John 5:26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.

Clearly, in this text, the Father is the one giving life and Jesus the one receiving. It's the same Gr. word ζωὴν (zōēn)

John 6:57 Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

Previous to Jesus' resurrection he did not have immortality. He was flesh and died in the flesh.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

He said to the disciples after the Father raised him from death -

Luke 23:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

Is there a difference between the life of the Father and the life He gave the Son?


Two Different Lives - One Living God
First, it is obvious there is a type of life the Son had which the Father has never experienced:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) [ESV]

The Father has never experienced life in the flesh. He has never been hungry or tempted to sin or experienced any of the physical aspects of life in the flesh. Nor has the Father ever physically shown Himself to man as the Son has. The life the Son had and has is unique: it is one-of-a-kind, μονογενὴς. He also had life before becoming flesh (1:1) and, despite experiencing a physical death (18:32), He is alive in the flesh (1:18), which has a material sense (eg. Luke 24:39).

Here are some implications of what we have been told:

  1. Language will not adequately express the life of the Son. For example, the OP states, it is possible to say He was not immortal as He experienced death. Yet His body not decay: it did not see corruption. Likewise, He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). He has a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44), which, nevertheless, has a fleshly reality capable of transcending the physical world: His life is unique.
  2. It is specious to draw conclusions by picking out individual verses from passages which are describing that which is unique. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself can be construed, as the OP notes, to say Jesus is receiving life from the Father. Yet the word "gave" is δίδωμι which also means "grant" or "deliver." The Father "granting" life to the Son is one way to express that which is God becoming that which is flesh. Likewise "delivering" follows the context which all life is in now in the hand of the Son. Nor can this "transfer" be seen to the Son was separate and distinct from life before He became flesh. It may mean that which was once shared equally has now been placed in the hand of (or returned to) just one.

This Gospel also explains how it is wrong to conclude one life is "superior" to the other (as might be claimed). That is, in terms of "superiority" the Son was "less" than the Father. Since if that line of reasoning is continued, then the Father having divested Himself of that which was His, has made the Son "superior." The Gospel insists there is mutual equality which of necessity means one is different from the other while still being equal. This illustrates the fundamental obstacle the Jewish people who did not accept Christ could not overcome:

One eschatological theme leads to another. Just as it is a fundamental Jewish belief that in the last days God will raise the dead, so also is it that at that time all men shall be judged. But God has handed over the office of judgement to the Son.1

This is the stumbling block of Jewish unbelief: their "Father" is insufficient to obtain eternal life. The passage, 5:19-47 is an extensive restatement of John 1:1. The Son is different and yet the Son is equal to the Father, as the Word was equal to God. The difference is this is the current reality and will remain so until after the final judgement of eternal life.

The two lives are different yet only if they are (or will be) reunited as equal will a belief that only the Son now has what the OT says belongs to God will result in being raised from the dead to eternal life with the One Living God.

I am...
The Fourth Gospel makes extensive use of "I am." There are "seven" with predicates:

The Seven "I am's" of Jesus:
I am the Bread of life (6:35, 41, 48, 51)
I am the Light of the world (8:12)
I am the Door (10:7, 9)
I am the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
I am the Vine (15:1, 5)

Each is a claim which, based on the Old Testament belongs to God, and it may be said with absolute certainty these are claims made by the Son, not the Father.

Only the Son may claim to be "I am...." where the "I am..." is based on a life which also has an earthly existence. The life of the Son and that of the Father should not be conflated into one as if there is no practical significance to an earthly existence. The final "I am" demonstrates lives which are different and yet are individually necessary to be equal:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (John 15:1)

The True Vine still requires a Vinedresser; yet the Vinedresser cannot exist as such unless there is a True Vine for Him. This means, without the Son as the True Vine, the Father has no claim to be the Vinedresser. The two are one only when there are two; neither is superior to the other since without the other neither exists as the True Vine or the Vinedresser.

