Passages to be considered:
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. -kjv
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. -kjv
1 Corinthians 11
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. -kjv
Question from moody radio listener on openline program on February 18, 2017:
I am doing a bible study in John and in John 14:28 towards the end of that verse, Jesus says the Father is greater than I, in that discussion on John, we are also talking about the trinity and how there is only one God and He has existed eternally as three distinct persons, each fully and equally God. So, I am trying to reconcile those two different statements there.
Answer from Dr Michael Rydelnik:
People who held views like the Arians and even various religious groups today argue from the statement that the Father is greater than I that somehow that Jesus is less than God or a lesser God, that somehow he is a created being, that is clearly not true. The Father and Son have the same essence. So what does it mean that the Father is greater than I? I think one of the clues to that is found in John 6 (actually John 6:37 to 40 is one of my favourite passages because it is really one of the great assurance passages for the believer), if you look at verse 38, what it is saying is the Lord Jesus submits his will to his Father. So, when the Lord Jesus says the Father is greater than the Son, what he is saying is greater in authority and it’s only because of the relational aspect in the Godhead, the Son is submissive to the Father, and it is not because in essence one is greater than the other but it’s sort of a functional relationship, functional greatness, not essential greatness. It is in function the Father is greater, some of you say that the Father is greater in office or greater in glory but the Son was humbled or taking the form of the man but in my understanding in the gospel of John, you go right to the beginning in John 1, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and then it says the Word became flesh. So it is saying the Father and Son are equal in essence but different in function. The Father is the one the Son submits to for He has greater authority, it’s just a functional difference, not an essential difference.
So, in the functional difference, there’s an order and in essence, there’s equality?
Dr Michael Rydelnik:
There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians 11 that I think it’s kind of helpful in seeing that. In terms of male, female relationships in 1 Corinthians 11:3. That’s talking about male leadership in the congregation and so the male elders in the congregation is the head of women but essentially male and women in essence are equal before God but in function, there’s different function between men and women and the reason we see rather clearly in this passage because it says God is the head (speaking of the Father) of the Messiah, Christ the Son, well it does not mean He is greater in essence but just in function, just as men and women have equal essence but different function.
See that makes a great example. I didn’t know it is partly because when Jesus became flesh, he lowered himself.
Dr Michael Rydelnik:
Yeah, that’s part of it, it’s the humbling of the Messiah, somebody called it the humiliation of the Messiah, that’s part of the reason for the Father has a greater authority than the Son and the Son humbling himself and obeying the Father’s will.