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This passage in hebrews is in my mind as I ask this question. It says God could swear by none greater and Jesus says multiple times that the Father is greater.

Hebrews 6:13 KJVS

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

Can you tell what's on my mind! Ok I know that people say, Jesus says "the Father is greater than I", because he was in the flesh at that time. But here Jesus says "he who is sent is not greater than he who sent him". Then later we see him say "as the Father has sent me". Now when the Father sent Christ to earth he was not in the flesh. Is he not saying that the Father was greater than him before he was manifest in the flesh?

John 13:16 KJVS

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

John 20:21 KJVS

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

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    Not being greater does not necessarily imply being lesser. – Lucian Aug 28 '18 at 3:32
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    That's a good question, Eric. However, the Trinity doctrine never claims that the Son even aspires to be 'greater than' the Father. It states equality of the 3 'persons' subsisting in the Godhead. In their equality, the Father sent and the Son agreed to be sent. That in no way made the Son lesser than the Father prior to the Son "the Word became flesh". – Anne Aug 28 '18 at 14:21
  • Heb 6:13 speaks of the OT text and Jesus is the one speaking and making that covenant with Abraham. So Paul is affirming the divinity of Christ. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 14 at 16:04
  • @ Nihil Sine Deo : it is not Jesus who make the promise to Abraham but God. "And said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son," Gen. 22:16 – Ozzie Nicolas 2 days ago
  • And He swore by Himself because He could swear by none greater. Hence the conundrum we address that God could swear by no greater because there was no greater yet Jesus says the Father is greater than he. – Eric Ross yesterday
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Jesus said

... my Father is greater than I. John 14:28 [KJV].

Here, he says not 'God is greater than I' in respect of the deity of God and his own humanity. He says 'the Father is greater than I' in respect of the Fatherhood of the Father and his own Sonship.

In Philippians 2:6 Paul says

ος εν μορφη θεου υπαρχων ουχ αρπαγμον ηγησατο το ειναι ισα θεω [Stephens 1550]

which literally translates as :

who, in form God being/subsisting, not robbery esteemed to be equal God.

Here, I have taken the interlinear translation of The Englishman's Greek New Testament (Bagster) of 1877 and used 'robbery' not 'rapine' - which is somewhat archaic - and have missed out the word 'it' which does not translate a Greek word.

These two texts, in my view, indicate the equality of the Father and the Son in terms of equal deity, and indicate the authority of the Father in terms of personal relationship within Deity.

This is the revelation of the New Testament, that the Father sent the Son and the Son reveals the Father. The Son names the Father, for that divine person is his Father, within Deity.

This is the revelation of One God, in a perfection of divine unity - in One Spirit - the union of the Father and the Son (an eternal divine relationship) in One eternal divine and Holy Spirit.

So my answer to the question 'is He (the Father) not greater ?' is , yes, He is greater in terms of Divine relationship shared through the Holy Spirit. But the Father and the Son are equal in terms of the Divine Nature which they have in common.

  • So would you say that Jesus is somewhere in the middle between God and the rest of us? I mean, we know he's been made superior to humans (Psalm 8, 110) but if he's inferior to his God ("I go to my God and to your God") then he's inferior. He is not equal to his God is he? If God is his superior (his GOD) then how is he not inferior? God > Jesus means Jesus < God. Right? – Ruminator Jan 19 '19 at 22:44
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    Isn't that exactly what a mediator is? – Eric Ross Jan 21 '19 at 1:41
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The question begins from an assumption that the sender is greater than the sent. This is a mistake to assume that which is wrong in order to force the respondent to defend what is naturally true. Therefore, before answering this assumption, I think it is incumbent on the enquirer to justify the assumption, viz, the sender is greater than the sent. I do not accept this assumption.

I also agree with you Eric that we can certainly tell what is on your mind, yet again. However, I salute your persistence!

