What is the biblical basis for Jesus having one nature only, a human nature?
There are many who consider Jesus to be both God and Man - both divine and human. We should not need extra-biblical support to determine the nature of Jesus. An appraisal of the scriptures should suffice to know the true nature of Jesus.
For this answer, I consider Jesus to be divine as he is without sin and holy. This however does not make Jesus God. To be filled with the fullness of God does not make one God. Is God filled with the fullness of deity? No, He just IS God!
For in him all the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily. Col 2:9
Some translations say of John 1, ‘the logos was divine’. This neither makes the logos God. As we are told, it was ‘with’ God, so that alone makes it not exactly God as God is God. God’s spirit is divine, it is not a person either unless we cherry-pick a few texts and draw unnecessary inferences.
We will inherit a divine nature - this will not make us God, but Godly,
so that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature 2Pet 1:4
There are no texts outright claiming Jesus IS God, but always a man only. To show that Jesus has only one nature - a human nature, he cannot be God at all, but just the man, born of Mary by the power of God's spirit, as we are told.
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God. Luke 1:35
As there are so many verses that speak of Jesus having a God - both before AND after his ascension, there is little merit in laboring that fact here. This alone makes him not God to a rational mind intent on maintaining harmony with all scripture.
If Jesus has a God nature, we should see that plainly revealed – what’s the big secret?
Before moving on, what IS the nature of God? Briefly, God is eternal – without beginning or end, never changing, absolutely holy and without evil – having one mind and not confused, dependent on no thing or no one, undefeatable in any sense, immortal, ever wise and all knowing, with matchless glory.
The only attribute Jesus had was being holy and without evil. The NT testifies to that truth and the lack of all the others mentioned.
(In passing, we might also mention God's substance - He is spirit. Jesus is flesh and there is no mention of him being anything other. Yes, Jesus is the logos, but only after his conception/birth. More on this later.)
If Jesus only has one nature - a human nature, then he must be that person at all times. He cannot be God sometimes and not God at other times. For example, he cannot be God if he is tempted or die. Both these things happened so it must have been to a man. A man who could have sinned but by the power of his Father in him, even through horrendous trial, suffering and pain, he submitted his will to the Father and His carefully crafted plan to redeem all creation.
Can Jesus have two natures if he has his own will? A will that he had to submit to his God and therefore it was contrary to God on several noted occasions. For Jesus to have a contrary will in a two-natured arrangement where one was of the human man and one was of heaven is quite the dichotomy. In fact, it presents a problem of Jesus willingly submitting - if his ‘divine will’ takes over. This makes a mockery of temptation and learned obedience if he is God! Heb 4:15, 5:8
We know that Jesus 'came in the flesh'. This means we cannot then read in that he was also God, for God is not flesh but spirit. Jesus said, he was not spirit, but flesh!
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
The test of Jesus makeup is critical to understanding if the spirit of God teaches or evil spirits do. How do we know the difference? That Jesus only has one nature – this is explicit in him being flesh and only flesh.
Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 1John 4:2
To say Jesus is somehow more than flesh, or has a divine and human nature is contrary to what we are told. Made like us in every way Heb 2:17. Either he is or he isn’t – being 100% God means he isn’t like us at all. Having a God nature is not like us at all!
There are 100’s of passages that inform Jesus is not God. Paul writes this consistently to begin each letter clearly contrasting Jesus and God. Many state that Jesus has a God.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent John 17:3
If Jesus has a God, he cannot be God and must only have one nature - a human nature. Eph 1:3, Col 1:3, Rom 1:7, 15:6, 1 Pet 1:3 2Cor 11:31 to list just a few.
There are no verses anywhere saying Jesus IS God – only alleged and biased verses that may be inclined toward supporting that hypothesis. To deny our bible versions have errors that favour a tri-part God is to be quite mistaken. Those versions that use a ‘dynamic equivalence’ are especially prone to imaginative and interpretive bias.
What about John 1? Much is made of the logos being the ‘pre-existing Jesus’. This might seem a complex issue, but it is made so by the errant teaching that has clouded this topic. There is no biblical reason to make this ‘logos’ a person who thinks, acts, speaks etc. It is with God. We can see much more about this ‘logos’ in 1John 1.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes,which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. 2And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.
