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Hans Wendt, in his The Teaching Of Jesus, proposes a theory, which is very reminiscent of the ancient adoptianist teaching. According to Wendt, the relation between Christ and God was an ethical, filial relation only. His theory is that there is a spiritual union only between Jesus and God the Father. It is difficult for Wendt to believe that there could be a union of two natures, the human and divine, in one person. Wendts theory is not a theory of the incarnation at all, but rather as R.J. Cooke, a Methodist writer, says (The Incarnation And Recent Criticism, New York: Eaton and Mains, 1907), a substitute for it of some kind of a divine inhabitation.


As Cooke notes, this theory supposes that there must necessarily be two consciousnesses in the one person, if there are two natures, the divine nature and the human nature. We are then faced with one person having what Cooke calls a double consciousness. Is this contradictory? Cookes own idea is that there was never an independent personality of the human Jesus apart from what he says is the Logos. There was never solely and only a human Jesus, but always a God-human being. But this is an awkward type of phraseology,since it sounds somewhat like the demigod

(half-god and half-man) terminology of pagan mythology. Moreover, taken to its ultimate, it seems to compromise the genuine humanity of Jesus. And to this characterization, Cooke seems to assent, since he continues to say of the Lord:
A being not wholly and only God nor wholly and only man, but a union of the two natures in one God-man. The self-consciousness of Jesus always is that he is one, and not two. He knows himself to be a divine-human personality.

In Cookes opinion, our ignorance of how two consciousnesses could be in one person- without there being two persons- does not render such an apparent contradiction an utter impossibility. He notes that two Egos, each being conscious of itself, and living apart from one another, could never be conceived as being one consciousness. On the other hand, two Egos, having such a common ground that neither is conscious of itself as being distinct from the other, without also being conscious at the same time of the other, could be possible. A human analogy would be the ability of the mind (the subject) to be conscious of both the subject (ones own self) and an object simultaneously. This human analogy, however, fails since it does not even demonstrate two consciousnesses. Cooke, who apparently is an Athanasian trinitarian, speaks of another German theologian, Beyschlag, who is toying with a form of adoptianism, in that he sees Jesus simply as a God-filled man, who was not born of a virgin, but who, before his birth, was in the mind of the Father as simply a pre-existing idea. Beyschlag taught that:
with all the sublimity and uniqueness of his consciousness of Sonship Jesus felt and confessed that he was a man in Gods presence. He repeatedly calls God his Lord, and acknowledges the universal human obligation of praying to him, expressions which cannot possibly be harmonized with a consciousness of being God himself. -New Theology

Notice that this German author is using the term Sonship, which, the oneness reader will see, is not, after all, solely a product of oneness theology. Beyschlag rejects the pre-existence of Christ as a separate divine Person, but he does so at the expense of the divinity of Christ and the truth of the virgin birth. He calls the ideas of the eternal Son (and, in essence, the Trinity) trinitarian notions of the fourth and fifth centuries, which are certainly unknown to the New Testament. Moreover, Beyschlag does not seem to have accounted for the times when Jesus spoke as God, commanding the elements and raising the dead, etc. Nor when he

identified himself with the Father. But the only way to explain the unique qualities and person of Jesus Christ is to return to a genuine faith in the virgin birth. Only God could adequately reveal God. As John wrote of Jesus, after he had ascended into Heaven:
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. -John 1:18

The man Jesus is the Image of the invisible God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossian 1:15, and Hebrews 1:3). He is more than just an adopted Son, and more than just a Godfilled man.


Much discussion has ensued concerning the extent of Jesus consciousness, not only of His deity (from His humanity side), but of when He became aware of His deity, as a human being. And to what extent he was able to operate in both spheres of human and divine consciousness. Did a dualconsciousness operate simultaneously? Was the divine superimposed over the human? Horace M. Du Bose (The Consciousness of Jesus, New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1917) believes that the consciousness of Jesus:
is the identification of the life of that harmonious personality resulting from the unity of Godhood and manhood, whereof is one Christ...the explication of humanity and the manifestation of divinity.

And DuBose notes that Tokens of the human are abundant and sympathetic; tokens of the divine are signal and overmastering. There is no dissonance, incongruity...confusion of ideas in the reported words or thoughts of Jesus. The consciousness of Jesus developed normally. And he says:
To the human side of his life the divine side was uncovered as his human powers ripened; but at each stage the exercise of those powers was full and the unity of the consciousness complete.


And, DuBose adds, here was a consciousness grounded in two natures, yet expressed through an indivisible personality. He continues this synergistic approach by saying:
To its capacity, the human consciousness could no more escape knowledge of the divine identity than could the divine escape its impinging human complement.


Du Bose does not seem to be affected by the pagan demigod influence since he writes:

In this union there was a coalescence, but not an identification, of Godhood and humanity.

But, nonetheless, Du Bose suffers from the confusion generated by the trinitarian church councils. For him, Jesus is the Son, very God of very God...who came down and was incarnate and was made man. The Nicean theology. He rejects the idea of the incarnation of God the Father, and assigns the incarnation to a second divine Person in the Godhead.

But when he returns to his examination of the consciousness of Jesus, he is plain enough. He reflects upon a noticed expansion in the consciousness of Jesus:
The last earthly experiences of Jesus, notably the passion, the ordeals before Pilate, and the long agony of the crucifixion, perfected his consciousness as to its compass, both in emotion and thought, of the elements of the absolute. Three antecedent events show the manner of this process while under way. These were the baptism, the temptation, and the transfiguration. At the baptism of Jesus the consciousness of Messiahship may be said to have been perfected, the subjective maturity being verified by the words and signs of Paternal recognition. In the struggles of the temptation the knowledge of sufficiency was subjectively confirmed, while in the transfiguration the whole Personality stood self-revealed, the diaphanous body not only testifying its subserviency to the Messianic consciousness, but rising to its office of participation therein.

And Du Bose goes one step further in this evolution of consciousness by examining it in the light of the resurrection. The remarks by the apostles concerning the resurrection show:
how fully the divine consciousness had been attained by, and was expressed in the risen Christ, and how boundless had become the mastery of his powers.

But Du Boses review of this expansion of consciousness, in which Jesus declares that all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18), is colored by his trinitarian thinking. He sees the full revealing of divinity in Christ after the resurection as the uncovering of the divine nature which was his by inheritance. But he fails to see God the Father. To him, it is rather a Father passing His divine nature on to a Son. Jesus is God only by virtue of his virgin birth. He is not God because he has always been God the Father, but rather his divine nature has been bequeathed to him by another divine Person. He is placed in a subordinate position even in the Godhead.


Melito of Sardis, in his writings (see Melito of Sardis, On The Pascha, and Fragments, tr. Stuart G. Hall, Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1979), c.160 AD, wrote that Christ proved his manhood in the thirty seasons before the baptism, when, because of fleshly unmaturity, he hid the signs of his Godhead. Notice that the word unmaturity is purposely used, and not the word immaturity. Christ proved his Godhead through the signs in the three years after baptism.


In this manner, concluded Melito, Christ assured us of his two essences (tas duo autou ousias). After his baptism, Christ manifested the Godhead...hidden in flesh, and assured the world of it. As George Park Fisher notes (History of Christian Doctrine, New York: Scribners Sons, 1896), Melito early recognized the two natures in Christ, perfect God and perfect man. Concerning these two natures, which somehow were the fountain of consciousness in Jesus Christ, David Bernard (Oneness of God, Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1983), has written:
the two natures (divine and human) were not actually separated in him. ith our finite minds, we can make only a distinction and not a separation in the two natures that blended perfectly in him.

However, some separation has to exist for the purpose of the Lords genuine humanity. How could he die without a separate genuine human nature? Bernard does see a distinction between God and the Son (Oneness and Trinity AD 100-300, Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1991):
There is a real distinction between God and the Son-not a distinction of two divine persons, but a distinction between the eternal Spirit of God and the authentic human being in whom God was fully incarnate.


Jesus, according to Bernard, was both God and man at the same time, and sometimes He spoke or acted from the human viewpoint and sometimes from the divine viewpoint. The Lord, as Father, sometimes spoke from His divine selfawareness. Then, as Son, He sometimes spoke from His human self-awareness. The Word, according to Bernard, was Gods self-revelation, self-expression, or self-disclosure. Before the incarnation, the Word was the thought, plan, reason, or mind of God. Not a separate divine Person. The Word pertained to God, much as a man and his word. When it is time for the incarnation, Bernard notes:

In the fulness of time, God put flesh on the Word; He revealed Himself in flesh. In the person of Jesus Christ, the Word was made flesh...the eternal Word was revealed in the begotten Son.

I might add that this explains away much of the trinitarian theory of a pre-existent separate divine Person. For example, when Paul, in Colossians 1:15,16 states that all things were created by the image of the invisible God, and the firstborn of every creature, he is actually giving glory to what God did in the beginning through the spoken Word. This is before the Word was later made flesh in the womb of the virgin. Then the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:3) states that it is the Son by whom also he made the worlds. Again, we know that the writer means that God created the heavens and the earth earlier by his spoken word, and we clearly see this in Genesis 1:3, as well as in Psalms 33:6-9. We know that the Word was later made flesh in the womb of the virgin. These passages do not mean that the man Christ Jesus, the Image of God, the firstborn of every new creature, preexisted (except as God). We understand that the Word was made flesh, and that this is when the only begotten Son came into existence.


The virgin birth, of course, is a critical doctrine in reference to the unique status of Jesus. Without the virgin birth, the sinless humanity of Christ is put into question (in other words, he still would have received the sin nature of Adam with two human parents). This is the error of true adoptianism. Lukes Gospel, therefore, plays a vital role in the establishment of the virgin birth, as, of course, does Matthew. Mark makes no reference to it.

John makes oblique references to the virgin birth by using the phrase the only-begotten of the Father, and the Word was made flesh- although he does not mention the role of Mary. It is important, in the case of John, to realize that a modern-day linguistic assault has been made upon the translation of monogenes, only-begotten, by modern trinitarian writers. Liddell and Scotts Dictionary (1889) simply translates monogenes as only-begotten. But Vines Dictionary (1996, q.v.), after dutifully listing monogenes as only-begotten, devotes several paragraphs attempting

to destroy the simple translation of only-begotten, which we find in the King James Version of the Bible. In Vines, the purpose of attempting to do away with the translation of only-begotten becomes clear. We are made to understand that monogenes, when it refers to Jesus, must be understood differently:
We can only rightly understand the term the only begotten when used of the Son, in the sense of unoriginated relationship.

And then the writer quotes Moule, making it quite clear that monogenes, in his opinion, cannot possibly be related to the virgin birth:
The begetting is not an event in time, however remote, but a fact irrespective of time. The Christ did not become, but necessarily and eternally is the Son. He, a Person, possesses every attribute of pure Godhood. This necessitates eternity, absolute being; in this respect He is not after the Father.

