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An In-depth Look at Christology
January 2017

In order to perceive the depths of such a topic as the one I will endeavor to communicate in some way that is capable of being fully understood, though admittedly I highly question if it can be such, we must explore first the question: “What is Christology?"
The word "Christology" comes from two Greek words which are:

  1. Christos, “khris-tos” which means “anointed one or messiah which is another title for “Jesus the Christ.”
  2. And “Ology” which means “the study of” any science or branch of learning.

When these two words are combined the meaning becomes perfectly clear.  It is "the study of Jesus the Christ." Christology is the study of the “Person,” “Plan” and “Work” of Jesus Christ with the exclusive purpose of determining whether or not Jesus was who He said He was and He could do the things He claimed He could do  Was Jesus of Nazareth just a man or was he God in human form?  Could this man save the human race from their sin and give us a place with Him in glory?  Does He in fact, not only create all things, but hold all things contained within it in the palms of His hands?  Did He die and rise again on the third day?  These questions and more are the cornerstone to our Christian faith and must be examined in order to establish our faith and give it a firm and unmovable foundation or to discover if we believe in a lie, a hoax or a myth!  

Christianity has a hierarchy of truths.  Highest among these truths, is to know who Jesus is!  Just below this, is to try to completely understand doctrinal truths.  The doctrinal truths of Christianity are the principles or truths taught by Christ and His apostles.  Knowing and understanding these essential truths give us a solid foundation from which we can stand the test of time and all circumstances that come upon us and still remain firm in our faith and our Christian walk. 

There are two basic types of Christology; one is known as “Ascending Christology.”  Christology “from below.” The other is known as “Descending Christology.” Christology “from above.” Let us take a moment and examine these two types of Christology.

  1.  “Ascending Christology or Christology “from below” starts with Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary that is, Jesus’ earthly history.  Documents that prove whether Jesus was a real person and not mythological.  It tends to emphasize His humanity.  It begins with Jesus, a human being like us in all things but without sin (Hebrews 4:15), living out His early life in obscurity and who later on, by His unique proclamation of the Kingdom of God, and His Godhood makes Him stands out from the rest of humanity.

His life and preaching so inflamed the Jews that it eventually led Him to Calvary where He was crucified at their hands. His lifelong giving of Himself in service to others, led God to raise Him up and exalt Him, placing Him at the right hand of God and establishing His kingdom for all eternity.  Notice how Christ’s life proceeds according to this form of Christology?  It ascends. “Ascending Christology” is the emphasis of the theology we find in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).  Christology “from below” is useful, but what happens when it is carried too far?  It tends to suggest that Jesus is only human and not really divine. He fulfills a unique role in the history of human beings, calling us to meet the demands of the Kingdom of God; putting little to no emphasis on the absolute importance of His divine nature in all His actions.  We must remember the importance of acknowledging and accepting His claim to Godhood (John 8:24).

  1. “Descending Christology” or Christology “from above” on the other hand begins with the preexistent Word (Logos – ref. John 1:1) with God in heaven and tends to emphasize His divinity.  The Word “comes down” from heaven assumes human flesh (John 1:14) lives a sinless life, to show us who the Father is, bring about the Kingdom of God and to preach the Gospel of peace to the poor, sick and needy.  These actions led the jealous, self-serving Jewish leaders to crucify Him.  This crucifixion accomplished our redemption.  Jesus was the perfect one time sacrifice who cleansed us from all sin (1st John 1:7).  He then rose from the dead and returned back to heaven from which He came and is now seated at the right hand of God for all eternity (Colossians  3:1; Hebrews 10:12, 12:2; 1st Peter 3:22). 
    “Descending Christology” is the emphasis of the theology we find in the book of John and that of Paul’s writings. Christology “from above” is just as useful, but if it is taken too far it becomes exclusive or exaggerated.  It tends to imply that Jesus was not really human, but only appears to have taken on our human condition.  This belief weakens His relate-ability to us and His physical sufferings which He endured on our behalf.

