The Word Became Flesh? Why John 1:14 Does NOT Say that God Became Man

For an audio podcast of this post, click here:


For many Trinitarians, or for those who believe in the “deity of Christ”, a few words from John 1:1 combined with a few words from John 1:14 forms the, and I mean the #1 evidence that Jesus is God, and that therefor somehow God is a Trinity. John 1:1 says “the Word was God”, and then skip down to John 1:14, “the Word became flesh”. That’s it. Jesus is God, literally.

 

But wait a second.

 

In a future podcast I plan to suggest that a better way to understand John 1:14 is that “the Logos, the Word was flesh”. In other words, the Logos, the Word - God’s communication to us - was a human being, the man Christ Jesus from Nazareth.

 

But the focus of this podcast will be on the problems with the “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 1:14.

 

Jerusalem, we have a Problem:

Problems with the Trinitarian and Deity of Christ Interpretation of John 1:14

 

The “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 1:14 may sound or look plausible at first, but a little closer examination shows that the interpretation is only a thin veneer and that there is no substance behind the veneer. The “God became man” interpretation ends up being a confusing web of inconsistencies, contradictions and lies.

 

The first observation about interpreting John 1:1 and John 1:14 as saying that “God became man”:

 

No Trinity

There is no Trinity described in John 1:14 (or John 1:1). If you are a Trinitarian, and John 1:1 and John 1:14 are your main proof texts for your understanding of who God is, you better look further, because there is no Trinity god anywhere near John 1:1 or John 1:14, or anywhere else in the Gospel of John. As a matter of fact, the word “God” Theos occurs some 1320 times in the New Testament, and the word never means the Trinity.

 

So “God” in the Gospel of John is never the Trinity. The claim of this Gospel is that Jesus revealed God. But Jesus revealed the Father, not a Trinity. The author of the Gospel of John was not a Trinitarian. Since the author of the Gospel of John did not believe God is a Trinity, he would be excluded from most “Christian” churches today and called a heretic.

 

Again, there is no Trinity in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel of John, the only God is the Father (John 17:3).

 

10 Words out of 18,000, “The Ten Words”

The “deity of Christ” understanding of who Christ is reads way too much into about ¼ of one verse. The Greek text of John 1:14 has 23 words, and the phrase from which deity of Christ theology has created its most important, essential understanding of the nature of Jesus is made up of five words.

 

OK, we have to add in another 1/3 of a verse from John 1:1, another 4 or 5 words. So, according to deity of Christ believers, the most important truth upon which your and my destiny hangs are about 5 words from John 1:1 and another five words from John 1:14. From John 1:1, “and the word was God…”, then skip down to John 1:14, “and the word became flesh”. That’s it. Forget what both Moses and Jesus said is the most important commandment, that Yahweh is one (Deut. 6:4, Mark 12:29). Forget that Yahweh (God) throughout the Law, Prophets, Writings and New Testament is one. These 10 Greek words, five plucked from John 1:1 and five from John 1:14 have declared that God is more than one person.

 

This is the kind of interpretational methodology that cults and deception are made of. In the Gospel of John there are over 18,000 words in the average English translation. There are over 184,000 words in the New Testament. By picking and focusing on a few words, and by ignoring the context of the words, one can make a big book like the Bible say just about whatever one wants it to say.

 

Interpreting the short phrases in John 1:1 and John 1:14 as describing a second god, a “God the Word” or “God the Son” or a “Son God” “becoming man” is a complete contradiction to everything that has come before in the Bible, and everything that comes after. There is no “God the Son” in the Bible. There is no “God the Word” in the Bible. There is no second God person anywhere in the Books of Moses, or in any of Israel’s prophets. There is no second God person in the rest of the New Testament. There is nothing in the Bible anywhere else that describes one person of a multi-person god “becoming man”.

 

Look at the declarations of the apostles of Jesus in the Book of Acts, the next book in the New Testament following John’s Gospel. When the apostles preached about Jesus, they never preached about a multi-person god. They preached that the Messiah, the man Jesus of Nazareth had been put to death by people, but then raised from the dead by God (Acts 2:22-36, 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30). Listeners were being saved, and they never heard about or believed in a second god-person, let alone a Trinity. The language and the idea of a “God-man” is something totally foreign to the Scriptures. Rather, a “god-man” is the stuff of pagan mythology.

