Heb 11:4) does
not take away its essential character. It was because
Abel believed that revelation concerning sacrifices that
he offered his lamb in contrast to Cains bloodless
offering. He is therefore a type of Christ in life as
Shepherd, in his offering, and in his death.
(c) Adam. One of the important types recognized by
Scripture is that of Adam. Adam is the head of the old
creation as Christ is the head of the new creation. This is
plainly inferred in Romans 5:14, Yet death reigned
from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were
not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the
one who was to come (R.S.V.). Both Adam and Christ
entered the world through a special act of God. Both
entered the world sinless; both acted on behalf of those
whom God considered in them representatively. The sin
of Adam is contrasted to the act of obedience of Christ.
The Scripture discussion of the subject leaves no room
for doubt on the main elements of this type (Rom 5:12
21). The very terms first Adam and last Adam and
similar expressions are applied respectively to Adam
and Christ (1 Cor 15:4547). Adam as the husband of
Eve is also a type as the bridegroom in relation to the
church as the bride.
(d) Benjamin. In the contrast of the two names of
Benjamin there was foreshadowed the two aspects of the
Person of ChristHis sufferings and the glory to follow.
With her dying breath, Rachel named her new-born son,
Ben-oni, meaning, son of sorrow. Jacob called him,
however, Benjamin, meaning, son of my right hand. As
Ben-oni, Christ was the son of sorrow to his mother
(Luke 2:35) and the one who knew suffering as the man
of sorrows and death. As Benjamin, Christ is the son of
my right hand to God the Father, victorious in the
battle with sin as Benjamin was victorious as the
warrior tribe. While the type is without express New
Testament authority, it seems a clear prophetic picture
of Christ.
(e) David. The historic and prophetic connection
between David and Christ is commonly recognized, but
the typical significance of David is often overlooked.
David is a type of Christ as the one who is first
shepherd, then king. David experienced the call of God,
rejection by his brethren, was in constant danger of his
life because he was anointed king, and during the years
of his rejection took a Gentile wife, typical of the church.

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Later he ruled over Israel in complete power and

sovereignty. It is not difficult to see the typical
significance of these events, as well as many minor
incidents in his life as foreshadowings of Christ.
(f) Isaac. In the New Testament Isaac is used as a type
of the church, which is composed of the spiritual
children of Abraham (Gal 4:28) and as a type of the new
nature which is born of the Spirit in contrast to the old
nature typified by Ishmael (Gal 4:29). It is interesting to
note that Isaac is taken to be a type of two distinct things
in two successive verses of the New Testament. More
prominent in the person of Isaac are typical truths
relating to Christ which are not mentioned in theNew
Testament. Isaac was a type of Christ in many
particulars. The births of Isaac and of Christ were
genuinely miraculous. Both are involved in the promised
deliverance first announced to Eve. Their births were
anticipated and involved in the promises of God long
before fulfillment. Both are the beloved of their fathers
and both are declared to be only-begotten (John 3:16;
Heb 11:17) although Ishmael was born before Isaac and
all believers in Christ call God their Father. In Genesis
twenty-two in the sacrifice of Isaac on Moriah we have
a foreshadowing of the death of Christ which is too clear
a picture to gainsay. In the type, Isaac is saved at the
last moment and a substitute is provided. In the antitype,
just as truly offered by the Father, there could be no
substitute. Truly, Isaac lived because Christ died. In the
beautiful story of Genesis twenty-four the securing of
the bride for Isaac is again a prophetic picture, in type,
of the Holy Spirit securing a bride for Christ, and
complete in all its details. The entire life of Isaac affords
a more complete typical picture of the Person and work
of Christ than any previous character in Scripture.
(g) Joseph. While the New Testament nowhere
authorizes the interpretation that Joseph is a type of
Christ, the numerous factors of his life which point to
this conclusion indicate in fact that Joseph is the most
complete type of Christ in the Old Testament. Both
Joseph and Christ were born by special intervention of
God (Gen 30:2224; Luke 1:35). Both were objects of
special love by their fathers (Gen 37:3; Matt 3:17; John
3:35); both were hated by brethren (Gen 37:4; John
15:2425); both were rejected as rulers over their
brethren (Gen 37:8; Matt 21:3739; John 15:2425);
both were robbed of their robes (Gen 37:23; Matt
27:35); both were conspired against and placed in the
pit of death (Gen 37:18, 24; Matt 26:34; 27:3537 );

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both were sold for silver (Gen 37:28; Matt 26:1415);

both became servants (Gen 39:4; Phil 2:7); both were
condemned though innocent (Gen 39:1120; Isa 53:9;
Matt 27:19, 24). As Joseph is a type of Christ in
humiliation, so is he also in exaltation. Both were raised
from humiliation to glory by the power of God. Even
Pharoah saw in Joseph one in whom was the Spirit of
God (Gen 41:38), and Christ is manifested in
resurrection power as the very Son of God. Both during
the time of exaltation but continued rejection by brethren
take a Gentile bride and were a blessing to Gentiles
(Gen 41:145; Acts 15:14; Rom 11:1112; Eph 5:25
32). After the time of Gentile blessing begins to wane,
both were received finally by their brethren and
recognized as a savior and deliverer (Gen 45:115; Rom
11:126). Both exalt their brethren to places of honor
and safety (Gen 45:1618; Isa 65:1725). It is an
unmistakable evidence of the providence of God that
Joseph should have been guided through such unusual
experiences which were not only tokens of Gods care
over him but profound truths typical of the Person and
work of Christ.
(h) Joshua. Attention is directed to Joshua first on
account of his name, which means, Jehovah saves. It is
the Old Testament equivalent of the Greek name Jesus.
As a type of Christ, Joshua is significant first because he
is the successor of Moses just as Christ succeeded Moses
and the law (John 1:17; Rom 8:24; Heb 7:1819; Gal
3:2325). Joshua like Christ won a victory where Moses
had failed (Rom 8:34). In the time of conflict and defeat
both Joshua and Christ interceded for their own (Josh
7:59; Luke 22:32; 1 John 2:1). The portions of Israel
were allotted by Joshua even as Christ gives gifts and
rewards to His own (Josh 13ff). While not a prominent
type of Christ, it adds its own truth to the whole.
(i) Kinsman-Redeemer. Throughout the Old Testament
there is constant reference to the lag or kinsmanredeemer. It is evident that these instances are typical
foreshadowings of Christ as our Redeemer. The general
law of redemption in the Old Testament is clear. The
redeemer had to be a kinsman, one related to the person
or inheritance to be redeemed (Lev 25:4849; Ruth
3:1213; Heb 2:1415). Christ fulfilled this by becoming
man and by having the sins of the worlid imputed to
Him. The Old Testament redeemer had to be able to
redeem even as Christ in the New Testament (Ruth 4:4
6; John 10:11, 18; 1 Pet 1:18). The redemption is
accomplished by the payment of the price (Lev 25:27;

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Rom 3:2426; 1 Pet 1:1819; Gal 3:13). Latent in the

entire Old Testament order of redemption is the
prophetic picture of Christ who would come to redeem
through the sacrifice of Himself. The consummation of
His redemption yet awaits the saints both in earth and in
(j) Melchizedek. The brief account given of the meeting
of Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis fourteen
provides the background for this type of Christ. In the
account Melchizedek as king of Salem brings forth bread
and wine as the priest of the most high God and blesses
Abram after his return from the conquest of the kings.
The Scriptures record that Abram gave to Melchizedek
tithes of all. Later in Psalm 110:4, it is predicted that
Christ should be a priest forever after the order of
Melchizedek. These two passages are the occasion for
the discussion in Hebrews 57 in which Christ is
declared a priest according to the prophecy of the
Psalm. Combining the various elements presented in
these passages, it becomes clear upon Scriptural
warrant that Melchizedek is a type of Christ. His name is
significant. As Dr. Isaac Brubacher has written: The
name Melchisedek is a composite word derived from two
Hebrew words, ilm meaning, king; and qydx meaning,
righteous. The two words combined with dwy of
possession form qdx-yklm which means, my king is
righteous. The narrative further tells us that he was king
of Salem. The word Salem is derived from the Hebrew
word <lv which means, peace. Hence in Melchizedek
we have a type of Christ as the righteous King-Priest,
who is king of Salemmeaning, king of peace. As one
who brings forth bread and wine some have suggested
that the type refers particularly to the resurrected
Christ. In the New Testament Melchizedek is interpreted
as proving the eternity of the priesthood of Christ and its
superiority to the Levitical priesthood, based on the
argument that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through
Abraham his forefather (cf. Heb 5:6, 10; 6:20 ; 7:17, 21
(k) Moses. As one of the great prophets and leaders of
the Old Testament, it is not surprising that Moses should
also be a type of Christ. Moses predicted to the children
of Israel on the basis of the revelation given to him by
Jehovah that a prophet would come like unto himself to
whom they should give ear (Deut 18:1519). The
typology of Moses is, however, based primarily on the
evident significance of events in his life foreshadowing
the coming of Christ. Like Christ, Moses as a child was

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in danger of death, being born in a period during which

Israel was under oppression. By sovereign choice of
God, both were chosen to be saviors and deliverers
(Exod 3:710; Acts 7:25). Both are rejected by their
brethren (Exod 2:1115; John 1:11; Acts 7:2328;
18:56 ). Both during the period of rejection minister to
Gentiles and secure a Gentile bride, typical of the
church (Exod 2:16; 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:2532). Moses
after the period of separation is concluded returned to
deliver Israel even as Christ is predicted to return to
deliver Israel. Both are received by Israel at their
second comings (Exod 4:1931; Rom 11:2426; Acts
15:1417). Like Christ Moses is prophet (Num 34:1, 2;
John 12:29; Matt 13:57; 21:11 ; Acts 3:2223); priest
as advocate (Exod 32:3135; 1 John 2:12) and
intercessor (Exod 17:16; Heb 7:25); and king or ruler
(Deut 33:4, 5; John 1:49). Like Christ, Moses had to die
before the children of Israel could enter the land, typical
of a Christians possessions. As in the lives of Isaac and
Joseph, we find in Moses an outstanding illustration of
typical truth valuable for its foreshadowing of the life
and ministry of Christ.
(l) Nazarite. While Christ Himself was not a Nazarite in
the strict sense of the term, He nevertheless fulfilled the
spiritual significance of the Old Testament regulations
governing Nazarites. A Nazarite was required, in the
commandment recorded in Numbers six , to abstain from
wine and unclean food, not to cut the hair or beard, and
not to touch dead bodies. The underlying thought was
total separation to God and holy use. Abstention from
wine seems to represent abstaining from natural joys in
order to have spiritual joy (Ps 97:12; Hab 3:18; Phil
3:1, 3; 4:4 ). Long hair identified the Nazarite but was to
the world a token of reproach (1 Cor 11:14), and
symbolizes willingness to suffer because of identification
with the Lord. Abstention from unclean and dead things
was necessary to be holy to the Lord. Christ beautifully
fulfills this type in every spiritual sense (Heb 7:26).
Taken as a whole the typology of persons in the Old
Testament manifests that it is Christ-centered, having its
main purpose in foreshadowing the Person and work of
Christ. It is a rich field for devotional study and one that
unfortunately has been greatly neglected.

(3) Typical Events

(a) The field of typical events is too inclusive to be
embraced in a brief study, but as a complement to other
aspects of Christological typology, illustrations can at

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least be drawn from the abundance of incidents in the

Old Testament. The major typical events from the fall of
Adam to the entrance of Israel into the land will be
(b) Clothing of Adam and Eve. In the midst of the ruin
of sin and the judgment which followed the fall of Adam
and Eve, the Scriptures record a gracious thing which
God did for fallen humanity. In Genesis 3:21 (A.R.V.) it
is written: And Jehovah God made for Adam and for
his wife coats of skins, and clothed them. It was, of
course, a supply of a physical need for clothing which
God recognized, but it seems evident that the meaning is
deeper than this. God was representing to them the fact
that He would supply that which would cover the
nakedness of sin and provide a righteous covering
through the death of Christ, a thought which is given
frequent utterance in Scripture (Job 29:14; Ps 132:9;
Isa 61:10; 64:6 ; Rom 3:22; Rev 19:8).
(c) Preservation in the Ark. Another dramatic event in
the early history of the race is the preservation of Noah
and his family in the ark. The ark itself is a significant
type, to be considered as a typical thing, but the event of
preservation is freighted with meaning. In the midst of
almost universal judgment, God singled out the
righteous and preserved them. It represents in general
Gods deliverance of the righteous from judgment. In
particular it foreshadows the future preservation of the
saints in the period of great tribulation before the
second coming of Christ. It may also be applied to the
true church which will be caught up to be with Christ
before this final period begins and will return to the
earth after the judgment is completed. The principle of
deliverance of the righteous is referred to by Peter in his
warnings of judgment on the wicked. God saved Noah
while bringing in the flood upon the world of the
ungodly (2 Pet 2:5). God also delivered just Lot
from Sodom (2 Pet 2:7), though the city was destroyed.
Peter concludes: The Lord knoweth how to deliver the
godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto
the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet 2:9). Paul
expresses the same confidence, even though like Peter he
was facing imminent martyrdom (2 Tim 4:18). The
principle is illustrated in the ark that God preserves His
own through His judgments upon the wicked. While it is
in the large a work of the Trinity, it is clear that it is
based upon the work of Christ in His sacrifice,
intercession, and second coming.

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(d) Deliverance from Egypt. The entire picture of Israel

being delivered out of Egypt and brought through the
wilderness experiences into the promised land is a major
field of typology and one which illustrates the work of
Christ in salvation. The major elements of the
deliverance, the plagues, the institution of the Passover,
and the salvation of Israel at the Red Sea all speak of
Christ. The plagues represent the judgment upon the
wicked world and in type speak of the future deliverance
of Israel in the great tribulation. The Passover is an
eloquent type of the death of Christ as the believers only
place of safety from the judgment and death which
overtakes the world. At the Red Sea Israel is delivered
through the same waters which destroyed the Egyptians,
a type of the death of Christ in its power to deliver from
the world. The wilderness experiences with the manna
from heaven (Exod 16:4), speaking of Christ as the
bread of life, the water out of the rock (Exod 17:6),
speaking of Christ smitten that we might have life, and
many of the other incidents speak of the work of Christ
for His own.
(e) Entrance into the Land. The crossing of the Jordan
River and the subsequent conquest of Canaan has
always been recognized as typical truth, though the
interpretations have often been confused. Canaan is not
a type of heaven, but is instead the believers present
sphere of conflict and possession in Christ. It is obtained
by crossing the Jordan with its piled up waters which
speak of the death of Christ as the means for victory and
enjoyment of our possessions in Christ. The Angel of
Jehovah, which is Christ, went before the Israelites and
it was through His power that they achieved the
conquest. The experiences of Joshua have their parallel
in Ephesians in the New Testament. We possess our
possessions by faith in Christ, by crucifixion with Christ,
and by the mighty power of God.
(4) Typical Institutions and Ceremonies
(a) Introduction
(i) In addition to the many typical persons,
events, and things which foreshadow the person
and work of Christ in the Old Testament, there
are typical institutions and ceremonies. As Jesus
Christ is the central theme of revelation, it is not
strange that most types should speak expressly
of Him and this is true in the types under
consideration. Many of the types previously
considered are also related to typical institutions

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and ceremonies. In the discussion to follow,

unnecessary duplication will be avoided.
(ii) The important typical institutions and
ceremonies include the Old Testament
priesthoods, the sacrifices, the feasts of
Jehovah, the cities of refuge, and the Sabbath.
These are representative of this field, at least,
and will provide another glimpse of the beauties
of the person and work of Christ.

(b) The sacrifices. It is necessary only to mention here

that the sacrifices previously considered under typical
things are in themselves typical institutions. The sin
offering, trespass offering, meal offering, peace offering,
and burnt offering occupy a central place. These and
other offerings are an integral part of the Levitical ritual
which was revealed and required by God. All of the
sacrifices point to the person and work of Christ as the
New Testament makes very clear. For the devout heart
seeking to know more of the love and grace of God the
Old Testament sacrifices provide a rich area of
meditation and study. In any case they make the
essential requirement of shed blood to stand out boldly
in the divine pattern of salvation for lost man and erring
(c) The Old Testament priesthoods. In previous
discussion both Aaron and Melchizedek were found to be
types of Christ. Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek
priesthoods are types of the priesthood of Christ. The
earliest kind of priesthood in the Old Testament followed
the pattern of the patriarchs. In this system the father or
head of the family was also its priest. In a general way
even this priesthood anticipated Christ, but in Aaron and
Melchizedek there is a full and detailed revelation. The
argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews in support of the
superiority of Christ to the Aaronic priesthood is based
on the anticipation in Melchizedek. As to order of
priesthood, Melchizedek in type brings out the fact that
Christ is supreme over all other priesthoods, introducing
a new order entirely; that His priesthood is eternal, i.e.,
had no successors, no beginning or ending; that the
priesthood of Christ is untransmitted and
untransmissible (Heb 7:24); and that it is based on
resurrection anticipated in the elements of memorial,
bread and wine. The importance of this revelation will
be brought out in later consideration of the priesthood of
Christ. In its detail the Aaronic priesthood provides
light on the work of Christ as priest and His spiritual
qualifications for the office. Aaron anticipated the

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priesthood of Christ both by similarity and contrast. As

Aaron ministers in the earthly sphere, Christ ministers in
the heavenly (Heb 8:15). Christ served realities rather
than shadows (Heb 8:5), administered a new covenant
rather than the Mosaic covenant (Heb 8:6). Christ in His
sacrifice offered a final sacrifice for sin once for all
instead of a daily sacrifice (Heb 7:27). In all these
things Christ fulfilled what Aaron anticipated. There are
also many similarities. Like Aaron, Christ ministered in
sacred things (Heb 5:1), was made a priest by God
Himself (Heb 5:410), was a true Mediator (1 Tim 2:5),
was a part of humanity as the Second Adam as Aaron
was a part of Israel, offered sacrifice to God, and on the
basis of sacrifice offered intercession (Heb 7:25). There
can be no question that the Aaronic priesthood not only
was an ad interim dealing of God but that it was also
designed to portray in type what Christ was as priest
and what He did. The consecration of the priests for the
most part anticipates the priesthood of believers in the
present age rather than the priesthood of Christ, but in
the case of Aaron the typology seems to point to Christ.
The induction into the priests office for Aaron began
with washing with water (Lev 8:6). While it may not
exhaust the meaning of the baptism of Christ, it is
significant that His public ministry began with water
baptism. Following the washing with water, Aaron was
clothed with his priestly garments, which speak of the
prerogatives and office of the priesthood of Christ. He
was also anointed with oil, which has its antitype in the
descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ after His baptism. In
the case of Aaron (contra other priests), these aspects of
induction into the priestly office preceded the sacrifice,
even as they preceded the sacrifice of Christ. For other
priests the sacrifice came first, as for believer priests in
this age.
(d) Cities of refuge. In the Mosaic law provision was
made for the protection of those who innocently had
taken the life of another. Six cities of refuge were
established, three on either side of Jordan, and placed in
the hands of the Levites (Num 35; Deut 19:113; Josh
20). If judged innocent of wilful murder, the party
responsible could have deliverance from the avenger of
blood as long as he remained in the city of refuge. It was
provided that at the death of the high priest, he could
return to his home, but not before. The cities of refuge
are obviously a type of refuge in Christ. The sinner there
finds refuge from judgment for sin and is made free by
the death of the high priest. God is frequently spoken of
as a refuge in the Old Testament (Ps 46:1; 142:5 ; Isa
4:6) and also in the New Testament (Rom 8:3334; Heb

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6:1819). While God has always been the refuge of His

saints, it was not until the death of the high priest,
fulfilled in Christ, that complete freedom was provided.
(e) Sabbath. As an institution in Israel, the Sabbath had
a central place. It was a day of complete rest and was
supplemented by other Sabbath days, and Sabbatic
years. For the most part these observances were for
Israel and stand in contrast rather than similarity to the
Christian observance of the first day of the week. The
typical significance of the Sabbath is, therefore,
relatively minor. The Sabbath uniformly is a symbol of
rest. This is its first meaning as found in the rest of God
after creation, and this was carried out for Israel. In the
New Testament it is used as a type of the rest of faith of
the Christian who has ceased from his own works and is
resting in the work of Christ. In Hebrews 4:111, the
principal passage in the New Testament on this theme,
the contrast is plainly made between the day of rest of
the Sabbath and the rest of faith in Christ: There
remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he
that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his
own works, as God did from his (Heb 4:910). Taken
as a whole, it is proper to conclude that the typical
ceremonies and institutions of the Old Testament have as
their main theme the person and work of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Thus, imbedded in the religious life of saints
before Christ, are found the principal elements of the
New Testament revelation concerning Christ. Beautiful
as are the types they are exceeded by the antitype, and
devout souls can long for that future complete revelation
when we shall see Him face to face.

b) Feasts (Payne, Theology of the Older Testament,

(1) Passover-- Christ'
s substitutionary atonement (1 Corinthians
(2) Day of Atonement -- Christ'
s redemptive work (Heb. 9:12)

c) Offerings (Payne, Theology of the Older Testament,

(1) Burnt offering (ola)
(a) Major passage: Lev. 1; 6:8-13
(b) Distinctive: Wholly burnt on the altar (Lev. 1:19)

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(c) Symbolism:
(i) Placating the wrath of God by
substitutionary death (Gen. 8:20; Lev. 1:4)
(ii) Complete consecration (Cf. 6:13, a continual

(d) Typology:
(i) Christ's vicarious death for the redemption
of sinners (2 Cor. 5:21)
(ii) His entire self-surrender (Psa. 40:8; Cf. Luke
2:49; Matt. 26:39)

(2) Meal Offering (Minah)

(a) Major passage: Lev. 2; 6:14-23
(b) Distinctive: Non-bloody parts, accompanying other
bloody offerings (Lev. 2:1; Cf. 23:18)
(c) Symbolism: Consecrate one'
s life and substance
(Lev. 2:14)
(d) Typology: Christ'
s righteous fulfilling of the law
(Matt. 3:15).
(3) Peace Offering (Sh'
(a) Major passage: Lev. 3; 7:11-34
(b) Distinctive: Most parts eaten before God by one
offering the sacrifice (Lev. 7:15)
(c) Symbolism:
(i) Placating God's wrath (Lev. 3:2)
(ii) A thanksgiving meal of reconciliation with
God (Lev. 7:12)

(d) Typology:
(i) Vicarious redemption

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(ii) Communion in Christ, now (John 6:51) and

in the future kingdom (Rev. 19:6-10)

(4) Sin Offering (Hattah)

(a) Major passage: Lev. 4-5; 6:24-30
(b) Distinctive:
(i) For a specific sin (Lev. 5:1-4)
(ii) Some victim's bodies burned outside the
camp (Lev. 4:12)

(c) Symbolism:
(i) Placating the wrath of God
(ii) Confession (Lev. 5:5)
(iii) Tranference of guilt to the animal (Lev. 4:21)

(d) Typology:
(i) Christ's vicarious redemption
(ii) Christ' suffering without the camp (Heb.
(iii) The passive bearing of the penalties of
men's sins (Isa. 53:6)

(5) Trespass Offering (Asham)

(a) Major passage: Lev. 5:14-6:7; 7:1-10
(b) Distinctive: Same as Sin offering, plus payment to
the wronged party (restitution)
(c) Symbolism:
(i) Placating God's wrath (5:18)
(ii) Confession with transferred guilt (7:7)
(iii) Social restitution for wrong (5:16)

(d) Typology:

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(i) Same as sin offering

(ii) His active redressing of every legal claim of
God (Gal. 4:4)

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C. His Humiliation
1. Introduction
a) Areas of humiliation according to Phil. 2:6-8
(1) Taking upon Himself the form of a servant
(2) Obedience unto death
(3) Even the death of the cross

b) Definition in creedal statement

(1) Westminster Larger Catechism Q46: What was the estate of
s humiliation? A46: The estate of Christ'
s humiliation
was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying
himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his
conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his
resurrection (Phil. 2:6-8; Luke 1:31; II Cor. 8:9; Acts 2:24)
(2) Westminster Larger Catechism Q47: How did Christ
humble himself in his conception and birth? A47: Christ
humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from
all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was
pleased in the fulness of time to become the son of man, made of
a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers
circumstances of more than ordinary abasement (John 1:14, 18;
Gal. 4:4; Luke 2:7).
c) Westminster Larger Catechism Q48: How did Christ humble
himself in his life? A48: Christ humbled himself in his life, by
subjecting himself to the law,[Gal. 4:4] which he perfectly
fulfilled;[Matt. 5:17; Rom. 5:19] and by conflicting with the indignities
of the world,[Psa. 22:6; Heb. 12:2-3] temptations of Satan,[ Matt. 4:1-12;
Luke 4:13] and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of
man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.[ Heb. 2:17-18;
4:15; Isa. 52:13-14]
d) Westminster Larger Catechism Q49: How did Christ humble
himself in his death? A49: Christ humbled himself in his death, in that
having been betrayed by Judas,[Matt. 27:4] forsaken by his
disciples,[Matt. 26:56] scorned and rejected by the world,[Isa. 53:2-3]
condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors;[Matt. 27:26-50;
John 19:34] having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the

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powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God'

s wrath,[Luke
22:44; Matt. 27:46] he laid down his life an offering for sin,[Isa. 53:10]
enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.[ Phil. 2:8;
Heb. 12:2; Gal. 3:13]
e) Westminster Larger Catechism Q50: Wherein consisted Christ'
humiliation after his death? A50: Christ'
s humiliation after his death
consisted in his being buried,[1 Cor. 15:3-4] and continuing in the state
of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day;[ 2. Psa.
16:10; Acts 2:24-27, 31; Rom. 6:9; Matt. 12:40] which hath been
otherwise expressed in these words, he descended into hell.

