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Is Jesus subordinate to the Father?

Our question today dives into deep theological waters: Did Jesus become subordinate to the Father in His earthly ministry, is He still subordinate today, and has Jesus always been eternally subordinate? What does this mean for the doctrine of the Trinity, which says that all the persons in the Godhead are coequal? Let’s take the leap into these deep waters today!

First of all, in answering our question we acknowledge the established biblical teaching of the Trinity—meaning that God consists of three equal and eternal persons in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is equal in their nature as God, but differ in how they relate to one another and to the world. Theologians talk about the Trinity in terms of the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity. The ontological Trinity simply deals with what God IS in the three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all co-equal in nature and essence as God. When we talk about the economic Trinity we are referring to what God DOES. This allows us to begin to get a grip on our question—although the nature and essence of the Trinity is equal, their roles and functions are quite different. In looking at the relationship between the Father and the Son, we see a submission of the Son to the Father that is throughout the New Testament. For example, the Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10), the Son came down from heaven to do the will of the Father (John 6:38), the Father gave the Son (John 3:16), and the Father made Jesus an offering for sin (2 Cor. 5:21). So, we can say that although each of the three holy members of the Trinity are fully God in nature, they have different roles in their relationship and there is an abiding submission of the Son to the Father.    

The question that must be asked is—has Jesus always been the eternal Son of God within the Trinity? The short answer according to Scripture is yes. There are definitive statements from the pages of God’s Word that the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—have eternally been in this type of relationship. The prayer of Jesus in John 17:5 pulls back the curtain about the relationship between the Father and the Son before the world began, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Here we have a statement from Jesus about His past relationship within the Trinity before the creation of the universe—as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This same relationship is also placed at the end of the age when Jesus will reign in His full and glorious place within the Trinity as subject to God—"Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28). This means both at the beginning, in eternity past, and in the culmination of the ages, Jesus was and is the exalted God the Son within the glorious relationship of the Trinity.
My brothers and sisters, when we talk about the Trinity we are certainly wading through deep waters! In fact, this subject contains a purity and holiness that limits our finite and human mind to the plain statements of Scripture. With that said, here are my take-aways from this deep subject:

1. God never changes—Praise God! He was, and is, and is to come!

2. The plan of God is bigger and more profound that we can ever imagine! Talking about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son gets deep quickly! Thank God that He has saved us according to His glorious grace in Jesus Christ!

3. There is so much glory in eternity that our tongues or thoughts cannot describe. Although we are given statements about the Trinity in Scripture, it still remains a glorious mystery!
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