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Summary in 400 words or less:
Jesus’ often references his divinity throughout the gospels. One of the clearest examples of this is when he healed a man on the Sabbath in John 5. When the Pharisees accosted him for this, he claimed that unlike their authority, which was under the law God had given Moses, His authority was above the law. They immediately recognized that he was claiming to be equal with God, and wished to execute him for blasphemy (which it would have been, had it not been true).
Several times Jesus mentioned his pre-existence, (John 8:58, 17:5), and he also claimed to have the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:6-7). The very title he used of himself was “Son of Man” which hearkens back to Daniel’s “one who looked like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13-14). Although the phrase “son of man” is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to simply denote a human, the title “Son of Man” was coined in pre-Christian Jewish literature as a Messianic title denoting the Messiah’s role as judge at the end time judgment. Jesus used this title because his emphasis was often on the judgment (Matthew 10; 11; 23; 25). At his trial in Mark 14:62, he informed his accusers that they would one day stand before him for judgment.
Often non-Christians have difficulty with Jesus being 100% God and 100% man; it would seem, by the law of non-contradiction that Jesus would have to be one or the other, not both. This has been applied in terms of “energies” or natures, wills, and so on.
At the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the early church explained Jesus’ divinity as his being begotten of the exact and identical substance as the Father. In other words, he was not a created being; his very essence was the eternal essence of the Father. And although he added to himself a complete human nature, his divine nature was not altered or reduced. At the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), Jesus’ incarnation was described as his having two natures (divine and human) called the hypostatic union. His two natures were neither confused, nor transmuted into each other, nor divided, nor divisible. The distinctiveness of each nature was not nullified by the union, but rather, the “properties” of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one persona and in one reality (hypostasis).
Scripture for YouVersion:
John 8:58, John 12:41; Isaiah 6
Pre-existence of Jesus (Part 1) | Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
Collaborators: Chris Lee, Sergio Flores, JC Lamont, Frederick Choo, Marcia Montenegro
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