Can you imagine it? Jesus, five years old, sitting in math class, 1 A.D. (Okay, maybe he was homeschooled, but just roll with me here!) He gets back the quiz he took the previous day. The result? 95%. Jesus missed one! But wait…could Jesus have erred?

Back up. Pop quiz.

  • Did Jesus ever stumble and fall down?
  • Did Jesus ever get sick?
  • Did Jesus have any grey hairs?
  • Did Christ ever get depressed?
  • When did Jesus know he was God?
  • Could Jesus have gotten a math problem wrong?

These are interesting questions, as they all center around the relationship of Christ’s humanity to his deity while here on the earth. I think I know the answer to most of these. I am sure that Christ could have misstepped and fallen down. Yes, I imagine he got sick from time to time. Grey hairs? Why not? No, he did not have a sin nature, but he did live in a fallen world whose inhabitants suffered the effects of the fall. Concerning being depressed, I imagine that Christ was depressed from time to time. He was a “man of sorrows” and even cried.

When did Jesus know he was God? That is a good question. I am not sure about this one. It seems as if he knew by the time he was twelve, at least, as he expresses this self-realization in Luke 2:42-49. But how long before that? Who knows? However, I do think his understanding was a realization that was communicated to him by the Father and the Holy Spirit according to “the plan.” In other words, I don’t think he knew it from his time in Mary’s womb. I think his human self had to grow as any normal human would; therefore, his knowledge was limited by his humanity. After all, Luke 2:52 says that Christ “grew in wisdom.” In other words, he went from the lesser to the greater in his humanity, even in knowledge and wisdom.

This brings us to the question of the hour: Could Jesus have gotten a math problem wrong? Here are some options and their implications:

1. Yes, he could get a math problem wrong. He was human.

Problems: You are saying that Christ could have made a factual error. I suppose this is not problematic for the most part, right? I mean where is the harm in him getting a math problem wrong, or accidentally saying the nails are in the second drawer when they were actually in the third? Harmless mistakes are not sinful. However, it is hard not to translate this into the words of Christ as recorded in Scripture. What about the problem of Abiathar in Mark 2:23? You know, where Christ said that Abiathar was the high priest at the time David took the bread, even though (according to 1 Sam 21:1-7) it seems like the high priest was actually Ahimelech. The solution to that problem is not the issue. The very fact that it is a problem is the issue. If Christ could have gotten a math problem wrong, then he can be wrong about factual information. If he was wrong about factual information, then who cares about the Abiathar slip? Conversely, if he could get a 90% on these factual quizzes, how do we determine the 10% that he missed? Is it only when it does not matter? How do we know what matters and what does not? Is it only when it is not in Scripture? So, technically speaking, Scripture is more inspired than Christ?

2. No, he could not get a math problem wrong. He was God.

Problems: This option is difficult because we want to be careful not to seem to “apollinarian” in our view of Christ. You know, the view that Christ was just “God in a bod”? If Christ was no more than pure divinity, knowledge and power, housed temporarily in human flesh, then we don’t have a redeemer because we don’t have fully human representation. We all know the saying, “to err is human.” I don’t really like that, since it is not necessary for a human to err to be truly human. So I would not say that unless Christ erred, he was not really human. But I don’t think that Christ had to have perfect knowledge at every stage of his development. If he grew in wisdom, remember, this is from the lesser to the greater. Maybe the lesser got things wrong from time to time. Maybe he sent his dad to the wrong drawer to get the nails. To suggest otherwise seems very apollinarian and unnecessary.

I don’t know where I stand on this. I have to admit I do have trouble with the implications and problems of both answers. Maybe he could have gotten a math problem wrong simply because he left the answer blank!! That way he did not err and he could still grow from the lesser to the greater!

What do you think? Could Christ have gotten a math problem wrong?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    114 replies to "Could Jesus Have Gotten a Math Problem Wrong?"

    • John

      The bible is “statements from church bodies”.

      It’s kind of ironic that having gone all relativistic on us concerning what should be considered inspired by God, you are now lecturing us on what is truth and what is mere speculation. How did you decide which is which?

      So…. What would the bible have to say for you to be convinced that Christ is God? I’m struggling to see how you could deny it. What is the key thing missing?

