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So Jesus after seeing a vision of the suffering he would go through to pay the atonement required to save mankind from the gates of hell, offered a prayer to God asking him to remove that cup of suffering so he doesn't have to drink from it. And here we know that Jesus and God are two different persons because only two different persons would have two different wills, the golden words that show Jesus is not God are

However let your will be done, not mine.

Jesus is letting the will of the Father supercede his will because God and Jesus have two different wills from this prayer.

  • Jesus' will: "Father if its possible, remove this cup from my presence"

  • God's will: "You have to drink of it to save the world and receive the kingdom"

How do people who claim Jesus is God defend this when God and Jesus can have two different wills?

Also Jesus himself said these words to distinguish himself from God.

Do not call me good, no one is good except God.

The Father is greater than I.

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  • 1
    Just a personal suggestion: the best way to find a satisfactory answer to your question might be to examine orthodox Christian responses to monotheletism, the belief that Christ only had one will (and the closely related idea of monophysitism, the idea that He only had one nature). If you can find out why that bothered them so much, you might be able to understand the reason that they chose what seems to you to be an unintuitive formulation of Christ's nature.
    – adam.baker
    Jan 1 at 12:41
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    tl;dr The orthodox position is that the will is associated with the nature, not with the person. So if Christ has two natures He has two wills.
    – adam.baker
    Jan 1 at 12:41
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    Are you asking for answers from those who hold to multiple "Gods" or monotheists? Jan 1 at 16:48
  • 1
    Read the "apparently innocuous" Philippians 2:6 in most versions. Then read it in J B Phillips version. THEN start in on the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of papers, books, journal articles, blogs, ... which examine this verse. When you can deal with these to your satisfaction you'll have your answer. Jan 2 at 7:57
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    Nowhere does Jesus say "do not call me good". Not only by analyzing the Greek, I couldn't even find a single English translation that had Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18 or Luke 18:19 as "do not call me good" instead of "why do you call me good?"
    – Mutoh
    Jan 2 at 17:07

5 Answers 5

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As one who believes that the eternal Word of God incarnated as the man, Jesus, was crucified, resurrected, then returned to heaven to rejoin the Father, I disagree with your claim that the two texts you cite prove that Jesus is not God.

The first text has to be understood in context of the Word of God having incarnated, the Father remaining in heaven. They communicated with each other while Jesus was on Earth, the Father declaring that Jesus was his Son, in whom he was well pleased. The uncreated Word (John 1:1-3) had lowered himself to become man; he had humbled himself to be lower than the angels, in order to die as a man. As a man, he lived as men do, experiencing life here on Earth with all its sufferings and difficulties. So, when he knew the appointed time for his cruel death was fast approaching, he prayed to his Father in heaven. Humanly speaking, every fiber of a man's mind and body would shrink back from undergoing crucifixion. Spiritually speaking, Jesus knew he had agreed in heaven to go through with that, but now the hour had come, he needed strength to resist the temptation to avoid it and so turned to his Father in prayer. An angel came and strengthened him after he had voluntarily agreed to do, not his will, but the will of the Father.

Of course Jesus had a will of his own! That does not prove he couldn't be one with the Father, knowing the Father's will and agreeing with it. In the Godhead, three persons share divine nature. The Father and the Son share the one, divine nature, with absolute unity of the Spirit in that nature.

Of course, those who believe Jesus was a created creature, having a starting point in time, can hardly help but view those texts as proposed in this question. Key to grasping why those two texts do not deny the full deity of Christ is believing what is said of the Word of God in John chapter 1, that he was with God in the beginning, and was God, and made everything that was made. He came into the world he created, but he was not recognised. He came as man, but he had not given up his divine nature. His glory was veiled, but those who believed in him came to see something of that glory, and they could then worship him as God - as did doubting Thomas (John 20:27-29).

As for the second text, Jesus asking the enquirer, "Why do you call me good? No-one is good except God alone", that was a way of stopping that man in his tracks, to make him think of the significance of calling Jesus, "Good". But there's no point in going on any more, for these two texts have almost been done to death on here, and you will find a huge number of exhaustive answers regarding both of them, if you care to look.

The Word of God never stopped being God, before, during and after the Incarnation. His will has always been in total agreement with the Father's will, despite the severest testing when he was the man, Jesus, on Earth.

