John 17:3 summarizes this article, for it makes the three points discussed in this article:
1 – God is One; There is but one true God.
2 – Jesus is contrasted with the one true God.
3 – The Father is greater than the Son, for He sent Him.
The previous article explains the three views of the Son of God:
(1) A created being
(2) Derived from the Father
(3) Always existed; co-equal with the Father.
The current article compares the Son to the Father.
God Is One.
The Bible declares that God is One;
“There is no other God besides Me …
For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21-22).
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”. (Deut. 6:4-5)
When the scribes asked Jesus what the most important commandment is, He started by quoting this truth from Deuteronomy:
“The foremost is, ‘hear, o Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord …” (Mark 12:28-30).
And James also wrote God is One:
Christianity and Judaism are monotheistic religions, compared to the surrounding cultures with their multitudes of gods.
The Bible clearly and repeatedly distinguishes between God and Jesus.
For instance, while Joseph and Mary were still carrying the baby Jesus around, God told Joseph where to go (Mt 2:12, 22). And Jesus said:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
This verse confirms that God is one, and then continues to contrasts Jesus to God. Paul similarly wrote:
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)
“He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), which implies He is not “the invisible God“.
“God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).
The book of Revelation several times contrasts Christ with God, for instance “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ)” (Rev. 22:3; see also 14:4; 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3).
These are merely a few examples of the many, many instances where the Bible contrasts God with Jesus, implying that Jesus is not equal to God. One may protest by noting that these quotations all apply—not the Son of God before He became a human being—but to the human being named Jesus. We must also remember the point made in the previous article, namely that “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).
The Father is greater than the Son.
The names Father and Son imply that the Father is greater than the Son. The quotations below also indicate that the Father is greater than the Son. As stated, to become a human being, the Son emptied Himself (Phil. 2:6-7). It may therefore be argued that the statements below have been made in the context of the Son after He emptied Himself. However, the phrases in bold orange seem to say that the Father was greater than the Son even before He became a human being, and will always remain greater than the Son:
“The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19; cf. John 14:31).
“I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28; cf. 5:30).
“The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36).
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16, cf. 17:3).
The Father therefore told His Son what to do and the Father has sent His Son to this world. These things happened before He became a human being and provide evidence of the Son’s eternal subservient position, relative to the Father.
John 14:28 records Jesus saying, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”. He made this statement while talking about going to the Father, implying that the Father will be greater than Him even after He has returned to the Father.
“The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35).
“The Father has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
Paul concluded, “the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3). Paul made this statement long after Jesus ascended to heaven. We therefore need to accept that the Father always has been and always will be greater than His Son.
This article states that God is One and that the New Testament contrasts Jesus with that one true God. The New Testament also claims that the Father is greater than the Son. If this was all we knew about Jesus, we would have had to conclude that He is not divine. But in the articles to follow statements will be analysed which seem to confirm the Son’s divinity. The last article in the series combines all this evidence into a conclusion.
Series of Articles
This is the second in a series of seven articles:
(1) The three views of the Son of God.
(2) God is One, the Son contrasted with God and the Father is greater than the Son.
(3) What the Son does: He created and upholds all things.
(4) What the Son is: fullness of Deity
(5) The Son is worshiped.
(6) The Son is Yahweh of the Old Testament.
(7) Conclusion: Is He created, derived or eternally co-equal?