Is Jesus Inferior To God? – Chapter 5 – Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity!

Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity bookCHAPTER 5: IS JESUS INFERIOR TO GOD?

WHAT ABOUT JESUS’ SUBMISSION TO THE FATHER’S WILL?

The Watchtower Society argues that because Jesus is “distinguished from God” as a distinct person from the Father, He is considered “subordinate” to God, in a “secondary position” to that of the Father, is “submissive” to God’s will, and had “limited knowledge,” He cannot be God. After all, the Society declares, “Jesus never claimed to be God.” (See Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 16-20)

Many of these arguments against the Trinity are groundless when viewed in light of the incarnation. As already discussed, when Jesus became a man, He laid aside His privileges as God in order to experience all the struggles of humanity.1. In His Deity, Christ is “equal” to God the Father, but in His humanity, He is in a lesser position than that of the Father (John 14:28). Let’s discuss some of the passages addressed in the Trinity brochure:

JOHN 20:17

“…I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”

The Society argues that “Since Jesus had a God, his Father, he could not at the same time be that God.” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 17

One fact about this passage that the Society fails to note is that Jesus was always very careful to distinguish His relationship with the Father from the relationship His disciples had with the Father. He never addressed God as “our Father” in reference to Himself and the disciples, but rather addressed Him as “My Father” and “your Father.”2. This is significant to note because Jesus is God’s Son by nature; whereas, His disciples are God’s sons by adoption (John 1:12). As the “Son of God,” Jesus has the same nature as God (John 5:18, 19:7), but in the incarnation, Jesus took on the nature of man and thus became the “Son of Man.”3. While in His Divine nature, Jesus still possessed all the power and authority of God, in His human nature he chose to limit that authority. By calling the Father His “God,” He demonstrated perfect submission to the Father both on earth and in Heaven.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.…”—Hebrews 1:3

In human affairs, the “right hand” is the symbol of strength and power. Someone who is said to be the president’s “right hand man” is someone who is in a high position of honor. Thus, Scripture often employs the phrase “sitting at the right hand of the Father” to denote Christ’s preeminence as the one in the highest position of authority.

PSALM 98:9
JOHN 5:22-23
“Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”

For more on this topic of Jesus calling the Father His God, see also Revelation 3:12 – Why Does Jesus Call the Father “My God”?

1 CORINTHIANS 8:5-6

“For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father…and one Lord, Jesus Christ….”

The context of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is not contrasting the relationship between the Father and the Son, but rather the relationship between them and false idols that pagans worship as “gods.” Yet, the Watchtower Society ignores the context of this passage and claims that this verse is contrasting the relationship between the Father and the Son. Then the Society points out that the Father is called “God” while Jesus is distinguished as the “Lord” and claims that Jesus cannot be God because the Father is called God. (See Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 17)

When one considers the fact that no Jehovah’s Witness would argue that the Father is not “Lord” simply because Jesus is “Lord,” it is evident that this argument is groundless. Furthermore, the Father is called the “Lord of Lords” at Deuteronomy 10:17 while Jesus is called the “Lord of Lords” at Revelation 17:14 and 19:16. Yet, Jude 4 points out that there is only one “Lord.” Thus, in the same way that both Jesus and the Father are both called “the Lord,” Jesus is just as much God as the Father is God as He is addressed as God on several occasions. 4. Yet, 1 Timothy 1:17 reveals that there is only one God. So here we have yet another example of Scripture that supports the Trinitarian position that Jesus is the same “God” as the Father.

JEHOVAH IS LORD OF ALL
JESUS IS LORD OF ALL
MATTHEW 11:25: “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth….’ ”
ACTS 10:36: “The word which he sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)….”5.
DEUTERONOMY 10:17: “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God….”
REVELATION 17:14; 19:16: “…and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings….And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”
“…ungodly persons who…deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”—Jude 4

MARK 10:17-18

“And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ ”

The Society argues that “…Jesus was saying that no one is as good as God is, not even Jesus himself.” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 17

Nowhere in this passage does Jesus imply that He is not good. On the contrary, according to the context, Jesus was helping the rich ruler recognize that the attribute of “goodness” which the ruler had applied to Him was a quality that only God possesses. Thus, Jesus was forcing the ruler to recognize that either He is “good” and is therefore God, or He is bad and is therefore only a man.