2. The Incarnation of the Savior (see previous discussion in the

person of Christ)
a) What is the incarnation? The pre-existent Son of
God assumed human nature, taking to himself flesh and
b) Who was incarnated? The second person of the
triune godhead, and no other (although all were active in
some way: Holy Spirit-- Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35;
Father--Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4; Son-- John 1:14;
Philippians 2:7).
c) What happened in the incarnation?
(1) This is not something that merely "happened" to him; he
was actively involved. The Logos became flesh, he took the
form (exact nature) of a servant and was made in the likeness of
men (plural - mankind), (i.e., although he was a perfect man, he
was not a mere man).
(2) John Calvin writes, "It follows that when he became man
Christ did not cease to be what he was before and that nothing
was changed in the eternal essence of God which assumed flesh.
In short, the Son of God became man in such a way that he is
still that eternal Word who had no temporal beginning" (The
Gospel According to St. John, pp. 20-21)

d) How long does the incarnation last?

(1) One part of our definition of the hypostatic union is that
it is "forever."
(2) Donald Baillie rightly states, "If we believe in the
incarnation, we cannot possibly say that Jesus ceased to

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be human when he departed from this world" (God Was In

Christ, p. 152).
(3) The bodily resurrection, bodily ascension and bodily
return of our Lord as well as the presence of a glorified
God-man at the Father's right hand as our high priest all
testify to this truth.
(4) As Bloesch affirms, ". . . it is incumbent upon us to affirm
the eternal incarnation of Jesus Christ" if we are to be orthodox
in our Christian faith (Essentials of Evangelical Theology, I,

e) What are the effects of the incarnation? Some of the

effects of the coming of Jesus Christ in human flesh are
(1) The Father was interpreted and revealed to mankind (John
1:18; 14:6-9);
(2) Satan is rendered powerless and his works are destroyed
(Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8);
(3) A ransom was provided to put away sin (Mark 10:45; Heb.
(4) He became our faithful high priest (Heb. 2:10, 17-18); and e)
he provided an example of a godly life (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

f) What is doctrinal significance o the Incarnation

(1) He was born of David'
s line to bring salvation to Israel (Acts
13:23) and to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:3).
(2) He was born of woman and under the law to redeem those
under the law (Gal. 4:4-5).
(3) His birth enabled him to assume servanthood and humanity
so as to die on the cross (Phil. 2:6-8).
(4) Through his birth he entered the world to save sinners
(1 Tim. 1:15).

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3. The Obedience of Christ

a) Introduction
(1) There seems to be a an active and passive obedience
of Christ
(2) Some deny that the active obedience of Christ saves
(a) "That Christ obeyed perfectly the Law and suffered
greatly during His life is not denied or even disputed by
dispensationalists. The crucial question, however, is,
Why did He suffer in life? What was accomplished by
His obedience to the Law? Scripture simply does not
teach that the life sufferings of Christ were vicarious.
Rather it stresses His death alone as a substitution for
sin and sinners. To be sure, the Saviors sinless life

demonstrated that He was qualified to be the

sinners Substitute, but He atoned for sin only on
the cross, where He became a curse (Gal 3:13).

(b) Viewing Christs active obedience in His life as

substitutionary is the natural result of believing that
God promised Adam and his posterity eternal life if
he would obey Gods command not to eat of the
forbidden fruit. Since Adam did not obey Gods
command or law, Christ, the last Adam came and
did in His life what the first Adam failed to doto
earn righteousness for His own. In this view the
death of Christ was not the only basis on which God
made substitution for mans sin. Theonomy and
Reformed theology in general believe that through
His active obedience the Savior carried His people
beyond the point where Adam was before he fell to
give them a claim to eternal life.
(c) Dispensationalists do not view the theological

covenant of works as promising Adam and his

posterity eternal life for obedience. God promised
Adam death for disobedience, not eternal life for
obedience. Furthermore did not Adam possess
creaturely perfection as he came from the creative
hand of God? Was not all that God made very
good (Gen 1:31), including man? Theonomy
teaches that the way of salvation before the Fall
differed from the way of salvation after the Fall.

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That is a strange doctrine coming from those who

falsely accuse dispensationalists of believing in
more than one way of salvation" (Robert Lightner,
Theological Perspectives on Theonomy,"
Bibliotheca Sacra 143:571 [July 1986], 233-34).
(3) Scriptural Support for the Obedience of Christ
(a) Matt. 5:18-19 is the key passage
(i) Parallel between Adam and Christ
(ii) Verse 12 states that Adam was
representative of all men and brought all men
into sin by his disobedience
(iii) Parallel occurs in this: Christ is also the
head of his people. Christ's obedience brings
salvation/justification to all those He represents.
(iv) Verse 19 underscores "the obedience of
One" What obedience? Obedience of life or
death? Both!

(b) Phil. 2:7-8

(i) He became a servant. Whose servant?
Yahweh's servant. He agreed to come down for
(ii) Verse 8 adds that He "became obedient
unto death." Hence, his obedience culminated
in his death.
(iii) His obedience started in his willingness to
come to earth, keep the laws, and then die in
our place. "In short, form the time when he took
on the form of a servant, he began to pay this
price of liberation in order to redeem us"

(c) 2 Cor. 5:21

(i) What is this righteousness of God in Christ?
He knew no sin -- active obedience
(ii) He became sin for us-- passive obedience

(4) Various Views on the Active Obedience of Christ

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(a) Vicarious Faith

(i) Some say that Christ's obedience for us
included His believing for us.
(ii) This is the view of Thomas F. Torrance and
his "New Reformation" school.
(iii) They state that this is the meaning of Gal.
2:16, 20,which literally read "the faith of Jesus
(iv) Thus, we are not just justified by faith in
Christ, but by Christ's faith.
(v) This is a misinterpretation of the genitive
case in this phrase.

(b) Vicarious Baptism

(i) Matt. 3:15-- Jesus was baptized to fulfill all
(ii) Vs. 14 implies that Christ did not have to be
(iii) R. T. Kendall and others believe in this
(iv) While there is an aspect of this. He did
identify with sinners. However, one should be
careful in this regard.

(c) Vicarious Repentance

(i) Developed by Antinomian Calvinist John
MacLeod Campbell in 18 Century
(ii) State that Christ was baptized for us;
baptism requires repentance; therefore, Christ
repented for us.
(iii) Furthermore, the High Priest confesses the
sins of the people
(iv) How can one repent for another?
Repentance assumes the existence of sin. While
our sin was imputed to Christ, it was not infused
in Him.

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4. The Sufferings of the Savior

a) His sufferings in life
(1) The reasons for his sufferings in life. Jesus suffered during
his earthly life because of
(a) his righteous character (John 15:18-25);
(b) his sympathy for others (Matt. 8:16-17; Luke
19:41-44; Heb. 4:15-16); and
(c) his anticipation of the cross (Luke 22: 39-44;
Heb. 5:7-10).
(2) The climax of his sufferings in life. His sufferings reached a
(a) in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46) and
(b) on Golgotha (Matt. 27:33 ff.; Mark 15:22 ff.; Luke
23:33 ff; John 19:16 ff.; Ps. 22:1-21)
(3) The purpose of his sufferings in life.
(a) How they relate to the atonement.
(i) Were His life sufferings expiatory?
According to Hebrews 9:22 there is no
forgiveness without shedding of blood, that is,
without the giving up of life.
(ii) Is there bodily healing in the atonement?
(a) There is a segment of Christendom,
usually associated with certain forms of
Pentecostalism, which holds that one
intended result of the death of Christ
was that Christians should not
experience physical sickness.
(b) McClain describes this view as
follows: "When Christ died on the cross
. . . He made atonement for our
diseases as well as for our sins.
Therefore, they conclude, no true
Christian need be sick or diseased at
any time. If a Christian suffers from
physical disease (as all of us do sooner
or later) these theorists explain the

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situation by the following alternatives:

The sick Christian has either failed to
"appropriate" fully the benefits of the
atonement, or else he is guilty of some
personal sin for which the sickness is
sent as a divine judgment. In either
case, they say, the whole responsibility
rests upon the person. It is always the
will of God to heal, according to their
theory, if we truly repent of our sins and
believe in the fullness of our Lord's work
on the Cross. If we are sick, we are
either lost or backslidden. No true
Christian, they argue, can be sick if he is
in complete fellowship with God ("Was
Christ Punished For Our Diseases?"
GraceJournal, Vol. 31A, p. 3).
(c) This kind of thinking suffers from
several problems (see Alva J. McClain's
article for a fuller discussion) but two will
be noted.
(i) First of all, it is very clear
when Isaiah 53:4, the passage on
which this view is based, is
compared with Matthew 8:16-17,
wherein it is quoted by the
divinely directed writer, that
physical healing is related to our
Lord's earthy ministry not to his
death. In this connection,
comparison should also be made
between Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter
2:24, which quotes it, where we
see that spiritual healing is in
view. This is related to his death.
(ii) The second problem with
this line of thought is a tendency
to confuse sickness and sin.
"Sickness is not sin, it is rather
the result of sin. We punish men
for sinning but not for getting
sick" (McClain, op. cit., p. 4-5).
(iii) Carl Henry addresses the
same issue as he states: "In the
New Testament, as Albrecht
Oepke comments, diseases and
afflictions are regarded "as evils
which contradict God's plan for
creation" ("Iaomai,"
New_Testament, edited by
Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard
Friedrich, 3:204).

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(iv) Yet the Bible avoids the

superficial view-- shared already
by some of Job's friends --that
sickness and suffering are in all
or most cases the direct result of
individual sin. While Jesus
recognizes a link between sin
and sickness (cf. Mark 2:5; John
5:14), he rejects any rigid
explanation of sickness in terms
only of individual retribution
(Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3; 11:4).
The Apostle Paul reflects the
same view (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
IV, 506).
(v) In conclusion, then, we may
note that there is a connection
between sin and sickness but the
two must be distinguished.
Christ can and does on occasion
heal but
his_own_glory. While the cross
may provide the "moral foundation" (McClain, op. cit., p. 5) for
the future and final dealing with
sickness and disease there is no
guarantee of bodily healing in the
atonement. This kind of healing
will only come with the
redemption of the body (Rom.

(b) How they relate to the Christian life.

(i) He was thus equipped as our high priest
(Heb. 5:8-10).
(ii) He thus became an example to follow (1
Pet. 2:21-23).
(iii) He thus became a source of encourgement
in our suffering (1 Pet. 4:12-14, cf. Col. 1:24).

(c) His sufferings in temptation.

(i) One of the most difficult areas of
consideration in Christology relates to the
temptations of Jesus Christ.
(ii) Inherent to this is the discussion on the
impeccability of Christ, which has been
discussed earlier

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5. The Death of the Savior (This will be developed more

extensively when we deal with the atonement).
a) Introduction
(1) Death is separation of the body and soul (physical); of the
soul from God (spiritual); and of the sinner permanently from
s presence (eternal).
(2) For all men death was because of their sin; for Christ,
because of our sin. God judicially laid on him our penalty that
he voluntarily agreed to assume.
(3) His death involved both physical and eternal implications,
although he bore in a moment what men must bear forever.
(a) This raises a most perplexing question in relation to
our Lord'
s cry from the cross, "My God, my God why
have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34).
(b) How could God be forsaken of God? And, if this
forsaking relates to the bearing of sin for us at this point
before he actually died does this mean that sin was paid
for in his suffering before death?
(c) Let us remember that scripture declares that
"without shedding of blood [giving up of life] there is
no forgiveness" (Heb. 9:22). Redemption is
"through his blood" (Eph. 1:7). Christ died only
once (Heb. 10:10-14) "for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) in
that he was "delivered up because of our
transgressions" (Rom. 4:25). There can be no
separation of his death for sins and his death for
sinners. They are one and the same thing.
(d) The efficacious and vicarious nature of our Lord'
death is a complex matter. His sinless life and the
resultant sufferings he experienced among sinful
mankind (see e.g., Heb. 5:7-10; 7:26; 12:3) are very
important in his overall purpose to accomplish
redemption and must not be discounted.
(e) The scriptures repeatedly declare his sinlessness
throughout his life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22;
1 John 3:8) so the only point he could possibly have
experienced the spiritual effects of sin in terms of
spiritual separation from God is in his death. This alone
accounts for, "My God, my God why have you forsaken

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(f) This still leaves the enigma of one member of the

Godhead being forsaken by another.
(g) "He was subject not only to physical, but also to
eternal death, though, He bore this intensively not
extensively, when He agonized in the garden and when
he cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?" In a short period of time He bore
the infinite wrath against sin to the very end and came
out victoriously. This was possible for Him only because
of His exalted nature. At this point we should guard
against misunderstanding, however. Eternal death in
the case of Christ did not consist in an abrogation of the
union of the Logos with the human nature, nor in the
divine nature'
s being forsaken of God, nor in the
withdrawal of the Father'
s divine love or good pleasure
from the person of the Mediator. The Logos remained
united with the human nature even when the body was in
the grave; the divine nature could not possibly be
forsaken of God; and the person of the Mediator was
and ever and ever continued to be the object of divine
favor. It revealed itself in the human consciousness of
the Mediator as a feeling of God-forsakenness. This
implies that the human nature for a moment missed the
conscious comfort which it might derive from its union
with the divine Logos, and the sense of divine love, and
was painfully conscious of the fullness of the divine
wrath which was bearing down upon it. Yet there was
no despair, for even in the darkest hour, while He
exclaims that He is forsaken, He directs His prayer to
God (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 339).
(h) The only resolution of this apparent anomaly
probably lies in the helpful distinctions drawn from the
concept of the economical and ontological trinity, that
is, in the difference between Jesus Christ as viewed in
his mediatorial role and as viewed as the eternal Son of
the Father who shares all the attributes of deity with the
(i) Thus, in the cry, we have a functional rather than
ontological truth expressed. His great sense of the
sinfulness of sin was paralleled by his intense sense of
God the Father'
s abhorrence of sin that found
expression in the cry of forsakenness.

b) The death of the Savior in typical picture

(1) An introductory word about types.

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(a) Definition: A type is a divinely purposed

anticipation that illustrates its antitype.
(b) It is not the purpose of a type to establish a truth of
doctrine, but rather to illustrate and enhance the force of
the truth as seen in the antitype.
(c) Generally speaking, an Old Testament person,
event, or thing should not be considered typical unless
there is New Testament warrant for it.
(2) Some examples.
(a) In the Old Testament the following may be
typical of Jesus' death:
(b) Abel's lamb (Gen. 4:2-5, cf. Heb. 11:4 and 9:22;
Jude 11);
(c) The offering of Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19; Heb.
(d) The Passover lamb (Exod. 12:1-14; cf. 1 Cor.
(e) The five Levitical offerings (Lev. 1:1-7:38);
(f) The Day of Atonement (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:11-12,
(g) (see Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic_Theology, III,
116-25, for an elaboration of these items; Cf. Scofield'
notes in the Scofield Reference Bible)

c) The character of his death.

(1) It was neither merely natural nor accidental in
(2) Rather, it was the result of the judicially imposed
punishment for sin. Even its form, crucifixion, was a fulfillment
of prophecy (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

d) Who is responsible for his death?

(1) From the standpoint of eternal purpose or the divine
good-pleasure Yahweh is said to be involved (Isa. 53:6, 10; Acts
2:23; 4:28).

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(2) From the historical standpoint, that is the actual putting to

death, there is both Satanic (Gen. 3:15) and human responsibility
(Ps. 2:1-2; Acts 2:23; 4:25-28).

6. The Burial of the Savior

a) The significance of his burial.
(1) It validates his death and gives significance to his
resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
(2) It empties the grave of its terror for the believer (Ps. 16:7-11;
Acts 2:24-31; 13:34-35).

b) The "descent into Hades" (Ps. 16:8-10; Eph. 4:8-10; 1

Pet. 3:18-20; 4:4-6).
(1) Origin of the "Descent into Hell"
(a) This is a creedal rather than a biblical concept and
is not taught in these passages.
(b) The idea was first introduced into the so-called
s Creed
(c) Philip Schaff provides information of the
development of the creed in his Creeds of Christendom,
(d) It is surprising to find that the phrase He
descended into hell was not found in any of the early
versions of the Creed (in the versions used in Rome, in
the rest of Italy, in Africa) until it appeared in one of two
versions from Rufinus in A.D. 390.
(e) Then it is not included again in any version of the
Creed until 650.
(f) Moreover Rufinus, the only person who includes it
before 650, did not think that it meant that Christ
descended into hell but understood the phrase simply to
mean that Christ was buried" (See Schaff, 1:21, note
(g) Thus, he took it to mean that Christ descended into
the grave. (The Greek form has hades, which can
mean just grave, not geenna, hell, place of

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(2) Views of the Descent into Hell (Descenus ad infernos)

(a) Calvin'
s View:

Calvin says that Christs descent

into hell refers to the fact that he not
only died a bodily death but that it was
expedient at the same time for him to
undergo the severity of Gods
vengeance, to appease his wrath and
satisfy his just judgment" (Institutes

(ii) Following Calvin's lead, Heidelberg

Catechism, Question 44, asks:Why is it added:
He descended into Hades? Answer: That in my
greatest temptations I may be assured that
Christ, my Lord, by his inexpressible anguish,
pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul
on the cross and before, has redeemed me from
the anguish and torment of hell.

(b) State of Death View

(i) The Westminster Larger Catechism,
Question 50, says: "Christs humiliation after his
death consisted in his being buried, and
continuing in the state of the dead, and under
the power of death till the third day; which hath
been otherwise expressed in these words, He
descended into hell.
(ii) This interpretation is not an
explanation of what the words first
meant in this sequence but is rather an
inaccurate attempt to salvage some
theologically acceptable sense out of
the words.

(c) True Descent into Hell View:

Finally, some have argued that the

phrase means just what it appears to
mean on first reading: That Christ
actually did descend into hell after his
death on the cross. It is easy to
understand the Apostles Creed to mean
just this (indeed, that is certainly the
natural sense).

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"Christ descended into hell, not for

the purpose of suffering any evil form
demons, John 19, 30; Luke 24, 26, but
to triumph over the devils, Rev. 1, 18;
Col. 2, 15, and to convince condemned
men that they were justly shut up in the
infernal prison, 1 Pet. 3,19. The
preaching of Christ in hell was not
evangelical, but legal, accusatory,
terrifying, and that, too, both verbal, by
which He convinced them that they had
deserved eternal punishments, and real,
by which He struck frightful terror into
them" (Hollaz, Doctrinal Theology, 396).

(3) Alleged Support

(a) Acts 2:27.

(i) This is part of Peters sermon on the day of

Pentecost, where he is quoting Ps 16:10. In the
KJV the verse reads: Because thou wilt not
leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer
thine Holy One to see corruption.

(ii) Does this mean that Christ was in

hell after he died? Not necessarily,
because another sense is certainly
possible for these verses. The word
hell here represents a NT Greek term
) and an OT Hebrew term
), both of which can mean
simply the grave or death (the state
of being dead).
(iii) Thus the NIV translates Acts 2:27:
Because you will not abandon me to
the grave, nor will you let your Holy One
see decay. This sense is preferable
because the context emphasizes the
fact that Christs body rose from the
grave as opposed to Davids body,
which remained in the grave. The
reasoning is: My body also will live in
hope (v. 26), because you will not
abandon me to the grave (v. 27). Peter
is using Davids psalm to show that

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Christs body did not decay. He is

therefore unlike David, who died and
was buried, and his tomb is here to this
day (v. 29).
(iv) Therefore this passage about
Christs resurrection from the grave
does not give persuasive support for the
idea that Christ descended into hell.
(b) Rom 10:67.
(i) These verses contain two rhetorical
questions, again OT quotations (from
Deut 30:13): Do not say in your heart,
Who will ascend into heaven? (that is,
to bring Christ down) or Who will
descend into the deep? (that is, to bring
Christ up from the dead).
(ii) But this passage hardly teaches that Christ
descended into hell. The point of the passage is
that Paul is telling people not to ask these
questions, because Christ is not far away, he is
near, and faith in him is as near as confessing
with our mouth and believing in our heart (v. 9).
These prohibited questions are questions of
unbelief, not assertions of what Scripture

(c) Eph 4:89.

(i) Here Paul writes: In saying, He ascended,
what does it mean but that he had also
descended into the lower parts of the earth?
(ii) Does this mean that Christ descended to
hell? It is at first unclear what is meant by the
lower parts of the earth, but another translation
seems to give the best sense: What does he
ascended mean except that he also descended
to the lower, earthly regions? (NIV).
(iii) Here the NIV takes descended to refer to
Christs coming to earth as a baby (the
incarnation). The last four words are an
acceptable understanding of the Greek text,
taking the phrase lower regions of the earth to
mean lower regions that are the earth (genitive

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of apposition). An English example is the city of

Chicago, by which we mean the city that is
(iv) This NIV rendering is again preferable in this
context because Paul is saying that the Christ
who went up to heaven (in his ascension) is the
same one who earlier came down from heaven
(v. 10). That descent from heaven occurred
when Christ came to be born as a man. So the
verse speaks of the incarnation, not of a descent
into hell.
(v) In Ephesians 4:8-10, Paul is better
understood as contrasting Christ's descent to
the earth with his ascent from the earth than as
speaking of a descent into the earth. In the
phrase "the lower parts of the earth" the words
"of the earth" are better translated as a genitive
of apposition--"the lower parts [in contrast with
"on high" in verse 8 which refers to heaven], that
is, the earth." In the 1 Peter 3 passage the
"spirits in prison" are probably angelic beings (cf.
2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) imprisoned in Tartarus (2
Pet. 2:4) who were in some way related to the
sin which led to the divine judgment in the form
of the Noahic flood. The proclamation of verse
19 is just that (kerusso) and not a gospel
announcement (euangelizomai).

(d) I Pet 3:1820.

(i) For many people this is the most puzzling
passage on this entire subject. Peter tells us that
Christ was put to death in the flesh but made
alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached
to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not
obey, when Gods patience waited in the days of
Noah, during the building of the ark (RSV).

(ii) Some have taken he went and preached to

the spirits in prison to mean that Christ went
into hell and preached to the spirits who were
there, either proclaiming the gospel and offering
a second chance to repent or just proclaiming
that he had triumphed over them and that they
were eternally condemned.

(iii) But these interpretations fail to explain

adequately either the passage itself or its setting
in this context. Peter does not say that Christ
preached to spirits generally but only to those
who formerly did not obey during the building
of the ark.

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(iv) Such a limited audiencethose who

disobeyed during the building of the arkwould
be a strange group for Christ to travel to hell and
preach to.
(a) If Christ proclaimed his triumph, why
only to these sinners and not to all?
(b) And if he offered a second chance
for salvation, why only to these sinners
and not to all?
(c) Even more difficult for this view is
the fact that Scripture elsewhere
indicates that there is no chance for
repentance after death (Luke 16:26;
Heb 10:27).
(v) Moreover the context of I Peter 3 makes a
preaching in hell unlikely. Peter is encouraging
his readers to witness boldly to the hostile
unbelievers around them. He just finished telling
them to always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you (1 Pet 3:15). This
evangelistic context would lose its urgency if
Peter were teaching a second chance for
salvation after death. And it would not fit at all
with a preaching of condemnation.
(vi) In order to give a better explanation for
these difficulties, several commentators have
proposed taking spirits in prison to mean
demonic spirits, the spirits of fallen angels, and
have said that Christ proclaimed condemnation
to these demons. This (it is claimed) would
comfort Peters readers by showing them that
the demonic forces oppressing them would also
be defeated by Christ.
(vii) But Peters readers would have to go
through an incredibly complicated reasoning
process to draw this conclusion when Peter
does not explicitly say it. They would have to
reason from (1) some demons who sinned long
ago were condemned, to (2) other demons are
now inciting your human persecutors, to (3)
those demons will likewise be condemned some
day, to (4) therefore your persecutors will finally
be judged as well, to (5) therefore do not fear
your persecutors.

(4) Biblical Contradiction to Descent into Hell

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(a) In addition to the fact that there seems to be little if

any Biblical support for a descent of Christ into hell,
there are some NT texts that apparently deny the
possibility of Christs going to hell after his death.
(b) Jesus words to the thief on the cross, Today
you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43),
imply that after Jesus died his soul (or spirit) went
immediately to the presence of the Father in
heaven, even though his body remained on earth
and was buried. Some people deny this by arguing
that paradise is a place distinct from heaven, but in
both of the other NT uses the word clearly means
heaven: In 2 Cot 12:4 it is the place to which
Paul was caught up in his revelation of heaven, and
in Rev 2:7 it is the place where we find the tree of
life, which is clearly heaven in 22:2, 14.
(c) In addition the cry of Jesus, It is finished (John
19:30), strongly suggests that Christs suffering was
finished at that moment, and so was his alienation from
the Father because of bearing our sin. This implies that
he would not descend into hell but would go at once into
the Fathers presence.

