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Patriology & Christology

Kenosis & the Hypostatic Union of Christ



Joe Robinson

Luke 1:35; John 1:14; Phil. 2:6-8; Col. 1:15-18; Col. 2:9-10; Heb. 2:14-17

Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of God
overshadowed her and "THEREFORE the "Holy Child" would be called the Son of

It is not known nor stated whether God used Mary's Ovum or if He only used Her
womb in which to form and then bring forth His Son into the world. God clearly had
the power to come into the world in any way He wished and who can argue?

What we do know is that;

1. He came in the flesh;

And the Word came in the flesh, and lived for a time in our midst (tabernacled with
us), so that we saw His glory--the glory as of the Father's only Son, sent from His
presence. He was full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Dear friends, do not believe
every spirit, but put the spirits to the test to see whether they are from God; for many
false teachers have gone out into the world. The test by which you may recognize the
Spirit of God is that every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come as
man is from God, and that no spirit is from God which does not acknowledge this
about Jesus. Such is the spirit of the anti-Christ; of whose coming you have heard, and
it is already in the world. (John 4:1-3) 2. Even though He was God, being in the "form
of God" (morfh qeou uparcwn) because of God's love for us (John 3:16), He was
obedient to God's will and willingly vacated His exalted position and "emptied"*
Himself (ekenwsen), by taking on the "form of a servant" (morfhn doulou) and being
made into the "likeness"(schmati) of humanity for the purpose of dying on the cross
for the sin's of mankind. The perfect offering acceptable to God as ransom for the
iniquity of the world.
( Phil. 2:6-7, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, Heb. 2:14-18, 7:26-27).
*Compare with 2 Corinthians 8:9- "although rich Christ became poor in order that you
may become rich through Christ's poverty."

3. The fullness of God's nature dwelt within Christ (the monogenes', one of a kind Son
of God) as the "visible representation of the invisible God" during His earthly ministry
as stated in Col. 2:9-10 and 1:15 and seen in His Transfiguration where His glory was
witnessed and attested to in Matt.17:2, Mk. 9:2, Lk. 9:29, John 1:14 and 2 Peter 1:16:17.

The Impeccability of Christ

And for this purpose it was necessary that in all respects He should be made to
resemble His brothers, so that He might become a compassionate and faithful High
Priest in things relating to God, in order to atone for the sins of the people. For
inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able
instantly to help those who are tempted and tried. Heb.2:17-18. There are some who
think that in order for Christ's mission to be applicable to mankind, that He must have
had the "choice" to sin when "tempted" since He was made in every respect like man
(Hebrews 2:17-18.) Since the "Perfect" man, Adam, who was created in an "Unfallen"
condition was able to sin, then Jesus must also have been able to choose to sin (even
though He did not), as Adam did. At first glance this is a logical argument, but on
deeper scrutiny, the fallacy will presently manifest itself. It turns out to be fairly
simple when once we approach the problem from a different angle. While Adam (&
subsequently all mankind) was formed in the image of God, he did not possess the
'substance' of God within himself, as Christ did. In other words man was created with
his own nature, a nature of "createdness", a unique nature in the "image of " but
different from God's, since to be created, by it's very nature precludes one from being
"un-created" as God, (and Jesus as God) are. Man cannot share in Jesus' "un-
createdness" but can only be of the order of created beings, created perfect, but with a
different nature from his Creator. Man was created in the "likeness" Homoiousios of
God, rather than of the "same, uncreated and eternally pre-existant substance" or
Homoousios as God. As such man could choose to be obedient or to follow his own
volition and choose to follow Satan in rebellion and death rather than obedience to his
Creator to eternal life and peace.

Jesus on the other hand, while taking on the physicality of mankind, always kept His
"un-created" nature-a nature exactly the same as (homoousios) God's nature, as such
He could only do as God would do, being God Himself and since the definition of sin
is doing "not" the will of God, i.e. not doing what God would do, Jesus could not sin.

