The Divinity of Christ

by H.H Pope Shenouda III

INTRODUCTION

The Divinity of Christ
The Divinity of Christ is one of the most important and vital
subjects in the Christian doctrine. Many heresies rose against it
in various eras, and the Church confronted them and replied to
them. The most dangerous was the Arian Heresy which
reached its peak in the fourth century and led to many
Ecumenical Councils being held. The first Ecumenical Council
in history was held in 325 A.D., attended by 318 bishops from
all the churches of the world. Arius and his heresy were
refuted, and the Christian Creed was formulated. Nevertheless,
the residues of Arianism have continued to spread even till this
day.
Many atheist philosophers and scientists rose against the
Divinity of Christ. The heresy of Jehovah's Witnesses rose
against the Divinity of Christ. It was allegedly founded, in
Pennsylvania, America, in 1872. Then in 1909 its headquarters
moved to New York where a community was established under
the name of "Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society". They
published many books, the most important of which were: Let
God Be True, The Truth Shall Set You Free, The Harp of God,
The Rich Man, Deliverance, Creation, The New Heaven and
the New Earth, Government and Peace, Protection,
Reconciliation, and various other publications called Tracts.
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In the following pages, we will try to discuss the subject of the
Divinity of Christ in a positive light, and prove this fundamental
doctrine from the Holy Bible. We will discuss all the
objections and reply to them in due course.
Many of the saints faced these objections and were
contemporary with the Arian Movement. Among them were:
(1)
Saint Athanasius the Apostolic who wrote Contra
Arianos,
(2)
Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers who wrote a treatise
against the Arians called De Trinitate,
(3)
Saint Basil the Great,
(4)
Saint Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa,
(5)
Saint Gregory Theologus of Nazianzum who wrote
theological treatises and
(6)
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem who delivered lectures to the
catechumens.
In our research on the Divinity of Christ, we will give proofs
which will include clear verses pertaining to His Divinity with
respect to:
(1)
Him being the Logos (the Word)
(2)
His relation with the Holy Spirit
(3)
His relation with Heaven
(4)
His relation with the Father
(5)
Him being the Only Son
(6)
Him being the Only Son of God
(7)
Him being the Lord
(8)
Him being the Redeemer and Saviour
(9)
The belief in Him
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(10)
His Divine qualities
(11) His authority over all Creation
(12)
His miracles
I began this research in July 1953 when I published the first
article against Jehovah's Witnesses in the Sunday School
Magazine, then in consecutive articles during 1953 / 54. I
taught it as a subject in the Theological Seminary during 1954
and also in the 1960s when I was bishop of the Seminary. I
replied to many questions pertaining to this subject in general
lectures. And finally, I thought it fit to publish it as a subject of
study to be taught in the various departments of our
Theological Seminary.
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THE FIRST PROOF
Explicit Verses
On the Divinity of Christ
This proof consists of the following:
(A)
Proof that the Lord Jesus Christ is God
(B)
Proof that there is only One God, that is, God
(C)
Conclusion: Christ is This One God, that is, He is God
(A)
Christ Is God
(1)
(Rom. 9:5): St. Paul the Apostle said in his discourse
about the Jews: "and from whom, according to the flesh,
Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
" The phrase 'over all ' gives power to Christ's Divinity; He is
not God of certain people only, as the pagan gods are. The
expression 'eternally' signifies the continuity of His worship and
the infinity of His Divinity.
(2)
(John 20:28): When Thomas said to the Lord: "My
Lord and my God!", the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the title
and reproached Thomas for believing only after seeing when he
should have believed without seeing.
(3)
(John 1:1): "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God. " Although
Jehovah's Witnesses, in their heterodoxy, say: "and the Word
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was a God", yet they do not deny the Divinity of Christ and
consider Him second to Jehovah. In order not to enter into
translation controversies with them, we say that their mere
belief that He is a God leads to the fact that He is God, because
there is only One God.
(4)
(Matt. 1:23): The angel was referring to Isaiah's
prophecy: "'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a
Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel" which is
translated, 'God with us"' (Is. 7:14). The fact that Christ is
'God with us' is an obvious profession of His Divinity. That is
why the prophet Isaiah explains this meaning when he says:
(5)
(Is. 9:6): "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is
given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And
His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". It is probably the phrase
'Mighty God' in this verse that has made Jehovah's Witnesses
say that Christ is a Mighty God, although in their opinion, He is
not God. Strangely enough, this verse is from the Book of
Isaiah in which the clauses: "I am the Lord and there is no
other; there is no God besides Me", are repeated many times
(Is. 45:5,6,21,22).