(d) Finally, Father, into your hands I commit my

spirit (Luke 23:46) also suggests that Christ
expected (correctly) the immediate end of his
suffering and estrangement and the welcoming of
his spirit into heaven by God the Father (note
Stephens similar cry in Acts 7:59).
(e) These texts indicate, then, that Christ in his
death experienced the same things believers in this
present age experience when they die: His dead
body remained on earth and was buried (as ours
will be), but his spirit (or soul) passed immediately
into the presence of God in heaven (as ours will).
Then on the first Easter morning Christs spirit was
reunited with his body and he was raised from the
dead, just as Christians who have died will (when
Christ returns) be reunited to their bodies and
raised in their perfect resurrection bodies to new

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D. His Exaltation
A. Messianic Prophecy (1 Pet. 1:10-11, NIV).
First Peter 1:10-11 provides a classic New Testament passage on the
messianic character of the Old Testament. Peter begins by indicating
those by whom the salvation he has been discussing (vv. 3-9) was foretold
and something of their activity. They were involved in eager seeking and
diligent searching.
Their research took two directions and related two yet future events. They
were interested in the exact time of the events and if they could not
determine the particular time they would look for the distinguishing
characteristics of the period, the circumstances that would surround
Messiah's comings. The predictive revelation given them by the Spirit fell
into two categories of truth about Messiah each of which was further
susceptible to subdivision.
He spoke of the sufferings of Christ (those events which combine to make
up the passion of his first advent) and the glories that would follow them.
The plural "glories" is very unusual and probably encompasses the
successive stages in Christ's exaltation beginning with those events which
followed upon his death and including those that relate to his second
coming. His predicted "glories" may be construed as including his
resurrection (Ps. 16:10; see also Ps. 22:22; 119:22-24), his ascension (Ps.
68:18), his present session (Ps. 16:11; 110:1), his return (Ps. 24) and his
reign (Ps. 72; Dan. 7:13-14).
B. The Resurrection of the Savior
No truth of the Christian faith is more pivotal or vital than that of the bodily
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection of the crucified Jesus is the turning point of the
New Testament narratives and at the heart of the Christian faith.
The entire New Testament was written within and from the
perspective of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Without faith that
the crucified Christ is alive, the Christian church would never have
come into being nor would we have the New Testament writings.
The rise of the Christian movement can be adequately explained in
only one way, that Jesus' followers personally saw the risen Lord
and considered his resurrection from the tomb conclusive evidence

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that he was truly the Messiah of Old Testament promise (Carl F. H.

Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, III, 147).
Because the resurrection is so integral to the Christian faith it is most
important, in turn, to understand what is meant when we say that the
resurrection is an historical event. Lee McDonald has suggested that
there are three primary historical approaches to Christ's resurrection
within the Christian community ("Historical-Critical Inquiry and the
Resurrection of Jesus," Theology_News_and_Notes, xxx/2, pp. 4-7).
He first lists "the Historical-Critical (or Positivistic) approach, adopted first
by Friedrich Schleiermacher and the succeeding 19th century liberal
scholars, but more recently by Rudolf Bultmann, Hans Conzelmann, Willie
Marxsen, C. F. Evans, et. al.," "which views history as a closed continuum
of cause and effect events" (ibid., p. 5). In other words, those who hold
this view deny the intervention of the supernatural in the realm of the
natural. The only "historical" dimension is that supplied by the early
church wherein arose, in their own subjective "faith," the idea of his
The second approach is called the "Salvation-Historical (Heilsgeschichte)
approach" and is associated with "Karl Barth, Paul Althaus, Oscar
Cullmann, Reginald Fuller, George Ladd, et. al." Those who hold to this
view "have argued that the unique acts of God do occur in history but that
the historian as historian is incapable of making judgment on the matter"
(ibid.). While the time-space character of such events is affirmed they are
only made known by God to "the eye of faith." As McDonald goes on to
say, "This view emphasizes two kinds of historical reality: natural history
which can be understood in terms of natural cause and effect relationships
and salvation history which allows for the supernatural activity of God in
human history, e.g., in the Exodus, the resurrection of Jesus, etc." (ibid.).
While this is a vast improvement over the first named view it, too, tends to
subjectivize the resurrection. It ends up being true only for the Christian.
The third view that McDonald names is the "Universal Historical approach
to history" which he associates with Wolfhart Pannenberg and some
contemporary evangelicals. This approach "denies the existence of two
kinds of history and argues that there is only one universal history which is
open to the unique activity of God and which is also open to historical
inquiry" (ibid., p. 6).
McDonald, who lines up with the second view, faults this third approach
with the ". . . difficulty in showing persuasively why the historian should be
open to the miraculous activity of God in history if one has not
experienced it." Why should the historian "conclude more than Mary did

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at the tomb (that the body was stolen) unless he be permitted to encounter
whatever it was which created Easter faith in her (an encounter with the
risen Lord?)" (ibid.). He goes on to argue that the supernatural does not
take place in history in general but only in the personal history of certain
McDonald's objections are weak at several points, which weaknesses
further demonstrate the inadequacy of the second approach and affirm the
third. In the first place, neither the historical character nor the truthfulness
of a given incident are necessarily proven or disproven by experience
alone. No historian has ever experienced creation or God creating
(except in the results of the creative act, i.e., the physical universe) but
this does not invalidate its historicity nor truthfulness. Our sole basis in
this case is divine testimony or revelation.
Secondly, the historicity of an event may be established on the testimony
(not the faith) of others than the historian who may witness that event.
Neither Barth nor Ladd nor McDonald witnessed or experienced the
American Revolution yet there is ample testimony by other historians of its
historicity (which, by the way, these men would all have accepted).
Thirdly, experience may testify to things as having happened which did not
indeed happen at all. There have been those who thought Mussolini was
the antichrist and that Thomas Dewey was elected president but neither
supposed experience was an historical fact.
The truth of the matter is that there is only one kind of history in which two
kinds of events may take place--natural and supernatural. Both kinds of
events may be accepted as historical on the basis of testimony and
personal experience. Either kind of validation depends for its veracity
upon the character of the witness and the character of the data. The
resurrection of Jesus Christ took place in the realm of ordinary history,
was witnessed to by ordinary people (including such a skeptic as Thomas)
and by God, and left historical evidences of its factuality. While it is true
that to date only those who have believed have borne witness to the
resurrection (a matter which should be of no surprise to anyone) the day
will come when even the unbelieving will witness to it (Phil. 2:9-11).
1. The fact of the resurrection. When we talk about the resurrection
of Jesus Christ we are talking of a miracle. "Inasmuch as all
miracles involve the departure from the usual operations of natural
law, miracles are not to be proved by reference to such laws"
(Thiessen, op. cit., p. 245). Nonetheless, there are two lines of
evidence to be considered which establish factuality.
a. Objective evidence.

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1) The appearances. "Three things are necessary to

make a testimony trustworthy: The witnesses must
be competent first- hand witnesses, they must be
sufficient in number, and they must have a good
reputation" (ibid., p. 246). In the appearances of
Christ each of these qualifications is met.
a) Their number and variety. There
were five on resurrection day; six during the
post-resurrection ministry up to the ascension;
and six post- ascension appearances from
heaven. The passages, in the order of the
appearances, are as follows:
(1) John 20:11-17, cf. Mark 16:9- 11;
(2) Matthew 28:9-10;
(3) Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5;
(4) Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35;

(5) Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John

(6) John 20:26-29;
(7) John 21:1-23;
(8) 1 Corinthians 15:6;
(9) 1 Corinthians 15:7;
(10) Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18;
(11) Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-9;
(12) Acts 7:55-56;
(13) Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-11;


(14) Acts 20:24; 26:17; Galatians 1:12,

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(15) Galatians 1:18; Acts 9:26-30;

(16) Acts 23:11;
(17) Revelation 1:20.

In each case the testimony is that of an

unimpeachable eye-witness.
b) The character of the witnesses (Acts 2:32,
10:40-41). No reputable source has ever
questioned the integrity of the witnesses. All
were God-selected. Also, it should be noted
that they themselves were reluctant to accept
testimony regarding his resurrection. Even
though they were told by Christ that he would
rise, they did not expect it. Once the resurrection was established, on the other hand, they
would not deny it.
2) The empty tomb. All agree the tomb was empty;
how do we explain it?
a) His body was raised from the dead. This is
the most obvious and reasonable, albeit
supernatural, explanation.
b) The body was disposed of some other way.
Since the body was not there its absence must
be accounted for in some way. It could have
been stolen by his enemies but this is patently
not the case since had it been so they would
have produced the body to refute the disciples'
The accusation that was made at the time was
that the disciples themselves had spirited it
away. This, in effect, as Henry points out
becomes a tacit admission of the resurrection.
Had it wished to do so, the Hebrew
Council could have explained the empty
tomb as a figment of the heightened
imagination of Jesus' followers. But
instead, and deliberately so, it claimed

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that the disciples had stolen the body of

Jesus. In short, the Council officially
admitted that the tomb was empty; it
attributed the violation of the tomb to
illegal entry by Jesus' disciples and
charged them with removing the corpse
(op. cit., III, 148).
The improbability of such a claim may be seen
from several standpoints. To steal the body
the disciples would have had to overcome the
guards, move the stone, unwrap the body and
concoct all of the appearances over the next
forty days. Furthermore, "if the apostles or
their successors invented the empty tomb story
for apologetic purposes . . . they would hardly
have affirmed, as do all four Gospels, that the
discovery was first made by the women, since
the testimony of women was not accepted in a
Jewish court of law" (ibid., p. 149).
c) He did not die and was not buried (or left on
His own). This is not a credible answer in light of the fact
that his death was witnessed to and verified by both
Roman soldiers and the disciples. The possibility that he
left the tomb on his own if he had merely swooned is
patently absurd in light of the loss of blood and the
extreme physical anguish associated with crucifixion.
b. Subjective evidence.
1) Relating to the disciples. The fact that we classify this
under "subjective evidence" in no way suggests that it is
insubstantial or inconsequential. The fact that the disciples
believed the resurrection and yet it is recorded that they
misunderstood Christ's instruction to them thereon (see e.g.,
John 2:21-22, cf. 7:39; 20:9; Mark 9:9) is a remarkable
It is utterly improbable that the disciples would have
invented the resurrection in order to prove their
obtuseness. And in view of the significance that John
attaches to the signs of Jesus, it is equally improbable
that the disciples would have invented a story about
their failure to comprehend a clear sign of the
resurrection (Henry, op. cit., III, 155).

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As Alfred Plummer observes, "Their dullness was

providential, and it became a security to the Church for the
truth of the Resurrection. The theory that they believed,
because they expected that He would rise again is against
all the evidence" (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
the Gospel According to St. Luke, p. 429).
Given those
circumstances "their conviction that the crucified Jesus was
alive bodily was not arrived at uncritically" (Henry, op. cit., III,
a) Personal transformation of life (e.g., Thomas,
Paul). After a careful step by step development of the
movement of Saul of Tarsus from his initial disinterest
in Christianity, to his position as chief inquisitor for the
Sanhedrin, to his conversion and missionary activity
as the Apostle Paul (op. cit., pp. 150-54)Carl Henry
summarizes by stating,
The Sanhedrin must have been stunned when
Saul, its official investigator and persecutor
repudiated the notion that the disciples had
stolen the crucified body and became instead a
worshipper and servant of the risen Jesus
even, as it developed, to the death, and
moreover exhorted all Jewry and the whole
Gentile world to worship him" (ibid., p. 154).
b) Change in ministry, i.e., evidence of Holy Spirit's
Following the
crucifixion the disciples were fearful and demoralized.
Even after the appearances in the upper room they
were yet disoriented and returned to their fishing nets.
Yet, as he Following the crucifixion the disciples were
fearful and demoralized. Even after the appearances
in the upper room they were yet disoriented and
returned to their fishing nets. Yet, as he had
promised, upon his departure he sent the Holy Spirit
to be their Paraclete so that less than two months
later on the day of Pentecost they minister with great
confidence and power.
2) Relating to the early church.
a) On the day of Pentecost Peter's declaration
regarding the resurrected Christ not only was not

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refuted; it also led to the conversion of three thousand

b) Observance from the beginning of the first day
instead of the seventh. The significance of this fact
lies in the makeup of the early church. It was
composed, at the beginning, almost exclusively of
believing Jews. As circumcision was the sign of the
Abrahamic covenant the observance of the sabbath
was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. It was no light
thing for the Jewish believers, therefore, to begin to
observe the first day rather than the seventh.
c) The very existence of the Christian church. As
noted above, the early church was predominantly
made up of Jewish believers in its early years. This
was so much so that it was at first viewed by Rome as
a sect of Judaism and declared to be religio_licita. In
light of this situation it is all the more remarkable that
the church, from the beginning was viewed by all of
the New Testament writers and the early believers as
distinct from Israel.
c. The objections to the resurrection.
1) The character of the objections. All of the objections are,
at root, a manifestation of anti-supernaturalism, i.e., refusal
to accept the miraculous, the involvement of the divine with
the human.
2) The forms of the objections.
a) Falsehood theory. This was the original objection
(Matt. 28:11-15) and was addressed above.
b) Wrong-tomb theory. The disciples were confused
and went to the wrong tomb. This theory is shown to
be untenable in light of the admission of the
Sanhedrin that this tomb was empty when they
charged the disciples with stealing the body.
c) Swoon theory. He really did not die but revived
and left on his own (addressed above).
d) Vision theory. The disciples hallucinated. As
noted above, none of the facts support such an idea.

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The number and variety of the appearances together

with the skeptical mind set of the disciples make this
an impossible answer.
e) Myth theory. The resurrection concept was
borrowed from pagan mythology, perhaps from
Babylon. There is no evidence outside the minds of
the critics for this idea.
f) Spiritual resurrection theory. It was not bodily but
spiritual. He lives on in the minds of his followers.
While this has long been the view of liberal theology Rudolph
Bultmann has given it a somewhat different expression. He
claims that Jesus ". . . did not speak of his death and
resurrection as redemptive acts" and that "for the truth of his
word he offers no evidence whatever, neither in his miracles
. . . nor in his personal qualities" (Jesus and the Word, pp.
151-52). By Hordern's analysis
Bultmann is concerned that we do not treat the
Resurrection as a myth. Insofar as the New
Testament does this, we must transcend the New
Testament. We treat the Resurrection as a myth when
we try to use it as a supernatural proof that Jesus was
the Savior and that his death was a saving event for
man. . . . The risen Christ comes to us in the words of
preaching and calls us to faith.
There is no way that history can prove the
Resurrection. . . . All that historical research can
prove for us is that the disciples came to believe in
the Resurrection so that they went out to preach it. . .
. Easter faith means the same thing for us that it did
for the first disciples--the self-manifestation of the
risen Lord through whom the redemptive event of the
Cross is made complete (A Layman's Guide to
Protestant Theology, revised ed., p. 206-7).
As Henry accurately notes, ". . . neo-Protestant theology has
clouded evidential and verifying supports by simply
internalizing the case for Christ's resurrection" (op. cit., III,
138). Hordern concludes his comments on Bultmann's view
of the resurrection with a very perceptive observation. He
There is an old Gospel hymn with the chorus,

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He lives, he lives,
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know he lives-He lives within my heart.
Strangely enough, Bultmann the radical
demythologizer would agree. The man who wants a
more objective proof that Jesus rose from the dead is
one who is afraid to take the risk to which Christian
faith always calls a man (op. cit., p. 207).
Whether or not Christ lives in the heart of the believer is not
in question. He does. The evangelical who declares that
this is the basis of his faith in the living Christ, however, no
matter how well meant his confession may be, is just as
existential on this issue as Bultmann. The basis for our faith
in the living Christ is the fact of his historical resurrection.
The result is that he lives in our hearts and in heaven soon
to return.
(For an extended presentation of evidence for the
resurrection see Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A
Verdict, pp. 185-273 and J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular
City, pp. 159-183).
2. The nature of the resurrection.
a. It was bodily.
1) The body that died is identical with the one that was
raised (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29).
2) It was a transformed body (Luke 24:36; John 20:19; Phil.
3:21). It was not always recognized because there were
changes (and there was a veiling of understanding), e.g., he
could enter closed rooms, appear and disappear, etc. (see
also Kenneth Boa, God I Don't Understand, chapter 6.).
b. It was distinctive.
1) It is different from all other resurrections (1 Cor. 15:20;
Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5).
2) It sets the pattern for and establishes the character of our
resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-22, 35-49, esp. v. 45).

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3. The agent of the resurrection (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:26; 5:30; 13:30; 1 Cor.
a. Christ himself was involved in his own resurrection (John
2:19-21; 10:17-18; 1 Thess. 4:14; cf. John 11:25).
b. God the Father was also involved (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet.
c. God the Holy Spirit was involved (Rom. 8:11). This is somewhat
of a problematic passage for establishing the Holy Spirit's
involvement in Christ's resurrection. The line of argument must be
that the one who raised Christ referred to in Romans 8:11 is the
Father. At the same time we should not miss the fact that herein
the Holy Spirit is described as the Spirit of the one who raised him.
Thus, as a member of the godhead he is closely identified with the
resurrection of Christ.
4. The theological significance of the resurrection.
a. As to the person of the Savior.
1) It was a demonstration of his deity. (Acts 2:36; Rom. 1:4).
2) It was a demonstration of his messiahship (Ps. 16:10;
Matt. 12:38-41; John 11:25-27; Acts 2:32-36).
3) It was a demonstration of his saviorhood (John 11:25;
Acts 10:40-42; cf. Acts 4:10-12; Rom. 4:25).
4) It was a confirmation of his veracity and prophetic ability
(Matt. 16:21; 20:19; 26:32; Mark 14:28; John 2:19). Each of
these passages contains a clear prediction by Christ of his
own resurrection.
b. As to the work of the Savior.
1) It was essential to his past finished work (Rom. 4:25; 10:9; 1
Cor. 15:12-19).
2) It was essential to his present session.

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a) His work as sender of the Holy Spirit and power

(John 16:7, cf. Acts 2:32-33; Eph. 1:18-20, cf. Acts
b) His work as High-Priest (Ps. 110:4; Rom. 8:34;
Heb. 7:25).
c) His work as Head of the church (Eph. 1:20-23).
d) His work as Lord of creation (Eph. 1:20-22).
3) It was essential to his future work.
a) The resurrection of mankind (1 Cor. 15:20-21; see
also John 5:28-29).
b) The judgment of mankind (Acts 10:40-42; 17:31).

c) The reign over Israel on David's throne (Acts

c. As to scripture.
1) The veracity of the writers. It substantiates their reliability
as prophets, etc., (see e.g., Acts 26:22-23; Luke 24:44).
2) The trustworthiness of the record. It is a verification of the
God-breathed character of the scripture (see Ps. 16:10; Luke
C. The Ascension of the Savior
1. The nature of his ascension.
a. Introduction.
1) It is a matter of prophetic anticipation by Jesus Christ
(John 6:62; 14:2, 12; 16:5, 17, 28; 20:17).
2) It is a matter of historical record (Luke 24:50-51; Acts
3) t is a matter of early doctrinal confession (1 Tim. 3:16;
Heb. 4:14).

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b. Was it a condition or a local transition? Some argue that just as

heaven (and hell) is only a state of mind and not a literal place so the
ascension is only a condition and not an actual change from one place
to another. The Bible, however, sets forth both heaven and hell as
actual places (see later discussion in chapters 49 and 54). Likewise,
scripture uses terminology that would call for an actual transition in
bodily fashion from earth to heaven in the ascension.
1) The departure from earth.
a) Significant Greek verbs (Acts 1:9-11). In this
passage Luke uses a series of terms indicating Jesus'
movement from the earth. He speaks of his being
"lifted up" which indicates an upward direction and is
passive in form (v. 9); he speaks of his being
"received up" which indicates the natural means (v.
9); he refers to his "departing" which views it as a
journey rather than a disappearance (v. 10); and he
speaks of his being "taken up" which is climactic
indicating that the journey continued until he was
received up into heaven (v. 11).
b) Use of spatial terminology (Deut. 30:12; Josh. 2:11;
Ps. 139:8; John 14:2-3; Rom. 10:6-7; Eph. 4:8-10).
c) Use of spatial relationships (John 14:2-3; 17:24).
Jesus speaks of a "place" he has gone to prepare and
of his desire that the disciples may be "with me where
I am."
2) The arrival in heaven (Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; 9:3-7 and every
passage which places Jesus Christ in heaven following his
earthly life).
c. Was there more than one ascension? (John 20:17; Heb. 9:6- 12).
1) The idea that there were multiple ascensions is based on
the supposed typical significance of Day of Atonement
(presentation of blood) (Lev. 16). This view has several
a) It views Christ's work as unfinished.
b) Hebrews 9:12 states that he entered "through" not
"with" his blood.

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c) It is always risky to base doctrine on a type.

d) It tends in the direction of the Roman Catholic
doctrine of the mass, i.e., the perpetual offering of
Christ's blood which also is a denial of the finished
work of Christ on the cross.
2) The idea that there were multiple ascensions is based
upon the two different statements in John 20:17 ("do not hold
on to me") and Matthew 28:9 ("they . . . clasped his feet").
Why did he allow his followers to touch him in one case and
not in the other? Some have suggested it was because he
had already ascended in between the two incidents. This,
however, is very unlikely. The difference is to be accounted
for, rather, in the intent of the individual involved.
In Matthew 28:9 the taking hold (ekratesan) was an act of
worship; in John 20:17 the clinging (haptou) was a
possessive act. When Mary discovered that the tomb was
empty her attention was then focused upon finding the body
of her Lord. Being suddenly confronted with his physical
presence she seeks to lay hold of the physical body of Christ
thinking that the separation of death is ended and that he
was now back among them to stay.
Instead, the Lord points out that the process of exaltation is
not yet complete and that from henceforth his relationship
with his disciples would be a spiritual one from the Father's
right hand rather than a flesh and blood relationship on
How, then, are we to understand the words, "I ascend. . ."?
There are two possibilities.
a) He was then beginning to ascend; or as
b) a futuristic present that "startles and arrests
attention. It affirms not merely predicts. It gives a
sense of certainty" (A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of
the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical
Research, p. 870).
d. Was Jesus' glorified body ubiquitous? While the human nature
of the theanthropic person of Christ was glorified, the humanity
remained as distinct and genuine. There was no mingling of
attributes between the divine and the human. Thus the body, per

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se, which is an aspect of his humanity is to be considered as being

in one place or another while it may be said that Christ is spiritually
present everywhere at all times due to the divine perfection of
omnipresence. The theological importance of this relates
especially to his present session as our High Priest. One very
significant aspect of this work resides in the fact that we have a one
who is genuinely human in glory.
2. The theological significance of the ascension.
a. To Jesus Christ.
1) It led to the restoration of his pre- incarnate glory (John
2) It involved the glorification of humanity in the exaltation of
the theanthropos (cf. Phil. 2:5- 8 with 9-11).
b. To the world.
1) It became the basis for the Holy Spirit's convicting work of
righteousness (John 16:10).
2) It was necessary to Jesus' universal dominion over all
things (Acts 2:33-35; Eph. 1:20-22).
c. To the believer.
1) It related to his preparation of our heavenly home (John
2) It related to his sending of the Spirit (Acts 2:33-35).
3) It related to the beginning of his present high-priestly
ministry (Heb. 4:14-15; 9:24; 1 Pet. 3:22).
4) It related to his giving of gifts to men (Eph. 4:7- 10).
5) It assures us of our own ascension and glorification (Heb.
6:19-20, cf. John 17:24).
D. The Present Session of the Savior
1. The biblical base for the doctrine (note references to Christ at God's
right hand). a) In prophecy (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Luke 22:69).

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b) In fulfillment and instruction (Acts 2:33; 5:31; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20-21;
Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3-4; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22).
2. The importance of the doctrine. In considering the person of Christ
there is a tendency to focus almost exclusively on the first and/or second
advents with their attendant truths and to minimize or overlook his present
ministry. Much attention is given to his past, finished work and his future,
glorious manifestation as sovereign over the universe, and rightly so. This
doctrine focuses upon the current, unfinished work of the Savior. His
present position at the Father's right hand is a place of distinct honor and
authority (see 1 Kings 2:19; Ps. 45:9; 110:1) and is undoubtedly both a
fulfillment of God's eternal purposes (Ps. 110:1) and an answer to Jesus'
prayer (John 17:5).
3. The character of the present session of the Savior.
a. In relation to creation in general--he is Lord and King.
1) This dominion is primarily heavenly and spiritual rather
than earthly and Davidic, 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15-16; Rev. 3:21
(also, note all the references to his being at the Father's right
hand in contrast to being on an earthly throne).
2) This dominion involves thoroughgoing sovereignty but it is
not yet openly manifest nor fully realized (Eph. 1:20-21; 1
Pet. 3:22; Heb. 2:5- 8). This does not mean that he has no
dominion as King now, but rather that it is yet to be
manifested in its fullest form in the Messianic Kingdom.
b. In relation to the individual believer--he is High Priest. (Note that
his priestly ministry emcompasses more than the "Present
Session." For further discussion see chapter 32).
1) This priesthood involves compassionate enablement.
a) The enabler is Jesus Christ who was made like his
brethren so as to be a merciful and faithful high priest.
As such he is able to come to the aid of those who
are tempted and to sympathize with our weaknesses
(Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15).
b) The enablement he provides includes a life hidden
with Christ in God, mercy and grace for our time of
need, and the privilege of drawing near and holding
fast the confidence of our hope (Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 4:16;

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2) This priesthood involves intercession (Rom. 8:34; Heb.

7:25). This is preventative ministry whereby he pleads on
our behalf and delivers us forever (see e.g., Luke 22:31-32).
3) This priesthood involves advocacy (1 John 2:1-2). A
remedial ministry whereby he functions as our propitiation
when we sin (see e.g., Luke 23:34).
c. In relation to the church--he is Head. (This will be developed
more fully in the later section on Ecclesiology, chapter 43).
1) This headship provides loving leadership (Eph. 1:20-22;
2) This headship directs the development of the Body (Eph.
4:15-16; Col. 2:19).

