Grace Bible Church
Basic Training in Doctrine

October 23, 2007
The Doctrine of Kenosis Part 1

Point 1. The Origin of the Doctrine. It is derived from the Greek word KENOO, which means to empty oneself or to deprive oneself of a proper function, PHI 2:7a

Point 2. The True Humiliation of the Incarnation.

During the dispensation of the hypostatic union, our Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes in compliance with the Father’s plan for the Incarnation and the first Advent.

The objectives of the dispensation of the hypostatic union were related to the human nature of Jesus Christ

During the dispensation of the hypostatic union, our Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes in compatibility with His own objectives and purpose in living among men with their limitations.

Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes, but certain functions of deity continued to function, such as holding the universe together.

Jesus Christ gave up the independent exercise of His divine attributes only during the dispensation of the hypostatic union.

During the dispensation of the hypostatic union, our Lord veiled the preincarnate glory of His deity by giving up the outward appearance of God and voluntarily taking on Himself the form of man.

There was a flash of this glory also in JOH 18:6 When therefore He said to them, “I am {He},” they drew back, and fell to the ground.

Even though the humanity of Christ in the hypostatic union was perfect and impeccable, nevertheless, the deity of Christ was united with unglorified humanity.

The union of Christ to unglorified humanity is a necessary factor of humiliation.

While the deity of Christ was united to a perfect true humanity, He was still subject to temptation, distress, weakness, pain, sorrow, limitation, and to more temptations than we will ever face, HEB 4:15.

The glorification of the humanity of Christ was not completed until He was resurrected, ascended, and was seated at the right hand of the Father.

The essence of our Lord’s deity is composed of the sum total of His divine attributes, so that a change of attribute would necessarily involve a change of essence, and this is impossible since our Lord is immutable.

In the hypostatic union, the divine and human natures are united without transfer of attributes.

The divine nature of Christ was not changed by the Incarnation. He was not changed by being voluntarily restricted.

To rob God of a single attribute of His deity would destroy His divine nature.

To rob the humanity of Christ of a single attribute of humanity would destroy His humanity in the hypostatic union.

Point 3. Definition.

Kenosis is based on the fact that the union of the deity of Christ to unglorified but true humanity is a necessary factor in His humiliation.

This is why He taught us that JOH 15:20 “A slave is not greater than his master.”

And He said in JOH 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

The doctrine of Kenosis recognizes that during the dispensation of the hypostatic union, our Lord voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes for the execution of God the Father’s plan, will, and purpose for the Incarnation.

The plan for the incarnation not only called for the judgment of our sins, the provision of eternal salvation for all members of the human race, but simultaneously for the strategic victory of the angelic conflict.

Point 4. The Manifestation of Kenosis in our Lord’s Evidence Testing.

In the first test, MAT 4:3‑4, Jesus had gone forty days without food and was extremely hungry.

Our Lord continued to be hungry, and met Satan’s temptation with the quotation from DEU 8:3 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

The temptation of Satan was designed to lure the humanity of Christ away from reliance upon the omnipotence of the Father for His logistical grace, and upon the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit inside the PPOG.

According to LUK 2:52, our Lord “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Instead, our Lord’s humanity depended upon two categories of divine omnipotence, which had never before been available on such a grand scale: the omnipotence of the Father in logistical grace support, and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit only inside the PPOG.

Point 5. The False Doctrine of Kenosis.

The traditional view says that the relative divine attributes of Christ were surrendered during the First Advent.

Kenotic theologians hold that the Logos (Jesus Christ), though retaining His divine self‑consciousness and His imminent attributes (holiness, love, and truth), surrendered His relative attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence).

The gnostic view denies that Christ had a real body or that His body was made of some heavenly substance instead of human flesh.

The Lutheran view denies that the incarnation involved any humiliation.

Point 6. Objections to the False Doctrines of Kenosis.

It is impossible for deity to surrender an attribute without changing the character of the essence from which it came.

MAL 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change;”

Therefore, there is no logical basis for distinguishing between relative attributes and absolute attributes as being more or less essential to the deity of Christ like the Kenotic theologians do.

a. Spirituality includes the life and personality of God.

b. Infinity includes self‑existence, immutability and His unity.

c. Perfection includes His holiness, truth, and love.

a. Attributes related to time and space: eternity and immensity.

b. Attributes related to creation: omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.

c. Attributes related to moral beings: veracity and faithfulness, which are related to His truth; mercy and goodness, which are related to His love; and justice and righteousness, which are related to His holiness.

In fact, the purpose of the Gospel of John is to prove the deity of Christ, that He remained deity during His incarnation, that omnipresence continued in the flesh, JOH 1:48; JOH 3:13.

Point 7. The True Concept of Kenosis.

During the First Advent, Jesus Christ was both undiminished deity and true humanity in one person.

To execute the Father’s plan for the First Advent, the humanity of Christ relied on the PPOG, logistical grace, the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, and the Bible doctrine in His soul.

Consequently, the independent expression of His deity and the independent exercise of His divine attributes was not “a gain to be seized and held,” if so the Father’s plan for the First Advent would have been neutralized.

Therefore, Christ voluntarily took on Himself the form of a servant in order to redeem man from sin, reconcile man to God, and propitiate the Father.

Point 8. The Factors of Kenosis.

Christ gave up the outward appearance (SCHEMA) of God, but not the essence (MORPHE) of God,
Phil 2:7.

Christ voluntarily took upon Himself “the likeness of mankind,”
PHI 2:7.

Point 9. Part of the kenosis is the sustaining ministry of God the Holy Spirit to the humanity of Christ.

Jesus Christ was the first one to receive this ministry.
ISA 11:1‑3, 42:1, 61:1.

This ministry of the Holy Spirit is related to the virgin birth in
MAT 1:20; PSA 40:6; HEB 10:5.

Christ was constantly filled with the Spirit from birth, JOH 3:34.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is related to the baptism of Jesus,
MAT 3:13‑17.

It is related to His public ministry, MAT 12:18, 28; LUK 4:14‑15, 17‑18, 21.

The omnipotence of the Holy Spirit sustained Jesus Christ while bearing our sins on the cross, HEB 9:14.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry to Christ is continued as the agent in resurrection, ROM 8:11; 1PE 3:18‑19.

This same ministry and power is transferred to the royal family,
JOH 7:38‑39, 16:13‑14; 2CO 3:1‑3; EPH 3:16‑17.

“to the East” is a preposition and a noun paneh, in the presence, in the face of in front of, against, or in defiance of his brethren.

Scroll to Top