Why You Should Believe Jesus Of Nazareth Is A Simple Human Person

Before I present why you should believe Jesus of Nazareth is a simple human person, I must define what I mean by simple, since the word has many applications. I will use the Collins online dictionary definitions for simple that pertain to what I mean in applying this word to Jesus. Here are the applicable definitions:

1.having or consisting of only one part, feature, substance, etc.; not compounded or complex; single
2.without additions or qualifications; mere; bare
3.pure; unadulterated

What I am trying to convey by the term ‘simple’ is that Jesus of Nazareth is a mere human person, an unadulterated human being, having only one nature i.e. a human nature. This is, of course, in contradiction to the orthodox Christian tradition which says that Jesus is a divine person, possessing the nature of deity, who has joined himself to a human nature and therefore is a divine person with two natures, a divine and a human one.

Jesus – Human Person or Human Nature?

A little known fact is that in orthodox, creedal Christianity Jesus is not regarded as a human person. Now this may sound shocking to some, and you may think I am just making it up. So here are some quotes from orthodox sources.

The dogma asserts that there is in Christ a person, who is the Divine Person of the Logos, and two natures, which belong to the one Divine Person. The human nature is assumed into the unity and dominion of the Divine Person, so that the Divine Person operates in the human nature and through the human nature, as it’s organ.

Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 144

For, Jesus is not a human person; he is a divine Person who has taken himself a human nature.

Fr. Kenneth Baker, Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 2, p.217

If we were to say Jesus is a human being, that is a human person, we would be saying that his identity or who he is as a Person, was created. That would be wrong. His human nature was created, but not his Person or Being.

Is Jesus a Human Being?, Defending The Bride website

And according to the revelation we have been given in Scripture and Tradition, Jesus is an example of a divine person who possesses a fully human nature but is not a human person . . . we can readily see just how Jesus Christ could reasonably have two natures, one human and one divine . . . subsisting in one . . . person . . . who is God.

Tim Staples, Catholic Answers website, Is Jesus a Human Person?

Even protestant Christian leaders agree with this ‘orthodox’ understanding of Jesus of Nazareth1:

Christ is the second person of the Trinity, who pre-existed his incarnation. He is God, pure and simple. He is a divine person, not a divine-human person. For that reason medieval theologians were always careful never to refer to Jesus as a human person. He is a divine person who has assumed a human nature in addition to the divine nature that he already had. In virtue of having a complete human nature as well as a divine nature Christ is both God and man, human and divine. But he is not a human person. He is a divine person who possesses a human nature as well as a divine nature.

William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith website, Was Christ a Divine-Human Person?

The humanity taken up into the person of the Logos is, then, not a personal man but human nature without personal subsistence.

Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 416

Reason 1 – A Jesus Who Is Not A Human Person Is Implausible

The premise that Jesus is not a human person is based upon 5th century definitions of person, substance and nature drawn from Greek philosophy, and based upon circular reasoning. Way before the philosophically constructed definitions were worked out in the 5th century, it had already become the ‘orthodox’ position within Christianity to confess Jesus as a divine being or person. The Nicene creed of 325 stated that Jesus was “true God of true God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.” This itself was a further explication of the Logos theories of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, which asserted that the Logos or Reason of God was emanated out from God to become a rational being, distinct from God in number but one with him in purpose and will. This was the central idea within such Greek philosophies as Platonism and Stoicism. These philosophies taught that there is one Supreme Being who, being too transcendent and immutable to have created the cosmos himself, emanated out of himself a being, a second god, or a mediating principle, who or which would do the hands on business of creation on behalf of the Supreme One. That early Gentile Christian apologists, formerly educated in these prevailing philosophies, posited this Logos to be synonymous with Jesus, the son of God, is clear. This itself was a deviation from the simple message of the first generation of Jewish believers that Jesus of Nazareth was the long awaited Messiah, the son of David, foretold in the Hebrew scriptures, whom God raised up and through whom he would redeem His covenant people.

