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1. The Incarnation of the Son of God consists in His assumption of a human body and soul (Mt 22:42–45; Lk 1:35; Jn 1:14; Ro 1:3; Ph 2:7; Cl 2:9; 1 Ti 3:16). It is commemorated March 25.

2. The Incarnation was foretold (e.g., Gn 3:15; Is. 7:14 [Immanuel, Heb. “God with us”]).

3. By this mysterious union, Jesus Christ was Mediator bet. God and man, 1 Ti 2:5. “Though the 2 natures personally united in Christ are and remain essentially distinct, eah retaining its own essential properties or attributes, its own intelligence and will, so that His divinity is not His humanity nor a part of the same, nor His humanity His divinity: yet there is in Christ a communion of natures, so that the divine nature is the nature of the Son of Man, and the human nature the nature of the Son of God” (A. L. Graebner,* Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, par. 101).

4. Inseparably connected with the doctrine of the Incarnation is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth (Is 7:14; Mt 1:18–25; Lk 1:34–35).

5. Ebionites* and some Gnostics (e.g., early Ophites and adherents of Carpocrates and Cerinthus; see Gnosticism, 7 b, f, i) denied the Virgin Birth. The gen. belief of the early ch. in the Virgin Birth is reflected, e.g., in Irenaeus,* Ignatius of Antioch (see Apostolic Fathers, 2), Aristides (see Apologists, 3), and Justin* Martyr.

6. The Incarnation is a mystery beyond human understanding. Rationalists hold that incarnation involved change that would have destroyed the Godhead. Christian apologists reply: In the Incarnation the divine nature is the active, as the human nature is the passive, factor; any change resulting from the act will affect the human nature, not the divine (see also Immutability of God). The Logos* did not cease to be God when He became flesh; He was made man, not changed into man. Scripture continued to speak of the Logos incarnate in such a way that each nature must be understood as retaining all its essential characteristics. In Christ 2 complete natures are united in the personality of 1 of them (the relation bet. body and soul is esp. weak as analogy). Generation of the man Jesus and union of the 2 natures were simultaneous. The human nature of Christ never existed by itself; it was not produced from the essence of the Holy Spirit, but, by His creative energy, from the body of Mary. “Conceived by the Holy Ghost” denotes the efficient energy. “Born of the Virgin Mary” denotes the material.

See also Advent of Christ; Annunciation

J. G. Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, rev. ed. (New York, 1932); D. M. Baillie, God Was in Christ (London, 1948); A. Koeberle, “The Incarnation of Christ,” Journal of Theology of the American Lutheran Conference, VII (January 1942), 1–13.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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