Was it Possible for Jesus to Sin?

The comments on the Entitlement post turned into a discussion on whether or not it was possible for Jesus to sin. I thought it would make a good topic to put out there and see what others thought about it. There are four key passages of scripture that I think help inform this discussion.

Hebrews 4:15:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin.”

Here is what F.F. Bruce says in his commentary on Hebrews regarding 4:15,

“Christians have in heaven a high priest with an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with them in all dangers and sorrows and trials which come their way in life, because he himself, by virtue of his likeness to them, was exposed to all these experiences. Yet he endured triumphantly every form of testing that mankind could endure, without any weakening of his faith in God or any relaxation of his obedience to him. Such endurance involves more, not less than ordinary human suffering: ‘sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin which only the sinless can know in its full intensity…The phrase ‘free from sin’ does not mean that our Lord experienced every kind of human temptation except temptation to sin; like the Israelites in the Moses’ day, he too had his day of trial in the wilderness, and any compromise with the tempter’s suggestions, any inclination to put God to the test, would have been as certainly sin as his refusal to countenance these suggestions or abate one iota of his confidence in his Father meant spiritual victory–victory for himself and also for his people.” (NICNT, 116)

Bruce connects Hebrews 4 & Matthew 4 and says not only was Jesus tempted to sin but that he had to feel the fullest intensity of temptation that can be felt because he, unlike us, held out in all temptations to victory. Where we fail part way through each temptation we succumb to, Christ continued on through each temptation to victory.

Buchanan, in his Anchor Bible Commentary on Hebrews takes the word for tempted in Hebrews 4:15 (peirazein) and says it has more to do with being put to the test. That is definitely a possibility in translating that word. He believes this verse has more to do with Jesus’ physical suffering on the cross than it has to do with temptation to sin. This might fit the historical context of Hebrews better because we know these guys were being tested for their faith and could face physical punishment and even death for being Christians. Maybe the Hebrew writer is comparing the testing of Christ and the punishments he endured (and subsequent victory over them) with the testing of these Christians in a pagan Roman society that was hostile to their faith. If that is what the Hebrew writer meant, it certainly wouldn’t imply that Jesus couldn’t be tempted to sin…it would just mean this may not be the verse to use to make that point. What do you guys think?

The reservation I have with this interpretation is that Hebrews 4:15 is talking about sin, “yet was without sin” so it is not that we are inserting the sin idea into this text. It is already there. The reason for all the sin talk is because the Hebrew writer is talking about Jesus being our faithful high priest and how his sinlessness gives him eternal access to the Father on our behalf.

Hebrews 2:17-18
Another verse to consider is Hebrews 2:17-18, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

These two verses also link Jesus being tempted/tested with sin and the forgiveness of sin. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and the necessity of Jesus’ full humanity in order to make atonement for those he had been made like. Can Jesus be fully human without having sin be a possibility? Also, if these writers are talking about “testing” rather than being tempted to sin as Buchanan believes and as was mentioned in the comments of the previous post, what are they being tested for? I would assume the testing is to see if they are going to be obedient to God. If that is the case isn’t sin the result of disobedience?

Matthew 4:1-11 & Deuteronomy 8:2-3
Matthew 4:1-11 is the temptation of Christ. After his baptism, Jesus is led into the wilderness where he fasts 40 days and is tempted by Satan. Does it make any sense for the devil to tempt Jesus except that Jesus has the option to choose to sin? What is more, the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 runs parallel to the wilderness wanderings of the Hebrews (Deut 8:2-3 specifically). Deut 8:2-3 says this, “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Notice all the parallels. These passages are connected by Jesus himself. These are the verses Jesus quotes when Satan tempts him to turn a stone into bread. Secondly, there are all kinds of echoes of the exodus wilderness experience. Both Jesus and the Hebrews went through the water to be sent into the desert for a time of testing (40 years & 40 days). Deuteronomy tells us the purpose of the testing was to see what was in their hearts and whether or not they would be obedient. If this really is a parallel scenario of Jesus being representative of Israel coming through the Red Sea into the wilderness only this time it is done perfectly, it would seem to me the purpose of the testing/temptation of Jesus would be the same as the purpose for the Hebrews in the wilderness and Moses tells us explicitly that it was all about seeing if they would obey God’s commandments or if they would sin. Here is the key question – why would God test Jesus’ obedience if Jesus could only choose the righteous option every time and had no ability to sin? That doesn’t make any sense. It turns the whole thing into a game and a mockery.

A third possibility:
Another possibility that some have taken is to differentiate between Jesus natural/human ability to sin based on his fleshly desires and his moral ability to sin. This is the he is able but not able take on this topic. Read more on this view here. His body is able but his will is not. I have a hard time with this one because I don’t see a logical path through having it both ways. If he isn’t able for any reason at all, then he isn’t able.

Have you guys thought much about this? How do you put it all together?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

34 Responses to Was it Possible for Jesus to Sin?

  1. If He couldn’t sin, He wouldn’t really beable to empathize with us.

    If He couldn’t sin, the desert temptation wasn’t really much of a test.

    The fact is that He could, but didn’t. That’s who He is, and the difference between Jesus and us: He was also God, but we are not. It wasn’t in His essential nature to sin; and He wants us to imitate and be transformed into that esssential nature.

  2. James Wood says:

    I believe that Jesus came to do far more than die on the cross for us. He came to show us what heaven-life looks like. The core of his message is: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven/God is near.” Essentially that heaven is breaking in to our fallen, broken world.

    So, Jesus came to show us how we can reclaim our pre-curse role as image-bearers of God and citizens of heaven/Eden. To do that, he had to be fully human. For if he had one ounce more ability than we have (one mustard seed) to live a heaven-citizen life, then we have no hope and his life was meaningless.

    So rather than saying that Jesus did/didn’t have the ability to sin, I think it’s more productive to say that we have exactly the same ability as Jesus to live without sin. That’s why he sent the Spirit in his stead, that’s why he came to teach us to obey everything he’s commanded, and that’s why we make disciples after his pattern.

    When we start excusing our own sin by saying that “nobody’s perfect” or “only Jesus could live without sin” we devalue both the incarnation and our own existence. It might even be considered slander against the work of the Holy Spirit (but that’s a different discussion).

    • mattdabbs says:

      That is good work there James. I like how you expanded out to the big picture of what Jesus was doing and then how that sheds light on this issue in particular. Good stuff.

