Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of Jesus

Question How did Jesus come to be?

Answer Jesus has always existed as the Son of God. He was not created, but He made all things. At the right time, He came to earth, was born of Mary, and became fully man.

Scripture Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Explanation| If Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God at the same time, how should we understand His existence? Pause there, for a moment, and remember what we learned when we looked at God’s existence. God does exist. He’s real, and He’s a real being. But, as God—and quite unlike you and me—His existence is everlasting. That is, no beginning and no ending. He is. And He is in Himself. Now, think about Jesus. As the Son of God, Jesus isGod. So, how did Jesus come to be?

Jesus has always existed as the Son of God. As difficult as this truth is to understand—and it is—we need to be as careful and precise as the Bible is in expressing what it means. And, one of the best places in the Bible to see this truth described is in the Gospel of John. In chapter one, John writes, “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1). Before we try to understand what (or who) this Word is, notice what John says about this Word. This Word was “in the beginning.” As John keeps writing, he indicates that the beginning, here, is the beginning of all creation. And, this Word wasn’t simply at the beginning. This Word was (or existed) even before the beginning. How do we know that? John tells us further that, “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life…” (John 1:3-4) The him in these verses is the Word. In other words, this Word didn’t begin. This Word began all things. ‘He was not created, but He made all things.’ To take this further still, in verse one, John also tells us that this Word was “with God,” and that this Word “was God.” How can one thing (the Word) be with another thing (God), while also being that other thing (God)? Either this Word is not a personal being, or as a personal being, this Word is not the same God as God. But, neither of these options are true. And, in fact, there’s a far better explanation. In verse fourteen, John goes on to say, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). So, this Word became “flesh,” or human, like you and me. And, look again at verse fourteen. This Word is the Son of God, and this Word has come from God the Father. We are then told that this Word is the “only God,” and “is at the Father’s side” (John 1:18). So, what or who is this Word? It’s—He’s—none other than Jesus Christ. And, why does He become flesh? The entire passage tells us (John 1:1-18)—so that we might see and understand, know and believe God. All of thisthen, helps us understand why the Son is referred to as “the Word.” Because He tells us about the Father. He, by being God and becoming flesh, makes the Father known to us.1 

Jesus became fully man when He came to earth and was born of Mary. So, the Son has always existed. But the Son became fully man ‘at the right time.’ Or, to put it another way, the Son is fully God all the time, but He didn’t become fully human until ‘He came to earth.’ The Son has always been the Son, but He hasn’t always been Jesus. He was given the name Jesus and the title Christ when He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). How did this happen? The Bible is very clear, although it doesn’t tell us everything. We learn from our verse above that God sent His Son. He planned and initiated the coming of His Son to earth.2 Further, God the Father was completely in control of both when and how His Son came—He came “in the fullness of time,” and He was “born of woman.” We could put it like this—God didn’t send His Son in a different form than our form (human), nor did He send Him by an altogether different means than the way you and I came into this world (born).3 Mary carried Him in her womb, like your mom carried you in hers.4 The Son was born, like you were born.5 The Son was given a name (Jesus), like you were given a name.6 And in all of this, the Bible demonstrates that Jesus, the Son of God, is fully human. And yet, though the Son became fully human and came into this world much like us, He didn’t come from an earthly father.7 So, like you and me, Jesus is fully human. But, unlike you and me, Jesus’ humanity did not come from a human father. Mary, who had never had a baby before, nor had she been married before, “was found to be with child” (Matthew 1:18). How did that happen? The Bible tells us—that which was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). So, Joseph was Mary’s husband, but he wasn’t Jesus’ father. Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus. Jesus was born of Mary, but Mary gave birth to Him while she was still a virgin.8 And in all of this, the Bible demonstrates that Jesus as the Son of God is also fully God.

Now, look again at our verse above. This is the grand and glorious purpose for why the Son of God, as God, also became human—“so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Let me highlight a few truths, here. First, we weren’t and couldn’t be a part of God’s family apart from the Son. Only the Son has always been the Son. You and I were born into this world as orphans in relation to the Father.9 Second, it was God’s desire and plan to give us the opportunity to be adopted into His family. Though we didn’t deserve it, God did what we couldn’t do to give us “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).10 And all of this could only happen if the Son, as fully God, became fully human, as well. And He did.

This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus.

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1 Hebrews 1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

2 1 John 414 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

3 Romans 8For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. (See also, Philippians 2:7)

4 Psalm 13913 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

5 Luke 2And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

6 Luke 221 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

7 Luke 135 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. (See also, Luke 2:41-52; John 8:19)

8 Matthew 118 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (See also, Luke 1:34-35)

9 Ephesians 2And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

10 1 John 3See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.