In Luke 2:52 it states:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Did Jesus, as a young child, deliberately conceal his Divinity by not accessing the epistemological data of the universe & beyond so that he could participate in the human joy of book learning?

For example, he might have read books that his parents got for him from the library of Alexandria in Egypt. Over in another discussion somebody speculated that the gold from the wisemen (sages) could have been used to buy books while the family was in Egypt. Are their commentaries that suggest such a thing took place?

The Bible says in Philippians 2:5-11 about Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature 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 that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Would the work of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ incarnation, inform his human nature when and where to access the mind behind the universe - that is, the Logos? When studying, would the role of the Holy Spirit put a check in his human nature when reading things that were untrue?

I would love to hear from those attempting to figure this out especially via classical Christianity along the lines of Chalcedonian Christology.


1 Answer 1


According to Chalcedonians, how did Jesus increase in wisdom?

Jesus increased in wisdom through his human nature!

Did Jesus know that he was God or the Son of God when he was growing up? Was he all knowing as a human?

Yes, Jesus necessarily had to know he was God as a child; otherwise, his taking on a human nature would’ve demonstrated he wasn’t God, which, of course, is heretical. Many erroneously conclude that Jesus didn’t know he was God as a child from the closing verse of the account of his being found in the Temple by the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

In short, Jesus could grow in wisdom insofar as he appropriated knowledge in a new way through his human nature, as a boy and as a man, but he necessarily couldn’t have had a net increase in knowledge, given that he’s first and foremost a divine and thus omniscient person. And his divine intellect informed his human intellect of the reality of his divinity.

The hypostatic union, that Jesus is both true God and true man (CCC 464-469), is a profound sacred mystery, i.e., a truth we will never fully grasp, second only to the Holy Trinity. So we need to bow at that mystery when we reach our human limits and not venture into doctrinal error in misguided attempts to explain it.

Jesus increased in wisdom and stature as seeming any ordinary human being would amongst others in their social surroundings.

What does it mean when Luke says that the child Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature”? St. Athanasius says that the Word of God could not grow any more perfect; but the human body grew, and as Jesus grew older the people around him understood his wisdom more and more.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

If he “increases” in being the Word, what more can he become than Word and Wisdom and Son and God’s power? The Word is all these things. Anyone who shares even one ray of all this light, so to speak, becomes all-perfect among mortals, and equal to angels.

Angels, and Archangels, and Dominions, and all the Powers, and Thrones, share in the Word, and by sharing in the Word always see the face of the Father. He supplies perfection to others! How can he “increase” more than they do? An- gels even ministered at his Nativity—and this passage from Luke comes later than that.

How could anyone even think it? How could Wisdom advance in wisdom?

No, he did not “increase” as the Word, but he did as a man, since it is human to increase. Thus the Evangelist, choosing his words carefully, mentions that he increased “in stature.” As Word and God he is not measured in stature: stature belongs to bodies. So the increase is of the body; and when it increased, the mani- festation of the Godhead also increased, to those who saw it.

– St. Athanasius, Discourse 3 Against the Arians

Thus in his humanity, we can see Jesus learning how to use the tools of the trade of his foster father St. Joseph who was a carpenter.

A Prophet Without Honour

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. - Matthew 13:53-58

Even though Jesus grew in grace and wisdom before God and man, And if Jesus is God, wouldn’t he know when the end would come?

Matthew 24:36 says, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the son, but the Father only." If Jesus is God, wouldn’t he know when the end would come? Why then does it say "nor the son, but the Father only"?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the orthodox interpretation of these words of the Lord:

By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal (474).

What this means then is that “not knowing” refers to his not being sent to reveal the day and the hour in his human nature, leaving that office to the Father. It has always been understood that as God, Christ knows the day and the hour but that in his mission on Earth he was not sent to reveal this. We need to remember that the word to know in the Semitic senses used in Scripture is very diverse and rich and does not refer only to mental information but to actions and offices. - Jesus Knows When the End Will Come

There many more mysteries within the Scriptures and they there in order that we may contemplate the Sacred, grow in holiness and follow in His footprints.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. - Matthew 11:15

  • That’s a nice write up. I gave you an upvote. The quote from Athanasius is poetic. But I don’t think it deals with the emptying in the incarnation. There appears to be self imposed limitations that Jesus worked with. Could he have taken a calculus test at age 7 and passed? Yes, that is if he accessed his Divine nature. If he didn’t chose to access it, for some reason, his human intellect might not have been up to the task. But I could be quite wrong. Maybe his perfect human attributes (via Kenosis) would have been on the same level as that depicted in the Sci Fi movie Lucy?
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 1:04
  • This is a good answer, but could be improved by expanding on the nature of the hypostatic union. In particular, the nature of said union is such that Jesus as Jesus knows only those things proper to both natures. So, at least prior to His resurrection, Jesus had no epistemological access to those things not proper for man to know (eg the date of the last day), and, likely, to Jess' question, He could not have passed a calculus test at age 7, though likely could have around age 12, since the abstract reasoning skills needed for calculus are not proper to children under a certain age.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 21:18
  • 1
    @Jess I don't believe it makes sense to think of Jesus choosing to access or not access His Divine knowledge. Rather, as the God-man He would have all properties proper to both natures, so He would know all things proper to man, provided He is of appropriate age (eg He probably did not know basic logic before the age of reason). After age 12 or so, He should have had all knowledge proper to mankind generally.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 21:19
  • 1
    jaredad, I was trying to blend the traditional Lutheran (my faith background) kenotic theories of Tubingen (krypsis) and Griessen (abstainence) views. The hard part is trying to avoid both Nestorianism and Eutychianism in working through a type of functional kenosis, as opposed to an ontological form of kenosis.
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 0:28
  • @Jess Maybe you have already seen this post from the Lutheran Theology Study Group pointing to D.T. Williams's 2004 paper which Martin Yee says the 2 theories are now largely rejected. I like Eleonore Stump's explanation as self-limitation but still need to study the precise theory she's holding. Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 23:49

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