Who died on the Cross?

Oberland's picture

Hi all,

At our mid week bible study the Pastor said that God (as in the second person of the Trinity) died on the Cross. Instinctively I believed that to be wrong, and so I checked it out, first from the Word and then from trusted sources, I ended up with R.C.Sproul saying that it was impossible for God (the second person of the Trinity) to die, and John Macarthur said that God did die on the cross.I'm hoping that someone could shed some light on the subject.

Thank you


michael_legna's picture

Splitting the union of the two natures is Nestorian heresy

What you suggest (that only His body died on the cross) would fall under the heresy of Nestorius who while he correctly accepted the duality of Christ's natures, he mistakenly extended the distinction between them; and thus he denied that God, as such, could either be born, or suffer and die; but he pressed instead claimed the two natures to be merely a double personality. Instead of theanthropos, or a God-Man, he makes Christ merely a God-bearing man.

The teachings of Nestorius were condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431.

The confessions of the Council of Ephesus (431), composed by Theodoret says:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and body subsisting; as to his manhood, born of the Virgin Mary… of the same essence with the Father as to his Godhead, and of the same substance with us as to his manhood; for two natures are united with one another. Therefore we confess ONE Christ, ONE Lord, and ONE Son. By reason of this union, which yet is without confusion, we also confess that the holy Virgin is mother of God, because God the Logos was made flesh and man, and united with himself the temple even from the conception; which temple he took from the Virgin."

I don't say this in an attempt to make an appeal to authority, only as a means of pointing you to where you could do the reading and research to see how the Church defends the idea of God - Jesus dying on the cross as well as His human body. You can read the statements from the Council of Ephesus (along with the one I provided above) and also the writings of Pope Leo the Great whose reign follows right on the heels of this Council and so covered this often and in great detail.

When you say that the only reason we see he died is only to prove to the world that he could give himself to the sin of all people then we have another problem. That is what good would the death of one man (since you claim only his human nature died) do for the sins of the world. The death of one man for the sins and therefore the death of all men (since that is the punishment for sin) simply is not enough to satisfy the perfect justice demanded by God.