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Theology > Jesus > Incarnation > Hypostatic Union 


Christian orthodoxy affirms that Christ was one person, with two natures, human and Divine. In theology this is called the doctrine of the hypostatic union, the union of the pre-incarnate Christ with human flesh, the union resulting in the Theanthropos – the God-man. Simply put, the hypostatic union refers to the union of the two natures.

Scripture abounds with references to support the two natures of Christ:

Humanity – compassion (Matt. 9:36); surprise (Matt. 8:10; Mk. 6:6); love (Jo. 11:35-36); prayer (Matt. 14:23); thirst (Jo. 19:28); weariness (Jo. 4:6); agony (Lu. 22:44); sleepy (Matt. 8:24); death (Jo. 19:30); limited in knowledge, need for development (Mk. 13:32; Lu. 2:52; Acts 1:7; Heb. 5:8).

Deity – performed miracles (Matt. 8:23-27; 14:22-23);  forgave sins (Matt. 9:2-8; Mk. 2:3-12; Lu. 5:18-26); called God His Father and claimed to be God’s Son (Matt. 11:25-27; Jo. 5:19-23; 10:14-30); the Creator (Jo. 1:3; Col. 1:16); possesses the form of God (Phil. 2:6); He is the image of God (Col. 1:15; II Cor. 4:4); called God (Jo. 1:1; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; II Thess. 1:2; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:5-8; I Jo. 5:20).

The word, hypostatic, is derived from hypostasis, a Greek word which is translated in various ways: reality, substance, substantial nature, substantive reality, person, and actual being. The equivalent word in Latin is persona.

Hypostatic speaks of the person of Jesus Christ, the person who was and is characterized by the union of the two natures. Accepting the definition of the early Church Councils (see: Early Church Councils), the two natures remain inseparably united forever, yet remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without any confusion or mixture.

Consider the communicatio idiomatum (the communication of properties or attributes), which will be defined as a communication of Divine attributes and human attributes to the one Person; therefore, whatever is true of the Divine nature is true of the Person and whatever is true of the human nature is true of the Person. There is a full communication, enabling Paul to affirm that the Lord of glory was crucified (I Cor. 2:8). Thus the actions by the Person reflect one nature or the other; for instance, when Jesus the Person is hungry his human nature is reflected, and when Jesus the Person walks on the water his Divine nature is reflected. But it is not that the human nature that is hungry, it is the Person who is hungry; and it is not the Divine nature that walks on the water, it is the Person who walks on the sea. All the actions of the Lord are actions of the one Person, with each action reflecting either the human nature or the divine nature.

Beyond what is affirmed above a question remains: What is the relationship of the human nature and the Divine nature in the person of Christ? Is there a relationship? Or, are they to be kept completely separate as the words in the Chalcedon Creed imply: “unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably, and inconfusedly”? Is there no interplay or connection between the two natures? How do the two natures relate to each other in relationship to the unity of the person? Should these questions even be asked? Afterward all, the entire Person of Jesus Christ is a “mystery” (I Tim. 3:16; see: The Incomprehensible).

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