And, in his interpretation of John 3:16, the intent of the writer in Vines is further revealed. This statement, he notes, must not be taken to mean that Christ became the only begotten son by incarnation. Why not? Obviously we have here a theologically biased interpretation, and not a purely linguistic interpretation. The theology of the Logos teaching of a pre-existent Son, born before the ages, wrests the clear meaning of the scripture that Jesus, born of a virgin, is thereby the only-begotten Son of God. It is true that he will later be begotten from the dead, becoming the firstborn among many brethern. But he alone is the only-begotten from a virgin, the incarnated God, or God manifest in the flesh. To translate monogenes as simply only (as in John 1:18, New International Version; and John 3:16, The New English Bible) is simply a theological decision. God has many sons. The angels are declared to be his sons. Adam is called the son of God. To do away with the term onlybegotten is indirectly an attack upon the virgin birth. The meaning of only-begotten, in this case, is generally understood to mean that the only man born of a virgin, with God as his Father, is Jesus Christ. It refers to the virgin birth, plain and simple. All of Gods children are unique. Therefore, the term unique is not acceptable, and is a far cry from the simple meaning of monogenes. Only one has ever been (and ever will be) begotten by God of a virgin-Jesus Christ.


Luke was possibly written as early as 63 AD, while Paul was still alive. Marcion made an attack upon the virgin birth

by omitting from his text of Luke the first three chapters (c.140 AD). But R.J. Cooke (q.v.) notes that Luke obviously made use of far older Aramaic documents, dating back many years prior to the date of his gospel. He notes that this is the opinion of such scholars as Sanday, Weiss, Godet, and many other New Testament critics. Weiss declares that:
the Hebraistic diction of these documents presents such a striking contrast to the classical Greek of the preface (of Luke) that the use of a written source can hardly be denied.

Gunkel, says Cooke, is of the opinion that Luke is drawn from a translation of a Hebrew(Aramaic) original, which he refers to as a genuine document of a very primitive Jewish-Christian type (q.v.). And Godet notes that in the use of these early documents Luke faithfully preserved their Aramaic coloring (q.v.). According to Cooke, C.A. Briggs (North American Review, June, 1906), felt the Aramaic narratives, from which Luke drew, were dated prior to the fall of Jerusalem (70 AD), during the lifetimes of James and Jude, the half-brothers of Christ (q.v.). Cooke speculates that the information could have even originally come from the lips of Mary herself. And Cooke (q.v.) argues convincingly that Paul had either copies of both Matthew and Luke in his possession, or at least a common Aramaic source that each used. Paul accepted the virgin birth, as a review of his epistles will demonstrate (e.g., Galatians 4:4, and his acceptance of the sinless nature of Christ). G.C. Morgan (The Gospel According To Luke, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1931), taking a cue from an interpretation of Paul in Colossians 4:10-14, believes that Luke was a Gentile and not a Jew. But this is a tenuous interpretation at best, attempting to interpret what Paul actually did not say. Moreover, to say that Luke has a Gentile name and therefore cannot be a Jew, is of doubtful importance. Mark, the author of the gospel,was a Jew. Romans 3:1,2 states that the oracles of God were entrusted to the Jews. It would be strange, but perhaps not impossible, that God entrusted a book of the Bible to a Gentile in view of Pauls statement. It would be the only one of the 66 books of the Bible written by a Gentile, if this is the case.


Without the virgin birth, it is difficult to imagine the incarnation. As Cooke notes, every birth, by ordinary generation, is the coming into this life of a new personality. Christ cannot have been born of ordinary human parents, because the conclusion would then be that the eternally existing Logos (Word) first came into personal being by such human means. Cooke notes the difficulty in assuming that the ego or self of the pre-existing Logos united with the ego or self of the human child, which was born of two human parents. This would be a form of adoptianism.

He rejects this, since we shall have two egos in two persons, which, he declares is a mere conjunction of personalities and is not an incarnation at all. There is, says Cooke (q.v.), a union (henosis) of two natures in Christ, though not a conjunction (synatheia), as Nestorius declared (q.v.). And this union (henosis) must also be distinguished from krasis or sygchysis, a mere blending of natures. Sygchysis means a mixing together, a blending, while krasis likewise means a mixing, a blending, but with the added element of a compounding (composed of, or resulting from the union of separate elements, ingredients, or parts). Of course, this is consilar theology, stemming from trinitarianism.


Furthermore, notes Cooke, this union (henosis) must also be distinguished from enoikesis (from enoikeo, to dwell, to inhabit), an indwelling of God in the human nature (q.v.). Hebrews 2:14 states that, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. And Hebrews 2:16 is even more explicit, he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. God, then, in the incarnation, take a part of, or share, to or attributes of something)of seed of Abraham. It was more indwelling. became a partaker (to have some of the qualities flesh and blood, of the than just a mere

This has to qualify John 1:14, the Word (Logos) was made (or became) flesh. God, through his Word, did more than just inhabit, or dwell in, a sinless human being, who was

virgin born, he actually became a partaker of flesh and blood, and took upon himself the seed of Abraham. This is why the word union (henosis) is being put forward. The manner of partaking, and the degree of union is what is mysterious.


And this union is so powerful and so unique, that the man Jesus, retained his own genuine humanity, while actually being the Mighty God himself, manifest in the flesh, with two distinct natures, human and divine. The human nature was not divine, and the divine nature was not human. There is a real, simultaneous existence of God the Father, in heaven, demonstrated alongside the existence of the man Jesus, on earth, since a genuine relationship is shown between the man and his God. This relationship is a fact of the gospels. Nevertheless, the incarnation is also revealed more fully in the progressive revelation of the Mighty God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus is confirmed by the Father as the Messiah at the baptism, his anointing (as the Christ or Messiah) is confirmed in his successful endurance of the wilderness temptation, when he returns in the power of the Spirit. His deity is seen in the transfiguration. And it is even more fully declared in his glory following the triumphant resurrection (Thomas acknowledges him as my Lord and my God in John 20:28). Jesus identifies himself as God in a number of ways. In John 10:30, he speaks of his identity, or oneness, with the Father. In John 14:7-9, he reveals himself as the Father manifest in the flesh. The relationship of the Son and the Father demonstrate the genuine humanity of the Son, and the need of all humanity for God the Father, while, at the same time, the works of Jesus demonstrate the reality of the incarnation, and that the Deity is indeed resident in the man Jesus. At no time, does the relationship of the Father and the Son ever demonstrate the existence of two divine Persons. This is, in part, because of the reality of the existing incarnation, and the genuine humanity of Christ. But we do not have simply one nature talking to another nature. This is too simplistic. We have a genuine human being talking to his God and to his Father. This is only possible due to the mystery of the incarnation. Only the omnipotence

and the omnipresence of Almighty God could bring about such a logic-defying, seeming contretemps. But no one should say that the conversations of the Father and the Son were rigged,or that ventrilloquism was involved. But then again, no separate divinity was imparted additionally to the man Jesus. The divinity of Jesus Christ is indeed the divinity of God the Father. The virgin birth did not bring about the production, or the revelation, of another divine Person. Nor did another divine Person, other than God the Father, come from heaven to rescue mankind. It is true that the Father sent his Word from heaven, which was made flesh, and dwelt (tented) among us (John 1:14). John says, we beheld his glory, the glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father (vs 14). He is speaking of the virgin born man here, and not of a second divine Person from heaven. But John 1:14 must be understood in the light of Hebrews 2:14 and 2:16. The phrase the word was made (or became) flesh cannot fully be understood without interpreting the statements that he (God) became a partaker of flesh and blood, and that he took on him the seed of Abraham. To become a partaker of flesh and blood, and to take on the seed of Abraham implies more than simply the word was made flesh. It expands upon that thought, and it clarifies the need for the idea of some kind of a sacred union. It is more than just saying that God spoke a human being into existence, and then He (God) entered into that body. It is not saying that God Himself was made flesh either. He became a partaker of flesh and blood. He took upon himself the seed of Abraham.


Philippians 2:5-9 reads:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.

The first interpretation of this passage hinges upon Christ, being in the form of God (morphe theou). The verb used for being is the present participle hyparcho, existing. Vines Dictionary insists, without evidence, that this always means to pre-exist (Vines Complete

Expository Dictionary, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1996). However, other Lexicons, such as Liddell and Scotts, do not say this. Concerning the noun morphe (that is, morphe theou, the form of God), Vines again insists that this use of morphe is the nature or essence actually subsisting in the individual, and is retained as long as the individual exists. It cannot be in the abstract. But yet we are told that the noun morphe (used by Paul in the next verse as morphe doulou, the form of a servant) must have the same sense:
It is universally admitted that the two phrases are directly antithetical, and that form (morphe) must therefore have the same sense in both.

But this cannot be true, if, as Vines states, that morphe theou cannot be used in an abstract sense - especially since morphe doulou (the form of a servant) can indeed be construed in an abstract sense. Why then cannot morphe theou? Thus, it would seem clear that the apostle Paul is not declaring any pre-existent equality of Christ with God, with Christ being in the form of God alongside of God the Father before the ages. Rather, Paul is speaking of conditions prevailing during the incarnation (in the days of his flesh). Jesus, as the Image of God (the Son of God), being in the form of God, on earth, did not think it robbery to be equal with God. We have further confirmation of this interpretation in John 5:18. We remember that man was made in the image, or likeness, of God (Genesis 1:26). In John 5:18, the apostle John informs us that Jesus said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. In other words, in Philippians 2:6, Paul is not speaking of some pre-existent, separate divine Person, but rather he is speaking of the man Christ Jesus, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God. This is the way in which John explains the phrase equal with God. It has to do with the incarnation, and not with the internal workings of the divine Godhead. The phrase that has been controversial is heauton ekenosen, made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7), from whence the kenosis theory, he emptied himself. Whereas the King James Version translation leaves this activity of the Lords (made himself of no reputation)within the sphere of the incarnation, or, rather, in the earthly life of the savior, others have lighted upon the translation he emptied himself, and have

involved the meaning of the phrase in the actual process of the incarnation itself. The strength of the phrase he emptied himself also seems to hang upon the subsequent translation, was made in the likeness of men (en homoiomati anthropon genomenos). The literal translation of the phrase was made in the likeness of men is in the likeness of men having become, which would seem to take away from the force of the involvement of the phrase he made himself of no reputation with the actual process of the incarnation itself. Rather this would represent a conscious action by the Lord after he was on earth. Being found in became obedient made by the man manifest in the fashion as a man, he humbled himself and unto death. All of these decisions were Jesus on earth, who, after all, was God flesh.

This would make it seem likely that the phrase he emptied himself has nothing to do with the actual mechanics of the incarnation itself, but rather the Greek phrase heauton ekenosen would make more sense as either he drained himself, or even, made himself of no reputation (or account). That all of this passage refers to the man Christ Jesus is confirmed in Philippians 2:9, where Paul, with his famous wherefore, states: God also hath highly exalted him....


This phrase he emptied himself, or the kenosis theory, has spawned untold pages of speculation by theologians as to what God did, and how it was done. One German theologian, Meyer, according to R.J. Cooke (q.v.) wrote:
What the divine Logos laid aside in the incarnation was the form of God; the divine glory, as a form of existence; but not his equality with God, which constituted and was essential to his nature. This he retained, and to this belonged essentially and necessarily the divine consciousness, and in the incarnation consequently the divine-human self-consciousness.

