The doctrine of the incarnation is the belief that Elohim (God) has disclosed His Divine Self in human reality in the person and work of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). To deny this cardinal doctrine is to deny the Christian/Messianic faith - to proclaim it is to confess one of the key tenets of the Besorah (Gospel).
The English word 'incarnation' is derived from the Latin, incarnatio, which means to 'take on flesh' (John 1:14). What this means is that Yah'shua (Jesus) was both Divine and an authentic human being in hypostatic union as one single existence. And by 'hypostatic' is meant an underlying reality or substance, as opposed to attributes or to that which lacks substance.
The expression "in [the] flesh" (Latin, in carne; Greek, en sarki) is found in some important New Testament statements about the person and work of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Thus the hymn quoted in 1 Timothy 3:16 speaks of "He [who] was manifested in the flesh" (ESV). John ascribed to the spirit of Anti-Messiah (Antichrist) any denial that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) "has come in the flesh" (1 Jn.4:2, ESV; cp. 2 Jn.7). Paul said that Messiah did His reconciling work "in His body of flesh" (Col.1:2, ESV; Eph.2:15), and that by sending His Son "in the likeness of sinful flesh" Elohim (God) "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom.8:3, ESV). Peter speaks of Messiah dying for us "in the flesh" (1 Pet.3:18, ESV; cp.4:1). All of these texts are enforcing, from different angles, the same emet (truth): that it was precisely by coming and dying "in the flesh" that Messiah secured our salvation. Theology calls His coming the 'incarnation', and His dying the 'atonement'.
What does 'flesh' mean in these texts? In the Bible this word (Heb. basar, se'er; Gk. sarx) has fundamentally a physiological meaning: 'flesh' is the solid stuff which, together with blood and bones, makes up the physical organism or a man or animal (cp. Gen.2:12; Lk.24:39; 1 Cor.15:50). Since Hebrew thought associates bodily organs with psychical functions, we find that in the Tanakh (Old Testament) 'flesh' can cover the psychological as well as the physical aspects of man's personal life (cp. the parallelism between 'flesh' and 'heart' - Ps.73:26; and between 'flesh' and 'soul'/nefesh - Ps.63:1).
The word, however, bears more than merely anthropological significance. The Bible sees physical flesh as a theologically significant symbol - a symbol, namely, of the created and dependent sort of life which men and animals share, a sort of life which is derived from Elohim (God) and which, unlike Yahweh's own chayim (life), requires a physical organism to sustain it in its characteristic activity. Hence 'flesh' becomes a generic term for men or animals, or men and animals together (cp. Gen.6:12; 7:15,21ff.), viewed as creatures of Elohim (God) whose life on earth lasts only for a comparitively short period during which Yahweh-Elohim supplies the ruach or breath of chayim (life) in their nostrils. 'Flesh' in this theologically developped sense is thus not something that a man has, but something that he is. Its mark is creaturely weakness and frailty (Is.40:6), and in this respect it stands in contrast with 'spirit', the eternal and unflagging personalised energy that is of Elohim (God), and is Elohim (God) (Is.31:3; cp. 40:6-31).
To say, therefore, that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) came and died "in the flesh" is to say that He came and died in the state and under the conditions of created physical and psychical life: in other words, that He who died was a man. But the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) also affirm that He who died eternally was, and continutes to be, Elohim (God). The formula which enshrines the incarnation therefore is that in some sense Elohim (God), without ceasing to be Elohim (God), was made man. This is what John asserts in the prologue of his Gospel: "the Davar (Logos, Miltha, Word)" (Elohim's/God's agent in creation, who "in the beginning", before the creation, not only "was with Elohim (God)", but Himself "was Elohim (God)" - Jn.1:1-3) "became flesh" (Jn.1:14, ESV). (See The Word Made Flesh series).
B. Origin of the Belief
Such an assertion, considered abstractly against the background of Tanakh (Old Testament) monotheism, might seem blasphemous or nonsensical - as, indeed, orthodox Judaism has held it to be since the time of Messiah though, as the Targum Isaiah proves, a Divine Messiah was originally expected by the Rabbis (see, for example, Crimes of the Masoretes II: Mutilating the Name Immanuel and Isaiah 9:6).
It appears to mean that the divine Maker became one of His own creatures, which is a prima facie contradiction in theological terms. Whence came the conviction that inspired John's strange statement? How did the belief of the early Messianic Community (Church) that Yah'shua (Jesus) of Nazareth was Elohim (God)-incarnate arise?
