THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Extracts from A Manual of Theology by J. L. Dagg (1794-1884)
JESUS CHRIST WAS A MAN
John 1.14; Phil. 2.7,8; Heb. 2.14-17; Mark 9.12; 1 Tim. 2.5; Matt. 1.18-25; Luke 1.28-35; Gal. 4.4; Matt. 4.2; 21.18; John 4.6,10; Matt. 5.24; 21.18; Mark 9.12; Isaiah 53.3; John 11.35; Luke 19.41; Matt. 26.37,38; Luke 22.44; Matt. 4.1; Mark 1.13; Luke 4.2; Heb. 2.18; 4.15;
Luke 2.40,52; Matt. 4.11; Luke 22.43; Mark 15.34.
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 form, 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” Acts 2.22; “One mediator, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Tim. 2.5.
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; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” Luke 24.39. 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 supplied to it the place of a human soul, it could not have been said that “Jesus increased in wisdom” Luke 2.52. 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, Heb. 2.17; 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” Mark 14.34; nor could it have been said, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,” Isaiah 53.10. 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, Heb. 2.16. 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,” Heb. 4.15. Had the divine nature served as the soul of Christ, a statement of this exception would have been
needless and inappropriate. In the comparison between Christ and Adam as public heads, Adam is called the first man, and Christ the .second man, 1 Cor. 15.47. 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,” Luke 1.35. 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 Spirit 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.
JESUS CHRIST WAS GOD
Mic.5.2;Heb. 1.8; 13.8; Rev. 1.8,18; John 2.24; 10.15; 21.17; Acts 1.24; Rev. 2.23; Matt. 18.20; 28.20; John 1.48; Col. 2.3; Jude 25; Matt. 3.17; Luke 1.35; 10.22; John 5.23; 1 John 5.20; Matt. 28.19; Isaiah 40.3; Zech. 2.3,10; 4.8; Mal. 3.1; Matt. 3.3; 1 Cor. 15.47; Rev. 19.16;
Isaiah 9.6; John I.I; Rom. 9.5; 1 Tim. 3.16; Heb. 1.8; Phil. 2.6; Matt. 28.9; Luke 23.42; Acts 7.59; Rev. 5.12; John 1.3,10; Col. 1.16; Heb. 1.10;Neh.9.
As the humanity of Christ, conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, could not be known but from the testimony of the Scriptures; so His divinity, considering that He was born of a human mother, could not be known but from the testimony of the same unerring word. The conception by the Holy Ghost is sufficient to intimate that He was not to be an ordinary man; and the declaration that, in consequence of it. He was to be called the Son of God, leads the mind to conceive that, in some sense, He was to partake of the divine nature. Demigods, according to the heathen, had an intermediate nature between that of gods and men. But we have seen that Jesus Christ was properly a man, according to the testimony of the Scriptures; and we have now to appeal to the same testimony to learn whether He was also properly God.
The proofs on this point are abundant, and will be produced under several distinct heads.
I. The names of God are ascribed to Jesus Christ.
“The Word was God,” John 1.1. This testimony of the beloved disciple is the more important, because it was his design to inform us who his divine Master was. As he opens his First Epistle with an account of Jesus Christ, as the “eternal life which was with the Father” 1 John 1.3, so he opens his Gospel with an account of Him as the Word which was with God, and which was God. The subsequent part of the chapter clearly shows that this Word became flesh John 1.14, in the person of Jesus Christ, and the name Word is given elsewhere, by the same writer, to Jesus Christ, Rev. 19.13. Now it is incredible that the Gospel should open with a declaration which has misled its readers, in all ages, into a belief that Jesus Christ is God, if He were nothing more than a mere man. To no purpose has this apostle said most earnestly, ‘Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” 1 John 5.21, if his own teachings are such as must inevitably lead to idolatry. His language is usually very plain and simple: but in this case it needs the torture of most ingenious criticism if it does not teach the deity of Christ. He has written that we might believe in Christ, and, believing, might have life through His name, John 20.31; but if he has so written as to lead our souls into the sin of idolatry, our faith must be to death rather than life.
“Who is over all. God blessed for ever,” Rom. 9.5. Christ is here sailed God; not in some subordinate sense, but over all, and blessed for ever. His possession of human nature is signified in the phrase, “Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” In contrast with this, His divinity is distinctly brought to view. What He was, according to the flesh, is not all that He was; but above that, He was over all, God, blessed for ever. All the criticisms which have been tried on this text leave its testimony plain and decisive.
“My Lord and my God,” John 20.28. These words of Thomas are a brief, but very expressive declaration of his faith; and were so received by his Master: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed,” John 20.29. So, the unfolding of Christ’s true character to the mind of Nathaniel, drew forth his declaration of faith, “Thou art the Son of God,” John 1.49. So this confession of Thomas was elicited by the opening of the Saviour’s character to his mind. Both of them were doubtless taught by the same Spirit which revealed Christ’s character to Peter, Matt. 16.17; and the faith of both was accepted, and publicly approved. If Christ had not been God, it behoved Him to correct His disciple, and save him from idolatry.
