If Jesus was eternal, then how could He die?

by Matt Slick

Before we can answer this question, we need to understand the doctrine of the hypostatic union. It is the teaching that within the single person of Christ are two distinct natures: divine and human. This means that Jesus is both God and man. So when we see Jesus, we're looking at the man, but within Him is also the divine nature. However, we cannot see divinity. It does not have a weight, shape, or color. We must perceive the divine nature through the human nature of Christ. Therefore, we would see Jesus, the man, literally walking and eating. This clearly displays His human nature. But we also see that He said that He would always be with us wherever we were (Matthew 28:19-20). This shows His divine nature.

When it comes to Jesus' dying on the cross, we must understand that it was not the divine nature of Christ that died. Instead, it was the human nature. The divine nature is eternal and cannot die (Psalm 90:2; Malachi 3:6), but the human nature can die, and Jesus did so on the cross.

So, when we say that Jesus is eternal, we are speaking of the divine aspect--that divine nature He possesses. But when we say that Jesus died, we are speaking of the human aspect--the human nature that died on the cross.

Jesus has two natures

Jesus as God

Jesus as Man

He is worshiped (Matt. 2:2, 11; 14:33). He worshiped the Father (John 17).
He is prayed to (Acts 7:59). He prayed to the Father (John 17).
He is sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15). He was tempted (Matt. 4:1).
He knows all things (John 21:17). He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52).
He gives eternal life (John 10:28). He died (Rom. 5:8).
All the fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9). He has a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.