  • Hebrews 6:13 is also in my mind when im thinking about this... Last night i read in a systematic theology book the the Son was eternally begotten of the Father. That to me means he is not equal because he had to be given life even though he is in essence God because he is his son. – Eric Ross Aug 29 '18 at 11:20
  • @Eric Ross - that terminology is that of Arius during his debates in 325 AD and was condemned by the council as anathema. Check out the official communique, namely, the Nicaean Creed. That does not make it correct, but, the idea of eternally begotten is absent from Scripture. – user25930 Aug 29 '18 at 12:24
  • @EricRoss Something tells me that the book you were reading was not the Bible since that assertion is not made in any of the pages of scripture. It does, however say that the birthing of God's "wisdom" (IE: wisdom expressed) occurred in the distant past but before the making of the earth and sky: Pro 8:24-25 KJV - 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: – Ruminator Jan 17 '19 at 16:14
  • 1Co 1:30 KJV - 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made (ἐγενήθη - divine passive "was made by God") unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: – Ruminator Jan 17 '19 at 16:18
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Is Constantine saying that Christ kenosis happened before the incarnation?

How is that even possible?

In Joshua when he sees the Lord the Lord tells him to remove his sandals from his feet for he is on holy ground then allows him to worship, if it had just been an angel he would have refrained him as we see the angel in Revelation refrained John.

Kenosis happened when Jesus left heaven and was formed in the womb of mary.

Also john says in the first epistle "no man has seen God", which also Paul states in a letter to Timothy, but we know that before kenosis Isaiah saw Christ seated on his throne as John says "Isaiah saw his glory and spoke about him"... so knowing that Isaiah saw Christ before kenosis and no man has seen God, should leave us all in the position of just being able to say that these doctrines are incomplete and dont properly explain the Godhead as scripture shows.

Maybe there just aren't human words to explain it, "no eye has seen nor ear heard"... the problem is men are afraid to say "I dont know".

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The relative position between the Father and Son is multi-faceted.

The Father is greater than I.

I live because of the Father.

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear.

Jesus said to him: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good except one, God.

I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

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The Father sent the Son so is He not greater?

Jesus said,"for the Father is greater than I" and also referred to his Father as "the only true God, " and at John 13:16 He says : "the one who is sent is not greater than the one who sent him."(NASB)

The Father is greater than I.

John 14:28 (NASB)

28" You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." John 17:3 (NASB)

3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

And on many other occasions Jesus made it known that he is inferior and subordinate to the Father.

John 5:19 NASB

19 "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever [a]the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner."

Luke 22:41-42 (NASB)

41 "And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

John 13:16 (NASB)

16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him."

No one is "good" except God alone.

When Jesus said "No one is good except God alone," Jesus clearly showed that no one is as good as the father, not even himself . Jesus distinguished that the Father is greater and separate from him.

Mark 10:18 (NASB)

18 "And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."

This is my Son.

At Jesus baptism the voice of God from heaven said:“This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” So God actually was saying that He, as the superior, was approving his Son Jesus , a lesser one for the work ahead.

Matthew 3:16-17 (NASB)

16 "After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [a]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and [b]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is [c]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Sit one on your right and the other on your left.

When the mother of the sons of Zebedee ,asked Jesus for her sons to sit one on his right and the other on his left , He replied: "this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” (Mathew 20:23 NASB) Had Jesus been the Almighty God it would have been his to give, but Jesus could not give them, for they were not his to give.

Matthew 20:23 (NASB)

23 "He *said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but 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.”

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.

Jesus acknowledged his Father's superiority, when he said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me." By anointing Jesus, God as superior, was commissioning or giving Jesus authority that he did not previously have.

Luke 4:18 (NASB)

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed"

Some may say that the above verses apply to Jesus during his fleshy state on earth, this is not so, because his followers continued to teach that the Father is superior to Jesus, even after his ascension into heaven.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB)

God is the Head of Christ.

3 "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ."

1 John 2:1 (NASB)

Christ Is Our Advocate.

2 "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;"

1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

1 John 4:9-10 (NASB)

9 "By this the love of God was manifested [a]in us, that God has sent His [b]only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Conclusion.

