As I have been teaching through the setting and struggles of early Christianity at my home church, an interesting question came up that needed to be addressed. We had been going along in our study and came upon a look at the Council of Nicaea held in AD 325. In this council the main issue (although there were many issues addressed, not however canonicity as held by Dan Brown in the DaVinci Code) was the relationship between the Father and the Son. An influential bishop named Arius was preaching and teaching that Jesus was the highest of all created beings, yet a created being nonetheless. Arius made a statement ‘there was a time when Jesus was not’. He believed Jesus to be second only to God in importance and power and authority but still created.
So as we discussed this idea I had a student ask me, ‘Well wasn’t Jesus created because His human body came into existence and did not exist in eternity past?’ This was a very interesting question that made me stop and ponder for a moment. So I thought about it and explained that we must say what the Bible says, no more and no less. Then I asked some leading questions like, ‘does the Bible teach that Jesus is eternal?’ and ‘Yes’ was the answer; ‘does the Bible teach that Jesus took on a human body or was born as a human?’ also the answer was ‘yes’. So I needed to explain the concept of Jesus being eternal (John 1:1), and that he was born a human being (Matthew 1&2). But these truths does not mean ‘there was a time when Jesus was not’. This means that He existed (evidently without His human body) until the time when God saw fit to have Jesus born of a virgin woman, taking on human form.
Now I TOTALLY understand that this is a very difficult concept (in all truthfulness I do not understand it myself). But as I said earlier I am obligated to say what the Bible says, no more and no less. So the idea that Jesus was ‘created’ in order to take on a human body is a legitimate concern, but I believe there is an answer. Jesus is eternally the second person of the Godhead, and He has certain functions different from the other 2 persons of the Trinity. He was the one designated to ‘take on flesh and dwell among us’. So He is an (the?) eternal being, yet chose to SOMEHOW limit Himself into a human body to live a perfect life and die to deal with sin. Elsewhere in many books there are lengthy discussion of the whole ’emptying himself’ concept, but that will not be addressed here and now. The point I want to get across is the Arius and his followers were attempting to explain the person of Christ in a way that made sense, and they could comprehend, yet they were wrong and expounded an idea that is not biblical. Jesus may have taken on a human body that did not exist before that body was conceived by the Holy Spirit, yet He as God has existed from all eternity and will exist into all eternity.
How exactly this works I do not know, but I do know Jesus must be divine in order to satisfy the demands of an eternal God. He was not created, even though there was a time when His human body was not.