Let us ask a question before proceeding!  Which of these two positions has Christians historically been more often inclined to take to the extreme?  Answer: “Descending Christology.”  This writer believes it is because we are controlled by our humanity and it the basis of all we believe.  How often do you here that the laws and precepts of God are obsolete because they were written so long ago?  They do not relate to today’s world.  We do not want to associate our fleshly desires with God’s moral precepts, so we make our desires the ultimate rule of life.  Therefore, it is much easier for us to see Jesus as a superman rather than a God-man whose accomplishments were supernatural. However, the truth is that Jesus is both God and man.  He is both from above and from below. Without a full apostolic witness (Quadriform using all Four Gospel) we will never come to the knowledge or understanding of these truths. True and balanced Christology is where anthropology and theology meet.

So let us ask the question which is at the heart of this study.  Who is Jesus Christ?  In all the literature ever written about Christ there is not one neutral account. If one studies His life and teachings it becomes impossible for one to maintain a neutral position. One will either accept Him in faith for who He says He is, or one will reduce His person and importance in order to discredit His person altogether.  One will, like so many skeptics before, believe and proclaim that Jesus was deceived or He was a fool.

What about the skeptics? They have been around from the First Century AD.  They all hold fast to the same claims made in the First Century.  These same claims have never ceased they have continually been made over the last 2,000 years.  For example, it was not modern theologians that invented the idea of the extramarital conception of Jesus, it was insinuated by some of Jesus’ contemporaries (John 8:41) and we still hear of it today; for example, Hermann Samuel Reimarus a seventeenth century German philosopher and writer of the “Enlightenment.” He is remembered for his deism, which is the doctrine that human reason can achieve the knowledge of God and ethics can come from a study of nature and our own internal reality which therefore, eliminates the need for religions based on revelation.  He did not invent the notion of Jesus’ body was stolen from the tomb; that was a well-known rumor by the time Matthew wrote his Gospel in approximately 60 A.D.  (Matthew 28:11).

Also, David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874) who was a German theologian and writer who scandalized Christian Europe with his portrayal of the "historical Jesus," whose divine nature he denied.  He was not the first to reject the mystery of the incarnation as unworthy of educated human beings; Celsus and Porphyry; who were pagan philosophers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries scoffed at the notion of Jesus’ divine nature well before David Friedrich Strauss.

But that does not mean that the Early Church was a group of fundamentalists! But at the same time it would be wrong to insinuate that the Church of the 2nd and 3rd centuries which gave us our modern Bible shared our 21st century anxiety for historical accuracy. The biblical canon which they put together demonstrates the Church’s conviction that the four Gospels together, taking into consideration and understanding that there are relative differences are not errors, but differences that, provide the full, authentic portrait of Jesus and the full, authentic collection of His teachings.   They held to the belief that by preserving four “different versions” of the same story, the Church had in full the truth of the “Quadriform (all Four Gospel)” “Matthew,” “Mark,” “Luke,” and “John.” For each of these Gospels speak of mysteries that cannot be understood in all our contemporary wisdom.  That is why true Christianity must be one of divine faith! 

A true in depth study of “Christology” will bring to believers especially and unbelievers most importantly a solid Biblical understanding of the person, plan, and purpose of Jesus Christ and why He came to earth in the form of a servant to die as God’s only true sacrifice for sin.  The knowledge is crucial to the world’s salvation and for the strength, status and success that all believers have inherited in Him through His life, death, and resurrection.

Many worldly religions claim to believe in Jesus Christ. The problem is that they do not believe what is recorded about Him in the Scriptures.  They may believe that He existed; they may even believe He was God’s representative, but they do not believe that He is everything that the Scriptures present Him as being. That is why Christology is so important. It helps us to understand the significance of His deity, His duty, His death, and His deliverance from sin.  Christology teaches us that Jesus had to be man so that He could fully relate to man in every aspect of their lives, including the aspect of death.  He had to be God at the same time so that His sinless life and sacrificial death could pay for our sins, and thereby restore us to fellowship with God the Father once again and bring us eternal life in the process.