No person here – just the expression of God in this logos – which was revealed, made manifest, into Jesus – NOW we have a person. Only Jesus could be tempted, die, resurrected, exalted above the angels, made heir to all God’s creation. The ‘logos’ could never accomplish any of this. It is the power of life – that is now in Jesus – the ‘logos’ become flesh.
Does this ‘logos’ from which Jesus is derived – being born ~4BC, give Jesus another nature? Some insist that as the son of God, he must be God or eternal. The son of man = human, the son of God = God.
This is not borne out by scripture, so it must be an artificial construct. Why? Because we are not told this anywhere! It is simply a supposition without biblical support and only tradition for support. What is 'tradition'? The ideas decreed by the church fathers 100's of years after the Apostles - who never taught anything these 'fathers' have proposed.
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the son of God. Luke 1:35
There is no mention anywhere of any Jesus, or ‘holy son of God’ before Jesus was conceived and born. All we might do is clutch at a few proof-texts that might angle God’s word toward a pre-existing Jesus. They are all readily dismissed – either by context, logic, or a parade of other verses that contradict the proposed hypothesis. There is on mention of God becoming a man and thus a two-natured man could exist. John mentions a ‘revealing’, a ’manifesting’ of the logos of God – not an incarnation – another unbiblical construct based on tradition alone.
In the other Question regarding “the biblical basis for Jesus having two natures”, several proofs were offered. The proofs shown were interesting reading, but I offer the reasons why these are insignificant.
- He claims the right to forgive sin (Mark 2:10) Cherry-picking to avoid the true meaning and why he had this authority.
and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. Matt 8:8
He claims to have existed before Abraham, a claim normally interpreted as implying his eternality. (John 8:58) ‘Normally interpreted’ – is certainly not conclusive. Esp. when Paul defines what ‘before’ means in Gal 3:16- explaining Jesus as the seed of Abraham – how is a seed before the seed giver? Manipulating ‘before’ with a pre-determined meaning to fit a dogma. David too in Ps 110 speaks of his descendant as the Lord, but not Yahweh who was speaking and reigning. Some bibles add 'existing' which is not in the Greek so using this interpretation is poor exegesis.
He willingly receives the worship of humans
This is also poor form as the Greek for worship has a wide variety of meanings and is equally applied to humans with position over others – certainly never the exclusive domain of God. Even when God calls others to rightly worship His son, some still object to this claiming he ‘must be God’, even though Jesus has a God from his birth through to his place at “God’s right hand”. God can call us to worship Jesus if He deems it so, which He has. Jesus is the glory of God - when we worship His son, we worship God.
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Heb 1:6
so that all may honour the son, even as they honour the Father. He who is not honouring the son is not honouring the Father, the One having sent him. John 5:23
we still have people claiming Jesus is the logos of John 1. The inability to read ‘logos’ and not ‘Jesus’ in this context is baffling. John explains when Jesus became flesh – it was not, ‘in the beginning’. Having no mention of him prior to this requires a ‘reading in’ of such pre-existent concepts which are wholly unsupported by scripture. Jesus is NOT yet the logos of John 1:1-3
1 Timothy 3:16 was misquoted to say; “God was manifest in the flesh" - there is no ‘God’ in the Gr. text. We must again, rely on a few biased translations which include ‘God’ for support. The passage is about Jesus – no question. At least the ‘manifested’ bit was correct - being the 'logos' manifested, not God (1John 1).
and the old favourite, "I and the Father are one", proposing many contrived ideas of what 'one' must mean. Again ignoring the scripture’s plain self-revelation in John 17:11,21 which eliminates speculation.
Trotting out these traditional favourites is comparable to quoting 1 John 5:7 – everyone knows it’s an addition, yet it still gets used to defend an unbiblical teaching.
- an ‘eternal begetting’ apparently is evidence of Jesus having two natures. Zero biblical support for this odd concept. Jesus IS the manifestation of the ‘life eternal’ expressed in 1 John 1 – the life that was a ‘which’ describing the logos of God. So, Jesus hasn’t come from another entity, a ‘person’, but a ‘which’, an inanimate expression OF God, and nothing of itself, but for God uttering something. The logos does nothing of itself, it is what God creates (through) – His word, His plan, His reason and His wisdom and power of life. This is not a nature that Jesus was given to make him God. It is a ‘which’! Not a who. Biased translations have enforced a ‘who’, no wonder so many are confused. The widespread use of ‘logos’ in the NT as other than ‘word’ attest to its generic basis and not its personhood. (statement, story, message, reason, to say, report, speech, news, account, utterance, assertion)
Without the person of the ‘logos’, there can be no ‘God nature’. Leaving Jesus with his human nature, yes, unburdened by sin, but only human. Jesus cannot have a ‘God nature’ because he comes from a simple word that means story or report or message - but it is God's word, His reason. More on Jesus being the logos.