    • Thanks for bringing this out. When I hear people say, “But, nobody is perfect,” I want to weep. Didn’t Jesus come to set us free from sin and make us perfect? So, why are we still imperfect specimens of humanity? Could it be that we are still trying to live by our own power instead of in His grace? This is not to claim perfection, but to confess that I still walk (at least some of the time) in the flesh instead of in Gods grace & Spirit.

      • Concerning the saying, “nobody is perfect”:

        1. Those who are minded to press towards the mark of Christ Jesus may be perfect (Philippians 3:15)
        2. The man of God may be perfect (2 Timothy 3:17)
        3. Paul tells us to be perfect (2 Corinthians 13:11)
        4. Jesus commands us to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect, that we may be called the children of God (Matthew 5:48)

        So it seems to be that perfection is not only attainable, but also expected and required. This leads somewhere very quickly, but it would be off this particular topic.🙂

  3. Concerning your blog excerpt:

    Here is the key question – why would God test Jesus’ obedience if Jesus could only choose the righteous option every time and had no ability to sin? That doesn’t make any sense. It turns the whole thing into a game and a mockery.

    Where are you reading that God was testing Jesus to see if he was obedient? That might be the answer to the whole “Why would….” question, if the question itself was an assumption.

    Additionally, if God had to test Jesus to see if he would be obedient, then wouldn’t that imply that Jesus wasn’t God?

    • Another angle to consider: considering that there were messianic prophesies thousands of years in advance dating back to Genesis 3:15, and specific prophecy that had time limitations even concerning when he could be born (there was only one shot at this) how likely is it that God would have staked his entire word and reputation on something that could have gone wrong, as a real possibility (not simply theoretical?)

      I don’t think it was any more possible for Jesus to sin than for God to lie. If God had elected a human prophet or sent an angel to be the messiah, that would have been a possibility (and the risk would have been real) but as the saying goes, if you need something done right, you do it yourself.

    • mattdabbs says:

      We are only perfect through the sacrifice of Christ. Our own efforts will never result in perfect holiness.

      • I’m not sure I understand how “our own efforts will never result in perfect holiness” was meant to apply here, but just in case there was a misunderstanding, please substitute “God” for “you” in the following adage:

        If you need something done right, you do it yourself.

        translates to…

        If God needs something done right, God does it himself.

        Which solves the problem of how God could be guaranteed that the Messiah would be the example of perfect holiness. This could not have been guaranteed if a free-willed human or angel had been endowed with the role.

    • mattdabbs says:

      I don’t think it would imply that Jesus wasn’t God. According to Matthew 4, it was Satan who tempted Christ, not God. So I stand corrected on that (James 1:13, 1 Cor 10:13 both shed light on this…God allows temptation but is not in the tempting business).

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  5. James says:

    “Here is the key question – why would God test Jesus’ obedience if Jesus could only choose the righteous option every time and had no ability to sin? That doesn’t make any sense. It turns the whole thing into a game and a mockery.”

    Exactly.

    • OK, if Satan was the one who is tempting (or testing) Christ, rather than “God testing Jesus to see if he would be obedient” then it looks like we are modifying the question to “Why would God allow Jesus to be tested if Jesus would only choose the righteous option every time and could not sin?”

      Answer: God allowed himself to be tested so as to prove to us that he really was God and not an impostor. This event was allowed for our benefit.

      By the way, I acknowledge that it is possible that Satan was not entirely sure whom he was speaking with (since it was “…a mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,” Romans 16:25). Peter also indicates that even the angels did not have total knowledge of everything that was planned (Peter 1:11-12). Didn’t Satan’s first two questions begin with “… if thou be the Son of God?” Only his last question omitted that challenge.

      But I think the best answer is what I said before: you only allow your diamond jewelry to be tested (to see if it is a real diamond) if you already know ahead of time that it has no possibility of failing the test. If your diamonds are really cheap glass, you wouldn’t allow it to be tested, would you?

      Now, I have a counter-question for James:

      Granting that:

      a) It is impossible for God to lie,
      b) God prophesied that he would send a savior to redeem mankind,
      c) That this savior had to be a perfect sacrifice without sin or blemish,

      Then… if this sacrifice truly and actually had a real possibility of sin, wouldn’t that make God a liar? And if this possibility was realized, wouldn’t that have proved God a liar, having made a promise and a prophecy that he was unable to keep?

      Tit 1:2 KJV
      (2) In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

      What would you call it if someone guaranteed something to be true that they were unable to guarantee, when there was a very real chance of failure? The event is either certain, or it is uncertain, but it cannot be both.

      Additionally, if Jesus could have lied yesterday (assuming that lying counts as sin), then what is to prevent him from lying to us today or tomorrow?

      Heb 13:8 KJV
      (8) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

      It seems to me that if we were just *lucky* that Jesus did not sin (that there was a very real possibility of sin) then our existence since the beginning of the world has been a mockery and a game. I believe I have answered Matt’s question, so would you try to answer mine?

      • mattdabbs says:

        It is about proving who he is. It is also about christ as victor over sin and death (the result of sin). Christ came to defeat both. The way to do this was become fully human (with capacity to sin) and still live in perfect obedience to God. Do a word search of the gospels for the word obedience. Why keep bringing that up about Christ in the gospels?

      • That doesn’t seem to help answer those questions. If James cannot get back to them, then I don’t mind that being open for anyone.

        In response to a prompt from Matt, though, the word obedience (in relation to Christ) does occur a few (three) times in the gospels (I will list these here):

        Rom 5:18-19 KJV
        (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
        (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

        2Co 10:5-6 KJV
        (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
        (6) And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

        Heb 5:8-9 KJV
        (8) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
        (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

        Romans uses “obedience” as a synonym for “perfection” or “sinlessness”, 2 Corinthians uses the same word in a similar manner but with different shading (see also verse 6), but Hebrews says that Jesus learned obedience (should this imply that Jesus had been disobedient before?)

        But again, none of this seems to address the questions I have been asking:

        1) If God cannot lie, then how could he prophecy a perfect Messiah if that Messiah had a real possibility of not being perfect (and these prophecies allowed no second chances). Wouldn’t that make God a liar, promising what he could not guarantee?

        2) If Jesus could have lied or sinned 2000 years ago, what would prevent him from lying or sinning today or tomorrow?

        By the way, I would like to add one more element into this discussion. Jesus did not have to come and die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. God forgave sins before Jesus, and John the Baptist preached and baptized for the forgiveness of sins (I remember that being discussed on a previous posting.) So, acknowledging this, why did Jesus come to earth, subject himself to trials and the things we experience, and be lifted up?

