3. Made Less Than God?
Here again, some differing opinions/questions arise with the phrases that Paul uses in the texts that we have cited in 2 Corinthians and Philippians.
The statement “made Himself nothing” in Phil. 2:7 literally means “Emptied Himself.”
Does this not, many ask, together with the statement in 2 Cor. 8:9 that “Jesus became poor” shed some light on the nature of the incarnation? Do these statements not imply that there was some REDUCTION of the Son’s deity in becoming man?
This is known as the “Kenosis theory.”
The idea behind it is that in order to be fully human, the Son had to give up some of His divine qualities, otherwise He could not have shared the experience of being limited in time, space, knowledge, and consciousness which is essential to human life.
This theory IS NOT Biblical, rather, it is highly speculative, and there is no text in scripture that supports this theory.
When Paul mentions Jesus emptying himself and becoming poor, in each context, it is shown to mean Jesus laying aside not His divine powers but laying aside His divine Glory and Dignity.
Jesus’ own words in His high priestly prayer (John 17:5) back this up.
“The Glory I had with You before the world began.”
This theory also raises GREAT problems of its own:
How can we say that Jesus was fully God, if He lacked some qualities of deity?
How can we say that He perfectly revealed the father, if some of the Father’s attributes were not in Him?
***Where this theory is done away with is with this truth:***
If true manhood on earth was incompatible with UNREDUCED deity, then it must be so in heaven as well.
This would mean that our High Priest (Hebrews 6:20, 7:25) stands at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, with some attributes lost.
The High priest of the order of Melchizedek
In order to be a priest, Jesus has to be a man.
The Gospel narratives themselves show evidence against this theory as well.
It is true that Jesus’ knowledge of things, both human and divine were sometimes limited
He asks occasionally for information
“Who touched my clothes” (Mark 5:30)
“How many loaves do you have?” (Mark 6:38)
He declares that he shares the ignorance of the angels as to the day appointed for His return
But at other times He displays supernatural knowledge:
He knows the Samaritan Woman’s past (John 4:17-18)
He knows when Peter goes fishing that the first fish he catches will have a coin in its mouth (Mt. 17:27)
He knows without being told that Lazarus is dead (John 11:11-13)
Similarly, from time to time Jesus displays supernatural power in miracles of healing, feeding, and resurrecting the dead.
The picture that the Gospels give us is not that Jesus was lacking in divine power or power, but that He drew on both intermittently, while being content for much of the time to not do so.
The impression is not that Jesus’ deity was reduced, rather that Jesus chose to restrain His divine capacities at certain points.
So how do we account for this restraint? The answer is found in the Trinitarian doctrine.
Part of the revealed mystery of the Godhead is that THREE DISTINCT PERSONS stand in a fixed relation to each other.
The son appears in the Gospels not as an independent divine person, but as a dependent one, who thinks and acts only and wholly as the Father directs.
“The son can do nothing by Himself”