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The Doctrine of the Atonement

A. The Definition of the Doctrine
1. The word atonement is a theological term that is used to
describe the substitutionary work of Christ.
2. The word occurs in the KJV in Romans 5:11 and has the basic
meaning of reconciliation. The word often is used in the Old
Testament to translate the Hebrew words kipper and kippurim,
which mean propitiation or expiation.
3. The word atonement encompasses Christs work of redemption
on behalf of His people.
4. The center of Christs work, the main event to which the whole
Old Testament pointed and to which the whole New Testament
expounded was Christs sacrificial death on the cross. Christs
death is the very heart of the Christian faith. It is the central theme
of Scripture.
5. [T]he New Testament writers ascribe the saving efficacy of
Christs work specifically to His death, or His blood, or His cross
(Rom. iii. 25; v. 9; I Cor. x. 16; Eph. i.7; ii.13; Col. i. 20; Heb. ix.12,
14; I Pet. i. 2, 19; I John i. 7; v. 6-8; Rev. i. 5)( B. B. Warfield, The
Person and Work of Christ p. 352).
6. The atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to
earn our salvation (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 568).
B. The Cause of the Atonement
1. Distinction between Motivation and Method
a) A distinction needs to be made between necessity as
it relates to Gods motive or moving cause to save
sinners and necessity as it relates to Gods method or
means used to achieve salvation. These topics need to
be treated separately because they deal with different
questions, each of which the Bible answers differently.
b) Did God because of something within His own
nature or something intrinsic to man have to save
sinners? Did Gods attributes of love, mercy and

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compassion force Him to act? Could God have left the

whole human race to perish in their sins if He so
c) The biblical answer is that Gods decision to save a
people for Himself was a free choice that was not
determined by any internal or external necessity.
d) This does not mean that achieving redemption was
without cost for the Bible says that Christians were
bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23); that Christ
redeemed the church with His own precious blood (1
Pet. 1:19).
e) The free gift passages refer to the fact that God
bestows salvation upon the elect freely or voluntarily.
God was not obligated to save anyone but out of His
own good pleasure He gave freely.
f) Paul says that believers are justified freely by His
grace (Rom. 3:24); that God will freely give us all
things (Rom. 8:32); that the Holy Spirit enables us to
know the things that have been freely given to us by
God (1 Cor. 2:12).
g) Gods freeness in giving salvation to the elect is
intimately connected with the biblical concept of grace.
Grace means that God gives His favor and salvation to
those who deserve wrath and hell-fire to those who hate
God and are His enemies.
h) Salvation is never presented in the Scriptures as
bestowed because of obligation or debt. Neither a
foreseen faith, nor good works, or bloodline, or
nationality has anything to do with Gods free choice.
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom
He wills He hardens (Rom. 9:18; cf. 4:1-5).
i) Although the Bible teaches that the moving cause of
the atonement was Gods sovereign good pleasure, this
fact does not mean that Gods decision was purely
arbitrary. Yes, it was a free act but it was an act rooted
in Gods nature.
2. The Motives

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a) The Good Pleasure of God

(1) It is sometimes represented as if the moving cause of the
atonement lay in the sympathetic love of Christ for sinners. He
was so good and loving that the very idea that sinners would be
hopelessly lost, was abhorrent to him.On this view Christ
apparently receives His due, but God is robbed of His honor
(Berkhoff, 367).
(2) Paul says that Gods predestination of the elect to salvation
in Christ was according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph.
(3) To the Galatians Paul wrote, Jesus Christgave Himself
for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father (1:4).
(4) In Colossians, we read that it pleased the Fatherto
reconcile all things to Himself by Him (1:19).

b) The Love and Justice of God

(1) The Bible speaks of the atonement as the provision of Gods
love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son (Jn. 3:16). In this the love of God was
manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son
into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love,
not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to
be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we
also ought to love one another (1 Jn. 4:9-11). The love of God
is the spring from which the atonement flows. Jesus death was
the supreme demonstration of Gods love. But God
demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Paul informs us in
Romans 8:29 that Gods love preceded election. For whom He
foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of
His Son. (The word foreknew in this passage is used in the
Hebraistic sense of to love beforehand).
(2) The fact that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to
die for sinners because He loved them beforehand should spur
every Christian not only to wonder and amazement but also to
profound adoration, love and praise toward God.
(3) The Father didnt have to send the Son and the Son didnt
have to humble Himself, but because of their love and mercy
toward the elect Jesus came and died. Enter into His gates with
thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to
Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is

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everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations (Ps. 100:45).

(4) At the same time, the justice of God requires that God find a
way that the penalty due to us for our sins would be paid for (See
Romans 3:25).
(5) Therefore, both the love and the justice of God were the
ultimate cause of the atonement (Grudem, 569).
(6) It is necessary to avoid all one-sidedness in this respect. If
we represent the atonement as founded only in the righteousness
and justice of God, we fail to do justice to the love of God as the
moving cause of the atonement. If, on the other hand, we
consider the atonement purely an expression of the love of God,
we fail to do justice tot he righteousness and veracity of God, we
reduce the sufferings and death of Christ to an unexplainable
enigma (Berkhoff, 368).

3. Distinction between Hypothetical and Absolute Necessity

a) A second distinction that needs to be made is
between a hypothetical necessity and an absolute
necessity. Some of the early reformers (e.g. Calvin,
Luther and Zwingli) held that the atonement was
necessary only in the sense that God sovereignly
decreed to save sinners by Christs death.
b) In other words, the sacrifice of Christ had to take
place because God predestined it, not because it was
the only method that did not contradict Gods moral
c) If God had wanted to, He could have decreed other
methods of securing the salvation of the elect. It is
important to understand the difference between a
hypothetical and absolute necessity because many
passages that point to an absolute necessity could also
be used to support a hypothetical or relative necessity
viewpoint. For example: O My Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but
as You will (Mt. 26:39). And He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be
rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and
be killed, and after three days rise again (Mk. 8:31; cf.
Lk. 9:22; 24:7). But first, He must suffer many things
and be rejected by this generation (Lk. 17:25). And as

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Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so

must the Son of Man be lifted up (Jn. 3:14; cf. Jn. 12:34;
20:9). ...[D]emonstrating that the Christ had to suffer
and rise from the dead (Ac. 17:3). If God has decreed
that something take place in history, then it must take
C. The Necessity of the Atonement
1. Introduction
a) "The necessity of Christ's satisfaction to divine
justice is, as it were, the center and hinge of all
doctrines of pure revelation. Other doctrines are of little
importance comparatively except as they have respect
to this (Jonathan Edwards).
b) Once God decided to save sinners, there was but
one way of bringing about this purpose which would be
in harmony with God'
s own character, the law of God,
the nature of sin, and the needs of man; and this one
way was the substitutionary blood atonement of the
Incarnate Son of God. The unregenerate man cannot
believe the gospel simply because he cannot see the
real need of an atonement. He does not believe that he
is a helpless depraved sinner that cannot save himself.
The primary reason for this blindness and ignorance lies
in the sinner's wrong view of the character of God and
his holy and righteous demands revealed in his Law. As
long as God is viewed as nothing but love, we will miss
seeing his absolute holiness, perfect righteousness, and
unflinching justice. The necessity of these attributes
being satisfied by an atoning sacrifice will be ridiculed
as pagan and inhumane (John G. Reisinger, The
Doctrine of the Atonement Sound of Grace).
c) Having considered the moving cause of the
atonement and the hypothetical necessity viewpoint, let
us turn our attention to the biblical evidence for the
absolute necessity understanding of the atonement.
Once God decided out of His own sovereign good
pleasure to save a people for Himself, could He have
saved them in an infinite variety of ways or was He
limited by an absolute necessity to only one way: the
sinless life and sacrificial death of the God-Man, Jesus
Christ? The biblical evidence clearly supports the

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contention that Christs work of redemption was the

only possible way that God could save sinners.
2. The Significance of the Necessity of the Atonement
a) For those who think a discussion of the absolute
necessity of the atonement is the esoteric speculation of
theologians and thus not worthy of study; a brief
preview of its vital importance is in order.
b) This doctrine is vital for a number of reasons.
(1) First, it refutes the popular modern day notion that there are
many different paths that lead to God and eternal life. This
doctrine proves that only the sinless blood of Christ can remove
the guilt of sin and consequently Gods wrath against the sinner.
(2) Second, it tells us a lot about the God who isthe God with
whom we all have to deal. The God of the Bible is not
promiscuous or sloppy regarding ethics. Jehovah is infinitely
holy and righteous and thus cannot dwell or have fellowship with
any person who has the guilt of sin.
(3) Third, it teaches us that sin is exceedingly wicked and evil.
Sin (the transgression of Gods holy law) is not a light thing. It is
a deadly, soul-damning, God-hating, death-loving act. The
thought of committing sin against a God of infinite holiness
should make us tremble with fear. Sin is the reason that the
spotless, harmless, undefiled Son of God had to die to
accomplish redemption. Because of sin, the only sinless, good
man who ever lived was humiliated, abandoned, tortured and
publicly executed as a criminal.
(4) Fourth, as noted above, it teaches us that Gods love of the
elect is totally amazing. Although God was not obligated to save
anyone, He out of His love, mercy and kindness decided to save
a people from every nation even though this redemption could
only be achieved at the ultimate costthe suffering, sacrifice and
blood of the Lord of Glory. Blessing and honor and glory and
power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb,
forever and ever (Rev. 6:13)!

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3. The Reasons for the Necessity of the Atonement

a) Introduction
(1) There are four major biblical reasons why the atonement was
necessary, most of which are intimately connected with Gods
nature or character.
(2) Berkhoff points out five, too: clear teaching of Scripture,
immutability and majesty of the law; veracity of God, nature of
sin, and the sacrifice itself (Systematic Theology, 370-371).
(3) Although the God of the Bible is totally sovereign, allpowerful, all-knowing and infinite in perfections, there are
certain things that God cannot do. For example, God cannot lie
(Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18) or tempt man to sin (Jas. 1:13). Jehovah can
do anything except violate His own nature. In other words He
cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). Therefore, when God
determined to save a people from the guilt of sin, He could only
choose a course of action consistent with His own character (in
particular His moral character). The apostle Paul put it this way,
Gods method of salvation had to demonstrate His
righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one
who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). The attributes of God that
directly lead to the necessity of the atonement are Gods
righteousness, justness and holiness.

b) Gods Righteousness and Justice

(1) Many people who object to the biblical doctrine of the
atonement do so because they do not understand who God is.
They reason within themselves: Why doesnt God simply
forgive and forget? Wouldnt God forgive people as long as they
say they are sorry and endeavor to be a better person? Isnt the
idea that only the death and shed blood of Christ can remove sin
extreme and fanatical?
(2) The reason God cannot simply let sin slide or sweep it under
the rug and pretend it doesnt exist is because He is righteous
and just. The LORD is righteous, He is in her midst, He will do
no unrighteousness (Zeph. 3:5). Righteousness and justice are
the foundation of Your throne (Ps. 89:14). He is the Rock, His
work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and
without injustice; righteous and upright is He (Dt. 32:4). When
the Bible speaks of Gods ethical perfection and justice, it does
not refer to a standard or realm of ideals outside of God but to
Gods very being itself. God is light and in Him is no darkness
at all (1 Jn. 1:5). Therefore, Abraham, who knew Gods
character, could ask Jehovah: Shall not the Judge of all the earth

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do right? (Gen. 18:25). Likewise, the apostle Paul could say, Is

there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! (Rom. 9:14).
God can only do what is right. Because of His nature, He can
only do what is just.
(3) Gods nature demands that sin be punished. If God refused
to give sin its full measure of punishment then He could not
claim to be perfectly just. Gods infinite holiness, justice and
righteousness of necessity demand the infliction of punishment
on the sinner himself or on an appropriate substitute. The Bible
contains many passages that declare that God has to punish sin.
Jehovah said, I will not justify [i.e. declare righteous] the
wicked (Ex. 23:7).
(4) We are told repeatedly that He will by no means clear the
guilty, Ex. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Nah. 1:3. He hates sin with a
divine hatred; His whole being reacts against it, Ps. 5:4-6; Nah.
1:2; Rom. 1:18. Paul argues in Romans 3:25-26, that it was
necessary that Christ should be offered as an atoning sacrifice for
sin, in order that God might be just while justifying the sinner.
The important thing was that the justice of God should be
maintained (Berkhoff, 370).
(5) A common objection against the biblical teaching that God
must punish sin is that it makes God less charitable than many
people who are willing to forgive offenses without any sort of
satisfaction. While it is true that many people can and do forgive
personal offenses against them, the comparison between God
and a private individual is totally illegitimate. God is the Creator,
Sovereign Lord over all, Supreme Lawgiver and Judge of all
men; therefore, He must maintain His veracity, law and justice.
A private individual does not have to contradict his own nature,
law and justice to forgive an offense. The Bible repeatedly
affirms that as the Supreme Judge over the whole earth, God will
only render just judgment. But in accordance with your
hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for
yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his
deeds (Rom. 2:5-6; cf. Rev. 20:12).

c) God is Holy
(1) Another aspect of Gods character that necessitates the
atonement is His holiness.
(2) The nature of God is perfect and complete holiness. This is
not an optional or arbitrary matter; it is the way God is by nature.
He has always been absolutely holy. Nothing more need or can
be said. It is useless to ask, Why is God this way? He simply is.
Being contrary to Gods nature, sin is repulsive to Him. He is

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allergic to sin, so to speak. He cannot look upon it. He is

compelled to turn away from it (Millard J. Erickson, Christian
Theology, p. 802).
(3) Gods infinite holiness causes Him to hate sin with a perfect
hatred. God is so holy that before sinful men can come into His
presence and have fellowship with Him the guilt of their sin
must be removed and they must be clothed with perfect
(4) The attribute of God that is emphasized by Scripture above
all other attributes (including love) is His holiness. Gods
holiness refers to His absolute distinctness from all His creatures
and to His glorious exalted existence above His creation in
infinite majesty as well as His infinite moral purity. The God of
the Bible is not like the pagan deities who fornicate, get drunk
and commit lewd acts because He really exists (they do not) and
He is holy. Who is like You, O LORD among the gods? Who is
like You, glorious in holiness (Ex. 15:11). Jehovah is so holy
that the mighty seraphim continually cry out before Him, Holy,
holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His
glory (Isa. 6:3; cf. Rev. 4:8).
(5) God demands a perfect holiness in people not arbitrarily but
because His own perfect holiness requires it. To the Israelite He
said: you shall be holy; for I am holy (Lev. 11:44). Because
God is holy, He hates sin and cannot dwell with sinners. You
are of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on
wickedness (Hab. 1:13). You are not a God who takes pleasure
in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall
not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity (Ps.
(6) When God created Adam and Eve, He made them in His
own image (Gen. 1:27). Before they ate the forbidden fruit and
fell into sin, they were holy and righteous. They were without
any ethical spot or blemish. What happened to Adam and Eve
when they disobeyed Gods command and sinned against Him?
They were cast out of Gods presence. Why? Because a thrice
holy God cannot have fellowship with people who are not holy.
God is so infinitely holy that every sin that an individual
commits merits death: physical, spiritual and eternal. God had
warned Adam that the day that he disobeyed Him, he would
certainly die (Gen. 2:17). Gods holiness of intrinsic necessity
set up a separation between Jehovah and all sinners. Behold, the
LORDs hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear
heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you
from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so
that He will not hear (Isa. 59:1-2).

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(7) Once we understand the holiness of God then we can

understand the severe penalty that sin deserves. When God
demands that the soul who sins must die (Ezek. 18:4), He is
not setting forth an arbitrary penalty but is penalizing sinners
exactly as His holy and righteous nature requires. Thus Paul
writes: knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who
practice such things are worthy of death (Rom. 1:32). Sin is
wicked. It is a moral evil that is the very opposite of holiness.
God hates all workers of iniquity (Ps. 5:5) and is angry with the
wicked every day (Ps. 7:11). Sin in thought, word or deed is an
abomination to the Lord. God is determined because of the
immutable holiness of His nature to punish all sin with death.
For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Then when desire
has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is fullgrown, brings forth death (Jas. 1:15). The soul who sins must
die (Ezek. 18:4).
(8) John Murray writes: Sin is the contradiction of God and He
must react against it with holy wrath. Wherever sin is, the wrath
of God rests upon it (cf. Rom. 1:18). Otherwise, God would be
denying Himself, particularly His holiness, justice, and truth. But
wrath must be removed if we are to enjoy the favor of God
which salvation implies. And the only provision for the removal
of wrath is propitiation. This is surely the import of Romans
3:25, 26, that God set forth Christ a propitiation to declare His
righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the
ungodly (John Murray, The Atonement, p. 11).
(9) Because of who God is (He is holy, righteous and just), and
because of what sinners are (they are unholy, unrighteous and
guilty), people have only two choices. They can remain in their
sin and unholiness and thus be forever cast away from Gods
presence into hell or they can trust in Christ who as a substitute
paid the penalty in full by His death and provided a perfect
holiness or righteousness by His life.

d) The Sanction of Gods Law

(1) God has given unto mankind a moral law, which is
summarized in the Ten Commandments. Gods moral law helps
us understand Gods righteousness and holiness for His moral
law reflects His character. For example, Jehovah commands us
to be holy (Lev. 11:44). Why? Because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:16).
God also commands us not to lie (Dt. 5:20). Why? Because
Jehovah is truth itself (Jn. 14:6) and cannot lie (Heb. 6:18).
Ethical absolutes are not philosophical abstractions existing in
some supposed realm of ideals. They are rooted in Gods very
being and thus they are as immutable and eternal as God
Himself. The only reason that people have a sense of what is
right and wrong is because man was created in the image of God

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(Gen. 1:26) and thus has the work of the law written upon the
heart (Rom. 2:15).
(2) Why does the law of God necessitate the work of Christ?
Because the law carries with it penal sanctions that also reflect
Gods nature and character. Thus, these sanctions also are
immutable and eternal. Remember, it is Gods holiness that
causes Him to hate sin with a perfect hatred and Gods justice
requires that sin receive its full penalty. And what is the penalty
that Gods law threatens? It is death (Gen. 2:17; Dt. 27:36; Ezek.
18:20; Rom. 1:18,32; 6:23; Jas. 1:15; Rev. 20:14-15).
(3) Since God is true and cannot lie, these threatenings must
necessarily be executed either upon the sinner himself or upon a
surety(Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic, 2: 423).
(4) The moment that you sinned against God you incurred real
guilt before Him.
(5) Perhaps you think that you are a good person. That God will
accept you on the basis of your good works. The Bible, however,
says that: There is none righteous, no, not one...for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:9, 23). For
there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin
(Eccl. 7:20).
(6) Sin is a real criminal offense against God. We should not
confuse guilt feelings with real guilt. All men are guilty before
God (Rom. 3:19). Yet, most men do not know it or feel it.
Modern psychology and psychiatry attempt to remove guilt
feelings. But no one can remove our real guilt but God Himself
(Robert A. Morey, Studies in the Atonement, p. 21.
(7) Since you have broken many of Gods laws, you are guilty
and now have Gods curse (the eternal death penalty) upon you.
For it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not continue in
all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them
(Gal. 3:10). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). And
anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the
lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). If you have not believed in Jesus
Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures, than you are an enemy
of God and His wrath abides upon you this very moment. He
who believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he who does
not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides
on Him (Jn. 3:36). Your only hope is the substitute (the Lord
Jesus Christ) that God has provided.
(8) Hodge writes: If the penalty is an essential part of the law;
if the whole law is immutable; if Christ actually came to fulfill

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the law and not to relax its demands; then it follows, without
doubt, that he suffered the penalty of the law as our Substitute
(A. A. Hodge, The Atonement, p. 67).
(9) Since, unbelievers in their natural depravity as well as nonChristian theists (e.g. followers of Islam and Judaism) reject the
biblical doctrine of the necessity of a substitutionary sacrifice (in
order to eliminate the guilt of sin, remit the penalty and thus
eliminate Gods wrath against the sinner) a common heretical
objection against the atonement should be considered. It is often
said that all that is needed to get right with God is repentance.
That is, one must tell God that he is sorry and one must stop the
evil behavior that offends God and turn over a new leaf, so to
speak. Then God will forgive all of that persons sins. People
who believe this will often appeal to passages which speak of
God relenting on a promised punishment on the basis of
repentance (e.g. Ahab, 1 Kings. 21:27-29; Nineveh, Jonah 3:10;
Hezekiah, Isa. 38:1-5; etc.). the problem with this view is that it
confounds Gods temporal punishments and blessings with His
eternal sanctions. Obedience to Gods law can and does bring
temporal blessings (Dt. 28:1-14) while disobedience brings
severe curses in this life (Dt. 28:15-68). However, the Bible
never, ever teaches that people can be saved or have their sins
removed on the basis of obedience to Gods law. The central
focus of the Old Testament ceremonial law was upon the shed
blood of animals to cover over or expiate sin. The New
Testament teaching on the matter could not be more explicit:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but
by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works
of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified
(Gal. 2:16).

e) The Requirement of a Perfect Righteousness

(1) Morey writes: In order to gain the blessing of God your
obedience must be: (1) personal : If you listen to the
commandment (Dt. 11:26); (2) perfect : what does the LORD
your God require from you but to fear the LORD your God, to
walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your
God with all your heart and with all your soul (Dt. 10:12); (3)
perpetual: Oh, that they had such a heart in them, that they
would fear me, and keep all my commandments always (Dt.
5:29). The only obedience acceptable before God is one in which
100% of you keeps 100% of the Law 100% of the time. For
whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he
has become guilty of all (Jas. 2:10) (Robert A. Morey, Studies
in the Atonement, p. 18

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(2) Murray writes: Salvation requires not only the forgiveness

of sin but also justification. And justification, adequate to the
situation in which lost mankind is, demands a righteousness such
as belongs to no other than the incarnate Son of God, a
righteousness with divine property and quality (cf. Rom. 1:17;
3:21, 22; 10:3; II Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). It is the righteousness of
the obedience of Christ (Rom. 5:19). But only the Son of God
incarnate, fulfilling to the full extent the commitments of the
Fathers will, could have provided such a righteousness (John
Murray, The Atonement, pp. 10-11).

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The Atonement of Jesus Christ

A. The Definition of the Atonement
B. The Cause of the Atonement
C. The Necessity of the Atonement
D. The Theories of the Atonement
1. Introduction
a) Each theory represents an attempt to determine what was
accomplished by the death of Christ.
b) They thus become assessments of the value of his death
and therefore must be given serious attention.
2. Apostolic Fathers
a) The earlier fathers followed very closely the words of
scripture in their references to the atonement.
b) Thus Clement of Rome, sometimes identified with the
Clement mentioned by St. Paul in Philippians 4:3, says, "On
account of the love He bore us, Jesus Christ gave His blood
for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul
for our souls" (Chap. xlix).
c) The doctrine of Paul is faithfully reproduced also in the
Epistle of Barnabas, where it is stated that "The Lord endured
to deliver his body to death, that we might be sanctified by the
remission of sins which is the shedding of that blood"
(Epistola, 5).
d) Ignatius (c. 116) the pupil of St. John declares that we
"have peace through the flesh and blood, and passion of
Jesus Christ" (Ad Ephesos, 1).
e) Polycarp (c. 168) likewise acquainted with John is more
specific. "Christ is our Savior; for through grace we are
righteous, not by works; for our sins, He has even taken death
upon Himself, has become the servant of us all, and through

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His death for us our hope, and the pledge of our

righteousness. The heaviest sin is unbelief in Christ; His blood
will be demanded of unbelievers; for to those to whom the
death of Christ, which obtains the forgiveness of sins, does
not prove a ground of justification, it proves a ground of
condemnation" (Ad. Philippos, i, 8).

3. Theories Which View Christ's Death as Affecting Satan

a) The Recapitulation Theory.
(1) The view stated
(a) Christ in life and death repeated all the stages of human life
including those which belong to our state as sinners.
(b) He thus replaced Adam's disobedience with his obedience.
By faith this obedience becomes ours and accomplishes an
ethical transformation in our lives.
(c) God conquered the devil, having given Christ as a ransom to
Satan, and this serves as a basis to persuade men to return to
God. Set forth by Irenaeus (c. 130-200).
(d) "What Christ did not assume he did not save."
(2) The objections
(a) It seems to make Christ a sinner which is clearly contrary to
revelation (Heb. 4:15; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
(b) Also, scripture nowhere teaches that God gave Christ as a
ransom to Satan.
(c) This Theory bases the Atonement on the Life of Christ, more
than his Death. As such, it fails to give appropriate significance
to the sacrificial, redemptive and propitiatory aspects of Christs

b) The Ransom-to-Satan Theory

(1) The view stated
(a) Christ's death constituted a ransom paid to Satan to
purchase captives (see 2 Tim. 2:26) and to cancel the claims he
had on mankind. Because he was God as well as man Christ

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arose from the dead. By his resurrection he conquered

sin, death and the devil thus defeating Satan who had
under-estimated God in the bargain. Set forth by Origen (c.