        If the perfect sacrifice is symbolic (of God’s offered forgiveness of mankind) rather than satisfying an actual literal requirement in some formula, then there must be another reason (or reasons). Likewise, I propose that his coming to earth was not about God testing whether Jesus would be obedient (for this was already determined) but about providing a demonstration for us.

      • mattdabbs says:

        What does this verse mean, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” – John 15:10. How exactly was Jesus obedient to God? Obedience is a decision. It is an act of the will to pick the right action, behavior, attitude, etc over competing options.

        The Greek word that is usually translated “to obey” is τηρεω and that word is found in the Gospels over a dozen times. You don’t catch all of that if you hop on Biblegateway or pull out a concordance because the word doesn’t always get the same English gloss. Some of those instances are Jesus telling his disciples they must obey his teaching (John 14:23) but other verses like John 15:10 are about Jesus’ obedience to God. According to BDAG τηρεω in John 15:10 has the meaning “to persist in obedience”. Jesus was obedient to God when he lived on this earth. He was obedient to God’s commands and God’s will. That isn’t just in the Gospels, it is all over the New Testament. More on that in a minute.

        First, let me address your questions. Thanks for your patience on that…

        “1) If God cannot lie, then how could he prophecy a perfect Messiah if that Messiah had a real possibility of not being perfect (and these prophecies allowed no second chances). Wouldn’t that make God a liar, promising what he could not guarantee?”

        – God is certainly not a liar. Jesus made good on the prophesies of being the spotless lamb who is slain for the sins of humanity. It is the very fact that Jesus picked God’s way every single time in every single instance that showed he was the Messiah. You cannot say that because he did that he had no choice in the matter. He did have a choice and Jesus desired God’s way in every instance. He didn’t waiver. He was tempted as we are yet was without sin (Heb 4:15).

        “2) If Jesus could have lied or sinned 2000 years ago, what would prevent him from lying or sinning today or tomorrow?”

        – We are talking about the Word made flesh here. Jesus in the flesh, dwelling with mankind (John 1:1, 14). Jesus was fully human. That is an essential point of soteriology…Jesus took on full humanity. He didn’t take on partial humanity. That is the biggest problem I have with your take no this is it seems to me that you are implying Jesus was not fully human. Even in his full humanity, with the whole range of temptations we face…Jesus didn’t sin, not even once. He succeeded where we failed. Now Jesus sits at God’s right hand as the lion/lamb (Rev 5:5-6) who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18). He has defeated death and sin exactly because he came fully in the flesh to have victory over those things (1 Cor 15:54-57). So no, Jesus cannot sin today. He has overcome sin in his body to bring new life to those who would follow after him.

        Last you wrote,,,
        “By the way, I would like to add one more element into this discussion. Jesus did not have to come and die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. God forgave sins before Jesus, and John the Baptist preached and baptized for the forgiveness of sins (I remember that being discussed on a previous posting.) So, acknowledging this, why did Jesus come to earth, subject himself to trials and the things we experience, and be lifted up?

        If the perfect sacrifice is symbolic (of God’s offered forgiveness of mankind) rather than satisfying an actual literal requirement in some formula, then there must be another reason (or reasons). Likewise, I propose that his coming to earth was not about God testing whether Jesus would be obedient (for this was already determined) but about providing a demonstration for us.”

        Let me address that. Again, John 15:10 says Jesus was obedient to God. Philippians 2:8 also stresses the obedience Christ had to God the Father…he was obedient to death on a cross. Jesus humbled and submitted himself to the Father’s will 100%.

        What do you think about Romans 5:18-21? That says this,

        “18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

        20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

        There again we see that salvation comes through Jesus’ obedience to the Father. That seems pretty clear to me. Does obedience imply a choice? Jesus choose the right thing 100% of the time and so you say he had to do that…because he really had no choice at all. To me, that takes something away from what Jesus experienced and what Jesus did. I don’t say that as a feeling I have…I say that based on what these passages are teaching us about Christ and his sacrifice. You cannot say he had no choice because his choices were made perfectly. It is the very fact that Jesus had a choice, in his flesh, and always chose the right thing that makes his life, death, and resurrection so meaningful and hopeful to us today.

        Last, your take sounds little like docetism to me. To be fully human is to experience temptation. To be made like us in every way really means he was made like us in every way. Every means every. His really was made of flesh and bone and had all the desires that come along with that. Yet he was sinless. Are you taking a semi-docetist stance? Jesus wasn’t really fully human? Once you say he had no choice or decision or temptation…you are saying he wasn’t really fully human.

      • I will attempt to answer while using less text (so I will break this into parts):

        What does this verse mean, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” – John 15:10. How exactly was Jesus obedient to God? Obedience is a decision.

        I think you’re overlooking something. Obedience is not a decision when it is reflex. My arm is obedient to me, and it obeys my will. My arm does not get to make a decision about whether to obey or disobey. My arm is an extension of myself, my arm is a part of me, my arm is me.

        In fact, is not Jesus actually called the arm of the Lord?

        Joh 12:37-38 KJV
        (37) But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
        (38) That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

        So I think my analogy is demonstrated as appropriate. If Jesus was a different person than the one we recognize as Lord and God, then he would be able to make a decision to rebel or disobey God. But being Lord and God, he is not going to disobey himself.

        The idea of Jesus disobeying God is like the concept of my arm disobeying me, swinging about to hit me in the head or slap me in the face…. or requiring my left arm to stop it from stabbing me with a knife.

        Is it not also written, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways?” (James 1:8)

        … further response to your other questions forthcoming shortly

      • I’m looking at the way you responded to the questions I had asked:

        Concerning if God promised something that he couldn’t guarantee,

        God is certainly not a liar. Jesus made good on the prophesies of being the spotless lamb who is slain for the sins of humanity. It is the very fact that Jesus picked God’s way every single time in every single instance that showed he was the Messiah.

        If Jesus simply “picked God’s way every single time…” then that is the equivalent of saying that God did promise something he couldn’t guarantee, and just got lucky that it went his way. That wouldn’t seem very reassuring, and still leaves my original question unresolved.

        Concerning, if Jesus could have sinned 2000 years ago, what is to keep him from sinning today or tomorrow,

        Now Jesus sits at God’s right hand as the lion/lamb (Rev 5:5-6) who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18). He has defeated death and sin exactly because he came fully in the flesh to have victory over those things (1 Cor 15:54-57). So no, Jesus cannot sin today.

