Monothelitism is the belief that Christ has only one will. It was condemned as heresy at the The 3rd Council of Constatinople, but still has many adherents, including the famous apologist William Lane Craig, who writes:

If Christ's human nature had its own proper will so that Christ had literally two wills, as the Council affirmed, then there would be two persons, one human and one divine. But that is the heresy known as Nestorianism, which divides Christ's person into two. I cannot understand how Christ's human nature could have a will of its own, distinct from the will of the Second Person of the Trinity, and not be a person.

What is the biblical basis for this belief of monothelitism?

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    @LukeHill You may want to review Adithia Kusno's answer where he proposed that the council condemned Monothelitism "because it jeopardize our salvation", a point not mentioned by WLC in the article you cited. Why jeopardize? Personally, I'm a practical man, and I use concepts to help me in my journey to heaven. Dyothelism helps me understand Gethsemane better, and as freely adjusting our will to agree with God's will is of paramount importance in our sanctification, I can identify with Jesus better from this position. Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


Any scripture used to oppose Nestorianism can argue for Monothelitism

As WLC notes in the quote you provide, any doctrine that were to imply that Christ had not only 2 natures (divine and human) but in fact was two 'persons' would fall into the heresy of Nestorianism. Craig then suggests that two distinct wills in Christ would require him to be two distinct persons and therefore, verses like John 1:14 ("The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us") which treat Christ as if he were one person can be used in favor of only one will. Arguments like these could go on, but ultimately rest on the assumption that to have a distinct will is to be a distinct person. This makes it a semantic debate over the meaning of will and person, not over specific passages of scripture.

Some of the strongest arguments come from the Council of Alexandria (430 AD), which was convened to specifically to condemn Nestorianism, and includes 12 anathemas to that effect. This council cites John 1:14 and clarifies what this verse implies, that Jesus is worshiped as one person the God-man, and it is inappropriate to distinguish between the divine and human (as saying Jesus possessed 2 wills might do) and say Jesus the man is worshipped "with" the Son.

If anyone dares to say that the man who was assumed ought to be worshiped and glorified together with the Divine Word and be called God along with Him, while being separate from Him, (for the addition of "with" must always compel us to think in this way), and will not rather worship Emmanuel with one veneration and send up to Him one doxology, even as "the Word became flesh", let him be anathema. (see)

The first reference with biblical origin included in the council's anathemas is to the term "Emmanuel" found in Matthew 1:23. The Council points out that if the one person Jesus is called 'God with us' it is inappropriate to then distinguish between the man whom Mary bore and the second person of the trinity who is God. Therefore, the Council declares "that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God".

Perhaps the best reference in favor of Monothelitism is the Council's citation of Hebrews 1:3, "...fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest." (NIV) Here, the unity of the person of Christ is seen to be necessary for the sufficiency of his atonement. More importantly, the council notes that as high priest "He offered Himself to God the Father". The verb 'to offer' is here used in the sense of giving, but this does not remove its secondary connotations which imply an intention or a 'willingness' to do something (see Merriam-Webster). This anathema then seems to imply that Hebrews' casting of Jesus as high priest requires his offering of himself to be a single act of will by one person. This only makes sense under Monothelitism.

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    I appreciate your response, but this doesn't answer my question. I asked for the biblical basis to Monothelitism, and you made statements about William Lane Craig and why you don't believe it.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 3:33
  • Yeah, I misread your question at first. The first part of my response is an attempt to provide biblical support for monothelitism, scripture which opposes nestorianism like John 1:14.
    – ninthamigo
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 4:37
  • Okay so would you say there is only one verse that semi-supports it? If so wouldn’t it be better to just say there is no biblical basis? But that obviously can’t be true because Craig cites sola scriptura as grounds for his belief in it.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 5:06
  • @LukeHill this is merely one of the more explicit verses cited in the Council of Alexandria (430) specifically held to condemn Nestorianism, there are many others some of which I will try to add now.
    – ninthamigo
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 17:05

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