A Perfect, Eternal Union
“In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”- Colossians 2:9
How is Christ, after His ascension, localized in heaven and yet with His people no matter where we are (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:6–11)? According to His humanity, Jesus is not on earth, but according to His deity, Jesus is never absent from us (The Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 47).
This issue gets to the heart of the person of Jesus, who is both truly human and truly divine. Human beings can be in only one place at a time. It is an intrinsic limitation, something that makes us human. If Jesus’ humanity possessed omnipresence, He would not be truly human, and He could not have borne God’s wrath in our place. Similarly, omnipresence is one of the attributes that makes God, well, God. If Jesus’ divine nature were not omnipresent, He would not be God. We can commune with the entire Christ because His omnipresent divinity, perfectly united to His humanity, connects us to His whole person, including His localized humanity. Each nature, however, retains its unique properties.
We are taking care to distinguish, without separating, Jesus’ human nature from His divine nature because of their perfect union in the one person of Christ. The Heidelberg Catechism affirms the perfection of this union (Q&A 48), using Colossians 2:9 as a proof text. Paul tells us in this verse that “the whole fullness of deity” exists in Jesus; the union between the human and divine is so complete, so perfect, that the person of Jesus lacks nothing that is intrinsic to humanity or deity.
The perfection of this union means, as Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, that “what is said of the divine nature or of the human nature may be affirmed of the person.” Still, we may not confuse Jesus’ divine nature and human nature. Dr. Sproul notes that we rightly say, “Christ, the God-man, died. This, however, is not to say that God perished on the cross” (p. 81). Similarly, “Jesus knew what was in man” (John 2:25), but His human nature was not omniscient.
This perfect union did not end with the resurrection. Jesus continues as “a high priest forever” (Heb. 6:20), and His priestly office depends on His “becoming like his brothers in every respect” (2:14–18).
Jesus is not a split personality. His two natures are united so perfectly that He can do things that only human beings do and things that only God does without changing the character of His divine nature or His human nature. Ultimately, we cannot fully explain this mystery, as there is nothing else like the hypostatic union in creation. But we do know that believing in Christ as both fully God and fully man is the most reasonable thing we could ever do.
Passages for Further Study
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343