Jesus acknowledges that" the one sent , is not greater than the one who sent him,"( John 13:16) "the father is greater than I" (John 14:28) , and during his earthly ministry He continuously distinguished himself from the Father (John 17:3). God ,Jesus, the angels and even Satan are divine in nature, but this does not mean that they all equal. After Jesus ascension into heaven his disciples continued to teach that the Father is the head of Christ, (1 Corinthians 11:3) Compare 1 John 2:1, 1 Corinthians 15:27-28, Revelation 1:1-2

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That the sent is not greater than the sender does not imply in any way that the sent is not equal to the sender.

Moreover, also, a sender can be superior in a certain sense to the sent and equal in another sense. For example, a boxer sends, so to say, his punch. Now, the boxer is greater than his punch because he is the cause of the punch, but the punch is also equal to the boxer in the sense that the boxer can be expressed as a boxer only through the punch (let's dismiss for this example's case other features such as footwork, deceptive moves etc.), thus the punch is as necessary for the boxer to exist as a boxer, as the boxer is necessary for the existence of the punch. The same is in theology: Father can create only through the Son/Logos; Father can work miracles only through Son/Logos and Father is totally impotent to save humanity without His Logos/Son being incarnate.

Thus, the superiority of the Father over Jesus Christ can be viewed in two ways: a) the Father is greater than Son in the sense that the Son has human nature and God is superior to human being; b) the Father is superior to the Son, as St Basil the Great says, "in virtue of the order of causality", for the Father is the cause of the Son and not vice-versa; however since this causality is eternal and since the Father gives eternally the entirety of His nature to the Son, then this superiority of the Father does not forfeit Son's equality with Him.

Thus, yes, the Father is superior to the Son in two abovementioned ways, but this does in no way abolish the Son's equality, that is to say, equal divinity with the Father, so that to Both the same divine honour befits (John 5:23).

  • True, that makes sense to me. It says all was made through him because without him nothing could be made seeing Gods wrath would have consumed us all! So the Father cant be without the son otherwise He would have had to remain alone which He himself said is not good!!! Ok making me feel better already! – Eric Ross Aug 30 '18 at 22:19
  • @Eric Ross Yes, that's the essence of theology, for the great theologians expressed the relationship of the Father and the Son by analogy of the physical sun and its rays: the sun cannot enlighten without rays, so the Father cannot do anything but through the Son, and vice versa, neither Son can do anything but as caused by the Father (cf. John 5:19). – Levan Gigineishvili Aug 31 '18 at 18:05
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Jesus is credited with sending the apostles and with sending the Holy Spirit into them by breathing on them.

John 20:21: Jesus, therefore, said to them again, Peace to you; according as the Father hath sent me, I also send you; John 20:22: and this having said, he breathed on them , and saith to them, Receive the Holy Spirit;

Similarly, the Father sends the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16: and I will ask the Father, and another Comforter He will give to you, that he may remain with you--to the age; John 14:17: the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it doth not behold him, nor know him, and ye know him, because he doth remain with you, and shall be in you.

However, sinning against the Holy Spirit is considered more grievous than sinning against Jesus.

Mark 3:28: “Truly I say to you that all the sins and the blasphemies will be forgiven the sons of men, however much they blaspheme. Mark 3:29: But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit does not have forgiveness ⌞forever⌟, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—

In those days, a crime against a higher authority probably would receive a weightier punishment. If that is the case, then that would mean the Father and the Son are sending a greater or higher authority than themselves. The activity of the Holy Spirit has been present before and after the incarnation, making it a moot point...probably.

I was reading the book below, but couldn't find the exact quote I was looking for.

Miyahira, Nozomu. 2000. Towards a Theology of the Concord of God: A Japanese Perspective on the Trinity. Paternoster Press: Waynesboro, GA. > 9780853648635

The author cites an earlier theologian (Augustine?) who states there is a circular aspect to the glorification activity within the trinity. The Son glorifies the Father, who glorifies the Holy Spirit, who glorifies the Son, and the cycle continues.