    • john b

      I.m time constrained right now -but just a few comments
      (i) Set theory is more appropriate in this case.
      But a member of a set is NOT the set.
      Thats why the ‘old’ concept of a ‘Godhead’ had more
      meaning for me
      (ii) Pleased to hear you are Eastern Orthodox!
      I was walking through Melbourne in Australia
      and my son indicated an interesting ‘entrance’ to a
      modern-ish building and indicated that we should
      go inside. We walked straight into an old Orthodox
      Cathedral. Absolutely beautiful. A pamphlet in
      English invited us to attend services -in English.
      I emphesised immediately with some of it’s contents.
      (iii) We have a smallish Greek community where I live
      and I have animated discussions with my friends
      on stuff like the ‘filioque’ debate -on which I agree
      with my friends.
      (iv) So much of the acrimonious debate during the fifth
      sixth and seventh cenruries was due to the
      ‘richness’ of the Greek language and the ‘paucity’ of
      Latin. I far prefer the “Eastern’ view on many
      subjects…e.g. Atonement etc.

      You asked me to explain ‘perpetual salvation through blood sacrifice” . It’s the idea that by the shedding of Christs blood, believers are given a ‘blank cheque’ for sins – both past and present.
      Luther helped create confusion by his ‘sin boldly’ letter.

      I know people who admit to murdering opponents who sit in church…

    • john b

      …who sit in church every Sunday and exhibit no remorse at all.
      That’s why I said that there has got to be some evidence of repentance – by altered behaviour -particularly towards their fellow man.
      The emphesis on ‘shedding of blood’ is allegorical- not literal Just ask a Hebrew to tell you
      (i) The ‘qualifications’ for being a sacrifice
      (ii) The conditions on which atonement was granted- certainly not for future sin!!
      The gospel writers were trying to find an analogy which would satisfy Hebrew believers.

      The Catholics are quite rightly outraged by Luthers ‘sin boldly’ document – they say that Luther clearly did not appreciate the difference between ‘belief in’ and ‘belief on’

      Of course.

      I still have found no scripture to support many of the components of the various creeds.

      “Godhead’ OK
      “Trinity” -human speculation!

      Best Wishes

    • john b

      I have not gone ‘all relativistic’ on you – I am NOT saying and never have said that there is no right nor wrong and no rules.
      Did you read my blog – number 12 dated
      February 15 2012 at 12,07a.m. in it’s entirety.?

      YOU do NOT have a single proof verse to prove your hypothesis.
      Only tradition which is a product of human reason and speculation. Blessings

    • John

      I don’t know where your blog is.

      You’re not answering many questions. How do you know I haven’t got a proof verse, since when I asked how you know what is inspired, you said oh well, you can have your own personal beliefs about what is inspired. So right there you lost.

      But if we just want to take what you think is inspired, which I’m guessing is a Protestant bible, you won’t tell me what evidence we need. We’ve got verses saying he “is God”, that he is “our God and savior”, “mighty God”, “creator” and verses equating him to Yahweh. What more do we need? You tell me, and I’ll find it.

    • John B

      I’m so sorry, I quoted the wrong reference number.
      As I originally stated it was submission 12 -of the SECOND chapter. i.e. submission 62.

      The references I gave you were part of the answer I gave to Ben Thorpe who seemed to find 2 Peter 1v1 as a proof text.

      Please refer to blog 62

      Then to 66 and 67 to find my answer to part of your most recent submission -i.e. “Our God and Savior”
      Verse 1 stands out in contrast to so many verses which state “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’

      Before I take a short break, I’ll deal with one more of the points you raised – you say Christ was referred to as “God’ and I assume that you are referring to a NT reference to Psalm 45 v 7?
      Trinitarians regard this verse as prophetic -to be taken literally.
      Non-Trinitarians say Psalm 45 v7 is a sort of ‘foreshadowing typology’ – but not to be construed literally in a NT context.
      Note that the word “god’ is in the lower case in scholarly Bibles. This is the King who is marrying.

      Verse 8 shows the whole picture “therefore God, YOUR God has anointed you” This is YHWH.

      Verse 10 is interesting and the NAB Bible translates the verse as “daughtes of Kings are your lovely wives”

      The text refers to a royal wedding , nothing more

      Back presently.!!

    • John B

      Hi John
      The next one you gave me is “Mighty God”
      Obviously you are referring to Isaiah 9v5.
      The words appear in most versions of the Bible in print.

