“God is Spirit” (John 4:24). To speak about Him, the Bible makes comparisons; it uses metaphors. That is, the Bible attributes human form to the Spirit of God. It speaks of His arms, His hands, His ears, and His eyes. These metaphors are anthropomorphisms. We have little trouble with this language because we know God is “a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions” (WCF 2:1). God does not actually have hands or ears or a mouth. We understand the Bible uses figurative language. We know the Bible is not contradicting itself when it says God is a Spirit yet speaks of His hand or His arm.
In the same way, when the Bible attributes human emotions to God, it makes comparisons. It uses metaphors; it uses figurative language. The Bible speaks of God as jealous, angry, and having regrets (Deut. 5:9, Deut. 9:8, Gen. 6:7). This is figurative language. God “is not a man, that he should have regret” (1 Sam. 15:29). When we understand the Bible is using figurative language, we know the Bible is not contradicting itself. The Bible attributes both human (anthrōpos) form (morphē) and human (anthrōpos) passions or emotions (pathos) to God. The latter metaphors are anthropopathisms.
The miracle is that the Second Person of the Trinity “was made in the likeness of men” (Phi. 2:8). He became an actual human being with a true human body and real human emotions. Jesus Christ was therefore, “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3) and we can confess, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried” (Isa. 53:4). Standing in our place, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5). At the same time, “The LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). He also looked with favor on “the anguish of His soul” (Isa. 53:11). Paul puts it this way, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phi. 2:8).
Yes, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity “existed in the form (morphē) of God” (Phi. 2:6). He possessed all the “characteristics and qualities essential to” God. Then He took “the form (morphē) of a servant” (Phi. 2:7). He now possesses all the “characteristics and qualities essential to” humanity. That is, He was “made in the likeness (homoiōmati) of men (anthrōpōn)” (Phi 2:7). This likeness is not simply outward form. Paul distinguished himself and Barnabas from divinity and identified himself with humanity. “We also are men (anthrōpoi) of like passions (homiopatheis) with you” (Acts 14:15, KJV). We too, he says, are men with human passions and emotions. The distinction he draws is that unlike divinity, he had human passions.
Both the anthropomorphic, human form, and the anthropopathic, human passion, are necessary for incarnation. With both, we read, “Being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). With both, we hear Christ’s cry of anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). With both, He experiences human death. “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). With both He also experiences human resurrection. “He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). With both, we have a complete Savior. ‘Black’ Friday becomes ‘Good’ Friday. Resurrection morning follows. And we may “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phi. 2:11). This ultimate Thanksgiving is ours! Hallelujah!
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