Did Jesus Have a Sinful Nature as Christadelphianism Teaches?

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Last edited on 21/Apr/2021

The Bible’s Answer

Introduction

The Bible’s answer to this question is no, Jesus did not have a sinful nature (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). The non-Christian cult known as Christadelphianism, however, teaches that Jesus was born with a sinful nature that he inherited from Adam, and that because of this he needed to be saved just like the rest of us.¹,²,³ Below are some Christadelphian quotes which clearly teach this position:

Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus if it had not existed there. (Elpis Israel, page 128) ⁴

Sinful flesh being the hereditary nature of the Lord Jesus, he was a fit and proper sacrifice for sin. (Elpis Israel, page 128) ⁴

Jesus was the sin-nature, or sinful flesh of Adam, that sin being THUS laid upon him, he might die for it. (Christadelphian, 1873:407) ⁴

It is testified that he was ‘made sin for us’ (2 Cor. 5:21). As he was not of sinful character, this could only apply to his physical nature, drawn from the veins of Mary. (Christadelphian, 1869:83) ⁴

And it was for that very reason—being a member of a sinful race— that the Lord Jesus himself needed salvation (Psalm xci. 16; Heb. v. 7). (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24) ⁵

Christ did not come into the world to save himself; he came into the world to save “us”. … But it is equally true that, being “made sin for us” (2 Cor. v. 21), he himself required a sin offering; in other words, he sacrificed himself, for himself, that he might save us. Or, in other words, he saved himself in order to save us. He was brought from the dead “through the blood of the everlasting Covenant” (Heb. xiii. 20). That Christ needed salvation is seen from Psalm xci. 16. It is also clearly taught in Heb. ix. 12. (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24) ⁵

Jesus Have a Sin Nature?

In opposition to these quotes, the Bible is absolutely clear that Jesus did not have a sinful nature. The Bible says that in his life, Jesus was “without sin”, “committed no sin”, and that “in him there is no sin”:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, ESVUK)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (1 Peter 2:21–22)

You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (1 John 3:5) ⁸

Jesus was sinless in every sense of the word according to these passages. There was nothing about him morally or physically that was defected or fallen like us. A person’s nature makes them what they are. If Jesus had a sinful nature, as the Christadelphians teach, then this necessarily makes him a sinful man who fell short of God the Father’s glory. Thankfully, the above Bible passages refute such a twisted and warped teaching.

Was Jesus Sinful Physically, Not Morally?

It should be noted, as seen in one of the quotes at the top, that the Christadelphians believe Jesus was sinful physically, not morally. However, the Bible refutes this as well. It teaches that Jesus is not only holy now, but that he was also holy during his life on earth, too:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68–69)

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26)

… but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, … (1 Peter 3:15)

What’s especially significant here is that Jesus was holy not only as an adult, but the moment he was born. To be holy means to be separated from sin. Since Jesus was separated from sin throughout his entire life on earth, this necessarily entails that sin was separated not only from his moral character, but also his physical body. Christadelphian beliefs, therefore, teach that Jesus was not truly holy. Their belief is also refuted because of the fact that Jesus offered his body to God “without blemish” or “spot”:

… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)

… knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18–19) ⁹

These passages clearly tell us that Jesus’ body was a perfect sacrifice. If his body were unclean, defected, or sinful, then it wouldn’t have sufficed as the perfect payment for sins, since God’s standards are perfection. In fact, the mere notion that God would actually accept a fallen, blemished sacrifice for the sins of the world is an insult to him. God is far too holy and righteous for that.

Did Jesus Need to Be Saved?

