The Greatest

The following is a brilliant analytical examination of John 14:28 by Steve Hays from Triablogue that is reprinted here by permission.  Besides spending considerable time debating and refuting well known Unitarian Dale Tuggy, Hays has also spent some time recently refuting that unstable racist mental case Drake Shelton.  Needless to say John 14:28 is a favorite verse of Arians, semi-Arians, and other related anti-Christian Unitarian subordinationists like Shelton who mistakenly think this verse teaches “the Father’s hypostatic Monarchy and the Son’s subordination to the Father as his source and origin.”

I should also point out for those who are unfamiliar with Steve Hays is that he is a Vantillian, which is also one of the reasons I wanted to reprint his piece here.  I look forward to the howls from Shelton and his fellow miscreants confirming that I must be a closet Vantillian when in fact I have no tolerance for Unitarians and other deniers of the Son.  I have my disagreements with Vantillians, but this isn’t one of them.

My only objection in Hays’ various interactions with Shelton is that he accepts Shelton’s claim that he is a “Scripturalist.”  However, a Scripturalist is first and foremost a Christian and since Shelton doesn’t qualify as the latter so he certainly doesn’t qualify as the former.  In his rejection of the Son he is at best a Unitarian who thinks he has prophetic gifts even claiming; “God gave me an understanding into things that maybe a handful of people alive understand.”  Shelton is also one of the vilest racists I’ve ever come across and if either John Robbins or Gordon Clark were alive they would repudiate him as a mentally unstable Christ denying nut job.

By Steve Hays

“The greatest”

The Father is greater than I (Jn 14:28).

i) This is a popular anti-Trinitarian prooftext. According to unitarians, this means the Father is God, and Jesus is not.

According to Nicene subordinationists, this means that even though Jesus is still God, Jesus is eternally and ontologically subordinate to Father.

A basic problem with this approach is that it isolates the statement from its surrounding context. “…for the Father is greater than I” isn’t even a complete sentence. And it’s just a small part of a very extended discourse. In order to gauge the force of this statement, we need to compare it with other statements in this discourse.

ii) Jn 14:28 comes on the heels of Jesus saying:

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? (v10a).

JohnManuscriptThe mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son involves a symmetrical relationship. While it’s understandable how the greater could include the lesser, it’s less understandable how the lesser could include the greater. To play on the spatial metaphor, you can put something smaller in something bigger, but not vice versa.

If, on the other hand, the Father and the Son are coequals, then it’s more understandable how each could contain the other.

Of course, it’s possible for the preposition (“in”) to carry different connotations, depending on who or what is referred to. But here identical language is used for both parties, in mirror symmetry.

iii) There’s an obvious parallel between 14:12 and 14:28:

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 (v12).

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 (v28).

Both involve comparative greatness, and in both, the comparative greatness is indexed to the Son returning to the Father.

Given the proximity and similarity of these verses, where v28 rounds out v12, forming a kind of inclusio, we’d expect there to be an analogy between the greatness of the Father and the greatness of the works. But it doesn’t make much sense to say the works are ontologically greater. What would that even mean?

Commentators puzzle over the precise identity of the “greater works” since Jesus doesn’t specify what they are. However, they seem to have reference to answered prayers, where v12 leads into v13.

Jesus may have in mind something like this:

35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor (Jn 4:35-38).

There’s only so much Jesus could do at a particular time and place. Ministering in Palestine for three years.

Collectively speaking, generations of Christians can do “greater works.” The expansion of the Gospel has a global impact. That’s a major force in shaping the course of world history.

iv) It’s also striking that Jesus says:

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (Jn 14:13-14).

On a unitarian or Nicene subordinationist reading of 14:28, that’s not what we’d expect him to say. Rather, we’d expect him to say:

Whatever you ask in the Father’s name, he will do it, for the Father is greater than all.

But Jesus instead invites the disciples to address their prayers to him. And he tells them that he will answer their prayers.

v) Likewise, in 16:7, Jesus says:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

But if the sender is greater than the sent, does that mean the Son is greater than the Spirit? To my knowledge, that’s not how Nicene subordinationists argue.

vi) Now, a unitarian or Nicene subordinationist might object that elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel, the Father sends the Spirit. Prayer is addressed to the Father. The Father answers prayer.

That’s true. I’m not suggesting that these are exclusive to Jesus. But that very alternation is problematic for unitarianism and Nicene subordination.

How do we harmonize statements which indicate the Son’s equality with the Father with statements which indicate the Son’s inequality with the Father? I don’t think that’s difficult.

For instance, someone with greater ability can perform a job requiring less ability, but someone with less ability can’t perform a job requiring greater ability. It’s easy to see how equals can assume unequal roles. How a superior can accept a self-demotion.