So then, by the 5th century, the idea that Jesus was a divine being had become firmly entrenched within the minds of most of Christendom. Yet this belief created problems which had to be worked out through philosophical wrangling among the educated elite within it’s ranks. How can the concept of a second god, distinct in number from the Supreme One, avoid the charge of polytheism, since it was clear that scripture taught that there is but one God? Once this was overcome by the development of the Trinity concept, another problem presented itself. How could the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, become fully human without ceasing to be the divine personage he is? Since it was clear from scripture that Jesus was of the human family, it had to be explained how this could be so without detracting from his deity in any way. How could Jesus become fully human while still maintaining his deity?2 This was eventually achieved by advancing nebulous definitions of substance, nature and person, and of what it means to be human. Let me illustrate this from the article on the Catholic Answers website cited above. In answer to the question of whether we can say that Christ is a human person, Tim Staples answers with an emphatic NO! He explains:

To understand why, we must define three essential terms without which any explication would be futile: person, substance and nature.

He then defines person, according to the 6th century philosopher Boethius’ definition, as “an individual substance of a rational nature,” that is to say an individual subject possessing a rational nature. He then defines substance as “that which constitutes an individual thing and does not inhere in anything else. It is not a property of a thing, but the thing itself.” He then gives examples of substances, such as “a ‘tree’, ‘horse’, ‘man’, etc. “ He explains that person and substance are closely related but different because “although all persons are substances not all substances are persons.” For instance a horse is a substance but not a person because it does not possess a rational nature. He then proceeds to define the third term, nature, as “the what of a thing – in contrast . . . to the individual subject being considered.” He then states that “nature and substance are almost synonymous, but not quite” because substance, “though similar to nature in referring to what constitutes a thing, also refers to the subject as well.” Is anyone else confused yet?

So, all of these terms, substance, nature and person, are all closely related but have fine distinctions between them, which must be understood correctly in order to rightly understand how Jesus can be fully human without being an actual human person. On top of this, he defines the substance of man as “the body/soul composite. Without either a body or soul you don’t have the ‘substance’ of a man, you don’t have a man in the fullest sense.” So then the logic of Christ being fully human but not a human person is dependent upon the hypothesis of the dichotomist view of man, which is dubious at best. Now here is the clincher. Staples asserts with all confidence, “consider that all living human beings are persons, but person is not a part of the definition of what it means to be fully human.” But why should anyone accept that assertion? So by arbitrarily defining man as a body/soul composite alone, individual personhood can just be eliminated from the definition of what a human being is. This enabled the philosophizing church fathers to say that Christ is fully human while maintaining that he doesn’t need to be a human person to be so. In case you think I have misunderstood Staples, I quote him further, “There is nothing in the definition of a human (being a body/soul composite) that requires it to be a person. Thus, even though this only actually happens in the case of Christ, there is nothing unreasonable about positing the possibility.”

Is the circular reasoning not clear enough. Church fathers, having come to believe that Jesus was a divine person, had to devise a way for him to have become fully human without including a human person in the mix, for this would mean that either the divine person would have had to cease to be (at least while he was a man) or there would be two persons in Jesus of Nazareth, a human person and a divine person. By defining the key terms to there own advantage they were able to work out the formula for a fully human divine person. Note what Staples said regarding being fully human but not a human person – “this only actually happens in the case of Christ.” But how can they say this? Because they believe Christ to be a divine person – therefore it has to be true that a divine person can be fully human without being a human person, although all other individual human substances are human persons.

My friends, this is simply not a plausible hypothesis. It depends on dubious definitions of the abstract ideas of substance, person and nature, as well as the dubious definition of human being as a body/soul composite. Orthodoxy also declares that Christ has a human mind and will as part of his human nature. So Christ has a human body, soul, mind and will, but can still be said to not be a human person? Then this must be true of all human beings; it must not be our body, soul, mind and will which makes us human persons. So then what is it exactly that makes us human persons? As Boethius defined person as “an individual substance of a rational nature” then accordingly, any individual human substance able to think, reason and will is a human person. But isn’t it rather obvious that any living, individual entity with a human body is a human person, for even if such an entity lost the ability to think or reason or will, due to brain damage, it would not cease to be a human person. Now if one does not hold to the presupposition that Jesus is a divine person then he understands Jesus in the same way he understands all human beings, i.e. as a human person. But how can we be sure Jesus is a human person and not a divine person? This brings me to the second reason why I believe Jesus is a simple human person.

