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Beza on Jesus: God and Man in one Person, our Savior

25 July, 2009

Theodore Beza

Theodore Beza

A clear, helpful summary of the full divinity and humanity of our one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, from Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva. This is an excerpt from his Confession of the Christian Faith (1558). The many scripture references are especially useful.

Why it was necessary that Jesus Christ be true man in nature, in His body and in His soul, but without any sin

It was necessary that the Mediator of this covenant and this reconciliation be true man, but without any stain of original sin or any other, for the following reasons:

Firstly, since God is very righteous and man is the object of His wrath, because of natural corruption (1 Tim 2:5; John 1:14; Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4; Rom 8:2-4; 1 Cor. 1:30), it was necessary in order to reconcile men with God, that there be a true man in whom the ruins caused by this corruption would be totally repaired.

Secondly, man is compelled to fulfil all the righteousness which God demands from him in order to be glorified (Matt 3:15; Rom 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would perfectly fulfil all righteousness in order to please God.

Thirdly, all men are covered with an infinite number of sins, as much internal as external; that is why they are liable to the curse of God (Rom 3:23-26; Is 53: 11, etc). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would fully satisfy the justice of God in order to pacify Him.

Finally, no corrupt man would have been able, in any way, to even begin to fulfil the least of these actions. He would first of all have had need of a Redeemer for himself (Rom 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2). So much was necessary for himself before he could buy back the others, or could do anything pleasing or satisfying to God (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6). It was therefore necessary that the Mediator and Redeemer of men be true man in his body and in his soul, and that he be, nevertheless, entirely pure and free from all sin.

Why it was necessary that Jesus Christ be true God

It was necessary that this same Mediator be true God and not only man (John 1:14, etc); at the very least for the following reasons:

Firstly, if He was not true God, He would not be Saviour at all, but would himself have need of a Saviour (Is 43:11; Hos. 13:4; Jer. 17:5-8).

Secondly, it is necessary, from the justice of God, that there be a relationship between the crime and its punishment. The crime is infinite, for it is committed against One whose majesty is infinite. Therefore there is here need of an infinite satisfaction; for the same reason, it was necessary that the One who would accomplish it as true man be also infinite, that is to say, true God.

Thirdly, the wrath of God being infinite, there was no human or angelic strength known which could bear such a weight without being crushed (John 14:10,12,31; 16:32; 2 Cor. 5:19). He who was to live again, after having conquered the devil, sin, the world and death united to the wrath of God, had to be therefore not only perfect man, but also true God.

Lastly, in order to better manifest this incomprehensible goodness, God did not wish that His grace should only equal our crime; He willed that where sin abounds, grace superabounds (Rom 5:15-21). For this reason, while he was created in the image of God, the first Adam, author of our sin, was earthly, as his ‘frailty showed well (1 Cor. 15:45-47). Jesus Christ, on the contrary, the second Adam, through whom we are saved, while being true and perfect man, is nevertheless the Lord come from Heaven, that is to say, the true God. For, in essence, all the fullness of divinity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9). If the disobedience of Adam made us fall, the righteousness of Jesus Christ gives us more security than we had previously. We hope for life procured by Jesus Christ, better than that which we lost in Adam; even more so as Jesus Christ surpasses Adam.

How the mystery of our salvation has been accomplished in Jesus Christ

Therefore we confess that, in order to fulfil the covenant promised to the ancient fathers and predicted by the mouth of the prophets (Is 7:14; Luke 1:31,35,55,70) the true, unique and eternal Son of God the Father (Rom 1:3; John 17:5; 16:28; Phil 2:6-7) took, at the time appointed by the Father, the form of a servant. Being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and without any operation of man (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:28,35), He took human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted (Heb. 4:15; 5:2).

The two natures, that of God and that of man, have been united in one Person since the moment of the conception of the flesh of Christ. We confess that, from the moment of this conception, the Person of the Son has been inseparably united to the human nature (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:31,32,35,42,43). There are not two Sons of God, or two Jesus Christs: but One alone is properly Son of God, Jesus Christ. At all times the properties of each of the two natures remain entire and distinct. For the divinity separated from the humanity, or the humanity disjoined from the divinity, or the one being confounded with the other, would profit us nothing.

Jesus Christ is therefore true God and true man (Matt 1:21-23, Luke 1:35). He has a true human soul, and a true human body formed from the substance of the virgin Mary, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. By this means, he was conceived and born of this virgin Mary, virgin, I say, before and after the birth. And all this was accomplished for our redemption.

