Few doctrines can be considered more fundamental than the nature, character and works of Messiah, and few teachers are able to convey such truths with the thoroughness, detail, accuracy, clarity, organization and fluidity that characterizes Dr. Fruchtenbaum. So let's sharpen our focus and continue.
Study 15: Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study #054:
By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
“Incarnation” comes from a Latin word that means
“in flesh.” It means that God took on human nature. Because
it was God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, who
became incarnate or in flesh, it is probably more correct
and proper to say that it was the Logos or the Word that
became flesh, rather than saying that God became a man,
though both statements are actually true. The Incarnation
means that suddenly there were two natures in one Person.
The two natures were always distinct and never mixed within
the one Person.
There are five main
passages of Scripture that deal with the doctrine of the
The first key element is
that the Word was In the beginning (v. 1a). The second
element is that the Word was with God (v. 1b). As long as
God was, the Word was. If God is eternal, the Word is
eternal. The third element is that the Word was God (v. 1c).
How the Word could be with God, which is the second element,
and yet be God, which is the third element, is explainable
only in terms of the Trinity. The Word was with God and,
therefore, distinct from God, because the Word is not the
Father nor is the Word the Holy Spirit. But the Word was God
in that the Word is the Son. And the fourth element is that
the Word became flesh (v. 14). The Word that was in the
beginning with God, that was God, at a certain point in
human history took on flesh, became man, and that was the
Two key phrases concerning the Incarnation are found in this
passage: according to the flesh (v. 3) and
according to the
spirit of holiness (v. 4). This is the Incarnation. He
became man according to the flesh. It was accomplished by
the power of the Holy Spirit; therefore, it was according to
the Spirit as well.
Three key elements
concerning the Incarnation are found in this passage. First,
this One always existed in the form of God (v. 6); for all
eternity past, He existed in the form of God, because He was
the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. Secondly, He
that existed in the form of God for all eternity, at some
point in human history, was made into
the likeness of men (v. 7). That is the statement of the Incarnation: He was
made into the likeness of sinful men. The use of the term
likeness does not mean He was not really a man. The term
likeness emphasizes the similarity to sinful men in that, by
mere observation, He did not look any different than any
other human being. Except, in His case, He did not commit a
single sin. He was an absolutely real human being, a real
man, but not a sinful man. Thirdly, He was
found in fashion
as a man (v. 8). Again, He looked like all other humans. The
Incarnation means that He took on flesh and became man.
The emphasis of this
verse is that He was manifested in the flesh; a statement of
The key phrase in this verse concerning the Incarnation is sharers in flesh and blood. The Greek word for sharers means, “to take hold of.” He took hold of something. What He took hold of was human flesh. From these five Scriptures that discuss the Incarnation, the doctrine of the Incarnation is derived.
What, then, is the means of the Incarnation? How did God become a man? The means of the Incarnation involved three things.
First, the Incarnation
involved the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35). When Mary asked how
conception was possible because she was a virgin, the angel
answered that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and bring
about a miraculous conception. The Generator of the
Incarnation was the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon
Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. The
Spirit worked to beget or conceive the humanity of the
Messiah. He was always God, so deity did not need to be
generated; only His humanity needed to be generated. Deity
partook of Mary's humanity but, at the same time, precluded
Mary's sin nature. By means of the overshadowing of the Holy
Spirit with the power of the Most High, the Holy Spirit
generated the humanity of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. The
Holy Spirit generated the conception. The product, according
to Luke 1:35, was to be two things: first, holy; and,
secondly, the Son of God, the God-Man.
What are the reasons or purposes for the Incarnation? There are twelve specific reasons why the incarnation occurred. First, the Incarnation was conditioned by human sin. Luke 19:10 states: For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost."
A more extended passage that states this as a reason for the Incarnation is John 3:13-21. The purpose of the Incarnation was to save sinners. In order to pay the penalty for sin, Yeshua had to be made "like unto" or "in the likeness of" sinful flesh. He was not made sinful, but in outward appearance, He looked like any other man. It was necessary for Him to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, because He came for the purpose of dying for sinners. The Incarnation was conditioned by human sin in that human sin necessitated the Incarnation. As Hebrews 2:14 states, it was necessary for Him to become a sharer in flesh and blood in order to deal with the issue of sin.
