Unlimited or Limited? Divine Attributes and the Kenosis (Phil. 2:4-11)

*Did Jesus have divine attributes while incarnate?

  1. Omnipresent-John 3:13
  2. Omnipotent-John 5:17
  3. Omnitemporal-John 8:58
  4. Omniscient-John 2:24

*What did Jesus give up when He became a man?

  1. He didn’t cease to be equal to God when He “left” heaven (John 5:18).
    a. Jesus’ descent was literal, coming down to put on a servant form. This descent does not
    imply spatial limitation. God can localize His presence and still be in all places (e.g.,
    Shekinah in heaven). Jesus is the Shekinah in motion (Ezekiel 1), being veiled during the
  2. His “emptying” involved taking on a new nature, not putting off the old one (Phil. 2:7).
    a. This new nature came with limitations. Rather than ceasing to be unlimited in God-form,
    He added to Himself a limited form. The question is how this unlimited/limited relationship
  3. If someone can do something and not be conscious of it (e.g., drive a car without really thinking), then Christ could do something (e.g., be in heaven, be in the past, uphold the universe, etc.) without being directly aware of it all the time. At times this “divine consciousness” is expressed through Jesus’ words and actions in the human sphere of activity.

a. Jesus’ “supernatural connection” with His “divine consciousness” was established via the Holy
Spirit. Jesus had the Holy Spirit from conception, but at His baptism the Holy Spirit came upon
Him as a sign to John that He was the Christ.

b. Concerning His omniscience, someone can know something without thinking about it, that is,
calling it to mind. Jesus could know everything but only call to mind (and teach on) knowledge
which the Holy Spirit led Him to.

c. Just as the “earthly humanity” of Jesus did not substract from His unlimited divine nature (but rather adds a limited nature), the “heavenly humanity” of Jesus does not either. Receiving heavenly humanity removes the limitations of earthly humanity. This leaves Christ unlimited once again, yet now with the added humanity.

  1. “Form” denotes essence, while “equality” denotes sovereignty. Christ, being fully God, did not think His ruling over creation was “an act of robbery.” Still, He laid aside the limitation-free existence to do the will of His Father. Now, He enjoys the same limitation-free existence He has before He became a man.

Chalcedonian Definition (451 A.D.)
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather of the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning (have declared) concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to

Author: James Buddy Smith
Ark of Hope
Jasper, Georgia