      The words are translated from the Hebrew words “el-gibbor’ – which has many meanings

      The word ‘el’ can mean anything from ‘sir’ to a mighty person, to ‘god’ to ‘God”

      The word ‘gibbor’ means ‘mighty’ or ‘brave’. See Genesis 10v9 and Zech 9v13

      Conmined the words ‘el and gibbor’ can be used to describe a ‘god hero’ like David -or as in Isaiah 9v5 they are taken to mean “Mighty God” in most Christian Bibles.
      Hebrew Bibles and the catholic NAB Bible state ‘God Hero”.

      The words appear in their plural form in Ezekiel 32.21 to mean “the mightiest of mighty men”

      Now the ‘fun ‘ begins.

      Trinitarians say that this verse is prophetic and that the child born is Christ -confirming Trinitarian doctrine.

      Non-Trinitarians say ‘not so”!
      The NAB chose to accept that the subject is a human- not God – and the footnote is most revealing

      Christ was never called “everlasting Father”
      ‘They name him” – not ‘he is’

      Space is short so-

      The Hebrews say the child is Hezekiah and the text is in the PRESENT TENSE – This tense is reflected in the NAB translation!

      The debate is acrimonious – and truth suffers.

      Many books have been written on this subject!

      Interestingly this theme is never taken up in the NT texts!

      Take your pick!

    • John B

      Sorry to labour this.
      The next word you raised is ‘creator’

      This causes some confusion because of some confusing texts.


      “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”
      Is this God the father of Moses, Abraham and Isaac and our Lord Jesus Christ’ -OR “God in three persons one of whom has a double nature”???

      In Revelation Chapter 5 we see the one who sits on the throne and is credited with creating the heavens and the earth. He is surrounded by Kings and beasts. That is YHWH – God Almighty

      In Chapter 6 we see a Lamb among the crowd assembled around the throne that was DEEMED worthy to open the seals. THAT IS CHRIST.

      Of course we see verses that speak of Christ as “creator of all things new”… a ‘new Adam’ ..” a new covenant’.

      Desperate literalists will hang on to each word and try to make the words fit their doctrine.

      You have challenged me to reveal which scriptures Iaccept and which I reject.
      The answer is that we must use our God given intellect and common-sense when reading scriptures.
      The Hebrews know the OT is NOT literally correct and have MIDRASH to explain the ‘funnies’ Consider
      (i) God sent Moses to Egypt and intercepted him on the way and announced his intention of killing him because he was travelling with an uncircumcised male
      (ii) Does Leviticus really suggest less justice for the poor?
      (iii)Did God really say you could take a beautiful enemy woman…

    • John B

      … and spare her and take her for your own!(after certain procedures)

      (iv) Did God almighty really endorse ‘ethnic cleansing’ or are certain alleged instructions politically motivated?

      Even in the NT we have versions of stories which do not quite ‘tie up”

      Literalists ignore these and focus, in desperation ‘ on finding ‘proof verses’ for their doctrine.


      In the end ‘ TRUTH RESIDES AT A HIGHER LEVEL – and NOT in the literal word. What do I mean by that?

      Take Genesis
      Do you believe there were two trees, apples and a snake? Or Do you believe that Man’s first sin was to try to make himself equal with God – as is picked up in Philippians 2… in other words , the story is allegorical?

      The Tower of Babel story has the same message.!

      There is very clever imagery and the literalists lose it!

      As Erasmus said “mankind craves certainty’ – and that God chooses not to reveal many things.” We just have to accept it!!


    • Ken Blatchford

      Jesus could not have gotten a math problem wrong. Who is smarter Einstien or Jesus? I would say Jesus not because he is my hero and Savior but because his mind would be absolutely clear. Clear of sin that causes errors in judgment, errors in speaking and errors in thinking. Clear thinking is what I look forward to in my glorified state. To be able to look at things God has made and understand it artistically, mechanically and mathematically purely and correctly because sin will no longer cloud the thinking of this Christian. Jesus had that ability all along. His clear thinking was due to his sinless nature. Einstien on the other hand might wander in his thoughts to lusting for some dame while on his fifth interval of calculus causing him to be wrong in his calculation. Who might know he erred? I suppose Jesus would. He did understand human nature quite well since He did come to fix that problem.

    • David Stevenson

      I believe we should think of Jesus as Adam before the fall, what could a perfect human do? I believe everything Jesus did and or could do was as Adam before the fall, all He did in the gospel witness was as a perfect human.

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