The Activity of the Holy Spirit in the Messiah


His Birth

Mary was told that her son would be conceived “from the Holy Spirit.”

“Before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy  Spirit.”   (Matt.1:18)

            An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “what is conceived in her is   from the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 1:20)

            Mary was told by Gabriel, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of    the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be   called the Son of God.”          (Luke 1:35)

The Holy Spirit was active in the creation of a “new humanity” in the conception of Jesus. He was unrelated to Adam’s sin nature but a descendent of Adam’s humanity. Jesus had no father from Adam’s line, but did have a mother from Adam. This gave him humanity but no human sin nature. He was born holy as a creation direct from God as a second Adam.

The Person of Christ

Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah as the God/Man.

            “For to us a child is born (this refers to the humanity of the Messiah, he was conceived and born and so had a beginning as all humans do),

            to us a son is given (this refers to the deity of the Messiah, he was given for he is eternal).

                                                            Isaiah 9:6


The Council at Chalcedon in 451 AD formulated a statement to explain this for orthodox Christianity. It says:

“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to              
            acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,                                       
            at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood,                                            
            truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body;                                                           
            of one substance with the Father as regards His Godhead,                                         
            and at the same time of one substance with us as regards His manhood;                               
            like us in all respects apart from sin;  as regards His Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages,                                
            but yet as regards His manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of                                  
            Mary the virgin, the God bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-Begotten,                          
            recognized in two natures, without confusion,  without change,                                                                                               
            without division,  without union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved                           
            and coming together to form one Person and subsistence,  not as parted or separated into two Persons,                  
            but one and the same Son and only begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ and the creed of the fathers
            has been handed down to us.”

Charles Ryrie in “Basic Theology” summarizes this portion of the Creed of Chalcedon as:

            “More concisely one may describe the person of Christ incarnate as being full            
            Deity and perfect humanity united with out mixture, change, division, or                               
            separation in one person forever.
            The key components of the description include ‘full Deity’ (no diminution of                                  
            any attribute of Deity), ‘perfect humanity’ (‘perfect’ rather than ‘full’ in order to emphasize His                                        
            sinlessness), ‘one Person’ (not two), and ‘forever’ (for He continues to have a body, though                               
             resurrected, Acts 1:11; Rev. 5:6)”

This union of the nature of God with the nature of man in one person is called the hypostatic union (or, the one person union). Jesus is the unique being in the universe. So you have Deity and perfect humanity living unmixed in one person.  

The nature of God and the nature of man belong to Jesus. The attributes of these two natures can not be mixed or else the nature of God would take on human attributes or the nature of man would take on divine attributes. Meaning if the human nature had divine attributes the human nature would no longer be human.

So these two natures exist unmixed in one person. Jesus could and can speak, act, or think from the perfect human nature or from the nature of deity. Or, both natures could be involved, yet unmixed, in his speech, actions or thinking.  

Some false doctrine concerning the incarnation of Christ:

Docetism         150 AD           Christ only appeared to be a man

Ebionism         100’s AD        Christ was the natural son of Joseph and Mary but was                                                                     
                                                            united with the eternal Christ at his baptism

Arianism          325 AD           Believed that Jesus, the second member of the trinity was                                                                 
                                                            produced by the eternal God in eternity past.

Apollinarianism 380 AD        Taught that Jesus had a human body and a human soul but                                                               
                                                             had the divine Logos instead of a human spirit.

Nestorianism   400’s AD        The two natures were separate forming two people in one


Eutychianism   400’s               In response to Nestorianism said there was only one nature. The divine nature was part divine
                                                            but not full nor  was the human nature full. Result: one mixed nature


Kenosis: Self-Emptying of Christ


“Kenosis” is the verb in Phil.2:7:

            “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

                        Who, being in very nature God,

                        Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

                        But made himself nothing,    (Literal: “but himself emptied”)                                           taking the very nature of a servant,                                                                                           being made in human likeness.

                        And being found in appearance as a man,

                        He humbled himself and became obedient to death. . .”

                                                (Philippians 2:5-8)


The Linguistic key says this about the word “ekenwsen” (the aorist active indicative of “kenow”, or “kenosis”):

            “to empty, to make empty, to make of no effect. The word does not mean He                       emptied Himself of His deity, but rather He emptied Himself of the display of His                deity for personal gain. The word is a graphic expression of the completeness of                 His self-renunciation and His refusal to use what He had to His own advantage.”


The concept is he left his position but not his nature.

He became a servant, but he maintained his full attributes of deity.

As God, he served man.

He left glory to go to the cross.

He did not leave the nature of deity.


Philippians 2:6 makes it clear he maintained full deity, “being in very nature God.”

Christ continued as God on the earth.

Compare “very nature God” to “taking the very nature of a servant.”

If he was not God on earth, then he was not a servant on earth either.


The “kenosis”, or self-emptying, was the taking or accepting “the very nature of a servant.”

Even in the form of a servant he was God.

The glory was veiled due to his nature as a servant, but it was with him.

His deity was with him, available to him and used by him while on the earth in the form             of a servant.


“Made in human likeness” means two things:

1)    He was really men.

2)    He was different from men.


“The self-emptying permitted the addition of humanity and di not involve in any way the subtraction of Deity or canceling the use of the attributes of Deity. There was a change of form but not of content of the Divine Being. He did not give up Deity or the use of those attributes; He added humanity. And this in order to be able to die.”[i]


1)    Christ’s Deity was veiled, but only in the sense that people saw his flesh and blood with their natural eye. His Deity was always apparent because it was always there and available.

a.     Matt 17:1-8, The transfiguration.

b.     John 1:14, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”

c.     John 17:5, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

d.     Luke 4:34, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

e.     Luke 4:41, “Demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.”

2)    Occasionally Jesus voluntarily choose not to use his divine attributes, but often choose to use his divine attributes.

a.     John 1:48, “ ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. . . you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” (the angels even appear when Jesus was born.)

b.     John 2:24, “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.”

c.     John 16:30, “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

d.     John 13:3, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”

3)    Jesus did miracles in the power of the Spirit, but sometimes in His own power.

a.     John 11:25, 40, 41, 43, “I am the resurrection and the life. . . Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? . . Father, I thank you that you have heard me. . .Lazarus, come out!”

b.     John 5:25, “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.”

c.     John 18:6, “When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”


Kenosis in Philippians 2 is not a discussion concerning how much of Christ’s divine attributes were laid aside or tell us that these divine attributes were restricted.

Philippians 2 is telling us that the second member of the trinity humbled himself and added to himself the “very nature of a servant”, which means he became a man.

By becoming a man he did not become less God or have to conceal his deity.

By becoming a man he could think, speak and act as a man, but

By being God he could continue to think, speak and act as God.


Philippians 2 tells us Jesus became a man in order to die as a man for the sins of man.


[i] Charles Ryrie, “Basic Theology”, Moody Press, Chicago, 1999, p. 301.