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And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52

Jesus we know was without fault or sin being the 'unblemished' Lamb.

God was 'well pleased' with His special son (Matthew 3:17) and yet at this early stage of Jesus' ministry, his favour with God was, shall we say, 'incomplete'?

How else could we understand this if his favour with God "grew" or "increased"?

What reveals Jesus state before he "grew in favor"?

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  • The fact that something is perfect does not mean it is complete. A rose bud might be perfect but is not complete but growing. Therefore, the premise the question is flawed.
    – Dottard
    Nov 11, 2022 at 8:56

6 Answers 6

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To begin, this verse comes right after the event of Jesus being 12 years old at the temple. This is not part of his ministry because in Luke 3:23 we are told

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. (NIV)

So at this point, Jesus is a young boy learning and growing just like any other 12-year-old. Luke 2:41 shows us that "every year" his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover. We see how Jesus learns to appreciate what Jehovah God has done for his people, the nation of Israel. After the festival, his parents can find him on the journey back home. They go back to Jerusalem to look for him:

46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (NIV)

At this age, Jesus' spiritual growth can be plainly seen by those around him.

Jesus' adoptive father, Joseph, was a carpenter and taught his eldest son the same trade. (Mark 6:3) This was a physically demanding job. So naturally, Jesus' physical body would begin to manifest the build for being able to handle this kind of work.

So if a parent sees their child getting stronger physically and getting smarter mentally, wouldn't the parent be proud of their child? This is what Luke means. Not only did fellow Israelites and his parents see the mental and physical growth of this young man, but especially Jehovah God. And because of this, "Jesus grew... in favor with God and man."

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  • helpful answer also +1
    – Steve
    May 1, 2022 at 10:58
  • @agarza It is belittling the miracle of the Temple: the Lord asks questions not out of ignorance, for we see that He also responds to those questions; simply He uses a Socratic method to reveal deficiency of the elder-theologians’ views and showing them better ways, without having learned Scriptures, as the King in His realm, the Temple, would teach His slaves. That bewilders the elders. And 12 years old says an outrageous thing that the temple is exclusively His Father’s, not of any other human’s house. Such a boy would be considered crazy and preposterous, not as somebody growing in wisdom. Nov 11, 2022 at 7:04
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Paraphrase of OP's Inquiry: How does Jesus grow in favor with God if he was already without sin to begin with?

Well, one overlooked aspect of the life of Jesus is that, while he was always sinless, he nevertheless had to learn obedience to be perfected as a source of eternal salvation to those who obey him.

Hebrews 5:8-10 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him

So, however perfect Jesus was before, he was imperfect or incomplete as the source of eternal salvation for all who obey until he had learned the requisite obedience. There are basically two types of learning: 1) a kind of book learning where you gain knowledge from simply consuming information or by thinking through a problem, and 2) experiential learning gained by actually doing the thing you intend to learn. Apparently, the type of learning that Jesus needed to become perfect for salvation could only be gained through his experience as a human.

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. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. -Hebrews 2:17-18

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, Philippians 2:8-9

The "therefore" of verse 9 above relates the reason for why God so highly exalted Jesus specifically to the obedience that Jesus committed himself to from the point he found himself in human form to the point of his death on the cross. From the moment Jesus found himself in human form till the moment of his death, he had continually increased in favor with God, by progressively doing God's will in total obedience, until he was ultimately perfected as the source of salvation for all who obey him.

So the efficiency of a blemished sinful person's obedience to Christ for the purpose of their own salvation depends ultimately on the progressive obedience of Christ to the Father demonstrated during his earthly life that resulted in him becoming the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

So while it may still seem odd to some that the amount of favor Christ had with God depended upon Christ's obedience to the Father, it should be noted and meditated upon that Christ himself revealed during his time on Earth, that his own relationship with God, the Father, itself depended upon his obedience to the will of the Father who sent him.

John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”
John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

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  • Yes, I was hoping Heb 5 would come up.
    – Steve
    May 1, 2022 at 8:02
  • the moment Jesus found himself in human form, what do you mean by this? What moment are you referring to?
    – Steve
    May 1, 2022 at 8:16
  • @steveowen, I am strictly using the language of Philippians 2:8 to avoid making up out of thin air, apart from scripture, when exactly Christ became conscience of his human form so as to willfully obey God. My intent was to leave it up to the reader to contemplate when exactly this occurred.
    – Austin
    May 1, 2022 at 14:41
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ESV Luke 2:
40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

This verse only talk about the increase in his wisdom and grace in his righteous upbringing at age 12, not about his ministry period. You mention his blamelessness, as though it is unique to him. See Ecclesiastes 7:29. The characteristics are the ideal upbringing of a child. Luke 1:80 for John.

