VIII. OF WHAT DID CHRIST EMPTY HIMSELF?
The various doctrine books teach that Christ possessed all the
glory, nature, and attributes of God during His earthly life just
as much as when He was in the form of God. They give us proof for
their conclusion that Christ had:
1. Omnipotence (Matt.8:16, 26-27; Luke 4:35-41; 5:25; 7:14-15;
8:54-55; Eph.1:20-23; Heb.1:3).
2. Omniscience (Mark 2:8; Luke 5:4-5,22; 22:10-12; John 1:48;
2:24-25; 4:15-19; 6:64; 13:1; 16:30; 21:17; Col.2:3).
3. Omnipresence (Matt.18:20; 28:20; John 3:13; 14:20; 2 Cor.
4. Eternity (John 1:1; 17:5; 8:58; Mic.5:2; Col.1:17; Heb.13:8; 1
5. Immutability (Heb.1:12; 13:8).
Upon examination of these passages it can be seen that NOT ONE
passage teaches that Christ had or used these attributes of
Himself while on Earth. The majority of them refer to the power
Christ had to heal, read the thoughts of men, and do certain
works by the direct anointing of the Spirit and not by being God
manifest in the flesh. Some of them refer to Christ before His
earthly life while still in the form of God. The rest of them
refer to Christ after His earthly life when He was exalted and
had His glory restored to Him as before becoming man. Thus not
ONE of them refers to Christ as acting of Himself without the
anointing of the Spirit and because He was God in flesh, having
all the natural attributes and powers that God had from all
The true Biblical teaching of the 'kenosis' of Christ is that in
taking human form He divested Himself of His divine attributes,
or at least power to use them, having laid aside His God-form and
voluntarily given up His glory which He had with the Father
before the world was and become limited in knowledge, wisdom,
power, glory, and in every way that man was, and that He retained
His deity or His divine nature.
The Bible further teaches that He was made of a woman without a
human father ... It could not be that Christ laid aside His
divine nature, for then He would cease being God. Paul did not
say He ceased being God, but that He laid aside His God-form and
emptied Himself of everything that would hinder Him from being a
true and real human being and "in all things" like His brethren
(Heb.2:9-18). The following points prove this to be the true
Biblical teaching of the 'kenosis' of Christ:
1. This harmonizes perfectly with every Scripture given by the
various writers. If Christ retained all divine attributes or the
free use of them in becoming man, then of what did He empty
Himself? And how could we harmonize all the many limitations of
His earthly life with the fact that He was equal with God in
every sense? If God, with all divine attributes, is as limited as
Christ was in His earthly life, then God is not so much greater
than man after all. On the other hand, if God is as infinite and
great as He is revealed in the Bible to be, and Christ
demonstrated just the opposite in His earthly life, then it must
be concluded that Christ divested Himself of the divine powers in
taking human form.
2. The manifestations of attributes as given by the above-stated
opinion can be explained as operations of the gifts of the Holy
Spirit of 1 Cor.12:4-11, which Christ possessed to the full. The
limitations of Christ in knowledge and wisdom cannot be explained
and harmonized with the fact that Christ had omniscience. His
limitations in power and His powerlessness to act and do things
in Himself cannot be harmonized with the fact that He had his
original attribute of omnipotence. These and other facts make it
clear that Christ's emptying Himself in reality includes the
laying aside of His attributes and powers or at least limitations
of them in becoming man ...
3. Paul definitely teaches in Phil.2:5-11 that Christ emptied
Himself and that He laid aside His Gad-form and His equality with
God and took human form and was "made in the likeness of men."
Paul further teaches in Heb.2:14-18; 5:8-9, that it was necessary
for Christ to be made "IN ALL THINGS . . . like unto his
brethren," that He should live among them and be like them, that
He should suffer with them and for them and in their stead, and
that He should be limited like them and have to depend upon God
for daily grace for body, soul, and spirit, so as to be "able to
succor them that are tempted." For "Though He were a Son, yet
learned He obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb.5:9).
4. Peter's doctrine o f the sufferings of Christ so as to leave
"its an example, that we should walk in His steps" would mean
nothing to ordinary human rebels if He endured the sufferings as
a God and not as a man. What injustice it would be to expect
ordinary, frail, and weak man to suffer as only a God could
suffer. On the other hand, if He suffered as any other human
being would suffer, having God as a helper only and not as being
a God, then every suffering human being can be inspired by such
an example and endure all as He did.