On the assumption that it was not occasioned by what Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself said and did. but grew up later, attempts have been made to trace the origin of Jewish speculations about a pre-existent superhuman Messiah, or to the polytheistic myths about redeemer-gods which were characteristic of Hellenistic mystery-religions and Gnostic cults. But it is now generally recognised that these attempts have failed: partly because the differences between these Jewish and Gentile fancies and New Testament Christology have invariably to be more substantial and deep-rooted than their surface similarities are; partly because it has been shown that a virtual claim to deity is embedded in the most undoubted sayings of the historical Yah'shua (Jesus), as reported in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke), and that a virtual acceptance of this claim was fundamental to the emunah (faith) and worship of the primitive Palestinian Messianic Community (Church), as pictured in the first chapters of Acts (the substantial history of which is now rarely disputed).
The only explanation that covers the facts is that the impact of Yah'shua's (Jesus') own life, ministry, death, and resurrection convinced His talmidim (disciples) of His personal deity even before He ascended. This, of course, is precisely that account of the matter which the Fourth Gospel itself gives (see especially Jn.20:28ff.).
In line with this, Acts tells us that the first believers prayed to Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master or Adon (Ac.7:59), even before the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') (Ac.1:21 - the 'Master' who chooses apostles is surely "the Master (Adon) Yah'shua (Jesus)" of v.21, cp. v.3); that, beginning on the day of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), they baptised in His Name (Ac.2:38; 8:16; 19:5); that they invoked and put faith in His Name (i.e. to Himself - Ac.3:16; 9:14; 22:16; cp. 17:31); and they proclaimed Him as the One who gives teshuvah (repentance) and remission of sins (Ac.5:31).
All this shows that, even if the deity of Yah'shua (Jesus) was not at first clearly stated in words (and Acts gives no hint that it was), it was nevertheless part of the emunah (faith) by which the first believers lived and prayed. Lex orandi lex credendi ('the law of praying is the law of believing', i.e. it is prayer which leads to belief, or that it is liturgy which leads to theology). The theological formulation of belief in the incarnation came later, but the belief itself, however incoherently expressed, was there in the Messianic Community (Church) from the beginning.
C. Standpoint of the New Testament Writers
It is important to note the nature and limits of the interest which morivates New Testament thinking about the incarnation, particularly that of Paul, John, and the author of Hebrews, who deal with the subject comparitively fully. The New Testament writers nowhere notice, much less, handle, the metaphysical questions about the mode of the incarnation, and the psychological questions about the incarnate state, which have been so prominent in Christological discussion since the 4th century. Their interest in Messiah's person is not philosophical and speculative, but religious and evangelical. They speak of Messiah, not as a metaphysical problem, but as a divine Saviour; and all that they say about His person is prompted by their desire to glorify Him through exhibiting His work and vindicating His centrality in the redemptive purpose of Elohim (God). They never attempt to dissect the mystery of His person; it is enough for them to proclaim the incarnation as a fact, one of the sequence of mighty works whereby Elohim (God) has wrought salvation for sinners. The only sense in which the New Testament writers ever attempt to explain the incarnation is by showing how it fits into Yahweh's overall plan for redeeming mankind (see, e.g. Rom.8:3; Phil.2:6-11; Col.1:13-22; Jn.1:18; 2 Jn.1:1-2:2; and the main argument of Hebrews, 1-2; 4:14-5:10; 7:1-10:18).
The exclusiveness of this evangelical interest throws light on the otherwise puzzling fact that the New Testament nowhere reflects on the virgin birth of Yah'shua (Jesus) as witnessing to the conjunction of deity and manhood in His person - a line of thought much canvassed by later theology. This silence need not mean that any of the New Testament writers were ignorant of the virgin birth, as some have supposed. It is sufficiently explained by the fact that New Testament interest in Yah'shua (Jesus) centres elsewhere, upon His relation to the saving purposes of Elohim (God). Proof of this is given by the way in which the virgin birth story is itself told by Matthew and Luke, the two Evangelists who recount it. Each lays his stress, not on the unique constitution of the Person thus miraculosly born, but on the fact that by this miraculous birth Yahweh began to fulfill His long-foretold intention of visiting and redeeming His people (cp. Mt.1:21ff.; Lk.1:31ff., 68-75; 2:10ff., 29-32). The only significance which they, or any New Testament writers, see in the incarnation is directly soteriological (salvational). The Scotist speculation, popularised by Westcott, that the incarnation was primarily for the perfecting of creation, and only secondarily and incidentally for the redeeming of sinners, finds not the least support in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament).