Since the Bible is clear that Jesus didn’t have a sinful nature, this proves that he didn’t need to be saved. Furthermore, there is not a single passage in the entire Bible saying that Jesus needed salvation—it is a completely fictional idea. To the contrary, Jesus is the righteous one who suffered for the unrighteous:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, … (1 Peter 3:18)

The holy, innocent, and righteous one had no need to redeem himself, because there is nothing that can be redeemed in righteousness. It’s like trying to clean a pure, flawless stone that has been perfectly preserved in a grand gallery—what’s there to clean? He gave up his righteous life to redeem the unrighteous. The Bible also says:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

This clearly tells us that Christ’s mission on earth was “to save sinners”, not “himself”. The latter wasn’t even part of the mission. Only the perfect, sinless Messiah could save fallen, sinful humanity. In addition, if he really had to save himself, then he must be counted among the sinners that this passage talks about. However, the Bible has already proven that Jesus was not a sinner.

Bible Passages

Like all non-Christian cults, Christadelphians attempt to back up their false doctrines by quoting passages from the Bible. Some common passages that are used include Psalm 91:16, Romans 8:3,¹,⁶ 2 Corinthians 5:21,⁵ Hebrews 2:17, 4:15, 5:7, 7:27, and 9:12.⁴,⁶,⁷ Let’s examine each of them and see if they really teach that Jesus had a sinful nature and needed salvation, or if that’s what’s simply being imposed on the text.

Psalm 91:16

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. (Psalm 91:16)

This passage does not say that Jesus had to be saved because of a sinful nature. All it says is that God the Father will show Jesus his salvation. The word for “salvation” in the Old Testament can mean “to save, help in distress, rescue, deliver, set free”,¹¹ or “victory”,¹² and is usually material in nature, but sometimes it can be spiritual. In this case, in clearly refers to the former, as evident from the context: “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him,” (Psalm 91:14–15). God showed Jesus his “victory” (salvation) over death, or his “deliverance” (salvation) from it by raising him from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, and seating him at his right hand. Nowhere does this passage suggest that Jesus was saved from a sinful nature.

Romans 8:3

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, … (Romans 8:3)

The fact that Christ was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh does not mean that he had a sinful nature. The keyword here is “likeness”—Jesus simply had the appearance of “sinful flesh”. Jesus came to the earth as a true human just like us, except unlike us he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). God condemning sin in the flesh refers to the fact that the power or authority that sin had over us was disposed of by Jesus through his sacrificial death on the cross.¹⁰

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20–21)

Christ being “made sin” has nothing to do with him having a sinful nature. To the contrary, Jesus was “made sin” in the sense that on the cross he bore all the sins of the world (1 Peter 2:24). He received our unrighteousness. Whoever is “in him”, on the other hand, becomes “the righteousness of God”; that is to say, we receive his righteousness that he merited on our behalf.

Hebrews 2:17

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)

It is clear that being “made like his brothers in every respect” refers to the fact that Jesus came to the earth as a true human, not that he inherited a sinful nature. This is because only men could be high priests. As our high priest, Jesus was able to “make propitiation” for our sins because he was “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” and therefore his body was the perfect vessel for such a task (Hebrews 7:26). If he had a sinful nature, even if just physically as the Christadelphians teach, he could not have done this.

Hebrews 4:15 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Christadelphians argue that because Jesus was tempted, this proves that he had a sinful nature inside of him, because this also happens to every sinful person. This, however, is nothing more than mere speculation. Jesus suffered temptations because he was a human being, nothing more, nothing less. To suggest anything else is adding to the biblical text what isn’t there. As a man, Jesus had to cope with the limitations and weaknesses that we have. As the Son of God, he was perfect, holy, and sinless. To have human weaknesses is not the same thing as having a sinful nature. To the contrary, the very fact that Jesus was “tempted”, “yet without sin”, is proof that he didn’t have a sinful nature, because one’s nature makes us what we are.

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)

When this passage says that God “was able to save him from death”, it is talking about the agonising physical death that Jesus knew he was going to die on the cross. We can see this when Jesus was praying to his Heavenly Father on the Mount of Olives, saying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41–42). It is not talking about a spiritual death as a consequence of sinfulness.