Indeed, this is the case throughout Bible history. Because we can’t come up to God’s level, God comes down to our level. This is also the case in the Fourth Gospel. The earthly ministry of Christ is clearly a comedown from his natural status. That’s how it’s portrayed. A greater temporarily assuming a lesser standing.

vii) I think 14:28 involves the same principle as 17:4-5:

4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

The Father is “greater” in the sense that the heavenly realm is greater than the earthly realm. By returning to heaven, Jesus is leaving behind the limitations of his earthly ministry. He can do more from heaven, for that mode of existence isn’t subject to our spacetime limitations. Of course, his earthly ministry lays the groundwork for his heavenly ministry. The ascended Son can empower the disciples to do greater works because heaven affords a greater field of action.

In 14:28, I think the “Father” functions as a metonymy or synecdoche for God’s exclusive domain, in contrast to the world. A greater place.

That identification accounts for the emphasis on changing places (heaven>earth, earth>heaven), with the attendant abilities.

This is similar to how the Gospels alternate between “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven,” where “heaven” is a synonym for “God,” and vice versa.

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36 Comments on “The Greatest”


  1. Hays makes good points, particularly in sections vi and vii. I have some questions though.

    “According to Nicene subordinationists, this means that even though Jesus is still God, Jesus is eternally and ontologically subordinate to Father.”

    Does Hays mean the Nicene Creed is inherently subordinationist, or is he referring to subordinationists who also hold to the Nicene Creed (while rejecting, say, the Athanasian Creed)? Also, what does “ontologically subordinate” mean?

    “The mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son involves a symmetrical relationship. While it’s understandable how the greater could include the lesser, it’s less understandable how the lesser could include the greater. To play on the spatial metaphor, you can put something smaller in something bigger, but not vice versa.”

    Is Christ using a spatial metaphor in Jn 14:10? After all, Romans 8:10 says Christ is in us, but we are obviously not greater than Christ. Also, in speaking of each “containing” the other, wouldn’t that necessitate the Father possessing the personal properties of the Son, and vice versa?

    “But Jesus instead invites the disciples to address their prayers to him.”

    Just an observation: The ESV says that, but not the NKJV.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Like Pavlov’s dog Shelton wasted no time in taking the bait. Predictable really. Maybe I should tell him I saw Django Unchained yesterday and even though I preferred Inglorious Bastards, Django was a good modern update of the classic spaghetti Western revenge films. Plus, given the racist crap Drake bathes in on his website I particularly enjoyed the portrayals of Drake’s slave owning ancestors. :)

  3. steve hays Says:

    Patrick T. McWilliams Says:

    “Does Hays mean the Nicene Creed is inherently subordinationist, or is he referring to subordinationists who also hold to the Nicene Creed (while rejecting, say, the Athanasian Creed)? Also, what does ‘ontologically subordinate’ mean?”

    Depends on how different groups define their terms, viz., the Greek Fathers, Latin Fathers, Scholastic theologians, Byzantine theologians, complementarians, covert Arians (e.g. Samuel Clarke), &c.

    “Is Christ using a spatial metaphor in Jn 14:10? After all, Romans 8:10 says Christ is in us, but we are obviously not greater than Christ.”

    i) It’s sounder methodology to use John to interpret John instead of using Paul to interpret John.

    ii) My overall statement was more qualified than the part you quote.

    “Also, in speaking of each ‘containing’ the other, wouldn’t that necessitate the Father possessing the personal properties of the Son, and vice versa?”

    Not possessing but mirroring.

    “Just an observation: The ESV says that, but not the NKJV.”

    That’s probably because the NKJV is based on the T.R. rather than an eclectic text. To my knowledge, the best MSS witness to the ESV on 14:14. Textual variants are probably due to the fact that some scribes tried to make the referent in v14 uniform with 16:23, where the Father is the referent rather than the Son.


  4. Steve,

    Do you believe the Nicene Creed is subordinationist (in an erroneous sense)?

    How do you define ‘ontologically subordinate’?

    Why do you believe John is using a spatial metaphor in John 14:10?

    I prefer a MT texual theory.

  5. steve hays Says:

    Patrick T. McWilliams Says:

    “Do you believe the Nicene Creed is subordinationist (in an erroneous sense)? How do you define ‘ontologically subordinate’?”

    If you think paternal monarchy, eternal generation/procession entail a type of intratrinitarian subordination.

    “Why do you believe John is using a spatial metaphor in John 14:10?”

    Assuming the Greek preposition (en) is being used locatively rather than instrumentally, then “in” denotes a spatial relation. Since God is nonspatial, that would make it a spatial metaphor.

    “I prefer a MT texual theory.”

    I don’t.

  6. Scott Says:

    Let us look at this proposition:
    “The father is greater than I.”
    Greater = superior, better, more excellent than
    I = the totality of the subject speaking

    There is no way to get around this. He never says, “The father is greater than my humanity.” He never says, “The father is actually my equal; he just
    SEEMS greater than me now because I am in a pre-glorified, humiliated state.”

