What does incarnate mean? How was Jesus God incarnate?Question: "What does incarnate mean? How was Jesus God incarnate?"
Answer: The Latin verb incarnare meant “to make flesh.” When we say that Jesus Christ is God “Incarnate,” we mean that the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14). However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He did not stop being deity. Although Jesus became fully human (Hebrews 2:17), He retained His status as God (John 1:1, 14). How Jesus is able to be both man and God simultaneously is one of the great mysteries of Christianity but is nevertheless a test of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7). Jesus has two distinct natures, divine and human. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).
The Bible clearly teaches the deity of Christ by presenting His fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 7:14; Psalm 2:7), His eternal existence (John 1:1–3; John 8:58), His miraculous virgin birth (Luke 1:26–31), His miracles (Matthew 9:24–25), His authority to forgive sin (Matthew 9:6), His acceptance of worship (Matthew 14:33), His ability to predict the future (Matthew 24:1–2), and His resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:36–39). The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is superior to angels (Hebrews 1:4–5) and angels are to worship Him (Hebrews 1:6).
The Bible also teaches the Incarnation—Jesus became fully human by taking on human flesh. Jesus was conceived in the womb and was born (Luke 2:7), He experienced normal aging (Luke 2:40), He had natural physical needs (John 19:28) and human emotions (Matthew 26:38), He learned (Luke 2:52), He died a physical death (Luke 23:46), and He was resurrected with a physical body (Luke 24:39). Jesus was human in every way except for sin; He lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).
When Christ took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did. Jesus, in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6–8). God can never stop being God because He is immutable (Hebrews 13:8) and infinite (Revelation 1:8). If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, all life would die (see Acts 17:28). The doctrine of the Incarnation says that Jesus, while remaining fully God, became fully man.
Recommended Resource: The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns
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Questions about Jesus Christ
What does incarnate mean? How was Jesus God incarnate?