In summary, so far we know that Jesus Christ;

Possessed the nature of eternality and un-createdness. and as such; took on the form of
a servant and tabernacled (dwelled) with man in the likeness of humanity through the
agency of being born of a virgin through the work of the Holy Spirit. He possessed all
the fullness of God's nature within a Human body, (Schematic of mankind)and He
came for the purpose of living a sinless life and become the sacrifice acceptable to God
for the ransom of those who believe and are reconciled to God through Him.
(Col.1:15, 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 2:17)

Contrary to the belief of some, the verb ekenoosen, translated "emptied" in
Philippians 2:7 and describes the act of Christ taking on the form of man as
"emptying" Himself of Glory, is not the only usage in the NT- but is also the same verb
used in John 1:14

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the
glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

word flesh made kenosen=empty

kai o logoV sarx egeneto kai eskhnwsen en hmin kai eqeasameqa thn doxan autou
doxan wV monogenouV para patroV plhrhV caritoV kai alhqeiaV

which is the same act descibed in Hebrews 2:14-17 where this verb is not used but the
context is different. Therefore we should take into account the context of all three texts
in order to correctly understand their meaning.
The first instance is used as an example for us to follow while the second is a true
representation of Jesus identifying in the flesh with those He came to save.

In Summary

Christ was both human and divine.

Having "emptied Himself" and taking on the form of a servant in the form of man,
Jesus Christ suffered the pains of physicality in a fallen world, enduring without sin,
all that mankind is subject to, including Satan's assaults and temptations to by-pass
such suffering (thereby anulling the pre-requisite for man's salvation, i.e. a perfect
ransom willing and capable of suffering, "yet without sin", by remaining obedient
(sinless) in the face of all temptation and suffering- Heb. 2:14-17.)

Having clothed Himself with humanity He was subject to hunger and thirst and
physical pain. He was made un-fallen flesh by being born of a Virgin woman through
the power of the Holy Spirit, He lived in our same situation in a fallen world, all
without sin and then He laid down His life for Us and died--innocent;
But then as Lord, He rose from the dead, the first-born of and founder of the Church.
All these things were necessary for our redemption as well as the restoration of all else
that was cursed because of Adam's sin.

I propose that we lean more on scripture, written by the eye witnesses of these events
and a little less on our need to 'dogmatically' assert what others must believe in order
to be acceptable to us, and trust that Almighty God is more than able to preserve His
own dignity and majesty.

. The following sciptures address Jesus' manifestation on earth.

Growing in Wisdom and Favor with God

And as Jesus grew older He gained in both wisdom and stature, and in favour with
God and man. (Luke 2:52)
The Annointing at His Baptism

Now when all the people had been baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized and
was praying, the sky opened,and the Holy Spirit came down in bodily shape, like a
dove, upon Him, and a voice came from Heaven, which said, 'Thou art My Son, dearly
loved: in Thee is My delight.' (Luke 3:21-22)

His Transfiguration (Visible Revelation of His Glory)

Six day later, Jesus took with Him Peter and the brothers James and John, and brought
them up a high mountain to a solitary place.

There in their presence His form underwent a change; His face shone like the sun, and
His raiment became as white as the light.

And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them conversing with Him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, we are thankful to you that we are here. If you
approve, I will put up three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'

He was still speaking when a luminous cloud spread over them; and a voice was
heard from within the cloud, which said, 'This is My Son dearly beloved, in whom is
My delight. Listen to Him.' (Matt. 17:1-6)

Peter's testimony of the Revelation of Christ's Glory

For when we made known to you the power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we
were not eagerly following cleverly devised legends, but we had been eye-witnesses of
His majesty.
He received honour and glory from God the Father, and out of the wondrous glory
words such as these were spoken to Him, 'This is My dearly-loved Son, in whom I take
(2 Peter 1:16-17)