The Son of God who became man, incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and suffered and died for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, and will return to judge the world. All who believe in Him and accept Him as their Savior are the children of God and receive eternal life.
Christ is referred to by many different names in the Bible. These names are not mere titles, but accurate descriptions of His person. Jesus (derived via Gk. from Heb.) means Savior (Mt 1:21; cf. Acts 4:12). Christ (derived from Gk.; Messiah, equivalent in meaning, is derived from Heb.) means Anointed. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism (Jn 1:32, 33; Is. 11:2). Messiah is the name the Jews used after the Babylonian Captivity in referring to the Savior who was to come. (Jn 1:41; 4:25)
I. Person of Christ. Christ Jesus is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.
A. Deity. So completely is the doctrine of Jesus' deity the foundation of the Christian faith, that Jesus recognizes only that faith which acknowledges Him as the Son of God (Mt 16:16). Christ is at times identified with the Angel* of the Lord, Jehovah, Lord in the OT (cf. 1 Co 10:4 with Ex 13:21; 14:19; Jn 12:41 with Is 6:15; Heb 12:1826 with Ps 68:7, 8, 17, 18). The NT naturally provides clearer evidence of the deity of Christ. The Gospel of John was written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jn 20:31). Because of the unity of His essence with the Father, Jesus could say: I and My Father are one. (Jn 10:30; cf. Jn 14:9)
Christ is begotten or born of the Father from eternity (Jn 1:14, 18; Ro 1:3; 8:32; 1 Jn 1:7; 1 Ptr 1:3; 1 Th 1:1; Heb 1:5; Mi 5:2; Ps 2:7). The words this day (Ps 2:7) refer to the eternal day of the Father. In His eternal life the Father generated the Son, who is also eternal.
Those who deny the deity of Christ (Cerinthus, Arius, some modern theologians) reject the foundation of the Christian faith.
B. Humanity. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary (Is 7:14; Mt 1:2325; Lk 1:35; Heb 2:14; Mt 1:16). He was miraculously (Lk 1:37) made of a woman (Gl 4:4) as had been prophesied (Gn 3:15). The conception of Jesus was a sinless conception (Lk 1:35). The question of how a sinless nature could originate out of the sinful blood of Mary caused RCs to evolve the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary (see Roman Catholic Confessions, C), and others to hold that God preserved a sinless flesh from the time of Adam (both ideas are contrary to Scripture, Jn 3:6; Ro 5:18). M. Chemnitz* held that the Son of God assumed our human nature, which in conception was cleansed from sin. (De Peccato Originali, in Enchiridion; cf. WA 44, 311314)
By His birth Jesus became a man in the full sense of the word. He took part of the flesh and blood of children (Heb 2:14; Ro 9:5; Jn 1:14), had a real body and soul and a human will, ate, drank, grew weary, and died a real death (cf. WA 52, 815816). Only in one respect did Jesus differ from His brethren: He was without sin (original as well as actual, Heb 7:26; Ro 5:18, 19; 2 Co 5:21) and hence free from the germ of death (Ro 6:23; Jn 10:18). The humanity of Christ is essential for our salvation, for the Redeemer of the world had to assume the guilt and penalty of the Law which was binding on all men; this was possible only if He became like us in all things, in a perfect human nature. (Gl 4:4)
Though otherwise a human nature is also a person, it is peculiar to the human nature of Christ that it does not constitute a separate being and never existed by itself. The human nature did not receive the divine, but the divine assumed the human.
C. Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person (Jn 1:14; 1 Ti 2:5), in which person the human nature and the divine nature are united in the most intimate communion (1 Ti 3:16; Ro 1:3, 4). This uniting of God and man in one being is called the personal union (unio personalis) and is expressed in the axiom: Neither is the flesh without the Word, nor the Word without the flesh.
But despite the intimacy of the union of the 2 natures in Christ, each nature remains intact, just as soul and body remain what they are, though united in 1 person (Cl 2:9). There is no commingling of the natures. By the union of God and man in Christ there did not originate a 3d nature, the divine-human nature. Because the 2 natures are so closely conjoined in Christ, the dogmaticians speak of propositiones personales (personal propositions, statements that express or describe the personal union). Thus one can say on the basis of Scripture: this man is God; and: this God is man. (Lk 1:31, 32; 2:11; Gl 4:4; Acts 20:28; Ro 5:10; 1 Ti 3:16)
See also Perichoresis.