    Can you bring me another piece of scripture where “I” means something other than the totality of the person speaking? Or where “greater” means “equal to?”

    Here is another verse I want for you to interpret: “The head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Are you going to start accusing Paul of being a subordinationist pagan?

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    Scott, did you actually read the piece? As Steve explains:

    For instance, someone with greater ability can perform a job requiring less ability, but someone with less ability can’t perform a job requiring greater ability. It’s easy to see how equals can assume unequal roles. How a superior can accept a self-demotion.

    Indeed, this is the case throughout Bible history. Because we can’t come up to God’s level, God comes down to our level. This is also the case in the Fourth Gospel. The earthly ministry of Christ is clearly a comedown from his natural status. That’s how it’s portrayed. A greater temporarily assuming a lesser standing.

    Do you understand the difference between the immanent and economic Trinity or in your mind are they both the same?

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Scott, since you seem to think ontological subordination is biblical, how do you understand Philippians 2:6,7 concerning Jesus, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

  9. steve hays Says:

    Scott Says:

    “Greater = superior, better, more excellent than”

    It’s as if you simply looked up the word in an English dictionary. I see no evidence that you’re defining the word or concept by reference to the context of the passage or Johannine usage.

    “I = the totality of the subject speaking”

    That’s simply a personal pronoun.

    “He just SEEMS greater than me now because I am in a pre-glorified, humiliated state.”

    You’re disregarding the context, as I already documented.

    “Can you bring me another piece of scripture where ‘I’ means something other than the totality of the person speaking?”

    I don’t even know what you think you’re trying to say. If someone says “I am your father,” that doesn’t express the totality of what the speaker is. His being someone’s father doesn’t preclude him from also being someone’s husband, brother, another man’s son, an insurance salesman, &c.

    And if you’re really interested in “I” statements, what about Jn 8:58?

    “Or where ‘greater’ means ‘equal to?’”

    As a matter of fact, Jn 5:18 does affirm the Son’s equality with the Father. Did you miss that?

    “Here is another verse I want for you to interpret: ‘The head of Christ is God’ (1 Corinthians 11:3).”

    In the economy of salvation, the Incarnate Son submits himself to many things. He submits himself to Joseph and Mary. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to his mother and stepdad? He submits himself to Pilate, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to Roman and Jewish authorities? He submits himself to the Mosaic Law. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to the Mosaic Law?

    1 Cor 11 is dealing with church order. That pertains to the economic of salvation, not the immanent Trinity.

    “Are you going to start accusing Paul of being a subordinationist pagan?”

    You don’t seem to be aware of who or what I’m opposing. Drake Shelton has said the Father is the one true God–in contrast to the Son and the Spirit. Drake has said Jesus is less worshipful than the Father. That the Father is the ultimate and true object of worship. Drake has resorted to a classic unitarian interpretation of Jn 10:30.

  10. Scott Says:

    Sean wrote:
    “Do you understand the difference between the immanent and economic Trinity or in your mind are they both the same?”

    Sean, I understand your terminology. (By “immanent Trinity” or “ontological Trinity” you mean how the divine persons relate to themselves in eternity. By “economic Trinity” you mean the way that God participates or acts in creation and salvation.)
    I just don’t think that it makes any sense to say that the way that God relates to himself eternally can be different from the way that God relates to himself when he is active in the world.

    Sean wrote:
    Scott, since you seem to think ontological subordination is biblical, how do you understand Philippians 2:6,7 concerning Jesus, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

    For a possible view of Philippians 2:6-8, see: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/philippians-2-6-8 (note: I do not endorse everything on this website).

  11. Sean Gerety Says:

    I just don’t think that it makes any sense to say that the way that God relates to himself eternally can be different from the way that God relates to himself when he is active in the world.

    Why doesn’t it make any sense? The passage in Philippians talks about the Son’s equality God yet he humbles himself by becoming a man and living an obedient life to the point of death, even death on a cross. Galatians 4:4,5 tells us that “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Clearly there is a purpose in the Son willingly placing himself under the law, not to mention the humiliation of being born of a woman and becoming a man, but that has to do with the plan of redemption and that is the economy. Further, God the Son can’t be metaphysically “under the law” any more than the Father can for He is the law giver.

    While there are many more examples, consider too Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” in John 17 where we see Jesus telling his Father; “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Obviously, in his pre-incarnate state he shared the Father’s glory something he put aside in the economy, otherwise there would be nothing for the Father to restore. Also, if he was ontologically subordinate you would think he would be referring to His Father’s glory, instead of asking his Father to glorify him.

    For a possible view of Philippians 2:6-8, see: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/philippians-2-6-8 (note: I do not endorse everything on this website).

