Is it right to speak of the Lord as having a human body?
There is nothing in Scripture that the Holy Spirit guards so much as “[the] person of Christ” (2 Cor. 2: 10). That He is God is not only clear from such specific Scriptures as Heb. 1: 8, but also from the general tone of the NT. Speaking of the Lord’s person demands both awe and reverence, and we do well to use the expressions given in Scripture regarding Him rather than theological terms devised by men. While it is incumbent on all who love the Lord to enquire with holy reverence into what the Bible says regarding His person, we must avoid anything that takes us beyond divine revelation. In the OT figure, this would amount to removing the lid from off the ark.
Now while the Bible uses the word person in relation to Christ, it never speaks of ‘the person of the Father’ or ‘the person of the Holy Spirit’. These expressions are used by well–meaning individuals, but they actually take us beyond Scripture. That there is distinction in the Godhead is clear, but to speak of the persons of the Godhead puts an unwarranted stress and emphasis on that distinction––for not only do we have distinction in regard to the Godhead but identity as well for “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14: 9). This latter feature is too weakened by the use of the word person. When Scripture speaks of the “person of Christ” it is referring, not to His place in the Godhead, but His position as man.
Of the reality of the Lord’s manhood there is no doubt, for the Scriptures speak of “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2: 5) and the Lord referred to himself as “a man who has spoken the truth to you” (John 8: 40). We must, however, exercise care in how we define His manhood. The teaching of the Bible is that man consists of spirit, soul and body (see 1 Thess. 5: 23)––he is a tripartite being. This is in contradistinction to the angels who are described in Heb. 1: 14 as “ministering spirits” (while a comparison of Gen. 18: 2, 16, 22 with Gen. 19: 1 shows that angels can, at least in some way, take on bodies such that they appear as men, they are never said to possess souls). The trinitarian concept is identified with both God and man, man being created in the likeness and image of God (see Gen. 1: 26, and note the plural in the words “Let us …” applied to God). Accordingly, in regard to the Lord Jesus, He himself speaks of His spirit (Mark 2: 8, 8: 12; Luke 10: 21, 23: 46; John 11: 33, 13: 21), His soul (Matt. 26: 38; Mark 13: 34; John 12: 27) and His body (Matt. 26: 12, 26; Mark 14: 8, 22; Luke 22: 19). However, we never find any descriptive words applied to the Lord’s spirit, soul or body beyond the possessive pronouns my and his (an exception is Phil. 3: 21, but this clearly refers to the Lord as He now is and not as He was on earth). To speak of the Lord’s human spirit, human soul, or even His human body, is a mistake as it links Him far too closely with our lost, fallen and sinful condition.
Note the great care that the Holy Spirit takes in describing the incarnation of the Lord. We read “Since therefore the children partake of blood and flesh, he also, in like manner, took part in the same” (Heb. 2: 14). The word “partake” in regard to us is a common equal sharing of the nature—what we all have in common. However, when the Spirit of God speaks of the Lord there is an important change. The Greek word translated as “took part in” always conveys the sense of something outside of oneself, and indicates a measure of distance and separation. Similar qualified language is used in Phil 2: 7, 8 where we read of the Lord “taking his place in [the] likeness of men; and having been found in figure as a man …” (my emphasis). Again, in regard to the Lord’s body it is written “thou hast prepared me a body” (Heb. 10: 5) and we read of “the holy thing also which shall be born” (Luke 1: 35). The Lord’s body was unique. It was unmarked by either sin (or disease, the result of sin)––His manhood was “sin apart” (Heb. 4: 15). While features common to us were also found in Christ––He hungered, thirsted, fell asleep, was sorrowful and depressed, was moved with compassion, expressed anger and love, was weary and was indignant––to describe His body as a “human body” would cloud that distinction and bring His manhood too close to our own. Scripture is silent as to the nature of the Lord’s spirit and soul, and where Scripture is silent we must be silent as well. His manhood is established in the trinity of spirit, soul and body, not in the nature of His spirit, soul and body, each and all of which were unique.