“yielded up his spirit.” When Jesus “yielded up his spirit,” he died, and the fact that Jesus died shows he was a human. God cannot die. The death of Jesus has been a topic of discussion among theologians for many centuries. Most of the discussion centers around various theories of atonement, but some of the discussion has centered around the belief held by some Trinitarians that Jesus had to be God because the death of a human could not pay for all the sins of mankind. Their assertion is that only the death of God could pay for the sins of all mankind. While at first glance that belief may seem logical to some people, it falls apart under deeper scrutiny. Let’s examine why.
Trinitarian doctrine is that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. Moreover, when Jesus died on the cross, Trinitarian theologians do not say that “God died,” because everyone knows that God cannot die, He is eternal and immortal. Instead, theologians teach that the human part of Jesus died, while the God part lived on. But that creates a problem, because if the Trinitarian assertion is that “God” had to die to pay for the sins of all mankind, but only the human part of Jesus died, then “God” did not die on the cross, and so then the sins of mankind were not paid for.
So although some Trinitarians say that “God had to die for the sins of mankind,” they have to admit that only the human part of Jesus died, and thus it was the death of a human being, a man, that paid for the sins of mankind. But that means that Jesus did not need to be God to pay for the sins of mankind, he could have just been fully human, and that is what the Bible says about Jesus; that he was fully human. This accords with what Romans teaches, that death came to mankind as a result of a man, Adam, and so everlasting life came by a man also (Rom. 5:15). Thus, as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus was a “man approved by God” (Acts 2:22 KJV).
[For more on dead people being totally dead and not alive in any way, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.” For more on why Jesus had to be fully dead, not not just have his body die, see commentary on 1 Cor. 15:20. For more on Jesus being fully human and not “God in the flesh,” see Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith].
“spirit.” The Greek word is pneuma (#4151 πνεῦμα). Here it refers to the natural life of the body. See commentary on Luke 23:46.