First of all, not everyone agrees that the Logos was incarnated. The Bible states that the Word (Logos) was made flesh (John 1:14). It is God (the Father) who was manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). It is God (the Father) who was in Christ. The Logos did not lay aside the form of God. God is a Spirit. A spirit does not have a form in its natural state. The equality with God, as we have seen from the apostle John, refers to the sphere of the incarnation, and not to the sphere of the divine Godhead

itself. This excludes a co-equal divine Person, and would exclude the incarnation of a co-equal divine Person. And then another theologian, Ellicott, states:
Of what did he empty himself? Not exactly of the morphe theou...but of that which he had in that form, that Godlike majesty and visible glory which he had from all eternity.

Obviously, this author is leaning upon a misinterpretation of John 17:5. In the high priestly prayer of the man Jesus, he requests that the Father glorify him with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Ellicott is undoubtedly supposing that there are two divine Persons here (Father and Son). One divine Person emptied himself of his glory (and Godlike majesty) in the process of the incarnation, and now he is supposedly praying to the other co-equal, co-eternal divine Person (the Father) to give him back his pre-existent glory!


But this is not the case. Jesus is praying as a human being in John 17:5. He did not have any pre-existent glory, which he divested himself of, because, as a human being, he did not exist before the world was, except in the mind of God the Father. Furthermore, he is asking the Father to glorify thou me with thine own self. If Jesus were indeed the second divine Member of the Godhead, he should not be asking the first divine Member (the Father) to re-glorify him with his (the Fathers) own (divine) self, since surely, preexisting co-eternally and co-equally, he would have equal glory. Since he supposedly, as Ellicott presumes, possessed equal Godlike majesty and visible glory from all eternity. The actual truth is that Jesus, as God the Father, did possess God-majesty (not just God-like majesty), and had visible glory from all eternity. But the glory was not given to the resurrected Christ until he came out of the grave. It was only in the mind of God the Father before the ages. Just as the crucifixion was in the mind of the Father. Alford, following Ellicott in misinterpreting John 17:5, states incorrectly that:
He emptied himself of the morphe theou-not his essential glory, but its manifested possession...the glory which he had with the Father before the world began (John 17:5) and which he resumed at his glorification. He ceased while in this state of examination to reflect the glory which he had with the Father.

This does some damage to the trinitarian model, and, of

course, misinterprets Paul. Notice that Jesus, as the divine second Person (even before he emptied himself supposedly) only reflects the glory (as the lesser moon does that of the sun) that he had with the Father before the ages. This is certainly not coequality among the members of the Trinity! Furthermore, Alford says that Jesus emptied himself of the form of God (morphe theou). We have already shown that Jesus claimed equality with God on earth. The scripture explicitly states making himself equal with God (John 5:18). This would seem to be a contradiction of my Father is greater than I(John 14:28). But this need not be so, if we examine the context. Also, we remember that Jesus has both a divine and a human nature.

G. Vance Smith (The Bible And Its Theology, London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1892) examines some of the theories of kenosis with a jaundiced eye. In a reference to Mark 13:32, in which the Son declares that he-at least in his then present human state-does not know the day or the hour of his return, Smith quotes bishop OBrien as commenting:
All things the Omniscient Father knows...doubtless were known to the Son when He was in the form of God. But it appears that when He became man, and dwelt among us, of this infinite knowledge, He only possessed as much as was imparted to Him.

Smith believes that OBrien here is actually, implicitly thinking of two Gods! Because he definitely conveys the idea of two (divine) minds. One mind possessed all knowledge, while the other, during a particular interval of his existence only receives, as Smith notes, what the former (mind)...imparts to him. Yet, Smith continues, these writers profess to be monotheists, and to believe in the existence of only one God (q.v.). This type of thinking was common in the pagan world. The Greek god Apollo served the human shepherd Admetus for nine years, and kept his deity in abeyance. And this is exactly the terminology that bishop OBrien uses of Christ, according to Smith, when he writes, His (Christs) infinite attributes and powers have been in abeyance, so to speak (q.v.). And Smith also believes that a grave injustice has been done to the translation of morphe theou (the form of God) in Philippians 2:6 by insisting, as J.B. Lightfoot, that the phrase actually means essential nature. Smith holds

that the phrase refers to outward condition and circumstances only (q.v.). The term morphe cannot refer to essential nature, because the Lord is said to have also taken upon himself the form of a servant (morphe doulou). Surely, this does not mean the essential nature of a servant. If so, was his essential nature changed at the resurrection? Morphe is used in one other place in the New Testament (Mark 16:12), where the resurrected Christ appears in another form to his followers. Obviously, it is not used in the sense of essential nature in this passage either. It is clear that the phrase form of God has nothing to do with Christ as a separate divine Person. It refers only to the sphere of the incarnation. J.B. Lightfoot (in Cooke, q.v.) states that Jesus divested himself, not of his divine nature, for this was impossible, but of the glories, the prerogatives, of deity. This seems to be the prevailing view today. Gwynn (in Cooke, q.v.) taught that he did not lay aside the essence of his Godhead, but that which is relative to finite perceptions, its outward manifestations. Some are perplexed that Paul does not define exactly what the Lord supposedly emptied himself of. Cooke believes there could be a definite genitive following the verb ekenosen, but there is not. Some speculate that a phrase such as his equality with God would be more appropriate than the phrase the form of God. But all of this hinges upon the proper translation of heaton ekenosen! Some of these theories of kenosis have erred so far from reality that they actually, in essence, deny the incarnation. Godet (again, Cooke, q.v.), for example, held that the Son, laid aside the attributes of deity and became man. The Son, he says, even allowed his personal consciousness as the eternal Son to be extinguished, retaining (in the incarnation) only his inalienable personality (his Ego). He became absolutely unconscious of his divinity(q.v.). This, Cooke rightly discerns, is not an incarnation at all, but it is rather a metamorphosis of God into man. God becomes man. God turns into man. Schmieder (Cooke, q.v.) says, The Son of God became man. Hoffman wrote (Cooke, q.v.) that the Logos did not cease to be God. He remained who he was, though he...ceased to be what he was.

The danger these ideas bring forth are stemming from the incorrect theory of a pre-existent separate divine Person (the Logos), who is eternal alongside God the Father.


John Knox (The Humanity And Divinity Of Christ, Cambridge: University Press, 1967), who views adoptianism as the first phase of the development of Christian theology-a view which he takes from such passages as Acts 2:36, and other passages in Acts and Hebrews-holds that the second phase of this development was the view that a pre-existent divine being emptied himself, and became a man. Knox wants morphe in Philippians 2:5-11 to mean nature, even though we have seen this is not a valid translation, according to recognized dictionaries. But it fits the trinitarian theology of kenosis. And where Paul writes that Christ was made in the likeness (homoiomati) of men (vs. 7), and being found in fashion (schema)as a man, Knox feels this is almost docetic(like teaching that Christ only appeared to be a genuine human). As Knox admits, homoiomati could, however, simply mean that Christ was a man like other men. But the word schema (fashion), he says, is hard to reconcile with a belief in a full and unqualified humanity (q.v.). He stops short of attributing docetism to the apostle Paul! He even questions whether this passage is an interpolation! Nevertheless, schema, in Liddell and Scotts Dictionary (q.v.) has a first meaning of form, shape, outward appearance, the figure, person. It need not throw doubt upon the genuine humanity of the Lord. It has lesser shades of meaning, but Pauls other teaching on Christ should direct the interpretation of these meanings. An explanation of how Paul viewed homoiomati can be seen in Romans 8:2, where he wrote that God sent his own Son in the likeness (homoiomati) of sinful flesh. Here, he is using likeness-not to cast doubt on the genuine humanity of Christ- but rather to differentiate between the sinful nature of all of the other children of Adam and the pure human nature of Christ. Christ aged in his human body. He was able to die. Yet he had no sinful nature. Knox admits that the theory of kenosis is inextricably attached to the doctrine of trinitarian Logos supporters. When I write Logos supporters, I am referring to those who believe that the Logos is actually a separate, distinct Person from God the Father (i.e., trinitarians in

most cases). He writes concerning this group of scholars:

In our own period a number of distinguished theologians, holding firmly and strongly to the belief that Jesus was pre-existent as the Logos, but being most eager to maintain the truth and importance of his manhood, have seized on the word kenosis to explain how this could be.

The problem, as Knox sees it, is the kenosis has to be so qualified with reservations and exceptions as not to be kenosis at all (q.v.). He explains some of the difficulties:
The divine being does not fully surrender his divine nature (as, of course, in reality he could not): he gives up some its attributes, but keeps others; or, according to an alternative explanation, he surrenders the actuality of deity but retains the potentiality of it, thus continuing to possess as a man a latent, one might almost say, a suppressed, divinity.

Thus, according to Knox, the critics of the theory of kenosis point to what he calls the depotentiation of deity. A divinity that is hidden or, as he stated, suppressed in Christ. For Knox, the orthodox trinitarian view of Chalcedon is difficult to understand. A Christ with two natures, both belonging to Jesus, one Person. Knox admits that this hinges on understanding what the ancient trinitarians meant by the term person. But he questions: how can two natures (each presumably involving consciousness and will) belong to one person inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, and inseparably(q.v.)? Knoxs conclusion: of no normal human being could such things be truly said (q.v.). He lends some support to those theologians who are attempting to find ways to harmonize divinity and humanity in such a way that they can virtually identify humanity with divinity. H.R. Mackintosh wrote, ...all that is divine in Christ is human, and all that is human, divine. This almost sounds New Age-to blend humanity and divinity in such a way that the distinctions are blurred. Leonard Hodgson portrayed Christ as truly human whereas the rest of us are in process of becoming such. Jesus alone, in his view, is fully and truly man. According to Hodgson, then, the only genuine humanity is the divine humanity of the incarnate Lord (in q.v.). Again, an attempt to blur the differences between the divine and human nature. Also, there is the Son of Mary, and then again there is the

glorified Christ.There is the Son of man, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death Hebrews 2:9). It is disturbing to attempt to explain the incarnation by redefining the natures of humanity and divinity, so that one may merge them through such a definition. Knox argues, there is no way of distinguishing Jesus humanity from ours which does not deny the reality of his manhood. But Knox has already pointed out that he has difficulty accepting the sinless nature of Christ (through the virgin birth), since he seems to feel that to accept the fact that Jesus was sinless would detract from his genuine humanity! For Knox, it seems, the theories of kenosis are generally abridging the humanity of Christ by introducing his preexistence, which, in his opinion, distinguishes his humanity from ours. But then, Knox declares, kenosis is excluded; we are restricted to adoptionism and docetism:
We can have the humanity without the pre-existence and we can have the preexistence without the humanity. There is absolutely no way of having both.

