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A daily devotional | People of Prayer | A oman with hands folded and looking up to the sky.

Questions and Answers | People of Prayer

I've heard Jesus Christ described as "fully man and fully God." What exactly does that mean?

The statement that Jesus is “fully man and fully God” arose in the early church. It was based on the comprehensive reading of Scripture regarding Jesus’ natures and person. We know that Mary’s firstborn son “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40). Like other humans, He hungered (Matt. 4:2), thirsted (John 19:28), tired (John 4:6), suffered (1 Peter 3:18), and died (Mark 15:37).

Jesus also clearly showed Himself to be God. Paul writes, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:8). According to the consistent testimony of His disciples, Jesus exercises God’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30), power, and authority (Heb. 1:3), despite sharing in the frailties of the human existence.

The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) defined Christ as having “two natures: inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.” He is neither “half man and half God,” like a mythological demigod, nor two symbiotically related persons: one human and one divine. He who eternally was “in very nature God” (Phil. 2:6) “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), bearing the “exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3) as the “image,” or "precise physical representation,“ of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Jesus is divine without defect and human without exception.

The fact that Jesus was both fully man and fully God is directly relevant to our salvation. As a man, Jesus is able to identify with our experiences. “Because he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Yet, because He is fully God, we know that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). On the cross and through the tomb, Jesus represents humanity to God and God to humanity by taking the place of sinful humans who owe an insurmountable debt to our holy God. He then rose as our Savior, conquering sin and death.

We can declare with great confidence that “there is one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Tim. 2:5–6). The fellowship between humanity and God, which was lost in the Garden of Eden, has been restored in Jesus Christ who is fully man and fully God.

If Jesus is the "son of God," according to the Bible, how can He also be God?

Jesus has two integrally related natures. He shares the human nature with us and the divine nature with His Father in heaven. But, while there are many humans, there is only one God. (In fact, there cannot be multiple deities, since God is maximally great.)

It is impossible to fully compare human and divine natures. For example, Peter, James, and John, who share the human nature, are separate human beings. However, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who share the divine nature, are not separate divine beings. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are neither a trio of gods nor equal “parts” of God. They are one.

It would also be wrong to understand that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are multiple personalities of a single divine person. Consider Jesus’s prayer to the Father in John 17:1–4, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those whom you have sent. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

With His prayer, Jesus publicly demonstrated His personal relationship with the Father, while acknowledging that He holds divine authority and shares the glory of God. Moreover, Jesus promised His disciples that “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16–17). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not the same divine person, but distinct divine persons who possess the single divine being.

The Bible gives us another helpful way to understand God’s nature by identifying Jesus as “the radiance of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3). We know the Father by the Son, just as we see the sun by the sunlight. Light and heat, diminishing through space, transmit the power of the sun, but the Son and Holy Spirit convey the presence of God without dilution. The Son and Holy Spirit, who share in the fullness of God’s glory as distinct divine persons, reveal the eternal Father to humanity.

BY Sanjay Merchant

Sanjay Merchant is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a teaching pastor at Northshore Christian Church in Everett, Washington. He earned his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University School of Religion, and Master’s degrees from Biola University. He enjoys helping his students wrestle with hard questions of the faith, teaching courses on philosophy, theology, and apologetics. Sanjay and his wife, Erin, have four children and reside in Roselle, Illinois.

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