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  • Your right eternal but not immortal which only belongs to God Dec 31, 2023 at 18:21
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    Also, anyone who thinks one's own will cannot be at war with itself has never had to resist the temptation to have dessert, knowing on the one hand that it would be delicious, but on the other, one has already had too much to eat, doesn't exercise enough, etc. 😉
    – Matthew
    Dec 31, 2023 at 21:38
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    @Matthew Count me as one of those who experienced losing to this war all too often. It's one of my New Year's resolutions to trim some fat unwelcomingly decorating my tummy (although I shouldn't say "unwelcome" since no-one has put a gun to my head to eat more than I should). Although I don't think Jesus had this problem, at least I can draw inspiration from his own successful dealing with his highly spiritual temptation (unlike my bodily temptation), as well as grace (since I'm united with him). Jan 5 at 21:03
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How do people who claim Jesus is God defend this when God and Jesus can have two different wills?

Welcome to the Divine Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity!

Christ at times spoke uniquely through his human nature and his human soul!

As Catholics (and many Protestants) are concerned Jesus had two wills: one divine and the other human.

Here is what St. Thomas has to say about the two wills of Jesus Christin his Summa Theologiae:

Some placed only one will in Christ; but they seem to have had different motives for holding this. For Apollinaris did not hold an intellectual soul in Christ, but maintained that the Word was in place of the soul, or even in place of the intellect. Hence since "the will is in the reason," as the Philosopher says (De Anima iii, 9), it followed that in Christ there was no human will; and thus there was only one will in Him. So, too, Eutyches and all who held one composite nature in Christ were forced to place one will in Him. Nestorius, too, who maintained that the union of God and man was one of affection and will, held only one will in Christ. But later on, Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch, Cyrus of Alexandria, and Sergius of Constantinople and some of their followers, held that there is one will in Christ, although they held that in Christ there are two natures united in a hypostasis; because they believed that Christ's human nature never moved with its own motion, but only inasmuch as it was moved by the Godhead, as is plain from the synodical letter of Pope Agatho [Third Council of Constantinople, Act. 4].

And hence in the sixth Council held at Constantinople [Act. 18] it was decreed that it must be said that there are two wills in Christ, in the following passage: "In accordance with what the Prophets of old taught us concerning Christ, and as He taught us Himself, and the Symbol of the Holy Fathers has handed down to us, we confess two natural wills in Him and two natural operations." And this much it was necessary to say. For it is manifest that the Son of God assumed a perfect human nature, as was shown above (Article 5; III:9:1). Now the will pertains to the perfection of human nature, being one of its natural powers, even as the intellect, as was stated in I:79 and I:80. Hence we must say that the Son of God assumed a human will, together with human nature. Now by the assumption of human nature the Son of God suffered no diminution of what pertains to His Divine Nature, to which it belongs to have a will, as was said in the I:19:1. Hence it must be said that there are two wills in Christ, i.e. one human, the other Divine. - Whether there are two wills in Christ?

You make note of the following Scriptural passages:

However let your will be done, not mine.

And this one:

The Father is greater than I.

Theses are not hard to explain in a Trinitarian point of view.

Again St. Thomas Aquinas can enlighten us in understanding these passages:

As was said (Articles 2 and 3), in Christ according to His human nature there is a twofold will, viz. the will of sensuality, which is called will by participation, and the rational will, whether considered after the manner of nature, or after the manner of reason. Now it was said above (III:13:3 ad 1; III:14:1 ad 2) that by a certain dispensation the Son of God before His Passion "allowed His flesh to do and suffer what belonged to it." And in like manner He allowed all the powers of His soul to do what belonged to them. Now it is clear that the will of sensuality naturally shrinks from sensible pains and bodily hurt. In like manner, the will as nature turns from what is against nature and what is evil in itself, as death and the like; yet the will as reason may at time choose these things in relation to an end, as in a mere man the sensuality and the will absolutely considered shrink from burning, which, nevertheless, the will as reason may choose for the sake of health. Now it was the will of God that Christ should undergo pain, suffering, and death, not that these of themselves were willed by God, but for the sake of man's salvation. Hence it is plain that in His will of sensuality and in His rational will considered as nature, Christ could will what God did not; but in His will as reason He always willed the same as God, which appears from what He says (Matthew 26:39): "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." For He willed in His reason that the Divine will should be fulfilled although He said that He willed something else by another will. - Whether the human will of Christ was altogether conformed to the Divine will in the thing willed?