But adoptionism (the theory that Jesus was selected from men born of human parents to become the Messiah) and docetism (the theory that Jesus was not truly human) were rejected by the church long ago. What remains is the incarnation and not necessarily the kenosis theory. Knoxs dilemma is really that he must maintain the doctrine of the Trinity. He states that any doctrine of the incarnation must presuppose the Trinity. He does qualify this with, or, at any rate, some complexity (if that can be the word) in God. And he writes:
In no serious theology, ancient or modern, has the Pre-existent Christ been identified with God, simply and absolutely. In the very earliest period, as we have seen, the pre-existing being was pictured as the Son of Man or possibly sometimes as an angelic being of the highest order...But never (sic) was he identified with God in any simple or exhaustive sense. It must needs be so because God (understood in this unitary way) could not become incarnate and still be God.

Thus, Knox preemptorily excludes the oneness position concerning the incarnation. God could not become incarnate and still be God. Thus is the mystery of the incarnation swept aside, it almost seems, because it is supposedly impossible for it to occur. Since ancient Ebionites and dynamic monarchians are all erroneously lumped together as adoptionists, their views of the incarnation are not apparently considered. What about the modalistic monarchians, with their pneumatic

Christology? They would seem to be more likely to embrace some kind of a kenotic theory. When we conclude an examination of these theories of kenosis, however, we perceive that they are almost all connected to the trinitarian theory rather than to a simple of view of the incarnation. There would be no kenosis theory without the doctrine of the Trinity.


There are seven Catholic ecumenical church councils, which, all but one, dealt, in one way or another, with teachings about the nature of Jesus. They are: (1) Nicea 325 AD, (2) Constantinople I 381 AD, (3) Ephesus 431 AD, (4) Chalcedon 451 AD,(5) Constantinople II 553 AD, (6) Constantinople III 680 AD, and (7) Nicea II,787 AD.


Of course, the primary purpose of the Council of Nicea (325 AD) was not to define the incarnation. The Catholic bishops, who were allied with Alexandria and Athanasius, were anxious to show, against the views of Arius and his followers, that Christ was of one substance (homoousios) with the Father. Christ was identified as the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, and of the substance of the Father. He was called God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, and begotten, not made. Concerning the incarnation, the creed simply states, Who for us men and for our salvation came down (from heaven) and was incarnate and was made man. Anathemas were pronounced upon all who would say there was a time when the Son was not, or that before He was begotten He was not. That He was made of things that were not, or that He is of a difference substance or essence from the Father, or that He is a creature, or subject to change or conversion. No mention is made of the kenotic theory; however, the pneumatic Christology (a heavenly being who comes down from heaven) is mentioned, as is the incarnation, and was made man. The pre-existent Christ, a separate divine Person, is the being who becomes incarnate, and was made man.

One small statement is given to the Holy Ghost, And (we believe) in the Holy Ghost. The deity of the Holy Ghost is not mentioned. The virgin birth is not mentioned, although it could be implied in the term Son of God, but rather the emphasis seems to be upon a pre-Bethlehemic birth and not the virgin birth. In a diocesan epistle of Eusebius of Caesarea (265339 AD), presumed to have been part of a draft of the Nicene credal statement, he added, firstborn of all creatures, begotten of the Father before all time. But again there is no mention of the virgin birth.


The Creed of Constantinople adds the words begotten of his Father before all worlds. When it speaks of the incarnation, it states, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man. Thus, the role of the virgin in the incarnation is clearly enunciated, while the pre-existent begetting...before all (ages) is still held. The role of the Holy Ghost is expanded, and He is titled the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father. And, the Holy Ghost, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified. The Holy Ghost is also He who spake by the prophets. Baptism for the remission of sins is acknowledged. This is contrary to the teaching of most Protestant groups today, who reject baptism for the remission of sins. In doing so, they apparently reject the authority of the ecumenical council (and the word of God, in this case). Epiphanius(315-403 AD), bishop of Salamis, adds this on the incarnation:
Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate, that is to say was conceived perfectly through the Holy Ghost of the holy ever-virgin Mary, and was made man, that is to say a perfect man, receiving a soul, and body, and intellect, and all that made up a man, but taking flesh to himself into one holy entity...was perfectly made man, for the Word was made flesh; neither did he experience any change, nor did he convert his divine nature into the nature of man, but united it to his one holy perfection and divinity. For there is one Lord Jesus Christ, not two (The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Nicene And Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 15, Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Pub, 1983).

Apollinaris of Laodicea (310-390 AD), a contemporary of Epiphanius, held a somewhat different view of the incarnation. He was accused of maintaining the deity of Christ at the expense of Christs humanity. J.W.C. Wand says it was he who instituted the kenotic theory (The Four Great Heresies, London: Mowbray, 1967).

He said that Christ had only one nature. For this he was condemned at the Council of Constantinople (381 AD). It was Rufus Jones observation (The Churchs Debt To Heretics, London: James Clarke Ltd, 1924) that nobody could deal profoundly with the problem of Christs nature without being regarded a heretic from one side or the other. This is probably still true today! Philip Schaff (The Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.) says that Apollinaris had a fear of teaching a double personality for Christ, and therefore he fell into the error of a partial denial of his true humanity. Adopting the trichotomy of Plato (body, soul, spirit), as in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Galatians 5:17, Apollinaris attributed to Christ a human body (soma),and a human soul (psyche), but not a rational spirit (pneuma, nous, or psychelogike). In the place of the rational spirit he put the divine Logos. In what Schaff calls opposition to the idea of a mere connection of the Logos with the man Jesus (as in Nestorianism), Apollinaris wished to secure an organic unity of the true incarnation. But he sought this at the expense of what Schaff calls the most important constituent of man. Schaff says Apollinaris reached a theos sarkophoros, a God-bearing flesh. Nestorius, Schaff states, had an anthropos theophoros, a God-bearing man, instead of what Schaff says ought to be the proper theandrotos (God-man). This, of course, is the trinitarian idea of the God-man, which borders on the pagan demigod (half-god and half-man). Apollinaris appealed to John 1:14, the Word was made flesh (flesh, as he argued, not spirit). And 1 Timothy 3:16, God was manifest in the flesh. But Gregory Nazianzen (329-390 AD) countered that the term flesh was used to actually mean the whole human nature. By having the Logos (which Apollinaris, as all trinitarians, held to be the second divine Person in the Godhead) assume the place of the human nous (what he called the rational spirit), he was able to establish so close a connection of the Logos with human flesh that all of the attributes (divine and human) were interchangeable and the two merged in one nature in Christ (q.v.).

Christ, according to Apollinaris, God, but a mixture (mixis) of God mingling. This type of thinking holds a second divine Person to

was neither whole man nor and man. A mixing or a is only possible if one have been incarnated.

On the other hand, Apollinaris called the orthodox view of a union of full humanity with a full divinity in one person (two wholes in one whole) an absurdity (q.v.). He called the result of this construction anthropotheos (man-God), and put it in the same category of the mythical Minotaur (half bull and half man). Schaff says that Apollinaris idea of the Christ was that of the union of the Logos with a truncated human nature. Arianism had also put the Logos in the place of the human spirit; however, Apollinaris stood for the unchangeableness of the Logos (in the incarnation), while the Arians did not. Ralph Woodhall (The Theology of The Incarnation, Notre Dame, IN: Fides Pub., 1968) notes that Apollinaris held that the mind of the Logos replaced the human mind of Christ in order to safeguard Christs sinless nature. It is Schaffs opinion that the modern theologians, who initiated the current theory of kenoticism, Gess and Ebrard, were Apollinarians. Gess taught that:
The only difference between the Logos and a human soul was, that he became human by voluntary kenosis, while an ordinary human soul derives its existence from a creative act. And Ebrard (Christliche Dogmatik, in q.v.) held: That a genuine human soul was in Jesus is self evident, otherwise, he would not have been a real human being.

But Ebrar seems to have questioned whether the indwelling Logos took the place of the human soul at the incarnation, or whether the indwelling Logos was in some way, alongside a special human soul in Jesus. Albrecht Ritschl called the whole kenotic theory Shameless Socinianism. Aloys Dirksen (Elementary Patrology, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1959) stated that Apollinarianism paved the way for monophysitism, the teaching that Christ possesses only one nature.


This council was convened to discuss the matter of Nestorius (c.381-451 AD), the charismatic Persian bishop of Constantinople, who, according to Dirksen (q.v.), reduced the incarnation to a mere moral union between a human being and the second Person of the Trinity. Nestorius reportedly

held Jesus to be a mere human being in whom the Son of God was present as in a house (q.v.). While Nestorius reportedly held that Christ was morally one person, he believed that in reality there were two persons, and that a strict distinction had to be made between the two (persons). He therefore held that Mary was not theotokos (the mother of God), but rather only the mother of the man Jesus. It was not the Son of God(the Logos), referring to the second divine Person who redeemed man, but rather the man Jesus, who died. Nestorius was eventually thrown out of his bishopric, and later died in exile in the country of Egypt. There are only fragments of Nestorius writings remaining, but the Epistle of Cyril To Nestorius (Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.) gives us an idea of the Nestorian teaching, and the orthodox teaching on the incarnation, during this period. Cyril (d.444 AD),bishop of Alexandria, chaired the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), and was vehemently opposed to Nestorius. Briefly, this is what Cyril held considering what is meant by the Word of God being incarnate and made man (a reference to the Council of Nicea): Cyril held that the nature of the Word was not changed when made flesh, nor was the Word (Logos) converted into a whole man, consisting of soul and body. Rather, Cyril said, the Word personally united to Himself flesh animated by a rational soul, and did in an ineffable and inconceivable manner become man. He (the Logos) was not called a man because He was willing or pleased to be so called, and He (the Logos) was not called a man on account of taking to Himself a person, but rather He (the Logos) was called a man because two natures were brought together in a true union. Yet there is one Christ, one Son. But Cyril held, as the orthodox position, that the difference of the (two) natures is not taken away by the union. The divinity and the humanity make perfect for us the one Lord Jesus Christ by their ineffable (indescribable) and inexpressible union. Concerning the- for lack of a less crude term - mechanics of the incarnation itself, Cyril held that the union was made in the womb (of the virgin) itself. He (the Logos) was not first born a common man of the holy virgin, and

then the Word (the Logos) came down and entered into him. The Logos (Word) did not suffer on the cross, but rather that which had become His own body suffered in this way. He (the Logos) who is in himself incapable of suffering was in a suffering body. Cyril, then, has descended two steps from the older patripassians, who were accused of having the Father suffer. Now, Cyril would have a second divine Person (the Logos) unable to suffer, but His fleshly body could suffer. If the Logos was unable to suffer, then why the furor over another co-equal member of the Trinity (the Father) suffering? Actually, the early trinitarians maintained that the Father could not suffer, but the Logos could. To reject this union, according to Cyril, is to hold to two Sons. He said, We must not divide the one Lord Jesus Christ into two Sons. Nor did he hold a union of two persons, since the scripture did not say that the Word (Logos) united to himself the person of man, but that he was made flesh (John 1:14). But Cyril qualifies the Word was made flesh (perhaps thinking of Hebrews 2), and says that it can mean nothing else than he partook of flesh and blood like to us. And he presages the kenotic theory, stating:
he (the Logos) made our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father, but even in taking to himself flesh remaining what he was (Epistle To Nestorius, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.)

