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According to the Catholic Church, is Jesus 'a man' properly speaking, or it is more correct to say He has a human nature while not being a man?

For example, would it be true to say "Jesus is a man"? Or would that rather be false, while it would be true to say "Jesus has a human nature" or "Jesus is fully man" or just "Jesus is man" or something similar?

What is the Catholic Church's view on this?

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  • @Geremia If Jesus has a dual nature (fully God, fully man), it seems He's not 'a man' in any normal sense of that word. Rather, He's a God-man. May 27 at 23:30
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    How can someone have "a human nature while not being a man"?
    – Geremia
    May 27 at 23:35
  • If x 'is a man', x might have properties that are incompatible with x 'is God'. For example, a man can die. Can God die? No, so is it correct to say "Jesus died"? Or rather, properly and more carefully speaking, ought we to say "Jesus in his human nature died"? Because God is essentially immortal, right? But that would mean Jesus isn't a man, carefully speaking, right? But whatever the case, that's why I'm asking the question. May 27 at 23:39
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    Jesus's death was the separation of His human soul from His human body. His divine nature isn't composed of a soul and body; His divinity can't die.
    – Geremia
    May 27 at 23:41
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    @OneGodtheFather says "As God, He can't die.". True. That's why he surrendered his divine nature and became the fully human Jesus, capable of dying. If he hadn't been subject to the possibility of permanent death, there was no sacrifice and his temptations would have been meaningless. This possibility of permanent death is the fundamental meaning of "God so loved the world that …". ¶ What is the point of a God that slums it by pretending to be human, pretends to risk death, and risks nothing, knowing that it will all work out okay in the end. May 28 at 1:21

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According to the Catholic Church, is Jesus a man, or does He rather have a human nature without being a man?

It is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

IV. How is the Son of God Man?

470 Because "human nature was assumed, not absorbed",97 in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ's human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ's human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from "one of the Trinity".

The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:

The Son of God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.

Christ's soul and his human knowledge

471 Apollinarius of Laodicaea asserted that in Christ the divine Word had replaced the soul or spirit. Against this error the Church confessed that the eternal Son also assumed a rational, human soul.

472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, "increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man", and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking "the form of a slave".

473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God's Son expressed the divine life of his person. "The human nature of God's Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God." Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father. The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.

474 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.108 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.

Christ's human will

475 Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation.110 Christ's human will "does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will."

Christ's true body

476 Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ's body was finite. Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed; at the seventh ecumenical council (Nicaea II in 787) the Church recognized its representation in holy images to be legitimate.113

477 At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus "we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see."114 The individual characteristics of Christ's body express the divine person of God's Son. He has made the features of his human body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy image, for the believer "who venerates the icon is venerating in it the person of the one depicted".

The heart of the Incarnate Word

478 Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me." He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation,117 "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception.

According to Catholicism, Jesus Christ is truly man and truly God, with a Divine nature and a human nature.

Jesus is the most important person who has ever lived since he is the Savior, God in human flesh. He is not half God and half man. He is fully divine and fully man. In other words, Jesus has two distinct natures: divine and human. Jesus is the Word who was God and was with God and was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). This means that in the single person of Jesus he has both a human and divine nature, God and man. The divine nature was not changed when the Word became flesh (John 1:1, 14). Instead, the Word was joined with humanity (Col. 2:9). Jesus’ divine nature was not altered. Also, Jesus is not merely a man who “had God within Him,” nor is he a man who “manifested the God principle.” He is God in flesh, the second person of the Trinity. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word,” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus’ two natures are not “mixed together” (Eutychianism), nor are they combined into a new God-man nature (Monophysitism). They are separate yet act as a unit in the one person of Jesus. This is called the Hypostatic Union.

