(5 Minute read) In a previous post, we have already mentioned the Messiah’s sinlessness and virginal conception. In this post, I would like to look at the Messiah who embodies two radical perspectives; one of transcendent infinitude & one of immanent finitude. As Christians believe, He was indeed God and truly man.

Question on the Hypostatic Union.

The hypostatic union is the personal union of Jesus’ two natures. Jesus has two complete natures—one fully human and one fully divine. The hypostatic union’s doctrine teaches that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. Jesus is not two persons. He is one person. It is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus. The Hypostatic Union is the way in which Christians speak about Jesus that does justice to his unsurpassable significance in God’s dealings with humanity. Usually, there is an accusation that the incarnation of Christ becoming man makes Him less than God. This is simply not true, Puritan Thomas Watson mentioned that. 

“If the divine nature had been converted into the human, or the human into the divine, there would have been a change—but they were not. The human nature was distinct from divine nature. Therefore, there was no change. A cloud over the sun makes no change in the the sun. Just so, though the divine nature is covered with the human nature, it makes no change in the divine nature.” [1]

Christology has to find the highest possible account of Jesus’ significance and His identity while not making Jesus either a part of God because God does not consist of parts. Or make Jesus into a second God because God’s being is One and simple. At the same time, this maximum significance needs to be compatible with the reality that human existence is present in him [Christ]. Therefore, the Classical understanding is that Christ is one Being with the Father, inseparable from his reality but at the same time one being with us as humanity inseparable from us. You need to make both these statements to get Jesus right.  

The Christian contention is this. A Human person does not have the eternal attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence, but God by His very self-definition does not have limited perspectives like a man. But the Messiah Jesus Christ displays BOTH eternal and finite properties. Christ, therefore, displays both properties of humanity and eternality. Christ is, therefore, both God and Man.[2]

The Messiah as Man.

  • The Messiah is our perfect example and Son.

Thomas Oden writes that Jesus came to this world, 

“to offer a pattern of fullness to the human life.” 

John the Beloved Disciple writer (13:13-16);  

You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

It is recorded that Peter even required the first Christian community to notice (1 Pet.2:20-22);  

“you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” 

Incarnational Theology encompasses both the reality that Jesus was the greatest moral example that ever walked the face of the earth, and that as the perfect man we should imitate only Him. John writes;  (1 John 2:6) 

“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

  • The Messiah was the perfect man.

As our perfect example, Jesus was functionally subordinated to the Father. it is also important to notice that for Christians this is not a flipflop. We believe that the Scriptures show clearly that the difference in Christ’s function as the Incarnate one upon earth does not mean inferiority in His Divine nature. We deny any ‘ontological’ subordination (Arianism/Socinianism) but affirm an ‘economic’ subordination (functional).[3]  For some more clarity, John Frame writes; 

“There is no subordination within the divine nature that is shared amongst the persons [of the Trinity]: the Three are equally God. However, there is a subordination of role amongst the persons, which constitutes part of the distinctiveness of each. Because of that subordination of role, the persons subordinate themselves to one another in their economic relationship with creation”.[4]

This might immediately be followed up with the question, “Did Jesus not lack some divine attributes while on earth?” Critics assume that Jesus could not have been God; otherwise, he would not lack these attributes. But when we look at the Messianic expectations, this is what we would expect. Instead of using his divine attributes while on Earth, Jesus depended entirely on the Spirit to perform his miracles (Jn. 5:19; Lk. 4:18; Rom. 8:11; Mt. 26:53). The Bible repeatedly points out that Jesus’ miracles were due to the empowering of the Holy Spirit—not His own power (Lk. 5:17; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38). We need to be clear: Jesus did not cease to have his divine attributes on earth. Instead, he stopped using these attributes. Philosopher Paul Copan aptly illustrates this concept when he writes, 

“Imagine a spy on a dangerous mission, carrying in his mind top-secret information valuable to the enemy. To avoid divulging answers in case he’s caught and tortured, he takes along a limited-amnesia producing pill with an antidote for later use. If the spy uses the amnesia pill, he would still possess the vital information in his mind; given these temporary conditions required to carry out his mission, he chooses to limit his access to the information that’s stored up in his mind. Similarly, during Jesus’ mission to earth, He still possessed the full, undiminished capacities of divine knowledge and power, and He had access to those capacities as necessary for His mission”.[18]

We concur. Jesus could have used his divine attributes, but because he was modeling how to depend on the Father and the Holy Spirit ideally, he didn’t utilize his attributes.[5]

  • The Divine Messiah.