Reason 2 – Scripture Presents Jesus As A Human Person

Before I show how scripture presents Jesus as a simple human person, it is necessary first to show why I believe scripture excludes Jesus from the category of God. It will be easier to accept the simple humanity of Jesus once it becomes manifest that he cannot be regarded as God. To do this I will appeal to three passages in the New Testament. Now I have always held, along with many Bible expositors and commentators, to the general maxim “Ambiguous passages should be interpreted in the light of clear passages.” The three passages I offer here clearly tell us who is our God, and by extension, who is not our God.

1 Cor. 8:5-6 – 5.”For even if there are so-called ‘gods’, whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods . . . 6. yet for us there is one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Messiah . . .”

Eph. 4:4-6 – 4. “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord (i.e. Jesus), one faith, one baptism; 6. one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all.”

John 20:17 – ” . . . Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

Now I am aware of the ways in which apologists finagle these passages in an attempt to mitigate the very clear and explicit claim made in them, but the claim is simply too unmistakable to be so easily dismissed. In the first passage Paul unequivocally declares that the one God of believers is the Father. In the category of the one God, Paul places the Father alone. He does not say that the one God of believers is the Triune God, i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even though this is what most Christians have been saying for 1600 yrs., neither does he say that the Son is the one God of believers. The force of this affirmation that the one God is the Father is seen in the pitiful attempts made to abrogate it.3 In the same sentence Paul goes on to tell us what category Jesus belongs to – that of Lord. That Paul means that Jesus is the one human Lord, the one who is above all, is evident by two facts. First, Lord here cannot be synonymous with God because Paul here clearly differentiates between the one God and the one Lord, neither can Lord mean Yahweh, as some apologists claim, for then Paul’s statement would amount to this absurdity: “For us there is one God, the Father . . . and one Yahweh, Jesus Christ.”

In the second passage, Paul states practically the same thing, differentiating between the one God, declared to be the Father, and the one (human) Lord, Jesus. Again, when Paul speaks of the one God he does not refer to a Triune Being but to the Father. If the Trinity were in fact true, then every mention of the one God in scripture should be a reference to the Trinity, for the one God could never be just the Father, or just the Son, or just the Holy Spirit, for all three together would comprise the one God.

The third passage, while not using the word ‘one’ to describe the Father as the God, shows clearly who the God of the believers is. Let us note that Jesus, in this statement, completely identifies with the disciples, putting himself on the same level with them before God, calling them his brothers, and equating his Father with their Father and his God with their God. That the God of both Jesus and the disciples is the Father could not be more clear.

That this understanding of the one God as the Father was the view of the earliest believers is confirmed by what had become known as the Apostles Creed, which states emphatically:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord.

Please observe how this coincides with Paul’s unambiguous affirmations.

Now, if we follow the principle of interpreting less clear or ambiguous (I use this word in the sense of open to more than one interpretation) passages in light of the clear passages then we must let these clear passages guide us to a correct understanding of those passages which seem, on the surface, to be saying that Jesus is God (e.g. Jn. 1:1; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; Titus 2:13; etc.). For every passage put forward by apologists for the deity of Jesus as proof of that belief, is open to plausible alternative interpretations.

Now, having settled that Scripture clearly presents the Father alone as the one God, there are only a few options as to what kind of being Jesus could be. He is either another god, emanated out from the one God, who then took on a human nature; a spirit being, such as an angel, created by the one God before the foundation of the world, who then took on a human nature; or a pure and simple human person, who was foreknown and chosen by the one God. We will now turn to the testimony of Scripture regarding Jesus’ humanity.

