God is greater than Christ; the Head of Christ. Christ receives all from God.

Head of ChristAs the Son of God, Christ is subordinate to God, and therefore sits at God’s right hand.  Everything that His 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 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.  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.  The previous article argued that Jesus is not God by pointing out that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus.  For instance:

Invisible God is the invisible Source of all things, while Jesus is visible.
My God God refers to Jesus as “My Son”, but Jesus refers to God as “My God”.  Jesus He 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 God is greater than and the Head of Christ.

God is the head of Christ.

Greater than IGreater 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 always described as 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 titles Father and Son imply that the Father is greater than the Son.

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 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 that His Son has, He received from His Father.

Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism (John 1:32-34).

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.

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).

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.

Disciples

My Father is the vinedresserJesus 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!

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).

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.

God so loved the worldSon: 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).

Greater than IGreater: 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.

Subordinate to God 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 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.

The next article discusses the instances in the Bible where Jesus is called God.

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?
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?

In the Trinity theory God is three Persons in one Being, but Jesus is not God.

God is the invisible Source of all things, but Jesus is visible.  God refers to Jesus as “My Son”, but Jesus refers to God as “My God”, and He prayed to God.  Jesus is at the right hand of God.  While Jesus was on earth, God spoke from heaven.  The Bible categorically states that God is One, and consistently distinguishes between God and Jesus.  Jesus is not God.

Not GodThis article is one of a series related to the question whether Jesus is God.  See the list at the end of the article.  This article discusses the evidence that He is distinct from God, and therefore that Jesus is not God.  Another article will explore the evidence that He is God.

Jesus is not God.

Trinity – Many people think of God as a Trinity, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is thought of as three Persons in one Being.

Distinct – In contrast this article shows, in a variety of ways, that the Bible draws a distinction between God and Jesus.  The following are some introductory examples:

Jesus as babyWhen Jesus was still a baby, His father Joseph was “warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod” (Mt 2:12).  “After being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee” (Mt 2:22).

Paul introduced His letters with statements such as, “Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:3; Eph. 1:2).

Jesus asked the Young Ruler, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

The book of Revelation several times makes a distinction between Christ and God.  For example, “these have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (14:4).

Revelation 4 describes a throne in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.   In Revelation 5 the Lamb takes the scroll from the right hand of His who sits on the throne.  Revelation 22:3 therefore refers to “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ).”  See also 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3).

Jesus was fully human.

Jesus was truly and fully human.  He was born as a baby (Luke 2:7; Gal. 4:4) and had to grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52).  “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).  He became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Mt. 4:2).  He marveled at the faith of the centurion (Matthew 8:10) and experienced sorrow when Lazarus died (John 11:35).  He had a human body, even after His resurrection (Luke 24:39).  He grieved deeply, to the point of death, in Gethsemane (Mt. 26:38), and died the next day (Mark 15:37).  Jesus does not just look like a man; He was truly and fully human.

There is but one true God.

The Old Testament teaches that only one true God exists.

BibleThe great Shema of Israel—the foundation of Judaism—is, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4).  (Shema is the Hebrew for the first word; “Hear”.)

Through Isaiah “the LORD” (Yahweh) declared,

44:6I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.
45:21-22There is no other God besides Me … There is none except Me … I am God, and there is no other.
43:10-11 Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

The New Testament confirms that only one God exists.

When the scribes asked Jesus what the most important commandment is, He started His explanation by quoting from Deuteronomy: “The foremost is, ‘hear, o Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:28-30).

James similarly wrote: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19).

Jesus is distinct from the only true God.

The Trinity theory agrees that God is One, but argues that God is one Being, consisting of three Persons.  This section therefore continues to quote verses that confirm that God is one, but these verses make a distinction between Jesus and God:

John 17:3

Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
(Note that God sent Jesus, which means that Jesus was subordinate to God before he was born as a human being, and therefore always will be.)

There is but one God, the Fatherand one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).  (Note: “The Father” always refers to God.)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

If Jesus prayed to the “only true God” (John 17:3), how can Jesus also be God?

Jesus is at God’s right hand. 

Stephen saw Jesus
Stephen saw Jesus

God the Father sits on His throne in heaven (1 Kings 22:19; Ps 11:4; 47:8). Various scriptures speak of Christ as being at the “right hand of God“:

Ascension – Jesus “was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

Stephen – Just before he was stoned, Stephen said, “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

Revelation – Jesus said that He “sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev 3:21), where He took the sealed book from “the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev. 5:1).  See also Mt. 26:62; Acts 2:33; 7:55 or Rom. 8:34.

