Barth on the Two States of Christ

In His Godhead, as the eternal Son of the Father, as the eternal Word, Jesus Christ never ceased to be transcendent, free, and sovereign. He did not stand in need of exaltation, nor was He capable of it. But He did as man – it is here again that we come up against that which is not self-evident in Jesus Christ. The special thing, the new thing about the exaltation of Jesus Christ is that One who is bound as we are is free, who is tempted as we are is without sin, who is a sufferer as we are is able to minister to Himself and others, who is a victim to death is alive even though He was dead, who is a servant (the servant of all servants) is the Lord. This is the secret of His humanity which is revealed in His resurrection and ascension and therefore shown retrospectively by the Evangelists to be the secret of His whole life and death. It is not simply that He is the Son of God at the right hand of the Father, the Kyrios, the Lord of His community and the Lord of the cosmos, the bearer and executor of divine authority in the Church and the world, but that He is all this as a man – as a man like we are, but a man exalted in the power of His deity. This is what makes Him the Mediator between God and man, and the One who fulfils the covenant. (Barth, Church Dogmatics iv.1, 135)

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3 Responses to “Barth on the Two States of Christ”

  1. That’s a great quote mate. Particularly helpful for us in protecting against Kenotic theology. I like his emphasis on Chalcedonian Christology (“as man” etc). Thanks for posting!

    • stephengardner Says:

      You should check out the larger section pp 128-136. He gives a small sweep of how the two states of Christ (humiliation and exaltation) relate to his two natures (divine and human) and how they have been integrated in history. Good stuff.

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