Monothelitism – What is it?

Monothelitism is the teaching that Jesus has two natures but only one will. It was a teaching that began in Armenia and Syria in about 629 and remained popular among some until the Third Council of Constantinople at which it was officially condemned, with the church affirming dyothelitism (that Jesus has two natures and both a divine and human will).

This teaching falls within the larger theological area of study called Christology that deals with the person and nature of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus was human just like any other person, yet lived without sin (Hebrews 4:15). In addition, Jesus was often noted as divine and as eternal God (John 1:1). The question at that time was in how to understand this dual nature of Jesus (known as the hypostatic union). Did Jesus have only one will or did He have two wills, both a divine and human will?

The view of monothelitism held a compromise position that Jesus had two natures but only one will. This was in contrast with both the view that Jesus had only one nature (either human or divine) and that Jesus had two natures and two wills (dyothelitism).

Biblically, it can be shown that Jesus held both a human and divine nature, including both a human and divine will, affirming dyothelitism and denying monothelitism. For example, in Luke 22:42 Jesus prayed to the Father, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Jesus had a human will that desired not to die. He also had a divine will that was the same as the divine will of God the Father that would lead Him to die on the cross for humanity's sins.

Another example can be found in John 6:38 that reads, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me." The human desires of Jesus faced temptation as other people did (Matthew 4:1-10), yet He acknowledged His divine will to accomplish the work of God the Father.

Again, in John 10:17-18 we find, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." Jesus had the same divine will as the Father, yet He also had to deal with His human will that did not desire to face suffering and death.

The Bible is clear that Jesus is both fully human and fully God, including both a divine and human will. Any view that some way makes Jesus less human or less divine stands in contrast with His revelations as God in human form (John 1:1; 14).

Related Truth:

Is Jesus Christ God?

What is the theological concept of the hypostatic union?

Monophysitism – What is it?

Arianism – What is it?

What is the key to recognizing false teachers?

Return to:
Truth about False Beliefs

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