The apostolic writers clearly see that both the deity and the manhood of Yah'shua (Jesus) are fundamental to His saving work. They see that it is just because Yah'shua (Jesus) is Elohim (God) the Son that they are to regard His disclosure of the Father's mind and heart as perfect and final (cp. Jn.1:18; 14:7-10; Heb.1:1ff.), and His death as the supreme evidence of Elohim's (God's) ahavah (love) for sinners and His will to bless believers (cp. Jn.3:16; Rom.5:5-10; 8:32; 1 Jn.4:8-10). They realise that is it Yah'shua's (Jesus') divine Sonship that guarantees the endless duration, sinless perfection, and limitless efficacy, of His High Priestly service (Heb.7:3,16,24-28). They are aware that it was in virtue of His deity that He was able to defeat and dispossess the devil, "the strong man armed" (Lk.11:21, NKJV) who kept sinners in a state of helpless thraldom (Heb.2:14ff.; Rev.20:1ff.; cp. Mk.3:27; Lk.10:17ff.; Jn.12:31ff.; 16:11). Equally, they see that it was necessary for the Son of Elohim (God) to 'become flesh', for only so could He take His place as the "second man" (1 Cor.15:47, ESV) through whom Elohim (God) deals with the race (1 Cor.15:21ff.; Rom.5:15-19); only so could He mediate between Elohim (God) and men (1 Tim.2:5); and only He could die for sins, for only flesh can die. (Indeed, the thought of 'flesh' is so bound up with death that the Messianic Scriptures/New Testament will not apply the term to Messiah's manhood in its glorified and incorruptable state: "the days of His flesh" (Heb.5:7, ESV) mean's Messiah's time on earth up to the cross).
We should, therefore, expect the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) to treat any denial that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was both truly divine and truly human as a demeaning heresy, destructive of the Besorah (Gospel); and so it does. The only such denial is the docetic Christology (traditionally, that of Cerinthus) which denied the reality of Messiah's 'flesh' (1 Jn.4:2ff.), and hence of His physical death ('blood', 1 Jn.5:6). John denounces this in his first two Epistles as a deadly error inspired by the spirit of Anti-Messiah (Antichrist), a lying denial of both the Father and the Son (1 Jn.2:22-25; 4:1-6; 5:5-12; 2 Jn.7,9ff.). It is usually thought that the emphasis in John's Gospel on the reality of Yah'shua's (Jesus') experience of human frailty (His weariness, Jn.4:6; thirst, 4:7; 19:28; tears, 11:33ff.) is intended to cut at the root of the same docetic error. (For a discussion on a modern messianic neo-docetic error, see The YATI Whole Wheat Doctrine Examined).
D. Elements of the New Testament Doctrine
The Meaning of the New Testament claim that "Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) has come in the flesh" (1 Jn.4:2, ESV; 4:3; 2 Jn.7) may be drawn out under three headings.
a. The Person Incarnate
The Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) uniformly define the identity of Yah'shua (Jesus) in terms of His relation to the one Elohim (God) of Tanakh (Old Testament) monotheism (cp. 1 Cor.8:4,6; 1 Tim.2:5; with Is.43:10ff.; 44:6). The basic definition is that Yah'shua (Jesus) is Elohim's (God's) Son. The identification is rooted in Yah'shua's (Jesus') own thought and teaching. His sense of being 'the Son' in a unique sense that set Him apart from the rest of men went back to at least His 13th year (Lk.2:49), and was confirmed to Him by His Father's voice from heaven at His baptism: "Thou art My [only] belovèd Son" (Mk.1:11, KJV; cp. Mt.3:17; Lk.3:2; agapétos, which appears in all three reports of the heavenly utterance, carries the implication of "only beloved": so again in the parable, Mk.12:6; cp. the similar words from heaven at the transfiguration, Mk.4:7; Mt.17:5). At His trial, when asked under oath whether He was the "Son of Elohim (God)" (a phrase which on the lips of the Cohen Gadol/High Priest probably signified no more than 'Davidic Messiah'), Mark and Luke report Yah'shua (Jesus) as making an affirmative reply which was in effect a claim to personal deity: egó eimi (so Mk.14:62; Lk.22:7 has: "You say [rightly] that I am - ani hu/egó eimi" - Lk.22:70b, ESV). Ani hu (Heb.), Egó eimi (Gk.), the emphatic 'I AM', were words that no Jew would take on His lips, for they expressed the self-identification of Elohim (God) (Ex.3:14). Yah'shua (Jesus), who according to Mark had used these words before in a similar suggestive way (Mk.6:50; cp. 13:6; and cp. the long series of ani hu/egó eimi sayings in John's Gospel: Jn.4:26; 7:35; 8:12,24; 10:7,11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; 18:5ff.; cp. Is.43:10), evidently wished to make perfectly clear that the divine Sonship to which He laid claim was nothing less than personal deity. It was for this 'blasphemy' that He was condemned.