In other articles, I have shown in great detail how Jesus made apparent the fact that He was the expected Jewish Messiah that was also more than a man. Paul writes to Timothy (1Tim.3:16).

“And without doubt great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

There is no doubt that the first Christian community, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, believed Jesus to be both Messiah and Lord. As the Lord Messiah, we are looking to confirm all of the Biblical material to make sense of this transcendent reality in the Messiah. 

  • The Messiah as the fullness of God’s self-disclosure[6]

What I could interesting in is the fact that the Qurán clearly attributes to Allah titles that are afforded to Jesus in the Biblical Scriptures. Now I am not claiming that both these instances should be seen as synonymous, but it is still interesting to see that the Bible clearly has no lesser attribution to the person of Jesus when it leans on these terms. Here are a few other exciting similarities in the titles of Allah, Yahweh, and Jesus. 

  • Allah as the first and the last: Surah Al Hadeed (57) 3 says Allah is the first and the last. The Prophet Isaiah (44:6) says Yahweh is the First and the last. Jesus (Revelation 1:17-18) says He is the First and the last. 
  • God ultimately only forgives Sin: Surah Ali ‘Imran (3) 135 say only Allah forgives Sin. David and Prophet Jonah mentions (Ps.51:4, Jonah.2:9 (c) only Yahweh forgives Sin. Jesus forgives a man’s Sin (Mark 2:5-12).  
  • Only Allah is our Judge: Surah (22) 56-57 says only Allah is our Judge. Job (3:12) David (Ps.9:7-8) says Only Yahweh judges us. Jesus says he will be everyone’s Judge (Matt.25:31-32).
  • Only God is the embodiment of truth: Surah (22) 6 says Allah is the truth. David says Yahweh is the truth (Ps 31:5). Jesus says He is the truth (Joh.14:6).
  • Only God raises the dead: Surah (22) 7 says only Allah raises the dead. Samuel the Prophet says only Yahweh raises the dead (1Sam.2:6). Jesus says He raises the dead (Joh.5:25-29, 11:25). 
  • Does God share His glory?: Surah Al Hadid (57) 1 says Allah does not. Yahweh also does not share His glory (Isa.42:8). Jesus shares Yahweh’s glory because He is God (Joh.17:5). 

These are but a few examples of the Messiah as depicted in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Holy Qur’an. There is yet another motif presented within the Judeo-Christian Scriptures that is worth noting. The Messiah as Yahweh Himself returning to the people of Israel.  

  • The Messiah as Yahweh returning to Israel:

In the Synoptic Gospels as well as the Johannine Gospel (Joh1:23). We see John the Baptist proclaiming the Words of the Prophet Isaiah when he said: 

“I am the voice that cries in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, just as that which Isaiah the Prophet said.” 

It is made abundantly clear that John is not making a way for the presence of the Lord in Jesus, or the will of God, or the Kingdom of God in Jesus. John is making a way for the Lord personified Himself that will be amongst His People. Matthew (3:3) affirms,

For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!” 

The other Gospel authors confirm exactly the same. Mark (1:3) says that John the Baptist is;

“A voice that cries in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord and make level His paths.”

Luke (3:4) the Physician says,

“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” 

Here is what the Prophet Isaiah (40:2) prophesied: 

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” 

John the Baptist affirms Jesus was

“the Lamb of God that was to take away the sins of the World” (Joh.1:29. Emph. Mine).

Can we conclude with certainty who John the Baptist was making a way for? (Mar.13:31, Mat.24:35, Luk.21:23). 

“A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for OUR GOD.” 

