Let me preface this by saying that I don't assume the Trinitarian viewpoint is any more or less reasonable than any other, this is a question out of curiosity brought up by things I read in another question.

In this question, about Jesus capacity to sin, in the comments of the main question you see one guy arguing that the question doesn't make sense from a Trinitarian point of view, since Jesus is God.

However, this answer gives some scriptural context that's quite interesting.

When Jesus prayed at Gethsemane against temptation not to let himself be arrested to be crucified (Luke 22:39-46). Being in agony until sweating like drops of blood should indicate great effort:

... ⁴⁰ And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” ⁴¹ And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, ⁴² saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” ⁴³ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. ⁴⁴ And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

The text of interest here is Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

I think this plainly sets the stage for the viewpoint that, at least while Jesus was a human being, he was separate from God in some fundamental ways, such that my will and yours would be different.

Do Trinitarians view Jesus as having been a separate being from God while he was on Earth? If not, how do they interpret this text?

  • Will is rooted in one's nature, with one's personhood acting as a selector.
    – user46876
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


John McKinley, biblical and theological studies professor at Biola University, wrote a 2013 article that addresses your question: You Asked: Does Gethsemane Separate the Trinity?.

The key concept to understand the answer is "will", which John McKinley define as "the spiritual capacity for desires and choice in the exercise of personal agency." When Jesus became man He acquired a new human nature with its own will. Thus Jesus possesses two wills: one divine (as a Person of the Trinity) and one human. This understanding (called Dyothelitism) was discussed and ratified at the 6th ecumenical council in AD 681 (the Third Council of Constantinople).

Quotes from the article:

Jesus’ Divine Will

Before the incarnation, the Son of God is a divine person with a divine will. By this will, the Son loves his Father (John 14:31), obeyed his Father to become incarnate (John 8:42), sent the Holy Spirit to those who believed in him (John 15:26), and, in the future, will hand over the kingdom to his Father (1 Cor 15:28). ...

Jesus’ Human Will

Through the incarnation, the Son of God entered into a true human life, complete with a created human will. This will includes his desires, decision-making process, and choices as a man. ... The temptation of Jesus through his human will was necessary for him to succeed where Adam failed, and to obey God as a man for our righteousness (Rom 5:12-19). His human will was operative when he was a child obeying his parents (Luke 2:51). As an adult, Jesus showed his human will by voluntarily submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading (Luke 4:1), and by submitting to instruction from the Father by the Spirit as to what to do (John 5:30; 15:10) and what to teach (John 7:16). This dependency is also why Jesus had to pray frequently. Other examples of his human choices were to love his people (John 13:1) and to submit voluntarily to his Father’s plan that he surrender himself and go to the cross (John 10:17-18).

In Gethsemane

In Gethsemane, we can see that Jesus prays from within his life as a man, as a creature under God. He pleads to his Father because he is motivated by his natural human desires to avoid the pain of hell. He sees it, and he strongly desires to avoid it (Heb 5:7). Jesus is the Son of God embedded in a human struggle between obeying God and self-preservation. This is the culmination of many temptations to sin that Hebrews 2:17-18 and 4:15-16 report: Jesus suffered because of his total solidarity with sinners. The development of his human will shows in Hebrews 5:8 that he learned obedience through his suffering, and thereby became perfect as our priest (Heb 2:10). Jesus is here leading his people to rescue them, struggling as they struggle, on our behalf, as the last Adam constructing a new humanity. Jesus is also wrestling authentically as our model, the demonstration of the painful path for them to follow him (Rom 8:17; 1 Peter 2:21-25). Jesus had to make the choice as a man to deny himself, surrender his desires for self-preservation, and embrace his God’s call and will that he suffer hell. This is the same situation for the believer who follows Jesus. These things are impossible someone who possesses only a divine will.

Conclusion: In Trinitarian and Dyothelitism theology Jesus is not normally conceived as a separate being from God, but as possessing another human nature (and respective will). The Gethsemane pleading can then be explained in terms of Jesus's human will trying to obey the will of the Trinitarian Person of God the Father.

  • Thank you, very informative answer.
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 15:04
  • For a full explanation monothelitism should really be included too.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 22:35
  • @curiousdannii I agree. When I have time, will include WL Craig's position and some intro on why a reconsideration of will to be part of person instead of nature could still be tolerated, as long as we don't fall into the heresies that the 3rd council of Constantinople tried to avoid Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 2:45

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