D. Communication of Attributes. Though in the person of Jesus Christ each nature retains its essenial attributes unchanged and undiminished in kind and number, yet each nature also communicates its attributes to the other in the personal union, so that the divine nature participates in properties of the human nature and vice versa. The FC and most Lutheran dogmaticians distinguish 3 kinds (genera) of Scripture statements teaching the communication of attributes (communicatio idiomatum): genus idiomaticum, genus maiestaticum, and genus apotelesmaticum. See also Idiomata.
1. Scripture passages classified as statements or the genus idiomaticum, the genus of appropriation, are those whereby attributes of either nature are ascribed to the entire person of Christ. (Jn 8:58 and Lk 3:23; Jn 21:17 and Lk 2:52; Cl 1:16 and Jn 18:12)
2. Propositions of the genus maiestaticum, the genus of glory, deal with the divine attributes showing forth the glory of the only begotten of the Father. Though the human nature of the person of Christ remains truly human, yet all divine properties and perfections and the honor and glory pertaining to this divine nature are communicated to His human nature; the divine perfections, which the divine nature has as essential attributes, the human nature has as communicated attributes. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Cl 2:9; Heb 1:3). By virtue of the personal union the Son of Man, while on earth and in conversation with Nicodemus, was also in heaven (Jn 3:13); and now, though ascended into heaven, He, the Son of Man, is also with His church on earth to the end of the world (Mt 28:20). By communication of attributes Jesus was an omnipotent man; in Him there dwelt eternal life, infinite wisdom, immutable holiness and righteousness, boundless power, love indivisible and everlasting as God Himself. Although Christ, according to His human nature, was exposed to temptation, this human nature, by communicated holiness, was not only sinless, but absolutely impeccable.
3. The term genus apotelesmaticum is derived from the Gk. word for the performance of a task. Scripture texts under this head assert a union by which, in official acts, each nature performs what is peculiar to itself with the participation of the other. Not only did the entire person, Christ, die for our sins (1 Co 15:3), but we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Ro 5:10). The obedience of the child Jesus was a fulfillment of the 4th Commandment rendered by the Son of God. He suffered and died; this passion and death was endured by His human nature in communion with His divine nature. The 3d genus, particularly, might appear as an unnecessary burdening of Christian dogmatics. It is, like the Luth. treatment of Christology in gen., occastoned by the Ref. opposition. Ref. theol. separates Christ's actions as man from His actions as the Son of God.
II. The States of Humiliation and Exaltation. 1. For the work of redemption Christ, the God-Man, humbled Himself (Ph 2:8). To humble oneself is to forgo prerogatives which one might rightfully claim. Christ humbled Himself according to the human nature, the divine nature as such not being capable of humiliation or exaltation or any other change of state or condition. Yet it was not the man Christ, independent of the Logos, who humbled Himself (for thus the man Christ never existed) but the indivisible person Jesus Christ. This humiliation did not consist in the assumption of the human nature by the divine nature, for then His exaltation must have consisted in an abandonment of the human nature by the divine nature and a dissolution of the personal union (the error of Gnosticism*); in this case the Son of Man would not now sit at the right hand of the Father Almighty. The humiliation of the God-Man rather was that self-denial by which He forbore using and enjoying fully and constantly the divine majesty communicated to His human nature. When He might have deported Himself as the Lord of Lords, He took upon Himself the humble form of a servant. Being rich, He took upon Himself poverty. He who fed the thousands by the lakeside suffered hunger in the desert and thirst on the cross. It was the Lord of Glory who was crucified, the Prince of Life who was killed. Lastly, the body of the Holy One of God was laid in another man's grave. Through all the yrs. of His humiliation, from the night of His nativity to the night which shrouded Golgotha in darkness at midday, rays and flashes of the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father bore witness to the majesty of the Son of Man. He knew what was in Nathaniel's heart, read the past hist. of the Samaritan woman, and saw the thoughts of the disciples as well as of His enemies. He was in heaven while He taught Nicodemus by night.