Secondly, the Incarnation was to reveal God to man concerning the truths of the Father (Mat. 11:27; Jn. 1:18; 14:9). He came for the purpose of revealing the Father, according to John 1:18: No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
He came to reveal the Father; therefore, in His sermons and discourses, He revealed the nature of the Father. In John 14:8-9, when one of His own disciples eventually asked Jesus: Show us the Father, He answered: If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Everything that is true of the nature of the Father is true of the Son.
Thirdly, the Incarnation was to provide believers with an example for living (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jon. 2:6). In His humanity, Yeshua lived a lifestyle that the believer should imitate. This includes not only during the good times, but also in bad times. Not only is His strength to be their example, but also His sufferings are to be their example. He underwent suffering in a meek manner and, they too, should undergo their suffering in the same way. He became a man to provide an example for living.
Fourthly, the Incarnation was to provide a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 2:9; 10:1-10; 1 Jn. 3:5). He came as the Incarnate Man to provide a sacrifice for sin. While animal sacrifices were allowed temporarily, all they could ever do was cover the sins of the Old Testament saints; they could never take away the sins of the Old Testament saints. The removal of sin required better blood than animal blood. The better blood was human blood, but it had to be sinless human blood. This ruled out every human being that had existed since the fall of Adam with one exception, and that was the God-Man, Yeshua. As a result of the Incarnation, He became a man. Being in the form of a man, He had human blood and, therefore, better blood that animal blood. Jesus had sinless human blood; for that reason, He was able to become the sacrifice for sin.
Fifth, the Incarnation
was to destroy the works of the Devil; to render his works
inoperative (Jn. 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; I Jn.
3:8). Of these five passages, perhaps the clearest statement
of this fact is Hebrews 2:14: Since then the children are
sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner
partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
In His humanity, what
kind of character did the God-Man have? The Incarnation
produced seven characteristics in Jesus.
Thirdly, He had genuine
love. Because He was both God and man, He could love in a
divine way and also in a human way. In either case, it was a
real and genuine love that He expressed (Mk. 10:21; Jn.
13:1; 14:31; 19:25-27; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:19; 5:25).
The Incarnation resulted in a Being who was both God and man: Jesus was very man and very God. What are some of the evidences that Yeshua was truly human, that He was a real man and did not merely have an appearance of man? There are ten ways to show that Yeshua was indeed a real man.
First, His humanity is seen in that He had all the
essentials of human nature: body, soul, and spirit. First,
He had a real body (Mat. 26:12, 26, 28; Lk. 2:21; 24:39; Jn.
2:21; Heb. 2:14, 10:5, 10). Secondly, He had a soul (Mat.
26:38; Jn. 12:27; Acts 2:27). Thirdly, He had a human spirit
(Mk. 2:8; 8:12; Lk. 23:46; Jn. 11:33; 13:21). Jesus clearly
had all the essentials of human nature.
Fourthly, His humanity is seen in that He had human names. He is called Jesus or Joshua, a common human name of that day. He was called the Son of Man eighty-two times, a title that emphasizes His humanity.
Fifth, His humanity is seen in that He was actually called a
man by others. John the Baptist called Him a man in John
1:30; the multitudes called Him a man in John 10:33; Peter
called Him a man in Acts 2:22; and Paul called Him a man in
Acts 13:38; Romans 5:15; I Corinthians 15:21, 47;
Philippians 2:8; and I Timothy 2:5.
Part of the humanity of Jesus involved His humiliation.
There is a biblical doctrine that theologians call “The
Humiliation of the Messiah.” His humiliation is seen in
twelve different ways.
Ninth, His humiliation is seen in that He endured the curse of the death on the cross. Of all the ways He could have been executed, the most ignoble execution, the most humiliating was to die was by hanging on a tree. This was considered by Jewish culture and custom to be the most degrading death of all. So, this, too, was a part of His humiliation (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2).