Prov 3:3-4 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

1 Samuel 2:26 ESV Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.

To quote from Cambridge Greek Testament:

προέκοπτεν, ‘advanced.’ (Gal 1:14; 2Ti 2:16, &c.) The word is derived from pioneers cutting down trees in the path of an advancing army. Comp. 1Sa 2:26, and the description of an ideal youth in Pro 3:3-4.
σοφίᾳ. In spite of the attempts, from the days of Athanasius downwards, to explain this word away, it remains one of the great Scriptural bulwarks against the Apollinarian heresy which denies the perfect manhood of Christ.
ἡλικίᾳ. Perhaps ‘age’ (as in Luk 12:25?), though the word sometimes means stature (Luk 19:3; Eph 4:13), and it is so understood in this place by Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Ewald, Bleek, Meyer, &c. The Vulg has aetate.

Apollinarism - wikipedia:

Apollinarism or Apollinarianism is a Christological heresy proposed by Apollinaris of Laodicea (died 390) that argues that Jesus had a human body and sensitive human soul, but a divine mind and not a human rational mind, the Divine Logos taking the place of the latter. It was deemed heretical in 381

The question can arise due to traditional beliefs that hinder from accepting Jesus as a truly or fully man, which he had to be. The Gnostics were known to deny his humanity, however I believe the early Churches of Rome were full of such people who could not accept his humanity, they had to give some exceptional trait to separate him from humans.

[Heb 2:17-18 ESV]

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. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

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  • accepting Jesus as a truly or fully man, which he had to be.. Please briefly explain why you say, 'which he had to be".
    – Steve
    Nov 11, 2022 at 6:36
  • It's from the verse Hebrew Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect. It was necessary to be truly human in every way not 99.99% like the pagan Gnostics believe still the dominating view in Christian sects that he was lacking the alleged key genetic human trait called original sin. By twisting the metaphor of virgin birth.
    – Michael16
    Nov 11, 2022 at 8:14
  • @Michael16, do you believe Jesus was born with original sin? If so, can you explain what it means for Jesus to have original sin?
    – Austin
    Jan 12 at 3:53
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The context:

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (Luke 2 NKJV)

The family traveled to Jerusalem to observe Passover every year, but it was not until Jesus was 12-years old that He took the initiative to be about My Father's business and remain in Jerusalem. Prior to that year, under the law, Jesus was not old enough to be accountable for His own actions.

Thus, Luke shows that as soon as Jesus reached the age of accountability, He remained in Jerusalem to begin to be about His Father's business. At the same time, His earthly parents sought Him; wanting Him to remain with them. When faced with this choice, Jesus submitted to the will of Mary and Joseph.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

Despite reaching the age of accountability and having the legal right to be about My Father's business, Jesus submitted Himself to His parents. In doing so He grew in favor with God.

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The favour of God never increased or decreased for Jesus. Despite what these verses appear to say, Jesus had the full weight of the favour of the Father for all eternity, and when Jesus stepped down into humanity, the favour was not diminished in the slightest.

However, as is rightly pointed out, Jesus took on a human mind, and as a baby, understood no more than babies do understand. As He grew, so did His understanding of who He is, and who His Father is. Though we do not know much of this internal process, we can see that by the age of 12, He had a solid understanding of His relationship with His heavenly Father, that He called him Father. This was revolutionary in itself and some said that to call God His Father was heretical in that it made Him equal to God. I would like to suggest that as He grew, Jesus started to understand the nature of the Father, and His part within the Godhead as well as the immense reality of the full favour of the Father on Him. While the favour on Him was always full! He grew into the revelation of it, day by day. And, as he grew into this revelation, He learned how to walk in that favour, resulting in more and more power.

It's worth being said, that I believe that when Jesus came out of the waters of John's baptism and the words echoed from heaven, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased" That is a declaration of favour over Jesus that was true over Jesus from the day He was born.