Now the human will of Christ was altogether conformed to the Divine will.

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    Dyothelitism (two wills of Christ) is the position of almost all Protestants too.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 31, 2023 at 23:15
  • Excellent, you even provided an account for the distinction within human nature between the will of sensuality and the rational will. Dyothelitism was the first thing to jump to my mind upon reading the question, but here I learned something else as well.
    – Mutoh
    Jan 2 at 17:00
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Non-trinitarian view

For a non-trinitarian who believes in the Deity of Christ, "God" is a title, not a personal name, applicable to both the Father & the Son, who are separate Beings.

On this view, the Son--despite His Deity--always shows deference to the Father, because the Father is the presiding authority of the universe. The Father is Jesus’ father in the physical sense. The Father is all who have lived on this earth's father in the spiritual sense. Thus it is entirely appropriate for Jesus to refer to God the Father as “my God” and “your God” (see John 20:17).

In Gethsemane Jesus subordinated what the flesh wanted (to run away!) to the will of His Heavenly Father.

Note, however, that Jesus was not in opposition to His Father's will. He volunteered for this. So when Jesus said to Peter, James, and John "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (see Matthew 26:41) He knew exactly what He was talking about--the conflict between flesh & spirit--from personal experience. In His own hour of extremity, Jesus resisted the desires of the flesh to run away and yielded to the desires of the spirit (which in His case was not weak). He voluntarily promised to be the Savior and He voluntarily kept that promise.

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  • But if God is good all the times then Jesus is not God because he says he is not good Jan 1 at 3:52
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    @FewAgainstMany-Israel Nowhere does Jesus ever say, "I am not good". You are reading that into the text because you have jumped to an unwarranted conclusion. You are assuming that, due to a particular interpretation you already have as to Jesus not being God. But I won't say anything further because that is a topic for another question - which has already been asked and answered on here. Check that out, do!
    – Anne
    Jan 1 at 12:50
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    @Hold To The Rod The Q was changed at the time you answered. The OP originally asked, “Is Jesus still God even though his will is different from God’s?” Then it was changed by a person who believes somewhat as you do, insofar as that Jesus has a measure of deity (being ‘a god’) but that Jesus and God are separate Beings. This could mislead people reading this answer, for believing Jesus to be ‘a god’ would ‘allow’ for answering that he’s a separate being (created) while the problem posed by the OP initially looked to orthodoxly Trinitarian people to square his circle. They have one Being.
    – Anne
    Jan 1 at 13:09
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    If Jesus and the Father are both "God" but are separate and individual "Gods" their having separate wills is easy to understand. Is this the understanding of "God" that OP asks after, that it is a title and not a name or definition of being? Jan 1 at 16:47
  • 1
    Thank you for clarification but I'm still concerned that the OP answered the Q "Are you asking for answers from those who hold to multiple "Gods" or monotheists?" with "Yes"! Yes, what? He still hasn't stated unambiguously whether he holds to multiple gods, or whether he's monotheist. As for believing that Jesus is God, that does not deal with the pre-mortal existence of the Word, who was with God and who was God, who became the man Jesus only at a certain point in time. There was no 'Jesus' prior to incarnation, and that is another issue here that remains obscure in some answers.
    – Anne
    Jan 2 at 11:44
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This is a very deep and complex question of the type of Christology that was hotly debated and even resulted in battles during the first three hundred years of Christianity. How divine was Christ? How human? 50/50? 100 percent of both? Did Christ have one nature, or two? One will, or two?

I think the answer begins to clarify itself somewhat when we consider the purpose of the Incarnation. Why did the Word become flesh? Why did Jesus Christ come into our world, born as a baby tabernacling in human flesh (John 1:14) God in the flesh?