I Am
In addition to "I am...", the absolute "I Am" is found nine times in the Gospel (4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19, 18:5, 6, 8). These nine may be counted as seven:

...it is striking that his series of seven absolute "I am" sayings corresponds even numerically to its Old Testament source. The Septuagint has egō eimi in three instances (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10) and the double egō eimi egō eimi in four (Isa. 43:25; 45:18; 46:4; 51:12), making seven in all. The MT Hebrew has the simple ’ănî hū' seven times (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10, 13; 46:4; 48:12; 52:6) and the emphatic form ’ānōḵî ’ānōḵî hū' twice (Isa. 43:25; 51:12), making a total count of either seven or nine, just as John's series could be counted either as seven or (since the last saying is repeated twice: 18:5, 6, 8), nine.2

Once this pattern has been revealed, it becomes apparent the Son employed the same pattern for His "I am..." statements:

The Nine "I am's" of Jesus:
I am the Bread of life (6:35, 41, 48)
  + I am the Living Bread (6:51)
I am the Light of the world (8:12)
I am the Door for the sheep (10:7, 9)
I am the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
  + I am the True Vine (15:1)
I am the Vine (15:5)

I believe the message is unmistakable. Just as He was I am before coming to earth, He is I am while on the earth.

He "is" in John 4-5
The meaning of Jesus' use of the absolute "I am" may be debated, but the number of uses is without dispute. Clearly the Gospel has been written with the OT "I am's" in view and may be compared as such. For example, the first "I Am" is in Deuteronomy:

“‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (Deuteronomy 32:39)

רְאוּ עַתָּה כִּי אֲנִי אֲנִי הוּא וְאֵין אֱלֹהִים עִמָּדִי אֲנִי אָמִית וַאֲחַיֶּה מָחַצְתִּי וַאֲנִי אֶרְפָּא וְאֵין מִיָּדִי מַצִּֽיל

The first one was spoken to a Samaritan, who only accepts the first five books as the Word of God. Not only does the Gospel use all the "I am's" the same number of times they occur in the Hebrew Scripture, Jesus pronounced them in an order which corresponds to their occurrence in history, their placement in Scripture, and follow what Samaritans and other Jewish people accepted as authoritative:

Samaritan woman:         4:26
                         Deuteronomy 32:39

All other Jewish people: 6:20, 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19, 18:5, 6, 8
                         Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 13, 25; 46:4; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6 

After recording "I Am" to the Samaritan woman, the Gospel writer then places a healing which prevents death (4:46-54) as the second sign. Then records a healing from a 38-year infirmity (5:5-9), the same period of time the Israelites had to wait before entering the Promised Land after the bad report for the spies (cf. Deuteronomy 2:14). Then Jesus says He is the only one who will "make alive" at the final judgement, and ends by calling upon Moses:

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5)

This first "I Am" in Scripture is not a simple "I Am" as it begins with a repetition of "I" ’ănî ’ănî hū' implying one ’ănî is Father and one Son. They are "One" and yet One will separate, come to earth in human form, offer Himself as a sacrifice for the world He created, empty Himself of every drop of human blood, be buried, and rise again from the dead. This is His "I am" story which is distinct from anything His Father has done.

The first I Am concludes with the teaching in Chapter 5 after demonstrating He is the One who heals and is the One who will make alive. He is in their presence as the Living I Am. He concludes with the claim to be the One who will give eternal life. Thus Moses' "I, I Am" is shown to be true by healing and making alive and those hearing Jesus should know His claim about final judgment will be also shown to be true because He is and equal to The Father.

1. C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, SPCK, 1963, pp. 216-217
2. Richard Bauckham, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, Baker Academic, 2007, p. 247

  • The Life of the Son of God is that received (by an eternal begetting) from the Father. The life that Jesus has, regarding his humanity, is received from his mother, Mary. You have confused these two and then, wrongly, drawn conclusions by making a comparison with the Father. Down-voted -1.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 7 at 8:40
  • @NigelJ - what is this "eternal begetting" that you speak about? I cannot find it in the Bible and does this mean that Jesus was begotten and thus had a beginning?
    – Dottard
    Jan 7 at 9:42
  • @Dottard See Question regarding Nicene Creed See Charles Lee Irons. See also 'Retrieving Eternal Generation' (Sanders & Swain). See Athanasius and the Nicene Creed Wikipedia
    – Nigel J
    Jan 7 at 10:08
  • @NigelJ I have reworked the answer to better answer the OP's question (the point of which is to refute what you believe). Here the issue is not if the Son saves, the OP is attempting to obfuscate the truth by claiming the Son's life is "less" than that of the Father's. Jan 7 at 22:04
  • @RevelationLad The divine life of the Son is begotten (in an eternal begetting) of the life of the Father. The humanity of Christ is something else and should not be confused with the former. Just as much as one party may 'obfuscate' and lessen the life of the Son, so confusion may occur otherwise. Things that are separate should be kept separate and should not be merged into one.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 8 at 9:11

There are two questions here, so I will tackle them in turn. See John 5:26.