Tenth, His humiliation is seen in His death. The very fact that the God-Man, the Holy and Sinless One, had to undergo death was a part of His humiliation (Phil. 2:8).
Eleventh, His humiliation is seen in His burial. The fact that He had to be buried like every other man was a sign of His humiliation (Mat. 27:59-60; Acts 13:34-35; 1 Cor. 15:4). The humiliation of His burial is seen further in that none of those who were close to Yeshua throughout His life and ministry were involved in the burial. They kept their distance. Jesus was buried by two men who, up until then, were secret, distant believers: Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.
And twelfth, His humiliation is seen in His descent into Sheol or Hades. He, too, had to descend to that temporary place of confinement for the saints (Acts 2:27, 31; Eph. 4:9; 1 Pet. 3:18-19).
These are the twelve points that clearly teach the concept of the humiliation of the Messiah, very much part of His humanity, which, in turn, is part of the concept of the Incarnation.
As believers look at all these things to which Yeshua submitted Himself, as they look at all these points in His humiliation, they should not miss the opportunity to remind themselves exactly why He did all this. The reason was so that He could become their Substitute. He lived as a man and died as a man, but He died a substitutionary death for man's sins. As believers undergo the sufferings of human life, as they undergo deprivation or humiliation, they should always have this picture in their minds: that they have not suffered anything nor will ever suffer anything that is anywhere comparable to the sufferings of Yeshua the Messiah. If this is kept in mind, they will see what a great thing He did, and will understand that He did it for them. Believers should always be grateful that He was willing to be humiliated in order to provide salvation and power for living in this life. When they suffer, let them not react against God. Let them remember that when they suffer, they are co-suffering with Him. The Bible promises that if they suffer with Him, they shall also be glorified with Him.
The Incarnation resulted
in One who was both man and God. Earlier, it was shown that
He was a real man, that He had real humanity. The
incarnation did not mean that He gave up any portion of His
deity. It was not a lessening of deity, but it was perfect
taking hold of and adding to Himself a human nature. There
are seven evidences of His deity.
Secondly, He has all the attributes of deity. There are ten
attributes that prove His deity. First, He has the attribute
of eternality (Mic. 5:2; Jn. 1:1; 8:58; Col. 1:17; Heb.
1:11). Secondly, He has the attribute of immutability; He is
unchangeable (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8). Thirdly, He has the
attribute of self-existence (Jn. 1:1 3; 5:26). Fourthly, He
is life (Jn. 1:4; 14:6; Acts 3:15). Fifthly, He has the
fullness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9); everything that was true
of God the Father and of God the Holy Spirit is also
true of the Son. Sixth, He has the attribute of holiness
(Heb. 7:26). Seventh, He has the attribute of sovereignty; He is
the sovereign God (Mat. 28:18; Jn. 5:27; 17:2; Acts 2:36; I
Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:9-10; Col. 1:18; I Pet. 3:22; Rev.
19:16). Eighth, He has the attribute of omnipotence; He is
all powerful (Lk. 8:25; Jn. 10:18; I Cor. 15:25, 28; Phil.
3:21; Col. 1:16-17; I Tim. 1:12; Heb. 1:3; 7:25; Jude 24,
Rev. 1:8). Ninth, He has the attribute of omniscience; He is
all knowing (Mat. 11:27; Jn. 1:48; 2:25; 10:15; 13:1, 11;
16:30; 18:4; 19:28; I Cor. 4:5; Col. 2:3; Rev. 2:23). While
in His humanity He had limited knowledge, in His deity He is
all-knowing. Tenth, He has the attribute of omnipresence; He is
also everywhere (Mat. 18:20; 28:20; Jn. 3:13; 14:18, 20,
23). Thus, He has all the attributes of deity.
Fifth, His deity is seen in that He is the One who gives
immortality (Jn. 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 17:2; Phil. 3:21).
If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends the following messianic Bible studies (mbs):
mbs 011: The Suffering Messiah of Isaiah
Many of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's studies are available for free online