The Full Humanity Of Jesus

Heb. 2:11, 14, 17 – “Both the one who makes holy and those who are made holy are all of one ( origin or family). Therefore he is not ashamed to call them brothers . . . Since the children are sharers together of flesh and blood, he (i.e. the founder or pioneer of their salvation – see v. 10) likewise participated in the same humanity, so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death . . . For this reason it was necessary that he (i.e. the founder or pioneer of their salvation) be like his brothers in every respect, in order that he might be a merciful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

This passage is very important for understanding that the one through whom God would effect the salvation of man had to be a man himself, in every respect. Now if all human beings are human persons, and this is granted by all, then the one who would make atonement for all other human persons must himself be a human person. And this is precisely what the author of Hebrews is saying. Now the trinitarian will loudly object and avouch his belief that the divine person, the Son of God, became fully human, so what is the problem? The problem is that the affirmation that a divine person with a human nature is a fully human being is simply an empty assertion, and there is no good reason why anyone should think it is even rational. The whole point of the author of Hebrews in this passage is that the savior of humanity could not be of the angel family (all of chs. 1:4-2:18 are meant to show this), which apparently some of the believers in this particular congregation had come to believe, but must be of the same family as those he redeems. But can a divine person clothed in a human nature really be considered to be of the same family or origin as all other human beings? I don’t see how that is possible. This passage is not telling us about the supposed incarnation of a divine person, but of the necessity that the one who would provide purification for sins (v. 1:3) and make atonement for sins (v.2:17) by his death (v. 2:14) be a member of the human family in every respect. This eliminates the possibility that Jesus was some other kind of being, who simply took to himself an impersonal human nature, whether an angel or a second divine person within God. Jesus was fully human because he, like us, was a human person, i.e. a human being with a body, rational mind and human will.

The apostle Paul also believed that our salvation had to be effected by means of a human person and that Jesus’ salvific work is based squarely on this fact:

Rom. 5: 15 – 19 – 15.“For if many died by the trespass of the one man (i.e. Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus the Messiah, overflow to the many . . . 17. For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus the Messiah . . . 19. For just as through the disobedience of the the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”

1 Cor. 15:21-22 – “For since death came through a man, the resurrection from the dead also comes through a man. For as all in Adam die, so also all in Christ will be made alive.”

1 Tim. 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, a human being, Messiah Jesus.”

Now these statements seem clear enough, but the philosophical wordplay of orthodoxy obscures the plain meaning of the text. Let’s plug in the cleverly devised orthodox definition of Christ’s humanity into the appropriate places in these passages to see if it makes much sense:

Rom. 5: 15 – 19 – 15.“For if many died by the trespass of the one human person (i.e. Adam), how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one divine person with a human nature, Jesus the Messiah, overflow to the many . . . 17. For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through that one human person, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one divine person with a human nature, Jesus the Messiah . . . 19. For just as through the disobedience of the the one human person the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one divine person with a human nature the many will be made righteous.”

1 Cor. 15:21-22 – “For since death came through a human person, the resurrection from the dead also comes through a divine person with a human nature. For as all in Adam die, so also all in Christ will be made alive.”

1 Tim. 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and all human persons, a divine person with a human nature, Messiah Jesus.”

Now, friends, I ask you to be honest with yourself – do you really think this is what Paul meant when he wrote these words? Is it not clear from the first two passages that Paul assumes Jesus to be ontologically the same as Adam? Note the word also in both passages, which clearly has the force of likewise, and see how the orthodox interpretation breaks the correlation between Adam and Jesus. And is it not clear from the third text that Paul places Jesus in the category of humanity and not in the category of God. If Paul believed Jesus to be a God-man he could have said so and that would have been the opportune place to do so.

We will now look at further biblical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a human person just like us.

Jesus Was Able To Be Tempted To Sin

Heb. 4:15 – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way like us, yet without sin.”

Lk. 4:1 – “Jesus . . . was led by the spirit into the desert, where he was tempted by the devil . . .”