 

Those who interpret John 1:14 to be describing one person of a three-member godhead becoming man, or to be more exact, becoming a “God-man”, would have us believe that after Moses and the prophets of Israel pounded it into the people of Israel’s heads that God is one, that sometime in the 1st century, God inspired a Galilean Jew who was a disciple of Jesus to write 10 words to say, “Surprise! Just kidding! Hear O Israel. I, your God, or rather we, are really two!” 

 

Interpreting John 1:14 as describing that one member of a God family or godhead became a human is forcing 2nd century, yea verily 4th century Greco-gentile Christian philosophical speculation onto a document written by a Jew in the 1st century.

 

“Hear, O gentiles, your God is two, or three, in one.” Does that sound biblical?

 

In the rest of the New Testament, the Messiah at the right hand of God in heaven is not a second God figure, or part of a tri-personal God family. No, the one at the right hand of God in heaven is the raised from the dead, exalted and glorified human, Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth. That’s right, the Bible says that God has exalted a human being, the Jew, Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth, to His, God’s right hand.

 

The Gospel of John does not disagree with the rest of the New Testament. The Christology of the Gospel of John is not “incarnation”, that is, that God became a man, but “agency”, that the man Jesus of Nazareth represents, manifests and makes known God, and is empowered by God.

 

The “Word became flesh”: the Prince became a Frog, or the Prince Turned into a Frog

 

Later we will look closer at the Greek word egeneto that is translated “became”. One quick note though: it is the same Greek word that is translated simply as “was” in John 1:6, “there was a man sent from God whose name was John.”

 

Deity of Christ believers seem to think John 1:14 is saying something like the fairy tale where the prince became a frog. The prince was, at least for a little while, inside a frog’s body.

 

In some ways the “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 1:14 is even more “fairy-tale-ish” than the prince and the frog story, since “deity of Christ” interpretation insists that although Jesus became a man, he was still “fully God and fully man”. That would be like saying the prince with the frog body was “fully man and fully frog.”

 

But we all know in the fairy tale that the person inside the frog was not a frog-person. The person inhabiting the frog body was a human-person, the prince. In the end of the fairy tale, the real prince-person gets free from the frog body.

 

Although not without some confusion, Trinitarians think similarly that Jesus in the end freed himself from his unfortunate situation of being confined in a human body.

 

Later I will say more about the “deity of Christ” belief that Jesus was not a human person, just like the prince was not a frog person. But for now, back to the translation “the word became flesh”.

 

The “Word became flesh”: is that a Transformation?

 

Trinitarians seem to like the translation in John 1:14, “the Word became flesh”. The vast majority of modern Trinitarian translations into English have “the Word became flesh” with the notable exception of the King James version which says “the Word was made flesh”.

 

The KJV translation “was made flesh” has a passive sense to it, as if “the Word” did not make himself into flesh, but someone else made him into flesh.

 

So now we have to wonder. Was “God the Word” not able to make himself into flesh? Did “God the Word” need help from someone else who actually did the making? It is understandable why most modern English translations have shied away from the “was made flesh” idea since that translation suggests that someone else, not the Word, did the “making into flesh”.

 

But which is it? God the Word was made into flesh by someone else, or was he able, by his own power, “to become” flesh?  Shouldn’t we be a little curious as to what that Greek word egeneto means, and how else it could be understood?

 

Modern English versions have gone with the idea that one member of a tri-personal godhead “became flesh”. But if God the Word became flesh, that sounds like there was a transformation going on. Does “the Word became flesh” mean that God the Word, presumably God the Son, quit being of God essence and now became human essence, flesh? When that prince became a frog, he no longer had a human body. The prince was no longer “fully human”, was he?

 

When the caterpillar became a butterfly, it was no longer a caterpillar. If you became flesh, you are no longer whatever you were before you were flesh.

 

So ironically, “became” flesh does not seem to be a good translation even for “deity of Christ” believers. Trinitarian theologians don’t say that the “eternal son transformed into flesh”, only that he “took on a second nature”. But wait another second. Now we better think if there is anything in that Greek verb egeneto that suggests “taking on” or “adding”. You guessed the answer. No, there isn’t. No one translates John 1:14 as “and the Word took on flesh”.

