Christology: Can Jesus Be Both Fully Human AND Fully God?

Jesus is both fully human while He is also fully God. The two ideas seemingly contradict each other, but also work together flawlessly in getting a better idea of just who Jesus was and what His sacrifice meant for our sins.

We must first acknowledge Jesus’s humanity. An example of this is found in the grief He felt in Gethsemane. In Mark 14: 34 He states: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” He was also born into this world through conception and lived a life of poverty. It is also important to note Jesus’s deity specifically by fulfilling the prophecies in the Old Testament and performing miracles. Among these were healing the blind[1] and raising the dead[2]. The most important element of His deity was His resurrection[3] and His appearance before His disciples to instruct the Great Commission[4].

This leads to the idea of Hypostatic Union. The Council of Chalcedon produced this idea which states: “In the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion, so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man.”[5]. He was sent by God[6], but lived a human life and suffered a very human death[7]. The second verse emphasizes that Christ had to give up His humanity by dying just as we do. As mentioned earlier, the events such as miracles proved His deity while events such as His crucifixion show His humanity. On the Cross, Jesus cries out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?”[8]. This emphasizes a degree of separation from God found only in our humanity. Proof of Jesus being both God and Man is clearly stated in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Jesus became incarnate to save humanity because “Only God himself, taking on human flesh and dying and rising in out flesh, can effect a redemption that consists in being saved from sin and corruption and death, and in being raised to share the nature of God himself.”[9]. God is the author of life and salvation. The Jews in the Old Testament seem to demonstrate a lack of sincere trust and obedience to God. By incarnating Himself in the flesh through Jesus, He lived among them and showed them who He is and what His commands are.

There are problems to emphasizing one trait over another. On the one hand, Jesus was a human being, but on the other He had an element of deity. Over emphasizing His humanity leads to a historical discussion ignorant of anything outside our realm of scientific understanding. Over emphasizing His deity takes away the importance of His sacrifice. If Jesus was just fully God, He would have no need to lay down His life. This is because God is eternal and cannot kill Himself, such a notion is absurd and intellectually flawed. Only in taking the form of a human being could He lay down that life to provide a route for redemption. The two facets are practically co-dependent upon each other to the point that they balance each other out as the human sacrifice is the entire basis for salvation and only a deity could fulfill such a sacrifice.

But there are objections to traditional Christology. Arius, for example, denied that Christ had a human soul[10]. Such a notion is absurd in light of biblical verses that clearly state otherwise[11]. Apollinaris suggested that Christ lacked complete manhood[12]. This is also incorrect. Christ came into the world by conception, lived around 30 years of complete human life, and died in a very human way exhibiting pain, agony, and depression. Detractors such as these merely present our mind’s inability to process that Jesus could be fully man and fully God at one time.

Jesus set examples for us all to live by during His ministry. He preached very human concepts (through His humanity) such as love all people[13], giving to the poor[14], and forgiving others[15]. Human beings can relate to these teachings, but find them hard to grasp. If we were able to practice these things completely, we would have a degree of perfection lacking any element of sin in our lives.  These examples Jesus demonstrated are the model for living we should all follow and practice. But because we cannot do these things perfectly, praise God for sacrificing His Son for our failures.


[1] Matthew 20:24

[2] Lazarus, John 11:1-34

[3] Matthew 28:1-10

[4] Matthew 28:16-20

[5] Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  2nd ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker,

2001, p 583.

[6] John 7: 28-29

[7] John 19:30

[8] Matthew 27:46

[9] Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  2nd ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker,

2001, p 242.

[10] Ibid.

[11] John 1:1-3. John 1:14

[12] Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  2nd ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker,

2001, p 242.

[13] Luke 10:27-37

[14] Luke 18:22

[15] Matthew 18:21-22

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charlestinsley

My name is Charlie Tinsley and I blog about The Bible. In particular, I post my thoughts, commentaries, and Bible Study teachings I have done. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Science in Religion Summa Cum Laude with a Biblical Studies Minor. I am currently studying for a Masters In Divinity at Eastern Mennonite Seminary with PhD ambitions in the study of Theology. I am married and have been for several years and I currently reside in Virginia.

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