The fact that Jesus sits at the right hand of God confirms that He is both distinct from God and subordinate to God.  In other words, Jesus is not God.

God calls Jesus “My Son”,
but Jesus calls God “My God”.

This is My Beloved SonAt Jesus’s baptism “a voice came out of heaven”, saying, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22; Mt. 3:17, cf. Col. 1:13).

Jesus said, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17).

Hanging on the Cross, Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?“ (Mt. 27:46).

How can the Father be His God if Christ is God? How can God have a God?

Jesus prayed to God.

Consistent with the concept that God is also Jesus’ God, Jesus prayed to God:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death” (Heb. 5:7).

The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus praying to the Father.

A while later Jesus “fell on His face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39).  This indicates that the Father and the Son have separate and distinct wills.

God is invisible.

The Father is unknowable, invisible and incomprehensible:

God, the Father, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).

No one has seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12).

God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and as such cannot be seen.

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46). (Note: “The Father” refers to God.)

God is the Source of all things, and exists outside our physical realm of time, space and matter.  The unseen is the source of everything that is seen.

The Son is the visible image of the invisible God.

There is only one true GodThe Son “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).

“Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4)

He (His Son) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).
(Some protest that the word “exact” is not in the text and should be deleted, but “exact representation” is simply the translation for the underlying Greek word.)

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father“, Jesus responded as follows: “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9)

Human beings cannot comprehend a Being that is everywhere, that exists without cause, and is not limited by time and space.  The Son is the visible image of the invisible God.  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of the universe:

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He (“The Word”)has explained Him” (John 1:18).  (Here Jesus is called God.  He is called God about five times in the Bible; also in John 1:1.  For a discussion, see The Bible calls Jesus God.)

Jesus is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice.  For that reason, He is called the Word of God (John 1:1, 14).  However, since the Father is invisible, the Son is not the image of God in physical terms, but an image of God’s character.

If God is invisible, while Jesus was certainly visible, then Jesus is distinct from God and therefore Jesus is not God.

Jesus and the Father are one in purpose and effort.

In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”.  In John 14:9-11 Jesus similarly says, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”.  Some people read into such verses that Jesus is the Father.  The Catholic view is that Jesus and God are synonymous.  To be “one“, however, does not mean to be literally one Person.  Jesus, in His prayer, defined the term to “be one”:

That all of them (His followers) may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me … that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me“ (John 17:21-23).

Christian believers must “be one” as God and Christ are one; united in purpose and unified in effort.  To “be one” therefore does not mean to be literally to be one and the same, but describes a relationship between different autonomous beings.  As Jesus said, He did the works of the Father (10:32) and He only did what pleased the Father (8:28:29).

God is the Source of all things, but always works through His Son.

This section continues to quote verses that make a distinction between God and Jesus, but these verses emphasize the different roles of God and Jesus:

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” (1 Cor. 8:6).

All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ … God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
(Note: Here we have the phrase “God was in Christ”.  But as discussed above, this does not mean that Jesus is God.  Rather, it indicates a unity of purpose and action.)

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

God … in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1; cf. John 1:3)

In the article Jesus in Colossians it is furthermore shown that God, the Father, is the Source of Power in creation and in salvation.

Summary

UnmisinterpretingThe Bible consistently and clearly teaches a distinction between God and Jesus.  This article has shown this in a number of ways, for example:

When Jesus was a baby, God spoke to His father Joseph.

Paul speaks about “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  Revelation similarly refers to “God and … the Lamb”.

The Old Testament teaches that God there is only one God.  The New Testament confirms this, and draws a distinction between this One God and Jesus, for instance, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ”.

Various scriptures speak of Christ as being at the “right hand of God“, which means Jesus is not God.

God calls Jesus “My Son”, but Jesus calls God “My God.”  Jesus Himself referred to “God” as a Person apart from Himself, and prayed to God.

God is invisible, while Jesus was and is visible.

God is the Source of all things, but He works through His Son in creation and salvation.

Since the Bible makes a distinction between God and Jesus, Jesus is not God.  We should not think of God as one Being consisting of three Persons. The next article provides further evidence of the distinction between God and Jesus by showing that God is the Head of Christ.

Articles related to the question: Is Jesus God?

The three views of the Son
Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
Jesus in Colossians
Does Philippians 2 say that Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God?
Who is the Word in John 1:1?
Jesus is not the same Person as God
God is the Head of Christ.
The Bible calls Jesus God.
Only Begotten Son of God
God created all things through His Son.
We must worship Jesus.
Is Jesus God?