If the answer is that it was necessary for our salvation, then we realize that this was a special circumstance, where He took upon His divine nature, what He was not originally, by nature... human nature. He emptied Himself (kenosis) divested Himself of His divinity on some level to accommodate our humanity so that He could "taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9

In Philippians 2:6-8, we find that He "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.…" How would this affect Christ having two wills? Because it was necessary for our salvation. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, and to do this He needed to obey God by faith, in human nature, exercising free will, not as a lesser god to a greater God, but as a man. But not just any man... God in the flesh, willingly laying aside His divine power, in order to condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3,4)

I remember feeling confused once when studying Hebrews 10:5 because it says "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me...'" it was confusing because it is certainly quoting from Psalms 40:6 but it appears at first to misquote it! The Hebrew original states "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but my ears You have opened."

How can these two be harmonized? It becomes clearer when we realize the purpose for which He came in human nature was to save humanity. The body prepared for Christ, was that of a servant! The "open ears" in the verse are not only open to hear and obey (compare the Hebrew Sh'ma - to hear and Shamar to obey) but his ears were symbolically pierced... The Aramaic translation of Heb. 10:5 says, “Sacrifices and offerings you did not want, but you have clothed me with a body" and Smith's literal translation and the Douai-Rheims correctly translate Psalms 40:6 as referring to ears that are "pierced" as Exodus 21:6 says was to be done with a servant or slave.

What does all this have to do with Christ having two wills? Everything! it was a temporary and necessary arrangement both in his obedience throughout His life and for His willing death on the cross. His human nature shrunk from the trial, and so He got the victory by praying, "Not my will, but thine be done."

That is why Psalms 40:7 & 8 says, Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll: I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” He made the choice to take on our human nature and human will, and by faith He obeyed as a man, so that we could have His victory. He took our human nature, and our will, so His victory can be ours. If we surrender and pray, "not my will but yours be done," we may have the mind of Christ. Therefore, it not a problem that He had two wills... it was the plan... The plan of salvation.

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My understanding (somewhat technical):

  1. God the Father is 'outside' the constructed reality that we live in. He creates and defines it, simply as a function of will.
  2. In order for things to function harmoniously inside the constructed reality, beings inside it necessarily need to be subject to God's (God-the-Father's) will, as He needs to organise things within it. Deviation therefrom is called sin, which breaks the harmony and results in an unpleasant situation (as per the current 'Earth' experiment).
  3. Jesus is God's 'version' of Himself 'inside' the constructed reality (similar to humans / angels / etc). As per (2), Jesus is subject to God-the-Father's will, same as we are. That is why He could be tempted as we are.
  4. The Holy Spirit is the mechanism for communicating God's (God-the-Father's) will.

I think that if you look at things from the fundamental axiom of Free Will / Choice then it makes sense.

  • Everything that exists (all the laws that govern our universe - physics, etc) is a function of God's (God-the-Father's) will.
  • Created beings have their own Free Will (although it is 'constrained' in terms of possible options/choices by God's (God-the-Father's) will, as that is stronger); within the possible options/choices however (which are still vast) we do still have the option to listen to the voice of conscience (God-the-Father's will) when He speaks to us, or to go against it (sin).
  • Jesus is simply God's version of Himself on that same level (inside the constructed reality, subject to God-the-Father's will same as everyone else). This is what Immanuel means, 'God with us'. Jesus also fulfils the role of being a 'good example', and proving that it is possible to adhere to God-the-Father's will (otherwise the accusation could be levied that it's impossible to live in accordance with God's will, or that God doesn't know what it's like to be on our level).

That's my understanding of it.

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Jan 1 at 14:57
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    Would you be comfortable adding that the Holy Spirit is also the functional presence of God within His creation as well as the mechanism for communication? +1, btw. Jan 1 at 16:40
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    :-). Yes that would be a good description; it's more than just communication of information. It's something like the binding life force flowing from God, something like the Tree of Life. Biblically, the Holy Spirit communicates information as well as providing a sort of power (healing, extraordinary feats, etc). Note that the only unpardonable (irrecoverable) sin is total rejection of the Holy Spirit.
    – Dane
    Jan 1 at 18:00
  • The Holy spirit is a being, which is very much aware and not a mechanism Jan 2 at 7:26
  • @FewAgainstMany-Israel That would be something like a 3rd will in the Godhead. Doesn't fit my understanding personally (are there any biblical examples of the Holy Spirit having a will separate/different to that of the Father?) but I'm open to discussion on the topic.
    – Dane
    Jan 2 at 14:58

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