Yah'shua's (Jesus') references to Himself as "the Son" are always in contexts which mark Him as uniquely close to Elohim (God) and uniquely favoured by Elohim (God). There are comparitively few in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt.11:27 = Lk.10:22; Mk.13:32 = Mt.24:36; cp. Mk.12:1-11), but many in John, both in Yah'shua's (Jesus') own words and in the Evangelist's commentary. According to John, Yah'shua (Jesus) is Elohim's (God's) 'only' Son (monogenés, Jn.1:14.18; 3:16,18). He exists eternally (Jn.8:58; cp. 1:1ff.). He stands in an unchanging revelation of perfect ahavah/agapé (love), echadness (union), and communion, with the Father (Jn.1:18; 8:16,29; 10:30; 16:32). As Son, He has no independent initiative (Jn.5:19); He lives to glorify His Father Yahweh (Jn.17:1,4), by doing His Father's will (Jn.4:34; 5:308:28ff.). He came into the world because the Father 'sent' Him (42 references), and gave Him a task to fulfil there (Jn.4:34; 17:4; cp. 19:30). He came both in His Father's literal Name (Yah[weh]'shua) and as His representative or plenipotentiary (Jn.5:34 - also see Authority and the Council of Yah's Elohim and The Word Made Flesh series), and because all that He said and did was according to the Father's command (Jn.7:16ff.; 8:26ff.; 12:49ff.; 14:10), His life on earth revealed His Father perfectly (Jn.14:7ff.).
When He speaks of the Father as greater than Himself (Jn.14:28; cp. 10:29) He is evidently referring, not to any essential or circumstantial inferiority, but to the fact that subordination to the Father's will and initiative is natural and necessary to Him. The Father is greater than He because in relation to the Father it is always His nature freely and joyfully to be a Son. But this does not mean that He is to be subordinated to the Father in men's esteem and worship. Quite the reverse - for the Father seeks the Son's glory no less than the Son seeks the Father's glory in men's eyes. The Father has committed to the Son His two great works of giving chayim (life) and everlasting mishpat (judgment) "that all may honour the Son, just (in the same way) as they honour the Father" (Jn.5:23, ESV). This amounts to saying that the Father directs all men to do as Thomas did, and acknowledge the Son in the same terms in which they ought to acknowledge the Father Himself - namely as "My Master (Lord) and my Elohim (God)" (Jn.20:28, AENT).
The Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) contain other lines of thought, subsidiary to that of divine Sonship, which also proclaim the deity of Yah'shua (Jesus) of Nazareth. We may mention the more important of these:
b. The Nature of the Incarnation
- 1. John identifies the eternal divine Davar (Heb.), Miltha (Aram.), Logos (Gk.) or 'Word' with Elohim's (God's) personal Son, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Jn.1:1-18; cp. 1 Jn.1:1-18; Rev.19:13;
- 2. Paul speaks of the Son as "the image of Elohim (God)" (ESV), both as incarnate (2 Cor.4:4) and in His pre-incarnate state (Col.1:15), and in Philippians 2:6 says that prior to the incarnation of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was in the 'form' (Gk. morphé) of Elohim (God); a phrase the exact exegesis of which is disputed, but which Phillips is almost certainly right to render "always...Elohim (God) by nature" (Phil.2:6, JBP) as also Goble, who renders the phrase, "[Moshiach/Messiah], who existing in the demut (appearance, image, likeness) of the mode of being Elohim [His etzem or essential nature - Jn.1:1-2]" (OJB). Hebrews 1:3 calls the Son "the effulgence of His (Elohim's/God's) glory, and the very image of His substance" (RV), the "radiance of the glory of Elohim (God), flawless expression of the nature of Elohim (God)" (JBP), "the splendour of His glory and the exact image of His (Elohim's/God's) nature" (AENT). These statements, made as they are within a monotheistic frame of reference which excludes any thought of two Gods, are clearly meant to imply that:
- i. The Son is personally divine, and ontologically echad (one) with the Father;
- ii. The Son perfectly embodies all that is in the Father, or putting it negatively, that there is no aspect or constituent of deity or character which the Father has which the Son lacks;
- iii. Paul can apply a Tanakh (Old Testament) prophecy concerning the invocation of Yahweh ('the Lord') to the Master Yah'shua (Jesus), thus indicating that it finds its true fulfilment in Him (Rom.10:13, quoting Joel 2:32; cp. Phil.2:10ff., echoing Is.45:23). Similarly, the writer to the Hebrews quotes Moses' exhortation to the malakim (angels) to worship Elohim (God) (Dt.53:43, LXX), and the psalmist's declaration: "Thy throne, O Elohim (God), is for ever and ever" (Ps.45:6, KJV), as words spoken by the Father with reference to His Son (Heb.1:6,8). This shows that both writers regard Yah'shua (Jesus) as divine.
- 4. The regular New Testament habit of referring to Yah'shua (Jesus) as 'Master' ('Lord', Adon) - the generic title given to the gods of the Hellenistic religion (cp.1 Cor.8:5), and invariably used in the Septuagint (LXX, the official Greek translation of the Tanakh/Old Testament) to render the Divine Name - would seem to be an implicit ascription of deity.
When the Davar/Miltha/Logos/Word "became flesh" (Jn.1:14, ESV) His deity was not abandoned, or reduced, or contracted, not did He cease to exercise the divine functions which had been His before. It is He, we are told, who sustains the creation in ordered existence, and who gives and upholds all life (Col.1:17; Heb.1:3; Jn.1:4), and these functions were certainly not in abeyance during His time on earth. When He came to the earth He "emptied Himself" (ESV) of outward glory (Phil.2:7; Jn.17:5), and in that sense He "became poor" (2 Cor.8:9, ESV), but this does not at all imply a curtailing of His divine powers, such as 'kenoticism' would suggest. The Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) stress rather that the Son's deity was not reduced through the incarnation. The kenosis or 'emptying' was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity nor an exchange of deity for humanity. In the man Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), says Paul, "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Col.2:9, ESV, NRSV; cp. 1:19), "in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Elhuta (Aram. for 'Godhead') bodily" (HRV, cp. KJV - Peshitta reads "divinity").
The incarnation of the Son of Elohim (God), then, was not a diminishing of deity, but an acquiring of manhood. Before we attempt an analysis of the mechanics of this truth, it is first of all important to categorically state what the incarnation is not:
Messianic Evangelicals accept none of the above. The issue was not that Elohim (God) the Son came to indwell a human being, as the Ruach (Spirit) was later to do. (To assimilate incarnation to indwelling is the essence of the Nestorian heresy). It was rather that the Son in person began to live a fully human life. He did not simply 'clothe' Himself in a human physical body, taking the place of its spirit; He took to Himself a human psyche, or psychical body (emotions, thinking processes, and will), as well as a human physical body. In other words, he entered into the experience of human psychical life as well as human physical life, incarnating in the same way that human spirits incarnate into the physical-psychic body and meld with it (see Preexistence). His manhood was complete; He became "the man Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus)" (1 Tim.2:5, ESV; cp. Gal.4:4; Heb.2:14,17). And His manhood is permanent. Though now exalted, He continues to be, Elohim (God) and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever.
