Who is Christ?
The current series of articles attempts to determine and describe who Jesus really is:
Some people claim that He was merely a man, namely the ultimate example of a person who is completely filled with the Holy Spirit. In this view, Jesus did not exist before He was born as a human being. Listen, for example, to Dr. Tuggy’s podcast 189. Dr. Tuggy relies on what he calls “common sense;” irrespective of what the Bible says.
However, one of the articles in this series provides evidence that Jesus did exist before He was born.
First Created Being
Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to the NAMB website, teach that Jesus Christ was the first created being of Jehovah God and that, through the agency of the His Son, Jehovah created all other things in the universe.
However, the article – Only Begotten – proposes that Jesus was not created but came forth from the being of the Father. Furthermore, His Son had equality with God before He was born as a human being (Phil 2:6) and He has ”life in Himself” (John 5:26). These things indicate that He is more than a created being.
In the Trinity doctrine, the Son is God; co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.
However, another article in this series shows that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus, which means that Jesus is not God. Furthermore, the purpose of the current article is to show that Jesus is not co-equal with the Father but subordinate to Him:
Jesus is subordinate to the Father.
(1) His God
The Father is His God (John 20:17). Therefore, He also prayed to the Father (Mark 14:32).
(2) As a Human Being
With respect to His existence on this earth as a human being, Jesus received everything He has from the Father: God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34), His teachings (John 7:16), His works (John 5:36), His disciples (John 6:37-39), and authority to take up His life again after He died (John 10:18). Because He only had what God gave Him, Jesus said that He “can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19) and He did not know all things. For example, He said that He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming; “but the Father alone” (Matt 24:36).
(3) His eternal existence
God also gave to Jesus everything He has with respect to His eternal existence. God gave “all the fullness of Deity” to dwells in Christ (Col 2:9; cf. 1:19). This “fullness” includes having “life in Himself” (John 5:26) and the authority to give life to the dead (John 17:1-2). This “fullness” also includes “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27), authority over and ownership of the entire universe (Matt 28:18; Luke 10:22), and that “all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:22-23). He receives this honor because God exalted Him above all other beings (Phil 2:9-10).
(4) Before His incarnation
This article argues that He was subordinate to the Father before His birth as a human being, as evidenced by the fact that God had begotten Him (gave birth to Him) (John 3:16), created all things “through” Him (Col 1:16), sent Jesus into the world (John 8:42), and gave Him what to do and to say (John 12:49).
(5) After His ascension
Also, after His ascension and exaltation, He remained subordinate to God. For example, Jesus said that He is going to His Father who is “greater than” Himself (John 14:28). He took His seat at the right hand of God (Heb 12:2), which is the place of honor over the entire universe, but still subject to the ultimate Ruler. Consistently, many years after His ascension, Paul described the Father as “the Head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3), did Jesus received the visions contained in the book of Revelation from God (Rev 1:1), and did He refer to God as His God (Rev 3:2, 12).
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The Father is Jesus’ God.
Jesus referred to the Father as “the only true God” (John 17:3; cf. 1 Thess 1:9) and as “the one and only God” (John 5:44). The Father is “eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1:17). He is “the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Jude 1:25).
We never read in the Scriptures that Christ is the Father’s God, but therefore are many statements saying that the Father is His God. Jesus said:
“I ascend to … My God and your God” (John 20:17).
“I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. … He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God” (Rev 3:2, 12).
“He has made us to be a kingdom,
priests to His God and Father” (Rev 1:6).
Similarly, Paul wrote:
“The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3), and
“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:17).
Consistent with this, 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).
He received everything from His Father.
God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit at His baptism (John 1:32-34).
God gave Jesus His teachings.
“My teaching is not Mine,
but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).
“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. 8:26, 28, 38, 40; 14:24; 15:15; 17:8, 14).
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).
“I do exactly as the Father commanded Me”
(John 14:31; cf. 6:38; 10:32; 15:10; 17:4).
Jesus can do nothing of Himself.
Because Jesus received everything He has from the Father:
“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; cf. 5:30).
“I do not speak on My own initiative,
but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).
Consequently, He is 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).
As another consequence, 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. For example, 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.
God gave Jesus His followers.
The Father draws people to Himself and gave to Jesus His followers:
“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).
“The men whom You gave Me out of the world;
they were Yours and You gave them to Me”
(John 17:6; cf. 6:37-39; 6:44, 65; 10:29; 17:1-2).
Similarly, in the parable of the true vine (John 15) the Father is the One who 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).
God redeems through Christ.
Sometimes, we think of Jesus as the Redeemer, and that is true, but, as shown in the discussion of the letter to the Colossians, Jesus is the Means of redemption, while the Father is the driver of redemption. For example:
“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 only God our Savior,
through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Jude 1:25);
The Father gave Jesus to take up His life.
“I have authority to lay it (My life) down,
and I have authority to take it up again.
This commandment I received from My Father.”
God gave Jesus authority to raise the dead.
Jesus is able to give life to the dead:
“Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,
even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes”
He said, “My sheep hear My voice …
and I give eternal life to them,
and they will never perish”
(John 10:27-28; cf. 5:28-29; 6:40, 44; 11:25-26).
God gave Jesus the authority to raise the dead:
”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 life from no one, for He is the eternally self-existent Source of life.
God gave Jesus the authority to judge.
“God” is the judge (e.g., 1 Sam 2:10; Psa 50:6; Eccl 12:14; Gen 18:25; Joel 3:12). But, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Judge of the world (Matt 25:31-46, John 5:27, 9:39; Acts 10:42; Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10; and 2 Tim 4:1). For example, Jesus said:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory …
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,
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”
“The Father … gave Him authority to execute judgment,
because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).
