The Person of Christ
1 A controversy has also occurred among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession concerning the Person of Christ, which, however, did not first arise among them but sprang originally from the Sacramentarians a.
2 For when Dr. Luther, in opposition to the Sacramentarians, had maintained the true, essential presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Supper with solid arguments from the words of institution, the objection was urged against him by the Zwinglians that, if the body of Christ were present at the same time in heaven and on earth in the Holy Supper, it could be no real, true human body; for such majesty was said to be peculiar to God alone, and the body of Christ not capable of it.
3 But while Dr. Luther contradicted and effectually refuted this, as his doctrinal and polemical writings concerning the Holy Supper show, which we hereby publicly confess b, as well as his doctrinal writings c, 4 some theologians of the Augsburg Confession after his death sought, though still unwilling to do so publicly and expressly, to confess themselves in agreement with the Sacramentarians concerning the Lord's Supper; nevertheless they introduced and employed precisely the same false arguments concerning the person of Christ whereby the Sacramentarians dared to remove the true, essential presence of the body and blood of Christ from His Supper, namely, that nothing should be ascribed to the human nature in the person of Christ which is above or contrary to its natural, essential property; and on this account they have loaded the doctrine of Dr. Luther, and all those who follow it as in conformity with God's Word, with the charge of almost all the ancient monstrous heresies.
5 To explain this controversy in a Christian way, in conformity with God's Word, according to the guidance d of our simple Christian faith, and by God's grace entirely to settle it, our unanimous doctrine, faith, and confession are as follows:
6 We believe, teach, and confess that the Son of God, although from eternity He has been a particular, distinct, entire divine person, and thus, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, true, essential, perfect God, nevertheless, in the fulness of time assumed also human nature into the unity of His person, not in such a way that there now are two persons or two Christs, but that Christ Jesus is now in one person at the same time true, eternal God, born of the Father from eternity, and a true man, born of the most blessed Virgin Mary, as it is written Rom. 9, 5: Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.
7 We believe, teach, and confess that now, in this one undivided person of Christ, there are two distinct natures, the divine, which is from eternity, and the human, which in time was assumed into the unity of the person of the Son of God; which two natures in the person of Christ are never either separated from, or mingled with, one another, or changed the one into the other, but each abides in its nature and essence in the person of Christ to all eternity.
8 We believe, teach, and confess also that, as both natures mentioned remain unmingled and undestroyed in their nature and essence, each retains also its natural, essential properties, and does not lay them aside to all eternity, neither do the essential properties of the one nature ever become the essential properties of the other nature.
9 Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that to be almighty, eternal, infinite, to be of itself everywhere present at once naturally, that is, according to the property of its nature and its natural essence, and to know all things, are essential attributes of the divine nature, which never to eternity become essential properties of the human nature.
10 On the other hand, to be a corporeal creature, to be flesh and blood, to be finite and circumscribed, to suffer, to die, to ascend and descend, to move from one place to another, to suffer hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and the like, are properties of the human nature, which never become properties of the divine nature.
11 We believe, teach, and confess also that now, since the incarnation, each nature in Christ does not so subsist of itself that each is or constitutes a separate person, but that they are so united that they constitute one single person, in which the divine and the assumed human nature are and subsist at the same time, so that now, since the incarnation, there belongs to the entire person of Christ personally, not only His divine, but also His assumed human nature; and that, as without His divinity, so also without His humanity, the person of Christ or Filii Dei incarnati (of the incarnate Son of God), that is, of the Son of God who has assumed flesh and become man, is not entire. Hence Christ is not two distinct persons, but one single person, notwithstanding that two distinct natures are found in Him, unconfused in their natural essence and properties.
12 We believe, teach, and confess also that the assumed human nature in Christ not only has and retains its natural, essential properties, but that over and above these, through the personal union with the Deity, and afterwards through glorification, it has been exalted to the right hand of majesty, power, and might, over everything that can be named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come e.
