What is the theological concept of the hypostatic union?
How did Jesus Christ, God the Son, take on human flesh while still remaining fully God? The phrase "hypostatic union" is used to describe this miracle. As we see in John, chapter 1, Jesus Christ has always been God and at the same time He has always been with God. John 8:58 and 10:30 re-affirm this truth. However, when Jesus Christ came to earth, He became a human being (John 1:14). It is best to understand the incarnation as something that was an expression of who Jesus is and has always been, rather than something that changed Him. He has always been one Person, fully God and fully man. This is what is called the hypostatic union.
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Jesus has two natures—one human and one divine—that cannot be separated. For all of time, He will be the "God-man" both fully human and fully God, two distinct natures contained in one Being. The divine nature of Jesus is not diminished by His human nature, and His human nature does not lose identity because of His divine nature. He has one personality, but that personality contains two natures. Sometimes, Jesus operated within the limits of His human nature (John 4:6, 19:28), but other times He expressed the power of His divine nature (John 11:43; Matthew 14:18-21).
The hypostatic union is the attempt of finite human minds to grasp the infinite nature of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, though, we cannot fully understand how He can be both fully divine and fully human at the same time. It is beyond our comprehension. For example, Jesus is and has always been God's Son. He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). However, it is also true that Jesus had existence before that conception, as we can see in John 8:58 and 10:30. At the incarnation, Jesus became human, but did not cease to be God (John 1:1, 14).
There are important reasons for the hypostatic union. The Bible tells us that Jesus became human so that He would identify with human struggles and pains (Hebrews 2:17) and so that He would become a spiritual high priest for us (Hebrews 4:14-15, 9:11-12) a mediator between God and man, securing our redemption. He died on the cross to atone for the sins of those who believe (John 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11) and needed a human body so that He could die. The hypostatic union teaches that Jesus is both human and divine—perfectly. Neither nature is diminished by the other, and He is a whole and eternal Person.
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