As the Son of God, Christ is subordinate to God, and therefore sits at God’s right hand. Everything that the Son has, He received from His Father. This includes His ability to raise the dead and His authority to judge. He also received His teachings, His works, His disciples and even the Fullness of Deity from God, who is the Head of Christ. Jesus said that He can do nothing of Himself.
This is part of a series of articles that asks, “Is Jesus God?” These articles present the arguments on both sides, and seeks a solution that satisfies both. Please see the list at the end of this article.
The Trinity theory presents God is three Persons in one Being; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By pointing out that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus, the previous article argued that Jesus is not God. For instance:
Invisible – God is the invisible Source of all things, while Jesus is visible.
My God – Jesus referred to God as “My God” and prayed to God.
Distinct – Jesus is at the right hand of God.
God is One – The Bible categorically states that God is One, and consistently distinguishes between that One True God and Jesus.
The current article continues that theme. While the previous article highlights the distinction between God and Jesus, the current article more specifically shows that Jesus is subordinate to God; God is the Head of Christ.
God is the head of Christ.
Greater than Christ – When Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). This statement makes a strong distinction between Jesus and God.
Head of Christ – Paul concluded, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3).
Christ is subordinate to the Father.
Jesus said, “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).
Servant – Peter spoke of Him as God’s Servant: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus” (Acts 3:13; cf. 26).
My God – We never see statements in Scripture of the Father referring to Christ as His God, but Jesus often referred to the Father as His God: “I ascend to … My God and your God” (John 20:17).
The title “Son” implies that the Father is greater.
Similar to a human father who brings forth a human son, the heavenly Father brought forth His Son. He is God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9; cf. John 1:18). He is, for that reason, subordinate to the Father.
He is at the right hand of God.
Various scriptures speak of Christ as “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Acts 2:30; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Mark 14:62; 16:19). This is the place of honor, but still subject to the ultimate Ruler.
God sent the Son into the world.
This statement is found many times in the New Testament, for instance:
Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42).
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).
“But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4; See also John 3:17; 4:34; 5:24, 36; 6:38; 7:16; 12:44, 45, 49, 17: 23, 25; John 20:21; Rom. 8:3.)
These “sent“-statements firstly imply His pre-existence; that He existed prior to becoming a human being. Secondly it implies His subordination to God; not only as human being, but also in His pre-existence.
Jesus many times claimed that He was sent by the Father to give the Jews an elevated understanding of Himself and His mission. But the Jews did not believe Him. Today we often do not believe Him either, but we make the opposite error. We focus so much on the statements of His equality to God that we no longer believe that God is the Head of Christ.
Everything He has, He received from His Father.
Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism (John 1:32-34).
Jesus received the ability to raise the dead.
Jesus is able to raise the dead:
He “gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21).
There will come an hour when “all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth” (John 5:28-29).
He said, “My sheep hear My voice … and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish” (John 10:27-28; see also 1:4).
God gave Jesus this authority:
”Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26)
Jesus prayer, “Father … You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).
The Father received His life from no one, for He is the eternally self-existent Source of life.
Jesus received authority to judge.
The Bible teaches that “God” is the judge (1 Sam 2:10; Ps 50:6; Eccl. 12:14; Gen. 18:25; Joel 3:12 and many others). But in Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:27, 9:39; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; and 2 Timothy 4:1 Jesus Christ is the Judge of the world. Jesus said:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Mt. 25:31-33).
We may want to use this as proof of His deity, but Jesus received this authority from the Father:
“The Father… has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
“The Father … gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).
Jesus received His teachings and works.
God gave Jesus His teachings:
“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” (John 12:49).
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).
“I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28).
The Father gave Jesus His works:
“The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do” (John 5:36).
Jesus prayed, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). See also John 10:32.
Jesus received His disciples.
Jesus even received His followers from the Father:
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37-39).
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44; cf. 6:65).
“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all” (John 10:29a).
In prayer, He said, “Father … that to all whom You have given Him (the Son), He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).
Jesus does not draw you to the Father; the Father draws you to Jesus. Why did you all of a sudden get interested in God and the Bible? Look at all the millions of people out there, billions of people out there. Why did you get interested? How did that happen? That’s a miracle from God!
Jesus received all authority and all things.