This certainly sounds like the kenotic theory, although Cyril makes no reference to Philippians 2. Admittedly, there does not seem to be any divesting or emptying, as in the modern kenotic theory. The Logos, in the incarnation, did not cast off his existence as God. He remained what he was. However, in a subsequent epistle, The Twelve Anathemas, to Nestorius, Cyril does use the phrase katheis heauton eis kenosen, or made himself of no reputation (an obvious reference to Philippians 2:7), and he connects this exactly with the moment of the incarnation, taking flesh of the holy virgin, and having made it (the flesh) his own from the womb, he subjected himself to birth for us. In another place, he humbled himself to a voluntary abasement for us. There is no apparent emptying, however, since Cyril affirms that he (the Logos) remained what he was, God in essence and in truth. Cyril rejected saying that his

(Christs) flesh was changed into the nature of divinity, or that the ineffable nature of the Word (Logos) of God was laid aside for the nature of the flesh:
For although visible and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom of his virgin mother, he (the Logos) filled all creation as God, and was a fellowruler with him who begat him, for the Godhead is without quantity and dimension, and cannot have limits (Twelve Anathemas, in Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.).

Other than the small reference to subjected himself to birth, there is seemingly no thought here of divesting or emptying in Cyril. The Logos remains God (as the second divine Person), a fellow-ruler with God the Father, and filled all creation as God, even while incarnated. Apparently, Nestorius, on the other hand, taught that the Word (Logos) dwelt in the man Jesus, who was born of the virgin, and considered Christ to be a God-bearing man, with the Logos dwelling in Him in some way similar (although much more intimate) to the Spirit dwelling in the saints. Nestorius preferred the word synatheias (conjunction) rather than the term union(henosen). Cyril disagreed with thinking of Christ as being double (i.e., having a double personality, or being two persons), because he (God) has joined them in an indivisible union. He said, we transfer the human and the divine to the same person. Nestorius was of the school of the Antiochenes (Antioch), who emphasized the genuine humanity of Christ. He apparently had problems with the teaching that the Logos united human flesh to Himself. In his view, this type of union still denigrated the pure humanity of the Son, even though it did not go as far as Apollinarianism. Having the Logos as a second divine Person, distinct from the Father, it was possible for the orthodox to not involve the Father in the incarnation, and to continue to ascribe what I would call the reservations of divinity to Him. Since the scripture said the Word was made flesh, they were perhaps forward to push too far the union of the divine and the human. Nestorius seems to have attempted to avoid this, but did so apparently at the expense of the unity of the Father and the Son (in the incarnation). Nestorius reputedly taught that God indwelt a man with a human personality of his own distinct from the personality of the indwelling God, and that God assumed to himself human nature, that is a human body and a human soul, but without human personality (Henry Percival, Seven

Ecumenical Councils, q.v.). He seems to have held a separate human person along with a divine person. Nestorius also seems to have held that Christ was one with the Word by participation in dignity (William Bright, Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.). The man Jesus was a partaker of divine power (Ibid). I note that this, coming out of Antioch, harkens back to the accusations against the dynamic monarchian, Paul of Samosata, who was bishop of Antioch in the third century. Jesus,according to Nestorius, in the sense of being a partaker of divine power, was more than a mere man, and was therefore adored together with the Logos (Word). Nestorius is reported to have said at the Council of Ephesus, I can never allow that a child of three months old was God. This type of thinking, again, is reminiscent of the old Ebionite and dynamic monarchian teaching that the moment of the incarnation was not at conception or birth, but rather later at the baptism, or even at the resurrection. Obviously, though, Nestorius was a trinitarian, and held that it was the Logos (second divine Person), who was incarnated, and not God the Father. Nestorius old instructor, Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428 AD), of the school of Antioch, had stated, Mary bare Jesus, not the Word (Logos)...the Word was and remained omnipresent, although from the beginning he dwelt in Jesus in a peculiar manner (q.v.). And that, she bare a man, in whom the union with the Word (Logos) was begun, but was still so little completed, that he was not yet called the Son of God. This also is reminiscent of the charges made against Paul of Samosata, that the Word dwelt in Jesus in a peculiar manner. It is easy to see the influence of Theodore upon Nestorius. While we remember that both of these men believed in the incarnation of the second divine Person, their approach to the incarnation reminds one of that of the Ebionites in the first and second centuries. They seemed to have believed that there was not a union in the womb (to the degree professed by the orthodox), but that there was a relative union of the Father and Son, which, it appears, they actually believed came later (at the baptism?). Theodore of Mopsuestia (and Nestorius, following him) taught that The two natures united together make only one person, as man and wife are only one flesh. There was a distinct Logos (second divine Person), perfect and complete, and so also his person. And the nature and

person of the man as perfect and complete. Theodore concluded, If, on the other hand, we have regard to the union (synatheia, connection), we say it is (only) one person. Two persons, but they were one in unity. Theodore uses the term synatheia for union rather than henosen. This is said to express only an external connection, a fixing together (q.v.). He writes, The Logos dwells in the man assumed as in a temple. In other words, the divine person and the human person outwardly seem to be only one person (Christ), but inwardly they remain essentially two persons (q.v.). The orthodox, on the other hand, went to the other extreme, denying the working of the Holy Spirit within the man Jesus:
If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Ghost, so that he used through him a power not his own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these divine signs; let him be anathema (Twelve Anathemas Against Nestorius, q.v.).

Jesus professed to cast out devils by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28), and He also said, the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (John 14:10). If we are to logically follow the argument of the orthodox, then we must identify the Holy Spirit as the Father, and then again the Logos as the Holy Spirit (as the apostle Paul did). In a letter to bishop John of Antioch,following the Council of Ephesus, Cyril called the incarnation an unmixed union, in which God the Word was incarnate and became man, and from this conception he united the temple taken from her (Mary) with himself (The Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.). He repeats his theory of the kenosis:
God the Word (Logos) came down from above and from heaven. He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was called the Son of Man, yet remaining what he was, that is to say God. (q.v.)

Cyril denies having said that a krasis (mingling or mixture) took place between the Word (Logos) and flesh. We find that Cyrils letter to bishop John of Antioch (433 AD) restored some peace among the Catholics because Cyril agreed that the union in Christ was a union of natures, thus clearing himself from charges of Apollinarianism (Christology of The Later Fathers, Vol. 3, ed. Edward Hardy, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, n.d.).


The Council of Chalcedon was convened to settle a dispute brought about by an abbot at Constantinople, Eutyches, who

claimed that there were two natures in Christ before the union, but only one afterward. These two natures were in divine foreknowledge of the incarnation...but only one nature (after the incarnation actually took place), apparently a result of some sort of a mixture of human and divine (Christology of The Later Fathers, Vol. 3, q.v.). According to bishop Leo of Rome (episcopate 440-461 AD), Eutyches held that the flesh of him whom the virgin conceived was not of the nature of her that conceived him (The Letter of Leo To Flavian, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, q.v.). But Leo maintained, it was the Holy Ghost who gave fecundity (fertility) to the virgin, but it was from a body that a real body was derived (q.v.). The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us that is, in that flesh which he assumed from a human being, and which he animated with the spirit of rational life (q.v.). Leo adds, the inviolable nature (i.e., divine) was united to the passible (i.e., human) (q.v.). Christ was whole in what was his, whole in what was ours. And Leo noted:
By ours we mean what the Creator formed in us at the beginning and what he assumed in order to restore; for of that which the deceiver brought in, and man, thus deceived, admitted, there was not a trace in the Savior; and the fact that he took on himself a share of our infirmities did not make him a partaker of our transgressions.

And Leo does not seem to see much of a problem with interpreting Philippians 2:5-11 to apply it to the mechanics of the incarnation itself:
He assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching what was human, not impairing what was divine: because that emptying of himself, whereby the Invisible made himself visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things willed to be one among mortals, was a stooping down in compassion, not a failure of power. Accordingly, the same who, remaining in the form of God, made man, was made man in the form of a servant.(q.v.)

But Leo, while preserving the dignity of the Divinity, nevertheless insists upon following the Logos doctrine and assigning the duty of salvation to another divine Person other than God the Father:
the Son of God, descending from his seat in heaven, and not departing from the glory of the Father, enters this lower world, born after a new order, by a new mode of birth. (q.v.)

Leo held that the properties of the divine and human nature remained in Jesus without causing a division (q.v.). Eutyches, however, held that the Son had a new mixed nature. Leo rightly responded that this type of nature

denied the efficacy of the cross. Leo either paraphrases 1 John 4:2,3, or else quotes from a different ancient version:
Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which dissolveth Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist (q.v.).

But Eutyches is accused of not believing that Christ had a genuine human body. He believed that the union (of humanity and deity) produced only one nature. He did believe that this mixed nature was capable of suffering. Leo stated that Eutyches said that the pre-existent Son, already before the incarnation, possessed both human and divine natures (apparently, as stated, in the divine foreknowledge of God).


At the Council of Constantinople II (553 AD), a posthumous attack was made upon the Antiochene Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius. Many of the accusations made by the Council of Constantinople II are said to have been fabrications or interpolations of Theodores writings. Among other things he was accused of teaching that the Logos was one person and Christ was another person. He was said to have taught that Christ became better by the progress in good works, As a mere man, Jesus was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And he obtained by his baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and became worthy of Sonship (q.v.). That the incarnated Christ was worshipped only out of regard for God the Word, just as one worships the image of the emperor (q.v.). Also, Theodore is accused by the Council of stating that the union of God the Word with Christ was like to that which...exists between a man and his wife (q.v.). Another blasphemy which Theodore was accused of was that he said that when the resurrected Jesus breathed upon his disciples and said Receive the Holy Ghost (John 20:22), that he breathed upon them only as a sign (q.v.). Theodore seems correct, since the apostles did not actually receive the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). As the bishop of Rome, Vigilius (d.554 AD), wrote

(Theodore) did not believe that Christ was God (q.v.). Again, this is the strain of theology seen in the school of Antioch, which strongly emphasized the genuine humanity of Christ. It is possible, however, that the Council was attempting to tarbrush Theodore of Mopsuestia with the heresy of Paul of Samosata.


