Monophysitism – What is it?
Monophysitism comes from the Greek words mono (meaning only) and physis (meaning nature). In theology it refers to the belief that teaches Jesus only had a single nature in His human life, consisting of both His divine and human natures. This stands in contrast with the belief known as duophysitism that believes Jesus had two natures in His human body, both human and divine.
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Monophysitism was held by those who rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. At this council, the view of the hypostatic union was affirmed. This view accepted the teaching of Jesus being fully human and fully divine.
Monophysitism is sometimes also referred to as Eutychianism due to a man named Eutyches who taught that the divine nature of Jesus overtook or dissolved His human nature, resulting in Jesus having one nature. The view of Monophysitism was officially rejected at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680—681.
Biblically, the view of Jesus having a single nature should be rejected. Jesus revealed both a human and divine nature during His time on earth. John 6:38 teaches, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me."
Jesus also faced, and resisted, human temptation (Matthew 4:1-10). Hebrews 4:15 teaches, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."
In John 10:17-18 Jesus taught, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." Jesus revealed both a divine will that was the same as the Father as well as a human will that desired to avoid suffering and death.
Scripture is clear that Jesus had a human nature that involved growth and development (Luke 2:52) as well as a divine nature that was all knowing and perfect. Colossians 2:9 notes, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." This verse affirms the proper biblical understanding of Jesus as one with a perfect divine nature as well as a human nature. Monophysitism should therefore be rejected.
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