 

Enter Double Speak

 

Deity of Christ theologians speak from both sides of their mouths. Sure, here in John 1:14 they might talk about the eternal Word (the Son God) “becoming” flesh, but that’s not usually the terminology they will use in creeds and in other discussions about the nature of Jesus. The language they use when they turn away from John 1:14 is that the Word “took on” human nature, or “assumed” human nature, or “added” human nature. They don’t even like to use the word flesh. Rarely, if ever, in all my Trinitarian years, did I hear or read someone who said “God added flesh”. Trinitarians avoid the concrete word “flesh” and use the more abstract “human nature”.

 

So, after insisting that John 1:14 describes that God became flesh, knowing that such language doesn’t really fit their theology, they turn around and say Jesus “added human nature”. They don’t really believe that God the Son became flesh, that he “turned into” flesh, or even that flesh became God the Son’s new nature. No, instead they must say that one person of a multi-personal godhead “took on” an additional nature. To take on an additional nature is something very different from “becoming” that nature. Did Jesus only partly become, or did he entirely become flesh. If he only partly became flesh, how would we know that from John 1:14 which says he became flesh?

 

And if God became flesh, did he become God again, like that prince became a man again?

 

And if only one member of the tri-personal god became flesh, that means god can be divided into parts, and one member is not equal to the other members.

 

The Trinitarian, deity of Christ interpretation of John 1:14 sends the Bible into the realm of myth. It is good pagan theology, or good prince became frog Disney fairy tale. It bears false testimony as to who God and His Messiah are, and gives people reason to reject the Bible as myth. One person of a tri-personal godhead took on human nature?

 

Trinitarians say such things from one side of their mouth and then speak something totally contradictory from the other side. Many times, I have heard Trinitarians quote from the Book of Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” to show that Jesus is God because he doesn’t change? Mr. Trinitarian, did the eternal God the Word, the Son God, change or not? If he became flesh, even if he only “took on flesh”, he changed. Deity of Christ believer: you are contradicting yourself and you are misrepresenting God and God’s Messiah.

 

The Incarnation, THE Greatest Story NEVER Told

 

It is highly unlikely that John 1:14 is intended to be an incarnational description of a pre-existent deity becoming flesh since the Gospel of John nowhere describes the conception or birth of Jesus. Nothing. Not a single word about the circumstances of Jesus’s conception or birth. Later in this chapter the disciple Philip introduced Jesus to Nathaniel as the one “of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph.” [1]

 

Besides there being nothing in the Hebrew Torah or prophets about God literally becoming a man, if incarnation of God into a human being at conception or birth were intended in John 1:14, it is absurd to think that the author would not give a description of this pivotal conception and birth incarnation event.

 

Think about that. To the modern deity of Christ believer, the Gospel of John is the main New Testament book which supposedly tells us that God turned into, or became human. Yet in this Gospel there is no description of this supposedly essential event. The whole theory hangs on five words of John 1:14, “so the Word was (or became) flesh”.

 

And when we turn to the other Gospel accounts which do describe the birth of Jesus, we find no description of one person of a tri-personal pre-existent eternal god becoming man. Rather, we find the unique birth of the promised Messiah, a human person descended from Adam, Abraham and David.

 

The Incarnation is the greatest story never told, at least not in the Bible.

 

The Magically Disappearing Essence, or the Magically Disappearing Nature.

Three Persons in One Essence (Three Whos in One What) but One Person in Two Natures.

 

The Trinitarian describes for us who his God is by saying that the Trinity is three persons in one essence. This is supposedly how three can be one. Three persons in one nature. A popular Trinitarian apologist says that the Trinity god is three whos (persons) in one what (essence).

 

But the very description of their god, given by the Trinitarians testifies against their core belief that God became man. In providing his description of the Trinity, the Trinitarian forgets that his essential doctrine drawn from John 1:1 and 1:14 is that “God the Word became flesh.” 

 

“God is three persons in one essence” claims the Trinitarian. OK, got it. Ahh…hang on. Didn’t you just tell me that Jesus is God who became human flesh? Isn’t your whole religion based upon “God becoming man”, of God taking on human nature?

 

Shouldn’t the Trinitarian god have two natures? One, a God nature and two, a human nature? Why do you define your god with only one nature, when you just told me he has two natures?