The fact that Jesus was able to be tempted shows him to be a human person, not a divine person with a human nature. According to orthodox Christology, the real self who is Jesus is a divine person and would therefore be, not only incapable of sinning, but, as a consequence, incapable of being tempted to sin. Scripture says that “God is incapable of being tempted by evil” {James 1:13}. There is nothing in the being of God that can in any way be influenced to sin and therefore it would be impossible for him to experience the desire to do evil. If Jesus were a divine person then this would be true of him. It is not reasonable to suppose that the impersonal human nature of Jesus was tempted to sin while the divine self who controlled the human nature was unaffected by the temptation. If the divine personal self of the man Jesus is incapable of experiencing the force or the pull of temptation, then in what sense can he be credited with having overcome and having remained without sin. Most Catholic and Protestant theologians would affirm that Jesus was incapable of sin, being a divine person, but to be incapable of sin would make one incapable of temptation. For example, if one would were incapable of lying how could the temptation to lie truly affect him? He would be impervious to the temptation. But is this the picture of Jesus that we get from scripture?

If Jesus were a divine person he would be incapable of sin and this would make a mockery of the testimony of Scripture regarding his temptations. That Jesus “was tempted in every way like us” would then be meaningless. Our Lord Jesus had to be capable of sin in order to experience real temptation and hence cannot be a divine person, but must be a human person like us. The fact that he was able to sin, but, having been tempted, remained obedient (i.e. was without sin), only magnifies his worthiness before God {see Heb. 5:7-9; Phil. 2:8-10; Rom. 5:19; Rev. 3:21; 5:5}.

Jesus Was A Direct Descendant Of David

Matt. 1:1 – “A record of the origin of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David . . .”

Acts 13:23 – “From the seed of this man (David) God has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus, according to a promise.”

2 Tim. 2:8 – “Remember Jesus the Messiah, raised from the dead, descended from David.”

Now this should not be controversial, for everyone acknowledges that Jesus was a Jew from the line of king David. But when we stop and think about how this could be true from the orthodox position, something just doesn’t add up. It is difficult to see how an eternally divine person could be considered, in any real sense, the descendant of any human person. In this case, what we would have to say is that the impersonal human nature attached to the divine person was the descendant of David, but not the person who operated within that human nature. This kind of contrived meaning forced upon the clear statements of scripture engenders incredulity. No one reading these passages, apart from the presupposition that Jesus is an eternally divine person, would perceive any other meaning in them than the obvious meaning – that the man Jesus was a direct descendant of king David.

Just a word about one passage that is typically put forward to show that Jesus’ descent from David is simply referring to his impersonal human nature – Rom. 1:3, which reads in the 1985 NIV: “Regarding his son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David . . .” But this a misleading translation which is colored by a bias in favor of orthodox Christology. The phrase “as to his human nature” translates the Greek phrase kata sarka, which means according to the flesh. This phrase has a few idiomatic uses in the NT, one which conveys the idea as to natural descent or ancestry. This meaning can be seen in these passages – Rom. 4:1; 9:3, 5; 1 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 4:23, 29. The passage, correctly translated simply says:

“Concerning his son, the one coming to be out of the seed of David as to natural ancestry . . .”

Note that the text is explicit, once translated correctly, that God’s son is the one who came to be (Gr. aorist participle form of ginomai, Str. G1096) from the seed of David.4 Yet orthodoxy teaches that the Son is eternally begotten from God and simply acquired a human nature in the incarnation, so how could Paul say the son came to be out of the seed of David? The only logical sense in which Jesus of Nazareth can be considered a true lineal descendant of king David is if he is a true human person. To speak of an eternally existing divine person as the descendant of any human being is to be disingenuous.

The 2011 edition of the NIV changed the translation of the phrase kata sarka to “as to his earthly life”, which again shows the bias of the translators, wanting to give the implication that Jesus had some other life prior to his “earthly life”. In all the other passages noted above, they translate the phrase as “according to the flesh”, as do most English versions.

Other Things To Consider

When orthodox Christians speak about Jesus during his life on earth they will often make a distinction between his divine nature and his human nature. But many do so in a way that sounds a lot like there were two selves in Jesus (a belief historically known as Nestorianism). For example, when Jesus said he did not know the day or hour of his coming, this is explained as he did not know it in his human nature, but, of course, he knew it in his divine nature. But natures do not know or not know things, persons do. If there is but one person in the man Jesus and that a divine person, then how can the man Jesus not know something, if omniscience is an essential attribute of divine persons? If the Divine person, God the Son, is the self of the man Jesus, that controls the human nature to which he is joined, then how can he not know something in his human nature? These kind of things are not thought about much by the average Christian who just assumes that Jesus is fully God and fully man. But just a little thinking on these matters reveals that things are not as clear cut as the keepers of orthodoxy pretend.