“The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but THE WORD OF OUR GOD ENDURES FOREVER.”

Jesus said Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will endure forever! Who was John announcing? The Prophet Isaiah (40:9) writes,

“You who bring good news to Zion, (John the Baptist) go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “HERE IS YOUR GOD!”

All four Gospel authors start with the affirmation of John the Baptist’s message that we beheld His Glory, the One and Only God and Savior Jesus Christ Our Lord Creator! (Isaiah 40:5,10-31).

  • The Messiah as the Son of Man. 

I want to look at a peculiar Scripture Jesus applied to Himself that comes from the Prophet Daniel (7:13-14), it reads as follows:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.”

(a) “There before me was one like a son of man.”

The Son of Man title existed in pre-Christian Jewish thought and resembled a transcendent redeemed figure whose coming to earth would inaugurate the end of an age. This portion also relates to ore-Christian source materials in the first book of Enoch (37-71) and the fourth book of Ezra (13). It affirms the pre-Christian Jewish expectations regarding the Son of Man as the eschatological agent of redemption. This is a man that approaches the Ancient of Days (God), and he is the Messiah. The use of fire in this context can signify a theophany. This can also be a Semitic idiom that means ‘like a human being’ or ‘someone’ but maintains that this refers absolutely to Jesus Christ in light of the New Testament. This would mean that even from the Enochian Similitudes, we detect that Daniel’s ‘Son of Man’ is a transcendent and glorified redeemed figure exalted above all sufferings. 

Jesus fits perfectly into these categories, and the earliest Christian communities affirm that this was, in fact, Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 14:16-62), and His subsequent crucifixion on the charge of blasphemy by the High Priest (Mark 14:64) affirms He was perceived, yet rejected, as the coming Messiah. For the first Christian community, the title ‘Son of Man’ resembled Jesus as the suffering man in line with Daniel’s representation that would be glorified and return to complete the full prophetic picture. Jesus also relates to the Son of Man as being and confirms that ‘No one has ever gone onto heaven except the One who came from heaven the Son of Man [who is in heaven].’ (Joh.3:13). Jesus relates that him being the Son of man pre-existed with the Father in Heaven coming down to be the agent of redemption. He even prayed in John 17:5 that the Father restore Him to the place of glory He had ‘before the world began’ [with you – Greek: ‘papa soi’]. In his exaltation, we can affirm that the Son of Man seated on the divine throne itself (Dan.7:14) receives obeisance and is recognized as the unique Divine Sovereign (Bauckham 2008:171).

(b) “Coming with the clouds of heaven.”

In Matthews Gospel, Jesus says, 

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matt.24:30) 

He also mentions that He will ‘come with the clouds of heaven’ in Mark’s Gospel (14:62). This passage draws from Daniel 7:13 that states; 

“And behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like the Son of Man.” 

In the ancient world, clouds provided transportation only for deities, and Jesus is associating this metaphor with Himself (cf. Rev. 14:14-15). Clouds are depicted in the Old Testament as Yahweh’s chariots (Ps. 104:3), and God even appears within a thunderstorm (Judges. 5:4). David pleads Yahweh for help, and God arrives upon the cherubim from His heavenly temple (Ps. 18:11), and Nahum (1:3) beholds clouds at the feet of Yahweh in his theophanic vision. Clouds were associated with Yahweh’s judgment (Isa. 19:1). The Prophet Ezekiel records Yahweh coming from a cloud (1:4, 28), where the temple was filled. Judgment would be poured out later (10:3-4). What startled the High Priest was that Jesus dared to parallel Himself with Yahweh that would judge the nations.

This was a prerogative that was only central to Yahweh in the Jewish understanding. Yahweh would judge the nations several times in the Old Testament from a cloud-mass (Ezek. 30:2, 34:12; Joel. 2:2; Zeph. 1:15) where His anger would become a dark smoke cloud (Isa. 30:27). Jesus here declares that in the metaphors’ sitting’ and ‘coming,’ Jesus is referring to one initiative, and that is ‘sovereign authority. The representation of clouds in the Old Testament was connected with eschatological judgment and salvation (Isa. 4:5; Nah. 1:3). What Jesus is saying is justifying the High Priest’s reply because He identifies Himself with Yahweh that will stand in complete judgment of the High Priest Himself and the whole nation of Israel. 

