Jesus is subordinate to the Father. He called the Father “My God” and prayed to Him.

Purpose

Head of ChristThis is one of the series of articles that analyse John’s view of Jesus.  In this article it is shown that, throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is subordinate to the Father.   He received all things from the Father, including His ability to give life, to judge and to be honored.  He prayed to the Father and referred to the Father as “My God.”

As the title “Son” already indicates, Jesus is subordinate to the Father not only after He became a human being, for before His birth the Father created all things “through” the Son and “sent” the Son into this world, giving Him what to say and do.  Also, to be the Judge, after He returned to the Father, He received from the Father.

Previous articles in this series include:

Did John refer to Jesus as theos (god) in John 1:18?  
Did Thomas call Jesus “my God” in John 20:28?  
Is Jesus called God in John?  
Did Jesus claim to be God? 
He and the Father are one.  Is Jesus God?  

Summary

Jesus referred to the Father as “the only true God” and as “My God and your God.”  He also prayed to the Father.

God created all things “through” Jesus.  The word “through” imply that Jesus is not an independent Creator.  Rather, all creative Power and Wisdom are from the Father.

The Father sent Jesus to accomplish the Father’s purposes.  The Father gave Jesus His work, and Jesus did “exactly as the Father commanded.”  The Father also gave Jesus His teachings: “The Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.”

The Father draws people to Himself and gave to Jesus His disciples.

The Father made Jesus to be the Judgeso that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW … to the glory of God the Father.”

The Father gave the Son to have life in Himself so that “the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”  Jesus said, “I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”  The Father “gave Him authority over all flesh, that … He may give eternal life.”

The Father gave Jesus authority to take His own life up again, after Hid death, for “this commandment I received from My Father.”

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”  Everything which Jesus has, He received from the Father.  John consistently presents Jesus as subordinate to the Father.  The teaching that Jesus is co-equal to God is inconsistent with such statements.

The Father sent Jesus.

In John’s gospel Jesus says perhaps forty times that the Father sent Him.  For instance:

I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (8:42).
The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (14:24).
My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (4:34; cf. 3:16-17, 34; 5:24, 30, 36-38; 6:29, 32-33, 44, 57; 7:18, 28-29, 33; 8:16, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 11:42; 12:44, 45; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3, 6, 8, 18; 20:21)

Jesus said that the Father sent Him as a claim that He is a true teacher, for instance: “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me” (11:42).

Today this is no longer a difficulty for us to accept.  But we make the opposite error, for we make Jesus co-equal to the Father.

The Father gave Jesus His disciples.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (6:44; cf. 6:65).
The men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me” (17:6; cf. 6:38, 39).

In the parable of the true vine (John 15) the Father is the One that works.  “My Father is the vinedresser” (15:1).  It is the Father that cuts away branches that do not bear fruit and prunes other branches “so that it may bear more fruit” (15:2; cf. 17:2, 9, 24; 10:29).  Sometimes we think of Jesus as the Redeemer, and that is true, but we need to remember that Jesus is the Means of redemption, while the Father is the driver of redemption:

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him (Jesus) to reconcile all things to Himself” (Col. 1:19-20).

The Father gave Jesus His work.

I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (14:31; cf. 15:10; 6:38).
The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (5:19).

At the end of His ministry, Jesus said to God that He has “accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (17:4).

The Father gave Jesus His teachings.

I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (8:28; cf. 14:24; 7:16).
You are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God (8:40; cf. 8:26, 38).
I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (12:49; cf. 17:8; cf. 17:14; 15:15).

The Father made Jesus Judge.

The Father … has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (5:22-23; cf. v27).

The words “so that” mean that Jesus will be honored because the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (5:22-23).  Jesus therefore receives glory because it is the Father’s will.  This we also see in the following:

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me” (John 17:24).

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).

God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW” (Phil. 2:9-10).  (This is not a quote from John, but important support for this point.)

The words “with you” in John 17:5 imply that Jesus does not receive glory and honor independent from the Father:

As we see in Revelation 5, God and Jesus are worshiped together: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion” (Rev. 5:13).

And in Philippians 2 it is stated that every knee will bow to Jesus to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11). 

The Father gave the Son life in Himself.

Jesus gives live to who He wishes:

Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (5:21; cf. 11:25-26).
This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (6:40; cf. 5:28-29; 6:44).

That ability He received from God:

An hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (5:25-26).
You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life” (17:2).

The Father gave Jesus all things.

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand” (3:35).
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God” (13:3).

The Father gave Jesus to take up His life.

No one has taken it (My life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (10:18)

The Father is Jesus’ God.

Jesus in Revelation 1
Also in Revelation Jesus referred to the Father as “My God.”

Jesus referred to the Father as:

The only true God” (17:3), and as
My God and your God” (20:17).

He also prayed to God (John 17).  For instance, He asked the Father to give the Spirit to His disciples (14:16-17) and that His disciples might “be with Me where I am” (17:24).

God created through Jesus.

Jesus created all things:

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).

The world was made through Him“ (John 1:10).

Those who oppose the claim that Jesus created all things argue that these verses describe “the Word,” which they interpret as God’s impersonal Wisdom and Plan, which became manifested in the person of Jesus Christ.  But we also find statements in Colossians 1:16 and in Hebrews 1:2 that God created all things through Jesus.  Furthermore, in another article, “the Word” was identified as the preexistant Jesus.  These seem to be sufficient proof that Jesus participated in creation.