13 Now as regards this majesty, to which Christ has been exalted according to His humanity, He did not first receive it when He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, but when He was conceived in His mother's womb and became man, and the divine and human natures were personally united with one another. 14 However, this personal union is not to be understood, as some incorrectly explain it, as though the two natures, the divine and the human, were united with one another, as two boards are glued together, so that they realiter, that is, in deed and truth, have no communion whatever with one another. 15 For this was the error and heresy of Nestorius and Samosatenus, who, as Suidas and Theodore, presbyter of Raithu, testify, taught and held: δύο φύσεις ἀχοινωνήτους πϱὸς παντάπασιν, hoc est, naturas omni modo incommunicables esse, that is, that the two natures have no communion whatever with one another. Thereby the natures are separated from one another, and thus two Christs are constituted, so that Christ is one, and God the Word, who dwells in Christ, another.
16 For thus Theodore the Presbyter writes: Paulus quidam iisdem, quibus Manes temporibus, Samosatenus quidem ortu, sed Antiochiae Syriae antistes, Dominum impie dixit nudum fuisse hominem, in quo Deus Verbum sicut et in singulis prophetis habitavit f, ac proinde duas naturas separatas et citra omnem prorsus inter se communionem in Christo esse, quasi alius sit Christus, alius Deus Verbum in ipso habitans. That is: At the same time in which also the heretic Manes lived, one by the name, of Paul, who, though born in Samosata, was a bishop at Antioch in Syria, wickedly taught that the Lord Christ was nothing else than a mere man in whom God the Word dwelt, just as in every prophet; therefore he also held that the divine and human natures are apart from one another and separate, and that in Christ they have no communion whatever with one another, just as though Christ were one, and God the Word, who dwells in Him, the other.
17 Against this condemned heresy the Christian Church always and at all times has simply believed and held that the divine and the human nature in the person of Christ are so united that they have a true communion with one another, whereby the natures g are not mingled in one essence, but, as Dr. Luther writes, in one person. 18 Accordingly, on account of this personal union and communion, the ancient teachers of the Church, before and after the Council of Chalcedon, frequently employed the word mixtio, mixture, in a good sense and with h discrimination. For proof of this, many testimonies of the Fathers, if necessary, could be adduced, which are to be found frequently also in the writings of our divines, and which explain the personal union and communion by the illustration animae et corporis and ferri candentis, that is, of the soul and body, and of glowing iron. 19 For the body and soul, as also fire and iron, have communion with each other, not per phrasin, or modum loquendi, or verbaliter (by a phrase or mode of speaking, or in mere words), that is, so that it is to be a mere form of speech and mere words, but vere and realiter (truly and really), that is, in deed and truth; and, nevertheless, no confusio or exaequatio naturarum, that is, a mixing or equalizing of the natures, is thereby introduced, as when hydromel is made from honey and water, which is no longer pure water or pure honey, but a mixed drink. Now, in the union of the divine and the human nature in the person of Christ it is far different. For it is a far different, more sublime, and i ineffable communion and union between the divine and the human nature in the person of Christ, on account of which union and communion God is man and man is God, yet neither the natures nor their properties are thereby intermingled, but each nature retains its essence and properties.
20 On account of this personal union, which cannot be thought of nor exist without such a true communion of the natures, not the mere human nature, whose property it is to suffer and die, has suffered for the sins of the world, but the Son of God Himself truly suffered, however, according to the assumed human nature, and (in accordance with our simple Christian faith) j truly died, although the divine nature can neither suffer nor die. This Dr. Luther has fully explained in his Large Confession concerning the Holy Supper in opposition to the blasphemous alloeosis of Zwingli, who taught that one nature should be taken and understood for the other, which Dr. Luther committed, as a devil's mask, to the abyss of hell.
