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In John's account of the final night before crucifixion, Jesus uses the word μέγας, "greater" six times (13:16 twice, 14:12, 14:28, 15:13, and 15:20). Three of the sayings are given in a way in which the meaning of μέγας is made evident:

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:16 ESV)

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)

Here are the other two sayings:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13)

My question is about the significance of greater love.

Not long after making these statements, Jesus did lay His life down for His friends. In fact, if the New Testament is believed, Jesus not only laid His life down for His friends, but for all people including those who condemned Him, those who tortured Him, even those who killed Him. It seems without question Jesus demonstrated the greater love of which He spoke.

Jesus says His Father is greater than Him so does Jesus' death show that His love for those for whom He died was greater than His Father's?

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  • "God is love" 1 Jn.4:16 [For God love is - literal]. God incarnate showed that love to humans by dying at Golgotha, when he gave his life for others. That is the "no greater love" bit - giving your life for your friends. But there can be no greater love than the love of God, and given that it was God the Son who died, there is no problem equating equal love - as in God, as shown in the actions of the Son of God while in his humiliation. Both had the same love. In love the Father sent his only-begotten Son, who died for love's sake. There's no question here.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 16:57
  • There is no answer to this question except that "God is Love". Thus, the Father and Jesus love all and will somehow (in a way we cannot fathom) accomplish all things without having to prioritize anyone's love over others.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 20:34
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    @Dottard You are presuming Jesus is God, which is one aspect of this question. OTOH if one denies the deity of the Son then how does one reconcile the greater love statement with the presumed superiority of the Father. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 21:12
  • Whether Jesus is God or not, the above statement still stands.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 21:17
  • @Dottard I'm certain the Son gave His life, not the Father. So the question of greater love is valid and is another means to demonstrate the diety of Jesus. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 21:27

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This appears to be a bit of a loaded question and more of a Trinitarian challenge to Unitarians based on the chat.

This far from helps the Trinitarian position and IMO and has been taken out of context/misapplied.

The passages quoted clearly affirm that God is greater than Jesus.

In no way can J15:13 imply that Jesus loved his friends more than God. He is simply/literally showing ‘supreme love, giving your life for someone’. Amazing, however, people have been known to give their life for someone they love, albeit not as a sacrifice (see below).

There is no evidence of any hidden message – that Jesus loves his friends more than God or it equates to Jesus being God or equal (as implied)

Jesus says:

  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

  • “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers”

  • “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”

  • “But love your enemies, and do good”

Then the Bible also says:

Rev 19:13 - his robe will be “dipped in blood”
Rev 19:15

From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

1 Corinthians 15:24, 25

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.

Matthew 10:34

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Luke 19:27

But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and kill them in my presence.

John 2:15

So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts

Luke 14:26

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 12:51

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

Luke 12:49

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

human sacrifice

Matthew 9:13

But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Psalm 40:6

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but my ears you have opened burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Deuteronomy 18:10

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,

2 Kings 21:6

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.

Also, see my answer at Is the lamb accepted for the redemption of sin?

Conclusion John 15:13 is being misapplied in an attempt to show God and Jesus are equal/one, but fails miserably.

  • Does John 21:24-25 indicate John didn't write this Gospel? answer
  • What does it mean to be "equal with God" in John 5:18? answer
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  • I just did a little bit of formatting to your answer and noticed other answers that you have done that could use some help. I encourage you to view the Help Center's Markdown Editing Help so your posts will be easier to read and more attractive to votes.
    – agarza
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 14:35
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    @agarza - thank you again, you don't a tremendous job on another A of mine previously. Yes you do make my 'A' look so much better. I think I will have to have a look when I get the chance. Thank you for your precious time, much appreciated. Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 14:54
  • You say, "The passages quoted clearly affirm that God is greater than Jesus." Exactly how a Unitarian understands what is written (which is clearly not what is written). Jesus said "the Father is greater than I." A Unitarian interprets this to mean "God is greater than I." Was Jesus confused about God (Father, Son, and Spirit)? Or did He mean Father (only)? We must ignore the Greek to claim Jesus said "God is greater than I." OTOH, if one sticks to the text we have the conundrum of the Father who is greater and Jesus' love which is greater, which is no conundrum for a Trinitarian. Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 18:38

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