        I don’t understand how this answers the question. Just because Jesus came to defeat sin and death doesn’t mean that he could have been defeated by them. For example, Jesus said that he had already been given life in himself back in John 5:26, even though from what you were suggesting he would still have had more opportunities to sin. So, if Jesus could have sinned 2000 years ago, and he is the same yesterday, today, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8) then logically he could sin today or tomorrow as well. All you would need would be enough trials with the right circumstances, and failure would be inevitable?

        Maybe I can ask a different question:

        Do you think that God in heaven could have sinned during 3000 or 4000 years ago?

        After all, God does have free will, right? If you say God cannot sin, then why would Jesus be an exception? But if you say God can sin, then perhaps that is what you meant by saying that Jesus could have sinned?

        You have one more part for which I would like to use a separate post…

      • [refreshing the theme] “… I propose that his coming to earth was not about God testing whether Jesus would be obedient (for this was already determined) but about providing a demonstration for us.”

        You introduced your reply…

        Let me address that. Again, John 15:10 says Jesus was obedient to God.

        There is no disagreement between us that Jesus was obedient to God. I think what we are exploring are two different perspectives:

        1) That there was a real possibility that Jesus would have chosen to be disobedient to God, which to me seems to imply that Jesus was someone other than God…

        2) That there was no possibility that Jesus could have been disobedient to God, because why or even how would he be disobedient to himself?

        What do you think about Romans 5:18-21?

        I had already quoted part of the same Romans passage, but without specific comment. I think that the passage does nothing to address the question of whether that obedience was ever something that could have failed. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (verse 19).

        Just because the word “obedience” is in a passage doesn’t mean it addresses the question. We both agree that Christ was obedient to God. What we are exploring is the nature (or the reason) for that obedience… whether it had to be a conscious decision that could have gone the other way, or whether it was already decided and without shadow of turning.

        I think I see a spot here to address an assumption:

        There again we see that salvation comes through Jesus’ obedience to the Father. That seems pretty clear to me. Does obedience imply a choice?

        No, obedience does not imply a choice. Earlier, I used an example of how my right arm is always obedient to me… and my right arm does not have a choice in the matter. However, my right arm is also an extension of me, it is me.

        Furthermore, I have another example to demonstrate how obedience does not require choice, and this example is within arm’s reach. You’re looking at it. Your computer follows its programmer’s commands with perfect obedience, and it always obeys its programming. Your computer does not have a choice in the matter. The programming is simply an extension of the programmer’s will (the computer is not a separate entity from the programmer.)

        I prefer the right arm analogy because Jesus is actually called the “arm of the Lord” in scripture, just like Jesus is described as seated at the right hand of God.

        To me, that takes something away from what Jesus experienced and what Jesus did.

        Why? If God came down to earth and walked in our shoes, even allowing himself to have the same experiences we have from day one, he did this so that we would know that he can sympathize with us. If God be true, than it should be no surprise that God is constant and true to his own character, but it is certainly reassuring.

        It is the very fact that Jesus had a choice, in his flesh, and always chose the right thing that makes his life, death, and resurrection so meaningful and hopeful to us today.

        I think the encouraging part is that God didn’t simply tell us what to do, he came down and showed us how to do it, he demonstrated how we might be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

        But I am scratching my head about this “docetism” think you are talking about (we’ll be there in a moment):

        Last, your take sounds little like docetism to me. To be fully human is to experience temptation.

        Your definition of “fully human” might be flawed or inapplicable. I am not aware of any scripture that says Jesus was “fully human” but I do see where it tells us that God was manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16) and how the Word was made flesh and walked among us (John 1:14). Also, we have already recognized that just because one is “tempted” does not mean that one can has a chance to be lured by said “temptation.”

        I should also point out that some humans never experience temptation in their entire lives (and these might be short lives, but would you say they were not fully human?) So how can this be a definition for human?

        To be made like us in every way really means he was made like us in every way. Every means every. His really was made of flesh and bone and had all the desires that come along with that. Yet he was sinless. Are you taking a semi-docetist stance?

        I do not know what docetism or semi-docetism is, but I can demonstrate that Jesus could not have been “like us in every way” with a couple examples:

        1) Jesus could perform miracles without need of request or prayer. The winds and the sea obeyed him (Luke 8:24). If Jesus were like us in every way, he would not be able to command the elements.

        2) Jesus had memories of things that occurred before he was born. As he said to his disciples, “I beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). If Jesus were like us in every way, he would not have existed before he existed, nor been able to draw on these previous experiences.

        Presumably, you and I are born with an empty slate, to be effected by events, training, and the exercise of our free will. Jesus had memories of events from before he was born, and it was his will that he be born into our world to begin with, so his character was already decided. Per Luke 1:35, he was born of the Holy Ghost.

        Thus, he cannot have been like us in every way. We start at zero and are influenced from there, and shape ourselves. Jesus already existed before the world was (John 17:5, “… with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”)

        Jesus wasn’t really fully human? Once you say he had no choice or decision or temptation…you are saying he wasn’t really fully human.

        That depends on how you define fully human, doesn’t it? But since “fully human” or “100% God and 100% man” aren’t terms found in scripture, I think it might be better to use the terms we are given, such as “the Word was made flesh” and “God was manifest in the flesh.” That would serve as a guard against foreign thoughts slipping themselves in.

        If you are willing to say that God has the choice of whether to sin or to hold himself accountable his own word, then I would be able to agree that Jesus likewise had the choice of whether to sin or be obedient in that very same sense.

        Would you say that God can be tempted? Do people tempt God? Yes, they do. Does that mean that they can make God do something evil, to violate his word or his character? After all, God does have free will, right? Then what does it mean when it says that God cannot be tempted?

        Jas 1:13 KJV
        (13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

        It can only mean that God cannot be successfully tempted with evil, not that it is impossible for someone to attempt to tempt God to evil. This was also the case with Christ: he was tempted with evil and suffered (allowed) temptations, but because of his innate (predetermined) character (which was his from the beginning of the world) he could no more succumb to temptation than Superman could be harmed by a bullet.

        Jesus may have been a man in form and he was also a man through shared common experience but his character (his spirit) was not started (created) from nothingness as we are. He existed before the world was, but our Creator stepped into his creation and shared our experience for an entire human lifetime.

