Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ekenosen: The Humanity Of The Incarnate God

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing,  taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.    And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient  to the point of death, even death on a cross."   Philippians 2: 5-8 - ESV
 Greek; verb: ekenosen meaning to empty. "made himself nothing" ESV  also rendered "emptied himself" NASB;  "made Himself of no reputation" KJV -
  Arthur Pink:
"The Lord Jesus was very God of very God, but He was also very man of very man.

   The person of our adorable Saviour is not a fit object for intellectual diagnosis; rather must we bow before Him in worship. He Himself warned us, “No man knoweth the son, but the Father” (Mat 11:27). And again, the Spirit of God through the apostle Paul declares,
  “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16).

  While then there is much about the person of Christ which we cannot fathom with our own understanding, yet there is everything about Him to admire and adore: foremost are His deity and humanity, and the perfect union of these two in one person. The Lord Jesus was not a divine man, nor a humanized God; He was the God-man. Forever God, and now forever man . When the Beloved of the Father became incarnate He did not cease to be God, nor did He lay aside any of His divine attributes, though He did strip Himself of the glory*  which He had with the Father before the world was.  But in the incarnation, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among men.   He ceased not to be all that He was previously, but He took to Himself that which He had not before—perfect humanity.
    The deity and humanity of the Saviour were each contemplated in Messianic prediction.  Prophecy represented the coming One sometimes as divine, sometimes as human.   He was the Branch “of the Lord” (Isa 4:2). He was the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Father of the ages (Hebrews), the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). The One who was to come forth out of Bethlehem and be Ruler in Israel, was One whose goings forth had been from the days of eternity (Mic 5:2).   It was none less than Jehovah Himself who was to come suddenly to the temple (Mal 3:1).   Yet, on the other hand, He was the woman’s “seed” (Gen 3:15); a prophet like unto Moses (Deu 18:18); a lineal descendant of David (2Sa 7:12-13). He was Jehovah’s “servant” (Isa 42:1). He was “the man of sorrows” (Isa 53:3). And it is in the New Testament we see these two different sets of prophecy harmonized.

     The one born at Bethlehem was the divine Word.  The incarnation does not mean that God manifested Himself as a man. The Word became flesh; He became what He was not before, though He never ceased to be all He was previously. He who was in the form of God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God,
   “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,  and was made in the likeness of men” (Phi 2:6-7).
   The Babe of Bethlehem was Immanuel—God with us. He was more than a manifestation of God, He was God manifest in the flesh. He was both Son of God and Son of Man. Not two separate personalities, but one Person possessing two natures—the divine and the human." (1)
   *John Calvin on the concealed glory of Christ.  
 [Paul's]"...object is not to show what kind of body Christ assumed, but that, when He might have justly asserted His divinity He was pleased to exhibit nothing but the attributes of a mean  [humble] and despised man.   For, in order to exhort us to submission by His example, He shows, that when as God He might have displayed to the world the brightness of His glory, He gave up His right, and voluntarily emptied Himself; that He assumed the form of a servant, and, contented with that humble condition, suffered His Divinity to be concealed under a veil of flesh. Here, unquestionably, He explains not what Christ was, but in what way He acted." (2) 
"That man should be made in God's image was a wonder, 
 but that God should be made in man's image is a greater wonder" 
 Thomas Watson

Note:  For a thorough treatment of some defective teachings regarding the Kenosis that is referred to as "Kenotic Theology"  see Rebecca Stark's post  HERE
Also from this blog:

(1) The Seven Saying of the Savior on The Cross;  by Arthur Pink;  Baker Books 1995; pg 87-88
(2)  Calvin’s Institutes
Painting: Adoration of the Shepherds 2; Gerrit Van Honthorst; 1622
* This refurbished post has been dusted and polished.
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