“LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU, WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS: WHO BEING IN THE FORM OF GOD, THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD: BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION (THIS IS CLEARLY TRANSLATED “EMPTIED HIMSELF”), AND TOOK UPON HIM THE FORM OF A SERVANT, AND WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN: AND BEING FOUND IN FASHION AS A MAN, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF AND BECAME OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS.”
This teaching states that Jesus while on earth gave up His divine attributes. These attributes were omniscience (all knowing), omnipresence (He is everywhere at the same time), and omnipotence (all powerful). This view was first introduced in the late 1800s in Germany with Giottfried Thomastius, a Lutheran theologian (1802-1875).
The Philippians Scripture does not teach that Jesus gave up any of His attributes since the Scripture says nothing about His attributes. This was a self-renunciation, not an emptying of Himself of deity or an exchange of deity for humanity.
There is another problem with this teaching. Let’s look at Mark 13:32, for example:
“BUT OF THAT DAY AND HOUR KNOWETH NO MAN, NO NOT THE ANGELS WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN, NEITHER THE SON, BUT THE FATHER.”
Then it has been asked if Jesus is omniscience (all knowing), then why did He not know the day or the hour of His own return? When we “rightly divide the Word of God” the answer is clear. Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He was still divine, but was simply moving and living completely as a man.
This Kenosis teaching is a dangerous doctrine to the nature and divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. If this doctrine was true, then it would mean that Jesus was not fully divine, that His atoning work at the blood stained cross would not have been sufficient to atone for the sins of the world (not just for a few, but the whole world).
The doctrine of the Hypostatic-Union is the correct teaching in understanding that Jesus was both fully God and fully man; He did not give up any of His attributes while as a man on earth (Col. 2:9)
“FOR IN HIM DWELLETH ALL THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY”.
May the Lord continue to enrich us through His Word.
A follow-up study on Hypostatic-Union will be forthcoming.