The word “through” in these verses imply that it was God who created.  He created “through” Jesus, as is also explicitly stated in Hebrews 1:2.  Jesus is therefore not an independent Creator; but the Means of creation: Creative Power and Wisdom flowed from God through His Son.  This may be understood in at least two ways:

1. Jesus was God’s agent in creation.  This implies a level of independence between the Son and “all things.”

2. God not only created all things through His Son; the Son also upholds all things (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3).  This implies an extremely close relationship between the Son and “all things.”  It is therefore proposed that, by giving “birth” to Jesus, as His “only begotten Son,” God brought forth all things.

Jesus is subordinate to the Father. 

In conclusion, everything which Jesus has, He received from the Father.  The teaching that Jesus is co-equal to God is inconsistent with such statements.

NEXT:

 

God created all things, but He created through His Son. The Son even created time.

God createdAll things are from God, the Father, but through Jesus Christ (I Cor. 8:6).  God created all things.  But Jesus was not created: He is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  Since time itself did not exist prior to “the beginning”, and since “the Word” existed “in the beginning” (John 1:1), there was no time when the Son did not exist.

God created all things.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

Thus says the LORD … ‘I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone’” (Isaiah 44:24; cf. 42:5; 45:18).
(As indicated by the capital letters, the word “LORD” is a translation of God’s personal name, which is Yahweh or Jehovah.  Isaiah 42:5 and 45:18 contain similar statements.)

Jesus has always credited Yahweh with creation, for instance, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus created all things.

Psalms 102:25-27 says of God:

Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.

Hebrews 1 applies this nearly word-for-word to Jesus:

of the Son He says … You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. but You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end” (Heb. 1:8, 10-12).

God created all things through Jesus.

Jesus did create all things, but if we read carefully, we will find that it is God who created, but God created everything through His Son:

Genesis 1: God spoke to Jesus, in His pre-human existence, concerning the creation of Adam and Eve, saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

John 1:  The first verse in the Bible reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  John 1 uses the same phrase, “In the beginning” (John 1:1), saying, “In the beginning was the Word … All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).  “The Word” is Jesus (see John 1:14).  “The beginning” was when all things were brought into being.  Since Jesus existed “in the beginning”, He is eternal; there was no time when He was not.

Colossians refers to “His beloved Son” (1:13) and states, “by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1:16-17).

Hebrews 1:2 refers to “His Son … through whom also He made the world”.

The phrases “through Him” and “through whom” in John, Colossians and Hebrews indicates that God is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but God creates all things through “His Son.”  Creation can therefore be attributed to both the Father and the Son.  The following verse explains the different roles of God and Jesus in creation:

There is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (I Cor. 8:6).

All things

Both John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 testify that the Son made “all things”.  Hebrews 1:2 says He made “the world”, but then verse 3 continues to say that He upholds “all things.”  This implies that “the world” in verse 1 is a synonym for “all things.”  Colossians 1:16 defines “all things” as “in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”.  We therefore can conclude that the Son created the universe and everything in it.

There was no time when the Son did not exist.

In the view of some the Son was God’s first creation.  They believe that there was a time when the Son did not exist.  However:

Since God does not exist in time, there is no such things as God’s first creation.

Since His Son created all things, He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17).

Since God created even time “in the beginning”, through the Son, there was no time when the Son did not exist.

He is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

First-born of all creation

Colossians 1:15-16; (RSV) reads, “He is … the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …. all things were created through him and for him.”  Revelation 3:14 similarly describes Jesus as “the Beginning of the creation of God.

These are used by some as evidence that Jesus is the first created being.  For a discussion of the phrase “first-born of all creation”, please see Jesus in Colossians.  In brief:

Some argue that “first-born” means preeminent, because, in the Hebrew mind, this is what the word “first-born” over the centuries came to mean.  However, on the basis of the word “for” in Colossians 1:16, the article Jesus in Colossians proposes that “the first-born of all creation” means that the Son was the first to exist.

On the other hand, the article Only Begotten argues that His Son was not created, but that He is eternally begotten by the Father.  This is reflected by the word “born” in “first-born”.  The concept of “begotten” conveys to finite minds something of infinity; how God’s Son came to be.  See Only Begotten for a further discussion.

Our limited understanding 

We may think that we understand time, space and matter, but Einstein showed that we really do not.  For a long time people thought of the earth as flat because they were only able to see such a small part of it.  In the same way we understand time, space and matter only from our minute context.  The time, space and matter of which we are aware is extremely small, compared to the entire universe; must smaller than a grain of sand on a desolated beach when compared to the entire world.  But even if we understood the universe, God exists beyond time, space and matter.  While the universe had a “beginning”, God has no beginning, for He is eternal (Rom. 16:26).  Since God is not subject to time, the statement that the Son always existed with God, is nonsense.

God sustains all things through His Son. 

He (the Word) … upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).

In Him (Jesus) all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

The Son is therefore very different from the created sons of God.

NEXT:  We must worship Jesus.

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.    The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
3.    Jesus in Colossians
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    Only Begotten Son of God
10.  God created all things through His Son.
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Is Jesus God?