What about the Phil 2:6 passage? There is much to clarify here, but a summary will suffice.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above all names. More on 'form' here.
The disrespect of some translations to offer, “Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God.” CEV and they are not alone - this is not remotely what the Gr. provides! To rewrite the word of God with such disregard is only explained by deception or arrogance.
Jesus is the ‘form’ and ‘image’ of God. Other uses of these words clarify again that they do not mean Jesus was God. WE are the image of God, just as Jesus was (though we are only such in Jesus). Jesus is the form of God and of a servant concurrently.
The Son is the image of the invisible God Col 1:15
For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son Rom 8:29
the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor 4:4
put on the new self, which is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created it Col 3:10
They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands Rev 20:4
The image of the beast is not the beast either. Jesus was, and mankind is, being drawn into the image of their creator God. That’s why he had to learn obedience through suffering.
What IS this image? This is not speaking of seeing with eyes – but knowing with the mind. God is invisible – there is no image of that, but of who God is, Jesus is. What we see him be and do, this is like God. We don’t need a physics lesson to know that an image is not the real thing! Jesus, the man, has one nature – unspoilt by sin – that’s why he can represent God so fully. Not because he is God, but because God is fully in his humanity. Not by force or power but by Jesus’ submission, the Father dwelt in Jesus to show what God’s character looks like - through His son – being the very ‘word’ of God as flesh. Born by the power of God’s spirit and sustained by the same to remain sinless – by his continuous, sometimes difficult, choice.
Although He was a Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation Heb 5:8
Jesus faced off evil with a human nature – a nature that had the potential and the desire to do contrary to God’s will. How then can he manage this opposition to his God? By fervent prayer and reliance on God and not on himself.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Heb 5:7
There is no fall-back to a God nature that could ‘get him through’. His only fall-back was his Father and the spirit He provided.
If this was not the case and he had another nature that was God, how was he made like us in every respect? Heb 2:17 We don’t have a God nature – our father and god is the devil (John 8:44, 2Cor 4:4) until God calls us out of that kingdom.
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son Col 1:13
There is no scripture that supports Jesus stopping being God. ‘Emptying himself’, is wide open for all kinds of conjecture and is usually read in line with tradition and not in concert with any other support. Emptying of what? Grasping or not grasping at what? The practise of using an ambiguous verse to explain a doctrine is totally unsound. We can only understand these when we use the easy, plain and clear ones to explain the difficult ones.
by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death Heb 2:14
If Jesus has two natures and only the human one died (as the dogma goes), then how is death defeated when the true Son of God, immortal and eternal and wholly God, did not die at all! What was the point – was it all a charade? When we are told ‘God sent His only son’, He didn’t really send His true Son at all, but a human fall-guy. Who knows? The bible is silent on such a construct. We either go with what we have been abundantly provided, or persist with humanly devised ideas with imagined support.
Two-natures pundits claim “it’s all a mystery” if queried about the finer details of such an idea. Again, this is also unbiblical – there is no mystery. I copied this from somewhere.
‘Here’s a very vital point to consider; it’s often expressed that the trinity is too complex to fully grasp. We poor humans simply cannot comprehend God in His triune nature… there’s a mystery that shrouds God in the complexity of His threeness.’
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col 2:8
Perhaps it is self-revelatory – the complexity is self-imposed by ideas with no biblical basis. The bible teaches a quite plain but marvelous story about a plan God had from before the foundation of the world. Sin was a given, but He would send one to deal with it – His son would live as we do, fight evil as we do, as the first Adam did, but he would succeed. Not by being God, but by NOT being God. By being a man like us, like Adam, with doubts, anxiousness, fears and only by total reliance on God, which Adam had failed at, would Jesus defeat evil and sin and death for all.
No, Jesus didn’t have two natures – one divine and one human. The whole point of him coming was to deal with sin. Not with inherent power or fiat, but by love, trust and obedience. We cannot have him being God for somethings and not others – he either IS or he ISN’T. The bible says he isn’t.