In the Trinity theory, God is three co-equal Persons in one Being; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The previous article argued that Jesus is not God. The current article supports this conclusion by showing that Jesus is subordinate to God.
Direct statements that the Son is subordinate:
- “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
- “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3).
- Christ is God’s “servant” (Acts 3:13; cf. 26).
- The Father is His God (John 20:17).
The following implies that the Son is subordinate:
- Christ does what “the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).
- He is “seated at the right hand of … God” (Heb 12:2.
- God sent the Son into the world (John 8:42).
- Only the Father knows when Christ will return (Matt 24:36).
Jesus received from the Father:
- ”To have life in Himself” (John 5:26);
- The ability to raise the dead (John 17:1-2);
- “Authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27);
- “What to say and what to speak” (John 12:49);
- The works that He does (John 5:36);
- His followers (John 6:37-39);
- “All authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18);
- “All things” (Luke 10:22); and
- “The fullness” of diety (Col 1:19; 2:9).
Jesus was subordinate to God before His birth:
- God created all things “through” His Son (Heb 1:1).
- God sent Jesus to this world (John 8:42).
- At that time:
- He already was God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
- God told Jesus what to do and what say (John 12:49).
Jesus remained subordinate to God after His ascension:
- He said, be glad “because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
- Long after Jesus ascended to heaven, Paul explicitly stated, “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3).
- Jesus said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).
- He took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
- When the end comes, “the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One” (1 Cor 15:24, 28).
Jesus was subordinate to God before His birth, during His life on earth and still is.
– END OF SUMMARY –
The current series of articles asks, “Is Jesus God?” These articles present both sides of the argument, and seeks a solution that satisfies both. Please see the list at the end of this article.
In the Trinity theory, God is three Persons in one Being; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By showing that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus, the previous article argued that Jesus is not God. For example:
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.
When Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
“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). That also implies that He is 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” (Heb 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 a human being, but also in His pre-existence.
To give the Jews an greater understanding of Himself and His mission, Jesus many times claimed that He was sent by the Father. 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 the 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 …
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”
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; cf. 10:32).
Jesus received His followers.
Jesus even received His followers from the Father:
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me …
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 …” (John 10:29).
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 billions of people out there. Why did you become interested? How did that happen? That’s a miracle from God!
Jesus received all authority and all things.
Jesus claimed that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). By implication, God gave Him that authority. Jesus received that authority.
Jesus has all things because He received it from the Father:
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Luke 10:22, cf. Matt 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” (Col 2:9).
The Father gave Him this fullness:
“It was the Father’s good pleasure
for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Col 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” (John 5:30).
“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 literally know all things. Jesus said He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming, “but the Father alone” (Matt 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.
Subordinate to God before His birth
There are many indications that the Son was subordinate to the Father before He came to this world:
(1) 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.
(2) 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, that implies that He was subordinate to the Father before He came to this world.
(3) Since we read that God sent “His only begotten Son” to this world (John 3:16; cf. 18; 1 John 4:9), Jesus 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.
(4) 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
(1) 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” (John 14:28). This implies that the Father will still be greater than Jesus when Jesus is with the Father, which is after His ascension.
(2) Long after Jesus ascended to heaven, Paul explicitly stated, “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). This is then also the situation today and always.
(3) Jesus said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).
(4) Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 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.
(5) When an end will be made of all evil:
“Then comes the end …
when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. …
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).
(6) Jesus said, “To sit on My right and on My left,
this is not Mine to give,
but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father” (Matt 20:23).
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.
Articles in this series
Specific Bible Books
Specific Bible Passages
Origin of the Son
Subordinate to the Father
Equal With God
Jesus is called God.
- Overview – Overview of the verses that refer to Jesus as theos.
- Theos – The meaning of theos – the word translated “God.”
- The translation of John 1:1
- John 1:18 – The original text of this verse is in dispute.
- John 20:28 – Did Thomas say that Jesus is God?
- John’s gospel – Discussion of theos in this gospel.
- Romans 9:5 – The translation depends on punctuation.
- Hebrews 1:8 – The next verse says that God is His theos.