        Considering that God is ageless, without beginning or end of days, why would a mere span of thirty-three years while experiencing a human perspective (although I assume God already knew the human perspective, but wanted to show us that he understood) threaten to change his character from perfect to sinful?

        I’ve another question for you. Has your mattdabbs account ever chosen to be disobedient to your will, and gone and written things in your name that you didn’t agree with? Or is it a given that mattdabbs will continue in perfect obedience, and properly represents your will on the internet?

        If someone disbelieved that mattdabbs was really you, they would test it, and prod it with questions, and look for an opportunity to catch it in a trap. They might tempt it by giving it an opportunity to sin (transgress) against Matt Dabbs. Seriously, how likely would these temptations be to succeed? Shall we say…. zero?

      • mattdabbs says:

        Here is the part of what you are saying that is most disturbing to me…”I am not aware of any scripture that says Jesus was “fully human”…and “but I can demonstrate that Jesus could not have been “like us in every way” with a couple examples:”

        Jesus was made exactly like us in his humanity (Heb 2:14-18) and yet he is certainly different than us in that none of us are divine in our nature. That is why Jesus was able to do things by the authority of God that others couldn’t do (Matt 28:19 – all authority has been given to Jesus). So even men can cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead…all of that is given as examples in the New Testament in both the Gospels and in Acts. What makes Jesus different than us is that none of us are 100% obedient in our flesh like he was. That is what qualifies him to be our forerunner, example, pioneer, and perfector who has defeated sin and death for us.

        Scripture is clear, Jesus faced temptation (Matt 4:1-11, Matt 16:22-23, 26:36-39, Heb 4:15). You can call it testing or whatever you like but we know Jesus had the very real process that we all face of making a decision to be obedient or not. He had that choice because he was human. Some people argue that Jesus faced even stronger temptations than any of us face for two reasons:
        1 – Satan knew who he was and would do everything in his power to derail his mission and disqualify him
        2 – Jesus held out longer than all the rest of us when it came to being tempted because he never succumbed to it. When we sin, we give in early…by doing so, we don’t feel the full pull of temptation because we don’t go through it all the way until it is passed. Jesus did so…that means he may well understand the full power of temptation more than any of us.

        Last, you wrote “Jesus may have been a man in form and he was also a man through shared common experience but his character (his spirit) was not started (created) from nothingness as we are. He existed before the world was, but our Creator stepped into his creation and shared our experience for an entire human lifetime.”

        That is true, Jesus is eternal in having no beginning or end. We are created beings and he is not. Now it appears you agree with me…you are saying he shared in our experience for an entire life time. Aren’t we saying the same thing there?

        Let me conclude by saying this. Jesus full humanity is an essential part of Christian soteriology. In other words, if Jesus is less human than us his sacrifice is insufficient (Heb 4:15ff). Hebrews 5 says it even more clearly…Jesus learned obedience to God through his suffering. God never changes…and yet Jesus learned something. He learned to be obedience through his experience as a man. You could theorize he already knew obedience…he and God are one and the same. Why does the Hebrew writer tell us that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering? Get my point?

      • I think I see how this is leading. In order to put forth the idea that Jesus was able to sin, your logic seems to follow this path:

        1) You say that Jesus was made like us in humanity.
        2) Then you say that humanity means being able to sin.

        However, that’s not a correct definition (or attribute) of humanity, and it’s not how scripture defines it either. It does say “flesh and blood” and “not after the nature of angels” and I will again remind ourselves that being able to suffer (or to endure temptation) is not a defining attribute of of humanity.

        The angels (also called spirits) did not need to take human form in order to sin (2 Peter 2:4, “angels that sinned”, Hebrews 1:7, “Who maketh his angels spirits”.) Let’s make sure we are not falling into the idea of “flesh is bad and sinful, spirit is good and beyond sin.”

        There’s a question that I have asked a couple times that keeps getting passed over. Since you have been saying that it was possible for Jesus to sin, do you likewise allow God in heaven (6000 years ago or today, no difference) the same possibility (ability) for sin? How would you answer this question?

        I do not agree that Jesus had a “very real decision” of whether to be obedient or not, any more than you have a very real decision of whether to punch yourself in the face. It’s theoretically possible (you might do it just to be contrary to me) but certainly not a real decision that you face.

        I have also asked another question which has always been set aside. How does one be disobedient to oneself? I will answer this (my own) question. One is disobedient to oneself when one transgresses their own law. God has a law of love and honesty, and every other law hangs upon these. If God had been disobedient to himself, he would have had to change his very character.

        Now, please consider this. If Jesus had taken on a character that was different than God, he could not have been God. The only way Jesus could have been God was if he truly was the very same person, of the very same character and being.

        How would you or I be disobedient to ourselves? I could be in charge of a household, and set laws that everyone must follow… and then ignore my own laws. Of a more trivial nature, if I were to set an alarm clock (a law for myself to wake up) and then ignore that alarm, I would also be disobedient to myself (breaking my own law.)

        If Jesus were to be disobedient to himself, changing his mind about fulfilling the prophesies that he had already written through the holy prophets, he would have made himself a liar. It seems to me that if this was a “very real decision” then God is no where near as stable as we are told elsewhere in scripture, trusting his word and reputation to something that was essentially a random variable.

        Jas 1:17 KJV
        (17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

        I don’t understand why anything I have said here should be disturbing.

        That is true, Jesus is eternal in having no beginning or end. We are created beings and he is not. Now it appears you agree with me…you are saying he shared in our experience for an entire life time. Aren’t we saying the same thing there?

        If we are saying the same thing, then we must be applying it differently. I’m still unconvinced that Jesus was any more capable of sinning than God is of lying, because I allow Jesus to be the essential spirit and character of God in the flesh, not simply a new creation that learned to be God-like and later adopted as God.

        Let me conclude by saying this. Jesus full humanity is an essential part of Christian soteriology. In other words, if Jesus is less human than us his sacrifice is insufficient (Heb 4:15ff).

        But Hebrews 4:15 does not say that if Jesus was “any less than like us in every way his sacrifice would be insufficient?” It says that he is not beyond passion, that he understands our afflictions, but that he is a sufficient high priest (not mentioning a role of sacrifice) because he was without sin. He endured afflictions (to relate to us) and he is without sin (thus relating to God.) That is why he is called a mediator.

        Jesus learned obedience to God through his suffering. God never changes…and yet Jesus learned something. He learned to be obedience through his experience as a man. You could theorize he already knew obedience…he and God are one and the same. Why does the Hebrew writer tell us that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering? Get my point?

