Thursday, April 22, 2010

Christ Is Fully Man

Back in mid-February we were reading about the divinity of Christ, primarily in 1.13.7-1.13.13.  Today we are reading about the humanity of Christ and the fact that He truly clothed himself with our flesh.  Calvin directly rebuffs the notion of the Manichees that Christ had heavenly flesh and the Marcionites who believed that Christ was a mere appearance rather than flesh and blood.  I will highlight just a few of the Scripture passages that Calvin uses to prove Christ's humanity.  Genesis 22:18 and 26:4 contain part of the covenant made with Abraham promising that from his seed the nations of the earth will be blessed.  An eternal throne is promised to the Son of David in Psalm 132:11.  Turning to the New Testament, Matthew 1:1 calls Christ the Son of David and the Son of Abraham.  In Romans 1:3 Paul states that Christ was from the seed of David.  In Galatians 4:4 Paul declares that Christ was "born of a woman."  Calvin's list goes on, but this should give you a small sampling of how Scripture declares over and over that Christ was fully human, not just fully God.

Marcion misinterprets Philippians 2:7-8 which says that Christ was made in the likeness of man.  Calvin says that Marcion misses the point of this passage and then backs up to Philippians 2:5-8 for a more complete look.  The end of this passage states that Christ was obedient unto death on a cross.  If he were a mere image, then death would not have been possible.  1 Peter 3:18 makes it even clearer: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit..."  1 Corinthians 15:12-20 speaks to the fact that Christ rose from the grave and that we will do the same.  Calvin summarizes this passage by stating, "If Christ arose, we also shall arise from the dead; if we do not arise, neither did Christ arise."  It would be hard for the Manichees to defend their position if they also believed in this passage.  It shows that Christ's flesh is the same as ours, not a "heavenly flesh." 

Calvin discusses two titles used for Christ - "Son of man" and "first born."  The phrase "son of man" is a Hebrew expression which means "true man".  Calvin points out yet more Scripture proving that Christ is fully man.  Some have misinterpreted what "first born" means in relation to Christ.  This description of Christ is not a reference to his age, but to the degree of honor that he receives (Romans 8:29).

Calvin concludes this section with a discussion about Genesis 3:15 - "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." He says that the "seed" spoken of here refers to all of mankind.  "Since we must acquire victory through Christ, God declares in general terms that the woman's offspring is to prevail over the devil."  God did not want Eve to be overwhelmed with despair.  

Tomorrow's reading: 2.13.3-2.13.4

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