Summary of the accomplishment of our salvation in Jesus Christ

He therefore descended to earth to draw us up to Heaven. (Eph. 2:6). From the moment of His conception until His resurrection, He bore the punishment of our sins in order to unburden us of them (Matt 11:28; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18; Is 53:11). He perfectly fulfilled all righteousness so as to cover our unrighteousness (Rom 5:19; Matt 3:15). He has revealed to us the whole will of God His Father, by His words and by the example of His life, so as to show us the true way of salvation (John 15:15; Acts 1:1-2).

Finally, to crown the satisfaction for our sins which He took upon Himself (Is 53:4-5), He was captured in order to release us, condemned so that we might be acquitted. He suffered infinite reproach in order to place us beyond all shame. He was nailed to the cross for our sins to be nailed there (Col. 2:14). He died bearing the curse which we deserved, so as to appease for ever the wrath of God through the accomplishment of His unique sacrifice (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 10:10,14). He was entombed to show the truth of His death, and to vanquish death even in its own house, that is to say even in the grave; He experienced no corruption there, to show that, even while dead, he had conquered death (Acts 2:31). He was raised again victorious so that, all our corruption being dead and buried, we might be renewed in new, spiritual and eternal life (Rom 6; and nearly everywhere in St. Paul). By this means, the first death is no longer to us a punishment for sin and an entrance into the second death, but, on the contrary, is the ending of our corruption and an entrance into life eternal. Lastly, being raised again and then having spoken throughout forty days here below to give evidence of His resurrection (Acts 1:3,9-11), He ascended visibly and really far above all heavens, where He sat down at the right hand of God His Father (John 14:2). Having taken possession for us of His eternal kingdom, He is, for us also, the sole Mediator and Advocate (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 1:3; 9:24), and governs His Church by His Holy Spirit, until the number of the elect of God, His Father, is completed (Matt 28:20, etc).

  1. merlotmudpies permalink
    25 July, 2009 5:52 pm

    reading this leaves me speechless and adds so much depth to the fathomless wonder of it all. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    What a wonderful God!

    • 25 July, 2009 9:20 pm

      And Beza’s usually reported by professional historians to have been a cold rationalist predestinarian! Of course, most people — even professionals — haven’t taken the time to read Beza, and discover many a very pleasant surprise such as this.


  2. 28 July, 2009 1:07 am

    Thanks for that. I’m curious, where did you find it? I’ve been looking up and down for that Confession.

  3. 28 July, 2009 10:39 am


    I’ve always accessed it through Early English Books Online, to which many universities/seminaries subscribe. They have it in 16th and 17th century Latin, French and English versions.

    This excerpt is from a larger excerpt on the Son of God at ReformationINK, which according to them, is from a recent edition of The Christian Faith, trans. James Clark (Focus Christian Ministries Trust, East Essex England, 1992).

    Here’s the link to the larger excerpt:

  4. Robert T. Bobar permalink
    27 August, 2010 1:02 am

    In The Bible those teach these ideas are called Anti-Christs 1 John 5:1-7. The phase “in the flesh” was understood by NT writers to be literal as can be see in Philipians 2:1-8 where paul uses the phase in connection with death “Leaving his body & being with the Lord”. Else where we can also see Paul Christiology in Galacians 1:1 where he claims his aurhority came not from a man but through Jesus The Anointed one. 1 John 5 even claims these Anti-christs were known by the author but they went out that it may be plain. YOU ARE VERY FAR FROM THE TRUTH!!!!

    Various forms of anti-christ teaching became popular in 2nd century but this form was because of the Chalcedon council. There were many type because without standard(The Bible) there was no final authory to end the countless variation that emerged. One form even try to say God was the Logic (mind) but that He still had a human emotion. All of them onething in common that they deny that Jesus was God literally in the flesh. The reason that denial was that Philosophy was not base on Good Verses Evil but on inferior verses superior: SIMPLY PUT THE PHILOSOPHERS VIEW JESUS AS INFERIOR BECAUSE OF DEATH. This is also why Paul worns christians about philosophy and in acts you can read where the philosopher rejcted the resurrection that was because it admitted to life from DEATH which was inferior. The history is plainly there for any real student of Bibical teaching. But most go along with tradition finding hard to side with God. This teach is Not unforgivable sin but we must remember that it is one rare sin when a greeting was not allowed.

  5. 16 October, 2010 12:23 am

    Gotta love the bible!

  6. 25 November, 2010 9:21 pm

    I know I love the bible.


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