 

So like a magician who is adept at sleight of hand, Trinitarianism - by its very own definition of who God is - eliminates the “humanity”, or the “flesh” of Jesus the Messiah.

 

The Trinitarian says: “God has two natures. You must believe this to be saved. Look over there! (Flick of the wrist). God has one nature. (Flick of the wrist) God has two natures again. See, one nature. See, two natures. One essence, two essences. It’s like a magical trick. The Trinitarian God is mystery and magic.

 

Or, Trinitarianism is like a politician who wants you to forget what he said yesterday.

 

Trinitarian world, make up your mind. You’ve had 1600 years. Does your god have one essence or two? One minute your God has one essence. The next minute he (they?) has two essences.

 

If you are a Trinitarian or “deity of Christ” believer, may I ask, if the God the Son took on flesh, how many natures does the Trinity have? I’m not asking about how many natures “God the Son” has, but how many natures does the tri-personal god have? Why has the standard explanation for 1600 years been that the Trinitarian god is three persons in one essence?

 

According to the main description of the who the Trinitarian god is, “three persons in one nature”, Jesus is no longer flesh. Even the abstract “humanity” of Jesus has been eliminated. He is one person of a single nature god, a divine nature, so he no longer is flesh.

 

If you think John 1:14 means that God became flesh, then your Trinitarian god has two natures. Your theologians have been wrong, contradicting themselves for hundreds of years. Or, is all the “deity of Christ” theological jargon only a magician’s smoke-screen to eliminate the flesh from Jesus the Messiah?

 

A Trans-essence god

 

What I’m about to say next will offend some people. In saying what I’m about to say I’m also condemning myself, because for years I believed that somehow “God became man”.

 

I suggest Christians are being hypocritical when they condemn transgender or lesbian or gay people who claim to be a different gender than they really are.

 

The transgender person goes through an operation and insists: “I am now female”, even though he is male.

 

As a Trinitarian, I insisted that “God became man”. That means that one member of the tri-personal god is trans-natured. But even though “God the Word” was trans-natured, I insisted that he was still fully god and fully man! Our “deity of Christ” claim that “Jesus has two natures” even goes further than the transgender claim. It would be like a transgender person insisting: “I am fully male and fully female.”

 

It’s all an abomination to the One God and His Messiah Jesus from Nazareth.

 

And like transgenders and homosexuals the Trinitarian insists on changing the meanings of pronouns. Trinitarians insist that pronouns mean what they want them to mean. The gay person insists he be referred to as “she” even though he is a “he”. Likewise, the Trinitarian calls his god “he”, even though his god is “they”.

 

Christian Trinitarian, are you not being hypocritical in condemning a transgender who insists he is female and must be referred to by a female pronoun, while you claim that one of your tri-personal god members is trans-essence and insist on using a singular pronoun for your tri-personal god?[2]

 

History is against you

 

Because enough writings of early gentile “church fathers” have been preserved, a historian can discover and trace how and when the idea that an eternal second person of a godhead became part of accepted Christianity.

 

In the second century, 100 years after Jesus, there was no one-god-in-three-persons in the “church fathers” thinking. Rather, 2nd century church fathers began to adapt the Greek philosophical view of the Logos (the Word), who was considered to be a secondary lesser god, claiming this was the pre-existent Christ.

 

But that Logos was considered by the early Gentile church fathers to be a lesser god, a god with a small “g”, who owed his origin to the one true God. To the second century church fathers, the Logos was not co-equal or co-eternal with the One Supreme God.

 

Even the famous Nicene Creed of AD 325 is not Trinitarian. Note the first statement in the Creed: “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.” Christians in AD 325 still insisted they were monotheists by emphasizing the superiority of the one God, the Father. It wasn’t until later in the 4th century, some 350 years after Jesus the Messiah lived in Israel, that gentile “Christians” in modern Turkey declared that they were monotheists because their god consisted of three-persons in one essence.

 

If you think Christians were always Trinitarian, or that Christians considered Jesus always to be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, you aren’t being honest with history. Most Christians, especially Protestants, don’t know much and don’t care much about church history. They’ve just been told that “Christians always believed that Jesus is God and that God is a Trinity”.