22 For this reason, then, the ancient teachers of the Church combined both words, χοινωνία and ἕνωσις, communio et unio, that is, communion and union, in the explanation of this mystery, and have explained the one by the other. Irenaeus, lib. 4, chap. 37; Athanasius, in the Letter to Epictetus; Hilary, Concerning the Trinity, Book 9; Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, in Theodoret; Damascenus, Book 3, chap. 19.
23 On account of this personal union and communion of the divine and the human nature in Christ we believe, teach, and confess also, according to our simple Christian faith, what is said concerning the majesty of Christ according to His humanity, k at the right hand of the almighty power of God, and what is connected therewith l; all of which would be naught and could not stand if this personal union and communion of the natures in the person of Christ did not exist realiter, that is, in deed and truth.
24 On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, bore not a mere man, but, as the angel m testifies, such a man as is truly the Son of the most high God, who showed His divine majesty even in His mother's womb, inasmuch as He was born of a virgin, with her virginity inviolate. Therefore she is truly the mother of God, and nevertheless remained a virgin.
25 In virtue of this He also wrought all His miracles, and manifested this His divine majesty, according to His pleasure, when and as He willed, and therefore not first after His resurrection and ascension only, but also in His state of humiliation; for example, at the wedding at Cana of Galilee; also, when He was twelve years old, among the learned; also in the garden, when with a word He cast His enemies to the ground; likewise in death, when He died not simply as any other man, but in and with His death conquered sin, death, devil, hell, and eternal damnation; which the human nature alone would not have been able to do if it had not been thus personally united and had not had communion with the divine nature.
26 Hence also the human nature, after the resurrection from the dead, has its exaltation above all creatures in heaven and on earth; which is nothing else than that He entirely laid aside the form of a servant, and yet did not lay aside His human nature, but retains it to eternity, and is put in the full possession and use of the divine majesty according to His assumed human nature. However, this majesty He had immediately at His conception, even in His mother's womb, but, as the apostle testifies n, laid it aside; and, as Dr. Luther explains, He kept it concealed in the state of His humiliation, and did not employ it always, but only when He wished.
27 But now He does, since He has ascended, not merely as any other saint, to heaven, but, as the apostle testifies o, above all heavens, and also truly fills all things, and being everywhere present, not only as God, but also as man p rules from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth; as the prophets predict, Ps. 8, 1. 6; 93, 1 f.; Zech. 9, 10, and the apostles testify, Mark 16, 20, that He everywhere wrought with them and confirmed their word with signs following. 28 Yet this occurred not in an earthly way, but, as Dr. Luther explains, according to the manner of the right hand of God, which is no fixed place in heaven, as the Sacramentarians assert without any ground in the Holy Scriptures, but nothing else than the almighty power of God, which fills heaven and earth, in q which Christ is installed according to His humanity, realiter, that is, in deed and truth, sine confusione et exaequatione naturarum, that is, without confusion and equalizing of the two natures in their essence and essential properties; 29 by this communicated r power, according to the words of His testament, He can be and truly is present with His body and blood in the Holy Supper, to which He has directed us by His Word; this is possible to no other man, because no man is in such a way united with the divine nature, and installed in such divine almighty majesty and power through and in the personal union of the two natures in Christ, as Jesus, the Son of Mary. 30 For in Him the divine and the human nature are personally united with one another, so that in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Col. 2, 9, and in this personal union have such a sublime, intimate, ineffable communion that even the angels are astonished at it, and, as St. Peter testifies, have their delight and joy in looking into it s; all of which will shortly be explained in order and somewhat more fully.
31 From this basis of the personal union, as it has been stated and explained above, that is, from the manner in which the divine and the human nature in the person of Christ are united with one another, namely, that they have not only the names in common, but have also in deed and truth communion with one another, without any commingling or equalizing of the same in their essences, flows also the doctrine de communicatione idiomatum, that is, concerning the true communion of the properties of the natures, of which more is to be said hereafter.
