From the evangelical perspective, considering that Jesus has both human and divine natures in one person, did His divine nature suffer on the cross along with his human nature?

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For your question to work here, you would need to specify a Christian denomination whose answer you want. Otherwise it's far too broad for this site. See: What topics can I ask about here? and: How we are different than other sites. Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 7:21
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    I don't think that you do need to specify only a single denomination, but it wouldn't hurt to clarify that you do want the Chalcedonian view of the Trinity (ie the view that Christ did have two natures, which is taught by Catholicism, Eastern, Orthodoxy and Protestant).
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 13:12
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    Interesting question as you ask if Christ's Divine nature suffered , yet did not die!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 15:58
  • @KenGraham, astute observation as it wasn't explicitly stated in the question. But of course we know from the Bible that God cannot die. However, if death is defined as separation from God, was not Jesus experiencing this when He cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? (Up until that point in His suffering, Jesus had endured excruciating pain but had been silent, or in the case of the soldiers nailing Him to the cross, He prayed for their forgiveness!). His cry of forsakenness surely represented a separation of God the Son from God the Father as He endured the wrath of God.
    – Robwest
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 1:54

1 Answer 1


Just as there are differences of belief about the nature of Christ, there are some different ideas about this in some branches of Christianity. However the mainline orthodox belief has a pretty settled answer to this: yes.

Assuming ⓐ the trinity, one God in three persons and ⓑ that Jesus was God the son having two complete natures, the logic goes something like this. Different branches of Christianity use different terms for some of this, but the basic argument is the same.

  1. The ‘cup’ as referenced in Jesus' prayer was God's divine wrath against sin.
  2. Yes Jesus bore physical suffering as a human and his human nature bore the brunt of the pain the Romans inflicted.
  3. But the significance of the cross was more than just a Roman torture and execution, he was also subjected to God's wrath.
  4. “Why have you forsaken me?” was not a question about why he was left to hang on at tree, it was an expression of God turning his back on his son, subjecting him to ‘death’ in the sense of separation from God.
  5. No human nature would have been able to bear that punishment inflicted directly by God — ­he would have neither the stamina nor the value to make such an action more meaningful than it was for the thieves he was crucified with.

Ergo the divine nature of God must have been subjected to and born the divine wrath side of things.

I question some time ago that asks about the same problem from a different angle, see How is Christ's death so significant? for a little more detail on the significance of “one man on a cross”.

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    @Robwest This is quickly headed down a road towards being a “truth question”, a sort we don't handle on this site. I answered it as an overview of what the most prevalent belief is on this issue. If you want to argue that's not correct then this whole thing will end up being off topic for this site. You may want to do some more research (there are many good books covering this topic) or ask specific questions about how various theological traditions deal with this issue, but comments aren't for starting a discussion about your own theory.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 8:28
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    This is really not an overview, but a generalized Protestant answer to the question. Only Protestantism subscribes to penal substitution, which is the basis of this answer. The question is a truth question, and should be closed unless it is either scoped to a particular denomination or explicitly made into an overview question. And even if it were made into an overview question, this answer does not provide an overview of the major Christian viewpoints on this question, since it doesn't even cover Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 11:10
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    @Lee This line of reasoning is not specific to Protestantism nor does it depend on penal substitution. Catholicism and Orthodoxy have different expressions of “atonement” that vary substantially, but this basic line of reasoning that it was important during his death that he was more than just a man and that he could bear more or was worth more because of being God is still there in some form. I didn't claim this represents 100% of so called Christian views, but covering Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy is the lion's share.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 12:07
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    This is definitely not a line of reasoning that Eastern Christianity accepts about the nature of the atonement. And "to bear that punishment in the place of all of humanity" is a specifically Protestant, penal-substitution-based line of reasoning, which is not accepted in Catholicism even if some of the rest of the reasoning is. This is very clearly a Protestant line of reasoning, and not an overview. Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:49
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    This article argues that ideas of penal substitution may be found throughout Church history, and are not a peculiarly Protestant innovation: tms.edu/m/tmsj20i.pdf It cites for its support: Ignatius, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle to Diognetus, Justin Martyr, Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius of Emesa, Hilary of Poitiers, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo, Cyril of Alexandria, Severus of Antioch, Oecumenius, and Martin Luther. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 15:57

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