5. The prophets foretold His being limited as man. Isa.7:14-16
speaks of the virgin-born son as growing in knowledge as any
other child and that there would be a time in His life when He
would not know to choose the good and refuse the evil because of
being so young and immature. What a strange thing to say of Jesus
if He were a full grown God having all the use of the attributes
of God in a small human baby! Also in Isa.50:4-11 we read, "The
Lord God hath given me [Messiah] the tongue of the learned, that
I should know how to speak a word in due season to him that is
weary: He [God] wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear
to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I
was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to
the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked out the hair: I
hid my face from shame and spitting." Again, what strange words
to speak of a person if He had the attribute of omniscience! In
Isa.11:1 and 53:1-12 we have a detailed picture of the Messiah
growing up before God as a "tender plant" and "as a root out of
dry ground," which needs much nourishment and care in growth - a
man of sorrows, not a God of sorrows, smitten of God and
In Ps.119:97-104 we have another clear prophecy of the Messiah
meditating in the Word of God and becoming wiser than His
enemies, His teachers, and all the ancients. One could not
possibly harmonize such statements in connection with a full
grown, mature, and highly educated man, much less a great God
with all the use of His divine attributes and powers. We cannot
conceive of a God who still had omniscience and had to be taught
and be instructed as was Jesus, who still was immutable and
eternal and yet too young to know good from evil or capable of
death, who still was omnipotent and could not help Himself, who
still was omnipresent and yet was limited to a small, helpless
baby body, and who was limited by both Old Testament and New
Testament writers to the status of a human being during His
earthly life, He is certainly not the unlimited and almighty God
who has not emptied Himself as had Christ.
6. History proves Christ was limited during His earthly life.
Mark definitely states that Christ was limited in knowledge while
in His earthly life, for He did not know the day of His return to
Earth as did the Father (Mark 13:32). Luke also records how Jesus
"grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom ... the
grace of God was upon Him. . . . Jesus increased in wisdom and
stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:40-52). Paul
speaks of Him as having "learned obedience by the things which He
suffered (Heb.5:8). Such could never be said of Christ if He had
retained all His divine attributes of omniscience, immutability,
7. Christ Himself claimed no power or exercised no personal
attribute of deity apart from, the full anointing of the Holy
Spirit (Matt.12:28; Luke 3:21-22; 4:1,14-21; John 3:34; Acts
10:38). If His works were through the anointing of the Spirit,
then they could not be through the exercise of His own natural
attributes of deity. Prophecy foretells that Christ was to be
anointed with the Spirit and do all His works by this anointing,
not by being God and having the exercise of all divine attributes
as before and since His earthly life (Isa.11:1-2; 42:1-5; 48:16;
61:1). History plainly records the fulfillment of these
predictions (Matt.3:16-17; 12:22-32; 20:22; Luke 3:21-22;
4:14-21; John 1:31-34; 3:34; 5:19,30; 6:57; 8:28; 14:10,24; Acts
10:38; Rom.1:4; 3:1; 5:6; Heb.2:9-18; Rev.5:6). Christ did no
miracle or exercised no divine power until His anointing with the
Holy Spirit (Matt.3:16-17; Luke 4:14-21; John 2:11; 3:34; Acts
8. The fact that Christ promised all disciples that they could do
the same works and even greater works than what He did if they
would but empty themselves and "tarry until" they were endued
with power from on high, proves the source of His power was the
anointing of the Spirit instead of exercising divine attributes
by virtue of being God (Matt.10:1-20; 16:18; Luke 10:1-20; 24:49;
Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-15; 20:22; Acts 1:8).
The fact that disciples did exercise this power proves the same
contention. Disciples had power to impart the baptism in the
Spirit by laying on of hands, and they did a number of acts that
are not recorded in the life of Christ (Acts 8:5-20; 19:1-6). The
time was not yet come that men could be baptized with the Spirit
until Christ was glorified; hence Christ could not baptize men in
the Spirit while on Earth (John 1:31-33; 7:37-39; Acts 2:33;
Matt.20:22-24). Hence the "greater works."
9. Christ prayed for His original glory to be restored, which He
had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). It is not
until after the resurrection that He said, "All power is given
unto me in Heaven and in Earth" (Matt.29:18). Christ and others
repeatedly stated that God "gave" Him certain powers and
blessings which enabled Him to do His works (John 3:34-35; 5:22,
26-27; 17:2; Acts 10:38), that He did His works in the Father's
name just as believers are supposed to do them in His name (John
5:43; 10:25; 17:6-12,26), that He was not as great as the Father
(John 10:29; 14:28; 1 Cor.11:3), that He was sent of God and did
not come of Himself (John 3:14-18,34; 4:34; 5:17,30,36; 6:29,
38-40,57; 7:16,28; 8:16,28,29,42; 10:36; 12:44-45; 17:4,8), that
His works were not of Himself but were of the Father (John 5:17,
19; 10:32; 14:10), that He could do nothing of Himself (John
5:19,30), that He did nothing of Himself (John 8:28), that His
doctrine was not His own (John 5:20; 7:16; 8:26,28; 10:18; 14:31;
15:15), that He did not speak of Himself (John 8:38,40; 12:49;
14:10), that He sought God's glory, not His own (John 8:50), that
He was a servant of God and perfectly obedient to Him (John 8:35;
Isa.42:1; 50:5; Heb.5:8-9; 10:7), that His works were proof that
God was "with Him" and was doing the works, and therefore, they
were no proof that He had the essential attributes of God and was
using them of Himself (John 3:2; 5:31-36; 9:4; 10:25,38; 11:42;
14:10; Acts 10:38), that He was sending His followers to confirm
the gospel and do divine works just as the Father had sent Him
(John 17:18; Mark 16:15-20; Matt.28:19-20; Acts 1:1-4; Heb.