HABAKKUK 1:12

“…Are you not from long ago, O Jehovah? O my God, my Holy One, you do not die.”
New World Translation

The Society argues that Jesus can’t be God because God doesn’t die, and the Bible clearly reveals that Jesus died. (See Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 18)

One of the attributes of our immutable God is that He does not die; and in this passage, Jehovah God is called “the Holy One” who does not die. Yet, at Acts 2:27, 3:14, and John 6:69 we read that this “Holy One” is Jesus who, as foretold by David at Psalm 16:10, was to die but whose body would not “undergo decay.” How can this be? If the Holy One does not die, how can Jesus as the “Holy One” die? We can reconcile this by recognizing that according to Psalm 49:7, more was required than just a mere man to atone for the sins of mankind. 6. Thus, it was necessary for Jehovah God to become man in the person of Christ in order to die and atone for the sins of the world. Although Jesus (in His human nature) had completely died, He (in His Divine nature) still possessed the power to raise Himself.

“…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”—John 10:17-18; 2:19

ISAIAH 43:15; 47:4; 54:5
JOHN 6:69
I am Jehovah your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.…There is One repurchasing us. Jehovah of armies is his name, the Holy One of Israel.… Jehovah of armies being his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Repurchaser. The God of the whole earth he will be called.”—New World Translation

“And we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”—New World Translation

ACTS 2:27
:
“Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.”—New American Standard Bible

MARK 13:32

“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

“Had Jesus been the equal Son part of a Godhead, he would have known what the Father knows. But Jesus did not know, for he was not equal to God.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 19

Prior to the incarnation, Jesus was one in person and one in nature, being totally Divine. At the incarnation, Jesus took on a human nature and henceforth became two in nature while yet remaining one in person. As a result, attributes from His Divine and human natures both became credited to His one person. In this passage, Jesus was speaking from the standpoint of His human nature; thus, demonstrating the limitations of His human nature by not being able to foretell the future. Nevertheless, there were many other occasions where Jesus, speaking from the perspective of His divinity, demonstrated the Divine quality of omniscience. Note the following passages:

1 KINGS 8:39
JOHN 2:24-25
“Then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart thou knowest, for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men;”
“But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.”

· JOHN 16:30: “Now we know that You know all things….”
· JOHN 18:4: “Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth….”
· MATTHEW 9:4: “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said….”
· JOHN 21:17: “…And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you….’ ”

JEREMIAH 17:9-10
REVELATION 2:18, 23
The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”
“The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘….and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.’ ”

At 1 Kings 8:39, we read that God is the only one who knows the hearts of all men; yet as seen in these and many other passages, Jesus knew the hearts of all men. How can Jesus have the very omniscience of Jehovah and not be Jehovah Himself?

1 CORINTHIANS 11:3 AND 15:28

“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. …When all things are subjected to Him, 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.”

The Society uses this passage as well as 1 Corinthians 15:28 to try to prove that since Jesus is “subordinate” to the Father, He cannot be God. (See Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 20)

1 Corinthians 11:3 states that “the man is the head of a woman.” Are women inferior or less human than men simply because husbands are to be in authority over their wives? No! Just as a woman is fully human even though she submits to her husband, so Jesus is fully God even though He submits to the will of His Father God. Another example of this can be seen at Luke 2:51 where we read that Christ was in “subjection” to Mary and Joseph. Was Christ inferior to them because He was in “subjection” to them? Of course not! In all of these cases, we see a type of functional subordination that is necessary to maintain order, but this subordination does not in anyway denote an inferior nature.

While it is true that a functional subordination or functional hierarchy exists among the Persons of the Triune God, they are still equal in their Divine nature. So Jesus is equal to God the Father in His Divine Being (John 10:30). Yet, once everything is subdued under Him at 1 Corinthians 15:28, He continues His submission to the Father as a picture of the unity of the Godhead..

In the same way that a wife is not considered “inferior” to her husband because she is in subjection to his authority, the functional subordination that exists among the persons of the Trinity does not in any way imply that Jesus is inferior to the Father or any less God than the Father is God. What 1 Corinthians 15:28 is really teaching concerning the subjection of Christ is that once Jesus’ mediator role is completed and all things are in subjection to Him, He will surrender His kingdom to the Triune Jehovah God who will rule forever.