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever,” Heb. 1.8. In this place, as in the first chapter of John, the inspired writer is designedly stating who Jesus Christ was. He has represented Him as superior to the prophets, by
whom God spake in times past to the fathers;Â—as superior to the angels;Â—as the proper object of angelic worship;Â—and finally closes the account with quotations from the Old Testament, applied to Him, in which He is called God, and Lord, and said to have made the heavens and earth, and to endure for ever. If He was not God, Paul was mistaken.
To these texts in which the name of God is applied to Jesus Christ, we may add the following: “The Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” Acts 20.28. “God was manifest in the flesh,” 1 Tim. 3.16. “We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ; this is the true God, and eternal life,” 1 John 5.20. “So then every one of us must give account of himself to God,” Rom. 14.12;
compared with the preceding verse. “He that built all things, is God,” Heb. 3.4, considered in connection with the context, which shows that the Son is the builder here intended.
II. The attributes of God are ascribed to Jesus Christ.
Eternity.Â—In a prediction concerning Him by Isaiah, it is said: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9.6. The phrase “Everlasting Father” may be rendered the Father of Eternity. Were this name given to Him by erring men, we might suppose it inappropriate:
but it is given to Him by the infallible Spirit that spoke in the ancient prophets. In another prophecy concerning Him, it is said: “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” Micah 5.2. We know that this prophecy referred to Christ; for it is expressly applied to Him in Matt. 2.6. In the book of Proverbs, ch. 8, Wisdom is introduced, saying: “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was …. Then I was with him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men,” Prov. 8.23-31. The most consistent interpretation of this passage, applies it to Christ, the Eternal Word, who is called “the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” 1 Cor. 1.24. To these passages, we may add the words of Christ: “Before Abraham was, I am,” John 8.58. As His human nature was not fifty years old, these words could not refer to it. They attribute existence to Him of more ancient date than the time of Abraham; and, in affirming that pre-existence, the present tense, I am, is employed. This very extraordinary mode of speaking, agrees precisely with Old Testament language, describing the self-existent Jehovah: “I am that I am.” “I AM hath sent me,” Ex. 3.14. The Jews who heard Jesus speak thus concerning Himself, understood Him to claim divinity; and if He did not design to do so, it is undeniable that He employed language well calculated to mislead them.
Immutability.Â— “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for
ever,” Heb. 13.8. “They shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but thou art the same,” Heb. 1.11,12.
Omnipresence.Â—Christ promised to be with His disciples always, even to the end of the world, Matt. 28.20, and, not only at all times, but at all places: “Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Matt. 18.20. To fulfil this promise He must be omnipresent. The same is applied in the words, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven,” John 3.13. His body was on earth, when He spoke these words; and yet He declares Himself to be in heaven. This could not be true, if He were not omnipresent.
Omniscience.Â—Jesus knew the thoughts of men, even while shut up in their own breasts. Other prophets had this knowledge communicated to them, by special revelation, on particular occasions; but Jesus had His knowledge at all times. “He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man,” John 2.25. To know the secrets of the heart, belongs peculiarly to Jehovah. “Who can know it? I the LORD search the heart,” Jer. 17.10. Yet the power of searching the heart is expressly ascribed to Jesus. “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts,” Rev. 2.23. Peter appealed to Christ, as knowing the secrets of his heart, and expressly ascribes omniscience to Him. “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee,” John 21.17. Christ claimed omniscience in the words, “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,” Matt. 11.29. Without omniscience, Christ would not be qualified to judge the world.
Omnipotence.Â—Paul, feeling his own weakness, desired the power of Christ to rest upon him, 2 Cor. 12.9; and he conceived of that power as infinite, when he said: “I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Phil. 4.13. The omnipotence of Christ is manifested in the works which He performs, of which we shall presently speak more particularly. He claimed like omnipotence with the Father: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” John 5.17. “What things soever the Father doeth, these also the Son doeth likewise,” John 5.19. “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand,” John 10.27,28. In the prophecy already quoted from Isaiah, He is called “the Mighty God;” and in Rev. 1.8-11, he is called “the Almighty.”
THE TWO NATURES OF JESUS CHRIST, THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN, ARE UNITED IN ONE PERSON.
John 3.13; Rom. 1.4; 9.5; 1 Cor. 2.8; Matt. 1.23.
The name Son of God, properly denotes His divine nature; and the
name Son of Man, His human nature. He frequently called Himself the Son of God; more frequently, the Son of Man. Both these names were used as denoting one and the same person. The whole use of them indicates this; but there are some passages which show it more clearly than others. After speaking of Himself as the Son of God, He says “the Father hath given him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of man,” John 5.27. Here the same person is manifestly called the Son of God, and the Son of Man. In other cases, attributes or works which belong to one nature, are ascribed to His person, denoted by the name which is derived from the other nature. “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven,” John 3.13. Here He is named from His human nature, the Son of Man; while omnipresence is ascribed to Him, which belongs to His divine nature. Another example of like kind is, “The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath,” Mark 2.28. The superiority of the Sabbath belongs to His divine nature, but the name by which He is designated belongs to the human. On the other hand, He is called God, and the Lord of glory, when His blood and His crucifixion, things pertaining to His human flesh, are the subjects of discourse. “They would not have crucified the Lord of glory,” 1 Cor. 2.8. “The church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” Acts 20.28.
