What Is Hypostatic Union and What Does the Bible Say about It?
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- 2021 5 Aug
If you are reading this article there is a good possibility you have never heard of the term hypostatic union. It probably reminds you of something that you would explore or observe in a chemistry or physics lab. However, that is not what hypostatic union is at all. In short, hypostatic union deals with the dual nature of Jesus being that he was both fully God and fully man at the same time. There are some who will doubt the deity of Christ and some who will look past the humanity of Christ. What I want to show you is what the Bible teaches about hypostatic union and why you can have complete confidence in God our Savior, who took on human flesh.
When you read through the Bible, it does not attempt to hide the humanity of Jesus, neither does it try to mask the deity of Jesus, both are evident. Let me share with you some scriptures that teach about hypostatic union or that point to it.
What Is the Hypostatic Union - Meaning?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. – John 1:1-2
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14
A good place to begin to understand what the Bible teaches about hypostatic union is to look at the gospel of John. In these three verses, we are confronted with the dual nature of Jesus Christ. First, we see he was in the beginning, he was separate from the Father, yet he was equal to the Father. This verse highlights Jesus’ eternal nature and his complete deity. However, when you jump down to verse 14 we see that the Word took on human flesh. The one who created it all became like the one he created. When he took on human flesh, he didn’t stop being God he simply became both God and human.
Hypostatic Union: The Human Characteristics of Jesus
The Bible clearly points to some of the characteristics of Jesus that point to his humanity. Here are some.
He was born of a woman.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:6-7
Jesus entered the world the same way you and I did, he came through a woman. This one act alone probably speaks the most to his humanity because this is how every other person who has ever lived entered this world.
He was tempted.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. – Matthew 4:1
Temptation points to his humanity because only humans can be tempted. If Jesus was simply operating in his position of deity, then he would not be able to be tempted in any capacity (see James 1:13). However, because he was fully human it allowed Satan to tempt him. This is something you should be thankful for because Jesus being tempted allows him to understand what you experience when you are being tempted (see Heb. 4:15).
He was hungry.
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. – Matthew 4:2
The fact that he was hungry, speaks to his need of food to sustain himself. If he did not need food, then fasting for forty days would not have meant anything and it would have been no big deal to him. The fact that he fasted and was hungry is evidence of his human nature.
He got tired.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. – John 4:5-6
Fatigue is common to every person. In this part of John, notice Jesus was tired from the journey he had just taken. He had just traveled from Judea on his way to Galilee. The journey from Judea to Samaria where he stopped to rest was approximately 64 miles which would require about 22 hours of walking time. I don’t care who you are, if you walk for 64 miles you are going to be tired. His ability to get tired and his need to take a rest are reminders that he was completely human.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. – Matthew 27:50
The last thing that proves his humanity is he experienced death. This path of death is only experienced by those who are human. Jesus experienced this because he was fully man.
Despite these things and others I could point to they are only one side of the equation because hypostatic union also speaks to his divinity. Let’s see what the Bible says about Jesus’ divine nature.
Hypostatic Union: The Divine Characteristics of Jesus
There are some characteristics that point to Jesus’ divinity but I only want to point to three that were unique to him. For this reason, I won’t talk about his ability to perform miracles or cast out demons because he gave that power to his disciples. Let me show you three things that point to Jesus and him alone.
He forgave sin.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” – Mark 2:5-7
We all know that only God has the right and authority to forgive sins and yet this is exactly what Jesus did for this man. Doing this was proof of his divine nature.
He received worship.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. – John 9:35-38
Had Jesus not been God and possess a divine nature one thing he would have never done is allowed anyone to worship him. Jesus himself said in Matthew, worship the Lord and serve him only. For him to allow someone to worship him would have been a violation of the law, making Jesus a lawbreaker. However, he never refused worship because of his divine nature he had the right to receive it.
He was validated by the Father.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” – Matthew 17:1-5
On two separate occasions, Jesus was validated by the Father. One was at his baptism and the other was when he was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. Specifically at the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John got a brief glimpse of his glory and the fullness of the deity that dwelled within him. This validation was evidence of his deity because the Father pointed the attention or glory to the Son. This sharing of glory would not have happened had Jesus not been divine in nature.
The reality of hypostatic union that existed in Christ is really summed up in one verse.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. – Colossians 2:9
From the moment Christ was born until the moment he died there was never a time he was not fully God and fully man. He did not give up his deity to take on humanity and in his humanity he never lost his position as God. He simply humbled himself, taking on the limitations of a human shell so he could become the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Immanuel, God with us, the Word who became flesh became like us so that one day we too would be given an eternal body just like his.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.