        I’m not sure I get your point. “Learned” relates to “experienced” just like someone can “learn pain” at the hands of an adversary. My example would not be misunderstood in normal speech. Jesus “learned obedience” by stepping through his creation under the same rules and limitations that we all experience.

        An analogy would be like a general who creates an obstacle course for his solders… and who later enters the obstacle course himself without pulling rank or privilege, while obeying the rules (and referees) that he appointed. Does this general face a real temptation of cheating with each obstacle? No, because his mind was set before he entered the course. Anyone who would waffle at each obstacle, facing a “very real decision” to quit or cheat would be a rather unstable general.

        So, the essence of it lies with this: was God so unstable from the foundations of the world when he laid out this plan of salvation, that he would change his mind in mid course?

        So I’d like to know how you answer that question, and the former one besides, “Do you allow God the ability so sin?”

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,

        I hope no one hears me saying that flesh in and of itself is sin. I don’t believe in original sin/the whole sinful from birth thing.

        By the way, I did answer your question on the Aug 27th comment at 2:27pm…here is what I wrote back there,

        ““2) If Jesus could have lied or sinned 2000 years ago, what would prevent him from lying or sinning today or tomorrow?”

        – We are talking about the Word made flesh here. Jesus in the flesh, dwelling with mankind (John 1:1, 14). Jesus was fully human. That is an essential point of soteriology…Jesus took on full humanity. He didn’t take on partial humanity. That is the biggest problem I have with your take no this is it seems to me that you are implying Jesus was not fully human. Even in his full humanity, with the whole range of temptations we face…Jesus didn’t sin, not even once. He succeeded where we failed. Now Jesus sits at God’s right hand as the lion/lamb (Rev 5:5-6) who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18). He has defeated death and sin exactly because he came fully in the flesh to have victory over those things (1 Cor 15:54-57). So no, Jesus cannot sin today. He has overcome sin in his body to bring new life to those who would follow after him.”

        You brought up a second question that you wanted me to address, “How does one be disobedient to oneself?…Now, please consider this. If Jesus had taken on a character that was different than God, he could not have been God. The only way Jesus could have been God was if he truly was the very same person, of the very same character and being.”

        – I never said Jesus was disobedient. I did say Jesus had a choice and he did always chose the right thing. So no matter how you slice it we agree that he always chose the right thing and was without sin. Jesus said he and the Father are one and the same. What made them different was their form…Jesus in the flesh and the Father as spirit alone. Another area of common ground in this discussion is that we would both say Jesus was tempted when he was alive in the flesh. Whether or not there was a chance that temptation could even remotely possibly be tempting is where we seem to differ.

        Hope that helps.

        Can you help me understand how “learned” = experienced? Please show me that from the Greek if possible and I will get back with you on that.

      • Can you help me understand how “learned” = experienced? Please show me that from the Greek if possible and I will get back with you on that.

        The English word “learn” can have a couple shades of meaning. First, it can mean in the simple intellectual sense (sometimes called “book learning”) or it can mean in a more innate sense that is usually coupled with understanding by experience.

        Since you are specifically asking about the word “learn” within Hebrews 5:8, you may have also noted that its Greek root is found in other scriptures, including:

        Matthew 9:13 “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

        Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

        Those first two examples demonstrate the meaning of understanding by experience. Jesus said to “go ye and learn” and “take my yoke … and learn of me.” This is not speaking of an armchair intellectual exercise, but of that which is experienced.

        Matthew 24:32 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:”

        Our third examples demonstrates that the same Greek word also carries the meaning of an intellectual understanding. So, as we have seen, the Greek word is not carrying some foreign concept that has only found a poor fit in modern English.

        Here’s an example that I can mean nothing but “experience”

        1Ti 5:13 KJV
        (13) And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

        Is this talking about an intellectual understanding of how to be idle? Is anyone truly ignorant of how to be idle? Yet Paul is warning of the possibility of the young widows learning idleness.

        Since you were asking for an explanation in Greek,

        1Ti 5:13 GNT-TR
        (13) αμα δε και αργαι μανθανουσιν περιερχομεναι τας οικιας ου μονον δε αργαι αλλα και φλυαροι και περιεργοι λαλουσαι τα μη δεοντα

        Heb 5:8 GNT-TR
        (8) καιπερ ων υιος εμαθεν αφ ων επαθεν την υπακοην

        Rather than typing this out, I’ll simply quote Strong’s concordance from E-sword.

        manthanō
        man-than’-o

        Prolonged from a primary verb, another form of which, μαθέω matheō, is used as an alternate in certain tenses; to learn (in any way): – learn, understand.

        So, since we have established that the Greek word has the same flexibility as the English, including both theoretical learning (“now learn a parable of the fig tree”) all the way to practical experience (“and withal they learn to be idle”) we must consider both possibilities:

        1) That Jesus had to intellectually learn obedience to find out what it was? Perhaps he had did not really know what it meant, or he had to learn what real obedience really was?

        2) That Jesus already knew what obedience was, and that he experienced that obedience in the flesh, not because of prior ignorance, but so that he might set an example?

        I think our question is already answered, for option one (1) presents us with a paradox. How can the creator of the universe that knows all things and requires our obedience not know what it is that he requires?

        Option two (2) is our only viable solution, it is justified by prior Greek usage within our New Testament, and it continues to make sense in our English speech. I Googled my example of “He learned pain…” just to make sure that the phrase continued in common use. Hits 1 and 6 serve as examples, i.e. “He learned pain and hardship all over again.”

        So, our only application that remains consistent with what the rest of scripture tells us about the nature of God (knowing all things) requires that the word carries the same meaning as in 1 Timothy 5:13, “experience.” Learn can mean experience, and this is implied meaning in these examples.

        1Ti 5:13 KJV
        (13) And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

        Heb 5:8 KJV
        (8) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

        Our context shows us that the intended application is by experience, for he learned obedience … how? By the things which he suffered. Just as the young widows might become idle and experience idleness, Jesus became obedient and experienced obedience.

        If we allow the language it’s normal flexibility, it shouldn’t produce paradox or contradiction.

      • James says:

        “Granting that:

        a) It is impossible for God to lie,
        b) God prophesied that he would send a savior to redeem mankind,
        c) That this savior had to be a perfect sacrifice without sin or blemish,

        Then… if this sacrifice truly and actually had a real possibility of sin, wouldn’t that make God a liar?”
        No, the possibility of failing would not make him a liar. God, in his foreknowledge, knew that Jesus, despite the possibility of sinning, would not sin. God would only have been a liar if Jesus had failed. He didn’t.

