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I have 4 questions here. A reply to any would be much appreciated.

1) It has been said that Christ knows as the Father does ("In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God"-Jn 1:1). Yet Christ said in regards to the Judgement "but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, only the Father" (Matt 13:32). I have been told that what Christ meant here is that He does not know the day of judgement in his human capacity (ie as a man) but only as His divine self. What I don't undertand is if His divinity was not parted from His humanity, why doesn't Christ know the day of judgement (ie why doesn't He always have the same knowledge as the Father)?

2) In Corinthians 13, St Paul says "when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." (Corinth 13:9). I take this to mean that when Christ comes again, then we will know as God knows ("then I shall know just as I am known"-Corinth 13:12). What I'm having trouble with here is how Christ can both know as God knows and know as humans know at the same time (ie having the same knowledge limitations humans have and at the same time be omniscient).

3) What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and God the Father?

4) In the "Our Father" prayer, we say "lead us not into temptation." As God is perfect, I don't understand how He can lead us into temptation. Or does temptation here mean "testing" in which case we are asking God not to test us?

p.s Thanks for the last reply Fr Antonios.
Requested by Msho8787 and Answered by Fr. Antonios Kaldas on 26-Jul-2009 06:40 (2075 reads)
I will paraphrase your questions for the sake of simplicity:

Question 1 = How could Christ, being God, not know some things?

Question 2 = How can the knowledge of Christ on earth have been both limited and unlimited at the same time?

These two questions are very similar, so I will answer them together.
It is very hard (actually, impossible) for us to ever fully understand what exactly was involved in God the Logos becoming a real human being. We can say with certainty that in order for Him to become human, He had to "limit" Himself in a number of ways. St Paul describes this thus:

"6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to [the] [point] [of] death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians ch2)

Now we know that it is the nature of God that He is the Master of all, yet the Son limited Himself to become a bondservant. It is the nature of God to be unbounded spirit, yet the Son limited Himself to a physical human body of flesh and blood. It is the nature of God to be alive eternally, yet the Son limited Himself in such a way as to become subject to dying. We could go on.

The Incarnation does not mean that God the Son simply took up residence in the body of the man, Jesus, much as we think of a demon possessing a person. No, Jesus Christ is exactly what God looks like when He becomes a real man. Perhaps you have seen cartoons or movies where a real human being is represented as an animal or an insect. There are stories where a person turns into a dog, or a bear (e.g. Beorn in "The Hobbit", or Eustace who becomes a dragon in the "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"). The basic characteristics of the human character in these stories is expressed through the lens of the animal they become, whilst retaining all the usual characteristics of that animal. You can see that the face resmbles the human face in some way you can't put your finger on, and yet, it is definitely shaped like the face of the animal. The two natures, human and animal, are somehow both fully present, both clearly recognisable within the one creature.

This is a reasonable (though imperfect) analogy of the Incarnation of God the Son. In Him, you can make out both the divinity and the humanity quite clearly even though He is but one being - He is what God would look like if God were transformed into a human like the human character in the fictional story was transformed into a bear.

Having established all of that, we see that the human brain of Jesus could not, of course, contain unlimited knowledge. He had willingly accepted this limitation when He accepted to become a human being. Thus He could indeed speak of not knowing the date of the End, for that information was not present in His human brain.

However, being God incarnate, one would expect Him to possess great wisdom and great power over the nature He Himself created. As God incarnate, He would, for example, have listened a lot and learned quickly as a child, more than any other human child before or since. Thus He would have become wiser than any other human being. He would have loved holiness and goodness more than anyone, and would have come to understand how nature works and how the world of the spiritual works quicker and more deeply than any other human being. Thus He would have come to know how to manipulate the spiritual world, and to do miracles more than any of the saints who also gradually acquired this holiness and entered the world of the spiritual whilst still alive on the earth.

But one characteristic He could not have brought with Him into that human life was the characteristic of infinite knowledge. Material brains just aren't built to cope with that. Thus, the knowledge of God incarnate; what God looks like when He transforms into a real, live, flesh-and-blood human; was not unlimited - and He accepted this, by His own free will, in order to share our nature and our experience fully.

Question 3 = What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and God the Father? (no paraphrase needed here).

Another very hard question for a limited human mind to comprehend. Think of this: could a cockroach hope to ever understand the thoughts tha pass through the brain of Albert Einstein, or William Shakespeare? Not only would the cockroach have no idea of language or mathematics; try explaining to a cockroach the deep philosophical and moral dilemmas faced by Hamlet or Macbeth! Well, the difference between a cockroach and Albert Einstein is nothing compared to the difference between Albert Einstein and God. So what hope have we of answering such a question?

And yet, we foolishly try...

Our best efforts use analogies. I could ask you what is the difference between your mind and your spirit, or between your body and your spirit. you will no doubt answer that these things have different roles and different characteristics. Your body cannot solve a mathematical problem without your mind, and your mind cannot hit a tennis ball without the body. And yet, although they are connected so indivisibly, they are clearly quite different in the role they play in the being that is you.

So also, within the One God, there is the Holy Trinity, each member of which has a different role to play, and yet each of which is indivisible from the others.

The Father is commonly identified as playing the role of the Source or Origin int he Holy Trinity. It is He from whom all things come. The Son is the Logos, the Word of God or the Mind of God. And the Holy Spirit is the spirit of God, the means by which God dwells within His children's hearts and minds, communicates with them and works in them.

That's about as much as we can hope to understand with any confidence in this life!

Question 4 = How could God tempt us to evil as implied in "Lead us not into temptation" in the Our Father?

St James answered this question fairly concisely:

"13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." (James ch1)

Being human, we live in a physical body that has natural desires and needs that are often in conflict with the principles of morality or holiness. From these come the majority of our temptations like pride, anger, lust or selfishness. No doubt the devil does all he can to amplify these temptations. But God Himself does not tempt us.

Therefore when we pray for God not to lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we are actually praying for God to save us from ourselves (encouraged by the devil). To put it another way: "Don't let me get myself into trouble".

If we are humble, we will know our own weakness apart from God, and so we will not seek greater and tougher trials!