First, the word translated "Life" is ζωή (zóé), in both cases. Quite often, the word refers to eternal life, especially in the after-life, eg, Matt 7:14, 19:16, etc.

What was given?

In John 5:26, the grammar is quite clear, God is NOT giving the Son life. God is giving the Son authority. The phrase in both cases is identical for both parties: ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ = life in Himself. This is used of BOTH the Father and the Son. That is, the Father has life in Himself, and, the Son has life in Himself.

Therefore, what authority was given? Ellicott answers this nicely:

Life in himself.—The Son has spoken of the dead hearing His voice and living, but this giving of life to others can only be by one who has in himself an original source of life. This the Father has, and this the Son also has. To the Son in His pre-existent state it was natural, as being equal with the Father. To the Son who had emptied Himself of the exercise of the attributes which constituted the glory of that state (comp. again Philippians 2:6 et seq.), it was part of the Father’s gift by which He exalted Him exceedingly, and gave Him the name which is above every name. It was, then, a gift in time to One who had possessed it before all time, and for the purposes of the mediatorial work had relinquished it. It was a gift, not to the Eternal Son, but to the Incarnate Word.

Barnes is more forceful, of which I quote only an abbreviated synopsis:

1. It has reference merely "to office." As Mediator, he may be said to have been appointed by the Father.

2. Appointment to office does not prove that the one who is appointed is inferior in nature to him who appoints him. A son may be appointed to a particular work by a parent, and yet, in regard to talents and every other qualification, may be equal or superior to the father. ... He simply derived authority from them to do what he was otherwise fully "able" to do. So the Son, "as Mediator," is subject to the Father; yet this proves nothing about his nature.

To have life - That is, the right or authority of imparting life to others, whether dead in their graves or in their sins.

In himself - There is much that is remarkable in this expression. It is in Him as it is in God. He has the control of it, and can exercise it as he will. The prophets and apostles are never represented as having such power in themselves. They were dependent; they performed miracles in the name of God and of Jesus Christ Acts 3:6; Acts 4:30; Acts 16:18; but Jesus did it by his own name, authority, and power. He had but to speak, and it was done, Mark 5:41; Luke 7:14; John 11:43. This wonderful commission he bore from God to raise up the dead as he pleased; to convert sinners when and where he chose; and finally to raise up all the dead, and pronounce on them an eternal doom according to the deeds done in the body. None could do this but he who had the power of creation - equal in omnipotence to the Father, and the power of searching all hearts - equal in omniscience to God.

It is this innate life in the Son that is the source of the believer's eternal life as recorded in 1 John 5:11, 12 -

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

  • Zoe is life. Dunamis is authority. Down-voted -1.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 7 at 8:42
  • @NigelJ - What is the problem here? dunamis is actually "power"; exousia is authority and neither is mentioned in John 5:26 at all. Nor did I mention it and it is not in the question. dunamis is NOT mentioned in John 5:27 - it is exousia = authority!!
    – Dottard
    Jan 15 at 19:28
  • It is life that begets life. You are substituting authority for life, as though the begetting of life were a matter of dynamics (hence the reference to dunamis) and authoritative rights. Zoe is life, eternal life, divine life. And life begets life. And eternal life (divine life) is a gift given by the begetter, not a right bestowed by the Creator. The Creator creates natural life. The Divine Begetter begets life after himself : divine and eternal.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 15 at 21:21

The question here relates to Christology, and first of all it should be asked: do the Father and His Logos who was with Him in the beginning (John 1:1) have the same life? Actually, we speak about the condition of existence of the Father and His Logos before the created world started to exist. Now, in "life" we usually imply the vegetation or breathing of creatures like plants and animals, including humans in their animality, but not stones, liquids or minerals, which we say to exist but have no life. However, the "life" of the Father and the Logos cannot be, unless we are out of our wits, identified with the created lives of plants and animals. In created order of being the existence is a more general category than life, for we have things existing without life (stones), but all living things also must necessarily exist. But Father and Logos are beyond even the existence in its created terms, for They are uncreatedly existing eternally.