The following chart should help you see the two natures of Jesus “in action”:

God

  • He is worshiped (Matt. 2:2, 11; 14:33)

  • He was called God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8)

  • He was called Son of God (Mark 1:1)

  • He is prayed to (Acts 7:59)

  • He is sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15)

  • He knows all things (John 21:17)

  • He gives eternal life (John 10:28)

  • All the fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9)

Man

  • He worshiped the Father (John 17)

  • He was called man (Mark 15:39; John 19:5)

  • He was called Son of Man (John 9:35-37)

  • He prayed to the Father (John 17)

  • He was tempted (Matt. 4:1)

  • He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52)

  • He died (Rom. 5:8)

Other verses to consider when examining His deity are John 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:6-8; and 2 Pet. 1:1. 1 Tim. 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Right now, there is a man in heaven on the throne of God. He is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He is our Savior (Titus 2:13). He is our Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). He is Jesus.

Jesus’ Two Natures: God and Man

Jesus is true man and true God, the two natures, each retaining its own properties, are united in one subsistence and one person.

Hypostatic Union, a theological term used with reference to the Incarnation to express the revealed truth that in Christ one person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human. Hypostasis (upostasis) means, literally, that which lies beneath as basis or foundation. Hence it came to be used by the Greek philosophers to denote reality as distinguished from appearances (Aristotle, “Mund.”, IV, 21). It occurs also in St. Paul’s Epistles (II Cor., ix, 4; xi, 17; Heb., i, 3: iii, 14), but not in the sense of person. Previous to the Council of Nicaea (325) hypostasis was synonymous with ousia, and even St. Augustine (De Trin., V, 8) avers that he sees no difference between them. The distinction in fact was brought about gradually in the course of the controversies to which the Christological heresies gave rise, and was definitively established by the Council of Chalcedon (451), which declared that in Christ the two natures, each retaining its own properties, are united in one subsistence and one person (eis en prosopon kai mian upostasin) (Denzinger, ed. Bannwart, 148). They are not joined in a moral or accidental union (Nestorius), nor commingled (Eutyches), and nevertheless they are substantially united.

The following may be of interest to some:

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God-Man is not a third sort of nature. The hypostatic union is the union of two natures (human & divine) in the one Divine Person, Second Person of the Trinity.

Fr. John Hardon, S.J., defines it:

HYPOSTATIC UNION

The union of the human and divine natures in the one divine person of Christ. At the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) the Church declared that the two natures of Christ are joined "in one person and one hypostasis" (Denzinger 302), where hypostasis means one substance. It was used to answer the Nestorian error of a merely accidental union of the two natures in Christ. The phrase "hypostatic union" was adopted a century later, at the fifth general council at Constantinople (A.D. 533). It is an adequate expression of Catholic doctrine about Jesus Christ that in him are two perfect natures, divine and human; that the divine person takes to himself, includes in his person a human nature; that the incarnate Son of God is an individual, complete substance; and that the union of the two natures is real (against Arius), no mere indwelling of God in a man (against Nestorius), with a rational soul (against Apollinaris), and the divinity remains unchanged (against Eutyches).

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  • +1 Thanks for this, but it doesn't seem to directly answer the question. Rather, it suggests against it ("no mere indwelling of God in a man"). May 27 at 23:41
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    @OneGodtheFather "no mere indwelling of God in a man". That's correct. The Second Person assumed (took up) a human nature to Himself; His divinity didn't unite to an already-existent man.
    – Geremia
    May 27 at 23:43
  • Right. So it's not proper to say He's a man, right? May 27 at 23:44
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    He is an individual man. His human nature is particular to Him. He didn't assume a "human nature abstracted from all individuals" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III q. 3 a. 4 "Whether the Son of God ought to have assumed human nature abstracted from all individuals?"); His human nature "is assumed so as to be in an individual" (ibid. ad 3).
    – Geremia
    May 27 at 23:52
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    @OneGodtheFather "Can a man assume a human nature?" How can a man assume what he already has? "Jesus […] assumed a human nature?" The Second Divine Person of the Trinity assumed (took on) a human nature.
    – Geremia
    May 28 at 0:34

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