There have been various claims throughout history that Jesus was not actually human or that he did not have a real physical body. These claims go against orthodox Christian belief, which holds that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. If Christ did not have a physical body, we are not saved by his resurrection. But he did.
1 John 4:2-3 says: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
This verse is emphasizing the importance of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, that is, the belief that Jesus Christ, who is God, took on human flesh and became fully human while still being fully divine. The verse is saying that anyone who denies this truth is not from God, but rather is influenced by the spirit of the antichrist.
One of the earliest heresies to make this claim was Gnosticism, which taught that matter was inherently evil and that Jesus could not have taken on a physical body, since that would make him subject to the limitations of the material world. Instead, Gnostics believed that Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, but that in reality, he was a purely spiritual being.
In the early centuries of the church, other groups made similar claims. For example, the Docetists taught that Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, but that in reality, he was a spiritual being who only seemed to suffer and die on the cross. The Arians, who denied the full divinity of Christ, also sometimes downplayed his humanity, suggesting that he was not fully human.
In modern times, some individuals and groups have continued to make similar claims. For example, some New Age teachings suggest that Jesus was a purely spiritual being who did not have a physical body. Some Muslim teachings also deny the full humanity of Jesus, teaching instead that he was a prophet or messenger of God, but not the divine Son of God.
However, these claims are a rejection of the truth which teaches that Jesus was fully God and fully man. According to orthodox Christian belief, it is necessary that Christ had a real physical body for several reasons, as described below:
- To fully participate in the human experience: Christ needed to have a physical body in order to fully participate in the human experience. This included experiencing physical pain, hunger, and exhaustion, as well as emotional experiences like joy and sorrow. The Bible confirms that Christ had a physical body and experienced human suffering, as seen in Hebrews 2:14-18 which says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human 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. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
- To offer a sacrifice for sin: In Christian theology, Christ’s death on the cross is seen as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. To offer a true sacrifice, Christ needed to have a physical body that could be offered up. This is supported by Hebrews 9:22, which says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
- To fulfill Old Testament prophecies: The Old Testament contains many prophecies about the coming of a Messiah who would be born of a virgin and have a physical body. By fulfilling these prophecies, Christ demonstrated that he was the promised Messiah. One of these prophecies is found in Isaiah 7:14, which says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This prophecy is fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-23, where it is recorded that Jesus was born of a virgin.
- To demonstrate the reality of the resurrection: The resurrection of Christ is a central tenet of Christian faith. By having a physical body that was resurrected, Christ demonstrated the reality of the resurrection and the promise of eternal life. This is emphasized in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, which says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
In summary, the orthodox Christian belief is that Christ’s physical body was necessary in order to fully participate in the human experience, offer a sacrifice for sin, fulfill Old Testament prophecies, and demonstrate the reality of the resurrection. These beliefs are supported by numerous passages in the Bible as well as the Bible’s overall story of redemption. If Christ did not have a physical body, we are not saved by his resurrection.
Note: This post was 90% written by ChatGpt AI. But I asked the questions.
What do you think of ChatGpt AI? It was a very interesting article, but I’m curious what your thoughts are when you use it.
Well, I think you have to ask very specific questions. And it can give incorrect or biased answers so you really need to know your subject matter. I used it for this because I knew the answers to my questions, but I wanted to post a quick article . So the AI basically did the composing , not the thinking . And I always edit the answers a little to make it sound and flow better. As for privacy , I’m sure it’s collecting user data. I also ask it for sources and links and then check them. So to me it’s not much different than googling for a post. It just answers the search questions in complete paragraphs rather than sending you to the articles themselves.
Thank you for your detailed explanation. I’ve never tried it.
It’s kinda fun 😊
I’m not sure about it, but I will look into it more.
Interesting. The article turned out well with the AI assistance. I’m surprised.