Another thing that shows the irrationality of the orthodox position is the apparent impossibility of one person possessing two distinct and completely contradictory natures at the same time, so that at the same time, this one person is bound to an eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, immortal nature and a created, finite, mortal nature limited in knowledge and abilities. How can someone possess immortality and mortality at the same time? How can the same person, at the same time, possess unlimited power and limited power? This makes the concept of one person possessing two natures highly unlikely.

Add to this the fact that scripture no where states this doctrine in any clear-cut manner. If the doctrine is derived from scripture at all, it is only done so by inference. But why should a doctrine that would be so important and necessary to understand be so inexplicit in scripture. Like the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of two natures in one divine Christ can only be deduced from scripture by reading between the lines. There are zero explicit statements for either doctrine. Listen to what the Evangelical theologian Millard Erickson said regarding the Trinity, but which also applies to this doctrine:

It is claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is a very important, crucial, and even basic doctrine. If that is indeed the case, should it not be somewhere more clearly, directly, and explicitly stated in the Bible? If this is the doctrine that especially constitutes Christianity’s uniqueness, as over against Unitarian  monotheism on the one hand, and polytheism on the other hand, how can it be only implied in the biblical revelation? In response to the complaint that a number of portions of the Bible are ambiguous or unclear, we often hear a statement something like, ‘It is the peripheral matters that are hazy or in which there seems to be conflicting biblical materials. The core beliefs are clearly and unequivocally revealed.’ This argument would appear to fail us with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, however. For here is a seemingly crucial matter where the Scriptures do not speak loudly and clearly. Little direct response can be made to this charge. It is unlikely that any text of Scripture can be shown to teach the doctrine of the Trinity in a clear, direct, and unmistakable fashion.

God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity, pp. 108-109

One final thing to consider, and this is probably the most damaging consequence of the orthodox position, although it has probably never even been pondered by most who hold this position. If the orthodox position is true then the death of Jesus amounts to a personless death, i.e. it is a death in which no personal being actually dies. If, as orthodoxy demands, Jesus is a divine person and not a human person, then how could his death be the death of a personal being? It can’t. If Jesus is not a human person then no human person was involved in his death. If Jesus is a divine person, and a necessary attribute of divinity is immortality, then the divine person who is Jesus could not have died and hence did not die. Most orthodox Christians when they think of Jesus’ death will reason that Jesus died in his human nature, understanding that divine beings can not die. But what does it mean to ‘die in a nature’ if there is no human person there to die. Can a human nature die, without there being the death of any person, and can such a death be sufficient to save humanity. Jesus’ death then amounts to nothing more than the death of a personless human nature.

Christians will often assert that the Savior had to be God or else his death could not be effective. But why should this be the case? If the divine person did not die, because he is essentially immortal, then how does his being God make the death of his impersonal human nature efficacious? Christian philosophers who have thought about this issue have usually postulated some theory of how the divine person was somehow able to experience what death was like, to taste death without really dying, by virtue of being attached to the impersonal human nature which did die. But this is all foolish speculation, devised merely to save a doctrine from it’s inevitable but undesirable consequence.

When scripture speaks of the death of Jesus it speaks in a straightforward manner, without any kind of philosophically contrived explanations. The death of Jesus is presented in scripture as him giving himself for us {Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14}. But in orthodoxy, can it really be said that Jesus gave himself for us, when in fact he would have merely given up his human nature to death. The scriptures are clear – Christ, the person, died for us. But this is impossible within orthodoxy for divine persons can’t die. Therefore, if Jesus, the person, died for us then he had to be a human person, for only human persons can die.


The orthodox dogma that asserts that Christ is a divine person who took on himself a human nature in addition to his divine nature, was manufactured solely to give a rationale for how Jesus, as an eternally divine person, can be considered fully human while being fully God. The philosophically astute church fathers were able to define the terms in such a way so as to appear to provide rational support for what seemed an absurdity. Yet scripture is silent regarding this doctrine, which must be inferred from the scriptural evidence, while being explicit regarding the simple humanity of Jesus.