(b) This was the Theory of Origen, Augustine, and many others
of the early Church
(c) Known as the "Classical theory"
(d) Taken up in recent years by G Aulen, CS Lewis, JRR
Tolkien, and Seventh-Day Adventists
(e) Christs Death is viewed as a Grand Deception of Satan by
(f) Christ (Aslan), the "prize" is "traded" for the "sons of
(g) The "trade" brings about the release of those in bondage
(h) Satan is "baited" by Jesus humanity, but caught on the
"hook" of his deity.
(i) Satan thought he could "keep his prey" but didnt realize the
full power of the resurrection
(j) Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick
Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1977 (orig. 1952 in German),
pp. 186-187:
(i) Inadequate Patristic Theories of the Redemption . . .
Origen (+ 254) changed the Pauline teaching of man's
ransom from the dominion of the devil to an unbiblical
ransom-theory. He held that the devil by Adam's sin, had
acquired a formal dominion over mankind. In order to
liberate mankind from this tyranny Christ gave his life to
the devil as ransom price. But the devil was deceived, as
he was not able to maintain for long his dominion of
death over Christ. Others explained that the devil lost his
dominion over mankind by unjustly trying to extend this
right to Christ also. Despite the fact that this error was
widespread, Patristic teaching held firmly to the biblical
teaching of man's reconciliation with God through
Christ's death on the Cross. The notion of a dominion of
the devil over fallen mankind was energetically refuted
by St. Anselm of Canterbury . . .
(ii) Reality of Christ's Vicarious Atonement

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(a) Holy Writ contains the teaching of the
vicarious atonement, not indeed explicitly but by
implication [cites Is 53:4 ff., Mt 20:28, Jn 10:15,
2 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13, Rom 3:25 ff., 1 Pet 2:24,
3:18] . . .
(b) From the very beginning the Fathers were
familiar with the idea of Christ's vicarious
atonement. The Apostles' disciple, St. Clement
of Rome, comments: 'For the sake of the love
which He had for us Our Lord Jesus Christ,
according to the will of the Father has given His
blood for us, His flesh for our flesh, and His soul
for our souls' (Cor 49:6). Cf. Letter to Diognetus,
(c) While the Fathers, in the explanation of
Christ's work of sanctification, proceed more
from the contemplation of the consequences of
the Redemption, and therefore stress the
negative side of the Redemption, namely, the
ransoming from the slavery of sin and of the
devil, St. Anselm proceeds from the
contemplation of the guilt of sin. This, as an
insult offered to God, is infinite, and therefore
demands an infinite expiation. Such expiation,
however, can be achieved by a Divine Person
only. To be capable of thus representing
mankind, this person must be, at the same time,
man and God.
(iii) Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. II:
Ante-Nicene Christianity (100-325), Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, rep. 1970, orig. 1910, ch. 12, 153,
"Redemption," pp. 584-588:
(a) The apostolic scripture, in the fulness of
their inspiration, everywhere bear witness of this
salvation wrought through Christ, as a living fact
of experience. But it required time for the
profound ideas of a Paul and a John to come up
clearly to the view of the church; indeed, to this
day they remain unfathomed. Here again
experience anticipated theology. The church
lived from the first on the atoning sacrifice of
Christ. the cross ruled all Christian thought and
conduct, and fed the spirit of martyrdom. But the
primitive church teachers lived more in the
thankful enjoyment of redemption than in logical
reflection upon it. We perceive in their
exhibitions of this blessed mystery the language
rather of enthusiastic feeling than of careful
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(b) Moreover, this doctrine was never,
like Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity, a
subject of special controversy within the ancient
church. The ecumenical symbols touch it only in
general terms. The Apostles' Creed presents it
in the article on the forgiveness of sins on the
ground of the divine-human life, death, and
resurrection of Christ. The Nicene Creed says, a
little more definitely, that Christ became man for
our salvation, and died for us, and rose again.
(c) Nevertheless, all the essential elements of
the later church doctrine of redemption may be
found, either expressed or implied, before the
close of the second century. The negative part
of the doctrine, the subjection of the devil, the
prince of the kingdom of sin and death, was
naturally most dwelt on in the patristic period, on
account of the existing conflict of Christanity with
heathenism, which was regarded as wholly ruled
by Satan and demons. Even in the New
Testament, particularly in Col 2:15, Heb 2:14,
and 1 John 3:8, the victory over the devil is
made an integral part of the work of Christ. But
this view was carried out in the early church in a
very peculiar and, to some extent, mythical way;
and in this form continued current, until the
satisfaction theory of Anselm gave a new turn to
the development of the dogma . . .
(d) In Justin Martyr appear traces of the
doctrine of satisfaction, though in very indefinite
terms . . . "Irenus [d. 202] is the first of all
church teachers to give a careful analysis of the
work of redemption, and his view is by far the
deepest and soundest we find in the first three
centuries . . .
(e) Origen differs from Irenus in considering
man, in consequence of sin, the lawful property
of Satan, and in representing the victory over
Satan as an outwitting of the enemy, who had
no claim to the sinless soul of Jesus, and
therefore could not keep it in death. The ransom
was paid, not to God, but to Satan, who thereby
lost his right to man. Here Origen touches on
mythical Gnosticism . . .
(f) Athanasius, in his early youth, at the
beginning of the next period, wrote the first
systematic treatise on redemption and answer to
the question 'Cur Deus homo?' ['why did God
become man?'] But it was left for the Latin
church, after the epoch-making treatise of

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Anselm, to develop this important doctrine

in its various aspects.

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(k) Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1: The

Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), Univ. of
Chicago Press, 1971, pp. 141-142,148:
(i) The gospel was a message of salvation; on this all
Christian teachers agreed. But they did not agree about
the meaning of the salvation proclaimed by this
(ii) Nor did that meaning become, in the strict sense, a
dogma of the church . . . neither [the Nicene Creed] nor
later dogmas specified in any detail just how the
salvation which was the purpose of Christ's coming was
related to these events in his earthly and heavenly
states. While the relation of Jesus Christ to God and the
relation of the human and the divine within his person
became the subject for doctrinal controversy and
dogmatic definition, the saving work of Christ remained
undefined. Yet it was certainly a major constituent of
Christian doctrine - if by doctrine we mean that the
church believes, teaches, and confesses, not only in its
polemics and creeds, but also in its liturgy and exegesis.
(iii) The very absence of explicit dogmatic and extensive
polemical treatment of the meaning of salvation makes it
necessary as well as hazardous to find some other
scheme for organizing the doctrinal material on this
subject . . .
(iv) . . . the organization of the material around the three
themes of the life and teachings, the sufferings and
death, and the resurrection and exaltation of Christ
would appear to be legitimate. Such a schema for
doctrines of salvation in the second, third, and fourth
centuries must not be taken to imply that either the life or
the death or the resurrection of Christ was ever seen as
the one saving event in utter isolation from the whole of
the biblical picture . . .
(v) Because of the prominence of demonology in
Christian piety and theology, the Christian thinkers who
dealt with the idea of ransom usually took it to be a
ransom paid to the devil to set man free. Irenus does
not seem to have had this conception in mind in his
exposition of the idea of the ransom, but Origen clearly
did . . . Only in the fourth century, in the thought of such
men as Gregory Nazianzus, did this notion of a ransom
paid to the devil yield to futher theological reflection.

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(l) J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, San

Francisco: Harper Collins, rev. ed., 1978, chapter XIV: "Christ's
Saving Work," pp. 375-377,388,391-392:
(i) [With regard to] the contemporary theology of the
Trinity and the Incarnation . . . controversy forced fairly
exact definition on the Church, whereas the redemption
did not become a battle-ground for rival schools until the
twelfth century, when Anselm's Cur deus homo (c.1097)
focussed attention on it . . .
(ii) First, there was the so-called 'physical' or 'mystical'
theory (we have already come across it in Irenus)
which linked the redemption with the incarnation.
According to this, human nature was sanctified,
transformed and elevated by the very act of Christ's
becoming man . . .
(iii) Secondly, there was the explanation of the
redemption in terms of a ransom offered to, or a forfeit
imposed on, the Devil . . . Thirdly, there was the theory,
often designated 'realist', which directed attention to the
Saviour's sufferings . . .

(iv) Faced with this diversity, scholars have often

despaired of discovering any single unifying thought in
the patristic teaching about the redemption. These
various theories, however, despite appearances, should
not be regarded as in fact mutually incompatible. They
were all of them attempts to elucidate the same great
truth from different angles; their superficial divergences
are often due to the different Biblical images from which
they started, and there is no logical reason why, carefully
stated, they should not be regarded as complementary .
(v) The essential truth concealed behind the popular,
often crudely expressed imagery of a deal with Satan
was a wholly Scriptural one (cf. Acts 26:18) that fallen
man lies in the Devil's power and salvation necessarily
includes rescue from it.
(vi) There is a further point, however, which is not
always accorded the attention it deserves. Running
through almost all the patristic attempts to explain the
redemption there is one grand theme which, we suggest,
provides the clue to the fathers' understanding of the
work of Christ. This is none other than the ancient idea
of recapitualtion which Irenus derived from St. Paul,
and which envisages Christ as the representative of the
entire race. Just as all men were somehow present in
Adam, so they are, or can be, present in the second
Adam, the man from heaven. Just as they were involved

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in the former's sin, with all its apalling
consequences, so they can participate in the latter's
death and ultimate triumph over sin, the forces of evil
and death itself. Because, very God as He is, He has
identified Himself with the human race, Christ has been
able to act on its behalf and in its stead; and the victory
He has obtained is the victory of all who belong to Him.
(vii) All the fathers, of whatever school, reproduce this
motif. The physical theory, it is clear, is an elaboration of
it . . . The various forms of the sacrificial theory frankly
presuppose it, using it to explain how Christ can act for
us in the ways of substitution and reconciliation. The
theory of the Devil's rights might seem to move on a
rather different plane, but it too assumes that, as the
representative man, Christ is a fitting exchange for
mankind held in the Devil's grasp . . .
Hilary [of Poitiers; + 367] must be regarded as
one of the pioneers of the theology of satisfaction . . .
"[Augustine's] teaching was more in line with that of
Chysostom, Hilary and Ambrosiaster, and may be
summarized as follows (cf. de trin. 13,16-19): (a) The
Devil owned no rights, in the strict sense, over mankind;
what happened was that, when men sinned, they passed
inevitably into his power, and God permitted rather than
enjoined this. (b) No ransom as such was therefore due
to Satan, but on the contrary, when the remission of sins
was procured by Christ's sacrifice, God's favour was
restored and the human race might well have been
freed. (c) God preferred, however, as a course more
consonant with His justice, that the Devil should not be
deprived of his dominion by force, but as the penalty for
abusing his position. (d) Hence Christ's passion, the
primary object of which was of course quite different,
placed the Son of God in Satan's hands, and when the
latter overreached himself by seizing the divine prey,
with the arrogance and greed which were characteristic
of him, he was justly constrained, as a penalty, to deliver
up mankind.
(ix) There have been scholars who have fastened upon
man's release in this way from the Devil as the pivot of
Augustine's soteriology. But such a thesis cannot be
sustained. Augustine clearly represents our release as
consequent upon and as presupposing our
reconciliation; the Devil is conquered precisely because
God has received satisfaction and has bestowed pardon
(cf. de civ. dei 10,22; de trin. 4,17). This brings us to
what is in fact his central thought, viz. that the essence
of the redemption lies in the expiatory sacrifice offered
for us by Christ in His passion.

(2) The objections

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(a) While it is true that Christ's death was designed,

among other things, to overthrow the power of the devil (e.g.,
Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8) it is not Satan who was sinned against
nor is it he who frees the sinner.

(b) The ransom was rather paid to God who set the price in the
first place (Heb. 9:22).
(c) In his discussion of Lutron F. Buchsel makes a strong case
for the idea that the ransom was offered to God to satisfy the
requirements of his holiness ("Lutron," Theological Dictionary
of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel, IV, pp. 341-42).
(d) This view also tends to impugn God's character as a
(e) Satans authority is overstated in the view.
(f) There is a "dualism" implied in the view that is contradicted
by Scripture

c) The Dramatic Theory

(1) The view stated
(a) This is called the "dramatic" view because the terms of the
atonement are dramatized as struggle, conflict and victory.
(b) "Its central theme is the idea of the atonement as a divine
conflict and victory; Christ--CHRISTUS VICTOR--fights against
and triumphs over the evil powers of the world, the 'tyrants'
under which mankind is in bondage and suffering, and in Him
God reconciles the world to Himself" (G. Aulen, Christus Victor,
p. 4). Set forth by Aulen (1930)
(2) The objections
(a) It is basically existential and views sin as a failure
which demands victory rather than as an objective act
against God, provoking his wrath and demanding
(b) It does not do justice to the biblical data on the death of

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4. Theories Which View Christ's Death as Affecting Man

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a) Mystical theories
(1) The view stated
(a) Christ took on himself a human, sinful nature but through
the power of the Holy Spirit he did not manifest its corruption in
actual sin, i.e., he triumphed over it.
(b) A knowledge of this will have a subconscious, mystical
influence upon us.
(c) "In the mystical theory salvation properly speaking does not
lie in the cross of Christ but in his person. His divine-human
nature is communicable, and salvation lies in this being
imparted to us. The purpose of the incarnation is said to be the
deification or divinization of man" (Bloesch, op. cit., p. 156).
(d) These represent the type of the moral influence theory as
held by Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Maurice, Irving and others.
(e) Dr. A. B. Bruce calls it "Redemption by Sample." The
mysticism lies in the identification of Christ with the race in the
sense that He rendered to God, the perfect devotion and
obedience which we ought to render; and which in some sense
mankind offered in Him. This it holds, is the only meaning of
sacrifice in the Scriptures self-sacrifice by self-consecration
to God's service. These theories are sometimes known also, as
""redemption by incarnation.
(f) Schleiermacher (1769-1834) held that the atonement is
purely subjective, and denied any objective satisfaction to God
by the substitutionary work of Christ. Such ideas as reparation,
compensation, substitution, satisfaction and propitiation, he held
to be wholly Jewish. His conception of the work of Christ
consisted in this that being one with God, Christ taught men
that they could be one with God; and His consciousness of being
in God and knowing God, gave Him the power to communicate it
to others. For this reason, He became a Mediator and a Savior.
(g) Ritschl (1822-1889) was one of the most influential
representatives of the moral influence in Germany. He did not,
like Schleiermacher, set aside historical revelation, but
nevertheless held inadequate views of the Redeemer. To him,
Christ was a Savior in much the same sense as Buddha
achieving His lordship over it by His indifference to it. He was
the Word of God only in so far as He revealed this divine

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indifference to things. The sense of sin was regarded as

an illusion which it was the work of Christ to dispel.

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(h) Maurice (1805-1872) held that Christ was the archetype and

root of humanity, and in His own body offered an acceptable

sacrifice to God for the race. This was not a substitutionary
offering in the commonly accepted sense of the term, but such a
mystical union of the race with Christ, that it could make a
perfect offering through Him. The sacrifice of Christ consisted in
a complete renunciation of that human self-will which is the
cause of all men's crimes and miseries. This he held, was the
meaning of the ancient sacrifices not as substitutes for the
offerer, but as symbols of his devotion. These found their
fulfillment in Christ, who in His life and death, offered up the
one and only complete sacrifice ever offered, a perfect surrender
to the divine will. Hence in Him, the archetypal man, the race
offered a sacrifice acceptable to God.
(i) Dr. Strong points out, that according to this theory, the glory

of Christ was not in saving others, but in saving Himself, and so

demonstrating the power of man through the Holy Spirit to cast
out sin from his heart and life. Strong, Syst. Th., II, p. 746.

(j) Freer, one of Irving's followers, modified this doctrine,

stating that "Unfallen humanity needed not redemption,
therefore, Jesus did not take it. He took fallen humanity, but
purged it in the act of taking it The nature of which He took part
was sinful in the lump, but in His person most holy."
(k) The Mystical Theory, while existing in numerous forms, may
be stated as follows: The reconciliation effected by Christ is
brought about by a mysterious union of God and man,
accomplished by His incarnation. The theory was held by the
Platonizing fathers, by the followers of Scotus Erigena during
the Middle Ages, by Osiander and Schwenkfeld at the
Reformation, and the disciples of Schieiermacher among modern
German theologians. One reason why the mystical theory seems
so vague, is due to the fact that it has not been held as an
exclusive theory, but differently colored by different writers.

(l) Thomas Erskine taught that "Christ came into Adam's place.
This is the real substitution....We are separated from each other
by being individual persons. But Jesus had no human
personality. He had the human nature under the personality of
the Son of God. And so His human nature was more open to the
commonness of men; for the divine personality while it separated
Him from sinners in point of sin, united Him to them in love. And
thus the sins of other men were to Jesus what the affections and
lusts of his own particular flesh are to each individual believer.

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Every man was a part of Him, and He felt the sins of

every man just as the new nature in every believer feels the
sins of the old nature not in sympathy, but in sorrow and
abhorrence. Erskine, "The Brazen Serpent."]

(m) Irving (1792-1834) held what is commonly known as the

"Theory of Gradually Extirpated Depravity." According to
Irving, Christ took upon Himself our human nature, not in its
purity, but in its likeness after the Fall. Hence there was in Him,
a fallen nature with its inborn corruption and predisposition to
moral evil. He held that there were two kinds of sin guiltless
sin and guilty sin. Passive depravity did not regard as guilty, but
became such only when expressed in action. The passive sin
Christ took, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, not only
kept His human nature from manifesting itself in actual sin, but
through struggle and suffering, gradually purified this passive
sinful nature, until in His death, He completely extirpated it, and
reunited the spirit to God. This is subjective purification, but
there is no idea of a substitutionary atonement.
(n) On Irving's theory, evil inclinations are not sinful.
Sinfulness belongs only to evil acts. The loose connection
between the Logos and humanity savors of Nestorianism. It is the
work of the person to rid itself of something in the humanity
which does not really render it sinful. If Jesus' sinfulness of
nature did not render His person sinful, this must be true of us,
which is a Pelagian element, revealed also in the denial that for
our redemption we need Christ as an atoning sacrifice. It is not
necessary to a complete incarnation for Christ to take a sinful
nature, unless sin is essential to human nature. In Irving's view,
the death of Christ's body works the regeneration of His sinful
nature. But this is to make sin a merely physical thing, and the
body the only part of man needing redemption. Penalty would
thus become a reformer, and death a savior (Dorner, Syst. Chr.
Doct., III, p. 361).
(2) The objection
(a) This view makes Christ a sinner.
(b) It leaves no need for his death and it does not deal with the
guilt of man's sin which must be removed.
(c) It is further objectionable in that it views salvation as a
transmutation of humanity into deity rather than as justification,
sanctification and glorification of human beings.

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b) Psychical theories

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(1) The Example Theory

(a) The view stated
(i) Man has a free will with only a tendency toward
evil, but that will is not corrupt. Since sin does not
corrupt man's nature God does not require that it be
punished. Further, because this is true, God's justice
does not restrain him from pardoning whom he will.
Christ merely provided for mankind an example of faith
and obedience which should inspire them to lead an
obedient life. His death was the death of a martyr. This
view was set forth by the Socinians (16th century).
(ii) Socinianism was the precursor of modern
(iii) Dr. Strong calls it ""The Example Theory of the
Atonement," for it altogether denies any idea of
propitiation or satisfaction. Its sole method of
reconciliation is to better man's moral condition, and this
can be effected only by man's own will through
repentance and reformation.
(iv) The death of Christ is regarded as that of a noble
martyr. His loyalty to truth and faithfulness to duty
provide us with a powerful incentive to moral
(v) Socinianism like Calvinism is based upon the idea
of divine sovereignty, but in a very different manner; in
Calvinism, predestination applies to the destinies of
men; in Socinianism, it governs the attributes of God.
That is, it holds that God is free to do that which He wills,
and refuses to admit of any immutable qualities in the
divine nature, whether of mercy or justice. His
occasional will is called out by the conduct of men. He is
free to forgive sin without any satisfaction to divine
justice, if He desires to do so, simply on the ground of
repentance. The death of Christ is designed to remove
the hardness of the sinner's heart as the obstacle to
(vi) The theory advanced by Llius Socinus, the uncle,
and Faustus Socinus, the nephew, represents the
seventeenth century attack of rationalism on the penal
satisfaction theory of the atonement
(vii) Dr. Alvah Hovey characterizes the moral influence
theories as those "which affirm that the atonement made

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by Christ benefits and saves men by its moral

influence on their characters, and by that alone."

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According to the teaching of early Socinianism
as distinguished from that of modern Unitarianism
the Savior's priestly office was only figuratively on earth,
and began in heaven where He uses His exalted
authority to plead for mankind. "The sacerdotal office
consists in this, that as He can in royal authority help us
in all our necessities, so in His priestly character; and the
character of His help is called by a figure His sacrifice."
But it may be said that forgiveness is never represented
as bestowed save through a real sacrifice: God is in
Christ reconciling the world to Himself; and for Christ's
sake forgives sins which only the Spirit obtained by the
atonement enables us to confess and forsake (Pope,
Compend. Chr. Th., II, p. 311).
(ix) In the Socinian theory Christ is a prophet, a
teacher. He saves His people as a teacher saves his
pupils by instruction, He saves them from the evils of
ignorance, and blesses them with the immunities and
benefits of knowledge. Christ teaches the will of God and
the way to heaven, and thus saves them who heed His
instructions....But man has other needs besides
instruction....The Savior of mankind must be more than a
teacher, more than a prophet; He must be a priest, a
king; indeed He must be to man all in all. Man as a
sinner is lost; so far as his own resources are
concerned, irretrievably lost. He is nothing, has nothing,
can do nothing, without a Savior (Raymond, Syst. Th.,
II, pp. 222-224).

(b) The objections

(i) This theory makes salvation dependent upon man's
effort since he only needs to repent of his sins and
reform himself.
(ii) It denies the sinfulness of sin and the justice of God
and assumes that man is not totally depraved. It
overlooks the fact that Christ is set forth as an example
to believers only in scripture (1 Pet. 2:21).
(iii) Rejected the theories of vicarious satisfaction
(iv) Builds on the Pelagian View of the human condition
(v) Selective use of Scripture (cf. I Pt 2:24)
(vi) Ignores significant terms related to holiness, justice,
and other forensic concerns of the biblical doctrine

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(2) The Moral Influence Theory.

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(a) The view stated

(i) The suffering and death of Christ did not satisfy
God's justice for it did not need to be satisfied. Instead,
it manifested his love which has the effect of softening
men's hearts and leading them to repentance. The
cross reveals the love of God and produces faith and
love in the individual--which becomes the basis of
(ii) This was first set forth by Abelard (d. 1142)
(a) The Death of Christ was not a
substitutionary satisfaction.
(b) It was a demonstration of Gods love for
errant humanity
(c) This great act of love awakens a response in
the heart of the sinner toward God
(d) The sinner no longer fears God, but rather
experiences great sorrow for what his sin has
brought upon God
(iii) Popularized by Bushnell (1866).
(a) Miley calls it the theory of "Self-propitiation
by Self-sacrifice.
(b) It belongs to the class of mystical theories,
in that it regards the race as identified with
Christ, but is given separate mention because of
its distinct character.
(c) Dr. Bushnell resolves Christ's priesthood
into "sympathy"; that is, there are certain moral
sentiments similar in God and in man, such as
the repulsiveness of sin and resentment against
wrong, which must not be extirpated, but
mastered and allowed to remain.
(d) God, therefore, forgives just as man does.
"They come to the same point where they
require exactly the same preparations and
conditions. So God must propitiate the cost and
suffering for our good.

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(e) This He did in sacrifice on the cross,
that sublime act of cost, in which God has bent
himself downward in loss and sorrow, over the
hard face of sin, to say, and in saying to make
good, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee" (Bushnell,
Forgiveness and Law, p. 35).
(iv) There is here no propitiation by Christ's death, but
only suffering in and with the sins of His creatures. The
theory, therefore, is strictly Socinian and Unitarian,
although Bushnell was himself a trinitarian.
(v) A more recent advocate of this view was Martin
Luther King, Jr.

(b) The objections

(i) If it does not satisfy God's justice the death of Christ
was unnecessary and unjust.
(ii) There is nothing loving about putting someone to
death if it is unnecessary.
(iii) The scriptures reveal that the work of Christ was
primarily to satisfy God's justice and that only in this way
could his love have any meaning.
(iv) By placing the emphasis on what man would do
under the moral influence of Christ, salvation is placed in
man's own hands.
(v) The view eliminates the "objective" aspect of the
Atonement and Emphasizes the "subjective" element.
(vi) Emphasizes Gods Love and minimizes Gods
holiness, righteousness, and & justice Ignores the
"penal" aspect of the atonement.

c) Existential theories
(1) Introduction
(a) Generally speaking the recent existential theologians
studiously avoid any systematic statement regarding the death of
(b) While some (e.g., Brunner) do acknowledge a significant
objective aspect to the atonement, even they go on to give
emphasis to the faith-experience of the believer as giving it
tangibility and substance.

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(c) The death of Christ, and its verification or

vindication in the resurrection, gain their significance through
the preaching of the church rather than through their historicity.
Another element common to much contemporary theology is a
new form of universalism. This sees Christ as the elect of God,
having actually reconciled all to God in his death.

(d) The message of the church today is simply to inform men

that they are reconciled. While there is no agreement on a
particular historical view of the atonement among existentialists,
and while each has his own peculiar emphasis, the following is
an attempt to state what may be a representative (composite)
existential viewpoint.
(2) The view stated
(a) Christ is the revelation of God, and probably the supreme
revelation of God's love is seen in Christ on the cross.
(b) As man contemplates him there he becomes aware of his sin,
despairs, and is brought to contrition as he recognizes that he
should have died rather than Christ.
(c) This shattering of the ego leads to a reaching out for God's
(d) This concept was first stimulated by Kierkegaard (d. 1855)
and set forth by such writers as Barth, Brunner and Bultmann
(20th century).
(3) The objections
(a) This calls for appropriation of God's love without
imputation of Christ's righteousness to man and of man's sin to
(b) It makes of the atonement a revelatory event which receives
its significance in each individual's encounter with the truth
rather than seeing the atonement as a given, objective fact of
history, the reality and truth of which is important and stands as
fact whether existentially realized or not.

d) Quasi-objective theories
(1) Satisfaction theory of Anselm (Commercial Theory). T
(a) The view stated

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(i) Sin is viewed as the withholding of honor
due to God. In his death, since he was under no
obligation to die, being sinless, Christ brought infinite
glory to God. This brought a reward to Christ which he
did not need so he passes it on to sinners if they live
according to the gospel (supererogation)
(ii) When Mankind Sinned God was Dishonored
Motivated by love God chose to accept a suitable
(iii) Since Christ kept the Law (which was required) He
is a suitable sacrifice Since He Died (which was not
required) his "merit" has value for others.
(iv) This "supererogation" is available for sinners
(v) . This was set forth by Anselm (d. 1109) and
developed more fully (e.g., the "treasury of merit"
concept) by Thomas Aquinas.