(6)
(Heb. 1:7,8): When St. Paul the Apostle explained how
the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than the angels, he said: "And
of the angels He says: 'Who makes His angels spirits and His
ministers a flame of fire. 'But to the Son He says: 'Your throne,
0 God, is for ever and ever. ' " St. Paul quoted this verse from
Psalm 45, verse 6, where the reference to the Divinity of Christ
is very clear.
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(7)
(1 Tim. 3:16): "And without controversy great is the
mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified
in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles,
believed on in the world, received up in glory. " It is obvious,
from this verse, that Christ is God who was manifested in the
flesh. But the heresy of Jehovah's Witnesses presents another
translation: "Great is the mystery of godliness which was
manifested in the flesh", which is incompatible with the
continuation of the same verse. Because how could the
mystery of godliness be seen by angels? Or how was it
received up in glory? Was it not Christ who was seen by
angels, ascended to heaven in glory, preached among the
Gentiles and believed in the world? However, the theological
facts are not based upon one verse: (1 Tim. 3:16) is similar to
another verse:
(8)
(Col. 2:9): St. Paul the Apostle says about the Lord
Jesus Christ: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the
Godhead bodily. " The phrase "all the fullness of the Godhead"
adds to the power of this verse. If all the fullness of the
Godhead dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ, then He lacks nothing
and He is God, and there is no other God but Him, because
there is nothing outside the fullness. The expression 'bodily'
signifies that This Godhead took a body or was manifested in
the flesh as the previous verse (1 Tim. 3:16) explains, and as is
explained in the following verse:
(9)
(Acts 20:28): "Therefore take heed to yourselves and
to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased
with His own blood." It is known that God is Spirit (John 4:24)
and a spirit has no blood. So, God did not purchase the
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Church with His blood unless He had taken flesh and sacrificed
His blood for her. Here, we reach the same meaning of "God
was manifested in the flesh".
(B)
There is only One God
(1)
This is clear from the first of the Ten Commandments:
"You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:3);(Deut. 5:7).
(2)
And from other verses in the Book of Deuteronomy,
such as: "the LORD Himself is God,. there is none other
besides Him" (Deut. 5:35), and: "Hear, 0 Israel.. The LORD
our God, the LORD is one!" (Deut. 6:4)
(3) The doctrine of One God is also clear in many verses in the
Book of Isaiah, among which are:
(a)
(Is. 43: 1 0,1 I): "I am He. Before Me there was no
God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the
LORD, and besides Me there is no Saviour." This is the
chapter from which Jehovah's Witnesses extracted the phrase: "
'You are My witnesses,' says the LORD" (Is. 43:10,12).
(b)
(Is. 44:6): "I am the First and I am the Last; besides
Me there is no God."
(c)
(Is. 45:5,6): "I am the LORD, and there is no other;
there is no God besides Me."
(d)
(Is. 45:21,22): "Have not I, the LORD? And there is
no other God besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is
none besides Me. For I am God, and there is no other."
(e)
(Is. 46:9): "For I am God, and there is no other; I am
God, and there is none like Me."
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(4)
Another testimony on the Oneness of God is in the
Book of Hosea the Prophet: "Yet I am the LORD your God
ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but
Me, for there is no Saviour besides Me" (Hos. 13:4).
(5)
We find the same testimony in the New Testament:
(a)
(Rom. 3:30): "...since there is one God"
(b)
(1 Cor. 8:4): "...there is no other God but one"
(c)
(James 2:19): "You believe that there is one God. You
do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!" This means
that even the demons, unfruitful as they are, know very well
that there is one God and tremble from His Judgment.
If there is mention in the Holy Bible of the word 'gods', it does
not at all mean Deity. Sometimes it means the pagan gods as is
mentioned in the Psalms: "For the LORD is great and greatly
to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the
gods of the people are idols" (Ps. 96:4,5), and: "Worship Him,
all you gods" (Ps. 97:7). Naturally, those who worship another
are not true gods.
