The Co-Equality Question

Theme Text - "The Father is Greater than I." John 14:28

1) We studied about God Almighty and Jesus Christ. Trinitarians usually quote John 5:18 to support a co-equal Trinity. What does that verse say?
He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I myself am working.’
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:17-18)
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This verse is usually quoted to support a co-equal trinity, forgetting the obvious gap that there’s no mention of the Holy Spirit.
But still let us explore the claim that Jesus was making himself equal with God:

  • When we read this incident, we notice that nowhere does Jesus say he’s equal with God.
  • John is recording that when Jesus called God his Father, some Jewish listeners assumed that he was making himself equal with God.
    The NCV renders it clearly:
        Jesus said to them [the Jews], ‘My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.’ This made them try still harder to kill him. They said, “First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Now he says that God is his own Father, making himself equal with God!” (John 5:17-18 NCV)
  • If someone uses this verse to claim Jesus is equal to God, then they make the same error some of the Jews near him made at that time, and they entirely miss what John documents as Jesus’ response to their incorrect assumption:
        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 the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner (John 5:19 NASB).
    Yes, Jesus clearly told them their assumption was wrong.

Many of the Israelites at that time really did not comprehend sonhood. Even elsewhere Jesus explains it to them (John 10:34-36).

2) If Jesus never said he was equal with God, what really did he say about his relationship with God?
Everywhere in the scriptures, Jesus claims to be subservient to God. Some examples:

  • “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)
  • ‘The Father is Greater than I’ (John 14:28)

Jesus confesses God as his own God and renders worship, prayers, adulation and praise to God.

  • Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25)
  • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
  • I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ (John 20:17)

Apostles Paul and John confirm the same -

  • The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father (Ephesians 1:17)
  • ‘The Head of Christ is God’ (1Corinthians 11:3)
  • …and [Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father (Revelation1:6)

3) Some might argue, when God glorified Jesus, didn’t he become equal to God?
When we study the Scriptures, we find that Jesus has indeed been exalted by God above all creation, but we also find that he is still a loving obedient son of God.
He does not assume his glory, honor or titles on his own. Rather he receives them all at the hand of his Father:

  • No one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God...In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” (Hebrews 5:4-5).
  • ‘The Son of man came...to the Ancient of days...and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom’ (Daniel 7:13-14 KJV).

In fact, Jesus told his disciples that the world needs to learn that he loves the Father and does exactly what the Father has commanded him (John 14:31). Yes, the king appointed by God wants his subjects (the world) to learn that this king does exactly what the Father commands him!
Paul explains this:
    Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him [Jesus], it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:27-28)
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