    Why do you care what a Unitarian thinks? Are you a Unitarian? I think Drake and Ryan are, which is why I’ve spent considerable time refuting them. FWIW I’m a Christian and I am opposed to Unitarians. I’m sure Arians like the JW’s have a possible view too, but why would that make a difference to me?

  12. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also, Scott, did you read Steve’s reply to you? I think he makes some excellent points like this one:

    “In the economy of salvation, the Incarnate Son submits himself to many things. He submits himself to Joseph and Mary. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to his mother and stepdad? He submits himself to Pilate, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to Roman and Jewish authorities? He submits himself to the Mosaic Law. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to the Mosaic Law?”

  13. Scott Says:

    Steve Hays wrote:
    “It’s as if you simply looked up the word in an English dictionary.”
    I was because I think, in this case, the translation is good and self-explanatory. The word μείζων (meizón) means either elder, older, larger, more, or greater depending on the context. Any one of these implies at least some kind of subordination of the Son to the Father.
    Steve Hays wrote:
    “I see no evidence that you’re defining the word or concept by reference to the context of the passage or Johannine usage.”

    The only other time that the word “greater” (meizón) is used in the passage is in verse 12, where Jesus said that his disciples will do more miracles than he has.
    Are you arguing that “greatness” in the passage is a function of the number of miracles performed? And that the Father is greater only in the sense that he has performed more miracles?

    ”That’s simply a personal pronoun.”

    A personal pronoun that you seem to be ignoring. The fact that he uses a PERSONal pronoun indicates that Jesus thought that the Father was greater than the totality of his PERSON and not just greater than his human nature (which is what I have heard a lot of Trinitarians argue).

    “And if you’re really interested in “I” statements, what about Jn 8:58?”

    Look at the context of John 8. I find it interesting that before Jesus said his famous “I Am” statement he defined himself as “a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God,” thus putting God above himself (John 8:40).
    The Jews misinterpreted everything Jesus said in John 8, so I don’t see why you think that their interpretation of his last saying is correct. Jesus predicted in advance that the Jews would misunderstand his “I Am” statement when he said, “My language is not clear to you because you are unable to understand what I have to say.” (John 8:42).
    Ego eimi [“I am”] does not necessarily identify Jesus with God, but it does draw attention to him in the strongest possible terms. It could be translated “I am the one [i.e, the Christ].”
    I interpret Jesus as saying that he only existed before Abraham in the sense that “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Abraham “looked forward to” the future Day of Christ when Christ conquers the earth and sets up his kingdom because God told him that the day was coming and he believed it by faith (see Heb. 11:10). Thus, in the context of God’s plan existing from the beginning, Christ certainly was “before” Abraham because Christ was the plan of God for man’s redemption long before Abraham lived.

    “As a matter of fact, Jn 5:18 does affirm the Son’s equality with the Father. Did you miss that?”

    It says that the Jews THOUGHT that Jesus was affirming his equality with the Father. They also thought that he literally wanted them to eat his flesh.

    “In the economy of salvation, the Incarnate Son submits himself to many things.”

    Yet God by definition submits to nobody.

    “He submits himself to Joseph and Mary. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to his mother and stepdad? He submits himself to Pilate, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to Roman and Jewish authorities? He submits himself to the Mosaic Law. Does that make him intrinsically subordinate to the Mosaic Law?”

    No. There is a huge difference between submission and subordination. Christ is subordinate to God because God is his only Head (1 Cor 11:3) and because “Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor 3:23). Christ does not “belong to” his parents, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, or the Mosaic Law. But he does belong to God.

    “1 Cor 11 is dealing with church order. That pertains to the economic of salvation, not the immanent Trinity.”

    The chapter does speak about church order. So what? How does that refute my point? You need to interpret the 11th chapter in the context of the Christology of the entire book of 1 Corinthians, which clearly says that Christ is subordinate to God. He always has been and always will be. “Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor 3:23). In the end, Christ will “hand over his kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:24). At that time, “the Son himself will also be under the control of the one [God the Father] who gave him [the Son] control over everything” (1 Cor 15:28).

    “Drake Shelton has said the Father is the one true God.”

    Do you want to know who else said that the Father is “the only true God?” Jesus Christ. He prayed, “FATHER . . . this is eternal life, for them to know YOU, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Christ Jesus, whom you have sent” (John 17: 1-3). Even if Jesus does go on to say that he had glory with the Father before the world began, this does not in any way negate his assertion that the Father is the One True God.

    “Drake has said Jesus is less worshipful than the Father.”