        “And if this possibility was realized, wouldn’t that have proved God a liar, having made a promise and a prophecy that he was unable to keep?”
        I think you are confusing “possibility” with “inevitability.” It does not follow that if Jesus could sin, he absolutely would have.

      • Thanks for the response…. and it seems that you are agreeing with an earlier statement I made: Jesus could not sin, because it was already determined of what would happen?

        No, the possibility of failing would not make him a liar. God, in his foreknowledge, knew that Jesus, despite the possibility of sinning, would not sin.

        I allow for God to have perfect determination of what God will do in the future – that’s just another form of keeping his word, and doesn’t require any mystical “crystal ball” speclation. However, if there was a real possibility of that determination being wrong, that would produce the “liar” problem.

        Let’s put this into an analogy. If I promise to deliver the price of a ransom to redeem someone, and I take the ransom money and gamble all of it on a flip of a coin along the way, whether I win the money back or not is irrelevant in terms of character. Our analogy requires that we assume a fair coin, so that there is a “real” possibility of failure.

        What would you do with someone who took your life savings and gambled it on a coin toss? Would you be happy with an answer of “but it came up heads anyway, what’s the big deal?”

        So I’m not confusing possibility with inevitability. I am comparing guarantee with unstable risk.

      • James says:

        Andrew, No, I’m not agreeing that it was “determined” but saying that it was “foreknown.” A very key difference.

      • You are suggesting that God’s cannot determine his own actions in advance, but that he must foreknow them … through a crystal ball?

        If that’s the key difference, and one that you insist upon, I will say that seems very strange to me. We are told that God’s character is such that he is constant, and trustworthy, and that he will do what he says he will do, but I cannot think of any scripture that says (or would even require) that God have a “perfect foreknowledge” of future events in the crystal ball sense. Such would create its own dilemma, and stands at odds with God allowing any of his creation to possess free will.

        Why are you saying that God cannot determine his own actions but rather foresees them?

  6. Diverting this separate portion to a fresh thread,

    I hope no one hears me saying that flesh in and of itself is sin. I don’t believe in original sin/the whole sinful from birth thing.

    I thought that perhaps it might start to lean that way so I was just heading that off preemptively. So… we are not reasoning that Jesus had to be capable of sin because of being made flesh? We agree that sin can exist regardless of whether the creature is flesh or spirit?

    But…. that’s an entirely different question than whether we are “sinful from birth.” I have thought about this, and I think I can explain (even succinctly) why we are all sinful from birth (from our conception.) It’s not a mystical thing, but something I can demonstrate from well-recognized New Testament passages.

    And otherwise, how could it be said that “all have sinned” (Romans 5:12) and “come short of the glory of God?” If infants were perfect, then why would God submit us into a world that would inevitably cause us to fall from grace? I think Romans is correct, and can be understood by looking at the definition of sin and the law.

    By the way, I did answer your question on the Aug 27th comment at 2:27pm…here is what I wrote back there,

    ““2) If Jesus could have lied or sinned 2000 years ago, what would prevent him from lying or sinning today or tomorrow?”

    I read your reply but I didn’t see an answer in there. If Jesus could have sinned 2000 years ago, and granting that sin is something that transcends flesh and blood (angels have sinned), then why exactly would he be immune from sin today? If you are suggesting that his resurrection made him unable to sin… then you have also just said that Jesus could have sinned (and was thus fallible) anywhere between creation and Mary’s conception.

    And that seems to open a very big can of worms, making the crucifixion a means of making an imperfect God perfect (so that God would no longer be capable of sin.) So, perhaps I misunderstood your answer. Would you approach that question again for me?

    • mattdabbs says:

      I didn’t have any lexicons with me last night and was typing my response while someone was talking with me so I had a hard time keeping my focus in my last comment. I looked this up in the most respected Greek-English lexicon around (BDAG) and here is their take.μανθανω can mean to learn by instruction and/or to learn by experience. Both cases are still learning. Even in experience they say there is a coming to a realization of something in the process (learn). So either way something is learned whether by instruction/teaching or by experience.

      Now, they flip flop your take in the examples you have used to some degree. They put Matt 9:13, 11:29 & 24:32 in the category of learning by instruction, not experience. That makes sense…they learn about the fig tree because in that verse Jesus goes on to teach them the specifics of the point he is making. They don’t sit and experience the fig tree with no instruction from the Lord.

      Now, Hebrews 5:8 they put under the definition of, “coming to a realization, with implication of taking place less through instruction than through experience or practice.” So you are right when you say that sort of learning has something to do with experience but where you seem to fall short is you still wouldn’t say it had anything to do with learning anything through the experience. The word still carries the weight of something learned. That fits with the very next verse because the next verse says “having been made perfect”…Jesus was already perfect. He didn’t need to be made perfect, like he had sin that needed forgiven or something. Just like Jesus was divine, God in the flesh, and didn’t need to “learn” anything. And yet he learned obedience through suffering and had been made perfect in order to be our high priest. Some of that we may never figure out completely.

      I want to conclude by saying this…I really appreciate your perspective on this. I am not out to prove myself right by ignoring any and every truth you explain that contradicts my predetermined conclusions. I am really listening here and trying to learn as much as I can in this. Having said that here is where I am landing so far….
      1 – Jesus and God are one and the same
      2 – Jesus did put on flesh and walked and talked and ministered. He suffered and was obedient to God 100% of the time, qualifying him to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins and the firstfruits from the grave.
      3 – While in the flesh he was tempted by Satan but didn’t succumb…He always chose the righteous answer in every way. We all have to agree that he was tempted because the Bible says Satan tempted him (Matt 4:1ff) but the questions that follow are two: 1) were any of those temptations actually tempting to him? and 2) did Jesus have any choice in the matter.
      4 – Were the temptations tempting? One could say Jesus was so inline with God’s will that anything the devil said was empty to him and so the temptations never actually tempted him. I can get that. That is a possibility. I know there are times for me when I get a glimmer of that…where I am in tune with God and when temptation arises it seems so foreign to what I know God wants that it doesn’t even seem like an option.
      5 – But it is still my choice, even if the choice is “easy”. I am still inclined to say Jesus had free will just like the rest of us and always chose the right thing…even if you want to say the choice was clear and easy it was still his choice. He was not a robot. Jesus succeeded where we failed and his success came through facing temptation to sin with 100% success.
      6 – I want to say it wasn’t easy for Christ. He did the hard thing. The garden was certainly not easy…a cakewalk for him. Something is going on there that seems like his desires are battling some temptations there.