(b) The objections

(i) The view is an advance on some of the more
primitive attempts to understand the atonement. It
correctly roots the purpose of Christs death in God.
(ii) However there is an arbitrariness associated with
rooting the necessity in Gods Will rather than his
(iii) The view fails to account for penalty, wrath,
propitiation, etc
(iv) It moves the necessity of the atonement from the
justice to the honor of God.
(v) God was not upholding his honor but acting in
justice in Christ's death.
(vi) It rules out Christ's dying for the penalty of sin and
instead of the sinner. The basis for receiving the benefit
of Christ's death is works.
(vii) "While Anselm's interpretation permitted man to offer
Christ to God, the Protestant Faith insists that it is God,
not man, who reconciles fallen humanity by sacrificing
His son" (George Forell, The Protestant Faith, p. 186).

(2) The Governmental Theory

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(a) The view stated

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(i) Christ's death was primarily designed to manifest

God's high regard for law, against which man has
sinned, and to uphold his moral government, against
which he has rebelled.
(ii) On the basis of an arbitrary decision of will God
accepts Christ's death as a substitute for the penalty of
the law which man would otherwise be required to bear.
His death does not provide strict satisfaction for sin but
only shows God's attitude toward sin. It provides a
means of deterring men from sinning and a basis for
God to pardon those who repent and accept Christ as
their substitute.
(iii) This was first advocated by Grotius (d. 1645) and is
the view commonly held by Arminian theologians (John
Miley, The Atonement in Christ and W. T. Prukiser, et
al., God, Man, and Salvation, p. 403).
(iv) Charles Hodge summarizes the system in the
following way:
(a) That in the forgiveness of sin God is to be
regarded neither as an offended party, nor as a
creditor, nor as a master, but as a moral
governor. A creditor can remit the debt due him
at pleasure; a master may punish or not punish
as he sees fit; but a ruler must act, not according
to his feelings or caprice, but with a view to the
best interests of those under his authority.
(b) The end of punishment is the prevention of
crime, or the preservation of order and the
promotion of the best interests of the
(c) As a good governor cannot allow sin to be
committed with immunity, God cannot pardon
the sins of men without some adequate
exhibition of His displeasure, and of His
determination to punish it. This was the design
of the sufferings and death of Christ. God
punished sin in Him as an example. This
example was the more impressive on account of
the dignity of Christ's person, and therefore in
view of His death, God can consistently with the
best interests of His government remit the
penalty of the law in the case of penitent

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(d) Punishment is defined as suffering
inflicted on account of sin. It need not be
imposed on account of the personal demerit of
the sufferer; nor with the design of satisfying
justice, in the ordinary sense of that word. It was
enough that it should be on account of sin. As
the sufferings of Christ were caused by our sins,
inasmuch as they were designed to render their
remission consistent with the interest of God's
moral government, they fall within the
comprehensive definition of the word
punishment. Grotius, therefore, could say that
Christ suffered the punishment of our sins, as
His sufferings were an example of what sin
(e) The essence of the atonement, therefore,
according to Grotius consisted in this, that the
sufferings and death of Christ were designed as
an exhibition of God's displeasure against sin.
They were intended to teach that in the
estimation of God, sin deserves to be punished;
and that, therefore, the impenitent cannot
escape the penalty due to their offenses (Hodge,
Syst. Th., II, pp. 573-575).
(f) Mr. Watson states his position as follows:
"The death of Christ, then, is the satisfaction
accepted; and this being a satisfaction to justice,
that is, a consideration which satisfied God, as a
being essentially righteous, and as having strict
and inflexible respect to the justice of His
government; pardon through, or for the sake of
that death, became, in consequence, "a
declaration of the righteousness of God,' as the
only appointed method of remitting the
punishment of the guilty; and if so, satisfaction
respects not....the honor of the law of God, but
its authority, and the upholding of that righteous
and holy character of the Lawgiver, and of his
administration, of which that law is the visible
and public expression. Nor is this to be regarded
as a merely wise and fit expedient of
government, a point to which even Grotius leans
too much, as well as many other divines . . . .
and that it is to be concluded, that no other
alternative existed but that of exchanging a
righteous government for one careless and
relaxed, to the dishonor of the divine attributes,
and the sanctioning of moral disorder; or the
upholding of such a government by the personal
and extreme punishment of every offender; or
else the acceptance of the vicarious death of an
infinitely dignified and glorious being, through

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whom pardon should be offered, and in
whose hands a process for the moral restoration
of the lapsed should be placed" (Watson,
Institutes, II, p. 139).

(b) The objections

(i) It assumes that the death of Christ was only to
deter men from future offenses against the law rather
than to satisfy God's justice.
(ii) It fails to recognize that salvation involves more than
the manifestation of God's attitude toward sin.
(iii) It was not merely God's government but his very
character which was transgressed.
(iv) It does not account for the positive side of Christ's
death, i.e., the provision of righteousness.
(v) Fails to account for Gods holiness
(vi) Fails to consider the "payment"
(vii) Gods justice appears arbitrary

Rejects the concept of "propitiation.

(3) The Vicarious Repentance Theory.

(a) The view stated
(i) It is assumed that an adequate repentance would
secure atonement for sin. Man is unable to provide such
a repentance so Christ acted on his behalf thus meeting
the conditions for forgiveness.
(ii) By fully identifying with God's condemnatory
attitude toward sin Christ thereby provides that which will
stimulate man to the holiness requisite to acceptance by
God. This view was set forth by John McLeod Campbell
(d. 1872).

(b) The objections

(i) It deals only with the subjective side in repentance
and not with the objective need for satisfaction.
(ii) The New Testament represents Christ as dealing
with God's wrath not man's repentance.

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(iii) Also, according to this view "Christ does not
suffer the very penalty for sin that men deserve to suffer
through their sin, but he does suffer through his moral
identification with men" (Bloesch, op. cit., p. 157).

5. The Correct Theory of the Atonement Stated

a) Introduction
(1) Called The Penal Satisfaction Theory.
(2) This is the theory held by the Reformed churches, and generally
known as the Calvinistic theory.
(3) It is sometimes referred to also, as the Anselmic theory; and
although related to it, the Anselmic theory underwent important changes
at the hands of the Reformers.
(4) In the first place, Anseim taught that the sacrifice of Christ secured
such merit as was capable of being imputed to the guilty; while the
Reformers held that the satisfaction of Christ was to be considered in the
sense of a penal substitution for the sinner.
(5) Thus they took over from Anselm the idea of satisfaction but gave it
the meaning of substitution instead of merit. In the second place, the
Reformers included Christ's active obedience as a part of the redemptive
price, as well as His voluntary death, while Anselm maintained that the
satisfaction which Christ offered could not have been His obedience, for
this He owed to God as a man.

b) The View Stated

(1) Dr. A. A. Hodge, a Calvinist theologian of the federal type, sums up
this theory in the following essential points:
(a) Sin for its own sake deserves the wrath and curse of God.
(b) God is disposed, from the very excellence of His nature, to
treat His creatures as they deserve.
(c) To satisfy the righteous judgment of God, His Son assumed
our nature, was made under the law, fulfilled all righteousness,
and bore th epunishment of our sins.
(d) By His righteousness, those who believe are constituted
righteous, His merit being so imputed to them that they are

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Christology: Atonement of Christ-Part 2

regarded as righteous in the sight of God (A. A. Hodge,

Outline of Theology, p. 303).

23 of 24

(2) Dr. J. p. Boyce, the eminent Baptist theologian, says that the
Calvinistic theory of the atonement is, that in the sufferings and death of
Christ, He incurred the penalty of the sins of those whose substitute He
was, so that He made a real satisfaction to the justice of God for the law
which they had broken. On this account, God now pardons all their sins,
and being fully reconciled to them, His electing love flows out freely
toward them. The doctrine as thus taught involves the following points:
(a) That the sufferings and death of Christ were a real
(b) That in making it Christ became the substitute of those
whom He came to save.
(c) That as such He bore the penalty of their transgression.
(d) That in so doing He made ample satisfaction to the demands
of the law, and to the justice of God.
(e) That thus an actual reconciliation has been made between
them and God (Boyce, Abstract of Syst. Th., p. 317).

c) Implications Stated
(1) The Penal substitutionary theory leads of necessity, either to
universalism on the one hand, or unconditional election on the other.
(2) Dr. Miley makes the charge that ""such an atonement, by its very
nature, cancels all punitive claims against the elect, and by immediate
result forever frees them from all guilt as a liability to the penalty of sin.
We know that such a consequence is denied, though we shall show that it
is also fully asserted (Miley, Syst. Th., II, p. 151).
(3) If the claims of justice are satisfied they cannot again be enforced.
This is the analogy between the work of Christ and the payment of a
debt. The point of agreement between the two cases is not the nature of
the satisfaction rendered, but one aspect of the effect produced. In both
cases the persons for whom the satisfaction is made are certainly freed.
Their exemption or deliverance is in both cases, and equally in both, a
matter of justice (Hodge, Syst. Th., II, p. 472).
(4) Syminton states that the death of Christ being a legal satisfaction for
sin, all for whom he died must enjoy the remission of their offenses"
(Symington, Atonement and Intercession, p. 190).

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Christology: Atonement of Christ-Part 2

24 of 24

(5) A. A. Hodge says that "the Arminian view, therefore, differs

from the Calvinistic in two points. They maintain that Christ died, first,
for the relief of all men; second, to make salvation possible. We hold, on
the other hand, that Christ died, first, for His elect; second, to make their
salvation certain (Hodge, Outlines of Theology., p. 313).

(6) If it is involved in the very nature of the atonement . . . . that all the
legal responsibilities of those for whom he died were laid upon Christ; if
he suffered the very penalty which divine justice exacted of them, then it
follows necessarily that all those for whom he died are absolved, since
justice cannot demand two perfect satisfactions, nor inflict the same
penalty once upon the substitute and again upon the principal (A. A.
Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 313).

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E. The Nature of the Atonement (The True Doctrine)

1. Introduction
a) Every false religious system rests on some inadequate
view of atonement. This is reflected in the various theories of
the atonement; all of which imbibe in one or more common
b) While there may be elements of truth here and there in
these theories, with some more than others, the central issue-the basic meaning of the death of Christ is obscured or misstated. They are generally man-centered rather than
God-centered; subjective rather than objective; and tend to
omit any vicarious element whatsoever.
c) In faulting these various theories for being more subjective
than objective we do not intend to deny any place for the
subjective in this discussion. The issue is a matter of
d) Without the objective there is no place nor need for
consideration of the subjective.
e) Donald Bloesch has captured the significance of this
relationship when he writes, First it must be said that the
atonement does have an objective basis in the life and death
of Jesus Christ. Something happened for our salvation in the
death and resurrection of Christ independent of our belief or
response. . . . Yet though the work of Christ is finished for the
sinner, it is not yet finished in the sinner. . . . Salvation
includes not only deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin
secured by the mediatorial work of Christ; it also consists in
deliverance from the power and presence of sin effected by
the operation of the Holy Spirit. . . . (Essentials of Evangelical
Theology, I, 162-63).
f) The true doctrine is referred to variously as the doctrine of
satisfaction or the penal, substitutionary (vicarious) doctrine
of the atonement.
g) Vicarious means substitutionary, referring to the fact that
Christ suffered the penalty that was justly mine. This teaches
that Christ died in my place and for my benefit. He fully

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satisfied the demands of God's justice upon sin. His death

Page 173 of 205

was primarily directed toward God who is the offended party,

Page 174 of 205

not man the offender. It is, also, to be noted that while his
death makes salvation available to all it does not guarantee all
will be saved. It is sufficient for all but effective only for those
who, having been appointed for eternal life, believe (Acts

h) Since the value of the atoning work of Christ will be no

greater than the value of the sacrifice it is not uncommon to
discuss the matter of Christ's righteousness at this point. This
is seen to include the active and passive obedience of Christ.
The Reformed view ties these two concepts into the covenant
idea of redemption. "Christ as mediator entered the federal
relation in which Adam stood in the state of integrity, in order
to merit eternal life for the sinner. This constitutes the active
obedience of Christ, consisting of all that Christ did to observe
the law in its federal aspect, as the condition for obtaining
eternal life" (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 380).
i) He goes on to say, "Christ as Mediator also entered the
penal relation to the law, in order to pay the penalty in our
stead. His passive obedience consisted in his paying the
penalty of sin by His sufferings and death, and thus
discharging the debt of all His people" (ibid., p. 381).
j) They are further careful to point out that the active and
passive obedience are both aspects of the same thing and
thus not to be separated. As Bloesch warns, "The difficulty
with this distinction is that it tends to overlook the fact that
Christ was active as well as passive in both his obedience in
life and suffering in death" (op. cit., p. 177, ftnt. 30).
k) His active obedience was to the Father's will and thus he
proved to be an unblemished, fully qualified sacrifice (Matt.
5:17-18; John 15:10; 1 Pet. 2:22-23). Likewise, his passive
obedience relates to the eternal purposes of God as a
reflection of his character as he became obedient unto death
(Rom. 5:19; Phil. 2:8).
2. A substitution for sinners
a) Concept of substitution
(1) Christs suffering and death were done in the place of His people.
Jesus stood in the place of the sinner, bore his sin and was punished in
the sinners stead.

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(2) But, how was the sinners sin placed upon Christ on the cross? The
Bible teaches that whoever believes in Jesus has his sins imputed to Him
on the cross. Paul says, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for
us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor.
5:21). This does not mean that Christ became a sinner or a wicked person
for such a teaching would contradict the many passages which teach that
Christ was sinless and ethically perfect (e.g. Jn. 8:46; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1
Jn. 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22).
(3) What it means is that the guilt of sin as liability to punishment was
imputed to Christ [or reckoned to His account]; and this could be
transferred, because it did not inhere in the person of the sinner, but was
something objective (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 377).Thus
Peter could say, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Pet.
(4) The doctrine of vicarious sacrifice and the imputation of the guilt of
sin is clearly taught in the Old Testament sacrificial ritual that involved
the sinner laying (or literally in Hebrew, pressing) his hand upon the
head of the sacrificial animal immediately prior to its sacrifice. If his
offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without
blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle
of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of
the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted on his behalf to make
atonement for him (Lev. 1:3-4; cf. 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4, 15, 24; 16:21).
(5) Theological liberals (who always seem to be running from the truth
of Gods infallible Word) argue that this ritual merely symbolizes a
declaration or setting apart of the offerers property to God. Their theory,
however, is disproved both from the analogy of Scripture and from the
fact that the laying on and pressing of the hand does not occur in the
bloodless cake or cereal offerings.
(6) The symbolism of the pressing of the hand on the sacrificial victim
indicates both substitution (the clean animal will suffer and die in the
sinners place) and the transfer or imputation of guilt (or liability) to the
animal. This interpretation is decisively confirmed by Leviticus 16:21:
and Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess
over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their
transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the
goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable
(7) Moorehead writes: Most specific and definite is the language
touching this remarkable scene. The high priest laid both his hands on
the goats head. In the other sacrifices where a single individual
performed this act it was his hand, one hand, that made the transfer; but
here both hands were employed: the hands that had been filled with
incense, that carried the blood into the Divine Presence, are now filled

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with the sins, iniquities and transgressions of the congregation, and

these hands put them all on the head of the victim! Substitution and
imputation cannot be more vividly expressed (W. G. Moorehead, The
Tabernacle: The Priesthood, Sacrifices and Feasts of Ancient Israel, pp.

b) Qualifications of a Substitute
(1) Berkhof writes: Since man sinned, it was necessary that the penalty
should be borne by man. Moreover, the paying of the penalty involved
suffering of body and soul, such as only man is capable of bearing, John
12:27; Acts 3:18; Heb. 2:14; 9:22. It was necessary that Christ should
assume human nature, not only with all its essential properties, but also
with all the infirmities to which it is liable after the fall, and should thus
descend to the depths of degradation to which man had fallen, Heb
2:17,18) (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 319).
(3) Shedd writes: It is Divine justice that demands satisfaction, and it is
the Divine compassion that makes the satisfaction. God is the one who
holds man in a righteous captivity, and He is the one who pays the
ransom that frees him from it. God is the holy Judge of man who requires
satisfaction for sin; and God is the merciful Father of man who provides
it for him. This fact relieves the doctrine of vicarious atonement of all
appearance of severity, and evidences it to be the height of mercy and
compassion (William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:392-393).

c) Key words for substitution.

(1) Anti. While it does have other legitimate meanings in the New
Testament, its dominant meaning in 1st century Greek is "instead of," "in
the place of," (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). (H. E. Dana and Julius R.
Mantey, A Manual of the Greek New Testament, p. 100; Cf. J. H.
Moulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p.
(2) Huper. It often means "on behalf of" only, but on occasion clearly
has the same idea as anti, as well. Thus the concepts of benefit and
substitution are sometimes expressed by huper.
(a) This is proven by Philemon 13; John 11:50, cf. 2
Corinthians 5:14; John 6:51; Romans 5:6-8; Galatians 3:13;
Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 3:18. (See Dana and Mantey, op. cit., pp.
111-12 and Moulton and Milligan, op. cit., p. 651).
(b) While this usage for huper is disputed by some "John
11:50-51 makes little sense if huper is not understood as

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referring to substitution. Caiaphas (like Balaam's ass) did not

understand the full significance of his statement, but he certainly
meant that it was better for Jesus to die 'for [instead of, huper]
the people' than for all the nation to be slaughtered by the
Roman legions. It was not merely a question of benefit; it was
also a question of one instead of many (substitution)" (W. Robert
Cook, The Theology of John, p. 81).
(c) There are also several non-Johannine passages in which
huper either very nearly approximates anti or seems to be the
exact equivalent. For example, Galatians 3:13 reads "having
become a curse for us"; Colossians 1:7 has "a faithful servant of
Christ for us; and Philemon 13 has "that he might minister for
you to me."

(d) The last reference is especially strong since Paul is speaking

of a personal debt Philemon owed him.

d) The significance of "vicarious" atonement

(1) We must not overlook the fact that while God'
s love may have
longed to save the sinner the immutable demands of his justice would not
allow him to do so until those demands be met in a satisfactory way.
(2) On the basis of the substitutionary death of Christ, whereby the
demands of justice were satisfied, God is free to act in saving the sinner.
This is grace.
(3) Since the "wages of sin is death" and since Jesus Christ had no sin of
his own (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:8) it is clear that he
died for the sins of others. Many scriptures witness to this truth but some
of them are Isaiah 53:5-6; Mark 10:45; John 10:11; Romans 5:8; 1
Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18.

e) The judicial aspects of substitution

(1) Forgiveness provided
(a) As our sinbearer Christ secured forgiveness for the sinner.
There is a subtraction of the judicial effects of sin, that is, guilt is
(b) Some would object to this saying "that satisfaction and forgiveness are mutually exclusive. It is held that if a substitute
pays the debt we owe, God cannot collect the debt also from us
but is morally bound to let us go free; that is, on this theory God
does not exercise mercy in forgiving us, but merely does his
duty" (Thiessen, op. cit., pp. 236-37).

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(c) Thiessen continues by answering,But this objection is

likewise removed by the fact that the one who pays the debt is
not a third party, but the judge himself. Forgiveness, therefore,
is still optional with him and may be offered upon terms
agreeable to himself. The terms which God has laid down are
repentance and faith. The obedience of Christ, therefore, does
not make ours unnecessary, but still requires us to meet the
terms before we can become the beneficiaries of his atoning
death (ibid.).

(2) Righteousness imputed

(a) At the same time, as our substitute, Christ gave us the gift
of eternal life together with the imputation of the righteousness
of God.
(b) There is an addition of the divine righteousness from a
judicial standpoint.

f) The efficacy of the substitute

(1) The efficacy of the sacrifice, and of the sacrificial act, is directly
related to the worth of the one who suffered and died. Because of His
infinite worthiness the sacrifice was of infinite value.
(2) Thus it is not only the fact of the death but who it was who died that
is significant. The very nature of the substitute, then, demands that the
atonement be unlimited in its sufficiency while the sovereign choice of
God has determined that it will be effective only for some.

3. Redemption from sin

a) The concept of a theological "Covenant of Redemption."
This is said to be an agreement within the Godhead in eternity
past regarding redemption to be worked out in time.
(1) The biblical base (Eph. 3:11)
(2) The concept stated.
(a) The Son agreed to become incarnate;
(b) the Father agreed to sustain the Son and accept the work of
the cross;
(c) The Spirit agreed to apply the work of the Son.

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b) The Old Testament concept of redemption.

(1) Pictured in the Exodus (Exod. 12:1-14) as Israel is "redeemed" from

bondage in Egypt by the blood of the Passover Lamb.
(2) Pictured in the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) as God'
s righteous
demands regarding sin are met and the guilt of the people is removed.
(3) Pictured in the Kinsman-Redeemer (Book of Ruth). The goel
(kinsman-redeemer) functioned to buy back a person or property which
had been sold.
(a) Must be a kinsman, that is, he must be of the same family
(Ruth 2:1; cf. Lev. 25:25, 47-49).
(b) Must be able to redeem, that is, he must have the resources
(Ruth 2:1).
(c) Must be willing to redeem, that is, the action was not
compulsory (Ruth 3:10-11).
(d) Must be free of the predicament which has befallen the one
to be redeemed. A slave could not redeem a slave.
(e) Must act to redeem by paying the price (Ruth 4:9-10).

c) The New Testament doctrine of redemption.

(1) The need (Rom. 7:14; Gal. 3:13). Mankind is sold into the bondage
of sin and under the curse of the law.
(2) The terminology
(a) Agoradzo, purchase (1 Cor. 6:20; Rev. 5:9). This verb
means to buy in the agora (market-place), to acquire as a
property, and is used of both believers and unbelievers (2 Pet.
(b) Exagoradzo, remove from sale (Gal. 3:13; 4:5). This is an
intensive form of the preceding verb and means to buy out of the
market place, to release, to buy back. It is used of believer's
(i) These two verbs place emphasis on the act of

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(ii) They may be distinguished in that agoradzo
views the transfer of a slave from one master to another,
while exagoradzo views a transition from slavery to
(iii) The latter term shows that we do not need to be
redeemed again and assures our security.

(c) Lutroo, manumit (Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18). This verb means to
release; to liberate upon payment of a ransom; to set free.
(i) Here the emphasis is upon the price paid (lutron,
(ii) Also to be noted is the cognate term apolutrosis
which means release or redemption.
(iii) This word gives emphasis to the freedom which is
the result of the payment of ransom (see Rom. 3:24).

(3) The purchase price (Matt. 20:28; Eph. 1:7).

(a) The ransom price is the blood of Christ, i.e., his life given
(b) "When anybody heard the Greek work lutron, 'ransom,' in
the first century, it was natural for him to think of the purchase
money for manumitting slaves. Three documents from
Oxyrhynchus relating to manumissions in the years 86, 100 and
91 or 107 A. D. make use of the word" (Adolph Deissmann, Light
From the Ancient East, p. 327-28).
(c) While the Bible does not specifically say to whom the price is
paid, Hebrews 9:22 would suggest that it is to God who set the
(d) "The ransom is not paid to Satan, but to God. The debt that
requires canceling is due to God's attribute of justice; Satan has
no legal claims against the sinner, and so does not need to be
paid before the sinner can be set free" (Thiessen, op. cit., p.

d) The objective nature or direction of redemption.

(1) The results of redemption
(a) Deliverance from the obligation and curse of the law (Gal.
4:5, 3:13)

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(b) Forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14))


(c) The basis for sanctification provided (Tit. 2:14)

(d) The basis for glorification provided (Eph. 1:14; Rom. 8:23).

e) The appropriation of redemption (Rom. 3:28). Redemption

is appropriated by faith in Jesus Christ.
4. Reconciliation of Sinners
a) The need (Col. 1:21-22). Men are enemies of and aliens
before God.
b) The terminology
(1) Katallasso, to change (Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
(2) Apokatallasso, to change; reconcile completely (Eph. 2:16; Col.

c) The basis of Reconciliation (Col. 1:20)

(1) The blood of Christ, that is, his life given up, is the basis for
(2) This includes life, death, burial, and resurrection.

d) The nature of reconciliation.

(1) It is objective in that it relates to the finished work of Christ. At root
it is not existential although it leads to very personal results.
(2) It is God-directed in that it is solely a work of God for man. It is also
God-directed in that due to sin God views us as enemies, and
reconciliation makes it possible for him to view us as friends (Rom.
5:9-10; see Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, pp. 192
ff.). This is not to say that God changes, for both his righteousness and
his love are immutable.
(3) Rather, it is to say that a barrier which had been erected by sin
between God and man has been removed. Leon Morris rightly reminds
us that we can speak of God being reconciled only in a qualified sense,
since God'
s love is ever present (Cf. The Apostolic
Preaching_of_the_Cross pp. 220-21" (Bloesch, op. cit., p. 175).

Page 182 of 205


(4) It is directed manwardly in that he is the focus of the reconciling

work. Man is the one who has been alienated, who has changed, and
must be changed completely to be brought back to fellowship with God.
As noted above this does not exclude God from reconciliation but it is
here that the New Testament emphasis lies.

e) The results of reconciliation.

(1) The whole world is rendered savable (2 Cor. 5:19).
(2) Man'
s enmity and estrangement toward God is removed (Col.
1:21-22); and, this induction leads to the deduction that God'
s hostility
toward man is removed.
(3) Those who believe are given peace with God (Eph. 2:13-18; Col.
(4) Ground is provided for the believer'
s assurance (Rom. 5:10).
(5) A basis is given for the future restoration of the universe to God'
favor (Col. 1:20). This refers to the removal of the curse.

f) The appropriation of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

(1) Reconciliation is appropriated by faith in Christ.
(2) In contemporary theology reconciliation is sometimes viewed as an
accomplished fact for all. This becomes the basis for neo-universalism.
(3) The New Testament viewpoint, however, is that while reconciliation
is potentially available to all it must be personally appropriated by faith
to be effective for anyone.

