In a previous post I began discussing the Authentic Humanity of Jesus Christ. In following posts I would like to look at other key texts of the New Testament that verify the genuineness of the humanity of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the oldest enemies to the early church was docetism and gnosticism. Gnosticism is a very slippery term and there are many types. It seems that early gnostic writings though were thinking of Jesus in very supernatural terms (see Infancy Gospel of Thomas). The Docetists thought spiritual was good and physical was evil. Therefore, Jesus could not have been a real man. It should not surprise us then to know that the Scriptures as a whole affirm the authentic humanity of Jesus Christ. Apparently the Apostle John felt similarly. Dr. David S. Norris notes:
Christian theology is held together by a man. Whoever, or whatever else He was, He was a man—not apparently, but actually.(1)For the the Apostle John it is important that we understand Jesus was a true man. In fact, the spirit of Antichrist is the denial of the genuine humanity of Jesus and not a denial of His deity. We must be careful not to read too much into this because it does not necessarily follow that a denial of His deity is acceptable to John. Notice 1 John 4:1-3
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. ESVThe ESV in 4:2 renders homologeo (homologei) as “confesses” (present, active, indicative verb). Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ, in the “flesh” or sarx has come from God. The prepositional phrase “in the flesh” refers to Jesus the “Christ” or “anointed one”. The use of this term perhaps affirms the Messianic nature of Jesus as well which as Messianic Jewish scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum includes:
“...The Messiah was to be of the Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Tribe of Judah and the family of David. Indeed, He was to be the ideal Israelite...The genealogies show Him to be of the Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Tribe of Judah and from the family of David (Matt. 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-28). His lineage from Judah is emphasized in Hebrews 7:13-14 and Revelation 5:5. He was always recognized on sight to be a Jew and the Samaritan woman recognized Him to be that in John 4:9.”(2)Fruchtenbaum rightly concludes that Israel’s longed for Messiah would be from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and essentially through the family of David. Since the Messiah would be the “ideal Israelite” it would naturally require him to be human at the very least. Even the woman at the well could tell that Jesus was a Jewish man (John 4:9).
“Sent” and “come” from God?
To say that Jesus Christ in the flesh has come from God also creates a grammatical distinction between the direct object (Jesus Christ) and God. Jesus Christ, in the flesh, has come from God. For the Unitarian or Socinian Jesus is truncated from God by being “in the flesh”. For both the Trinitarian and the Oneness perspective Jesus is God but for one He is a different divine person also called God and for the other He is the True God manifest in flesh in a truly genuine human existence. God is aware of Himself in a truly human existence.
If Jesus is God how can He also be “from God”? This question is one that everyone must consider objectively. For the Trinitarian He is one of three divine persons (not beings) who considered and voluntarily chose prior to the Incarnation to come in the flesh. For the Unitarian “he” (Jesus) is another separate human being that cannot truly be considered “God” except in a representative sense.
My perspective as well as any other is not without presupposition or criticism. From my Oneness perspective Jesus has come from God in the sense as John appears to be writing about Him. As it is reflected in the use of the pronouns used of Christ. This includes a temporal perspective wherein John considers and sees Jesus, the Christ. From this perspective, Jesus then was a man who had come and was sent from God. His coming is representative but not representative alone. The truth of sending and coming for Christ perhaps clearly points to His authentic humanity. A point that the Bible manifestly seeks to make clear. There are many texts that speak about Jesus being “sent” by God, “coming” from God and “coming down from heaven” (See Matt. 10:40; John 4:34; John 5:24; John 6:38; John 8:42; John 16:28; John 17:18; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 4:14). In following posts we will consider John 3:16-17 and other sending passages.
1. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. (1989) Israeology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. (846) Ariel Ministries.
2. David S. Norris (2009-09-30). I AM: A Oneness Pentecostal Theology (Kindle Locations 1138-1140). Word Aflame Press. Kindle Edition.