      Any of that making sense?

      • If that lexicon could speak, there are a couple questions I would ask of it:

        1) The first two examples (Matthew 9:13 “go ye and learn what this meaneth”, Matthew 11:29, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me”) do not seem to fall into the type of “learning by instruction.” In fact, it seems to me that would be missing the point, and proof that the subject never learned the lesson at all. Does it seem plausible that this learning is the type that could be simply “instructed” without being put into application (experienced?)

        2) The example in 1 Timothy 5:13 certainly seems to be an example of how the concept of “learned” (independent of English or Greek) can mean “experienced” regardless of whether any “learning” (a new thing) technically took place. Why does the lexicon ignore this application of the word as demonstrated in the passage from Timothy (which also seems to be the best fit in Hebrews 5:8?)

        Lexicons, even though they do not bear claims of inspiration, may inadvertently (or maybe even purposely) offer their own subtle commentaries on scripture. In this case, regardless of whether this lexicon is respected (or by whom) it doesn’t seem to address those material points, and because it is a static resource, it cannot answer questions or adjust its position.

        I would be more interested in your thoughts on those two points? I don’t think you need a lexicon here…. just look at the passages themselves in their own context.

        And while considering the meaning of words, I think here’s something that can also be cleared up by considering word meaning. I think you may be reading a different sense into the word perfect.

        That fits with the very next verse because the next verse says “having been made perfect”…Jesus was already perfect. He didn’t need to be made perfect, like he had sin that needed forgiven or something.

        How is perfect used here? (Yes, that’s the same Greek word…)

        Luk 13:32 KJV
        (32) And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

        Heb 5:9 KJV
        (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

        Heb 11:39-40 KJV
        (39) And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
        (40) God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

        Jesus did not have to be made perfect in character, but he was perfected when he was raised from the dead, taking on the immortality that was his. His mortal frame could suffer and perish, but when he was raised he was beyond the reach of death and corruption.

        Therefore, this is what it must mean by being made perfect. The application of the term in this sense is already established in scripture, and any other application in Hebrews 5:9 produces paradox and contradiction. Jesus, being God and born of the Holy Spirit, already had perfect character and is the example of perfect love.

        Considering Hebrews 5:9 again, if Jesus was not raised, could he become the author of eternal salvation?

        1Co 15:17-20 KJV
        (17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
        (18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
        (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
        (20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

        But Christ, being raised from the dead, being made perfect, became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him (Hebrews 5:9).

        I appreciate your enumerated conclusions:

        Agreeing without comment,
        1) Jesus and God are one and the same
        2) Jesus experienced our suffering but showed obedience to God

        Commenting on the raised question,

        3.1) Was Jesus at all tempted by those temptations? Let me answer with a question. Assume that you like chocolate cake, but you observe someone lacing your piece of cake with poison (or slipping something nasty or disgusting beneath the icing.) Is that piece of cake tempting to you? I am suggesting that this question is answered by considering what level of perspective Christ shared. Did he have God’s perspective?

        3.2) Did Jesus have any choice in the matter? I suggest he had the same choice as God always had from the beginning of the world. If you think that God was making a real choice on whether to pull the plug on this plan and scrap the prophecy in heaven, then Jesus had this same level of decision before him on the earth.

        4) Were the temptations tempting? I like your words here:

        … and when temptation arises it seems so foreign to what I know God wants that it doesn’t even seem like an option.

        See our agreed upon point 1? If Jesus and God are one and the same, then how could the desires of Jesus (being God) be any different than what God wants? Being God, it would be impossible for his desires to be any different than what God wants.

        This isn’t about whether Jesus was a robot, but simply identifying paradox. If Jesus changes his mind, God changes his mind… so the question is left to whether God had any variableness or shadow of turning, or whether he is the same, yesterday, to day, and for ever.

        Agreeing again, but with brief comment,
        5) Jesus was not a robot, and possessed free will, and always possessed free will. But … this does not mean that God had two contradictory wills, or could “sin against himself” in any practical manner. He could theoretically violate his own character (of love, truth)… but how else?

        6) The crucifixion was not a pleasant thing, but neither is the grieving and vexation that God experiences every day (Psalms 7:11). That one point in time was not the only time when God has been tested, tempted, and tried, but he has always remained constant. Yes, Christ was blasphemed on that day, but isn’t he blasphemed today as well? Has the temptation gone away, or rather increased and made more serious?

        In answer to your last question, yes, your points are making sense. Would you be able to consider the application of “learn” and “perfect” with context, without worrying about how the lexicon says we should interpret those passages? Rather, what does the biblical context imply, or even require? May we let scripture interpret scripture?

      • mattdabbs says:

        They put the 1 Tim verse under learning by experience I just neglected to mention that. You nailed that one.

  7. John says:

    Just a thought regarding the fear of saying “I’m not perfect”. The truth is, we have all said it; and we have thought it moreso. That is because we are not. It is just that for some strange reason that has become part of the mindset of those who grow up in a tightly, closed in religious atmosphere, even if we think we have become more progressive, it frightens us when we here another say it. We see the ruination of society by the actions of others, not our own, even if they be the same actions.

    The wonder and mystery of grace is that it enables a person to give it more than reserve it for self. The imperfections of others no longer terrify us; being meek and lowly in heart toward another no longer makes us feel weak.

  8. John says:

    I had typed this comment earlier, but it did not post. So if it shows up twice I apologize.

    In regard to those who have a problem with the statement, “I’m not perfect”. We all have said it, we still say it, and we think it even more than we say it.

    The truth is that because of the tight, rigid religious upbringing that most of us had we fear others saying “I’m not perfect” more than we fear ourselves. It is always the “others” who use that excuse whose sins are destroying the church, society and the world, because we see our own shortcomings as weaknesses saved by grace, whereas, others sin deliberately and without regard to what is right and wrong.

    But the mystery and the beauty of GRACE in a person’s life is that it gives more than it reserves for self. When it observes the imperfections in another it understands that it is looking in a mirror, yet, understands that to be “meek and lowly in heart” toward others is not a weakness, nor is it letting them “get away with too much”, but the sharing of life that is constant need, and receiving, comfort and healing.

  9. creationary says:

    Jesus’ Character is like his Father, to always do what is Holy, Right, and True.

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