Another example, said by the Divine Inspiration in Psalm 82, is:
"I said, 'You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most
High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the
princes."' (Ps. 82: 6,7). Naturally, he who dies and falls can
not be a God. But it is a symbolical expression signifying
power and authority, as when some of the Jews' enemies were
afraid from the return of the Ark of the Covenant and said: "
Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty
gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all
the plagues in the wilderness" (1 Sam.4:8). They described all
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the people as gods which has a symbolic or a metaphoric
meaning.
(C)
Conclusion: Christ is God
If there is only one God, by the testimony of the Old and New
Testaments of the Holy Bible, and if Christ is a God by the
same testimony, then Christ is This One God.
God says in the Book of Isaiah: "And there is no other God
besides Me", and in the same Book the Divine Inspiration says
that Christ is a "Mighty God." What does this mean other than
the Two are One?
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THE SECOND PROOF
Christ Is God
With Respect to Him Being the Logos
The Lord Jesus Christ was called 'The Word' in three important
places:
(A)
(John 1: 1): "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God." In this verse the
reference to Christ's Divinity is very clear.
(B)
(1 John 5:7): "For there are three who bear witness in
heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these
three are one." Here also, the Divinity of Christ is clear. The
term "the Word" in the above verse is in place of "the Son" in
(Matt. 28:19).
(C) (Rev. 19:13): "He was clothed with a robe dipped in
blood, and His name is called The Word of God." The term
"The Word" stands for "Logos" in Greek which conveys a
linguistic, philosophical and terminological meaning. The word
"Logos" is taken from the Greek verb legein from which the
word logic in English is derived. It means the rational principle
expressed in words.
Hence the term "The Word" means the Logos or Reason, or
Mind which is the position of the Person of the Son in the Holy
Trinity.
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Naturally, the Reason of God is inseparable from Him. God
and His Reason are One Entity. If Jehovah's Witnesses see that
Christ is a Junior God to God (who is Supreme), they do not
understand the meaning of the term "The Word" which is "the
Logos " in (John 1: 1), and (1 John 5:7).
If Christ is the Reason and the Logos of God, then He is God
and He is Eternal, because the Reason and Logos of God
existed with God since eternity. Therefore Christ is not created
because any created being does not exist before his creation. Is
it reasonable for anyone to think that there was a time when
God existed without Reason, then He created Reason for
Himself? And with what Reason did He create Reason for
Himself? The apprehension of the Trinity teaches us the
Eternity of the Three Persons. The Person of the Word is of
the same substance of God Himself and has existed in Him
since eternity.
Therefore, the Second Person, The Logos or The Word is the
Person of knowledge, or of reason or wisdom, in the Holy
Trinity. He is Christ "in whom are hidden all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:.3). He is the Wisdom in the
Trinity, which is why St. Paul the Apostle said that the Lord
Jesus Christ is "the Wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24).
That is why when The Word was Incarnate, we saw God in
Him, "No one has seen God at any time" (John 1:18). That is
to say, no one has seen God in His Divinity, but when He was
Incarnate, when He was manifested bodily (1 Tim. 3:16), we
saw Him in the flesh, we saw Him Incarnate. That is why St.
John the Apostle says: "No one has seen God at any time. The
Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has
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declared Him" (John 1:18). This means that Christ declared
God to us, and through Him we are able to perceive God.
The same meaning is given in (Col. 1: 15): "He is the image of
the invisible God", and in (Phil. 2:5-7): "Christ Jesus, who,
being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be
equal to God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the
form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men." This
means that if Christ appeared to be equal with God, He did not
consider that robbery because He is verily so. But while being
equal with the Father, He gave up all His glory, was Incarnate,
taking the form of a servant and coming in the likeness of man
... and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of
the cross (Phil. 2:8).
St. Paul the Apostle said about the Lord Jesus Christ in his
Epistle to the Hebrews: "...through whom also He made the
worlds,. who being the brightness of His glory and the express
image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of
His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down
at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so
much better than the angels" (Heb. 1:2-4). The phrase 'the
express image of His person' means the image in which God
manifested Himself in the Incarnation, and thus we could see
Him; in the Person of Christ. That is why Christ the Lord said:
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). He
was Incarnate for our redemption to purge our sins. He gave
up all His glory although He is the brightness of God's glory
and the image of God (2 Cor .4:4) and had made the worlds.