5. Propitiation of God.
a) The Old Testament concept
(1) LXX Terms
(a) Exilaskomai, "appease," is the primary term (see e.g., Gen.
32:20; "seek the favor of," Zech. 7:2).
(b) Hilasterion is used in Exodus 25:16-22 to refer to the lid on
the ark of the covenant on which the blood was sprinkled. It is
translated "mercy seat" (NASB; "propitiatory" in the footnote) or
"atonement cover" (NIV).

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(2) The relationship between propitiation and wrath in the Old



(a) Whenever the Greek word for propitiate is found in the

LXX, you will usually find reference to wrath nearby.
(b) This suggests that in propitiation God is relating to his

b) The New Testament teaching.

(1) The need (Rom. 3:25-26)
(a) See the various references to God's wrath throughout the
New Testament--e.g., Matt. 3:7; John 3:36; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 2:3;
5:6; 1 Thess. 1:10).
(b) The necessity of propitiation lies in the character of God,
viz. his righteousness and holiness, which has been outraged by
(2) The terminology.
(a) Hilaskomai, to propitiate; to render agreeable, to satisfy; the
turning away of wrath by an offering (Luke 18:13; Heb. 2:17).
(b) Hilasmos, propitiation, i.e., satisfaction (1 John 2:2; 4:10).
(i) There is debate among scholars as to the
appropriate English translation of this term.
(ii) C. H. Dodd, for example, rejects propitiation and
prefers expiation. He sees no place for personal divine
wrath in God (The Epistle to the Romans, pp. 21-24).
(iii) Dale Moody denies that propitiation is a New
Testament concept (The Word of Truth, pp. 114,
(iv) Leon Morris, on the other hand, has persuasively
refuted these ideas in The Cross in the New Testament
(pp. 189 ff.; 348) and The Apostolic Preaching of the
Cross (pp. 125-185) showing that hilaskomai and its
cognates does involve the turning away of God's wrath.

(c) Hilasterion, "mercy-seat," i.e., place of propitiation (Rom.

3:25; Heb. 9:5).

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(i) If we understand Romans 3:25 (translated "a
propitiation" by the NASB and "a sacrifice of atonement"
by the NIV) in the same way as Hebrews 9:5 (translated
"mercy seat" by the NASB and "place of atonement" by
the NIV) Christ is considered in his death as such a one
whose sacrifice on the cross fully satisfied God.
(ii) Since he is our propitiation God is now propitious to
us. Thus there is no longer any need to pray as the
sinner in Luke 18:13. Deissmann holds that Romans
3:25 should be "of use for propitiation" (Bible Studies,
pp. 124 ff.)
(iii) John Murray (The Epistle to the Romans, p. 117)
suggests it may mean a "propitiatory offering."
(iv) In this case note that God makes provision for that
which he knew would be satisfactory.

(d) The basis of Propitation (Rom. 3:25).

(i) The blood of Christ, that is his life given up in death,
is the basis for propitiation.
(ii) Again, we must see this as including both the active
and passive obedience of Christ.

(e) The objective nature of propitiation.

(i) Determined by its relationship to God's wrath. God's
offended holiness demanded that sin be punished;
(ii) his righteousness required that it be dealt with in a
just way;
(iii) his mercy contemplated man in his misery and need;
(iv) his love desired to meet that need and in his grace
he acted to meet the demands of his own justice by
providing a substitute for us which fully satisfies those
(v) See such passages as John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 5:9;
Eph. 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:10 which set forth the wrath of God.
(vi) It is not a matter of appeasement. Appeasement
(related to a heathen concept) implies an unwillingness
to accept men into favor.

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(vii) With the God of reality the problem lies in his

nature--i.e., he is unable to accept us apart from
propitiation. Propitiation enables God, in keeping with
his holiness, to do what he was never unwilling to do


(f) The results of propitiation

(i) God is enabled to forgive sins (Rom. 3:25-26; Heb.
2:17). While forgiveness implies that the one sinned
against bears the penalty there is no compromise of his
righteousness in the process. He is just in justifying the
one who has faith in Jesus.
(ii) God is enabled to bestow the righteousness of
Christ on the ungodly (Rom. 3:25- 26). He is the
justifier, the one who declares righteous.

(g) The appropriation of propitiation (Rom. 3:25). The means

of appropriation of propitiation is faith in Jesus Christ.

Page 186 of 205


The Atonement
F. The Extent of the Atonement
1. Introduction
a) Historical Background
(1) ClarificationWhat is NOT debated here
(a) Whether the work of Christ is sufficient for all -- Most agree
that it is
(b) Whether all saving benefits are applied to all-- Most agree
that they are not
(2) The Critical Question
(a) What is the design of the atonement? Why did he die?
(b) What was he intending to achieve?
(3) Positions
(a) Particularists argue: "Christ died to save the elect" Kuiper
(b) Arminians argue: Christ died to "obtain salvation" for all"
(c) Amyraldians argue: Christ died to make salvation possible
for all and certain for the elect. Lightner

b) Particularism Defended
(1) Scriptural Arguments
(a) Passages restricting the extent of the atonement
(i) Mt 1:21- "his people"
(ii) Jn 10:11, 15- "his sheep"
(iii) In 15:13- "his friends"
(iv) Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25 "the church"

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(v) Rom 8:32- "for us"

(vi) Jn 17:9- "those given me"

(vii) But what about the universal passages (e.g. Jn 3:16;
Heb 2:9; I Jn 2:2, etc)?

(2) B. Theological Arguments

(a) Does Justice to Gods Sovereignty since it posits no
(b) Does Justice to the Covenant of Redemption
(c) Necessary Corollary of Election
(d) Best Accounts for Divine Love
(e) Extended generally to all
(f) Reserved especially for the elect
(g) Clearest Expression of Salvation by Grace
(h) Exalts the Intrinsic Value of the Saving Work of Christ
(i) Secures the Ends as well as the Means in the Cross
(j) The Very Thought of Redemption Shows the Impossibility of
Universalizing it
(k) Particularism Offers Genuine Security
(l) Particularism Best Reflects the Believers Identification with
(3) Evaluation of Particularism
(a) Particularism fits within a "system" and great harm can
come of attempts to retain "part" but not the "whole."
(b) Particularism is correct in its understanding of the
relationship of the death of Christ to the elect
(c) Particularism is unbiblical if it is used to teach that
Christ did not die for all of humanity (in some sense)

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c) Arminianism Defended
(1) Scriptural Arguments
(a) References to "World"
(b) Jn 1:29; 3:16, 17
(c) I Jn 4:14
(d) References to "whosoever"
(e) Jn 3:16
(f) Acts 2:21; 10:43
(g) Rom 10:13
(h) Reverences to "all" or its equivalent
(i) Lk 19:10
(j) Jn 12:32; Rom 5:6
(2) Theological Arguments
(a) Redemption is UniversalII Pt 2:1
(b) Propitiation is Universal
(c) Rom 3:25
(d) Heb 2:17
(e) I Jn 2:2
(f) I Jn 4:10
(g) Reconciliation is Universal
(h) Rom 5:10
(i) II Cor 5:18-20
(j) God is the "Savior of All Men"I Tim 4:10

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(k) Universal Results Presuppose Universal Application


(l) Time for Repentance

(m) Removes every obstacle except willful unbelief
(n) Procures Powerful Incentives ("moral influence")
(o) Procures Salvation for Infants and Those Who Cannot
(p) Makes Possible the final restoration of creation
(3) Historical Argument
(a) The Doctrine of a Pre-temporal decree is unknown before
(b) Treated with suspicion thereafter
(c) Not Considered Seriously again until the rise of Ultra
(d) Upon mature reflection the concept was rejected by
Lutherans, Anabaptist, Anglicans, Roman Catholics,
Congregationalists, and others.
(4) Evaluation of Arminianism
(a) Presupposes a faulty definition of "free will"
(b) Fails to answer to the charge of Universalism
(c) Has not adequately answered the questions related to the
certainty of Gods knowledge of future events and genuine
human accountability

d) Amyraldianism
(1) Definition: Christ died to make the salvation of all men possible and
the salvation of the elect certain
(2) Features Similar to Arminianism
(a) Hypothetical Universalism

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Christ died equally for all in order to make a

universal offer of salvation to all.


(c) In the Atonement, the Ideas of "purchase" and "obtain" are

replaced with "provide"
(3) Features Unlike Arminianism
(a) Human corruption renders saving faith impossible without
irresistible grace (similar to Calvinism)
(b) God does not produce faith through regeneration, but
through an irresistible illumination of the intellect and gentle
moral persuasion by the Holy Spirit
(c) Hence, Regeneration follows faith
(4) Scriptural Support for Amyraldianism
(a) Many Passages Suggest a Universal Saving Will of God for
(b) Ezek 18:23; 33:11; I Tim 2:4; II Pet 3:9
(c) Some for whom Christ died, will intimately perish
(d) II Pet 2:1
(e) Many Passages Indicate a Universal Intent of the Atonement
(f) Isa 53:6; II Cor 5:14; I Tim 2:6; Tit 2:11
(g) Amyraldians will also utilize other "universal" texts much as
the Arminians do
(5) Theological Arguments

Hypothetical Universalism is Necessary to

Maintain a Bonafide Offer of Salvation to all


Hypothetical Universalism necessary to

Gods Just Condemnation of Unbelievers


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Hypothetical Universalism acknowledges

that the Cross purchases many benefits
including "natural benefits." Why limit the
benefits to just one consideration.


The Convicting work of the Holy Spirit

Extends to all, rendering a hypothetical
possibility for all to be saved.


The Imputation of Sin and the Imputation of

Righteousness are co-extensive in opposite
directions offering two "possibilities" (not all
will dienot all will live)


The necessity of faith implies hypothetical

universalismthe Cross never applies its own
benefits without faith.


e) Summary and Conclusion

(1) Particularism is too restrictive of Gods love and purpose
(2) Arminianism, on the other hand, entails that Gods saving grace is
experienced equally by alla condition contrary to Scripture and
(3) Hypothetical Universalism offers a genuine via media between the

2. Excursus:
a) A simplistic definition would state that Amyraldianism is a
view of the atonement that states that Jesus died for all men,
yet only the elect receive the gift of faith.
. This word is derived from the Latin form of the name of Moise
Amyraut (1596-1664), perhaps the most eminent and influential
professor of the French Protestant Academy of Saumur. This
was established in 1598 by a decision of the national synod of
the French Reformed Churches. It enjoyed the special favour
of Philippe Duplessis-Mornay (1549-1623), governor of Saumur
and one of the noblest and most influential Protestant leaders

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at the turn of the century. Achieving wide acclaim in France

and in foreign countries for the brilliance of its faculty, it
attracted a very considerable number of students until it was
abolished by order of King Louis XIV at the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes in 1685.
(New Dictionary of Theology, article on Amyraldianism by
Roger Nicole, page 16.)

c) In his "Traite de la Predestination" (1634) he claimed that

God, moved by his love for mankind, had appointed all human
beings to salvation provided they repent and believe. He sent
his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of all
mankind in order to implement this purpose. However, since
human beings would not on their own initiative repent and
believe, God then chose to bestow a special measure of his
Spirit to some only, who are the elect. Grace thus is seen as
universal in the provision for salvation but as particular in the
application of it. In reviewing matters in this fashion, Amyraut
thought that he could continue to adhere to the Canons of Dort
and at the same time provide a picture of Gods benevolence
that would be more faithful to Scripture and indeed to Calvin
than the thoroughly particularistic approach in the second
quarter of the 17th century. (New Dictionary of Theology,
article on Amyraldianism by Roger Nicole, page 17.)
d) The Arguments for Amyraldianism
(The substance of these arguments is from the work of Roger
Nicole, Moyse Amyraut: A Bibliography, pages 16-21, and the
work of Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism,
pages 73-78.)
(1) His view of the covenants (He taught that there were 3 covenants)
(a) Covenant of Nature with Adam
This covenant demanded obedience to the Law that was revealed
in nature.
(b) Covenant of Law with Israel
This covenant demanded obedience to the Mosaic Law.
(c) Covenant of Grace
(i) This covenant had 2 parts

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(ii) A conditional part

This was between God and all mankind and was based
on universal grace.

(iii) An unconditional part

This was between God and the elect and was based on
special grace.

(d) His view of universal grace

(i) He believed that Jesus Christ died equally for all in
order to provide a basis for the universal part of the
Covenant of Grace.
(ii) This provision was universal, but the application was
particular and limited to the elect.
(iii) The saving work of Christ is intended for all
Isaiah 53:6, Romans 5:18, Romans 8:32, 2 Corinthians
5:14, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:11
(iv) The saving work of Christ is for every one
Hebrews 2:9
(v) The saving work of Christ is for the world
John 3:16, 1 John 2:2

(e) His view of the wills of God


Universal conditional will

(a) This will states that God desires the
salvation of all men on the condition of faith.
(b) Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Timothy 2:4,
2 Peter 3:9, John 3:16
(c) Particular unconditional will
(d) This will states that God has decreed to
actually save the elect.

(f) His view of grace

(i) Objective grace
This grace is universal and offers salvation to all on
condition of faith.

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(ii) Subjective grace

This grace is for the elect only and results in their

(g) His view of the decrees of God

(a) The decree of universal salvation on the
condition of faith This was a "conditional"
(b) The decree of particular and efficacious
grace. This decree was "unconditional.

(h) Order of decrees

(i) The order of decrees for Amyraut was as follows:
universal grace
universal atonement for all
particular election
particular and efficacious grace (to apply the atonement
to the elect alone
(ii) Hypothetical universalism
Thus, said Amyraut, the provision for salvation was
universal but the application was particular. He
considered this the true meaning of the old formula,
"Christ died sufficiently for all but efficiently only for the
elect." Amyraldianism taught an ideal universalism and a
real particularism. This universalism was only
hypothetical, not actual. Only the elect will be saved,
because election is particular and not based on foreseen
faith. Amyraut also taught the doctrine of reprobation.
(The History and Theology of Calvinism, by Curt Daniel,
page 74.)
(iii) This material comes from the work of Curt Daniel,
The History and Theology of Calvinism, page 364.)
(a) #1
Reformed theologians from all sides have put
forth numerous benefits of the atonement which
accrue to all men. One of the more well known is
Common Grace. There is a sense in which
Common Grace flows freely from God by His
very nature. But since Man is fallen and
deserves instant and eternal wrath, there must
have been something else necessary for God to
provide the bounties of Providence rather than
instant wrath. That something else was the
death of Christ. In other words, as C.H.
Spurgeon said, "Christ hath bought some good
things for all men - the common mercies of life."

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(b) #2
This is to say that all that every man receives
that is good can be traced back to the
atonement. He has Christ to thank for the
sunshine he sees, the food he eats, the family
he has, and so on. He deserves none of these,
but Christ purchased them for him.
(i) Common Grace
It is never stated in Scripture, in any
place, that the death of Jesus Christ
secured the benefits of common grace.
Matthew 5:43-48
(ii) It is due to the fact that all men,
reprobates included, are created by God
and made in his image that all men
receive common grace.
Acts 14:16-17

(c) #3
Next, all men deserve immediate wrath and
judgment. Not only do they receive some
providential good, but they do not receive the
wrath they deserve immediately. Christ
purchased a delay of judgment for them. The
very fact that all men are not yet in Hell is due to
the blood of Christ. Christ purchased a "stay of
execution" for them. Whether HE purchased an
actual pardon is another question, but it is
obvious that He purchased a stay of execution.
Some live longer in this delay than others, and
some even come to Christ during the interim.
But all have Christ and His atonement to thank
for being still alive and not in Hell. Few,
however, thank Him for it.
(i) Stay of Execution
It would seem that since those who will
never believe (reprobates) have a part to
play in the plan of God, that he withholds
his pouring out of his wrath until their
Romans 9:22-23
(ii) It would seem that God is free to be
merciful as long as he is not unjust. The
reprobates will experience his justice.
Romans 6:23
(iii) In the same way the death of Christ
purchased the salvation of the elect, yet
the elect do not receive it right away. For
it would seem that even the unbelieving
portion of the elect believers life has a
necessary purpose in the plan of God.

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(iv) There is no place in Scripture that

speaks of the death of Christ as
purchasing a stay of execution for all


(d) #4
This related to yet another universal benefit.
Rom. 14:9, "For to this end Christ died and lived
again, that He might be Lord of both the dead
and the living." By His death and Resurrection,
Christ is now Lord of all men, both the elect and
the reprobate. This is also brought out in Phil.
2:5-11. Because of Christs work, and not simply
because of His person and dual nature, He is
Lord of all - believer and unbeliever.
(i) Christ is Lord of All
Yes, it is true that as a result of the
death of Jesus Christ, the God-man is
now Lord of all. Yet, I fail to see how this
is a benefit for the non-elect. The nonelect were condemned before the death
of Christ as well as after the death of
Christ. Romans 1:1:18-20, Romans 2:1216
(ii) It is not as though the Son of God
was not Lord of all before his incarnation
and death on the cross. He has always
been the Sovereign of Heaven and earth,
for he has always been fully God. It was
as a result of the cross that the Son, as
the God-man, became the King of Kings
and Lord of Lords.
John 1:1-5, Hebrews 1:5

(e) #5
Lastly, Calvinists usually ground the universal
offer of the Gospel in the infinite sufficiency of
the atonement. This is why the strictest views of
the atonement tend to restrict or even deny the
free offer, as in Hyper-Calvinism. Because there
is more than enough food on the table, all are
invited to partake, even though only a few do.
(More will be said on this point later). Some
Calvinists mention other benefits in relation to
the special benefits for the elect only.
(i) Free Offer of the Gospel
The death of Christ was a perfect death
which could have been for all men if the
Father had decided to use it in that way.
(ii) The problem of man being obligated
to do something that he cannot do does
not only apply to the offer of the gospel, it

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also applies to the depravity of man. If

every man not only cannot come to
Christ, but does not want to come to
Christ, then how can any offer of the
gospel be a sincere offer? The Scriptural
answer is that God is not like us, God
does determine all things and man is
responsible for his eternal destiny.
1 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 9:19

Exurcus: The Writings of John Calvin Which

Support Amyraldianism
Advanced Information
1. Now Paul assumes it as an axiom which is received among all the pious....that the whole human race is obnoxious
to a curse, and therefore that the holy people are blessed only through the grace of the Mediator...I therefore thus
interpret the present place; that God promises to his servant Abram that blessing which shall afterwards flow down
to all people. Comment on Genesis 12:3
2. Christ was vividly represented in the person of the high priest...[who] bore the people itself upon his shoulders
and before his breast, in such a manner that in the person of one, all might be presented familiarly before God.
Comment on Exodus 39:1
3. We have stated elsewhere why the priests were to be dressed in garments different from others, since he who is
the mediator between God and men should be free from all impurity and stain...Thus then the holy fathers were
reminded, that under the image of a mortal man, another Mediator was promised, who, for the reconciliation of the
human race, should present Himself before God with perfect and more than angelic purity. Comment on Leviticus
4. Christ...the Lamb of God, whose offering blotted out the sins of the world...Comment on Leviticus 16:7
5. God could bear no defect in the priests; it follows, then, that a man of angelic purity was to be expected, who
should reconcile God to the world. Comment on Leviticus 21:17
6. ...the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation,
is descended from Adam, the common father of us all. Institutes, II. xiii. 3
7. First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he
has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Institutes, III. i. 1
8. It is true that Saint John saith generally, that [God] loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offereth himself
generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer...Thus we see three degrees of the love that God hath
shewed us in our Lord Jesus Christ. The first is in respect of the redemption that was purchased in the person of him
that gave himself to death for us, and became accursed to reconcile us to God his Father. That is the first degree of
love, which extendeth to all men, inasmuch as Jesus Christ reacheth out his arms to call and allure all men both great
and small, and to win them to him. But there is a special love for those to whom the gospel is preached: which is that
God testifieth unto them that he will make them partakers of the benefit that was purchased for them by the death
and passion of his Son. And forasmuch as we be of that number, therefore we are double bound already to our God:
here are two bonds which hold us as it were strait tied unto him. Now let us come to the third bond, which dependeth
upon the third love that God sheweth us: which is that he not only causeth the gospel to be preached unto us, but
also maketh us to feel the power thereof, so as we know him to be our Father and Saviour, not doubting but that our
sins are forgiven us for our Lord Jesus Christ'
s sake, who bringeth us the gift of the Holy Ghost, to reform us after
his own image. Sermons on Deuteronomy, p. 167
9. ...our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the life and salvation of the world,... Sermons on 2 Samuel, p. 66

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10. For instance, let me think of myself in this way:...that God has bestowed grace upon the human race (in
general) but that he has shown his grace to me (in particular), with the result that I am especially obligated to him.
Sermons on 2 Samuel, p. 357
11. So, as it says in the Psalm [Ps. 51?], our Lord Jesus Christ has paid the debts of all sinners. That is what I have
mentioned from Isaiah: that all the chastisements were laid upon him (Isa. 53:4). What is this chastisement, if not
satisfaction for all the sins that we have committed? Sermons on 2 Samuel, p. 576
12. True it is that the effect of [Christ'
s] death comes not to the whole world. Nevertheless, forasmuch as it is not in
us to discern between the righteous and the sinners that go to destruction, but that Jesus Christ has suffered his death
and passion as well for them as for us, therefore it behoves us to labour to bring every man to salvation, that the
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be available to them. Sermons on Job, p. 548 (later interpolation deleted)
13. Let us fall down before the face of our good God...that it may please Him to grant His grace, not only to us, but
also to all people and nations of the earth, bringing back all poor ignorant souls from the miserable bondage of error
and darkness, to the right way of salvation... Sermons on Job, p. 751 (Calvin'
s usual end of sermon prayer).
14. The sinner, if he would find mercy, must look to the sacrifice of Christ, which expiated the sins of the world,
glancing, at the same time, for the confirmation of his faith, to Baptism and the Lord'
s Supper; for it were vain to
imagine that God, the Judge of the world, would receive us again into his favour in any other way than through a
satisfaction made to his justice. Comment on Psalm 51:9
15. Diligent as [David] was, therefore, in the practice of sacrifice, resting his whole dependence upon the
satisfaction of Christ, who atoned for the sins of the world, he could yet honestly declare that he brought nothing to
God in the shape of compensation, and that he trusted entirely to a gratuitous reconciliation. Comment on Psalm
16. Hitherto he addressed the Jews alone, as if to them alone salvation belonged, but now he extends his discourse
farther. He invites the whole world to the hope of salvation, and at the same time brings a charge of ingratitude
against all the nations, who, being devoted to their own errors, purposely avoided, as it were, the light of life; for
what could be more base than to reject deliberately their own salvation?...the Lord...invites all without exception to
come to him...Now, we must '
look to him'with the eye of faith, so as to embrace the salvation which is exhibited to
all through Christ; for '
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
may not perish.'(John 3:16). Comment on Isaiah 45:22
17. Yet I approve of the ordinary reading, that he alone bore the punishment of many, because on him was laid the
guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the
Romans, that '
many'sometimes denotes '
. Comment on Isaiah 53:12
18. Yet I approve of the common reading, that He alone bore the punishment of many, because the guilt of the
whole world was laid upon Him. It is evident from other passages...that '
many'sometimes denotes '
...That, then,
is how our Lord Jesus bore the sins and iniquities of many. But in fact, this word '
many'is often as good as
equivalent to '
. And indeed, our Lord Jesus was offered to all the world. For it is not speaking of three or four
when it says: '
God so loved the world, that He spared not His only Son.'But yet we must notice what the Evangelist
adds in this passage: '
That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but obtain eternal life.'Our Lord Jesus
suffered for all and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation in Him.
Unbelievers who turn away from Him and who deprive themselves of Him by their malice are today doubly
culpable. For how will they excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which they could share by faith?
And let us realize that if we come flocking to our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall not hinder one another and prevent
Him being sufficient for each of us...Let us not fear to come to Him in great numbers, and each one of us bring his
neighbours, seeing that He is sufficient to save us all. Sermons on Isaiah 53, pp. 136, 141-4
19. ...Not only were the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ sufficient for the salvation of the world, but that
God will make them efficacious and that we shall see the fruit of them and even feel and experience it. Sermons on
Isaiah 53, p. 116
20. For God, who is perfect righteousness, cannot love the iniquity which he sees in all. All of us, therefore, have
that within which deserves the hatred of God...Our acquittal is in this - that the guilt which made us liable to
punishment was transferred to the head of the Son of God [Isa. 53:12]...For, were not Christ a victim, we could have
no sure conviction of his being...our substitute-ransom and propitiation. Institutes II. xvi. 3, 5, 6
21. Now we must see how God wishes all to be converted...But we must remark that God puts on a twofold
character: for he here wishes to be taken at his word. As I have already said, the Prophet does not here dispute with
subtlety about his incomprehensible plans, but wishes to keep our attention close to God'
s word. Now what are the
contents of this word? The law, the prophets, and the gospel. Now all are called to repentance, and the hope of
salvation is promised them when they repent: this is true, since God rejects no returning sinner: he pardons all