32 For since this is verily so, quod propria non egrediantur sua subiecta (that properties do not leave their subjects), that is, that each nature retains its essential properties, and these are not separated from the nature and poured into the other nature, as water from one vessel into another, so also no communion of properties could be or subsist if the above-mentioned personal union or communion of the natures in the person of Christ were not true. 33 Next to the article of the Holy Trinity this is the greatest mystery in heaven and on earth, as Paul says: Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, that God was manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3, 16. 34 For since the Apostle Peter in clear words testifies t that we also, in whom Christ dwells only by grace, on account of that sublime mystery, are in Christ, partakers of the divine nature, what kind of communion of the divine nature, then, must that be of which the apostle says that in Christ dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, so that God and man are one person? 35 But since it is highly important that this doctrine de communicatione idiomatum, that is, of the communion of the properties of both natures, be treated and explained with proper discrimination,–for the propositiones or praedicationes, that is, how to speak of the person of Christ, and of its natures and properties, are not all of one kind and mode, and when they are employed without proper discrimination, the doctrine becomes confused and the simple reader is easily led astray,–the following explanation should be carefully noted, which, for the purpose of making it plainer and simple, may well be comprised under three heads:
36 Namely, first, since in Christ two distinct natures exist and remain unchanged and unconfused in their natural essence and properties, and yet of both natures there is only one person, hence, that which is, indeed, an attribute of only one nature is ascribed not to that nature alone, as separate, but to the entire person, which is at the same time God and man (whether it is called God or man).
37 But in hoc genere, that is, in this mode of speaking, it does not follow that what is ascribed to the person is at the same time a property of both natures, but it is distinctively explained what nature it is according to which anything is ascribed to the person. Thus the Son of God was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, Rom. 1, 3. Also: Christ was put to death according to the flesh, and hath suffered for us in, or according to, the flesh, 1 Pet. 3, 18; 4, 1.
38 However, since beneath the words, when it is said that what is peculiar to one nature is ascribed to the entire person, secret and open Sacramentarians conceal their pernicious error, by naming indeed the entire person, but understanding thereby nevertheless only the one nature, and entirely excluding the other nature, as though the mere human nature had suffered for us, as Dr. Luther in his Large Confession concerning the Holy Supper has written concerning the alloeosis of Zwingli, we will here set down Luther's own words, in order that the Church of God may be guarded in the best way against this error. His words are as follows:
39 Zwingli calls that an alloeosis when something is said of the divinity of Christ which really belongs to the humanity, or vice versa. As Luke 24, 26: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" Here Zwingli juggles, asserting that u Christ is understood of the human nature. 40 Beware, beware, I say, of the alloeosis! For it is a devil's mask, for at last it manufactures such a Christ after whom I certainly would not be a Christian; namely, that henceforth Christ should be no more and do no more with His sufferings and life than any other mere saint. For if I believe this v that only the human nature has suffered for me, then Christ is to me a poor Savior, then He Himself indeed needs a Savior. In a word, it is unspeakable what the devil seeks by the alloeosis.
41 And shortly afterwards: If the old weather-witch, Dame Reason, the grandmother of the alloeosis, would say, Yea, divinity cannot suffer nor die; you shall reply, That is true; yet, because in Christ divinity and humanity are one person, Scripture, on account of this personal union, ascribes also to divinity everything that happens to the humanity, and vice versa. 42 And it is so in reality; for you must certainly answer this, that the person (meaning Christ) suffers and dies. Now the person is true God; therefore it is rightly said: The Son of God suffers. For although the one part (to speak thus), namely, the divinity, does not suffer, yet the person, which is God, suffers in the other part, namely, in His humanity; for in truth God's Son has been crucified for us, that is, the person which is God. For the person, the person, I say, was crucified according to the humanity.
