- Rick LoPresti
The dual nature of Jesus Christ
There is a term in the King James Bible used to describe God. It is the word Godhead. It appears in three verses – Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9. These verses have three different but similar words in the original Greek. Acts 17:29 has theios, which is a general term for deity or divinity. It can be used for false gods as well as the real One. In that sense it is similar to the Hebrew word Elohim. It is also translated divine in 2Peter 1:3-4. In Romans 1:20 it is the word theiotes which again means deity or divinity. In Colossians 2:9 it is the word theotes which also means deity or divinity; but in addition it means the state of being God. Thayer’s Lexicon also says, “deity differs from divinity as essence differs from quality or attribute”. God is a Spirit (Jn 4:24). A spirit does not have flesh and bones (Lk 24:39). The basic definition of person in Webster’s dictionary is “the body of a human being”. Therefore, using the word person to describe God is not doctrinally sound, nor is it Biblical language. The singular word person appears 3 times in the KJV in relation to God (Job 13:8, 2Cor 2:10, and Heb 1:3). In Job it is the Hebrew word paniym which literally means face. This is the same word God spoke to Moses in Ex 33:20-23. First, this is not a literal face. God did not have a body before Jesus was conceived (Ps 110:1, Heb 10:5). God is everywhere (Ps 139:7-10). God was telling Moses he could not handle the fullness of God’s direct presence. In 2Corinthians 2:10 it is the Greek word prosopon which also means face. We can see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). It could also be interpreted as countenance or presence. In Heb 1:3 it is the Greek word hupostasis, which means essence or substance. The plural word persons is never used in the Bible to describe God.
There are two main views on the Godhead. The first is that God is indivisibly One in His identity and existence, which the Bible clearly says repeatedly. The word one appears 111 times in the KJV in relation to God. The word only appears 32 times. The word himself appears 114 times. The word myself appears 33 times. These 4 words appear 290 times. The words I, me, my, mine, he, him, and his could not be counted using Strong’s Concordance because they appear too often to be listed. The words us and our each appear once in the same verse - Gen. 1:26. The word us also appears in Gen 11:7. The word three appears twice in the same verse - 1Jn 5:7, the end of which states “and these three are one”. The words ours, ourselves, they, them, and themselves never appear. The words we and our appear in John 14:23, but are in reference to believers receiving the Holy Ghost, not to persons. The words trinity and persons also never appear. The phrase God the Son does not appear. The word manifest (-ed, -ation) appears 18 times in relation to God. The language of scripture is clearly in favor of an understanding of the nature of the Godhead as absolutely one, and not more than one. A reading of Isaiah chapters 40-50 will find voluminous and very clear language that the Godhead is absolutely one to the exclusion of all other concepts of Him. This one God manifested Himself in the flesh to be our Savior (Jn 1:1-14, Jn 14:7-11, 2Cor 5:19, Col 2:9, 1Tim 3:16). A key word in these verses is “in”. The deity/divinity/God/Father/Spirit was manifested IN the flesh/Son/ humanity of Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus has two natures in Him – divine and human. He is both fully God and fully man. The divine Spirit we call God/Father etc. is also called the Holy Ghost. It is not two different divine Spirits (Jn 14, Eph 4:4). When the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary to tell her she was going to give birth to the Savior, she asked how this could happen since she had not yet consummated her marriage to Joseph and was thus still a virgin. Gabriel responded that the Holy Ghost would cause the conception in her womb, and therefore the child would be the Son of God (Mt 1:18-20, Lk 1:35). This makes the Holy Ghost the Father of the Son of God. The terms Father and Holy Ghost do not describe different divine persons, but rather are just different ways to describe the One divine Spirit that is God. The divine Spirit in Jesus was called the Father (Jn 14:7-11), the Holy Ghost (Jn 14:16-26), and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:19). So, this view of the Godhead says God always was (Gen 1:2), is (Jn 4:24), and always will be a Spirit (Rev 1:4). That one Spirit was manifested IN the flesh and is now manifested to us as the Holy Ghost (Jn 7:37-39, Acts 2:1-4). When we say God was in flesh, this does not mean that God ceased to be God and was strictly confined to the limitations of a human body. It means God continued to be God while also inhabiting a human body (Jn 3:13). Jesus was both God and man, or more precisely God IN man. This view is sometimes called “oneness” or “modalist”. It does not teach that God was born (Jn 3:16), ate (Lk 24:36-43, got tired (Jn 4:6), slept (Mt 8:23-27), or died (1Thes 5:10), but that the humanity did. However, the One who slept in the boat also got up and commanded the storm to stop as God (Prov 30:4). The one who died also rose Himself from the grave as God the Father (Jn 2:19-21, Gal 1:1). The one who ate also fed Israel in the wilderness (1Cor 10:4), and He created all things (Col 1:16).