    The word “worshipful” literally means “respectful.” Are you saying that Jesus is less respectful than the Father? To quote you, “I don’t even know what you think you’re trying to say.”
    “That the Father is the ultimate and true object of worship.”
    That is true in the sense that all worship that goes to the Son goes to the Father. Right now, “all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). However, Jesus also says concerning the day of his return, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything” (John 6:22). Once the last enemy, Death, is destroyed, Christ will be subjected to God, so that God may be all in All (1 Cor 15). On that day, “YAHWEH will be one, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9). At that time, the Father will be the only true object of our worship. I do not understand why this must be. I simply accept the teaching of scripture on this issue.

  14. Scott Says:

    “Why doesn’t it make any sense?”

    To me, I cannot accept the concept of God relating to himself one way in eternity and another way in time. I think that would either 1) destroy the doctrine of God’s immutability or 2) require there to be two different Gods who relate to themselves in different ways.

    “The passage in Philippians talks about the Son’s equality God yet he humbles himself by becoming a man and living an obedient life to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

    Let us examine this passage verse by verse:

    “Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped at” (2:6).
    This verse says that Jesus, like the first Adam, was made in the image of God. Only Jesus rejected Satan’s temptation to be like God, unlike the first Adam.

    “But he emptied himself” (2:7).
    Jesus was “emptied”, not by giving up any divine nature (which would be impossible because God is unchanging), but by submitting himself to others even though he was the Messiah. He also emptied himself of his life in his sacrificial death.

    “by taking the form of a slave” (2:7).
    Just as Joseph took upon the form of a slave and was exalted to being the functional equal of Pharaoh, Jesus took upon the form of a slave to others and was exalted above everybody else.

    “by becoming like other human beings” (2:7)
    That is, the Messiah made himself like all other human beings. He lived like an ordinary man.

    “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8)
    Jesus died. God is “immortal,” and cannot die (1 Timothy 1:17).

    “Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names” (2:9).
    Notice, God honored him AFTER he was obedient to death. He had no honor beforehand. This verse also distinguishes between Jesus and God.

    “so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow” (2:10).
    We must bow to Jesus because he is the Christ.

    “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Master” (2:11)
    Notice, they are confessing that he is “Master.” They are not confessing, “Jesus Christ is God.”

    “to the glory of God the Father” (2:11)
    Notice that the Father alone is always called God. He says “to the Glory of God the Father” not “to the glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”

  15. Scott Says:

    “Why do you care what a Unitarian thinks? Are you a Unitarian? I think Drake and Ryan are, which is why I’ve spent considerable time refuting them.”

    If you don’t care what a Unitarian think, you would not have spent considerable time refuting them. You obviously do care what they think, which is why you want to change it.
    To answer your question, yes, I consider Unitarianism to be the most likely interpretation of God’s Holy Scripture. However, I am willing to concede that I might be wrong.
    Moreover, considering that I am not an elder, I do not challenge the doctrine of the Trinity in church. Scripture warns us about being divisive and identifying ourselves with factions. (Although, I attend a Southern Baptist Church, I simply identify as a Christian).

  16. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Scott,
    Just curious, how do you read the following passages?

    John 1:1 — 14 —- ” .. and the Word was God” and ..” .. the Word became flesh” The bible says the one who became flesh is the word and the word is God.

    Colossians 1: 16, 17 “…. for by him were all things created”, ..” by him all things consist”
    He created all things.

    Hebrews 1:6, 10 ..” … let all the Angels of God worship him”

    “… the Heavens are the work of thine hands”. He is worshipped by all Angels and is creator.

    These passages are about Jesus Christ and to me they are equating him with God.

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    If you don’t care what a Unitarian think, you would not have spent considerable time refuting them.

    Those I’ve been refuting, specifically Ryan Hedrich and Drake Shelton, claim to be Christians even Trinitarians. Now, I admit Drake is certifiable, whereas Ryan at least appears to be straightjacket free, but Drake at least publicly claims to be a Protestant Christian. For example he says:

    “I am not going to apologize for the fact that I have superior gifts and devotion to the things of the Christian Religion and the Protestant Reformation than you Sean.”

    I certainly think Ryan and Drake are Unitarians, so I guess it’s nice to see that an outside observer, even a self-identifying Unitarian, agrees. :)

    To answer your question, yes, I consider Unitarianism to be the most likely interpretation of God’s Holy Scripture.

    Thank you for your honesty. After dealing with hypocrites like Hedrich and Shelton, it’s nice to meet someone who knows Unitarianism when he sees it.

    However, I am willing to concede that I might be wrong.
    Moreover, considering that I am not an elder, I do not challenge the doctrine of the Trinity in church.

    Good thing you keep your Unitarianism to yourself. Shelton said he was kicked out of the ARP Church of Louisville for “challenging them on their Sabellianism.”

    Scripture warns us about being divisive and identifying ourselves with factions. (Although, I attend a Southern Baptist Church, I simply identify as a Christian).

    Why would you call yourself a Christian when you identify yourself as a Unitarian? The Scriptures also warn us about lying too and Christians are Trinitarians, not Unitarians.

