The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is both God and man. Many Christians are understandably confused when it comes to understanding how Jesus can be God and man at the same time. How could our divine Creator become a human? Could a first-century Jewish man really be God? While a certain amount of mystery will always accompany this issue, both Scripture and, to a lesser extent, church tradition provide for us important distinctions to help us make sense of this matter.
While previous church councils had deliberated over issues pertaining to the nature of Christ and His relationship to the Father, it was the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) that affirmed that Christ is “the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man.” This statement is not true simply because the council taught it. Rather, the council’s declaration was authoritative only insofar as it aligned with what the Bible teaches on the subject. Scripture is clear that Jesus is God (John 20:28; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8), and it is equally clear that He is truly human (Romans 1:2–4; 1 John 4:2–3). Jesus claimed the divine name (John 8:58) and did things that only God can do (Mark 2:1–12; Luke 7:48–50). But Jesus also displayed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities common to humanity (Luke 19:41; John 19:28).
The belief that Jesus is both God and man is of fundamental importance. The apostle Paul wrote that an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus is required to be saved (Romans 10:9), and the apostle John provided a sober warning that those who deny Christ’s true humanity are promoting the doctrine of antichrist (2 John 1:7).
The Triune God of the Bible has existed and reigned from all eternity, and the second Person of the Trinity, the Son, took on human flesh at a particular point in time (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 1:5). God the Son added a sinless human nature to His eternally existent divine nature. The result was the Incarnation. God the Son became a man (John 1:1, 14). Hebrews 2:17 gives the reason that Jesus had to be both God and man: “He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” The Son of God took on human flesh to provide redemption to those under the law (Galatians 4:4–5).
At no time did Jesus ever cease to be God. Although He was made fully human, there was never a point when He abrogated His divine nature (see Luke 6:5, 8). It is equally true that, after becoming incarnate, the Son has never ceased to be human. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, emphasis added). Jesus is not half-human and half-divine. Rather, He is Theanthropos, the God-man. The Lord Jesus Christ is one eternally divine Person who will forever possess two distinct yet inseparable natures: one divine and one human.