This Catholic Ecumenical Council was called by the Emperor, with the acknowledgment and the approval of the bishop of Rome, and was attended by 350 bishops. Therefore, it is called an ecumenical council. It did not concern itself with the theology of the incarnation, but rather with reversing the effects of the so-called mock synod of Constantinople (754 AD), which outlawed images and pictures in churches or in worship. The council of 787 AD decreed that it was alright to salute, or to honor images and pictures, but worship was reserved for God alone. The upheaval created in the Byzantine empire by this issue is scarcely imaginable. Following the mock synod of 754 AD, which anathematized images and pictures, the Emperor Copronymus began to persecute those Catholics who were in favor of the images. He singled out the more noted monks and required them to comply with the decrees of the synod (q.v.). Copronymus forced monks to appear in the hippodrome at Constantinople, hand in hand with harlots, while the populace spat at them (q.v.). Monasteries were destroyed, turned into barracks, with the property going into the hands of the state. One of Copronymuss governors, Lachonodraco, collected a number of monks onto a broad plain, dressed them in white, presented them with wives, and forced them to choose between marriage and loss of sight. The imperial police stormed the churches, and destroyed those images and pictures which had not been secured (q.v.). It was only the death of the Emperor Copronymus in 775 AD, which saved those Catholic clergy who believed in the use of images and pictures from being extirpated. Under the Empress Irene, the use of images and pictures was gradually revived. The Second Council of Nicea in 787 AD confirmed the orthodoxy of this position.


The Catholic church took the position that there was a genuine and ineffable hypostatic union of the human nature and divine nature in one Person, Christ. It was the second divine Person (the Logos), who was incarnated. The Logos took flesh unto himself. The Word was not converted into flesh, but rather he (the Word) united the flesh to his divinity. He was conceived of the Holy Ghost through the virgin Mary, and was made perfect man, with a human soul, a human body, and a human intellect. The Catholics rejected the Apollinarian concept that the human nature and the divine nature were mixed in Christ. They held to the distinctness of the human and divine natures, even though there was what they called a hypostatic union (hypostatic, in this instance, seeming to refer to the term being).There were not two beings, but rather one being. They rejected the Nestorian concept of two persons, and a mere conjunction of natures rather than a union. This union did not take place after the conception in the womb, but was part and parcel of the conception itself. In other words, the Logos did not unite himself to a readymade human being, but rather took unto himself flesh during the process of the ineffable and inconceivable union during the conception itself. These Catholic fathers, then, apparently considered that the phrase the Word was made flesh (or became flesh) to mean that Mary supplied the flesh in the ineffable union of the two natures. The two natures remained distinct in one person. There was no confusion or mixing of the two natures. There was not a resultant one nature as Eutyches had incorrectly taught. They also rejected the monothelite (one will) teaching concerning Christ. Christ has two wills (human and divine), which were in complete harmony, since Christ subjected his human will to the divine in all things.


WHAT EUSEBIUS, THE OFFICIAL CATHOLIC CHURCH HISTORIAN, THOUGHT We have seen some of the theories concerning the incarnation in the Catholic fathers, since we have examined the seven Catholic Ecumenical Councils. There are other writings,however, in which we can examine incarnational views in both Apostolic and Catholic fathers. Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339 AD), for example, one of the

prime movers in the Council of Nicea (325 AD), was of the Arian persuasion. In his sermon celebrating the 30th year of the Emperor Constantines reign, he made Arian references concerning the Logos:
the Supreme unbegotten, above and beyond all creation, ineffable, inaccessible, unapproachable...dwelling in the light which none can enter... (creation is) infinitely far removed from his unbegotten essence, (but) the Almighty God (has) interposed intermediate Power between himself and them, even the divine omnipotence of his only-begotten Word (Logos) (The Oration of Eusebius, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. l, Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans, 1986).

Eusebius considered the pre-existent Word (Logos), which he personified, to have been begotten of the Father. He used the terms logos endiathetos (the word internalized or thought) and logos prophorikos (the word externalized or speech), as the early Catholic fathers had done. The Word, however, is more than just divine speech. The Word is a separate personal being, subsisting alongside with the Father, and proceeds from his Fathers deity and kingdom (q.v.). He also wrote, however, that:
(The Word) showed them God in human form...he performed all his works through the medium of that body which he had assumed for the sake of those who else were incapable of apprehending his divine nature. In all this he was the servant of his Fathers will, himself remaining still the same as when with the Father; unchanged in essence, unimpaired in nature, unfettered by the trammels of mortal flesh, nor hindered by his abode in a human body from being elsewhere present.

In this passage, Eusebius is apparently referring to the theory of kenosis, without, however, quoting from Philippians 2:5-11. Notice that the incarnation does not change Christs essence or impair his nature. He is not fettered by his flesh, and his omnipresence is not hindered by the incarnation. His views on the incarnation, of course, are flawed in that he accepted the theory of the incarnation of a second divine Person. Aloys Dirksen (q.v.) states that Eusebius was an Origenist, and that he regarded the Holy Ghost as a creature, and considered the Son as inferior to the Father. He was even ex-communicated at one council (Antioch, 325 AD) for Arianism. He wrote in a letter to Euphration the words, Since the Son is himself God, but not true God. This would put him in the Arian camp. But the matter is very confused, since he seems to have been on both sides of the fence during his life. Socrates Scholasticus (c.380-450 AD), in his Eccleisiastical History (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,

Vol. 2, q.v.), defends Eusbeius from the accusations of Arianism.


Athenagoras of Athens, one of the earliest known trinitarians, reportedly wrote The Epistle To Diognetus (c.130 AD). In this epistle, Athenagoras displayed early the Logos doctrine. God the Father sent the Word (Logos), who was the Creator and Fashioner of all things from Heaven. God the Father formed in his mind a great and unspeakable conception, which he communicated to his Son alone (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdman, 1987). While Athenagoras does not mention the specifics of the incarnation, it is obvious that he believes in the Logos doctrine, and that he believed it was the Son that was incarnated, and not God the Father.

Ignatius of Antioch (c.30-115 AD), a reputed disciple of the apostle John and the apostle Peter, held the high monarchian view of the incarnation. He did not teach that a second divine Person had become incarnated, but rather that it was God the Father himself. In his Ephesians 18, Ignatius wrote:
For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment (dispensation) of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by his passion, he might purify the water (q.v.).

Notice that Ignatius identifies the one conceived in the womb by the Holy Ghost as our God Jesus Christ. Moreover, Jesus is of the seed of David. He obviously held Jesus to be sinless, since the Savior was baptized that he might purify the water by his passion (crucifixion), and not because he himself needed baptism. In Ephesians 19, Ignatius writes of the incarnation, God himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. He also seems to hold two natures in Christ (human and divine), since he writes, Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God (Ephesians 20, q.v.). In his epistle to the Magnesians, chapter 6, Ignatius writes, Jesus Christ, who was the Father before the beginning of time (the ages). In Wakess translation (from the text of Vossius), it is who was the Father, thus identifying Jesus as the pre-existent Father. However,

there are other texts which have who was with the Father. It seems, however, that Ignatius knew nothing of the Logos doctrine of a second divine Person becoming incarnated. Later, in Magnesians (7), Ignatius speaks of one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with one, and has gone to one. This undoubtedly speaks of the man Jesus (the Word made flesh). It does not speak of another heavenly being sent down from Heaven by the Father, since we do not see this teaching elsewhere in Ignatius. Ignatius does not use the phrase eternal Son (as the later trinitarians were to do). He does, however, use the phrase eternal Word (Magnesians 8). Ignatius did not observe the sabbath (Magnesians 9), but rather observed what he called the Lords day (see Revelation 1:10). He calls Jesus our only Master (Magnesians 9). He also seems to have believed that Matthew 27:52 indicated the resurrection of Old Testament prophets. He apparently also believed that Jesus had gone in the Spirit and preached to those in Sheol (1 Peter 3:19), as he says in Philadelphians 5. In Magnesians 15, Ignatius identifies the Holy Spirit as Jesus Christ. And in the epistle to the Trallians, he speaks of Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink (Trallians 9). Ignatius wrote that Jesus raised himself from the grave in Smyrnaens 2 (see also the Gospel of John 2:19). Moreover, he believed in a genuine resurrection of the body, as he writes, For I know that after his resurrection also he was still possessed of flesh (in the flesh), quoting Luke 24:39, in Smyrnaeans 3. And, after his resurrection, writes Ignatius, he did eat and drink with them, as being possessed of flesh, although spiritually he was united to the Father (Smyrnaeans 3). In conclusion, it can be said that Ignatius seems to have believed in the incarnation, with Jesus having two natures, human and divine. He seems to have believed that the incarnation itself took place in the womb of the virgin at conception.


This epistle is estimated to have been written as early as 100 AD, and perhaps as late as 150 AD (A. Cleveland Coxe,

Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, q.v.). The epistle shows little respect for Judaism, and contains numerous inaccuracies with respect to Mosaic enactments and observances, and cannot be ascribed to Barnabas, the great companion to the apostle Paul. The writer speaks as a Gentile. Most likely, this epistle would have a much later date, since it shows trinitarian doctrine, and does not even appear to represent the simple style of the early half of the second century. For example, in chapter 5, it speaks of Christ as a second divine Person:
He being Lord of all the world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, Let us make man after our image and after our likeness. (q.v.)

This, of course, is a trinitarian interpretation of Genesis 1:26. The incarnation is ascribed not to God the Father, but rather to the Son of God, who came in the flesh (chapter 5, q.v.). The epistle contains fantastic notions about animals, affirming that the hyena is able to change its sex from male to female! The weasel conceives by the mouth! Also, Barnabas seems to quote from the first century Gospel of The Egyptians:
And when shall these things be accomplished? And the Lord saith, When a tree shall be bent down, and again arise, and when blood shall flow out of (the) wood. (q.v.)

The Gospel of the Egyptians is probably out of the first half of the second century. Clement of Alexandria knew of it. This familiarity with this Gospel-assuming it is the same Gospel- may actually place this writer in the area of north Africa (Alexandria?).


Justin Martyr (c.114-165 AD), was apparently the son of a Roman and a Samaritan mother. He was born in Neapolis (Nablus) in Samaria. He studied in Athens, becoming a philosopher. He was converted to Catholic Christianity about 133 AD. He died a martyr in Rome 165 AD. Justin claimed to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Dialogue With Trypho 29, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, q.v.). He was baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, using a type of an early trinitarian formula, which contained the name of Jesus Christ. In his First Apology (c.140 AD), he asserted that it was the Word (Logos) which was incarnated:
the Logos himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus

Christ...the Son who came forth from him (God the Father)...and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to him. (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. l, q.v.)

Like Philo, Justin seems to have identified the preexistent Logos as an archangel. Jesus is also called Angel in chapter 43, and in Dialogue With Trypho 34. Interestingly, Justin uses the phrase prophetic Spirit for the Holy Spirit. While this may have just been a common name used in that period, it is noteworthy that it was a trademark of the Montanists to designate the Holy Spirit as the prophetic Spirit. Moreover, Justin was associated in Rome with Christians from Phrygia, the place of origin of the Montanists, during his last years alive. Justin held Jesus in the second place to God the Father, and the prophetic Spirit (Holy Spirit) in the third (q.v.). God the Father he calls the only unbegotten God. We might contrast this with the variant, the only begotten God in John 1:18. The Logos is the firstborn of God, produced without sexual union (q.v.). He was born in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation. He was born (also) of a virgin, the only proper Son who has been begotten of God. He became a man among men (q.v.). The Son took flesh and became man (q.v.). The power of God having come upon the virgin, overshadowed her, and caused her while yet a virgin to conceive (q.v.). She conceived of the Holy Ghost. It is interesting that, in at least one place (perhaps early), Justin equates the Holy Spirit with the Word (q.v.). This was common in the first half of the second century until the Montanist emphasis upon the Holy Spirit as the third person. Justin, in his Second Apology, continues to insist that God the Father has no name:
But to the Father of all, who is unbegotten, there is no name given. For by whatever name he be called, he has as his elder the person who gives him the name...his Son, who alone is properly called Son, the Word, who also was with him and was begotten before the works, when at first he created and arranged all things by him (the Word)... (q.v.)

