Previous article in this series: January 15, 2022, p. 178.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council’s abiding legacy was  the formulation of the Creed of Chalcedon. We will  briefly examine that Creed. Perhaps you would like to  read it first; it is readily accessible in print and electronic  form.1

Reaffirming the faith of the church of the past    

This creed reaffirms what the church had confessed in  the past. It opens by noting that it is “following the holy  fathers,” and it ends “as…the Creed of the Fathers has  handed down to us.” The delegates to Chalcedon did  not turn from past teachings, but developed them. This  Creed represents the work of the Holy Spirit guiding the  church into a deeper understanding of truth.

Reformed believers appreciate this point. The early  church’s confession regarding the Trinity, and the person  and work of Christ, becomes our own. We make  the Creed our own; and Article 19 of the Belgic Confession  sets forth the same truths.

Expressing the relation between Christ’s natures  and person    

Two questions set forth the main doctrinal issues: How  can Christ be truly man and truly God? And, how are  His divine and human natures related to each other?  The Creed answered these questions.

How would you answer these questions in your own  words? What human language can fully convey the  mystery of God in the flesh? How can mere humans  comprehend fully that Christ became a real man, but  remained fully God?

The fathers of Chalcedon used four terms to express  this relation: “without confusion, without  change, without division, without separation.” Note  that each of the four terms is negative. It is easier to  say what is not true of the relation of the two natures in the person of the Son of God than to state that  relation positively.

The two natures are united “without confusion” and  “without change.” This means that each nature retained  its own characteristics. The divine nature retained all  the characteristics of a divine nature; Christ was eternal  and all-powerful, for example. And the human nature  kept all the characteristics of a human nature; Christ’s  body was limited, weak, and subject to bearing the curse  of God’s wrath, for example. So the two natures were  not “changed”; they remained divine and human. Nor  were they “confused,” that is, combined or mixed with  each other. They are united in such a way that they remain  distinct. Christ is not a God-man, part God and  part man; He is fully God and fully human.

That the two natures are united “without division”  and “without separation” means that they are so really  united in the one person of the Son of God, that they  will never be separated from each other. From the moment  Christ was conceived, He was God in the flesh,  possessing two natures. He remained such through His  time on earth, His death, and His resurrection, and He  will remain so to all eternity.

Our Belgic Confession reminds us that at Christ’s  death a great change occurred in His human nature:  His body and soul were separated from each other.  Even then, His divine nature remained united to both  His body and His soul. Another great change occurred  in His human nature when He arose: His body and soul  were reunited, and made heavenly and glorious. But  His divine nature always was united to His human.

Opposing past and current heresies    

In addition to answering this main question, the Creed  opposes every significant heresy regarding the Trinity  and the person and natures of Christ that was taught up  until 451. Arius had taught that Christ was a creature,  but was created before the world was created. The  Creed emphasizes that Christ is of the same essence as  the Father, begotten of the Father from eternity.

Apollinaris taught that Christ had a human body  and soul, but a divine spirit; in other words, He was not  completely human. The Creed asserts that He was “truly  man, of a rational soul and body.” Here the word  “soul” includes the idea of “spirit.”

Nestorius had taught that Christ was a human  person; in fact, that He was two persons—one fully  God, and the other fully human. The Creed asserts  that Christ was one person in whom two natures are  united.

And Eutyches taught that Christ had only one nature,  a divine nature, and that His humanity was taken  up into His divinity. The Creed asserts that Christ is  to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion  and without change.

The Creed of Chalcedon represented a distinct development  in the mind of the church. The Nicene Creed  (325) asserted that God was Triune, and that Father, Son,  and Holy Spirit were each God. It laid the foundation  for a proper view of the triune God.

The Chaldcedonian  Creed emphasized that Jesus Christ, the second person of  the Trinity, is fully God and fully man. It laid the foundation  for a proper view of how Jesus Christ can be the  Savior of God’s people, the Mediator of God’s covenant.


1 Most books containing the ecumenical creeds include it. It can

also be found at

creeds/ecumenical/chalcedon and in the back of the PRC Psalter.