  18. steve hays Says:

    Scott Says:

    “I was because I think, in this case, the translation is good and self-explanatory. ”

    If you’re going to define terms in the Greek NT, you need to use a Greek lexicon, not an English dictionary.

    And in addition to the meaning of individual words, you must also consider the meaning of the sentence or paragraph. The meaning of individual words is not independent of how they are used by the writer, in conjunction with other words.

    “Are you arguing that ‘greatness’ in the passage is a function of the number of miracles performed? And that the Father is greater only in the sense that he has performed more miracles?”

    I already explained what it means in context. You need to pay more attention.

    “A personal pronoun that you seem to be ignoring. The fact that he uses a PERSONal pronoun indicates that Jesus thought that the Father was greater than the totality of his PERSON and not just greater than his human nature (which is what I have heard a lot of Trinitarians argue).”

    You lack an understanding of basic syntax. A pronoun is simply a part of speech that substitutes for a noun. A personal pronoun is concerned with a grammatical person, not metaphysical personhood. It merely identifies the speaker in the sentence.

    “I find it interesting that before Jesus said his famous ‘I Am’ statement he defined himself as ‘a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God,’ thus putting God above himself (John 8:40).”

    The humanity of Christ is perfectly consistent with Trinitarian, incarnational theology. The two natures of Christ.

    “The Jews misinterpreted everything Jesus said in John 8, so I don’t see why you think that their interpretation of his last saying is correct.”

    8:58 isn’t quoting the Jews. 8:58 is quoting Jesus.

    And, no, the Jews not misinterpret everything Jesus said in Jn 8. Actually, the Jews catch on to what he’s saying about himself. They get it. They understand his claims, but they deny his claims. That’s the distinction.

    “Thus, in the context of God’s plan existing from the beginning, Christ certainly was ‘before’ Abraham because Christ was the plan of God for man’s redemption long before Abraham lived.”

    Wrong. 8:58 refers to OT statements about Yahweh (e.g. Exod 3:14; Isa 41:4; 43:13).

    “It says that the Jews THOUGHT that Jesus was affirming his equality with the Father.”

    5:18 isn’t quoting the Jews. 5:18 is an editorial comment by the narrator, in which John confirms their understanding.

    “Yet God by definition submits to nobody.”

    That begs the question.

    “No. There is a huge difference between submission and subordination.”

    Actually, there’s no difference. They’re synonymous.

    “Christ is subordinate to God because God is his only Head (1 Cor 11:3)…”

    Since I just explained that passage, it’s circular for you to cite that passage.

    “And because ‘Christ belongs to God’ (1 Cor 3:23).”

    Which, in context, has reference to the fact that the Son came as a servant. He wasn’t living for himself, but acting on behalf of others, as the Father’s redemptive agent.

    “The chapter does speak about church order. So what? How does that refute my point? You need to interpret the 11th chapter in the context of the Christology of the entire book of 1 Corinthians, which clearly says that Christ is subordinate to God.”

    To the contrary, in 8:6, Paul inserts Jesus directly into the Shema, reassigning the Yahweh designation to Jesus. He sets the Father and the Son on a par.

    “In the end, Christ will ‘hand over his kingdom to God the Father’ (1 Cor 15:24). At that time, ‘the Son himself will also be under the control of the one [God the Father] who gave him [the Son] control over everything’ (1 Cor 15:28).”

    You’re misinterpreting that passage, which I dealt with here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-last-adam.html

    “Do you want to know who else said that the Father is ‘the only true God?’ Jesus Christ. He prayed, ‘FATHER . . . this is eternal life, for them to know YOU, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Christ Jesus, whom you have sent’ (John 17: 1-3). Even if Jesus does go on to say that he had glory with the Father before the world began, this does not in any way negate his assertion that the Father is the One True God.”

    I already dealt with that passage in response to Dale Tuggy:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/06/revealing-and-being.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/06/foolish-nonsense.html

    You’re also overlooking 1 Jn 5:20, where John probably calls Jesus the “true God”:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/03/he-is-true-god.html

    The word ‘worshipful’ literally means ‘respectful.’

    No it doesn’t.

    “Are you saying that Jesus is less respectful than the Father?”

    You need to learn the elementary distinction between the subject of worship (a worshiper) and the object of worship (who is worshiped).

    “However, Jesus also says concerning the day of his return, ‘In that day you will no longer ask me anything’ (John 6:22).”

    I think you mean 16:23. In that day they won’t ask him anything because their questions will have been answered. They will understand then what they don’t understand now.

    “On that day, ‘YAHWEH will be one, and his name one’ (Zechariah 14:9).”

    Trinitarians don’t deny that. Moreover, the NT frequently says Jesus is Yahweh.

