The vicarious humanity of Jesus

David Torrance
In a recent essay David Torrance notes that a knowledge of the vicarious humanity of Jesus, "is crucial to our understanding of Christ and of Scripture" (p.1). He shows that the eternal Son of God, through whom all things were created and have their being, became human in the person of Jesus Christ. In his humanity (while remaining divine), Jesus is the representative and substitute for all humanity. Thus what happened (and continues to happen) to Jesus, applies to us all.

This stunning truth tells us that our salvation is not merely something that Jesus did for us, but who Jesus is for us, as one of us (the Incarnation continues!). Our salvation is thus far more than a legal (forensic) transaction that was accomplished by Jesus's death to pay for our sin. His death did accomplish that necessary payment (praise God!), however, it is the total scope of Jesus' continuing vicarious humanity that accomplishes and secures our salvation.

Our salvation truly is "in Christ" - the incarnate, crucified, risen and ascended God-man, who has included us in God's love and life; a love and life that we personally experience as we trust in Jesus.

Here is part of what Torrance writes:
God, in taking to himself in Jesus our flesh and blood, became not simply a man but Representative Man. He related himself to us all. That is, in Jesus, God once and forever, for all eternity, joined himself in the flesh to the whole of humankind. Men and women, for better or for worse, are united with God in an eternal covenant of Grace through the Holy Spirit, which they cannot break. This means that all that happened to Christ affects our life and being. Christ and all humanity are wrapped together in the same bundle of life for eternity.
Because God became Man, once and forever, in Christ Jesus, God has put his seal on our humanity. The incarnation guarantees our humanity and the safety of all creation. Because of sin, the world was hurtling to destruction. Humankind was destined for death and destruction. God intervened. He entered into this world. He took hold of it making a covenant of Grace and life first through Noah and then through Abraham and his seed, Israel. That covenant of grace and life he fulfilled, confirmed and forever sealed in Jesus Christ who is the Creator Word made flesh, our flesh. God conquered the powers of death and destruction by becoming Man in Jesus Christ (p. 5).


Ted Johnston said…
Here's a comment from Jerome Ellard:

The Surprising God blog is becoming better and better!

Several Christian writers and speakers make the claim that God's sole purpose for man is that we would praise him and give him glory - end of story. Scriptures are pointed to that seem to show that God is only interested in his name being honored, praised and glorified. The writers and speakers seem satisfied with that view of God, which somehow strikes me as painting God as self-absorbed and demanding. To me, what they are missing is the reason WHY God desires us to do those things: when we praise God and give him the glory and honor for who he is, this proclamation invites others to want to know him, to know him truly for who he is FOR us - which is the essence of eternal life! God desires praise so that he may share his triune, perichoretic life with all people! His desire for our praise in NOT a dead-end of self-centeredness and egotism. And for this reason, I Praise God!
Ted Johnston said…
For an in-depth discussion of the doctrine of Jesus' continuing (permanent) humanity and its vital importance for our salvation, see the God for Us! blog post at
Doug Johannsen said…
It appears to me that Jesus is not only related to us genetically (through Mary), but also legally related (adopted by Joseph). And...he created us in the first place, has redeemed us, included us, will bodily resurrect us and we dwell with him forever. With all those connections he may well be our closest living relative - truly Alpha and Omega.
Ted Johnston said…
Jerome Ellard sent in a comment that tells of an article in Christianity Today titled "The Center of the Good News," which profiles the book "The Deep Things of God - How the Trinity Changes Everything" by Fred Sanders (see the article at

Here are excerpts from the article:

"After Sanders guides us through 'the happy land of the Trinity,' he turns to examine the relationship between the inner life of God and the Good News, arguing that the gospel is nothing less than God's self-giving to us. It is, in other words, the same size as God. At the same time, the shape of the gospel is Trinitarian. The Good News 'is that God, who in himself is eternally the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has become for us the adoptive Father, the incarnate Son, and the outpoured Holy Spirit.' Our salvation is unremittingly Trinitarian."

"The uniqueness of Sanders's account of the gospel for evangelical Protestants is clear by the relative absence of language about justification. Sanders expands the horizon of salvation beyond justification to include our adoption as children of God, which he dubs 'the mightiest of God's mighty acts of salvation.' Sanders is explicit that this does not minimize justification but rather puts it in its proper context. Salvation is more, but not less, than justification—and that more is our adoption as sons and daughters of God."