Christology is without doubt the most important area of Biblical theology.  It must be fully understood or at least as fully understood as one could obtain. For without a full understanding of who Christ is and what His life on earth accomplished, all other areas of theology will be void of importance, other than the importance one might put on the knowledge of factual information.  Factual information as important as one might think will have no significance whatsoever in obtaining ones salvation.  What good is it to fully understand all there is to know about Jesus and still miss the most glorious family reunion of all time which will take place in Heaven?  Many learned men have traveled this road and found that they have missed heaven by eighteen inches; the distance from the brain to the heart.

But salvation is not the only area in which Christology impacts.  Christology has incredible personal impact on the believer’s daily life. When we come to know the heart of Jesus, we begin to take hold of the amazing love that God has for each of us.  It is an endless love which is hard if not impossible for us to imagine its depth and limitless nature.  Also, when one discovers the all-powerful nature of His character one would come to realize that there is not one problem or situation that he should fear, for God is more than capable of bringing deliverance and victory. Even the various names of Christ found throughout the Scriptures gives one strength, comfort and insight into who Christ is and how He can and does relate to us.  Contemplate for a moment what titles such as; He is our Good Shepherd means. He is always there to lead, protect and care for us as one of His own (John 10:11, 14).

What about the title, He is the Light of the world.  He brings illumination to our path when we are going through those times of fear, darkness, doubt, and despair (Ref. John 8:12); also let us not forget when we do go through those times of fear, darkness, doubt and despair; He is the Prince of Peace (Ref. Isaiah 9:6).  He is our peace our rest for we rest in Him through all times of unrest and over powering circumstances (Hebrews 4)!  He brings peace or rest when He is summoned into our turbulent lives.  Lastly; when we begin to waver in our steadfastness or start to doubt our faith, when we start to fall due to the pressures all around us, we must remember that He is our “Chief Cornerstone” in which our house is firmly built (Ephesians 2:20).  So that when the rain descended, the floods come, and the winds blow and beat on our house, it does not fall! Why; for it was founded on the rock Christ Jesus. For Jesus makes us immovable and utterly secure in the face of what seems to be unbearable trials. These are but a few of His attributes but there are so many more.  Here are but a few more;

1.   He is our Advocate (1st John 2:1)   6.   He is our Righteousness (1st Corinthians 1:30)  
2.   He is Faithful (Revelation 19:11) 7.   He is our Resurrection and Life (John 11:25)
3.   Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2) 8.   He is our One Mediator (1st Timothy 2:5)
4.   His is Truth (John 1:14; 14:6)    9.   He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
5.   He is our Hope (1st Timothy 1:1) 10. He is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
         

There are well over one hundred titles given to our glorious savior all of which are a very present help in times of need.Christology offers you the benefit of knowing Jesus as the fulfillment of all your needs wants and desires. Simply put the more we know about Christ the more of this reality we will experience – “I have come so that they might have (Zoe) life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Zoe life is the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to Him being the “logos” and to Christ in whom the “logos” put on human nature. It is life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever.

We will venture to do this study, over the next few months, by examining vital areas pertaining to the purpose, plan and person of Jesus the Christ.  Understanding that this study is about the study of Christ and not the validity, perfection or Godly inspiration of Scripture we will therefore, for the sake of this study, use Scripture along with established historical facts from non-biblical sources whenever possible to validate our points and justify our conclusions.    The areas we will be examining are;

  1. The Importance of Understanding God’s Character

    •  For no man can live beyond his or her concept of God!

  2. The Pre-existence of Christ[i]

  3. The Deity of Christ

    • Is Jesus God?

    • Did He ever claim He was?

    • What is Hypostasis?

    • How can Jesus be both God and man at the same time?

    • What are the chances that a man without Godly intervention could fulfill all the Old Testament Prophecies directly pointing to Christ and the New Testament fulfillments?

  4. The incarnation and Virgin Birth of Christ

    • Why is the Virgin Birth so important?

    • What is the importance of the incarnation?

    • What did it bring us?

  5. Perfect life of Christ

    • Old Testament types

    • New Testament Reality

  6. Christ our Creator – in whom all things exist

    • Disproving Evolutionary Theories

    • Proof of Creation

  7. Death of Christ

    • The incident

    • The impact

    • The importance

  8. The Resurrection of Christ

    • Fact

    • Fiction


[i] General outline taken from Bible.org

December 2016 Back to Top February 2017

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