The purpose of this humiliation of the God-Man was the redemption of the world. The Holy One of God humiliated Himself and became obedient unto death to make atonement for our rebellious disobedience. God in His righteousness demanded that man should fulfill the Law in perfect love toward God and his neighbor. Hence man's Substitute was made under the Law (Gl 4:4). But as the continued use of His divine majesty would have placed Jesus beyond the power of His human enemies, it was necessary for Him to forgo full and constant use of His divine power and majesty, in order that the work of redemption might be performed and the Scriptures fulfilled. (Mt 26:53, 54)
2. The resumption and continuation of such full and constant use of His divine attributes according to His human nature was and is the exaltation of Christ, the God-Man (Eph 4:8; Heb 2:7). Before coming forth from the tomb He, according to His human nature, descended to hell and manifested His glory to the spirits condemned because of their unbelief (1 Ptr 3:1820. See Descent into Hell). Christ's resurrection was the public proclamation of His victory over sin and death. By His ascension He visibly entered according to His human nature into His heavenly kingdom. Sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, He exercises dominion also according to His human nature over all creatures, esp. over His church. The form of a servant has been forever put away; when His exaltation will culminate, He will come again, indeed, as the Son of Man, but in His glory and will sit on the throne of His glory with power and great glory. (Mt 25:31; Lk 21:27)
III. The Office of Christ. Strictly speaking, Christ is not a proper name but designates a person as set apart by anointing for a special office, purpose, and task; our Lord is the Anointed who functioned and functions in an absolutely unique sense as Prophet, Priest, and King. While Luther, Melanchthon, and other early Luth. theologians do not use this distinction technically, it appears even in Eusebius. It was introduced into Luth. theol. by J. Gerhard.* Anointed means that Jesus received the office to which He was divinely appointed (Heb 5:410), qualified (He received the Spirit without measure, Jn 3:34, C. K. Williams' tr.), commissioned (Jn 20:21; cf. Is 49:6), and accredited (Acts 2:22), and for this office He received the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 10:38)
1. Prophet. Jesus is the great Revealer of divine Truth, both in His own person and by His Word; the Logos of God to man, revealing to lost mankind the holiness and, above all, the mercy and love of God. See also Prophet, Christ as.
2. Priest. By His spotless, perfect obedience unto death He propitiated, in the place of all mankind, the offended majesty of God. Himself the Victim and Himself the Priest, He has by His vicarious life and suffering fulfilled all righteousness and atoned for all sin. See also Atonement; Faith; Justification; Priest, Christ as.
3. King. Possessed of all power in heaven and on earth, Jesus, also according to His human nature, is now Lord of all, so that all external events in the world of man and of nature and all spiritual influences are equally under His control. As King He carries into full effect the great purpose of His revelations as Prophet and of His atoning sacrifice as High Priest. Particularly, He governs and protects the ch. and rules the world in the interest of the ch. Also in the last judgment and to eternity He rules supreme over all; there is no appeal from His verdict. The saints and angels in heaven are His Kingdom of Glory. See also King, Christ as.
J. Bodensieck, The Person and the Work of Christ, What Lutherans Are Thinking, ed. E. C. Fendt (Columbus, 1947), pp. 192218; O. Cullmann, Christology of the New Testament, tr. S. Guthrie and C. Hall (Philadelphia, 1959); W. Elert, Morphologic des Luthertums, tr. W. A. Hansen, The Structure of Lutheranism, I (St. Louis, 1962), pp. 222253; O. C. J. Hoffmann, Office, or Work, of Christ, The Abiding Word, ed. T. Laetsch, II (St. Louis, 1947), 112144, 769; T. S. Kepler, Contemporary Thinking About Jesus (New York, 1944); L. J. Roehm, The Person of Christ, The Abiding Word, ed. T. Laetsch, I (St. Louis, 1946), 1838, 583; J. Schaller, Biblical Christology (Milwaukee, 1919); bibliography and notes on FC SD VIII, in Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 5th ed. (Göttingen, 1964), 101749; see also references under Dogmatics; Jesus, Lives of.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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