43 And again, shortly afterwards: If the alloeosis is to stand as Zwingli teaches it, then Christ will have to be two persons, one divine and one human, because Zwingli applies the passages concerning suffering to the human nature alone, and diverts them entirely from the divinity. For if the works be parted and separated, the person must also be divided, since all the works or sufferings are ascribed not to the natures, but to the person. For it is the person that does and suffers everything, one thing according to one nature, and another according to the other nature, all of which the learned know well. Therefore we regard our Lord Christ as God and man in one person, non confundendo naturas nec dividendo personam, so that we neither confound the natures nor divide the person.
44 Dr. Luther says also in his book Of the Councils and the Church: We Christians must know that if God is not also in the balance, and gives the weight, we sink to the bottom with our scale. By this I mean: If it were not to be said w, God has died for us, but only a man, we would be lost. But if "God's death" and "God died" lie in the scale of the balance, then He sinks down, and we rise up as a light, empty scale. But indeed He can also rise again or leap out of the scale; yet He could not sit in the scale unless He became a man like us, so that it could be said: "God died," "God's passion," "God's blood," "God's death." For in His nature God cannot die; but now that God and man are united in one person, it is correctly called God's death, when the man dies who is one thing or one person with God. Thus far Luther.
45 Hence it is manifest that it is incorrect to say or write that the above-mentioned expressions (God suffered, God died) are only praedicationes verbales (verbal assertions), that is, mere words, and that it is not so in fact. For our simple Christian faith proves that the Son of God, who became man, suffered for us, died for us and redeemed us with His blood.
46 Secondly, as to the execution of the office of Christ, the person does not act and work in, with, through, or according to only one nature, but in, according to, with, and through both natures, or, as the Council of Chalcedon expresses it, one nature operates in communion with the other what is a property of each. 47 Therefore Christ is our Mediator, Redeemer, King, High Priest, Head, Shepherd, etc., not according to one nature only, whether it be the divine or the human, but according to both natures, as this doctrine has been treated more fully in other places.
48 Thirdly, however, it is still a much different thing when the question, declaration, or discussion is, whether the natures in the personal union in Christ have nothing else or nothing more than only their natural, essential properties; for that they have and retain these has been mentioned above.
49 Now, as regards the divine nature in Christ, since in God there is no change, Jas. 1, 17, His divine nature, in its essence and properties, suffered no subtraction nor addition by the incarnation; was not, in or by itself, either diminished or increased thereby.
50 But as regards the assumed human nature in the person of Christ, some have indeed wished to contend that even in the personal union with divinity it has nothing else and nothing more than only its natural, essential properties according to which it is in all things like its brethren; and that, on this account, nothing should or could be ascribed to the human nature in Christ which is beyond, or contrary to, its natural properties, even though the testimony of Scripture is to that effect. 51 But that this opinion is false and incorrect is so clear from God's Word that even their own associates rebuke and reject this error. For the Holy Scriptures, and the ancient Fathers from the Scriptures x, testify forcefully that, for the reason and because of the fact that it has been personally united with the divine nature in Christ, the human nature in Christ, when it was glorified and exalted to the right hand of the majesty and power of God, after the form of a servant and humiliation had been laid aside, did receive, apart from, and over and above its natural, essential, permanent properties, also special, high, great, supernatural, inscrutable, ineffable, heavenly prerogativas (prerogatives) and excellences in majesty, glory, power, and might above everything that can be named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come y; and that, accordingly, in the operations of the office of Christ: the human nature in Christ, in its measure and mode, is equally employed z, and has also its efficaciam, that is, power and, efficacy, not only from, and according to, its natural, essential attributes, or only so far as their ability extends, but chiefly from, and according to, the majesty, glory, power, and might which it has received through the personal union, glorification, and exaltation. 52 And nowadays even the adversaries can or dare scarcely deny this, except that they dispute and contend that those are only created gifts or finitae qualitates (finite qualities), as in the saints, with which the human nature in Christ is endowed and adorned; and that, according to their aa thoughts or from their own ab argumentationes (argumentations) or ac proofs, they wish to measure and calculate of what the human nature in Christ could or should be capable or incapable without becoming annihilated.