I was in a bible study the other night and a couple of people in the study made the statement that “God created Jesus”. I attempted to explain that Jesus is God and is the Uncreated Creator of all things and took them to John, Colossians, Romans 9:5, etc… But I began thinking to myself that since His body is a material substance He had to have created His own physical body since “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made”. I know that God cannot create Himself and that’s not what I’m saying at all. But would it be theologically correct to say that Jesus created His own physical human body where He still resides in today as fully God and fully man?
A fascinating question, Preston, and one I ponder often when I think about what happened to Jesus’ body at the ascension. I do not have the theological horsepower to fully address your question but would like to offer my thoughts.
Though not in all Bible translations of John 3:16 it helps me to think of Jesus’ incarnation as “begotten” and not “created”. At incarnation Jesus was made up of all the “physcial” things that you and I are, but there was a supernatural element to it that I differntiate from how he created Adam and Eve. A birth, not a creation. Messy, just like yours and mine. Subject to all the created order has to offer, just like you and me.
Then, in addition to all the other marvelous things that came about in the resurrection, it helps me to think that Jesus’ “body” also changed and gives us a glimpse of what it will be like at his return. To me, that “body” can’t be like what we know as our physcal bodies now, as your question seems to be phrased. So, it’s another mysterious intersection of the physical and the supernatural. If Jesus resides in a “body” today, it’s a glorified, resurrected body I cannot fully understand, and not something physical like yours and mine confined to space-time In that sense I cannot bring myself to believe or present Jesus as residing in the same body, especially one that would have existed “from the beginning” which doesn’t make logical sense, implying that something physcial existed before the creation of matter, or that Jesus was created when the universe was.
Do we have the language to adequately describe it? It certainly makes things difficutl when talking with someone who does not believe in a supernatural realm (e.g. an avowed atheist).
I am currently taking the new RZIM course “what Does It Mean To Be Human”? Maybe all of this will clear up for me and I can return with a more cogent response.
@Prestonp1985 Wow - deep question. I am not sure the Bible addresses it directly? I think if we look at Scripture there are two things that are clear:
- Jesus was with the Father from the beginning and ‘became flesh’ in the incarnation
- from Philippians 2 it appears Jesus participated in the act of ‘emptying’ Himself - ‘He emptied’
John 1:1-2, - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Philippians 2:5- 7 - Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Curious to hear others thoughts - I think there is mystery in the glory of the incarnation.
This is such a fascinating question, @Prestonp1985, and I hadn’t really thought about it from that angle before. And it’s the perfect time of year to be thinking about such things. (Helloooo, incarnation…) I just wanted to join in on the musing…
I second what @david_payne brought up, and, that is that Jesus was ‘begotten not created’, as the Nicean Creed puts it. Beget just means ‘to bring about’ or ‘give rise to’. So, Jesus, He who precedes all things and without whom nothing was made that was made, enters into the creation…though He, himself, is not created but begotten. He is from eternity; we are not.
One of my absolute favourite Christmas hymns is Of the Father’s Love Begotten, and the very first verse reminds us why the Incarnation was ‘brought about’: love.
Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega;
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore!
I like that @SeanO brings up Jesus ‘emptying himself’ as mentioned in the Philippians passage. The ESV translates it, ‘made himself nothing’. I doubt that the implication is that humans are essentially nothing (though, in comparison to God, we are nothing!), but as Sean points out, Jesus was actively involved in the plan to save humanity, which involved Him ‘being born in the likeness of men’…taking off his Godly form and taking on a human form.
So, to your question - yes, I believe that, as Jesus, the Word, was involved in the creation of the material that makes up the human body, then the body he took on was essentially created by Him. That’s the profundity of the artist entering the painting or the author climbing onto the page - the Creator enters the creation!
Thank you for those responses. I have read and studied multiple books from Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Wayne Grudem and others and I can honestly say I have never seen this particular topic raised in any of the books I’ve read. I am not formally trained, although I want to be. However, we live in a time where it is fairly easy to acquire the materials necessay to teach yourself whatever it is you want to know. I am very disciplined in doing just that. I actually brought up the fact that Jesus was “begotten” and not made in that study. I have also seen the Greek word for “begotten” which is “monogones” translated to mean “one and only” or “unique”. Norman Geisler states in one of his books “Unshakeable Foundations” that “the infinite cannot become finite” because that creates a logical contradiction. Yet others, such as John MacArthur for example have no issue with stating that “the infinite became finite”. I think John MacArthur probably sees it as more paradoxical or mysterious than just flat out contradictory. The hard part about this question that I find most difficult to comprehend in regards to this particular subject is that if we use first principles correctly such as the law of noncontradiction, and the law of causality we will always tell people that “self creation” is a logical contradiction and an actual impossibility. But the fact that Jesus is God is what allows Him to create His own body. Something cannot create itself because it would have to both “Exist” and “Not Exist” at the same time and in the same sense in order to perform the act of creating itself. But when it comes to Jesus He already existed eternally in Godly form and was not composed of any physical or material parts before the incarnation. Composition automatically implies that something is made up of parts that are subject to decomposition. If something can decompose that means it is undergoing “Change”. But God by definition is “Immutable” or “Changless”. He “Cannot Change” in any way shape or form because then He would not be God. He would be something else. So the way that I’ve been thinking about it the last few days is that Jesus existed eternally in the form of God which is a very different “sense” than existing eternally in “bodily form”. He was able to create His own body because He was not already existing in that particular form before the incarnation thereby avoiding the violation of the law of noncontradiction. He existed in Godly form but not in human form until the incarnation. And now He resides in that glorified body forever. It raises some other questions in my mind as well but I’ll save those for later. This is already a pretty long response. I’m interested to hear everybody elses thoughts. Scripture does not address this directly although there are indirect implications of it.