God gave Jesus 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:
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father”
(Luke 10:22, cf. Matt 11:27)
“The Father loves the Son
and has given all things into His hand”
(John 3:35; cf. 13:3).
The Father exalted the Son to be honored.
“The Father … has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all will honor the Son
even as they honor the Father”
(John 5:22-23; cf. 17:24).
The words “so that” mean that Jesus will be honored because the Father “has given all judgment to the Son.” Jesus, therefore, receives glory because it is the Father’s will. This we also see in the following:
“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”
(Phil 2:9-10; cf. Heb 1:6).
“Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You
before the world was” (John 17:5).
The words “with you” 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).
A separate article discusses “worship” in the New Testament. Ancient Greek had fewer words than modern English. Consequently, words had a broader range of meanings. Similar to the word theos, the Greek word proskuneó can mean “worship” but it can also simply mean to show respect.
God gave Jesus the 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).
“The fullness of deity” (Col 1:19; 2:9) is a vague concept. I would propose it as the combination of the things already mentioned, such as:
”To have life in Himself” (John 5:26);
“Authority over all flesh,
that … He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2);
“All things have been handed over to Me” (Luke 10:22);
“Authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27); and
“All authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18).
Subordinate to God before His birth
There are several indications that the Son was subordinate to the Father before He came to this world:
“God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
but have eternal life” (John 3:16; cf. 18; 1:18; 1 John 4:9).
In other words, Jesus was God’s “only begotten Son” before God sent Him to this world and before He was born as a human being. God has many sons, but Christ is God’s only “begotten” Son. What that exactly means, we do not know, but it implies that He came forth from the being of the Father. God exists without cause, but since Jesus was “begotten,” He was brought forth by God, which means that He is subordinate to the Father; not only after He became a human being, but also in His eternal existence.
God created through Jesus.
“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;
cf. Heb 1:1-2; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16).
Those who oppose the claim that Jesus created all things argue that “the Word” in John 1:1-3 does not refer to Jesus but to a personification of God’s Wisdom and Plan, which became manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. But we also find statements, for example, in Colossians 1:16 and in Hebrews 1:2 that God created all things “through” His Son. Furthermore, in another article, “the Word” was identified as the preexistent Jesus.
The word “through” in these verses identifies God as the Creator and assigns a passive role to Christ. Jesus, therefore, is not an independent Creator; but the Means of creation: All creative power and wisdom are from the Father but flowed from God through His Son. For a further discussion, see, God created all things through His Son.
God not only created all things through His Son; the Son also upholds all things “by the word of His (God’s) power” (Heb 1:3; Col 1:17). [Hebrew 1:2-3 uses the word “His” four times to consistently refer to “God” (Heb 1:1).]
These facts imply an extremely close relationship between the Son and “all things,” which is understood to refer to the entire universe (Col 1:16). It is proposed, therefore, that, by ‘begetting’ (giving ‘birth‘ to) Jesus, as His “only begotten Son,” God brought all things into being. This assigns a subordinate role to the Son.
God sent His Son.
In John’s gospel, Jesus says perhaps forty times that the Father “sent” Him, giving Him what to say and do. For example:
“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).
“The word which you hear is not Mine,
but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24;
cf. John 3:16-17, 34; 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36-38; 6:29, 32-33, 44, 57; 7:16, 18, 28-29, 33; 8:16, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 11:42; 12:44, 45, 49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3, 6, 8, 18, 23, 25; 20:21)
Paul confirmed this:
“But when the fullness of time came,
God sent forth his Son, born of a woman”
(Galatians 4:4; cf. Rom 8:3.)
These “sent“-statements imply His pre-existence; that He existed prior to becoming a human being. It also implies His subordination to God; not only as a human being, but also before He came to this world.
The reason that Jesus claimed so often that He was sent by the Father was to give the Jews an appreciation of Himself and His mission (e.g., John 11:42). But the Jews did not believe Him. Today, many Christians still do not believe Him, for they do not believe that God sent Him, namely that the Father is the Head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3).
Subordinate to God after His ascension
There are also several indications that the Son today still is subordinate to the Father:
Greater than I
“If you loved Me,
you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I“ (John 14:28).
In other words, because “the Father is greater than” Himself, it will be a joy and privilege for Christ to go to the Father.
At the right hand of God
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 is the place of honor over the entire universe but is still subject to the ultimate Ruler.
Head of Christ
Many years after Jesus has ascended to heaven, Paul explicitly stated:
“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).
This, therefore, is the situation today and will always be.
The Father is still His God.
Jesus said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).
In Revelation, which was received about 60 years after His ascension to heaven, we read:
“He (Jesus Christ) has made us to be a kingdom,
priests to His God and Father” (Rev 1:6).
Jesus said to Sardis: “I have not found your deeds
completed in the sight of My God” (Rev 3:2; cf. 12).
Other indications that Jesus still is subordinate to the Father, include:
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).
Jesus received the visions contained in the book of Revelation from God (Rev 1:1).
“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).
The Father, therefore, is not only greater than Jesus because Jesus “emptied Himself” when He became a human being (Phil 2:5), but the Father always was greater than His Son and always will be. The trinitarian teaching, that Jesus is co-equal to God, is not Biblical.
Christology – Available Articles
Specific Bible Books
Specific Bible Passages
The origin of the Son
Christ and God
- Jesus is not God because He is distinct from God.
- Jesus is subordinate to God.
- The Almighty – Only the Father is Almighty.
- Evidence of equality – They work, create, own all things together.
- Equality in John – Jesus answers prayers & protects believers.
- Worship – We worship only God, but we must also worship Jesus.
Jesus is called God.
- Overview – Overview of the verses that refer to Jesus as theos.
- Theos – The meaning of theos – the word translated “God.”
- 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.