Page 199 of 205

without exception; meanwhile, this will of God which he sets forth in his word does not prevent him from
decreeing before the world was created what he would do with every individual... Comment on Ezekiel 18:23
22. I contend that, as the prophet [Ezekiel] is exhorting to penitence, it is no wonder that he pronounces God willing
that all be saved. But the mutual relation between threats and promises shows such forms of speech to be
conditional...So again...the promises which invite all men to salvation...do not simply and positively declare what
God has decreed in His secret counsel but what he is prepared to do for all who are brought to faith and
repentance...Now this is not contradictory of His secret counsel, by which he determined to convert none but His
elect. He cannot rightly on this account be thought variable, because as lawgiver He illuminates all with the external
doctrine of life. But in the other sense, he brings to life whom He will, as Father regenerating by the Spirit only His
sons. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp. 105-6
23. ...God had chosen the family of Abraham, that the world'
s redeemer might be born of it...although we know that
from the time that God made a covenant with Abraham, the Redeemer was particularly promised to his seed, we also
know that from the very fall of man He was needed by all, as indeed He was from that time destined for all the
world...It would have done us no good for Christ to have been given by the Father as the author of salvation, if He
had not been available to all without distinction...We should know that salvation is openly displayed to all the
human race, for in all reality He is called son of Noah and son of Adam... Comment on Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3: 2338
24. He says, For...he...shall save his people from their sins...We must determine that the whole human race was
appointed to destruction, since its salvation depends on Christ...Doubtless, by Christ'
s people the angel intends the
Jews, over whom He was set as Head and King, but as soon after the nations were to be ingrafted into the race of
Abraham, this promise of salvation is extended openly to all who gather by faith into the one body of the Church.
Comment on Matthew 1:21
25. When the Father calls Him the Beloved...He declares that He is the Mediator in whom He reconciles the world
to Himself. Comment on Matthew 17:5
26. From this it follows that our reconciliation with God is free, for the only price paid for it is Christ'
Many'is used, not for a definite number, but for a large number, in that He sets Himself over against all
others. And this is the meaning also in Rom. 5:15, where Paul is not talking of a part of mankind but of the whole
human race. Comment on Matthew 20:28
27. Seeing that in His Word He calls all alike to salvation, and this is the object of preaching, that all should take
refuge in His faith and protection, it is right to say that He wishes all to gather to Him. Now the nature of the Word
shows us that here there is no description of the secret counsel of God - just His wishes. Certainly those whom He
wishes effectively to gather, He draws inwardly by His Spirit, and calls them not merely by man'
s outward voice. If
anyone objects that it is absurd to split God'
s will, I answer that this is exactly our belief, that His will is one and
undivided: but because our minds cannot plumb the profound depths of His secret election to suit our infirmity, the
will of God is set before us as double. Comment on Matthew 23:37
28. ...The Son of God went to face death of His own will, to reconcile the world to the Father...the spontaneous
sacrifice by which all the world'
s transgressions were blotted out... Comment on Matthew 26:1-2
29. [Christ'
s] grave would be of sweet savour to breathe life and salvation upon all the world. Comment on Matthew
30. Christ offered Himself as a Victim for the salvation of the human race. Comment on Matthew 26:14-20
31. ...The sacrifice [of Christ] was ordained by the eternal decree of God, to expiate the sins of the world. Comment
on Matthew 26:24
32. [Christ was] burdened with the sins of the whole world... Comment on Matthew 26:39
33. Christ...won acquittal for the whole human race. Comment on Matthew 27:12
34. God had ordained [Christ] to be the...(sacrificial outcast) for the expiation of the world'
s sins. Comment on
Matthew 27:15
35. The word many does not mean a part of the world only, but the whole human race: he contrasts many with one,
as if to say that he would not be Redeemer of one man, but would meet death to deliver many from their accursed
guilt...So when we come to the holy table not only should the general idea come to our mind that the world is
redeemed by the blood of Christ, but also each should reckon to himself that his own sins are covered. Comment on
Mark 14:24
36. Happy Mary, to have embraced in her heart the promise of God, to have conceived and brought into the world
for herself and for all - salvation...God offers His benefits to all without distinction, but faith opens our arms to draw
them to our bosom: lack of faith lets them fall, before they reach us. Comment on Luke 1:45

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37. Though the angel only addresses the shepherds, he means that the message of salvation which he brings them
extends farther, not for their ears alone, but for others also to hear. Understand that the joy was open to all the
people, for it was offered to all without distinction. For He is not the God of this one or of that, but He had promised
Christ to the whole family of Abraham. That, in great measure, the Jews have lost the joy that was theirs to hold,
resulted from their failure to believe. Today also, God invites all men alike to salvation through the Gospel, but the
s ingratitude makes only a few enjoy the grace, which is set out equally for all. While the joy, then, has been
confined to a small number, in respect of God, it is called universal. And though the angel is speaking only of the
chosen people, yet now with the partition wall gone the same tidings are presented to the whole human race.
Comment on Luke 2:10
38. Since Christ desired nothing more than to do the work appointed Him by the Father and knew that the purpose of
His calling was to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He wished His coming to be the salvation of all. This
was why He was moved by compassion and wept over the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. For when He
considered that it had been divinely chosen as the sacred abode, in which should dwell the covenant of eternal
salvation, the sanctuary from which salvation should come forth for all the world, He could not help grieving bitterly
over its destruction. Comment on Luke 19:41
39. First, whence could that confidence in pardon have sprung, if [the thief] did not sense in Christ'
s death...a
sacrifice of sweet odour, able to expiate the sins of the world? Comment on Luke 23:42
40. [Christ] must be Redeemer of the world...He was there, as it were, in the place of all cursed ones and of all
transgressors, and of those who had deserved eternal death. Sermons on Christ'
s Passion, p. 95
41. [God] willed that [Christ] be the sacrifice to wipe out the sins of the world...Sermons on Christ'
s Passion, p. 123
42. ...Our Lord made effective for [the pardoned thief on the cross] His death and passion which He suffered and
endured for all mankind... Sermons on Christ'
s Passion, pp. 151.
43. The Lord Jesus [was] found before the judgement-seat of God in the name of all poor sinners (for He was there,
as it were, having to sustain all our burdens)...The death and passion of our Lord Jesus...served...to wipe away the
iniquities of the world... Sermons on Christ'
s Passion, pp. 155-6
44. And when he says the sin of the world he extends this kindness indiscriminately to the whole human race, that
the Jews might not think the Redeemer has been sent to them alone...John, therefore, by speaking of the sin of the
world in general, wanted to make us feel our own misery and exhort us to seek the remedy. Now it is for us to
embrace the blessing offered to all, that each may make up his mind that there is nothing to hinder him from finding
reconciliation in Christ if only, led by faith, he comes to Him. Comment on John 1:29
45. Christ...was offered as our Saviour...Christ brought life because the heavenly Father does not wish the human
race that He loves to perish...But we should remember...that the secret love in which our heavenly Father embraced
us to Himself is, since it flows from His eternal good pleasure, precedent to all other causes; but the grace which He
wants to be testified to us and by which we are stirred to the hope of salvation, begins with the reconciliation
provided through Christ...Thus before we can have any feeling of His Fatherly kindness, the blood of Christ must
intercede to reconcile God to us...And He has used a general term [whosoever], both to invite indiscriminately all to
share in life and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the significance of the term '
world'which He
had used before. For although there is nothing in the world deserving of God'
s favour, He nevertheless shows He is
favourable to the whole world when He calls all without exception to the faith of Christ, which is indeed an entry
into life.
Moreover, let us remember that although life is promised generally to all who believe in Christ, faith is not common
to all. Christ is open to all and displayed to all, but God opens the eyes only of the elect that they may seek Him by
faith...And whenever our sins press hard on us, whenever Satan would drive us to despair, we must hold up this
shield, that God does not want us to be overwhelmed in everlasting destruction, for He has ordained His Son to be
the Saviour of the world. Comment on John 3:16
46. As also it is said in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him to
death for our sakes. Sermons on Christ'
s Passion, p. 48.
47. Again, when they proclaim that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and the Christ, they have undoubtedly learned
this from hearing Him...And He declared that the salvation He had brought was common to the whole world, so that
they should understand more easily that it belonged to them also. Comment on John 4:42
48. It is no small consolation to godly teachers that, although the larger part of the world does not listen to Christ, He
has His sheep whom He knows and by whom He is also known. They must do their utmost to bring the whole world
into Christ'
s fold, but when they do not succeed as they would wish, they must be satisfied with the single thought
that those who are sheep will be collected together by their work. Comment on John 10:27

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49. Christ...offers salvation to all indiscriminately and stretches out His arms to embrace all, that all may be the
more encouraged to repent. And yet He heightens by an important detail the crime of rejecting an invitation so kind
and gracious; for it is as if He had said: '
See, I have come to call all; and forgetting the role of judge, my one aim is
to attract and rescue from destruction those who already seem doubly ruined.'Hence no man is condemned for
despising the Gospel save he who spurns the lovely news of salvation and deliberately decides to bring destruction
on himself. Comment on John 12:47
50. For [by Christ'
s death] we know that by the expiation of sins the world has been reconciled to God... Comment
on John 17:1
51. He openly declares that He does not pray for the world, for He is solicitous only for His own flock [the disciples]
which He received from the Father'
s hand. But this might seem absurd; for no better rule of prayer can be found than
to follow Christ as our Guide and Teacher. But we are commanded to pray for all, and Christ Himself afterwards
prayed for all indiscriminately, '
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'I reply, the prayers which we
utter for all are still limited to God'
s elect. We ought to pray that this and that and every man may be saved and so
embrace the whole human race, because we cannot yet distinguish the elect from the reprobate...we pray for the
salvation of all whom we know to have been created in God'
s image and who have the same nature as ourselves; and
we leave to God'
s judgement those whom He knows to be reprobate. Comment on John 17:9
52. ...Moreover, we offer up our prayers unto Thee, O most Gracious God and most merciful Father, for all men in
general, that as Thou art pleased to be acknowledged the Saviour of the whole human race by the redemption
accomplished by Jesus Christ Thy Son, so those who are still strangers to the knowledge of him, and immersed in
darkness, and held captive by ignorance and error, may, by Thy Holy Spirit shining upon them, and by Thy gospel
sounding in their ears, be brought back to the right way of salvation, which consists in knowing Thee the true God
and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent... Forms of Prayer for the Church Tracts, Vol. 2, p. 102.
53. The draught appointed to Christ was to suffer the death of the cross for the reconciliation of the world. Comment
on John 18:11
54. And surely there is nothing that ought to be more effective in spurring on pastors to devote themselves more
eagerly to their duty than if they reflect that it is to themselves that the price of the blood of Christ has been
entrusted. For it follows from this, that unless they are faithful in putting out their labour on the Church, not only are
they made accountable for lost souls, but they are guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the sacred blood of
the Son of God, and have made useless the redemption acquired by Him, as far as they are concerned. But it is a
hideous and monstrous crime if, by our idleness, not only the death of Christ becomes worthless, but also the fruit of
it is destroyed and perishes... Comment on Acts 20:28
55. For we ought to have a zeal to have the Church of God enlarged, and increase rather than diminish. We ought to
have a care also of our brethren, and to be sorry to see them perish: for it is no small matter to have the souls perish
which were bought by the blood of Christ. Sermons on Timothy & Titus, p. 817
56. Because God does not work effectually in all men, but only when the Spirit shines in our hearts as the inward
teacher, he adds to every one that believeth. The Gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but its power is
not universally manifest...When, therefore, the Gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is
rightly termed the doctrine of salvation. For Christ is there offered, whose proper office is to save that which had
been lost, and those who refuse to be saved by Him shall find Him their Judge. Comment on Romans 1:16
57. Faith is the beginning of godliness, from which all those for whom Christ died were estranged...[God] loved us
of His own good pleasure, as John tells us (John 3:16)...We have been reconciled to God by the death of Christ, Paul
holds, because His was an expiatory sacrifice by which the world was reconciled to God... Comment on Romans 5:
58. Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all.
Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all
men, yet not all receive him. Comment on Romans 5:18
59. ...the price of the blood of Christ is wasted when a weak conscience is wounded, for the most contemptible
brother has been redeemed by the blood of Christ. It is intolerable, therefore, that he should be destroyed for the
gratification of the belly. Comment on Romans 14:15
60. For one can imagine nothing more despicable than this, that while Christ did not hesitate to die so that the weak
might not perish, we, on the other hand, do not care a straw for the salvation of the men and women who have been
redeemed at such a price. This is a memorable saying, from which we learn how precious the salvation of our
brothers ought to be to us, and not only that of all, but of each individual, in view of the fact that the blood of Christ
was poured out for each one...If the soul of every weak person costs the price of the blood of Christ, anyone, who,
for the sake of a little bit of meat, is responsible for the rapid return to death of a brother redeemed by Christ, shows

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just how little the blood of Christ means to him. Contempt like that is therefore an open insult to Christ. Comment
on 1 Corinthians 8:11
61. ...God was in Christ and then that by this intervention He was reconciling the world to Himself...Although
s coming had its source in the overflowing love of God for us, yet, until men know that God has been
propitiated by a mediator, there cannot but be on their side a separation which prevents them from having access to
God...[Paul] says again that a commission to offer this reconciliation to us has been given to ministers of the
Gospel...He says that as He once suffered, so now every day He offers the fruit of His sufferings to us through the
Gospel which He has given to the world as a sure and certain record of His completed work of reconciliation. Thus
the duty of ministers is to apply to us the fruit of Christ'
s death. Comment on 2 Corinthians 5:19
62. ...when Christ appeared, salvation was sent to the whole world... Comment on 2 Corinthians 6:2
63. Pighius speaks...that Christ, the Redeemer of the whole world, commands the Gospel to be preached
promiscuously to all does not seem congruent with special election. But the Gospel is an embassy of peace by which
the world is reconciled to God, as Paul teaches (2 Cor. 5:18); and on the same authority it is announced that those
who hear are saved. I answer briefly that Christ was so ordained for the salvation of the whole world that He might
save those who are given to Him by the Father, that He might be their life whose head He is, and that He might
receive those into participation of His benefits whom God by His gratuitous good pleasure adopted as heirs for
Himself. Which of these things can be denied?...Even those opposed to me will concede that the universality of the
grace of Christ is not better judged than from the preaching of the Gospel. But the solution of the difficulty lies in
seeing how the doctrine of the Gospel offers salvation to all. That it is salvific for all I do not deny. But the question
is whether the Lord in His counsel here destines salvation equally for all. All are equally called to penitence and
faith; the same mediator is set forth for all to reconcile them to the Father - so much is evident. But it is equally
evident that nothing can be perceived except by faith, that Paul'
s word should be fulfilled: the Gospel is the power of
God for salvation to all that believe (Rom. 1:16). But what can it be for others but a savour of death to death? as he
elsewhere says (2 Cor. 2:16).
Further, since it is clear that out of the many whom God calls by His external voice very few believe, if I prove that
the greater part remain unbelieving because God honours with illumination none but those whom He will, then I
draw another conclusion. The mercy of God is offered equally to both kinds of men, so that those who are not
inwardly taught are rendered only inexcusable.... Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p. 102-3
64. It is not enough to regard Christ as having died for the salvation of the world; each man must claim the effect
and possession of this grace for himself personally. Comment on Galatians 2:20
65. God commends to us the salvation of all men without exception, even as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole
world. Comment on Galatians 5:12
66. And he contenteth not himself to say, that Christ gave himself for the world in common, for that had been but a
slender saying: but (sheweth that) every of us must apply to himself particularly, the virtue of the death and passion
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas it is said that the Son of God was crucified, we must not only think that the same
was done for the redemption of the world: but also every of us must on his own behalf join himself to our Lord Jesus
Christ, and conclude, It is for me that he hath suffered...But when we once know that the thing was done for the
redemption of the whole world, pertaineth to every of us severally: it behoveth every of us to say also on his own
behalf, The Son of God hath loved me so dearly, that he hath given himself to death for me...we be very wretches if
we accept not such a benefit when it is offered to us...Lo here a warrant for our salvation, so as we ought to think
ourselves thoroughly assured of it. Sermons on Galatians, p. 106-7
67. Christ is in a general view the Redeemer of the world, yet his death and passion are of no advantage to any but
such as receive that which St Paul shows here. And so we see that when we once know the benefits brought to us by
Christ, and which he daily offers us by his gospel, we must also be joined to him by faith. Sermons on Ephesians, p.
68. Also we ought to have good care of those that have been redeemed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we
see souls which have been so precious to God go to perdition, and we make nothing of it, that is to despise the blood
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sermons on Ephesians, p. 521
69. For the wretched unbelievers and the ignorant have great need to be pleaded for with God; behold them on the
way to perdition. If we saw a beast at the point of perishing, we would have pity on it. And what shall we do when
we see souls in peril, which are so precious before God, as he has shown in that he has ransomed them with the
blood of his own Son. If we see then a poor soul going thus to perdition, ought we not to be moved with compassion
and kindness, and should we not desire God to apply the remedy? So then, St. Paul'
s meaning in this passage is not
that we should let the wretched unbelievers alone without having any care for them. We should pray generally for all
men... Sermons on Ephesians, p. 684-5

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70. He says that this redemption was procured by the blood of Christ, for by the sacrifice of His death all the sins
of the world have been expiated. Comment on Colossians 1:14
71. For although it is true that we must not try to decide what is God'
s will by prying into His secret counsel, when
He has made it plain to us by external signs, yet that does not mean that God has not determined secretly within
Himself what He wishes to do with every single man.
But I pass from that point which is not relevant to the present context, for the apostle'
s meaning here is simply that
no nation of the earth and no rank of society is excluded from salvation, since God wills to offer the Gospel to all
without exception...For as there is one God, the Creator and Father of all, so, he declares, there is one Mediator,
through whom access to God is not given only to one nation, or to few men of a particular class, but to all, for the
benefit of the sacrifice, by which He has expiated for our sins, applies to all...The universal term '
all'must always be
referred to classes of men but never to individuals. It is as if he had said, '
Not only Jews, but also Greeks, not only
people of humble rank but also princes have been redeemed by the death of Christ.'Since therefore He intends the
benefit of His death to be common to all, those who hold a view that would exclude any from the hope of salvation
do Him an injury. Comment on 1 Timothy 2:3-5
72. ...no one unless deprived of sense and judgement can believe that salvation is ordained in the secret counsel of
God equally for all...Who does not see that the reference [1 Tim. 2:4] is to orders of men rather than individual men?
Nor indeed does the distinction lack substantial ground: what is meant is not individuals of nations but nations of
individuals. At any rate, the context makes it clear that no other will of God is intended than that which appears in
the external preaching of the Gospel. Thus Paul means that God wills the salvation of all whom He mercifully
invites by the preaching of Christ. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p. 109
73. So then, seeing it is God his will that all men should be partakers of that salvation which he hath sent in the
person of his only begotten Son...yet we must mark that Saint Paul speaketh not here of every particular man, but of
all sorts, and of all people: Therefore, when he saith, that God will have all men to be saved, we must not think that
he speaketh here of Peter, or John, but his meaning is this, that whereas in times past he chose out one certain people
for himself, he meaneth now to show mercy to all the world...but when Jesus Christ came to be a common Saviour
for all in general, he offered the grace of God his father, to the end that all might receive it...Let us see now, whether
God will draw all the world to [the Gospel] or not. No, no: for then had our Lord Jesus Christ said in vain No man
can come to me, unless God my Father teach him (Jn. 6:44)...
It followeth then, that before the world was made, (as Saint Paul saith in the first to the Ephesians) God chose such
as it pleased him: and it pertaineth not to us to know, why this man, more than that man, we know not the
reason...Saint Paul speaketh not here of every particular man, (as we shewed already) but he speaketh of all
people...now God showeth himself a Saviour of all the world...Saint Paul speaketh not in this place, of the strait
counsell of God, neither that he meaneth to lead us to this everlasting election & choice which was before the
beginning of the world, but only sheweth us what God his will and pleasure is, so far forth as we may know it. Truth
it is, that God changeth not, neither hath he two wills, neither does he use any counterfeit dealing, as though he
meant one thing, but would not have it so. And yet doth the Scripture speak unto us after two sorts touching the will
of God...God doeth exhort all men generally, thereby we may judge, that it is the will of God, that all men should be
saved, as he saith also by the Prophet Ezekiel I will not the death of a sinner, but that he turn himself and live (Ezek.
18:23)...For Jesus Christ is not a Saviour of three or four, but he offereth himself to all...And is he not the Saviour of
the whole world as well? Is Jesus Christ come to be the Mediator between two or three men only? No, no: but he is
the Mediator between God and men... Sermons on Timothy and Titus, pp. 149-60
74. Repentance and faith must needs go together...God receiveth us to mercy, and daily pardoneth our faults through
his free goodness: and that we be justified because Jesus Christ hath reconciled him unto us, inasmuch as he
accepteth us for righteous though we be wretched sinners: in preaching this, it behoveth us to add, how it is upon
condition that we return unto God: as was spoken of heretofore by the prophets. Sermons on Timothy and Titus, pp.
75. Indeed the death of Christ was life for the whole world... Comment on Hebrews 8:2
76. He suffered death in the common way of men, but He made divine atonement for the sins of the world as a
Priest. Comment on Hebrews 8:4
77. To bear the sins means to free those who have sinned from their guilt by his satisfaction. He says many meaning
all, as in Rom. 5:15. It is of course certain that not all enjoy the fruits of Christ'
s death, but this happens because
their unbelief hinders them. Comment on Hebrews 9:27
78. He brought His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary in order to atone for the sins of the world. Comment on
Hebrews 13:12

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79. So we must beware, or souls redeemed by Christ may perish by our carelessness, for their salvation to some
degree was put into our hands by God. Comment on James 5:20
80. It was not a common or a small favour that God put off the manifestation of Christ to their time, when He had
ordained Him by His eternal counsel for the salvation of the world...a remedy for mankind...He ordained that Christ
should be the Redeemer, who would deliver the lost race of man from ruin...[but] the manifestation of Christ does
not refer to all indiscriminately, but belongs only to those whom He illumines by the Gospel. Comment on 1 Peter
81. We have the Gospel in its entirety, when we know that He who had long been promised as Redeemer came
down from heaven, put on our flesh, lived in the world, experienced death and then rose again; and secondly when
we see the purpose and fruits of all these things in the fact that He was God with us, that He gave us in Himself a
sure pledge of our adoption, that by the grace of His Spirit He has cleansed us from the stains of our carnal iniquities
and consecrated us to be temples to God, that He has raised us from the depths to heaven, that by His sacrificial
death He has made atonement for the sins of the world, that He has reconciled us to the Father, and that He has been
the source of righteousness and life for us. Whoever holds to these things has rightly grasped the Gospel. Comment
on 2 Peter 1:16
82. Christ redeemed us to have us as a people separated from all the iniquities of the world, devoted to holiness and
purity. Those who throw over the traces and plunge themselves into every kind of licence are not unjustly said to
deny Christ, by whom they were redeemed. Comment on 2 Peter 2:1
83. This is His wondrous love towards the human race, that He desires all men to be saved, and is prepared to bring
even the perishing to safety...It could be asked here, if God does not want any to perish, why do so many in fact
perish? My reply is that no mention is made here of the secret decree of God by which the wicked are doomed to
their own ruin, but only of His loving-kindness as it is made known to us in the Gospel. There God stretches out His
hand to all alike, but He only grasps those (in such a way as to lead to Himself) whom He has chosen before the
foundation of the world. Comment on 2 Peter 3:9
84. He put this in for amplification, that believers might be convinced that the expiation made by Christ extends to
all who by faith embrace the Gospel. But here the question may be asked as to how the sins of the whole world have
been expiated. I pass over the dreams of the fanatics, who make this a reason to extend salvation to all the reprobate
and even to Satan himself. Such a monstrous idea is not worth refuting. Those who want to avoid this absurdity have
said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world but effectively only for the elect. This solution has
commonly prevailed in the schools. Although I allow the truth of this, I deny that it fits the passage. For John'
purpose was only to make this blessing common to the whole church. Therefore, under the word '
all'he does not
include the reprobate, but refers to all who would believe and those who were scattered through various regions of
the earth. For, as is meet, the grace of Christ is really made clear when it is declared to be the only salvation of the
world. Comment on 1 John 2:2
85. Georgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world;
and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world.
For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the
elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me.
Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John [1 Jn. 2:2] extends to them the expiation wrought by
s death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is
incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand,
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn. 3:15). For the present question is
not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If
possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the
number of God'
s children who will be a partaker of Christ. The evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ as
nothing else than by His death to gather the children of God into one (Jn. 11:52). Hence, we conclude that, though
reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the
society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul'
testimony (2 Cor. 5:18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately
on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp. 148-9
86. He again shows the cause of Christ'
s coming and His office when he says that He was sent to be the propitiation
for sins...For propitiation strictly refers to the sacrifice of His death. Hence we see that to Christ alone belongs this
honour of expiating for the sins of the world and taking away the enmity between God and us. Comment on 1 John

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87. Certainly, in 2 Pet. 2:1, there is reference only to Christ, and He is called Master there. Denying...Christ, he
says, of those who have been redeemed by His blood, and now enslave themselves again to the devil, frustrating (as
best they may) that incomparable boon. Comment on Jude 4
88. [Him God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for
the sins of the whole world...But though he died for all, all do not receive the benefit of his death, but those only to
whom the merit of his passion is communicated... (Articles III, IV of the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent)]
The third and fourth heads I do not touch... Antidote to the Council of Trent, Tracts, Vol. 3, pp. 93, 109
89. ...Christ, who is the salvation of the world,... Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Tracts, Vol. 2, p. 47
90. I John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, weakened by many illnesses...thank God
that he has not only shown mercy to me, his poor creature...and suffered me in all sins and weaknesses, but what is
more than that, he has made me a partaker of his grace to serve him through my work...I confess to live and die in
this faith which he has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than his predestination upon which my
entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which he has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ, and accept the
merits of his suffering and dying that through him all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg him to wash me and
cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer, as it was shed for all poor sinners so that I, when I appear before
his face, may bear his likeness. Calvin'
s Last Will (April 25, 1564) Letters of John Calvin,