“ ‘Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet.’ For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.”—Hebrews 2:8

DEUTERONOMY 32:39
JOHN 5:21; 10:28; ACTS 9:34
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes….and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand….And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; arise, and make your bed.’ And immediately he arose.”

JOHN 14:28

“…I go to the Father; for the Father is greater [meizon —meizon] than I.”

“The Bible’s position is clear. Not only is Almighty God, Jehovah, a personality separate from Jesus but He is at all times his superior….And this is why Jesus himself said: ‘The Father is greater than I.’—John 14:28”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 20

There is a significant reason why Jesus (in indicating His relationship to the Father) chose to use the term meizon (meizwn) translated “greater” rather than the term kreitton (kreittwn) which means “better”. Meizon denotes a greater position, whereas kreitton denotes a better nature. The difference between these two words can be seen at John 14:12, where we read that believers will do “greater” (meizon) works than Jesus. Since we know that this verse is not implying that we will do “better” works than Jesus, it is clear from the context that Jesus used this same word to demonstrate the greatness of the Father’s position (being in heaven) as opposed to Jesus’ position (being here on earth).

A modern illustration of this type of relationship can be seen when we analyze the Watchtower’s own authority structure: A Presiding Overseer can be said to be “greater” than an elder. Yet, by saying this, one is not implying that the elder is of an inferior nature than the Overseer, but rather, that the Overseer’s jurisdiction is “greater” than the elder’s jurisdiction. In the same way, it is only in Jesus’ human nature that the Father can be said to be “greater” than He. However, this illustration cannot be used to refer to Jesus’ relationship to angels because at Hebrews 1:4 the other term (kreitton), translated “better,” is employed to demonstrate that Jesus is “better” than the angels in His very nature.

BULLETIN OF THE JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY

On pages 19-20 and 28 of the Society’s brochure, they reference the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library in England endeavoring to support their assertion that Jesus is not God and never claimed to be. They quote the Bulletin as stating: “The fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say, the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of reputable New Testament scholars to the conclusion that Jesus…certainly never believed himself to be God.” However, the Society left out a very important statement in their quotation. The part they left out is as follows:

“…New Testament scholars to the conclusion that Jesus himself may not have claimed any of the christological titles which the Gospels ascribe to him, not even the functional designation ‘Christ’, and certainly never believed himself to be God.” —Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 50, p. 251

The idea that Jesus never claimed to be the “Christ” is unquestionably against the plain teaching of Scripture. For Matthew 16:20 specifically says: “Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.” Even the Watchtower Society would agree that the idea that Jesus never “claimed” the title of “Christ” is erroneous. Thus, in order to conceal the fact that this source is not credible, they placed an ellipsis in the quotation and concealed this inaccurate statement from their readers.

On page 28, in reference to the Greek word for God (theos) being used for Christ, the Society goes on to cite the Bulletin as stating that Catholic theologian Karl Rahner taught that “in none of these instances is ‘theos’ used in such a manner as to identify Jesus with him who elsewhere in the New Testament figures as ‘ho Theos,’ that is, the Supreme God.” However, it is difficult to justify Rahner’s position on this subject in light of the fact that the Bulletin mentioned that Rahner “considers that there are reliable applications of ‘theos’ to Christ in six texts (Romans ix. 5f.; John i. I, 18. xx. 28: I John v. 20: and Titus ii. 13).”—Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 50, p. 253.

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1. That is, He had limited knowledge and “learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8) through suffering, experiencing hunger, sleep, pain, death, etc.
2. In the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6:9 where Jesus address the Father as “Our Father,” Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray rather than including Himself in that prayer.
3. See John 6:62 c.f. Daniel 7:13. The term “Son of Man” is a Messianic title which points to Jesus’ humanity as His second coming will be in the flesh.
4. See Matthew 1:23; John 1:1,18; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1
5. The Watchtower’s New World Translation mistranslates this verse by adding the word “[other]” to the text of Acts 10:36: “…through Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all [others].”—New World Translation
6. Psalm 49:7: “No man can by any means redeem his brother, Or give to God a ransom for him.”

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