  1. Many Evangelical teachers and apologists do not even seem aware of the orthodox denial of the human person in Jesus. Most simply refer to the dogma that Jesus is “fully God and fully man” without ever considering how a human nature without a human person can be counted as fully human. GotQuestions.org is probably typical of the Evangelical confusion about this matter when in answer to the question “What is enhypostasis and anhypostasis?” two contradictory statements are given. First the writer says, “Jesus did not pretend to be human—He possessed real human nature. The word enhypostasis is used to denote this fact. En– means the same as the English word in—Jesus was really “in” human nature and was a real human person.” But then he goes on to say, “Jesus added to His divine nature and person, and what was added was a real human nature, not a human person.”

    2. There were competing views of the incarnation in the 5th century over which the ‘orthodox’ view won out, marking all others as heresy. These other views were: Nestorianism – the incarnate Christ consisted of two distinct persons, one human and one divine, each with it’s own nature.
    Apollonarianism – in the incarnate Christ the Logos took the place of a rational human soul so that Jesus’ humanity consisted solely of his human body.
    Monophysitism – Jesus Christ is one divine person with only a divine nature.
    Docetism – Jesus Christ was a divine being with no human nature at all, who only appeared to be a real man.
    The reason all of these concepts are wrong, including the orthodox understanding (Chalcedonianism), is that they all begin with a faulty premise i.e. that Jesus was a divine spirit person who descended from heaven.

    3. One such pitiful attempt is the idea that in 1 Cor. 8:6 Paul is splitting the Shema (from Deut. 6:4) between the Father and Jesus and thus including Jesus in the one God. For a refutation of this idea see this article here.

    4.What Paul is saying in Rom. 1:3-4 is not that Jesus has two natures, a human and a divine. Rather he is saying two things about the man Jesus, God’s son. First he notes that he is a lineal descendant of David, a recognized qualification for the promised Messiah, because the coming Messiah would be ruler over God’s kingdom and this privilege was given only to David and his descendants {see 2 Chron. 13:5,8; Ps. 89:20-37}. The second thing he points out is that this specific descendant of David was “marked out” or “determined” (Gr. horizo, Str. G3724) as the chosen one, out of all of the other descendants of David that were then living. While only descendants of David could rule God’s kingdom, not every or any descendant could, but only the one chosen or “marked out” by God {see 1 Chron. 28:4-7}; this chosen one became the “son of God”. Jesus was so “marked out” as the chosen one in virtue of “a spirit of sanctification” i.e. being set-apart from all other descendants of David, by his resurrection from the dead.


Author: Troy Salinger

I am 60 yrs. old. I live with my wife of 37 yrs. in Picayune MS. I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus since August of 1981. I have no formal theological education, but have been an ardent student of Scripture for 41 yrs. I am a biblical Unitarian i.e. I believe the Father is the only true God (John 17:3) and Jesus is His human Son, the Messiah.

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Believe Jesus Of Nazareth Is A Simple Human Person”

  1. You have, Matt. 1:1 – “A record of the origin of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David . . .”

    My problem with using Matt 1:1 is that it continues on to say that Jesus was born of a virgin, giving him no human lineage. This is more in the line of what Justin Martyr taught, saying that Jesus did not descend from human seed, nor did he have human blood.


    1. Jerry Snyder,
      I don’t see that we have to jettison the virgin conception in order to have a lineal descent from David of Jesus. I can believe that God was able to procure some necessary genetic material, perhaps from Joseph, and implant that in the womb of Mary, much like He procured something from Adam’s body to create Eve. Now the authors of the gospels would not have been able to explain it this way, but Matthew (as well as Luke) does think Jesus was a descendant of David and that he was miraculously conceived in his mother’s womb.


  2. Good stuff. Traditional Christianity has to come up with all kinds of weird speculations, all completely non-biblical, to justify it’s god-man. While the simple truth is presented in black and white in the pages of the Bible.

    If the man Jesus is not a person’s mediator toward God, then that person has no mediator (1 Tim. 2:4-5).


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