Jesus received all authority from the Father:
Jesus claimed that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). By implication, God gave Him that authority. Jesus received that authority.
Jesus has all things because He Jesus received it from the Father:
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Luke 10:22, cf. Mt. 11:27)
“The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35; cf. 13:3).
Jesus received fullness of Deity.
“All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).
This the Father gave this fullness to Him:
“It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19).
Jesus can do nothing of Himself.
“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” (John 5:19).
“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).
Jesus did not know all things.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, You know all things” (John 21:17). Jesus knew many things, for instance about the woman at the well, but He did not know all things. Jesus said He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming, “but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36; cf. Mark 13:26-27, 32). Peter’s statement must therefore not be taken as ultimate truth, but only in a relative sense.
In Hebrews 4:15 we read:
“We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are”.
This implies that Jesus learned to sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted Himself. God does not need to be tempted in order to be able to understand, for He is all-knowing.
Subordinate to God before His birth
Emptied Himself: To become a human being, the Son emptied Himself:
He “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself … being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
See Jesus emptied Himself for a discussion of this statement. It would be possible to argue that God was greater than and the Head of Christ only after Jesus “emptied Himself”. There are, however, many indications that He always was subordinate to the Father:
Creation: God created all things “through” His Son (Heb. 1:1; cf. John 1:3). It therefore was God who Created all things. See God created all things through His Son.
Son: God sent His only begotten Son to this world (John 3:16; cf. 18; 1 John 4:9). This means that He was God’s only begotten Son before He was born as a human being: He did not become God’s only begotten Son when He was born as a human being.
Sent: Jesus many times said, “I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42). If the Father sent Him, then He was subordinate to the Father also before He came to this world.
What to say and do: God told Jesus what to do and what say when He sent Him, which was prior to becoming a human being: “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” (John 12:49; cf. John 7:16; 5:36; 17:4).
Subordinate to God after His ascension
Greater: Jesus said to His disciples, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”. This implies that the Father will still be greater than Jesus when Jesus is with the Father, which is after His ascension.
Head of Christ: Long after Jesus ascended to heaven Paul explicitly stated that “God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3). This is then also the situation today and always.
My God: Jesus said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).
Right hand: Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Acts 2:30; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Mark 14:62; 16:19). This the place of honor, but it means that He is still today subject to the ultimate Ruler.
The End: Referring to the time when an end will be made of all evil, Paul wrote: “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. … When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). Since Jesus “will be subjected to” God at the end, it implies that Jesus was subjected to God before evil developed.
God, therefore, is not only greater than Jesus because Jesus “emptied Himself” when He became human being (Phil. 2:5), but God was greater than Jesus for all eternity, and always will be.
Most Christians believe that Jesus is co-equal to the God, the Father. The previous article (Jesus is not God) concluded that the New Testament uses the title “God” exclusively for the Father, who is also called the Most High. In this use of the title “God,” Jesus is not God.
The current article supports this conclusion by showing that Jesus is subordinate to God. This proves both that Jesus is not God and that He is not co-equal to the Father:
Jesus is subordinate to God. God sent His Son into the world. Jesus prayed to God. Peter spoke of Jesus as God’s Servant. Christ is at God’s “right hand.” “God is the Head of Christ.” And the end of time Christ will be subjected to God.
Jesus is subordinate to the Father. Jesus did not know all things, “but the Father alone.” Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I.” Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father, including the authority to raise the dead and to judge. The Father gave Him His disciples and authority and also the fullness of Deity.
The Father is God. Jesus is therefore subordinate to both God and the Father. Because the New Testament uses the title God exclusively for the Most High, who is the Father, this is actually saying the same thing. Jesus said, for instance, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17). Paul similarly wrote “there is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).
Jesus was subordinate to God before His birth, during His life on earth and still is. He always was God’s only begotten Son, whom God sent into the world. God always was and still is “the Head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3). Jesus took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2), which means that He is subject to the ultimate Ruler; the Most High.
Articles related to the question: 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 in John 1:1?
6. Jesus is not God.
7. Jesus is subordinate to God. Current article
8. In the Bible Jesus is called God. Next
9. He is the Only Begotten Son of God.
10. God created all things through His Son.
11. We must worship Jesus.
12. Jesus has equality with God.
13. Who is Jesus? – Summary of the series of articles
14. Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?