Was Jesus Man or God?
The Divine Human

Excerpted from
Inner Light: Swedenborg Explores the Spiritual Dimension
by Brian Kingslake
available at the
Swedenborg Foundation

Before the days of Jesus Christ, there was no direct link or bridge between the divine and the human, between the infinite and the finite. Apart from a few religious geniuses, people could not approach their maker, except through a priesthood, and all worship had to be in the form of ritual. This had lead to alienation of people from God, resulting in the uprise of the hells. To prevent the situation from arising again, God took steps to assume a human nature, which would bring Him into direct personal contact with every individual member of His human family. No more need of a sacrificial priesthood, not even of a temple! "The tabernacle of God" was to be with people.

The plan was for God to fertilize an ovum in the womb of a certain woman, Mary of Nazareth, who would bear a son to be called Jesus (meaning "Jehovah saves"). Jesus was to grow up as a normal human being. As He regenerated, God would replace, bit by bit, all that was finite in Him, substituting for it what was infinite and divine, so that eventually the young man would be entirely infilled with the Godhead, and be (as it were) absorbed back into His divine Father. He was to "come forth from the Father and come into the world again, He was to leave the world and go to the Father." (John 16:28.)

Like other children, Jesus had a dual heredity, paternal and maternal. His paternal heredity was, of course, divine. (His birth was not strictly a "virgin birth" or parthenogenesis, which would necessarily have produced a female offspring; Jesus did have a Father, but the Father was God.) His maternal heredity was like that of any other child. Mary gave Him his flesh and bones, His physical senses, His natural intelligence. He began life in complete ignorance and had to learn everything, like any other child. He could grow weary. He could become angry and weep. In those days Jesus did not seem to be "God in human form." Indeed, if His divinity had been too obvious, how could He have lived and mixed with people on earth - or they with Him? He could not have performed the work He was sent to do. The whole point was that He should be completely human as well as completely divine.

Due to His corrupt human heredity, Jesus could be, and was, tempted by evil spirits. But, as He drove out the evil spirits who were tempting Him, that "temptable" part of His nature was replaced bit by bit with divine substance from his Father. Therefore, as His infirm human grew less and less with regeneration, His Divine-Human grew more and more. (The three disciples saw something of the Divine-Human on the Mount of Transfiguration; the Lord's face shone as the sun, and even His garments glowed. [Matthew 7:2]) His infirm human was completely destroyed by the crucifixion, after which His Divine-Human took over, even down to His flesh and bones, so that there was nothing left in the tomb.

An illustration can be taken from the building of a house. When a house is under construction, scaffold poles are first erected. Sometimes these rough poles are set up all around the site, and passers-by might even mistake them for the intended building! But when all is completed, the scaffold poles are removed, and there stands a beautiful stone edifice. In the case of Jesus, the parts of His nature which he inherited from Mary were like the scaffold poles, whereas the parts he inherited from His Father were the stones. The scaffold poles ensure that the stones are placed in the right position, they are afterwards removed. So, the parts from Mary enabled God to form His Divine-Human, but they were eventually discarded.

Never forget that the soul of Jesus was Jehovah God. Your soul is a finite vessel containing God's life; and because it is finite, you will always be finite. You will never merge with God. But Jesus was different; God was his Father, so His soul was God. It was not a vessel containing God; it was God Himself. Therefore, Jesus had no finite limitations. His regeneration went on and on without halting, until His humanity was dissolved in the divinity of God, making one person only. Thereafter, Jesus was that part of God which could approach humanity, and which humanity could approach.

Six Stages in the Development of His Consciousness

  1. During his childhood and youth in Nazareth, Jesus was conscious mostly as the son of Mary and may even have thought of Joseph as His father. His "Divine-Human" was potentially present, but unformed, quiescent.

    As he reached manhood, He began to be assaulted by evil spirits from the spiritual world, who could, of course, enter His "infirm humanity." He was tempted in all points like as we are.

  2. He resisted the evil spirits and drove them away to hell. As He did so, God's life poured in and replaced the corruptible elements in His nature, and the "Divine-Human" began to develop. While tempted, He was conscious as the Son of God. His consciousness kept switching over from one side of his nature to the other (which, of course, is rather like what happens with us also, only both sides of our nature are finite).

  3. By the time of the crucifixion, He had put away almost everything which He had inherited from Mary. He still retained His physical body and His physical senses, including the sense of pain. His last temptation was in this area.

  4. In the sepulcher after the crucifixion, His Divine-Human impregnated the very atoms of the physical body, absorbing them into itself. Thus He was "glorified" or  made wholly divine. The process was not completed all at once, so that for a few more weeks His disciples could still see Him, and He retained the wound scars in His hands, feet and side.

  5. Eventually, nothing from Mary was left, except that He was still in the human form. He was now merged with God, having "all power in Heaven and on earth," no longer visible to finite human eyes.

Has God Changed?

Basically, God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. But, by taking upon Himself a human nature and glorifying it, He added another aspect to His divinity. Previously everything human was necessarily finite. That is why, when evil spirits attacked humanity, God could not directly intervene. But after the life, death and ascension of Jesus Christ, God Himself became "human," in the sense that He now has a permanent foothold in humanity and can reach down into the hearts and minds of all humanity even penetrating down into hell.

Previously God had a divine celestial and a divine spiritual degree, but no divine natural degree. Jesus provided him with a divine natural degree.