This, of course, is in direct opposition to the scriptures of the Old Testament (e.g., see Exodus 3:13,14). The Logos, as Justin seems to teach, was begotten before the works (of creation). He was a strong subordinationist, whose doctrine subsequent trinitarians have unsuccessfully tried to disavow, even though it is part and parcel of the

trinitarian model. Justin says:

For next to God, we worship and love the Word (Logos) who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since also he became man for our sakes...(q.v.).

And, in chapter 45 (The Dialogue With Trypho, q.v.), he refers to Christ and the incarnation:
Christ, Son of God, who was before the morning star and the moon, and submitted to become incarnate, and ... born of this virgin of the family of David... (q.v.).

Much is made by Justin on a variant reading in the Psalms, which says before the morning star I have begotten thee (Psalms 110:3). The Son, in Justins view, was begotten of the Father by an act of will (before the ages) (q.v.). This is obviously contrary to the biblical account of the birth of the Lord Jesus, which describes the virgin birth and not some nebulous pre-existent birth.


Irenaeus of Lyons (120-202 AD), one of the respected earlier Catholic fathers, wrote extensively. In his Against Heresies (I.ix.3) he identifies Christ as the Word of the Father, and the one who descended (as)..the same also who ascended. And he states:
He...the only-begotten Son of the only God, who, according to the good pleasure of the Father, became flesh for the sake of men...(q.v.).

And, to counter docetism, Irenaeus says that the Saviors flesh was that which was of old formed for Adam by God out of the dust. And it is this (flesh) that John declared the Word of God became. In his statement of a creed, Irenaeus (q.v., I.x.1) says, Christ Jesus, who became incarnate for our salvation. Thus, we see that he also holds to a Logos interpretation of a second divine Person becoming incarnate. In another place, Irenaeus writes, the Word of God became flesh and suffered (I.x.3). Irenaeus quotes copiously from the gospels. He mentions that Matthew wrote a gospel for the Hebrews, in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome. After their departure (we assume in the AD 60s), Irenaeus reports that Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, wrote another gospel from the words of Peter. This would place the Gospel of the Hebrews by Matthew earlier than the gospel of Mark. Then Irenaeus mentions Lukes gospel. The last gospel was written by John in Ephesus (III.1.1).

Irenaeus is quite insistent that the church of Rome was founded and organized by both Peter and Paul (III.3.2). Concerning the incarnation, Irenaeus writes, Jesus Christ, the Son of God...condescended to be born of the virgin. Irenaeus writes that the Word...did also take upon Him flesh, and was anointed by the Spirit from the Father (III.ix.3). In a passage in Against Heresies (III.xvi.6), Irenaeus seems to affirm his belief in a union of divinity and humanity in the incarnation:
(He) who is truly God... His only-begotten Word, who is always present with the human race, united to and mingled with His own creation, according to the Fathers pleasure, and who became flesh, is Himself Jesus Christ our Lord.

And this incarnation, according to Irenaeus, fulfilled all the conditions of the human nature (III.xvii.4). During the incarnation, Irenaeus says this about the Word (since he believes that it was the Word or Logos which was incarnate): the Word (remained) quiescent. He exlains that this quiescence was so that the man Jesus might be tempted, might suffer death. But in the resurrection, the human nature...(was) swallowed up in the divine (nature). And Irenaeus is careful to assert that flesh was taken from the virgin in the incarnation, when he says, Those...who allege that He took nothing from the virgin do greatly err (III.xxii.1). He maintained that God (which He maintains is the Word in this instance) received the substance of flesh from a human being (that is, from Mary)(q.v.). And Irenaeus asked the question, Why did He come down into her, if he were to take nothing of her? (III.xxii.2). Again, in Against Heresies (IV.xxxiii.11), Irenaeus speaks of the union of the Word of God with His own workmanship, declaring that the Word should become flesh, and the Son of God the Son of man. The Son, according to Irenaeus, was pre-existing as a separate person, assisting the Father:
...the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing (what is made)...(IV.xxxviii.3).

In this particular triad, we notice that the Father is the brains of the operation ( His commands), while the Son actually performs the work. The Holy Spirit also has a function. He is a nourisher and an

increaser. In Book V (V.i.1) Irenaeus describes the incarnation in this manner, our Master, existing as the Word, had become man. What other person, Irenaeus asks, knew the mind of the Lord (and now we know why the translator uses the word master to translate the Latin dominus rather than Lordsince he would be forced to write that only the Lord could know the mind of the Lord!).Then the thought of two divine persons would be destroyed! We could go on examining the early Catholic fathers only to see that the idea of the Logos doctrine was implanted in the first quarter of the second century. While, for some time, these Catholic theologians struggled with the doctrine of co-equality and co-eternality, by the early third century, they had established the triunity of God, and some had elevated the Holy Spirit to the status of full deity.


Tertullian (145-220 AD) is called the founder of Latin (Catholic) Christianity by A.C. Coxe (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, q.v.). While this may be true in part, it is a great deception in the sense that Tertullian formulated his views on the Godhead and the incarnation after he became a follower of Montanus, who was not considered orthodox by the Catholics, although a great deal of apologetical writing has spruced up the image of Montanus somewhat in the twentieth century, since it is apparent that he held a trinitarian viewpoint on the Godhead. Tertullian was an attorney. He did not become a Christian until he was about 40 years old (185 AD). Some scholars acknowledge that he probably became a Montanist before 200 AD. It cannot have been too many years later. It is not known whether he was a trinitarian before he became a Montanist or not. Therefore, then, it is unlikely that Tertullian ever was indeed a Catholic! And yet he is heralded as a Catholic father, one of the great architects of the Trinity. Tertullian was a native of the African city of Carthage, the son of a proconsular centurion. He was apparently educated in Rome. Jerome, in his Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, wrote this about Tertullian:
After remaining a presbyter of the church until he had had attained the middle age of life, Tertullian was, by the envy and contumelious treatment of the

Roman clergy, driven to embrace the opinions of Montanus...

Unfortunately, we do not have the view of the Roman clergy concerning what happened. It is rather doubtful that a man of Tertullians apparent intelligence and social position was driven to embrace the opinions of Montanus. The envy and contumelious treatment reportedly received at the hands of the Roman district has not been confirmed in history. The truth of the matter is that the Roman church leadership during this time period (180-225 AD)was monarchian or oneness. Bishop Victor, the Roman bishop who was in office 189-198 AD, seems to have infuriated Tertullian because he recalled recognition of the Montanists in Asia minor, who had usurped authority in a number of churches in that province. Tertullian would not have been any more fond of bishop Zephyrinus (198-217 AD), the successor to bishop Victor, because Zephyrinus had no sympathy for those who worshipped two or three gods, as in the case of Hippolytus, another trinitarian, and Tertullian. And Tertullian seems also to have despised bishop Callistus (217-222 AD). Moreover, Jerome, who relates how badly the Roman ministry treated Tertullian, thus driving him into Montanism, had little sympathy for the Roman prelates himself, dismissing bishop Victors writings (which have been either lost or conveniently destroyed), as being mediocre (R.B. Tollinton, Clement of Alexandria, Vol. l, London: Williams & Norgate, 1914). Jerome tells us that this Roman bishop wrote treatises on the question of Easter (Christian Passover) and other matters (italics mine). It is my opinion that these writings of Victor on other matters were monarchian or oneness, and would be very damaging to Catholic claims were they to be discovered. As J.Estlin Carpenter says, Tertullian...was led to formulate his views on the Trinity and the Person of Christ in controversy with Praxeas (The Early Phases of Christianity, London: Knickerbocker Press, 1916). Praxeas (Busybody) was a very well-known minister, who was influential with bishop Victor of Rome. Praxeas was a modalistic monarchian (oneness). In his argument with Praxeas, Tertullian was led to adopt gnostic emanation concepts in constructing the doctrine of

the Trinity. For example, he appropriated the gnostic term probole (emanation) as a designation describing the divine Son, begotten of God the Father. Tertullian knew that he had adopted a gnostic concept, and he was reproved for it by his modalist opponents (Martin Werner, The Formation of Christian Dogma, Boston: Beacon Press, 1957). Concerning the incarnation, Tertullian did not believe that it was God the Father who was incarnated. He wrote in reference to John 1.1, There is one who was, and another with whom He was (Alvan Lamson, The Church of The First Three Centuries, Boston: Walker, Wise & Co., 1860). Friedrich Ueberweg believes that Tertullian was converted to Montanism c.197 AD (History of Philosophy, Vol. l, NY: Scribners Sons, 1909). This date may be a little early, however. R.S. Franks admits that Tertullian wrote against Praxeas, the modalist, AFTER Tertullian had become a Montanist (The Doctrine of The Trinity, London: Duckworth & Co., 1953). Other modern trinitarian scholars, such as the noted Jaroslav Pelikan (The Finality of Jesus Christ In An Age of Universal History, Richmond: John Knox Press, 1966), realized how damaging to Catholic orthodoxy it was to have a Montanist Tertullian known as one of the great architects of the Catholic Trinity, have attempted to mitigate the uncontrovertible evidence of Tertullians Against Praxeas by unsuccessfully claiming that Tertullian was an orthodox Catholic when he held his trinitarian views. But R.S. Franks admits that no one has exercised more influence on the actual shape taken by the doctrine of the Trinity than Tertullian, except only Origen (q.v.). And Franks added, Tertullian has greatly influenced the doctrine of the incarnation (q.v.). Franks maintained that Tertullian taught that the distinct existence of the Spirit began when the exalted Christ poured out the gift which He had received from the Father. And Tertullian called the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the third name in the Godhead (Against Praxeas, c.213 AD). And Tertullian wrote, The Spirit is third from the Father and the Son, as the fruit from the stem is third from the root. The monarchia is preserved since there is no separation. H.J. Carpenter well notes that:
...the popular faith, concerned for its firmly held belief in the unity (oneness) of God and the deity of Christ, might well recoil in deep suspicion from Tertullians doctrine of extended divine substance and subordinate

Sonship, and feel better satisfied with the simpler modalist statement.

