This article has been improved and incorporated into a summary article on the Subordination of the Son. The reader is advised to rather read that article.
This is one of the series of articles that analyze John’s view of Jesus. In this article, it is shown that, throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is subordinate to the Father. He received everything He has from the Father, including His ability to give life to the dead, to judge, and to be honored. He prayed to the Father and referred to the Father as His God.
The title “Son,” by itself already indicates that 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:
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” implies 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 Judge:
“So 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 His 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.
– END OF SUMMARY –
The Father sent Jesus.
In John’s gospel, Jesus says perhaps forty times that the Father sent Him. For example:
“I have not even come on My own initiative,
but He sent Me” (John 8:42).
“The word which you hear is not Mine,
but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24).
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 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” (John 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”
(John 6:44; cf. 6:65).
“The men whom You gave Me out of the world;
they were Yours and You gave them to Me”
(John 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” (John 15:1). It is the Father who cuts away branches that do not bear fruit and prunes other branches “so that it may bear more fruit” (John 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”
(John 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”
At the end of His ministry, Jesus said to God that He has “accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 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”
(John 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”
(John 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”
(John 12:49; cf. 17:8, 14; 15:15).
The Father made Jesus be 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”
(John 5:22-23; cf. John 5:27).
The words “so that” mean that Jesus will be honored because the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 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 is an 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”
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 life 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”
(John 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”
(John 6:40; cf. 5:28-29; 6:44).
He received that ability 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” (John 5:25-26).
“You gave Him authority over all flesh,
that to all whom You have given Him,
He may give eternal life” (John 17:2).
The Father gave Jesus all things.
“The Father loves the Son
and has given all things into His hand” (John 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” (John 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.”
The Father is Jesus’ God.
Jesus referred to the Father as:
“The only true God” (John 17:3), and as
“My God and your God” (John 20:17).
He also prayed to God (John 17). For instance, He asked the Father to give the Spirit to His disciples (John 14:16-17) and that His disciples might “be with Me where I am” (John 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 a personification of God’s 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 preexistent Jesus. These seem to be sufficient proof that Jesus participated in creation.
The word “through” in these verses implies that it was God who created and assigns a passive role to Christ. God created “through” Jesus, as is also explicitly stated in Hebrews 1:2. Jesus, therefore, is not an independent Creator; but the Means of creation: Creative Power and Wisdom flowed from God through His Son. 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 proposed, therefore, 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.
Nature of Christ – Is Jesus God?
Book of Daniel
Book of Revelation
Other important articles