Home > Systematic Theology > Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: The Person of Christ: Humanity- Book Fifth- Chapter 1- Section 1

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: The Person of Christ: Humanity- Book Fifth- Chapter 1- Section 1

Book Fifth





The manner of Christ’s conception was peculiar. Without a human father, he was conceived in the womb of his virgin mother, by the power of the Holy Ghost. How far the son of Mary, conceived in this peculiar manner, resembled the sons born of other mothers, in the ordinary mode of generation, and how far he differed from them, we cannot certainly know from the circumstances of his conception. The divine power, which formed a man out of the dust of the ground, could also form a man in the womb of the virgin: but whether this extraordinary production should be a man, or a being of some other order, depended entirely on the will of God. For the knowledge of what Jesus Christ was, we are wholly indebted to the testimony concerning him given in the sacred Scriptures.

The testimony of the inspired Word on this point is very explicit. Whatever else Jesus Christ may have been, he was certainly a man; for so innumerable passages of Scripture declare. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved;”[2] “One mediator, the man Christ Jesus.”[3]

Jesus Christ had a human body. His was not a mere shadowy form of humanity; for, even after his resurrection, he said to his disciples, “Handle me and see me, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”[4] It was a real body that bore the weight of the cross, and was afterwards nailed to it. It was a real body that was pierced by the spear; and real blood and water issued from the wound. It was a real body that was embalmed with spices and laid in the tomb; and that afterwards rose from the dead. This body was human. It had the appearance and organs common to human bodies; was sustained by food, was subject to hunger and weariness, and needed the rest of sleep, like the bodies of other men.

Jesus Christ had a human soul. If the divine nature had dwelt in his body as a mere tabernacle of flesh, and supplies to it the place of a human soul, it could not have been said that “Jesus increased in wisdom.”[5] The mere material fabric could have no wisdom, and the wisdom of the divine nature was not susceptible of increase. Nor was it some created spirit of angelic or super-angelic nature that animated his body. He was made in all things like his brethren;[6] and he would not have been a brother, one of the family, made like the rest, if the spirit that dwelt in his human flesh had not also been human. Without this he would not have been a man. If he had not possessed a soul, he could not have said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful;”[7] nor could it have been said, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.”[8] And if his soul had not been human, it would not have been a suitable offering for the sin of human beings. He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham.[9] He must be made like those whose law-place he assumed, and for whom he made himself a sacrifice.

The soul of Christ was unlike the souls of ordinary men, in being without the taint of sin. The mention of this exception proves more strongly the likeness in other respects. “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”[10] Had the divine nature served as the soul of Christ, a statement of this exception would have been needless and inappropriate. Christ could be a man without being depraved; for Adam was a man before he fell. In the comparison between Christ and Adam as public heads, Adam is called the first man, and Christ the second man.[11] The humanity of the latter is as real as that of the former.

In the working of miracles God has shown that he is able to suspend the laws of nature; and he could have suspended that law of nature by which depraved parents generate depraved children. Had it been his pleasure, Jesus Christ might have had a human father as well as a human mother; and have been, nevertheless, without sin; for with God all things are possible. But it was not the pleasure of God that he should be so born; and the reason for his conception by the power of the Holy Ghost, is given in the words of the angel to his virgin mother; “Therefore, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”[12] Ordinary generation would have made him the son of man; but his generation was extraordinary, because he was also the son of God. The conception by the Holy Ghost did not give the offspring an intermediate nature between the divine and the human, such as the demigods of the heathen were supposed to possess. In that case, Christ, as the son of God, would have been the son of the Holy Ghost, and not of the Father. But the Holy Sprit was the agent in preparing the body in which the sacrifice was to be made; and such was the union between it and the divinity, that the name, Son of God, belonged to the entire person so constituted.

[1] John i. 14; Phil. ii. 7, 8; Heb. ii. 14–17; Mark ix. 12; 1 Tim. ii. 5; Matt. i. 18–25; Luke i. 28–35; Gal. iv. 4; Matt. iv. 2; xxi. 18; John iv. 6, 10; Math. viii. 24; xxi 18; Mark ix. 12; Isaiah liii. 3; John xi. 35; Luke xix. 41; Matt. xxvi. 37, 38; Luke xxii. 44; Matt. iv. 1; Mark i. 13; Luke iv. 2; Heb. ii. 18; iv. 15; Luke ii. 10, 52; Matt. iv. 11; Luke xxii. 43; Mark xv. 34.

[2] Acts ii. 22.

[3] 1 Tim. ii. 5.

[4] Luke xxiv. 39.

[5] Luke ii. 52.

[6] Heb. ii. 17.

[7] Mark xiv. 34.

[8] Isaiah liii. 10.

[9] Heb. ii. 16.

[10] Heb. iv. 15.

[11] 1 Cor. xv. 47.

[12] Luke i. 35.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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