Hebrews 7:27

He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:27)

Christadelphians argue that when it says “first for his own sins and then for those of the people”, it refers to Jesus, but this is a misreading of the text; it actually refers to the high priests of the Old Testament. The passage is contrasting the daily, imperfect sacrifices of the high priests with the single, perfect sacrifice of Jesus once for all. The part which says “first for his own sins and then for those of the people” serves purely to explain why the high priests had to offer daily sacrifices; there was no sinless high priest who could provide a perfect sacrifice. Notice, on the other hand, how in the beginning it says that Jesus had no need to offer daily sacrifices. Why? Because Jesus was sinless, and therefore he could provide the perfect sacrifice—himself, instead of animals. The previous verse supports this reading, saying that Christ as our high priest is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens”.

Hebrews 9:12

… he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)

The passage simply says that Jesus secured an eternal redemption; it doesn’t say that he did this for himself. Verse 14 makes it clear that the redemption was for us, not Jesus: “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The reference of him entering into the “holy places” by his own blood doesn’t say that he was saved by his own blood—it’s saying that Heaven was the place where Christ presented his perfect sacrifice to the Father for us.

Conclusion

Therefore, because of all the biblical evidence, it is clear that Jesus did not inherit a sinful nature from Adam, or that he needed to be saved from the consequences of sin just like the rest of us. If such a belief were true, then Christ was not truly holy, he fell short of the Father’s glory, and his sacrifice on the cross was insufficient to pay for the sins of the world because it was unclean and defected. Such a belief is blasphemous and insulting to both Christ and God the Father, even if the Christadelphians don’t intend it to be such, as I’m sure they don’t. Jesus was perfect, flawless, and pure both physically and morally in his life on earth. The belief that Jesus had a sinful nature and needed salvation is an anti-biblical heresy that should be rejected at all costs.

References

1. Study 8: The Nature of Jesus, www.christadelphians.com, accessed on 11 June 2018, <http://www.christadelphians.com/biblebasics/0803natureofjesus.html>

2. Sin In The Flesh (The Deceitful Heart), The Christadelphian Advocate, accessed on 11 June 2018, <http://www.christadelphian-advocate.org/features/concerning/TC-v02n04.html>

3. Christ died for our sins – What does this really mean?, Pershore Christadelphians, accessed on 11 June 2018, <https://pershore-christadelphians.org/event/christ-died-our-sins-–-what-does-really-mean-2017-08-27-170000>

4. The Purifying of The Heavenly, antipas.org, accessed on 12 June 2018, <http://www.antipas.org/books/purifying_heavenly/christ_sin.html>

5. Jannaway, F G, Christadelphian Answers, p. 24

6. The Sacrifice of Christ, christadelphian-origin.org, accessed on 12 June 2018, <https://www.christadelphian-origin.org/the-sacrifice-of-christ/>

7. CHRIST WAS SAVED BY HIS OWN SACRIFICE, Angelfire, accessed on 12 June 2018, <http://www.angelfire.com/bc2/Bereans/BASF/ownsacrifice.html>

8. Sinless Jesus, All About Jesus Christ, accessed on 12 June 2018, <https://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/sinless-jesus-faq.htm>

9. Wilson, Ralph F, 6. Jesus the Lamb of God, Holy and Righteous One, JesusWalk, accessed on 12 June 2018, <http://www.jesuswalk.com/names-jesus/06_lamb.htm>

10. Romans 8:3, BibleHub, accessed on 13 June 2018, <http://biblehub.com/romans/8-3.htm>

11. Salvation, Bible Study Tools, accessed on 13 June 2018, <https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/salvation.html>

12. Key Terms and Phrases in the Psalms, The Lutheran Study Bible, p. 843

Bibliography

Slick, M 2002, Did Jesus have a sin nature as the Christadelphians teach?, The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, accessed on 12 June 2018, <https://carm.org/did-jesus-have-sin-nature-christadelphians-teach>

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