What You Need To Understand When Jesus Was Represented As Subordinate

Continued from Part 14

Subordination and subjection

Wherever the relationship of Jesus to God is treated in the New Testament, Jesus is always represented in a subordinate position.  This subordinate role can be seen in the fact that Jesus views himself as a messenger:  “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40; see also John 5:36).  Jesus acknowledges his subordination and subjection to God when he declares that God is greater than he is (John 14:28), that he does nothing on his own initiative, speaking and doing only what God has taught him (John 8:28-29), and seeking not his own will, but the will of the God who sent him (John 5:30, 6:38).

Obviously, John’s Jesus is not God, whose will is to be done, but is lower than God, doing God’s will in accordance with Philo’s conception of the Logos as a heavenly being distinct from God.  In accordance with Philo’s concept of the Logos as the mediator between God and mankind, John’s Jesus said:  “You are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (John 8:40).  To the apostles he reveals the source of his alleged knowledge:  “I have called you friends, because all the things which I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).  John’s Jesus repeatedly speaks of himself as being sent by God and being taught by God.

But Jesus cried out and said:  “He who believes in me does not believe in me, but in Him who sent me.  And he who beholds me beholds the One who sent me. . . .  For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me commandment as to what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His commandment is life everlasting.  Therefore the things I speak are just as the Father has spoken to me, thus I speak.” (John 12:44-50)

John’s Jesus acknowledges that “A slave is not greater than his master, neither one who is sent greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16).  As God is greater than Jesus in sending him, so Jesus is greater than his disciples in sending them.  Jesus tells them:  “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21).  The one who has greater authority sends the one who has less authority.  John’s Jesus himself disavows any triune coequality with God.  He says:  “This is everlasting life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus [the] Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  The true God is superior to, separate, and distinct from Jesus.  That is why Paul writes:  “there is but one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

John’s Jesus commands his followers to do “greater works” than his own.  He declares, “He who believes in me [Jesus], the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).  This statement is absurd if he were God, because then he would be instructing his followers to do greater works than God does.

© Gerald Sigal