  19. Scott Says:

    “Hi Scott, Just curious, how do you read the following passage?
    John 1:1 — 14 —- ” .. and the Word was God” and ..” .. the Word became flesh” The bible says the one who became flesh is the word and the word is God.”

    Hi Denson!!
    Don’t interpret the text as: “In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God.” This is reading too much into the text. The Greek “logos” is equivalent to the Hebrew “dabar,” which is used 1440 times in the OT but never describes a distinct person of YHWH.
    The translation “and the word was God” is the most contentious part. Look at the Greek for “and the word was God:” “kai theos en 0 logos.” As you can see, there is no definite article before theos, as there is in John 1:1 b. John 1:1 b is referring to “the God” while 1:1c is not. I think that the best translation of the text would be, “In the beginning was the promise (or purpose), and the promise was with God, and the promise was fully expressive of God . . . and the promise became flesh and blood.” God’s plan (or promise) became flesh. This is the point where the logos becomes a person, and not a verse before.

    Colossians 1: 15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of his body, the Church.”
    First of all, this verse would have been a good verse for Paul to call Jesus “God” instead of “an image of God” because all humans are also images of God, albeit imperfectly (1 Cor 11:7). It is absurd to say that God is an image of himself.
    The word “all” is defined by context. It does not have to mean “everything in the universe.” example, 1 John 2:20 says of Christians, “ye know all things.” Surely there is no Christian who actually believes that he knows everything in the universe.
    Likewise, when this verse says that Christ created “all things,” the things referred to are specifically “thrones, powers, rules, and authorities,” i.e., human and angelic ministers. God delegated to Christ the authority to make his Church as a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:15; Eph. 4:24; Rev. 1:1; Rom. 12:4-8; and Eph. 4:7-11). Thus, it is possible to interpret ‘all things’ as ‘all things in the church’ because the context is about “Christ’s body, the church” (v18).

    “But then, when he brought his firstborn into the world, he said,
    All of God’s angels must worship him.”
    “Worship” could also be translated “honored.” Moreover, this verse seems to imply that Jesus was not honored by angels before he was “brought into the world” because, if he had existed in eternity, surely the Father would have told the angels to worship the son waaaaaaay before he was “brought into the world as the firstborn”.

    “And, “You, Lord, did lay the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of Your hands.””
    Agreed, this verse is speaking about Jesus. But is it speaking about the beginning of this world or about the beginning of the world to come? Paul appears to be speaking about Jesus as the creator of the world to come because a few verses later he says: “For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking” (Heb 2:5).

  20. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Scott,
    … and Isaiah 9:6?

  21. Steve M Says:

    Scott
    Does the organization know you are attending a Southern Baptist church?

  22. Scott Says:

    “Hi Scott,
    … and Isaiah 9:6?”
    First of all if Jesus is the everlasting Father, as this verse, when mistranslated, appears to say, then you are “confounding the persons” of the Father and the Son and are no longer a Trinitarian as per the Athanasian creed. The phrase everlasting father should be translated “Father of the Coming Age”
    The phrase translated “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6 is the Hebrew, el gibbor. That very phrase, in the plural form, is used Ezekiel 32:21 to describe dead mighty men. Thus, the proper translation is “mighty hero.”
    No Jew ever read these verses and thought that the Messiah would be divine.

    “Scott, does the organization know you are attending a Southern Baptist church?”
    What organization are you talking about? I am not a member of any Unitarian organization, even though my theology is Unitarian.

  23. David Reece Says:

    Sean,

    What textual theory do you hold to?

    Do you have any resources you would point me to on the subject?

    The dispute between Steve and Patrick reminded me that I have been intending to ask you.

  24. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Scott,
    The whole point in Jesus’s title “Son of God” is to establish his divinity, i.e. that he is God. Tom exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus did not seem to mind. The Apostle Paul calls Jesus “God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5)
    The Holy Spirit too. He is called the Spirit of God, which makes him God. The Father is God.
    The baptismal “formula”(Matthew 28:19) seems to be intended to teach that God is a Trinity.
    The Bible teaches that there is only one God, which means the trinity is not to be misconstrued as teahing tri-theism.
    This is not a contradiction. Father, Son and Holy Spirit point to a differentiation within the one God. Generic unity and economic differentiation certainly apply to the triune God, but we do not claim that these necessarily exhaust the sense in which God is triune. Many analogies can also be cited where things are many in one sense and one in another sense.

    I must confess, I am at a loss as to where the dificulty is and why you find it necessary to resort to fanciful exegesis to uphold heretical views to the point of denying the plain meaning and usage of language.

  25. Steve M Says:

    Sean
    I was referring to the Watchtower Society, God’s organization on earth. They share a great number of your views. I don’t think they would approve of you attending a Southern Baptist church.

  26. Steve M Says:

    Oops
    I meant Scott.

