I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

In Luke we can see that Jesus' will was or could be different from the Father's. According to the Catholic Church, in what sense is Jesus' will united (the same) with that of God the Father? Or what is the Catholic interpretation regarding Jesus' remark, "yet not my will" if their will is fully united?

1 Answer 1


This is the question dealt with by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (the Third Council of Constantinople). The council addressed the heresy known as monothelitism. The heresy held that Jesus Christ only had one will.

The orthodox position was defined at that Council: Jesus Christ had two natures, human and divine; he also had two wills, human and divine. If there was no human will in Christ, the Incarnation would have been incomplete, as he would not have adopted everything that belongs to humanity (cf. Gregory of Nazianzus: "What is not assumed is not healed"). This is the logical outworking of Chalcedonian Christology (the idea that Christ is both human and divine).

The Catholic (and Orthodox, and Protestant) position is that the "not my will, but yours, be done" refers to the human will in Christ.

This is dealt with directly in the writings of Maximus the Confessor (I will try to find the citation), indirectly in the definition of the Sixth Council, and directly several times in the Summa Theologica of S. Thomas Aquinas (third part, question 18).

  • hm, well, in that case, the question can be why is his human will different from his divine?
    – Grasper
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 19:25
  • 1
    @Grasper Because one is divine and one is human. The human will conforms itself to the divine will (see article 6 in the Summa link), but it is not subsumed into it. It is much the same principle as Apollinarianism. Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 19:36
  • His is a great answer, It is important to note that the counsel was not addressing a "Heresy". It was not prior to the couni
    – Marc
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 8:33
  • @Marc Your comment is cut off, but I think you are saying that monothelitism was not formally considered a heresy before the council, but the council defined it as such. That is of course true. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 10:45

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