Even Jesus, in John 4:24 taught:

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

yet most Christians, those who accept the Nicene Creed, teach that God became a man as he took on a human nature.

How does Nicene theology interpret John 4:24?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 20 at 5:57
  • 2
    My question was corruptly and biasedly edited by someone.
    – Truther
    Jul 20 at 23:57
  • Didn't you want an explanation of how Christians think the incarnation can be possible if "God is spirit"? That's what you asked originally: "Why has Christendom accepted the idea that God took on a human nature when the Bible only says God has a divine nature?" If you don't like how I phrased the question, please edit it further. If you haven't seen it, the What types of questions can I ask on this site? FAQ page is very helpful for ensuring questions won't be closed.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 21 at 0:37
  • 1
    See this Meta discussion on this question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 21 at 1:04
  • 1
    It would be acceptable to ask "How do non-Trinitarians explain that God allowed most of Christendom to fall into heresy?" That would be an interesting question, though it would be less concerned with specific issues like this verse, and more to do with the manner in which God guides and protects his church. It is a very different question to what you originally asked here, and if you do want to ask it, please do so as a new question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 21 at 1:24

Why Incarnation from Spirit is possible

In Christianity understood through the Nicene creed, "God" in John 4:24 is God the Father, so it is correct to say that God the Father is spirit. In Christianity, God created everything, including all human beings who have a body as well as a soul made "in God's image". Incarnation (God taking a human nature) is possible simply because this is the God who made human beings in the first place. Therefore, God could also assume the form of a perfect human being (lesser than God), although in order to do that He would need to shed some of His divinity (Phil 27:7).

How God became human and stayed with us in spirit

According to Nicene theology, God was conceived miraculously in a hypostatic union of God and human within the womb of Virgin Mary, who then gave birth around 3-4 BC in Bethlehem. The kind of this union was determined to be fully God and fully human at the same time, formalized at the Council of Chalcedon.

After Jesus's ascension, his whole glorified & resurrected body left our universe but as a replacement Jesus sent His divine spirit to live with us (starting at Pentecost), whom Christians call the Holy Spirit.

Because the spirit of Jesus is 100% God, Christians can also worship Jesus as God without committing blasphemy (since Jesus is not simply a created being like humans or angels). For the meaning of worshiping "in spirit and truth", see this gotquestion.org article What does it mean to worship the Lord in spirit and truth?.

Why God incarnated into Jesus

Why did God do this, though? He did this mainly to save humanity, but there are other purposes as well such as:

  • to reveal the Father to us
  • to fulfill the Davidic covenant, and
  • to provide an example for our lives on how we ought to live.

See Charles Ryrie's The Purpose of the Incarnation and Rev. Campbell Morgan's article.

For further study

The doctrine of God's taking human form is called Incarnation

For more understanding on why incarnation is necessary for salvation according to Nicene theology, one historically significant doctrine is Recapitulation developed by an early church father Irenaeus (125-202 AD). You can read more about Recapitulation by reading this 2015 paper Irenaeus of Lyons: A Defense of Recapitulation).

  • 1
    @GratefulDisciple You said: "In Trinitarian (mainstream) Christianity, "God" in John 4:24 is God the Father, so it is correct to say that God the Father is spirit." Tell me how you know this verse is referring to only God the Father? "God is Spirit" means that God by His very nature is spirit or a spiritual being. Moreover, the latter part of the verse says, "those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." The Bible is also clear that Jesus Christ was worshipped. The Greek word "proskuneo" (worship) is used at Hebrews 1:6 by God the Father of His only begotten Son. See Luke 4:8.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 19 at 22:46
  • 2
    @Mr.Bond probably because the preceding verse says, "the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" Context Mr Bond
    – steveowen
    Jul 19 at 23:42
  • 1
    @user47952 I get that but Jesus is making the point to worship the Father is to see oneself in the child-father relationship, with all the aspirations and emotions a child has toward his father. Remember Matthew 18:3, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Also Jesus is just starting out His ministry and the woman at vs25, "I know that Messiah is coming who is called the Christ, when that One comes, H will declare all things to us." Jesus said, "I am He." Vs24 does not exclude Jesus from being worshipped which is realized later.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 20 at 0:41
  • You are extrapolating beyond the verse intentions. "Jesus is making the point..." How so? Not in this verse he is not.
    – steveowen
    Jul 20 at 1:07
  • 2
    @Mr.Bond Thank you for your input, I have made significant edit since then. But as the question focuses on incarnation, I didn't include much on worshiping Jesus (only as to why it is allowed) nor about how in worship we see ourselves as child to father (though I agree with you). Jul 20 at 14:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.