But, what is equally exciting is that that is the baptism into which we are baptized into! We are baptized into the same favour with the Father that Jesus had. This is born out of our union with Him. That it is now no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

But, to go on to celebrate the principles of justification and our access to the Father would be outside of this subject. But, what must be said, is that we also grow into favour in the same way. We have the fullness of the favour of the Father already in Christ Jesus. (Eph 1:3 "3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms."(favour is both a spiritual blessing and spiritual blessing is a product of favour) We grow into favour as we grow in our understanding of the realities of what Christ has really done for us. But His favour does not increase, nor can it. Because He has already given us the fullness of His favour in the precious gift of Himself to us in Christ. That can not be added to. This is why it is important to understand this verse. Because Christ is the prototype, the second Adam (Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-22). He modeled this stuff for us to walk in.

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  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Nov 10, 2022 at 18:31
  • Welcome. It appears you have placed Jesus in time before he existed. Jesus (born ~2000 years ago) grew in favor, obedience, trust and came to do God's will not his own. These are the facts and we are enquiring about how Jesus grew in favor. Although the points you make about us are useful.
    – Steve
    Nov 10, 2022 at 20:41
  • @john clancy Welcome to the site! Thanks for the analysis. My impression is that you divide too much between humanity and divinity, almost stating that there are two persons in Christ, divine/eternal and human. But even if His human, created intellectual soul grows, this growth in Him means that it is not that it comes from ignorance to knowledge, but that He, the eternal Logos, manifests gradually His divine knowledge also in and through His human intelligent soul. At 12 He bewilders elders by knowing the Law unlearningly, which is a miracle. He could do this even at three and two, easily. Nov 11, 2022 at 6:50
-2

As the co-eternal Logos of God-the-Father, He was eternally perfect (cf. Hebrews 7:28), however, the same eternally perfect Logos received a changeable (growable, increaseable) human nature. Thus, the Logos drew His own human nature to a gradual growth and perfection both with respect of His created body and with respect of His created intelligent soul (both body and the intelligent soul being two aspects of the human nature adopted by Him, the eternally perfect Son-Logos).

Actually, if Logos was with God and was Himself God and the world was created by God through Him (John 1:1-3), that is to say, if Both have created the world jointly, and if imperfection is an aspect of creation qua creation, then how can the Creator-Logos, the Son, have any taint of imperfection? Is not it outlandishly stupid to even permit such a vile thought that the perfect God-Father creates the universe through His imperfect Logos-Son?

Thus, He grows with respect of His human nature, revealing and gradually manifesting His divine perfection, that of the eternal Logos of the Father, in a bodily form. Thus, He Himself along with the Father is well pleased as His human nature manifests bodily the features of His perfect divinity, for “in Him the entire divinity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).

To give an analogy: a professional surgeon is invited by a rugby team and as different sorts of traumas appear in the players, also the versatility of the surgeon's medical skills is correspondingly manifested in a gradual process; and thus, this surgeon rises, grows in the eyes of the players and coaches with respect of his honor, proportionally to the revealed skills. It is not, therefore, that the surgeon grows in his knowledge of medical skills, but he is grown in the eyes of the beholders in proportion to the revealed skills. Similarly, the Logos, who precedes the universe and time - both created by Him - does not and cannot grow, unless in the sense of revealing His perfection gradually, as befits to His incarnated state.

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  • 1
    Do you have a Biblical reference for, "the eternally perfect Son"?
    – Steve
    Nov 10, 2022 at 22:23
  • @steveowen Yes, Hebrews 7:28, “Son - eternally perfected”: “eternally perfected” does not mean that He got perfected from imperfection, but always Ed’s that spreads both to the past and the future and is even beyond those temporal-creaturely categories. Nov 10, 2022 at 22:55
  • 1
    Sorry - you are making it up. "who has been perfected forever" says nothing about eternal prior to 'being made'. has been, means he was not before. Besides, the context is about being made a 'perfect' High Priest - with no need to 'offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins'. Another trinitarian proof-text stripped of context to support dogma.
    – Steve
    Nov 10, 2022 at 23:01
  • @steveowen Not really: “eternally perfected” means a perfection in actuality, that is to say, in actually existing universe there is an actually perfect being, and such can be only God, for even the highest of other beings, be they archangels or arch-saintly men, do not possess and ontologically cannot possess actual eternal perfection. Nov 10, 2022 at 23:29
  • To my anonymous Down-voter: Hey my future friend! Look what a decent man @steveowen is, for he openly and frankly provided his grounds for down-voting my post, whatever I might think about the solidity of those grounds. But where are your grounds? Why to grudge them from me? I am very interested in them, as a matter of fact, so would you please take two-three minutes to lay them down to me? Nov 11, 2022 at 5:09

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