Here the Apostle presents one of the Divine attributes of
Christ, of His being the Creator. He created the world because
He is the Logos: the Reason and Wisdom of God.
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THE THIRD PROOF
Christ Is God
With Respect to Him Being the Creator
Without controversy, God is the Creator, and the story of
creation commences with the statement: "In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1: 1). The first
chapter of Genesis explains how God created all things. In the
Book of Isaiah, God says: "I am the Lord, who makes all
things, who stretches out heavens all alone, who spreads
abroad the earth by Myself" (Is. 44:24), and: "I, the Lord, do
all these things" (Is. 45:7).
However, there are other verses in the Holy Bible that refer to
Christ the Lord as the Creator:
(1) (John 1:3): St John the Evangelist says about the Lord
Jesus Christ: "All things were made through Him, and without
Him nothing was made that was made." Here the Evangelist
does not only mention that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator,
but also that none of creation was made without Him. He also
says: "He was in the world and the world was made through
Him" (John 1: 10).
(2) (Heb. 1:2): St. Paul the Apostle says: "He made the
worlds."
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(3) (Col. 1: 16): St. Paul also says: "For by Him all things
were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities
or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
(4)
(1 Cor.8:6): The Apostle also says: "... through whom
are all things and through whom we live."
The Holy Bible mentions miracles performed by the Lord Jesus
Christ which prove that He is the Creator:
(1)
The miracle of feeding the five thousand men from five
loaves and two fish (Luke 9:10-17). In this miracle, the Lord
created matter which had not existed with which He fed the
thousands. What adds to the power of this miracle is the fact
that all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets full of the
leftover fragments were taken up. From where did all the
leftover fragments come? It was matter newly created by the
Lord Jesus Christ. This great miracle is mentioned by the four
Evangelists.
(2)
The miracle of feeding the four thousand men from
seven loaves and a few little fish (Matt. 15:32-38). The
disciples took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that
were left over. Here also the Lord created new matter which
had not existed, and the ability to create is attributed to God
alone.
(3)
The miracle of changing water into wine in Cana of
Galilee (John 2). This miracle is also an act of creation because
water consists of oxygen and hydrogen only, so from where did
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the alcohol and the other constituents of wine come? The Lord
Jesus Christ created all these elements in this miracle.
The power of this miracle is that it happened by Christ's mere
inner will, without Him doing any action or blessing or even
giving an order to the water to change into wine. He only said:
"'Fill the waterpots with water'. And they filled them up to the
brim. And He said to them, 'Draw some out now' " (John
2:7,8). Thus the water changed to wine merely by His will. He
willed to create the substance of wine and it was created, even
without a command.
(4) Granting sight to the man born blind (John 9). Here the
Lord Jesus Christ created eyes which had not existed before
and created them out of mud, as He had created the first man.
Mud, which if put on seeing eyes causes blindness, was put by
the Lord into the sockets of the blind man, and two eyes were
created. What adds to the power of this miracle is that the
Lord ordered the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.
Normally, washing mud dissolves it, but in this miracle, when
the man washed with water, the mud was reinforced in his
sockets as eyes and the water tied them with blood vessels,
muscle and tissue. And the man born blind said to the Jews:
"Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone
opened the eyes of one who was born blind" (John 9:32).
Here we are faced with an important theological question:
How can Christ be the Creator if creation is attributed to God
alone?
The Lord Jesus Christ was creating with the power of His
Divinity, being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that is,
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the Reason of God. Who then created all things? Was it the
Lord Jesus Christ or God the Father? God the Father created
the whole universe by the Son; by His Reason; by His
Knowledge; by His Word, that is, by the Second Person of the
Holy Trinity. Hence the Apostle says: "... through whom also
He made the worlds" (Heb. 1:2), that is, by His Reason, by His
Wisdom.
24
THE FOURTH PROOF
Christ Is God
With Respect to Him Sending the Holy Spirit
This proof consists of the following points:
(A)
God is Spirit
(B)
God is the One who pours out and sends His Spirit
(C)
The Lord Jesus Christ pours out, sends and breathes the
Spirit of God
(D)
Conclusion: Christ is God
(A)
God Is Spirit
This is clear from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in
spirit and truth" (John 4:24), and also from the Apostle's
words: "Now the Lord is the Spirit" (2 Cor.3:17).