2:3-4), and that He used the same means of grace by prayer,
faith, and yieldedness to the Spirit that all believers after Him
must use (Luke 11:1-13; 24:49; Mark 11:22-24; Acts 1:1-8; 10:38;
Could such things be said of a God who had not emptied Himself of
His glory and the free use of His attributes and powers?
10. Christ's exaltation to the highest place with God is also
proof of His lowest humiliation and limitation before God - even
to do nothing, say nothing, be nothing, and depend upon God for
needed grace for body, soul, and spirit, and to make a success of
the work that He was sent into the world to do (Phil.2:9-11; Eph.
1:21-23; Col.1:15-24; 1 Pet.3:22). He could not have retained
this exalted position while becoming man, else He could not have
been exalted back to it.
He could not have retained immutability, nor immortality bodily;
else He could not have laid aside His God-form to become a
mutable and mortal man to die upon the cross. If He had not laid
aside His glory He could not have had it restored to Him, as
stated in John 17:5. If He had retained all His riches while on
Earth He could not have become poor for our sakes, as taught in 2
Cor.8:9. If He had retained His divine form He could not have
taken human form as taught in Phil.2:5-11.
Those who hold to the theory that Christ possessed all the
attributes of deity and that He merely surrendered the
independent exercise of them and that He surrendered to the
control of the Spirit in the use of them teach, in substance, the
same that we do, for they say, "the Godhead narrowed itself down
to a point that is next to absolute extinction when it gave up
omniscience, omnipotence, and other powers." If He had not laid
aside His equality as God, then He could not have been unequal
with God as manifested in the days of His flesh.
The incarnation proves He was limited as man and grew to manhood
and developed normally as any other human child. Therefore, all
the stories of Christ before His anointing with the Spirit, such
as His making mud cakes and giving life to them which ran over
the mud cakes of other boys, of His making mud birds and
breathing into them so that they became living creatures and flew
away, of His stretching the lumber to required lengths if it was
too short, and of many miraculous powers from birth are mere
traditions manufactured by superstitious pagans to make Him equal
with pagan ideas of their gods. These stories are unworthy of the
glorious offspring of the invisible God as revealed in the Bible,
Who did no miracle until His full anointing of the Spirit (Matt.
3:16-17; John 2:11).
IX. WHAT DOES OUR LORD'S "KENOSIS" TEACH US? IT TEACHES:
1. That Christ was always divine (Micah 5:1-2; John 1:1-3).
2. That He could not cease being God in nature (1 Tim.3:16).
3. That He retained His divinity when becoming incarnate in
4. That He was truly human as well as divine and lived while on
Earth a normal and perfect human life as an example to all men
who desire to please God (1 Pet.2:21).
5. That in so doing He laid aside His natural and divine
attributes or at least limited their use, and became a perfect
example of yieldedness to God and His Spirit to overcome the
world, the flesh, and the devil (Heb.10:5-9; Acts 10:38).
6. That He did His works solely by the anointing of the Spirit
and not by the free self-exercise of the attributes of His deity
while becoming man (Acts 10:38).
7. That He did them to demonstrate and prove to all believers
that by the means of grace God has provided that everyone can
live victorious as He did (1 John 2:6; 3:7; 4:17).
8. That every believer can likewise be anointed with the same
Spirit to the same degree that He was and do the works that He
did and even greater works (John 14:12).
9. That His life and works were done as a pattern for all
believers after Him (1 John 4:17; 1 Pet.2:21; Mark 16:15-20).
10. That at His exaltation He had restored to Him His attributes
and glory He had with the Father before becoming man (John 17:5;
11. That all the manifestations of divine attributes in His
earthly life were really the operations of the Holy Spirit, which
He was constantly baptized into (John 3:34). They were exercises
of the spiritual gifts of 1 Cor.12.
12. That He possessed the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit to
the full to demonstrate what being like God among men really is
like and to encourage one and all who aspire to that exalted
position of sons of God with power (John 3:34; Acts 10:38). Thus
by the 'kenosis' of Christ and that of believers in every
generation God proposes to demonstrate to the principalities and
powers in the heavenlies and all rebels on Earth the true nature
and manifold wisdom of God (1 Cor.4:9; 11:11; Eph.3:10-11).
END OF STUDY
Entered on Keith Hunt's Website Auguat 2003