Incarnation

The coming of the Logos, or “Word,” in the flesh. John 1:14 is the key text: “The Word was made [became] flesh and dwelt among us.” In writing to Timothy, Paul lays this down as the first fundamental doctrine of Christianity: “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).

The NT constantly stresses this point. Christ is said to have “come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2); to have been “sent in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3); to have “suffered in the flesh” (1 Pet. 4:1); to have “died in the flesh” (1 Pet. 3:18); and to have “made reconciliation in the body of His flesh” (Col. 1:21–22). Every spirit that refuses to confess this cardinal truth is expressly declared to be not of God, but to be that spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:2, 3).

This coming in the flesh was effected by a miraculous conception and virgin birth (Matt. 1:18–20; Luke 1:34, 35; Heb. 10:5). In John 1 there is a striking contrast between the was (en) that appears four times in verses 1 and 2, and the became (egeneto) of verse 14. Was is descriptive of the essential and eternal being of the Word, and His intra-trinitarian relations. Became expresses His willing assumption of a true human nature into personal union with Himself.

This act of incarnation did not cause any change in the Trinity.* The uncreated essence of the Logos was not changed. God was not humanized; the human nature of Christ was not deified. The second person of the Trinity entered into a new relation but wrought no change in the essence of the Godhead.

Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms. Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.

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