Thus, the question is: is this Uncreated Eternal Existence one and the same in the Father and in the Logos/Son? And the answer is clearly and unequivocally, YES! But, of course, since Father gives birth to the Son/Logos eternally, then the Father also eternally, without any hiatus, transmits His entire existence to the Son, and the very eternal name of Father implies that He eternally has His Son, whom He gives eternally His existence, the Son/Logos thus being simultaneously the receiver of the existence of the Father and the inseparable and necessary aspect of the existence of the Father, to the effect that God-Father cannot be even theoretically considered without God-Logos, for "Father" analytically and here also theologically implies also the "Son".

Having established the identity of eternal existence of the Father and the Logos, we can also safely and irrefutably assert that the power of creation and also of vivification and resurrection (which is another name of the same divine action as a matter of fact) belongs both to the Father and the Son simultaneously, and that's why the Son says that by His "voice" (i.e. divine action) the dead will be resurrected, because He has "life in Himself" from the Father, just like the Father has "life in Himself" (John 5:25-26). And it is completely impossible for the Father to resurrect, say, Lazarus, without the Son also co-resurrecting Lazarus, for the divine Life that makes possible such a resurrection of dead is one and the same in the Father and the Son. If Stacey and I have the same bank account, and Stacey pays from it for cinema tickets, how is it possible that she does not spend also my money, for entire money we have jointly? Even more so with the Father and the Son, but in difference from my and Stacey's bank account, Their power never diminishes at any expenditure, for Their power is infinite.

Thus, when Logos resurrects His dead body, it can be both said that the God-Father resurrected Him (Acts 3:15) and that He-Logos resurrected His own body (John 10:18), for in the act of creation or resurrection the Father and the Son can but act simultaneously with the equal power and authority.

  • @user48152 You are welcome! And if you indicate to point(s) of your dissatisfaction with my answer, then even more so! Jan 8 at 10:27
  • I have no idea why this excellent answer was down-voted so I feel compelled to rectify it.
    – Lesley
    Jan 8 at 10:30
  • 1
    @Lesley :) It is ok if they down-vote, but not ok if they do so without arguments, textual analysis, grammar and logic; for the doctrine of the Trinity is outcome of exactly such a sincere, unprejudiced analysis of the divine scriptures and not a product of whim of some politicians or power-hungry spiritual leaders. I am happy to discuss matters with anti-Trinitarians, provided they adhere to sincerity, logic and philology. Jan 8 at 10:42
  • Your answer, as is often the case, has little hermeneutical content. It is opinion based and not biblically based.
    – steveowen
    Jan 8 at 12:21
  • 1
    @user48152 I will readily believe you, but have no chance to do so unless you are specific and indicate specifically which concrete point you believe to be unscriptural? And also, scripture needs analysis and reflection, if you take the former without the latter, then you will be necessitated to literally cut your hand or pluck out your eye if they tempt you (Mark 9:43): scripture is not against our intellect, God inspiring it is not God of fanatics who revolt against reason. Jan 8 at 12:37

Are the two 'lives strong text' mentioned in John 5:26 the same?

The Bible talks of Jesus as having "life in Himself", but just before making this remarkable statement he said.

John 5: 22, 24-27 (NASB)

22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, 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. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment because He is [a]the Son of Man.

Here Jesus was referring to an extraordinary power bestowed upon him by the Father​ (Vs 22, 26,27) to resurrect the dead and to impart life to them. For just as the Father has life in Himself he also gave the Son to have life in Himself, this means that Jesus has been granted the powers to resurrect the dead.

Jesus is the one appointed by God to fulfill the prophecy of raising the dead to everlasting life on earth.

John 5:28-29 (NASB)

28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

“All authority has been given to Me"

Matthew 28:18 (NASB)