- 1. Gnosticism - the heresy that maintains a Platonic-derived dualism between spirit and material; the flesh is viewed as evil and thus prevents the spirit from connecting with Elohim (God) entirely. Thus for a Gnostic, Elohim (God) could never become 'flesh'. Various false gnostic incarnation 'solutions', from denying Yah'shua (Jesus) actually suffered and was therefore only 'pretending' to be a man, to His being merely a teacher of wisdom, have been advanced;
- 2. Arianism - the heresy that Yah'shua (Jesus) was not fully Elohim (God) but a sub-God, 'Godlet' or 'god' (as modern Jehovah's Witnesses teach);
- 3. Monophysitism - the doctrine of the Oriental Orthodox Churches (Ethiopian, Eritrean, Coptic) who teach that Yah'shua (Jesus) had only a single 'nature' which was either solely divine (the heretical branch) or a 'synthesis' of divine and human;
- 4. Dyophysitism (or dia-, dio-, or duophysitism) - which maintains that Messiah maintained two separate natures, one divine and one human, after the Incarnation, in contrast with Monophysitism;
- 5. Appolinarianism - a form of Monophysitism that states Yah'shua (Jesus) could not have had a human mind, but rather a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) but a divine mind;
- 6. Doceticism - the heresy that Yah'shua's (Jesus') body was either absent (Marcionism) or an illusion;
- 7. Sabellianism - the heresy that Elohim (God) was single and indivisible, with Father, Son, and Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) being three modes or manifestations of one divine Person. A Sabellian modalist would say that the One Elohim (God) successively revealed Himself to man throughout time as the Father in Creation; the Son in Redemption; and the Spirit in Sanctification and Regeneration (modern examples being Oneness Pentecostalism and the 19th century work of fiction, the Book of Mormon); and
- 8. Nestorianism - a form of Dyophysitism which emphasises a distinction between two loosely united natures, the human and divine natures of the divine person, Yah'shua (Jesus). The doctrine teaches that Yah'shua (Jesus) had two persons (dyoprosopism), the divine Logos and the human Yah'shua (Jesus).
c. The Incarnate State
The 'incarnate state' is to be understood in three ways:
- 1. It was a state of dependence and obedience, because the incarnation did not change the relationship between the Son and the Father. They continued in unbroken fellowship, the Son saying and doing what the Father would have Him to say and do, and not going beyond the Father's known will at any single moment (cp. the first temptation, Mt.4:2ff.). His confessed ignorance of the time of His return (Mk.13:32) may be understood, not as edifying pretence (Aquinas), not as evidence of His having laid aside His divine knowledge for the purpose of the incarnation (the kenosis hypotheses), but simply as showing that it was not the Father's will for Him to have this knowledge in His mind at this time. As the Son, He did not seek or wish to know more than the Father wished Him to know;
- 2. It was a state of sinlessness, because the incarnation did not change the nature and character of the Son. That His whole life was sinless is attested several times (2 Cor.5:21; 1 Pet.2:22; Heb.4:15; cp. Mt.3:14-17; Jn.8:46; 1 Jn.2:1ff.). That He was exempt from the entail of original sin in Adam is evident from the fact that He was not bound to die for sins of His own (cp. Heb.7:26), and hence could die vicariously and representatively, the righteous taking the place of the unrighteous (cp. 2 Cor.5:21; Rom.5:16ff.; Gal.3:13; 1 Pet.3:18). It is contended that Yah'shua (Jesus) could not sin (the doctrine of Impeccability), and that this is demonstrated by the fact that He remained Elohim (God) the Son (cp. Jn.5:19,30). Deviation from the Father's will was no more possible for Him in the incarnate state than before. His deity was the guarantee that He would achieve in the flesh that sinlessness which was prerequisite if He were to die "like that of a lamb, without blemish or spot" (1 Pet.1:19, ESV).
- 3. It was in a state of temptation and moral conflict, because the incarnation was a true entry into the condition of man's moral life. Though, being Elohim (God), it was not in Him to yield to temptation, yet, being man, it was necessary for Him to fight temptation in order to overcome it. What His deity ensured was not that He would not be tempted to stray from His Father's will, nor that He would be exempt from the strain and distress that repeated insidious temptations create in the soul, but that, when tempted, He would fight and win, as He did in the initial temptations of His messianic ministry (Mt.4:1ff.) The writer to the Hebrews stresses that in virtue of His first-hand experience of temptation and the costliness of obedience He is able to extend sufficient sympathy and help to tempted and distraught believers (Heb.2:18; 4:14ff.; 5:2,7ff.).
Yah'shua (Jesus) stated emphatically that if a person does not believe in His deity that he would die in his sins:
Therefore those who deny the deity and humanity of Messiah - that He is fully Elohim (God) and fully man - remain dead in their sins, are unsaved, and must expect a fearful judgment.
"I told you that you would die in your sins,
for unless you believe that I AM He,
you will die in your sins" (Jn.8:24, ESV)
(14 November 2017)