Posted by: jesusmessiah | August 1, 2008

Kenosis Doctrine

I was listening to the radio about a month ago and was tuned into Ron Vietti and I heard him mention something about the Kenosis Doctrine. I don’t remember what his stance was on the teaching but I thought discussing the topic would make a good post.

To those who do not know what the Kenosis Doctrine is, it’s simply this. The word “kenosis” is comes from the Greek word “kenoo” which means “to empty.” It’s a theory that states that Jesus gave up some of His divine attributes while He was a man here on earth. These attributes were omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. It states that Jesus did this voluntarily so that He could function as a man in order to fulfill the work of redemption. This view was first introduced in the late 1800s by Gottfried Thomasius who was a Lutheran theologian.

This doctrine comes from Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” These verses do not teach that Jesus gave up any of His divine attributes plainly because there is no mention of any of the attributes in the verses. Rather, it is speaking of His humility and that He acted according to the Father’s will by coming to earth in the humble position of being in human nature and leaving His dwelling place in heaven.

The Kenosis theory is a dangerous doctrine because if it were true then it would mean that Jesus was not fully divine. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.

The correct doctrine about Jesus’ nature is the Hypostatic Union which is the belief that Jesus is both fully God and fully man as mentioned in Colossians 2:9 and did not give up any divine attributes while He was a man on earth.

I hope this brings understanding to some and hopefully a new piece of education for those who have never heard of it before.



  1. I do not know, but for the purpose of discussion, maybe suspend would be a better word than “give up.” After all God himself sees all things past, present and future, yet still can forget our sins as far as the east is from the west. It would seem that God is choosing to allow himself to forget our sins. Maybe the part of Jesus being fully man (the perfect man), was his showing us full faith and reliance on The Father? In order to do this could he not suspend some of his power? Suspending power would not make him less as God. Especially when he has a perfect connection to The Father and is doing his will. The only power I have as a man is through God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I must be taught reliance and faith.

    Just some thoughts. I am still learning so I am not offended if you disagree or correct my thinking.

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