Tertullian was well aware that he was fighting against the orthodox view of oneness (the monarchy) in his day. He projects his guilt in the question: how can I be possibly destroying the Monarchy from the faith? (Against Praxeas 4.1). He perversely argued that the oneness teachers were trying to destroy the truth by defending it (Against Praxeas 1). Praxeas had fabricated a heresy out of (the) doctrine of unity (oneness) (q.v.). Tertullian admits that the Roman ministers said that those, who were attacking the oneness of God were preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves preeminently the credit of being worshippers of the One God (Against Praxeas 3). This was the issue, then, during the period of 189-222 AD in Rome: the oneness of God versus two gods and three gods. The phrase two gods referred to those trinitarians (Catholics) who had not yet accepted the separate Person of the Holy Spirit (and probably still identified the Logos or Son and the Holy Spirit), and the phrase three gods referred to the trinitarian Montanists such as Tertullian, who were promoting the Holy Spirit as the third Person. Tertullian acknowledged that most Christians did not share his trinitarian views:
The simple, indeed (I will not call them unwise and unlearned), who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One)... (Against Praxeas 3).

The reaction of the common Christian upon hearing Tertullians ideas of the Trinity was to be startled. The doctrine of the Trinity denied the incarnation of God the Father, proposing instead, that another divine Person (existing eternally alongside of God the Father), had come down to earth and was incarnated. Instead of using the title of Son of God exclusively for the child born of Mary, they manufactured a separate divine Person from God the Father, which they identified as the Word, pre-existing in a filial relationship to God the Father. By doing this, they refuted the incarnation of God the Father. Once they had established a second divine Person, whom they identified as the Son, the next step was to manufacture a third divine Person, the Holy Spirit. The development of the Holy Spirit as a the third divine Person in the Godhead was undertaken by Tertullian after he became a Montanist. It was the Montanists who exalted the place of the Holy Spirit in their New Prophecy.

Tertullian, before he became a Montanist, does not seem to reflect strong trinitarian views. For example, in his Prescription Against Heretics, which most assign to his pre-Montanist days, we do not find solid trinitarian views. Tertullian quotes from the rule of faith as follows:
...there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen in diverse manners by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ (xii).

While this view seems to indicate the pre-existence of the Son in the Old Testament, it is not clear since Tertullian uses the phrase under the name of God. The antecedent of that which was made flesh in the womb of the virgin is the Word and not the Son. Certainly, this creed is not blatantly trinitarian in the sense in which we see in Against Praxeas. A more fully developed trinitarian doctrine would not normally identify the one only God as the Creator without distinguishing the two divine Persons. The Montanists believed they were upholding the third divine Person, the Holy Spirit, which they called the prophetic Spirit. Montanus (130-170 AD) appeared in Ardaban in Phyrgia c.156 AD. Jerome says that he was formerly a eunuch priest, while others say he was a former priest of Cybele or Apollo. He was converted to Christianity, and, as a new convert, began to prophesy in a kind of an ecstatic trance, and, Eusebius says, to babble in a jargon, prophesying in a manner contrary to the custom of the church, which had been handed down by tradition (Eccleisiastical History, V.XVI.7). Eusebius says that Montanus also involved two female prophetesses, Priscilla and Maximilla (who died c.179 AD). The Montanists were expelled from the churches c.177 AD, with church councils in Asia minor held against them. What is unusual is that they seemed to have received much sympathy from Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (who openly became a Montanist around the turn of the century). These men are the so-called architects of the Trinity. Montanus himself never claimed to be the Paraclete (Holy Spirit), but he prophesied so often apparently in the first person voice that many were deceived into thinking so.

He reportedly said, I am the Father and the Son and the Paraclete (Jules LeBreton & Jacques Zeiller, The History of The Christian Church, Vol. III, London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1942). In another trinitarian sounding phrase he said, For God brought forth the Logos (Word) as a root brings forth a tree, and a spring a river, and the sun a ray (A History of Christianity, ed. Ray Petry, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1962). Archibald Robertson agrees that Montanism contributed indirectly to bishop Polycarps death in c.156 AD. The Montanists apparently stirred up the city of Smyrna against the Christians, and this involved the old bishop of Smyrna (Archibald Robertson, The Origins of Christianity, NY: International Pub., 1962).

It can be seen that many theories abound concerning the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of then are rather far-fetched. They delve into areas that are seemingly beyond the ken of mere mortal man. THE INCARNATION IS IDENTIFIED IN SCRIPTURE AS A MYSTERY The apostle Paul identified the incarnation as a mystery:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. -1 Timothy 3.16

Paul nowhere says great is the mystery of the Trinity. Jesus, in John 4.24, identifies God as a Spirit (not a Trinity). But Paul says great is the mystery of godliness. This mystery of godliness is the incarnation, since Paul follows with the expression of the incarnation that God was manifest in the flesh. We may not know all of the details of the incarnation, but we do know a few things that are given to us. Deuteronomy 29.29 states:
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

We may not be permitted to understand many of the details concerning the incarnation. As we have seen in this study, there is much speculation. No subject has brought forth more error than this subject. But there are many things given to us in the word of God concerning the incarnation.


1. 2 Corinthians 5.19, To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2. Matthew 3.17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We can know, then, that God the Father was in the man Christ Jesus, and that He claimed this man as His beloved Son. This in itself is amazing that the Almighty God, who is omnipresent, could signify that He was dwelling in, that He was in Christ.


1. John 1.14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 2. Hebrews 2.14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. 3. Hebrews 2.16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. HIS HUMAN CREDENTIALS ARE IMPECCABLE AND HE IS FOREVER RELATED TO THE JEWS And we also know that God partook of flesh and blood in the incarnation. In fact, God took upon Himself the particular seed of Abraham. He did not just, in a general way, become a member of the human race by means of the incarnation, but he precisely entered into a particular blood line, the seed of Abraham. This has forever set apart the blood line from other blood lines. While the ancestry of Jesus Christ is traced by Luke all the way back to Adam, making Jesus a descendant of the first Adam, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the blood line was further restricted to the seed of Abraham. We later learn that our Lord sprang out of Judah (Hebrews 7.14). And we know that He was also of the seed of David (Romans 1.3). THE METHOD OF HIS INCARNATION IS RELATED TO HIS METHOD OF CREATION BY THE WORD We know that creation was by means of the word of God. For example, Genesis 1.3 states, And God said, Let there be

light: and there was light. Psalms 33.6 says By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. Psalms 33.9 further elaborates this, For he spake, and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast. Therefore, we see that creation was accomplished by the spoken word of God. It was not done by a second divine creative Agent or Person. God merely spoke in some powerful divine way and things came into existence. Genesis 1.1 is very simple, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. There is no divine committee of persons. Isaiah 44.24 certifies that only one divine Individual created all things:
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself. -Isaiah 44.24

And this one Creator, who stretched forth the heavens alone, and who spread abroad the earth by (himself), states explicitly that there are no other divine Individuals or Persons besides Himself:
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. -Isaiah 45.5

John, the apostle, harkens back to this idea of a single divine Person creating by the use of His word in John 1.1-3:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

We have already seen that God created all things by His spoken word and not by the activity of a separate divine Person called the Word. In fact, John identifies the Word as God Himself. This identity should not by violated by attempting to make the Word someone separate from God the Father. No one would dare to attempt to make the word of a mere human a separate person from that individual. The early Jewish Christians would not hear of giving a separate personal identity to the Word. Thus, the incarnation is actually the creative power of God in action, just as His creative power worked in the beginning. He spoke the baby in the womb of Mary into existence. He Himself partook of flesh and blood through His creative power. John wrote in John 1.14, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Luke 1.35 states, 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. This again is reminiscent of the creation in Genesis 1.3, which says, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep. This is the same combination that we see in the beginning: (1) the Spirit of God, and (2) the speaking of the Word in creation. John 1.14, as we saw, declares that it was the only begotten of the Father, which is the Word...made flesh. He is identifying the term only begotten (monogenes) with the flesh and blood baby that was born of Mary. It is not some pre-existent separate divine Person from God the Father that is termed the only begotten, but rather the baby born of Mary, since there was no begetting until the Word was made flesh. When we come to John 1.18, No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, we are talking about the man Jesus, who ascended into heaven with John as a witness, after His resurrection. John is affirming that God Himself is an invisible Spirit. The only begotten Son, who was made of a woman, made under the law when the fulness of the time was come (Galatians 4.4), died at Calvary and rose from the dead. But now, John writes, He (this glorified human being), is in the bosom of the Father. He has ascended into heaven. It is he, John says, who hath declared (revealed) the Father. John is not saying that the only begotten Son was eternally in the bosom of the Father, but rather he is saying, I saw him ascend up into heaven. I know that He, just as He said that Lazarus was in the bosom of Abraham is in the bosom of the Father. Thus, the incarnation is not a Son manifested in the Son, but rather is the Father manifested in the flesh (as the Son). When we say the Word was made flesh, we are not saying that God was made flesh. Rather we are saying that God was manifest in the flesh through the mystery of the union that was effected (that is, the incarnation).


1. John 20.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 2. Acts 2.36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have

crucified, both Lord and Christ. 3. Romans 9.5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. 4. Titus 2.13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. 5. Revelation 1.8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. The apostles never understood or taught that the person or being of God could be differentiated into three divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the express image of his (Gods) person (being or hypostasis). In other words, Jesus is not a separate, distinct being (person or hypostasis) from God the Father, but rather the man Jesus is actually express image of the invisible God. That is, He is God manifest in the flesh. When an individual looks in a mirror, the image that they see is not another person! All of God that we shall ever see is Jesus Christ. He is the one seated upon the throne in heaven. He will hold out his nail-scarred hands to us (the only man-made thing in heaven). Many theologians and scholars have attempted to understand who Jesus is, but we can have a revelation of His oneness, the mighty God in Christ. Matthew 11.27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Only God really knows the Son. Only the Son knows His Father, but the Son is able to reveal the Father to us. And so it is. We can only come to God through Jesus Christ. He is the way. God was manifest in the flesh so that we might have fellowship with Him. When we look at Jesus we see God in the flesh. It is God manifest in the flesh (Jesus) who died for us and shed His blood. That is why we need to have faith in Him alone (Jesus). There is no salvation outside of His name. We need to fully repent of our sins (metanoia, a complete about face and change in the direction of our lives toward God and not away from Him). Then we need to be baptized by immersion in the saving name of the Lord Jesus Christ for

the remission of sins. Finally, in order to truly live for God the way He wants, we need to expect and to receive the baptism (the infilling) of the glorious Holy Ghost, with the initial sign or evidence of speaking in tongues, as the early Christians did in the Book of Acts. It is only in the book of Acts that we see actual instances of people being saved. We do not see one example of anyone being saved in the epistles. We dont see an example of anyone being saved in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), since the church had not yet been founded on the day of Pentecost. The thief on the cross was still until the Old Covenant. He needed faith in God, repentance, and a blood sacrifice. He turned to Jesus in faith, and repented there on the cross. His blood sacrifice (Jesus) was hanging next to him. Had the thief been alive on the day of Pentecost, then he would have had to obey Acts 2.38. I have often been asked why was the thief saved and he wasnt even baptized. My answer is the above. I also ask another question back: how do you know the thief was not baptized? Do you have his entire lifes history available? Perhaps John the baptist had baptized him! Anyway, it doesnt matter because the thief was not in the church age. Everyone in the church age must be baptized in Jesus Name in order to partake of the New Covenant by faith.