How two natures so widely different, should be so united, we cannot understand. In the union of the body and soul of man in one person, there is a similar fact which we are unable to comprehend; but if we should disbelieve it, we should reject the testimony of our own consciousness. We have, therefore, no plea for rejecting the doctrine now before us, on the ground of its mysteriousness.
The union of the two natures does not confound the properties peculiar to each. The humanity is not deified, nor the divinity humanized. So, the body of man does not become spirit, by its union with the soul; nor does the soul become matter, by its union with the body.
The union of Christ’s divinity with His humanity, is a different thing from the indwelling of the Godhead in Him. The Holy Ghost dwells in believers, so that their bodies are called His temple, but this union does not constitute them one person. So, though Jesus said, “The Father is in me, and I in him,” He addressed His Father, and spoke of Him, as a distinct person. The same is true of the Holy Spirit which dwelt in Him, being given to Him without measure.
The personal union is more than a mere manifestation of the divine nature through the human. God manifests Himself in the works of creation. But this manifestation is not a personal union; otherwise, the universe must be God.
This union is indissoluble. Jesus will ever be the Lamb in the midst of the throne, Rev. 7.17. and will appear, in His glorified humanity, to
the worshipping saints, who, with adoring praise, will for ever sing, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honour and glory and blessing,” Rev. 5.12.
THE SON OF GOD ASSUMED HUMAN NATURE, AND IN THAT NATURE LIVED A LIFE OF TOIL AND SORROW, AND DIED AN IGNOMINIOUS AND PAINFUL DEATH
2 Cor. 8.9.
The full history of this wonderful humiliation, is given by the four evangelists; and is often referred to in the New Testament, and sometimes in the prophetic declarations of the Old.
In contemplating this mystery of “God manifest in the flesh,” we are not to suppose that the divine nature underwent any real change. God cannot cease to be God. The change was in the manifestation, and not in the nature. In this manifestation, even the angels were concerned, for it is a part of the mystery that “God manifest in the flesh” was “seen of angels,” 1 Tim. 3.16; but so wonderful was this new mode of
manifestation, that the angels could not readily know their God, in this humble form, as the babe of Bethlehem, and the man of sorrows. Hence, they needed a special command from the eternal throne, before they could render Him divine worship: “When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him,’ ” Heb. 1.6. But this fact, it may be objected, shows it to have been a concealment, rather than a manifestation. This, to some extent, is true;
but it is a concealment resembling that by which God showed Himself to Moses in the cleft of the rock, concealing the beams of insufferable brightness, that the favoured servant might see the back parts of His glory. So the angels, while they behold the Godhead veiled in human nature, obtain views of the divine glory, which would otherwise have been impossible. These are the things “which the angels desire to look into,” 1 Pet. 1.12. “Unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church” Â—by the redemption and salvation of the Church, through the humiliation and death of Christ,Â— ‘the manifold wisdom of God,” Eph. 3.10.
The lowest point of Christ’s humiliation, was His death by crucifixion, and His being held for a time under the power of death, as a prisoner in the grave.
The glorious benefits resulting to us from the deep humiliation of Christ, are intimated in the words of Paul: “that ye through his poverty
might be rich,” 2 Cor. 8.9. The extent of the riches which we shall acquire by His poverty, eternity must disclose.
THE SON OF GOD, IN HUMAN NATURE, WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD, ASCENDED TO HEAVEN, AND WAS INVESTED WITH SUPREME DOMINION OVER ALL CREATURES
Matt. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20; Acts 1.11; 7.56; 9.4; 1 Cor. 15. 4-8; Phil. 2.9,10,11.
The facts of Christ’s exaltation, like those of His humiliation, are elated in the Scripture narrative, and referred to in various parts of the sacred volume.
The exaltation, like the humiliation, produced no real change in His divine nature. It affected the manifestation of it, and also wrought a real change in the condition of the human nature. This nature is now perfectly happy. Jesus has received the joy that was set before Him, -Heb. 12.2; and saints, who are to be happy with Him for ever, are said to “enter into the joy of their Lord,” Matt. 25.21. On this nature rests, also, the full glory of the Godhead, “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. 4.6. As through Him the brightest manifestations of the divine glory are made to intelligent creatures, so through Him they receive the commands of supreme authority. “He is head of principalities and powers.” “He raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” Eph. 1.20,21.
The glory to which Christ has been exalted, is not a subject of idle speculation, in which we have no interest. In His address to His Father, He said, in allusion to His disciples, “The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them,” John 17.22. Hence, while we suffer with Christ Rom. 8.17, and for Christ, in this world, we may rejoice in the hope of being glorified with Him.