Another popular view on the Godhead is that it consists of three separate and distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons called the trinity. One key difference between this belief and the oneness belief is not whether Jesus is divine. Both beliefs say that this is so. The difference in this aspect is how He is God. The oneness view says that the divinity in Jesus is the Father. The trinitarian view is that the divinity in Jesus is a separate divine person apart from the Father. This creates many doctrinal dilemmas. A further study on these two doctrines can be found in books such as “Back to the Basics” by this author or “The Oneness of God” by David Bernard.
However, there is a third view which, although not as popular among those who call themselves Christians, does exist and has existed for a long time. It is the view that Jesus is not God in any way. This view says that Jesus is a good man, a prophet, and in some cases the Savior, but He is not divine in any way. An early form of this doctrine is called Gnosticism, which has its roots in Greek paganism. The apostle John addresses this in his writings, especially John 1:1-14 and his epistles (1Jn 1:1-3, 1Jn 2:21-24, 1Jn 4:1-6, 1Jn 5:7 & 20-21, 2Jn 7-11). Some people were not only denying that Jesus is divine, but that He was not literally a human being at all. Today, those that acknowledge the humanity of Jesus but not the divinity are called unitarians. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims also do this.
The only way to properly interpret the scriptures is to assert that Jesus is both fully God and fully man in one person. Unitarians make the mistake of reading the scriptures that speak of the humanity of Jesus and interpret them to mean that they teach He had no divinity. They do not say that. Jesus was fully human and the scriptures clearly describe this. However, there are also many scriptures that show He is divine.
The prophets showed that He would be divine. Genesis 3:15 is almost universally interpreted to be a Messianic prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus. Isaiah also confirmed this (Is 7:14 with Mt 1:23, Is 9:6). The angel Gabriel also described the divine origin of His conception (Mt 1:18-20, Lk 1:35). Romans 1:3-4 and Galatians 4:4 speak of the dual nature of Jesus as shown by the way He came in the flesh. Abraham and Isaac are described as symbolic of the Father and Son. Genesis 12:1-3 is the start of the revelation Abraham received from God. In Genesis 17 he is given more specific details. Galatians 3 speaks of the correlation between Abraham, Isaac and Christ. Hebrews 2:16 says of Christ that “verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham”. If Jesus did not exist as God before His conception, how did He “take on” human nature and why should this even be specifically said if He was only human? The symbolism of Abraham offering Isaac is also fulfilled by Jesus (Heb 11:17-19). Jesus made an important statement on this subject when the Jews were denying who He is in John 8:56-58. He said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” How did Abraham see Jesus? Obviously, Jesus was not physically present with Abraham. The Jews pointed out that Jesus was physically under 50 years old, and then incorrectly asked how he could have seen Abraham. That is not what Jesus said. He said Abraham saw His day. Then He cleared up exactly what He was asserting by saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am”. They attempted to stone Him to death for that statement, which shows they understood what He meant. He was not saying He was old enough to have seen Abraham. He was saying He was the I AM, the eternal God of Abraham and of Moses (Ex 3:14). Does the Bible show that Jesus is Jehovah God? Jehovah is Lord of lords (Deut 10:17, Ps 136:3), but so is Jesus (Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16). Jehovah is the Judge (Jud 11:27, 1Sam 2:10), but so is Jesus (Jn 5:22 and 27, Jn 16:7-8, Rom 14:10, 2Cor 5:10). Jesus is the son of David according to the flesh and fulfills the prophetic meaning of 2Samuel 7:11-16, but He is also the origin and Lord of David (Lk 20:41-44, Rev 5:5, Rev 22:16). He is both the root and the offspring of David. David was a prophet and sometimes spoke of his life as symbolic prophecy of the coming Messiah (Acts 2:25-35, Acts 4:25-27). Jehovah is the stone of stumbling (Is 8:13-15), but that is Jesus (Rom 9:33, 1Cor 1:13 and 1Pet 2:8). Jehovah lays the foundation stone (Is 28:16), but that is Jesus (Rom 9:33). Isaiah prophesied that Jehovah would come and do specific miracles to identify Himself (Is 35:2-6), but it was Jesus that fulfilled this prophecy (Mt 11:2-5). Jehovah is the first and the last (Is 44:6), but that is also Jesus (Rev 1:11 & 17, Rev 2:8, Rev 22:13). Jesus is the arm of Jehovah (Is 53:1, Jn 12:37-38). Jehovah said he would not give His glory to another (Is 42:8), but Jesus said He is going to come in the glory of His Father (Mk 8:38). The house of Jehovah the Father belonged to Jesus (Jer 7:11, Mt 21:13, Jn 2:16 and 19). Daniel saw Jesus as both the Ancient of Days and the Son of man (Dan 7:9-14, 22). The book of Revelation directly correlates to the book of Daniel, especially Daniel 7. John also saw Jesus as both the Ancient of Days sitting on the throne described by Daniel and as the Son of Man (Rev 1:13-15, Rev 5:11). He saw Him as the Lion and the Lamb in the same passage. John leaned on Jesus at the last supper (Jn 21:20), but when he saw Jesus in His glory he fell at His feet as dead (Rev 1:17). Obviously, there was difference. There is only one throne in heaven and One sitting on it all through the Bible (1Ki 22:19, Is 6:1, Eze 1:26, Eze 10:1) This is Jesus as both God and man (Rev 1:4-8, Rev 3:21, Rev 4:1-10, Rev 5:1-13, Rev 6:16, Rev 20:11-15, Rev 22:1-4). Jesus will present the church to himself (Lk 19:12, Jn 14:3, Eph 5:27, Jude 24). Micah said the one born in Bethlehem is also He “whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting (Mic 5:2). Zechariah said that Jehovah shall come with the saints and His feet shall stand on Mt. Olivet (Zech 14:1-3). This is Jesus (Rev 19:6-16 – the Lamb whose vesture was dipped in blood, whose name is the Word of God and comes with the saints). John the baptizer said Jesus was before him, but Jesus was born 6 months later than John (Lk 1:26 and 36, Jn 1:30).