 

But real church history is an embarrassment to that claim. If you want to examine what church history really says, there are lots of sources. I might suggest listening to a podcast that was the most listened to One God Report podcast in 2020, podcast #10, The Evolution of the Trinity, Interview with Dr. Dale Tuggy. Podcast #11 is part 2 of that interview.

 

The “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 1:1 and John 1:14 that “God became man” is a Greco-Roman-Byzantine interpretation developed in foreign gentile lands artificially applied to a 1st century Jewish document.

 

Ignoring the Rest of the Gospel of John

 

Interpreting John 1:1 and 1:14 as God becoming man ignores the rest of the contents of the Gospel of John.

 

The Messiah who Represents God, not who Is God Literally

 

Over and over again the Christology[3], that is, who Jesus is, in the Gospel of John is not “incarnation”, that God became a man. Rather, the presentation of who Jesus Christ is in the Gospel of John is “agency” - the man Jesus of Nazareth is God’s agent and therefor represents and is empowered by God. The main theme of this Gospel is that Jesus, like all the prophets, but even more importantly so, was sent by God. Try typing the word “sent” into a computer program and see how many times in the Gospel of John Jesus is described as being sent by God. Over 40 times. Try reading the Gospel of John with the idea that Jesus is God’s representative sent agent, and not that he literally is God.

 

The Jesus of Nazareth of the Gospel of John is not God literally, but represents, reveals, and is empowered by God. Jesus was sent by God as God’s representative, as Jesus said “Whoever sees me sees Him who sent me” (John 12:45).

 

In this Gospel, the author distinguished Jesus from God and Jesus distinguishes himself from God continually (e.g., 3:16, 8:40, 15:1, 16:30, 14:1, “Believe in God, believe also in me”). Jesus is distinct not just from one person of a godhead, but from all of God. For instance, Jesus describes himself as “a man who told you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8:40).

 

The Jesus in this Gospel, over and over again, says things like “I do nothing on my own authority, I do nothing by my own power, I do nothing by my own initiative” (5:30). “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (7:16). “Father…this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and Jesus the Messiah whom you have sent” (17:1-3).

 

An eternal God, even if he had “become flesh”, would never say such things.

 

Sure, deity of Christ proponents point to a handful of other short statements in the Gospel of John to claim the “deity of Christ”, like “I and the Father are one” (10:30), or “my Lord and My God” (20:28). But it doesn’t take much thought to see the problems with these short “proof-text” interpretations, and that there are other, better ways to understanding these statements. This “proof-texting”, taking a handful of short statements out of context ignores so much of the rest of the Gospel. We shouldn’t ignore the other 18,000 words in the Gospel of John to bolster our Greco-Byzantine pagan idea that the Jewish Messiah is a second god figure who took on flesh.

 

When people saw Jesus, they did not see “God the Son”. There is no “God the Son” anywhere in the Gospel of John. When people saw Jesus, they saw the only God, the God who sent Jesus, the God whom Jesus represented, the Father. Jesus was not literally God the Father, but he made the Father known. Jesus manifest the Father and the Father’s character. As Paul described, Jesus the Messiah “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).

 

Ignoring the Context of the Prologue: Context, Context, Context

 

Understanding John 1:14 as a reference to an incarnation conception and birth of god is chronologically out of place after John 1:6-13 gives a summary of the co-ministry of Jesus and John the Baptizer.

 

The prophet John the Baptizer as an adult has already born witness that Jesus was the true light (1:6-8). It does not make historical or literary contextual sense to think that after introducing and summarizing the relationship and ministries of Jesus and John the Baptizer in verses 1-13, that all of a sudden, the author reverts to a few words about the incarnation of one person of a tri-personal god.

 

All incarnation interpretations of John 1:14 ignore that the man Jesus whom this Gospel is about is presented in introductory and summary manner in verses 1-13.

 

Interpreting John 1:14 as “Jesus is God” ignores and contradicts the next few verses in John’s prologue, not the least of which is the statement just four verses later that “no one has ever seen God” (1:18). Jesus was seen by thousands of people, but no one has ever seen God.

 

Ignoring and Contradicting the Words of Jesus

 

Deity of Christ believers are adamant that only one person of a multi-person godhead “became flesh”. They say, it is “the eternal second person of the godhead, God the Son, who became flesh. Jesus was ‘God the Son’ walking around in a human body.”