  27. Sean Gerety Says:

    @David. While I’m not a KJ only guy, I do think the received texts are superior to the minority so-called “older is closer” to the autographs theory. I think arguments made by Wilbur Pickering are quite convincing (FWIW Clark recommended him) are highly worth reading. You can find his Identity of the NT Text free online here:http://www.revisedstandardversion.net/text/WNP/

    I also came across this website too which looks interesting: http://www.theword.net/index.php?newsitem.106

    Gary Crampton has a good piece in the TR archives dealing with the text and why modern textual criticism of the W-H variety is fallacious.

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Denson. Well put. Sort of like trying to argue with Ryan. ;-)

  29. David Reece Says:

    @Sean

    Thanks. I have read Crampton and think I agree with him. I will look at the other links.


  30. Hi Steve,

    I asked, “Do you believe the Nicene Creed is subordinationist (in an erroneous sense)? How do you define ‘ontologically subordinate’?”

    You replied, “If you think paternal monarchy, eternal generation/procession entail a type of intratrinitarian subordination.”

    I’m trying to ascertain what *you* believe the Nicene Creed was intended to affirm, and whether or not it was erroneous to do so. Also, could you please define ‘ontologically subordinate’ for my own clarification? Thanks.

    Regarding ‘en’ and spatial metaphors, do you believe Paul uses a spatial metaphor when he says Christ is “in” us? Or do you believe this is some sort of instrumental use of ‘en’?

    Regarding textual theories, I was not intending to argue with you exactly, I just wanted to point out that difference between texts to Sean, who I already knew held to an MT theory.

  31. Hugh Says:

    From the Scott commentary on Philippians ~ “to the glory of God the Father” (2:11)
    Notice that the Father alone is always called God. He says “to the Glory of God the Father” not “to the glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”

    As God, the Son, being God in the beginning, receives all the glory of God. Jesus is God. Jesus is known as “God with us” and “the everlasting Father,” among others.

    John 1:1ff~ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

    Col. 1:15ff~ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

    Heb. 1:3~ [God's Son is] the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power… v.8~ to the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. {All, NKJV.}

    P.S. Economic “subordination” does not imply ontological inferiority. In fact, just the opposite is shown in Phil. 2.

  32. Scott Says:

    I already argued that the phrase “everlasting father” should be translated as “father [initiator] of the age to come.”
    If Isaiah 7 wanted to stress that the child would be God, he would have written that the child would BE “God with Us” instead of saying that HIS NAME WILL MEAN “God is with us.”

    The verses that you cite from Hebrews are mistranslated. The verse that reads “upholding all things by the word of his power” should be translated as “Jesus sustains everything by his powerful message.”

    Now, Hugh, Sean, Denson, how do you all interpret these verses:
    1.) “But nobody knows when the day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows” (Matt 24:36).
    2.) “At about three Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “My God, My God, why have you left me.”” (Matthew 27:46).
    3.) Explain Mark 5:30-32, where Jesus’ power is taken from him when a woman touches his clothes and he looks around in confusion because he doesn’t know who touched him
    4.) “Jesus replied, ‘Why do you call me good? Nobody is good except for the one God.” (Mark 10:17-18).
    5). “Jesus matured in wisdom and in years” (Luke 2:52). God cannot mature in wisdom.
    6). Explain Luke 4 and Matthew 4 where Jesus was tempted, in light of the fact that God cannot be tempted (See James 1).
    7). If Paul wanted to teach the Trinity, why didn’t he at least begin his letters with “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God who is blessed forever. Grace to you and peace.”

    Paul never calls Jesus “God” and never mentions the Holy Spirit in any of his intros.

    Please visit this URL for an in-depth explanation of why NONE of the verses that Trinitarians cite are incompatible with Unitarianism: “http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses”

  33. Steve M Says:

    Scott
    Since you seem to fancy yourself a translator, would you share with us how many year of Hebrew you have under your belt and where you studied.

  34. Sean Gerety Says:

    “The verses that you cite from Hebrews are mistranslated. The verse that reads “upholding all things by the word of his power” should be translated as “Jesus sustains everything by his powerful message.”

    That is just silly. Funny how not one respectable translation renders the passage that way (actually I can’t even find any that does, even total crap translations). Must be that special Unitarian edition. LOL :)

  35. Sean Gerety Says:

    Paul never calls Jesus “God” and never mentions the Holy Spirit in any of his intros.

    OK, so what? How about referring to Jesus as God in the body of his epistles, like in Titus 2:

    11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
    12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
    13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
    14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

    Must not be in that special authorized Unitarian edition. :)

  36. Steve M Says:

    Scott
    Sean is correct that even total crap translations do not translate Hebrews 1:3 the way that you do. Here is the New World Translation done by anti-Trinitarians who share most of your views:
    “He is the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power;”


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