Jesus asserted that He was both divine and human. Who did He say would be speaking through the apostles when they were persecuted (Mt 10:20 – note “Spirit of your Father”, Mk 13:11, Lk 21:15)? How many divine kingdoms are there (Mt 13:43, Jn 18:36, Rom 14:17)? He said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt 18:20).” He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth (Mt 28:18).” He is the One who has all power and the One who gave it. God did not cease to have all power, and Jesus did not cease to be a man. In the next verse, Jesus said to teach and baptize in His name (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:16-17, Lk 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-48, Acts 19:1-7, Acts 22:16). His name is His specific identifier (Acts 4:12). In the next verse He says, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Mt 28:20).” Shortly after He said this, He ascended to heaven and was no longer with them physically, but He came to them as the Holy Ghost (Jn 14:17-18, Jn 16:7). The Greek word translated another in John 14 is allos, not etepos. This means that another is not another person, but another of the same substance. The Greek word translated Comforter is parakletos, which means advocate or counselor. This is the same word used for Jesus as our advocate with the Father in 1Jn 2:1. The man Christ Jesus is our one and only mediator (1Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, Heb 9:15, Heb 10:24). 2Cor 1:3-4 states the Father is the parakletos. In Is 9:6, Jesus is the son, the Counselor (the Hebrew synonym for parakletos), and the everlasting Father all in one verse. Jesus said He would raise Himself from the dead, but He did so as God the Father (Jn 2:19-21, Rom 6:4, Rom 8:11, Gal 1:1). He said He came down from heaven and was in heaven all while talking to Nicodemus (Jn 3:13). Jesus said he would draw all men unto Him (Jn 12:32). Yet, He also said the Father is the only one that can do it (Jn 6:44). He called Himself the eternal I AM (Jn 8:24 & 58). Jesus said the Father was in Him (Jn 14:7-11), He and the Father are one (Jn 10:30), and that we should pray to Him (Jn 14:13-14). Jesus said He is the truth (Jn 14:3), and then said the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:26). He said He would not leave us comfortless (the Greek word orphanos which means fatherless), but He would come to us (Jn 14:18). He said the Father would send the Holy Ghost (Jn 14:26), but He also said He would (Jn 16:7). The Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn 7:37-39). This means He could not be manifested in this other form while He was still here in the flesh. Who is the Comforter - Jesus, the Holy Ghost, or the Father (Jn 14:18, Jn 14:26, 2Cor 1:2-4)? Which Spirit is in us?:
a. Acts 2:4 – Holy Ghost
b. Rom 8:9 – Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ
c. 2Cor 6:16 – God will dwell in them
d. 2Cor 13:5 – Jesus Christ is in you
e. Col 1:27 – Christ in you
f. Phil 1:19 – supply of the Spirit (capital S) of Jesus Christ
Jesus is the true God (Jn 17:3, 1Jn 5:20-21), and He is the Almighty (Rev 1:8). Even the New World Translation says Jesus is the Almighty in Revelation 1:8. The New World Translation is only used by Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the deity of Jesus. There are many other scriptures in this translation which also show the deity of Jesus.