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

  • You say. "Jesus is the one appointed by God to fulfill the prophecy of raising the dead to everlasting life on earth." Will you cite where this prophecy may be found? Deuteronomy 32:39 says only God has that ability and this is what Judaism believes to this day. Aug 25 '20 at 23:41
  • A prophecy is a prediction of the future - it doesn't have to be in OT if that's what you are suggesting - John 5:28 is prophetic too.
    – steveowen
    Aug 26 '20 at 9:10
  • Christ himself when on earth performed resurrections. (Lu 7:11-15; 8:49-56; Joh 11:38-44) Only through Jesus Christ can resurrection, with everlasting life thereafter, be possible.​ John 5:26. NET " For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself," The expression "life in himself" means that Jesus has been granted the authority to raise, and judge the dead and impart life to them. Read in context John 5:22-28 Aug 26 '20 at 15:23
  • -1 The point of the text is Christ is equal to the Father as it pertains to raising the dead, and superior to the Father as it pertains to judgment. In addition, there is no "prophecy" about raising the dead. That is a attribute (not prophecy) of God which the writer obviously attributes to both Father and Son (hence their equality on this divine action). As I said in my first comment there is no OT prophecy concerning raising the dead which is fulfilled unless you understand Deuteronomy 32:39 as such, but that is not prophecy. It is a statement from God about what He does. Aug 26 '20 at 18:57
  • Jesus Christ pointed out to the Sadducees, a sect that did not believe in the resurrection, that the writings of Moses in the Hebrew Scriptures, which they possessed and claimed to believe, prove there is a resurrection; Jesus reasoned that when Jehovah said He was “the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (who were actually dead), He counted those men as alive because of the resurrection that He, “the God, not of the dead, but of the living,” purposed to give them. Matthew 22:23, 31-33, Romans 4:17 Aug 26 '20 at 19:32

John 5:26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.

Is Jesus' life now, the same as the life the Father has?

When Jesus was raised from the dead by his Father/God he was raised in the spirit - he didn't have a spirit life before as 1 Pet 3:19 states,

He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit

That Jesus was dead is indication of him being not alive - not alive in any way as he returned his spirit to the Father at death, Luke 23:46 and waited on God to raise him. (numerous verses state that unequivocally)

This fleshly, mortal life that he possessed as a man, pre crucifixion, is not the life John 5:26 refers to.

'For just as the Father has life in Himself'... the Father alone is immortal 1 Tim 6:16

So to grant Jesus immortality when He raised him, God made Jesus to have a life that can never be taken away - like the Father's life. But not only is Jesus given immorality, he now has 'life within himself' - like the Father does.

However, 1 Tim 6:16 reminds us that only God has immortality!

v 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever

This doesn't reference Jesus at all. If Jesus' life was the same as the Father's, wouldn't post resurrection verses include Jesus in the immortality descriptor? They just speak of God alone in this context?

Dottard quoted 1 John 5:11

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

This does not refer to Jesus 'innate' life because he didn't have a life to give to others until raised - prior to that he was mortal and died in the flesh. We are not told anywhere that some 'eternal nature' lived on during this time of Jesus going to the grave. Jesus' spirit went to 'heaven' just as Stephen's did. Stephen is dead, awaiting the Lord's return. Jesus was raised according to plan as he was innocent and death could not legally hold him - after the pre-determined period of 3 days and 3 nights (Wed to Sat) he was raised.

John 6:57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.

Jesus, until raised, was never not dependent on the Father, his God. He had no life to give, but anticipated this when the mission was completed.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 1 Cor 15:45

Truly, truly, I say to you, 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 John 5:25

Is Jesus' life now, the same as the life the Father has?

It seems not quite. God is still God, Jesus is still not God, but has been exalted and blessed beyond measure - inheriting all that the Father has - including the ability to give of the life now within himself, to those who believe in him. Heb 1:2 "appointed heir of all things", and we joint heirs with him Rom 8:17

  • (-1) I've given this a downvote because it's an answer to a question about John with only the tiniest passing reference to John. What you've written is a justification of why you would override the natural reading of John 5:26 based on theology and readings of other passages, but not an explanation of why you believe this is the natural interpretation intended by the author or arising from the passage itself.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 15 at 11:56
  • thx for yr comment. The Q was regarding the 'two lives', Is there a difference between the life of the Father and the life He gave the Son? So it is a general question seeking understanding of the John passage in light of any others that inform it. As noted, the John verse doesn't supply much on its own - except that the Father 'gave', the only indication that they are not equal.
    – steveowen
    Jan 15 at 12:23
  • Sure - this is to me where we have to draw the line between hermeneutics and theology (very similar to my 'systematic theology' question I'm hoping gets un-closed!) Theologically, we may build different verses together to try and interpret the Bible as a whole, but hermeneutically, we're typically supposed to just try and interpret the text as it was intended by the author and as it 'naturally arises'. If the text doesn't supply meaning and we're finding meaning, then that's not exegesis, that's eisegesis.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 15 at 12:59
  • Speaking as a Christian, in theory 'theology' (whilst off-topic for this site) should have hermeneutics as its basic building blocks - we exegete each text individually in isolation, to understand what each author individually meant, and then can use those blocks collectively to reach a conclusion about what we can deduce collectively.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 15 at 13:01

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