• Steve McAtee

The Ministry of the Messiah Jesus

Updated: Nov 3, 2020


Notes compiled by Marty Zide and Steve McAtee


Why did the Son of God leave the splendors of heaven and come to earth? Several of the sayings that came from Jesus Himself provides for us the specifics of the work He came to perform. They give us insight as to some of the things He accomplished during His earthly life.


Some reasons why Jesus came to earth

To save the lost

To serve

To proclaim the gospel

To give His life as a ransom


Luke 19:10 - For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.


Matt. 20:28 - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.


Luke 4:18-19 - The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor...


Matt. 20:28 - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. All that Jesus did while here on earth was done in perfect obedience to His Father. He never did anything that was outside of His will.


E. The Kenosis Theory


Did Jesus give up some of His divine attributes when He became a human being while He was here on earth? This question revolves around what is known as the “Kenosis Theory.”


The controversy springs from some verses that are found in Phil. 2:5-7?


Phil. 2:5-7 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Messiah Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.


The keyword in the text is the word “emptied.” We need to ask ourselves the question, “Of what did the Lord Jesus empty Himself of in relation with His incarnation?” False teachers will say that Jesus emptied Himself of His deity and as a result of that, while He was here on earth, they will say that Jesus was not fully God, or God at all. We, of course deny that, and the Scriptures do not support that either. Let’s see what the verses do teach.


1. That the Son of God possessed the attributes of Deity before the incarnation is stated in verse 6.


All throughout the Word of God, it clearly teaches that the Son of God is equal in nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit in His being Divine.


Phil. 2:6 - who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.


Col. 2:9 - For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.


2. The kenosis or emptying of Jesus is explained in Phil. 2:7.


Phil. 2:7 - but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.


What does the word “emptied” mean?


Normally the word emptying means the subtraction of something.


But, in verse 7 we see it as an adding of something. The addition of human nature. Therefore, the kenosis cannot be properly understood to mean subtraction of Deity, but the addition of Humanity with its limitations.


Phil. 2:7 - but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.


What are some of the things included in the kenosis? In order to understand it correctly, we need to keep these truths in mind.


The Kenosis includes:


The veiling of the Messiah’s pre-incarnate glory.


Taking on Himself the likeness of sinful flesh.


The voluntary non-use of some of His divine attributes during His earthly ministry.


His humanity was not glorified humanity and was subject to weakness, sorrow, and pain, yet without sin.


John 17:5 - Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.


Rom. 8:3 - For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.


To understand the person of the Lord Jesus, we must see that the Word of God teaches that He was fully God and fully man while He was here on earth.


3. The Theanthropic Messiah


As a result of the eternal Son taking upon Himself full humanity, we now have in one person, one who is fully Divine and fully human. He is a theanthropic person, the God-Man. This is the union of two complete natures in the person of Jesus the Messiah. This is also known as the hypostatic union.


The word “theanthropic” comes from two Greek words: “theos” which means God and “anthropos” which means man. Put them together and you have the God-man. The union of these two complete natures is the hypostatic union.


The Westminster Confession of Faith defines Jesus as follows: “The Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being originally the eternal Son of God became man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures and one Person forever.”


A. Insights Into This Teaching


In order to help us understand this complex subject a little better, I will try to breakdown the Bible’s teaching on this crucial subject.


The Eternal Son became a man


It was not God the Father, nor God the Holy Spirit that became a man, only the Son.


John 1:1, 14 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.


The Eternal Son who became a man continued to be God


The phrase “became man” does not mean that the second person in the Trinity ceased to be God. In saying that “the Word was made flesh” is meant that the Word came to possess human characteristics in addition to His divine, which still remained as before. The properties of the divine nature cannot be either destroyed or altered.


The distinctive characteristic of the incarnation


The distinctive characteristic of the incarnation is the union of two diverse natures, a divine, and a human, resulting in one single person. With the incarnation of Jesus, a God-man is constituted. Before this union was accomplished, there never was a theanthropic person, and there shall never be another God-man.


The theanthropic personality of Jesus began in time.


There was no God-man until the moment when the incarnation began. This took place within the womb of Mary. The name “Jesus” does not belong to the second person in the triune Godhead who existed from eternity past, but rather it belongs to the incarnated Son.


Luke 1:30-31 - The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.


Prior to the incarnation, the Trinity consisted of the Father, the unincarnated Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since the incarnation, it consists of the Father, the incarnate Son, and the Holy Spirit.


The theanthropic personality of Jesus continues forever.


The Lord Jesus continues on throughout eternity with His being fully God and fully man. He will forever be the eternal God-man.


Rom. 9:5 - from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.


Heb. 13:8 - Jesus the Messiah is the same yesterday and today and forever.


Heb. 4:14-15 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.


The Trinity is not changed.


The incarnation did not make any changes to the constitution of the Trinity. There are still three persons that make up the Trinity even after the Son became a human being. The addition of human nature to the Son is not the addition of another person to Him. We must remember, He is one person with two natures.




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