The apostles also taught the deity of Jesus Christ. Matthew wrote that Gabriel delivered the name of the Messiah to Mary (Mt 1:21 & 25, Lk 2:21). His name is written in all capitals in these verses to indicate the divinity of this name as in Exodus 3:14 (Jer 23:6). His name literally means Jehovah is or has become salvation. This is not a family name or anything of the kind. It is the divine name of the One Savior Jehovah who came in the flesh (Is 43:11, Hos 13:4, Titus 1:3-4, Titus 2:13, Titus 3:4 & 6). Jesus is the Creator (Jn 1:3, Col 1:16). John said the vision Isaiah had of Jehovah in Isaiah 6 was Jesus (Jn 12:41). Matthew also quotes Isaiah 6 as fulfilled by Jesus (Mt 13:14-15). Thomas, a Jew, called Him his Lord and his God, and Jesus did not correct him (Jn 20:28). Stephen called upon God and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (Acts 7:59)”. Paul said the rock the followed Israel in the wilderness was Christ (1Cor 10:4). Who administers the spiritual gifts (1Cor 12:4 - the Spirit, 1Cor 12:5 - the Lord, 1Cor 12:6 – God)? The Father is all in all, but so is Jesus (1Cor 15:28, Col 3:11). 2Cor 5:19 says God was in Christ. 2Cor 6:17-18 says, “saith the Lord, I will be a Father to you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”. How many Lords, Fathers, and Almighties are there? Philippians 2:5-8 says Jesus was in the form of God and equal with God but emptied Himself of this. Equal here is the Greek word isos, which means “equal in quantity and quality”. The phrase no reputation here is the Greek word keno, which means He emptied Himself. When and of what did Jesus divest Himself if He is just a man that did not exist as God before He came in the flesh? God said there is none equal to Him (Is 40:25, Is 46:5). Colossians 2:8-9 says that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily. Using the words all and fulness are not really necessary because of the meaning of the word Godhead. They are used for emphasis. 1Timothy 3:16 says God was manifest in the flesh, seen of angels, and received up to glory. That is Jesus. 1Peter 1:11 says the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of the Old Testament.
In summary, the prophets, Jesus Himself, and His apostles all plainly taught the deity and dual nature of Jesus Christ. Does it matter which view you hold as long as you believe Jesus is the Savior? Yes, it does. Here are some reasons why:
1. The correct understanding of the identity of Jesus is the foundation upon which the Lord is
building His church (Mt 16:13-20). Any other foundation is sand (Mt 7:24-27).
2. Jesus connected it to forgiveness of sins (Jn 8:21 & 24).
3. Any other doctrine is antichrist (1Jn 2:18-25, 1Jn 4:1-3, 2Jn 7-11).
4. It is directly connected to the remission of sin through repentance and water baptism (Jn
8:21 & 24). It is the reason baptism is to be done in the name of Jesus Christ (Mk 16:16, Lk
24:44-47, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10:43-48). People who reject the modalist doctrine
usually do not baptize in the name of Jesus Christ, which is means to remission of
sins and salvation (Acts 2:38, Acts 4:12, Acts 10:43).
5. Proper knowledge of and relationship with God is essential (Jn 17:3 – eternal life, know
thee (1Jn 5:20), Phil 3:10, 2Thes 1:18)
6. The concept of a three-person Godhead or a Son of God that is a separate person do not
originate with the Bible, but in paganism.
7. How do people properly pray if they believe God is three persons or that Jesus is not God?
8. The Bible shows a progressive revelation of God. In conjunction with this principle, and
based on Jn 16:13 and Acts 10:44-48, people may not get all the parts of their foundation in
the normal order. However, that does not mean they can skip any part. Someone may get
the Holy Ghost before they are baptized. That does not mean they do not need to get
baptized. Someone may not have the revelation of the oneness of God when they repent,
are baptized or receive the Holy Ghost. That does not mean they do not need it. Someone
can have all these things but not walk in the progression of holiness, and not be saved.
When people reject further revelation and refuse to move forward in their relationship with
God, there is only one direction for them to go – away from God. Remember Lot’s wife
(Lk 17:32). Also see Mt 7:18, Mt 12:30, Lk 9:62, Heb 10:38-39. There is no neutral gear in
God’s “transmission”. There is no neutral approach to God. That is what Adam and Eve
(Gen 2-3), Laban (Gen 24:50, Gen 31:24 & 29), Balaam (Num 24:13) and Absalom (2Sam
13:22) tried. If someone rejects the foundational revelation of the absolute oneness of God,
how are they moving forward in Him? This is proven by what happens to people spiritually
in their relationship with God when they reject this essential truth. When people are
presented with this doctrine and reject it, they stop moving forward. When oneness people
walk away from this truth, they always regress spiritually. It cannot be any other way. This
is carried out individually and even denominationally. It is one of the main reasons there is
such a decline in Christianity throughout the western world. The revelation of oneness is
not a “bonus” revelation, just as the other essential parts of our relationship with God are
not. Yes, it not to be approached and presented as a negative, but a positive. Yet it is
essential just the same.