How human was Jesus? Was he omniscient?

(Curtis Henderson) #1

I have a rather ironic story related to this, Jay. I rarely go on facebook, but I got sucked into a “rabbit hole” yesterday and found a scathing critique of BioLogos on the CMI website (I resisted the urge to carry out some heavy-duty “trolling” by reminding myself it would just be a waste of time!). The article used quite a bit of ammunition, including a quote from Kenton Sparks from a piece that he wrote for BioLogos in 2010. I’ll copy and paste quite a bit to give more context:

Though theologians seldom point this out, the fact that Jesus operated mainly within the horizon of his finite human horizon has other implications. If we assume for the sake of discussion that he was a carpenter like his father, did he ever miss the nail with his hammer? Hit his thumb? Did he think that he left his saw on the bench when, because he was distracted, he actually leaned it against the wall? Did Jesus ever look across a crowded town square and think that he saw his brother James only to discover that it was someone else? And did he estimate that the crowd was about 300 when it was really 200? To confess that Jesus was fully human is to admit that the answer to these questions must be yes. And if yes, then this observation surely has implications for how we think about Scripture. If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.

(You can find the rest of the article here:

Jay, to you and I, this sounds quite shocking because of our conservative backgrounds emphasizing the divine nature of Jesus. I would even guess this is not the position of most of the “regulars” here. But I think it is important and healthy to have different backgrounds, views, and opinions. We may not agree with everything everyone else says (sorry, @gbrooks9!), but this forum would be completely useless if everyone had the exact same opinions!

Reviewing Adam and the Genome
Reviewing Adam and the Genome
Reviewing Adam and the Genome
Reviewing Adam and the Genome
Reviewing Adam and the Genome
(Phil) #2

Jay, does it make a difference that Paul was talking about the resurrected Christ, now one with the Father and Holy Spirit, no longer emptied, but now filled?
It has always bothered me when some have spoke of Jesus in his earthly lifetime as being all knowing, as to how he could be an example for us if he really did not have the same limitations, temptations, and so forth that we did.
Sorry that that takes us pretty far off topic. If we want to discuss this further, probably would be best to split to another post.

(Jay Nelsestuen) #3

To be sure, the great majority of his divine qualities were veiled when he became incarnate; his glory, for example, as he didn’t glow all the time when walking down the street. I’m just not sold on the idea that he was without omniscience during his time on earth. Maybe you can sell me on it.

(Albert Leo) #4

Phil, the most moving quote in Scripture (for me at least) is Jesus crying out from the cross: “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me.” This is the most painful experience a human can have: to doubt that one’s whole life, one’s whole reason for being is worthless, just ashes. That just doubled the pain of the crown of thorns and the nails in his hands. He was truly human in his time of history just as I am in mine. That’s all I need to know of his ‘knowledge credentials’ for showing me the way to his Father.
Al Leo

(Jay Johnson) #5

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52

(George Brooks) #6


I’ve never noticed this one before. It suggests that before Luke 2:52, Jesus was not omniscient … and that after Luke 2:52, he was becoming wiser still, but still not omniscient!


I have always been partial to Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,but the Father only."

Which leads to the old joke about the revival preacher who claimed to know when Jesus would return. When asked about Matthew 24:36 his response was, “Jesus will return on the half-hour at night!”

(Christy Hemphill) #8

George has never claimed to be Evangelical. Neither has Al. they have clearly stated where they come from. It’s an open forum. You don’t have to tow any party lines to post here, and there isn’t going to be a religious test or a non-Evangelical ban instated anytime soon.

In addition to growing in wisdom and stature, there’s Hebrews 5:8 " Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered." How do you learn if you know everything? How can Jesus have faced all the testings we have been faced with, yet not sin (Hebrews 4:15), if he had the advantage of omniscience the whole time? How come he did not know the hour of his return in Matthew 24:35 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” How come he spent so much time in prayer if the mind of the Father was already completely accessible to his own mind? Could it not be that his access to the mind of the Father was the same as our own, through the Holy Spirit revealing truth and the will of the Father to him in prayer? Why would he pray “if it’s possible take this cup from me, but not my will but yours” if he and God shared the same mind? The kenosis of Phil 2:7 says “Jesus emptied himself” to become human. Lots of people have interpreted this to mean he temporarily and willingly gave up some of his divine qualities, though not his divine nature. He wasn’t omnipotent or omnipresent as God incarnate either.


(Jay Johnson) #9

Strangely, my favorite thing about Luke 2:52 is not its implications for the incarnation, but the last part. My own paraphrase is this:

Jesus grew in size and in wisdom, and everyone loved him – both God and men.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

It may be a glorious buffet – with much nutrition and plenty of junk food to distract. But not everything comes with Scripture sauce on the side. Take the insistence on an omniscient Jesus for example. One is forced to ignore Scriptures and even the very words of Jesus himself (and to infer at length out of some passages) in order to come out thinking Jesus was omniscient while he walked in the flesh. He himself declared (Matt. 24:36) that “of that day and of that hour” nobody knows --not Jesus, not the angels, but only the Father. Tell me how omniscience works if you don’t know about something that major! Maybe it’s just omniscience in the present? So then all the passages where Jesus asks somebody what they would like or he is astonished at somebody’s answer --was it all an elaborate show? Sort of like we might pretend to be surprised when we aren’t really? Is that some sort of pious “just kidding around – wink, wink” from Scriptures, then? Or when the boy Jesus is at the temple teaching… wait --strike that … our omniscient boy wasn’t teaching – he was learning and asking questions; a curious practice for somebody omniscient. [to be fair --they were amazed at his understandings and answers].

While I understand the need of some to feel more orthodox by imagining Jesus as a sort of cloaked pretend human (looks human and sweats like the rest of us but is really glowing underneath it all, and doesn’t need to ask anybody anything, but still did just to test them apparently) has the slightly more heretical feel to it. But feelings aside, I think I would go with the testimony of Scriptures. If the creeds insist otherwise, so much the worse for them.

Edited the last paragraph to keep the context during Jesus’ earthly life, since discussing his omniscience now would be a different matter entirely and would require a complete understanding of the trinity --something I won’t pretend to understand.

(Albert Leo) #11

Perhaps he knew he was omniscient while ‘walking down the street’. How about while hanging on the cross?
Al Leo

(GJDS) #12

This is another area where the early Church (as one body) discussed the nature of Christ. He was fully human and fully divine. Yet He also did not rely on His divine power, but freely took on the role of a servant, so now we have a fully human being who freely chose to be that and to serve all humanity. The central point is that Christ (unlike Adam) lived as a human being, human nature with all that goes with it, and did not sin. That is how He overcame the power of the Law - He did not do away with the Law, but removed the power of death.

(system) #13

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