I understand that some people believe that Jesus actually had the capacity to sin, that is, to give in to the temptations that He suffered. This seems to suggest that God has the power to sin.

In a sense, then, the redemption of mankind hung in the balance, so to speak, during the temptations of Christ.

What are the theological arguments in support of this position?

4 Answers 4


The argument comes both from the fact that Jesus was fully human, and from the Hebrews 4:15, which says (in the King James)

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

This outlines the fact that even though Jesus is fully God, He was also fully human. He felt all our infirmities and weaknesses, and yet, as God overcame them.

A complete theological statement would be "because Jesus was fully Human, He had the capacity to sin, but because of His perfect nature, also being fully God and therefore perfectly good, He could not sin."

Both are true, but people have a hard time wrapping their head around that, choose half the truth, and fall into error.

  • Are you saying that by virtue of becoming human, Jesus gained a capacity that He did not have before?
    – Alypius
    Mar 9, 2013 at 22:13
  • Or perhaps a simpler explanation is that the Kenotic theory (of incarnation) is actually correct (as well as being biblical as per Philippians 2). Jun 14, 2014 at 10:12
  • @Alypius That would be a logical inference from this answer, perhaps resolvable in the temporal sense by considering that God dwells in an eternal now (outside of time) so that in one sense He has always been, is now, and will forever be incarnated; In the ontological sense, it is much harder to resolve - it would seem to imply that the whole redemption story was necessarily consequential from God's nature rather than a decided act of will - perhaps that is not a theological problem, perhaps it is. Jun 14, 2014 at 10:20
  • @Alypius that same argument could be equally applied to the Creation - Did God creating, add something to his nature (the attribute of being a Creator) or is the universe a necessary consequence of God's nature as Creator? This last option would be form of Panentheism, but would seem the only possible counter to the application of your argument in the case of Creation. Jun 14, 2014 at 10:39

We believe in One God, three persons. For God the son to be one, that is unified, He cannot sin. He has to be perfectly loving and perfectly just, both of which are inconsistant with sin.

So I prove the opposite here.

But he did give in to sin and testing in the only way that was perfectly loving and just: in perfect obedience to God the Father, he allowed sin to work its destruction upon His own body, so as to have a righteousness (that of perfect obedience even unto an unjust death], that was not essential to his nature, one which He could and would share, one with which to clothe His children.

  • Obedience was perhaps the most fundamental quality of the human nature of Christ. The idea that Jesus "gained" a righteousness that He "did not have" before through His death is suggestive of the heresy of Arianism. Are you sure you mean to say that?
    – Alypius
    Mar 9, 2013 at 19:17
  • That might make for an interesting question if you can phrase it constructively, but I don't think I could answer adequately in comments. Mar 9, 2013 at 22:37

The ability to sin is only the attribute of a person who is wholly human but Jesus is not a human person but a divine person who took on human nature ( Hebrews 2:14, John 1:1,14).

Jesus is called "the Last Adam" ( 1 Cor. 15:45) because there would be no second, third or forth adams (in case he fails). The fact is that he will not fail in his mission because he is unable to fail for he is not only human but also God by nature ( Colossians 2:9).


Premise 1: Temptation means “the desire to do evil.”

Premise 2: Satan tempted Jesus. This means “ Satan is causing Jesus to desire evil.”

Premise 3: Was Jesus tempted? Based on the definition of “Temptation,” the answer is NO.

Conclusion: Jesus did not have the desire to do evil.He cannot desire it for he is not only human by nature but also God by nature which means he is impeccable (i.e. unable to sin).

Consider this:

Psalms 78:18 And THEY TEMPTED GOD in their heart by asking meat for their lust.

It does not mean that God desired evil but rather, the people did try to let him to desire it.

  • From this perspective, how is it possible to explain Hebrews 4:15 (quoted in David's answer above)? In my view, your first premise is not correct - it is neither a standard dictionary definition, nor is it reconcileable to the biblical usage of the word. Jun 14, 2014 at 11:04

The debate uses the terms peccable/impeccable. On the one side, people who argue for the peccability of Christ hold that Jesus wasn't really tempted or fully human unless he could have failed. On the other side, those who argue for the impeccability of Christ argue that Jesus being God could not sin. Then there are a few heretics (technical term) in between these positions and argue that Jesus could sin in his humanity but not in his divinity. The technical term for this heresy is Nestorianism (note that there is some debate whether the Nestorians actually taught the heresy named after them). By far, the majority position favors the impeccability of Christ.

  • 2
    I commented briefly on your other copy of this about how answers on this site should be specific to questions. I wanted to expland on that a little here. This answer covers some of the basic positions possible on this issue in an overview sort of way. The question asked here was asking for the BASIS for one specific side of the argument. As such this doesn't really answer the question. It's not bad content, it just doesn't get to the meat of the issue or resolve what was posed. Does that make sense?
    – Caleb
    Mar 8, 2013 at 21:50
  • 1
    I would encourage you to keep the gist of this content in summarizing how the positions relate to each other, but make it only a side note in a larger answer that covers the basis for the specific view posed in this question.
    – Caleb
    Mar 8, 2013 at 21:51

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