Further, he makes Himself the spiritual head of the nation of Israel because He was assuming a place of authority over the High Priest, who was under the impression that He was judging Him. The fact that Jesus calls for the return with the clouds of Heaven is synonymous with his return to the glory of His Father and is the royal, superhuman, and divine Son of Man lends itself to the idea that He was preexistent and the divine Messiah.

  • The Prophet Isaiah’s Vision of God’s glory:

It is interesting to note that John the Beloved Disciple (12), cited Isaiah 6 and explained, 

“Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:41). 

Whose glory did Isaiah see? 

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1) and “And I said, Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of Hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). 

John identifies Jesus as Yahweh whom Isaiah saw—how much more clearly could John have made his claim for Jesus’ deity?

  • The Prophet Isaiah’s prediction:

Concerning Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the fact that Jesus would be ‘God with us’ (Isa.7:14). I will say for now that F.F. Bruce comments on Matthew’s use of this passage (Matt.1:23) and calls for the significance of the name used and not just the name. Jesus was God amongst us! 

First, we can see that the Child that was to be born would be one to whose Kingdom there will be no end (Isa.9:7). The Prophet Zechariah affirms what Isaiah is prophesying here: The Son will be sent (2:8-9), and Yahweh will dwell amongst them (2:10-11). The Lord will come to His dwelling (2:13) just as Isaiah the Prophet have predicated (Isa.48:16) and provide salvation Himself (Zech.3:8-10). As mentioned above, the Child born would be Christ, the Messiah, and the Son given the eternal Divine Son coming to earth (cf. Micah.5:2-4). 

  • The Son was a ‘Wonderful Counselor’- When the Angel of the Lord reveals Himself to Manoah, Father of Samson, he described Himself as ‘wonderful’ (Judges.13:18).
  • The Son was ‘Mighty God’- The Son would be called mighty God [‘El-Gibbor] (Isa.10:21).
  • The Son was ‘Eternal Father’ – The Hebrew phrase is ‘Father of eternity. Jesus clearly is described as eternal and one without beginning or end (Ps.90:2, Mic.5:2-3, Joh.8:58, Col. 1:17, cf. 1:12-20).
  • The Son was ‘Prince of Peace’ – Jesus is prophesied by Isaiah to be the Prince of peace. He will teach the people and bring them peace (Isa.2:3-4, Zech.9:10). 

These terms do not apply to us at all, and neither can we ignore its reasons when it describes the entire understanding of the context! Jesus was the Unique Son of God. These terms describe with clarity the distinctiveness and the exactness of Christ in purpose and being! Remember, we are looking at the predictions, purpose, and now the person of Jesus Christ in both the Quran and the Bible. 

Works Cited.

[1] “A Body of Divinity”. Pg. 67.

[2] An Analogy to understand the Hypostatic Union:

Imam Malik gave this statement: “The Quran is the speech of Allah, the speech of Allah comes from him and nothing created comes from Allah Most High”.

Narrated by: Al Dhahabi. In Siyar a’lam al- Nubala [Dar Al-Fikr. Ed.7:416].

· The Quran is noted to be the eternal created speech of Allah.

· Even though the book is a production the words are eternal.

· The Quran has both an eternal and created component.

· The term for this reality is called “Inlibration”.

· The Eternal Quran has both a temporal and eternal nature.

[3] I would say “different roles of necessity”, yet not the inferiority of ontology. As for the question of when I would surmise that the full extent of subordination were made more apparent in the incarnation yet not only as a result of the incarnation. As referenced earlier we see a clear subordination already evident at creation before the incarnation.

[4] The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship. Pg. 720.

[5]  Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009. 225-226.

[6] His sharing the Father’s character and being Heb 1:3 See also Jn 1:14; Jn 5:26; Jn 6:57; Jn 10:30; Jn 17:5