 

But what does Jesus say? Does he ever claim to be God? Does he ever claim to be “God the Son”? Does he ever say “When you see me you see God the Son?” According to Jesus the Messiah, which God do we perceive when we see Jesus? Or more appropriate, “who” do we see when we see Jesus?

 

Not “God the Son”. Jesus said when you see him you see the Father. The deity of Christ interpretation of John 1:14 contradicts what can be considered the main theme of the Gospel, and the words of Jesus recorded in this very same Gospel. Jesus reveals the Father.

 

There is no “God the Son” in this Gospel. There is no “God the Word” in this Gospel. There is only one God in the Gospel of John, and Jesus himself tells us who that one God is: the Father. John 17:1-3, Father…this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus the Messiah whom you have sent”.

 

Jesus said: “He who sees me has seen the Father…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:9-10). There is no “God the Son” in Jesus. The God that is revealed in Jesus is the Father.

 

Deity of Christ believer. We need to hold the words of Jesus as greater authority than Byzantine church creeds. The creeds say it was “God the Son” in Jesus. But the Bible, especially the Gospel of John, tells us that the only God that was in Jesus was the Father.

 

Contradicting the Purpose Statement of the Author

 

Interpreting John 1:1 and 1:14 as God becoming man ignores the purpose statement of the author of this Gospel. The author told us that he recorded the signs that Jesus did so that we would believe that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of God” (John 20:31). Son of God is the title for the Messianic king descended from David. The author does not tell us that he recorded the signs so that we would believe that Jesus is God, or “God the Son”. We should not interpret John 1:14 in contradiction to the author’s own stated purpose. Do we really think we know better than the author why he wrote his book?

 

It Gets Worse – Jesus is Not a Human Person

 

But the worst of all of the reasons that the deity of Christ interpretation of John 1:14 is wrong is because the interpretation denies that Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth is a human person.

 

I know, most Christians don’t realize this, and if you are a Trinitarian or deity of Messiah believer you are probably thinking, “No, I don’t deny that Jesus is a human person”. But you do. You have to. Otherwise, you have two persons walking around in Jesus. And the church decided a long time ago for you that Jesus is not two persons but one person, the eternally divine person “God the Son”. As the Council of Chalcedon in Constantinople stated in AD 451 - some four hundred years after the Jewish Messiah Jesus was on earth – the human and god natures of Jesus existed “in one Person and one Personhood, not parted or divided into two persons”.

 

It’s pretty simple. If there was only one person in Jesus, and church theologians and dogma over the centuries have said the one person is the “eternal god person” - then Jesus is not a human person.

 

The person in the frog was the prince. The frog was just a frog body, not a frog person. Like the fairy tale, deity of Christ incarnation theories don’t bother much with telling us that if Jesus’s personhood was “God the Son”, there is no human person in that body of flesh.

 

If you think the non-human personhood of Jesus is just some old church doctrine that isn’t important anymore and that you as a Christian don’t have to believe it, I suggest you view the video called “Jesus is not a human person” on my YouTube channel.[4] I’ll put a link in the show notes. In that presentation there are a number of modern theologians like the general editor of the Desiring God website, John Piper’s organization, or Christian apologist William Lane Craig who explains it this way:

 

“…there is only one person in Christ. There is not a human person. There is no man Jesus of Nazareth who is a human person. You have a divine person who has a human nature.”

 

That’s right, deity of Christ interpretation of John 1:14 insists that Jesus is “fully man but he is not a man.” Or that “Jesus is fully human but he is not a human person.” Is something “fully human” if it is only a human nature, and not a human person? Does such speculation sound like good biblical teaching or pagan Greek philosophy, or a fairy tale?

 

I and most of you listening have read the Bible quite a bit. Does the idea that Jesus is fully man but not a man, sound biblical to you? Or that a “god-person” can infuse his personhood into impersonal human flesh – does that sound biblical, or does it sound more like Greek-philosophical speculation, a cleverly devised myth?

 

To conclude

 

What if those five words in John 1:14 meant something different in a Jewish, Hebraic context compared to how they were understood hundreds of years later by Gentiles who had a very different cultural and philosophical way of thinking?