It has become misleading now to use the term "Son of God." After all, Jesus was the Son of God for only some 33 years, long ages ago. After the ascension, Jesus became (as it were) the "body" of God. Jehovah was the soul, the newly-formed Divine-Human was the "body." And as, when we approach anyone, we go to Him in his body, and communicate with his soul through his body, so, when we approach God, we met Him in His Divine-Human.

The Trinity: Aspects of One Divine Essence

The old, false idea of God was that He was, is, and ever has been, a trinity of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all existing side by side since before the creation of the universe. The theory is that at a certain point in time, one of these three persons, the Son, came into the world as a baby, grew up here to adult status, was crucified, was buried, and then ascended back to Heaven, to rejoin the Father and the Holy Ghost; after which everything was as it had been.

The main error here is the supposition that the Son of God existed as a second person of the Holy Trinity since the beginning. We have already discussed this previously, but let us recapitulate some reasons for disbelieving it.

  1. A son must have a mother, and there were no women available before the creation. Mary of Nazareth was the mother of Jesus, and she came comparatively late in the story.

  2. If the Son had been there from the beginning, surely He would have been mentioned in the Old Testament, which He isn't! On the contrary, Jehovah declares in Isaiah: "I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:21.) The "Son of God" mentioned in Daniel 3:25 is a mistranslation which should read: "a son of the gods" - Nebuchadnezzar's idea of a glorious spiritual being. It was, of course, an angel. (See Psalm 34:7).

  3. If the Son of God had been in existence from eternity, presumably an adult, how was it that He came into Mary's womb as an embryo, then a fetus, and finally a sucking baby? Surely He would have arrived a full-grown man, knowing everything!

It is true that Jesus claimed to have been in existence since "before Abraham was." (John 8:58.) He was not a created being, like other men. His soul was Jehovah Himself, the great "I am." That is why, when Jesus said "Before Abraham was, I am!" the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy. He did not say, however, that He had been the Son of God prior to His birth in Bethlehem.

Let us make the point perfectly clear. In so far as Jesus was divine, He was God. Not the Son of God (which He was when mixed with Mary's heredity) but simply God.

Three Essentials in One Person

We have seen that everyone is a trinity - three essentials in one person - we have a soul or spirit, a physical body and an 'influence' or sphere or outgoing personality by which others know us. There is also another kind of trinity involved in every project we undertake: love, wisdom and power (or end, cause and effect). In the beginning, God was a trinity like this. At heart, He was just love. But love cannot exist alone, it needs others outside itself whom it can love and make happy. So love produced wisdom, which set to work to plan the creation of a finite universe full of creatures, including people. His wisdom was (as it were) the architect, the builder. Finally the divine wisdom sent out energy from the divine love to accomplish its plans, rather as an architect employs construction workers. This energy was the divine power. In Old Testament times, then, the holy trinity consisted of love, wisdom, and power, three essentials in one person, that person being Jehovah God.

When, later on, God wished to enter His universe as a man, He naturally came as the divine wisdom or Word, which had created the universe in the first place. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14). Now, in Bethlehem, for the first time, we have the Father-Son relationship within the Godhead. The divine love was the Father, and the divine wisdom was (as it were) the Son. And their outpouring energy was the Holy Spirit.

This Father-Son relationship lasted for only about thirty years, form the birth of Jesus until His resurrection from the death. After the ascension, the Holy Trinity consisted of (1) the divine Inmost; (2) the divine Human, and (3) the outflowing divine life. These three essentials correspond to the heat, light, and radiation of the spiritual Sun in Heaven, which is the Lord as seen by the angels.

We will now place these trinities together, side by side, and I think you will see how similar they are. In fact, they are really the same, under different names! God's nature has not essentially changed, and we are in His image and likeness.

Before Creation:
Old Testament
While Jesus 
was on Earth: 
 New Testament
After the
Love Father (Soul) Divine Inmost Heat
Wisdom (Word) Son (Body) Divine Human Light
Power Holy Spirit (Life) Divine Life Radiation

The Holy Ghost

Nobody seems to know why the Holy Ghost should be addressed as "him," and called a "person." The word "ghost" simply means spirit, breath or wind, and suggests "outflowing life or activity." At the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:2) the holy spirit entered Him from Jehovah and was seen as a dove; only after receiving it was He enabled to do His redemptive work. He later promised His disciples that, when He was glorified, or united completed with His Father, this same holy spirit would overflow from Him into them, as the comforter. (John 14:26 and 7:39.) This, immediately after the resurrection, Jesus "breathed" on them in the upper room, and said: "Receive ye the holy ghost." (John 20:22.) A few weeks later, at Pentecost, the same holy spirit came down in full force upon all who believed in Him - "as tongues of fire and a rushing mighty wind." (Acts 2:2-4.) Since then, the holy spirit was, and still is, the powerful stream of life which flows into men's hearts and minds from the glorified Lord Jesus Christ; i.e., from the Divine-Human. Those who receive it are said to be "baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Next: Salvation the Goal

Previous Article: How Redemption and Salvation are two different things

Additional Article: The Bible: Mirror of Identity

I highly recommend the book Inner Light by Brian Kingslake

Emanuel Swedenborg's True Christian Religion
Both are available at the Swedenborg Foundation

Music is How Great Thou Art