It may be that none is actually greater than the other, but they love to brag about the other out of love. This would be a analogous to the human family.

You need a different analogy to deal with the Hebrews quote. This is more like a man stamping a "Paid in Full" on his own forehead about 27 times like making intense eye contact with you.

Hebrews 6:13: Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, Hebrews 6:14: saying, "Surely I will bless you greatly and multiply your descendants abundantly." Hebrews 6:15: And so by persevering, Abraham inherited the promise. Hebrews 6:16: For people swear by something greater than themselves, and the oath serves as a confirmation to end all dispute. Hebrews 6:17: In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath, Hebrews 6:18: so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. Hebrews 6:19: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, Hebrews 6:20: where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

In this case, I would say Jesus as the corporeal presence of the Lord was the one speaking to Abraham when the oath was made. This would make his self sacrifice on the cross in human form later even more cohesive. He came. He promised. He fulfilled his promise. Furthermore, he keeps on keeping his promise forever as a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

I'm going out on a limb and making some absolute statements, now. All the instances of the "Angel of the Lord" or God in human form in the OT are Jesus before he went through the effort of becoming incarnate.The Father's appearance or corporeal presence is never described in the OT, although his presence in other forms is affirmed and sometimes simultaneously with the presence of the Son.

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Preamble

In his conversation with Nicodemus in John 3 (around 27 AD), Jesus revealed to him that a man cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Nicodemus, thinking only in terms of physical existence, was perplexed. So to nudge Nicodemus' thinking in the right direction, Jesus said:

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
-- John 3:8 (KJV)

However, the penny still didn't drop for Nicodemus, and he declared, "How can these things be?" Jesus replied, clearly expecting a little more from Nicodemus, since surely knowledge of the spiritual would be bread and butter to a religious leader, "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"

In John 8, some two years later ((around 29 AD)), Jesus continued in a conversation with a number of Pharisees who had stayed on following his rescue of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus said,

... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
-- John 8:12 (KJV)

The Pharisees immediately retorted that his words were just self-testimony and so not true. Jesus agreed that he was self-testifying but nevertheless the words were true.

The use of the two witness requirement here was inappropriate because Jesus was under no official investigation for any trespass, unless, of course, they believed Jesus' "I am the light of the world" statement was another of his blasphemous claims to divinity. Even so, the controversial nature of a witness' testimony on any matter would require "diligent inquisition" to establish whether or not it was false (Deuteronomy 19:18).

Jesus continued:

... for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
-- John 8:14 (KJV)

As with Jesus' words to Nicodemus, reference to his spiritual nature and/or spiritual things was completely lost on these men.

Conclusion

... Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
-- John 3:3 (KJV)

These words are just a true now as when Jesus first uttered them. God's existence is incomprehensible to one without spiritual discernment, and so His capacity to manifest in the form of a man is pure fantasy. Nevertheless, the testimony of the New Testament is that Nicodemus (at least initially) and the religious leaders of Israel at the time were wrong, and God had indeed manifest in their time as a man, but moreover, that their contempt for Him was profound.

The OP's question betrays the same misunderstanding of Jesus' words as Nicodemus' and the religious leaders of Israel, which can only mean the kingdom of God cannot yet be visible.

Peter had the remedy for such blindness:

... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
-- Acts 2:38 (KJV)

Anyone who cares to make diligent inquiry on the matter will eventually realise that anything bound by form is inferior to anything that is not, and will come to understand that God chose to make His word inferior flesh in order to bring to completion what He had purposed in Creation.

  • Are you implying it is because I need to repent that I am asking this question and have no clarity? – Eric Ross Aug 29 '18 at 11:27
  • "Anyone who cares to make diligent inquiry on the matter will eventually realise that anything bound by form is inferior to anything that is not". That sounds a bit like Platonism or Gnosticism. On what are you basing that? – Ruminator Jan 19 '19 at 23:05

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