have gone out into the world,
those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ
as coming in the flesh...."
(2 Jn 1:7)
Those who met Jesus first met him as a man and gradually became aware of his divine power which lead them to confess him as God's Son. As Christianity spread to the Hellenistic culture, some Greeks began to doubt the true humanity of Christ. The Docetists thought that matter was evil and that God would not take on a physical body. To them, his humanity was an illusion. Individual Docetists, Valentin and Apelles, basing themselves on the following quotations,
"The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven." (I Cor. 15:47)
"'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.'" (Mt. 1:20)
taught that Jesus had descended from heaven to earth in a spirit-form body and had passed through Mary like water through a canal, that is, not partaking of her nature.83
St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was probably a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, became the third Bishop of Antioch in 69 A.D. From his letters which he wrote to the different churches, we become aware that he was opposing this heresy and bent on affirming the humanity of Christ as he wrote to the Smyrnaeans, "He suffered truly, even as also He truly raised up Himself, not, as certain unbelievers maintain, that He only seemed to suffer, ...."
In the letter to the Trallians Ignatius wrote, "Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, ...."
Apollinaris of Laodicea (310-90) proposed the theory that Christ did not assume a complete human nature. He divided human nature into body, animal soul and spiritual soul (intelligence and free will). To his way of thinking the mind was the seat of personality, but since in Christ there was only a divine person, he could not have assumed the spiritual soul which would constitute a human person. The mistake he made was to equate person with nature. (Webpage: Newman Reader - Heresy of Apollinaris, No. 1:8)
Scripture affirms the full humanity of Christ. During the agony in the Garden Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." Here the will of the Father is the same as the will of the divine Son, but here he refers to "my will", that is, the will of his human nature which would have preferred not to suffer.
In today's culture we readily accept the humanity of Christ but we have a tendency to bring it down to the level of our fallen nature. Christ was true man, that is, man with pristine nature free from Sin.
Son of God