 

How we interpret a verse like John 1:14 depends a lot on what presuppositions we bring to the text. If, like western thinking Greco-Roman Byzantine philosophers we think there can be such a thing as “non-human human nature” that can be personalized by someone who is not human, we might interpret John 1:14 the way traditional Christianity has.

 

But we should realize that the best way to interpret the book of John is within the background and culture of 1st century Judaism. The 1st century Jewish author used language and metaphors that would be understood by Jews of the 1st century, but could be misunderstood and re-interpreted by non-Jews into the mythical realm of the Greco-Roman-Byzantine world. John is not writing about a mythical God-Man, but about the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth, a human person who was put to death and then raised from the dead by his God, the God of Israel.

 

We should be curious about the Greek word egeneto which is translated as “became” in John 1:14, “the Word became flesh”. Are there other ways to interpret and translate the word? The same word is translated five different ways in five occurrences in John’s Prologue, and in many places in the Bible the word simply means “was” (e.g., John 1:6).

 

Considering all the problems and contradictions we’ve noted above with interpreting John 1:14 as a statement that “God became man”, are there other ways to understand what John 1:14 is saying? Could the author just be simply telling us that the Word, the ultimate way in which God communicated, was the human being, the flesh, the man Jesus of Nazareth?

 

“And the name by which he was called is the Word of God”. Hmmm. Sounds familiar.

 

The cost for interpreting John 1:1 and John 1:14 as “God became man” is the elimination of the human person, Jesus of Nazareth. Are you sure you want to pay the cost?

 

And remind me again, how many natures does the Trinitarian god have?


 



[1] Later in this Gospel, Jesus described his own birth not with the word egeneto, but with a different word which is used to describes a normal birth of any human being (John 18:37).

[2] Another feature of the modern “progressive liberal” movement is to manipulate and change the meaning of language. Deviant sexual behavior is called “liberal” or “progressive”. Intentionally killing a child in a mother’s womb is “abortion” or “choice”.

 The “deity of Christ” believer also manipulates and changes the meaning of words. In the Bible, “Christ” or “Messiah” is one who is anointed by God. But the modern “Christian” has changed the meaning of the “Messiah” or “Christ” to mean “deity” or “God”. A “Christian” is defined as one who believes that Chirst is God. What is essential to a “Christian’s” belief is not that Jesus is the Christ, but that Jesus is God.

 The deity of Christ believer should really be called a “theotian” from the Greek word for god, theos, or a “deusian” from the Latin deus (god=deity).

 In the Bible, believing that a person is Messiah or Christ has nothing to do with believing that a person is God. A Christian in the Bible believed that Jesus was the Christ, not God.

 [3] A Greek thinker might say “the nature or essence of Jesus”.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hi, I’ve been a Christian for almost 19 years, and I have a problem with what you are saying in this blogpost.
John 1:14 says “The Word BECAME flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
What your writing seems to indicate is the confusion one faces when trying to understand God. In the Bible, it has been distinctly PROVEN that Jesus is BOTH God and man.
Your analogy of the frog prince is clever, but it does not apply in this scenario. For starters, the prince was cursed to become a frog, some higher power didn’t decide that’s what he would be turned into that day. In the context of Jesus, what needs to be understood that Jesus is one WITH the Father. I understand it as Jesus being “begotten from the Father” as being one with the Father since before creation. Christ CHOSE to become a man with all the limitations it offers and put ASIDE His divine power while on Earth, but that doesn’t make Him any less of God. Only God can put aside his godliness and become a human to die and save the world from their sins.
I hope you read what I wrote and even if you don’t believe it, think about what i said.
Bill Schlegel said…
Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment.

I think the Bible explicitly states that Jesus is a man, in and through whom God worked. See for instance John 8:40, Luke 24:19, Acts 2:22, Acts 17:31, Romans 5:15, 1 Cor. 15:21, 1 Tim. 2:5.

The Bible never says that Jesus is a God man. In fact, the Bible says explicitly that the one mediator between God and man is a man (1 Tim. 2:4-5).

The God "in" Jesus was the Father, as Jesus in the Gospel of John said (e.g., John 10:38, 14:9-10. Cf. Acts 2:22 and 2 Cor. 5:19).

God is not flesh. Rather, the Father, the only true God (John 17:3) was at work in the man, flesh, Jesus the Messiah.

Thanks for taking a look.

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