(B)
God Is the One Who Pours out His Spirit
This is clear from the Lord's words in the Book of Joel: "I am
the Lord your God and there is no other... And it shall come to
pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your
sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall
dream dreams" (Joel 2:27-29).
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God Sends His Spirit to the World
The Psalm says: "You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
and You renew the face of the earth" (Ps. 104:30). The Lord
says in the Book of Ezekiel: "I will put My Spirit within you"
(Ez. 36:27).And in the Book of Numbers the Lord says: "Oh,
that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD
would put His Spirit upon them!" (Num. 1 1:29) St. Paul the
Apostle says: "God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit" (1
Thes.4:8).
(C)
The Lord Jesus Christ Pours out God's Spirit on
His Disciples
This is obvious from the Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 33.
This point does not need any proof to Jehovah's Witnesses.
They confess in their book "Let God Be True" that "the Spirit
of God was poured out on the disciples by the hand of Jesus on
the Day of Pentecost."
The Lord Jesus Christ Sends God's Spirit
This is clear from the Gospel according to St. John, where the
Lord said to His disciples: "But when the Helper comes, whom
I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who
proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26),
and: "For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you;
but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7).
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The Lord Jesus Christ Breathes God's Spirit
This is clear from the Gospel according to St. John, in which
we read: "And when He had said this, He breathed on them,
and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit' " (John 20:22).
(D)
Conclusion: Christ Is God
(a)
Who can pour out the Spirit of God, send the Spirit of
God and breath the Spirit of God on people, except God
Himself? And if the Lord Jesus Christ did these, is He not
God, then?
(b)
God says in the Book of Joel: "I will pour out My Spirit
on all flesh." St. Peter the Apostle uses this verse as a
testimony on the Day of Pentecost at the descent of the Holy
Spirit, saying: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says
God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh' " (Acts
2:16,17). Moreover he says in the same chapter that the Lord
Jesus, "being exalted to the right hand of God, and having
received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He
poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:33).
Then who is the Lord Jesus Christ who pours out the Spirit of
God on people, but God Himself?
(c)
We cannot imagine, nor can Jehovah's Witnesses, that
there is a power other than God who can send the Spirit of
God or pour out the Spirit of God.
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THE FIFTH PROOF
Christ Is God
With Respect to His Other Relations with the
Holy Spirit
In this proof, we will present two important points:
(A)
The Holy Spirit Takes of What Is Christ's
In the Lord's discourse with His disciples about the Holy Spirit,
He said: "He will glorify Me for He will take of what is Mine
and declare it to you" (John 16:14), and: "All things that the
Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of
Mine and declare it to you" (John 15:16).
How is it possible that the Spirit of God takes from another to
give to people? How can this possibly be said about the Spirit
of God who spoke through the prophets and taught them
everything and granted them different gifts? How can the
Spirit of God take from Christ unless Christ is God Himself?
What is the spiritual interpretation of the Holy Spirit
taking of what is Christ's?
Christ is the Incarnate Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The
Second Person is the Person of Reason, Knowledge,
Understanding and Rational Expression in the Holy Trinity.
Therefore, theologically speaking, the Holy Spirit can take
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from the Person of Knowledge. The Lord Jesus Christ
explained this when He said: "All things that the Father has
are Mine" (John 16: 15).
(B)
Christ Was Conceived of the Holy Spirit
In the story of the birth of Christ, we see that St. Matthew the
Evangelist says: "After His mother Mary was betrothed to
Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child
of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1: 18). This declaration is confirmed
when the angel said to Joseph, 'for that which is conceived in
her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:20). St. Luke the
Evangelist recorded the words of the angel to the Virgin Mary:
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the
Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One
who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Who then is Christ? And what is His Nature?
(1)
Christ is of the Spirit of God, as St. Matthew the
Apostle says, "...for that which is conceived in her is of the
Holy Spirit." That is why the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin
Mary and she was found with Child of the Holy Spirit. Since
Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, therefore His birth has two
consequences, in accordance with the Gospel of St. Luke the
Evangelist: First, that He is Holy and second, that He is the
Son of God. Both consequences indicate His Divinity.
(2)
God is Spirit (John 4:24) and Christ is of the Spirit of
God. Therefore He is of the very essence of God and has the
same Nature with Him. That is why He is called Holy which is
one of God's names, as the Virgin called Him in her magnificat:
"And holy is His name" (Luke 1:49).
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