These verses in John surprise me.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:3
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. John 1:10
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
These verses surprise me because the words that I made bold are the same in the Greek, except for the last one, and even this is the same root word as the others, but is modified with a prefix (mono) so that it is translated “only begotten.”
At face value, then, these verses seem to support the idea that Jesus was created because the one who made the world and all things was himself made, or became, flesh. Yet, the passage also declares that this Word was not only with God in the beginning but also was God. How do we bring harmony to this apparent discord?
I think there are several things to observe. @KMac brought up some good points. I’d like to add to them.
The word translated as made or begotten in these verses occurs about 700 times in the New Testament and is translated 13 or so ways. This indicates we must be careful not to force the word to mean what we want, such as concluding that Jesus must be created because the same word says that he created all things. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that “When I was a child” he did certain things and “when I became a man, I put away childish things.” No one would argue that Paul was saying that he was created when he entered adulthood, yet he uses the very word to describe his “becoming a man” as John used to say that Jesus was “made flesh.”
Also, it is significant that John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that the Word begotten by God became flesh (John 1:14) and he uses the same word to declare that by God’s power we who are born in the flesh become sons of God (John 1:12). This oneness between the Savior and the ones he saves brings to mind the oneness that Jesus prayed for with his disciples in the upper room (John 17). It shows how completely God identifies with us in Christ. As the writer of Hebrews declares.
11 For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers,
14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil—
@KMac says something that I think brings another passage from Hebrews into the discussion.
Jesus, the Word, was involved in the creation of the material that makes up the human body, then the body he took on was essentially created by Him. That’s the profundity of the artist entering the painting or the author climbing onto the page - the Creator enters the creation!
Hebrews 10:5-7 says
5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me.
6 You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.
7 Then I said, “See— it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll— I have come to do Your will, God!”
The Word created the human body, as @KMac observes, but Hebrews tells us that a body was prepared for him when Jesus came into the world. Interestingly, the word prepared means to complete thoroughly or to repair and most frequently conveys the idea of perfecting. The passage does not say a body was created for Jesus but that one was prepared — a body in which he could finish his Father’s unfinished business. The writer recalls how we are broken by sin and there is no remedy in our sacrifices and offerings. But God is not done with us. Rather, by the Word made flesh in Jesus, God takes up residence in a body that will be broken for us and works his perfect will, thereby completing or perfecting our salvation.
The nativity story may help us here.
God created man and his method was to “form him” (Genesis 3:7). From Adam on, humans come by way of conception and being formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 49:5). So Adam was created and formed in the hands of God, and he is said to be “son of God” (Luke 3:38). All his descendants are conceived and formed in the womb and are said to be sons of Adam. The nativity tells us that Jesus was conceived in Mary and formed in her womb (Isaiah 49:5). In the incarnation, therefore, the Word who created Adam became the Second Adam by the same means as those whom He came to save. The great exception, of course, is that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus. The virgin birth is the heart of our creed, which declares Jesus is fully God and fully man.
To make the point another way, we know of three ways for life to come into being:
Creation. God transcends creation because he is the self-existent I AM, he alone has “life in himself” (John 5:26). Life must begin with him and, in the beginning, when there was no other life, he created.
Conception. Life begets life and when God created man in his image, this includes in part his granting us to bring forth life, not by way of creation, but by imparting the life we have to another.
Resurrection. Where there has been life but it dies, resurrection is God’s means for bringing life back.
In Jesus, God has a way to bring all three of these together. By the incarnation, The Word is made flesh in the same way we are, except that Jesus came as the fullness of God, born full of grace and truth (Colossians 1:19, John 1:14). As the fullness of God, Jesus can say things like, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58) and also “The Father has life in himself” and “The Son has life in himself” (John 5:25) and again “The Father gives life” and “the Son also gives life” (John 5:21). Because Jesus is the Word made flesh, he can also declare, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25).
We see, then, how life in all its forms appears in Jesus — creation, conception and resurrection.
To say that Jesus is created makes him less than what he is — fully God and fully man. Rather, we confess with Peter, “This Jesus, whom we crucified, God has exalted and made both Lord and Christ!” (Acts 2:36). And we exalt him and exclaim with Paul, “Behold the wisdom of God.”
This is a long reply, I appreciate your patience to read it. I hope something in this blesses you and helps in your conversations.
Thank you Dennis for that reply!!! I think that is the most thorough and biblical explanation thus far. All the responses were great but you covered it from so many different angles. I hadn’t even thought about the three ways of coming into being and the distinctions between creation, conception, and resurrection. It is fascinating how all of those are distinct yet interconnected so intricately. Thank you for that response. I hope to be able to explain it that well to others someday soon. God bless you!