The Father is Greater than I

 

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” (John 14:28)

 

This is probably the most used verse in the Bible, by those who argue that Jesus Christ is not “God”, in the same way the Father is God.

 

What does Jesus mean here, when He says, “οτι ο πατηρ μου μειζων μου εστιν”, which is literally, “for My Father greater I is”? How do we understand the use of the Greek “μειζων”, used by Jesus here? There are some who understand this “Greatness”, as referring to the eternal relationship between the Father and Son within the Godhead or Trinity. They argue that as the Father is “Father”, and Jesus Christ is the “Son”, this proves that the Father has “priority” over Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Some in fact refer to the Father as “Fons Deitatis”, the “Originator” of the Son and Holy Spirit, as to their Deity. All of this is no more than bad theology, and has nothing to do with what the Bible actually Teaches about Jesus Christ.

 

In Isaiah 9:6, we have one of the Titles for Jesus Christ, “אֵל גִּבּוֹר, which is translated in the majority of English Versions, “Mighty God”. Some have tried to remove the fact that Deity is meant, by using “God-like Hero” instead. In 10:21, we have the same Hebrew as in 9:6, where it is used for Yahweh, no one suggests that it should be translated as “God-like Hero”, here. Why not? It has to be for theological reasons. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have “Mighty God” in 9:6, as does the translation by the Jewish scholar, Isaac Leeser, as does the Complete Jewish Bible (https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15940). Targum Jonathan, This Aramaic (Jewish) translation dates from the 1st century AD. “The prophet said to the house of David, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and he has taken the law upon himself to keep it. His name is called from eternity wonderful, the mighty God who liveth to eternity, the Messiah whose peace shall be great upon us in his days” (https://www.sefaria.org/Targum_Jonathan_on_Isaiah.9.6). It is clear from these two verses, that there are Two distinct Persons in the Old Testament, Who are equally GOD. Not that One is “greater”, or “prominent”, than the other.

 

John starts his Gospel with the opening words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (...καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος)”. This is the accepted reading by almost all of the English translations, with a few exceptions, who have changed the last part, for theological purposes. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “and the Logos was a god”, because they cannot accept the Bible’s Teaching that Jesus Christ is Almighty God, The Great I AM. Interesting, that the New Testament by the Unitarian, Dr George Noyes, reads: “and the Word was God”. This verse teaches that Jesus Christ is GOD. And He is GOD as The GOD He is with.

 

In verse 18, according to the reading of the oldest and best evidence, reads: “Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς Θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο”, “God no one has seen at any time, the Unique God Who is eternally close to the Father, He has revealed Him”. The oldest Greek manuscript for this Gospel, The Codex P66, about AD 200, has “Θεὸς”. Before this time, Bishop Ignatius (died 110), also reads “Θεὸς”, as does Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (130-200), Clement of Alexandria (150-215). Even the testimony of the early “heretics”, like Valentinus of Egypt (2nd cent), Origen (185-254), Arius of Alexandria (250-336)! This verse, like verse 1, is clear that there are TWO distinct Persons, Who are equally called “Θεὸς” (both without the definite Greek article). Also clear evidence against the heresy of Unitarianism!

 

In chapter 5, the Jews understood Jesus as calling God, “Πατέρα ἴδιον” (His own Father), in a Unique sense. They also understood this to mean, that Jesus was, “making himself equal with God” (verse 18). The adjective “ἴσον”, means “to claim for one's self the nature, rank, authority, which belong to God” (Thayer Greek Lexicon, p.307. Unitarian work). The Jews clearly understand that Jesus Christ is claiming Himself to be GOD. Note that Jesus does not rebuke them for what they say. In fact, in verse 23, Jesus actually confirms what the Jews say here. “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent Him”. “καθώς”, “even as, just as”, meaning, “in the SAME way”, which shows EQUALITY. Jesus is clear here, those who don’t HONOR Him AS THEY DO the Father, do not HONOR the Father. This would be impossible for Jesus to have said, if He is not absolutely COEQUAL with God the Father. In Isaiah 42:8, it says, “I am Yahweh, that is My Name; I will not give My Glory to another, Nor My praise to idols”. The Hebrew, “kâbôd”, means, “honour, splendour, glory”. The Greek “τῑμάω”, means, “honour, revere, reverence”. The present, active, subjunctive, “τιμῶσι”, says, to “continually Honour” Jesus Christ, JUST AS Honouring the Father! Can One Who is ANY “inferior” to Yahweh, ever say this? Jesus says here that the Father “sent” Him, shows their distinction as Persons.

 

In Chapter 8, Jesus says to the Jews, “I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am (εγω ειμι), you will die in your sins.” (verse 24). And, in verse 58, when the Jews asked Jesus, if He was “greater” than Abraham (v.53), Jesus replies, “πριν αβρααμ γενεσθαι εγω ειμι”. Here the literal reading is, “before Abraham came into existence, I AM”. For which the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because they thought that He had blasphemed (v.59). Again note, that Jesus does not say to the Jews, that they have misunderstood Him, and that He was not here saying that He IS The Great I AM. The Jews clearly understood Jesus was here referring to the Name given to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “’Ehyeh ’ăsher ’ehyeh”, which is best translated, “I am Who I am”. The Greek Version made by Jewish scholars before the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Septuagint, translates the Hebrew, “Εγω ειμι ὁ Ων”, literally, “I am the Existing One”. As Jesus says in verse 24, those who do not believe that He is YAHWEH, will die in their sins, and not have eternal life. The absolute Deity of Jesus Christ, as The Creator God, is clearly taught here.

 

In John chapter 10, verses 28-30, we read, “I give eternal life to them. They will never perish at all, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”.

 

This passage is a very good example of the two “natures” in the One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is The God-Man. On the one hand Jesus says, “My Father who has given them to me is greater than all”, as He does in 14:28. This no doubt in reference to the Incarnation, when Jesus became “subject” to the Father. On the other hand, Jesus also says, “no one will snatch them out of my hand...No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand”. We read in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 32:39 it says, “‘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”. And, Isaiah 43:13, “Even from eternity I am He; And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”.

 

Jesus is here saying that His Authority, Power and Protection, is equal to that of the Father’s, even though the Father is “greater”. No one who is “inferior” to God the Father, can say what Jesus does here! Verse 30 shows the distinction between the Father and Jesus Christ, as “ἐσμεν”, is masculine, plural, which is impossible to mean they are “one and the same” Person, since it literally means, “we are”. Then we have the neuter, singular, “ἕν”, which is, “one thing”, or “one nature”. Both the Father and Jesus Christ are here EQUALLY GOD.

 

Another clear testimony that Jesus Christ is Almighty God, is in John 20:28

 

“και απεκριθη ο θωμας και ειπεν αυτω ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου” “and answered Thomas and said to Him, my Lord and my God”

 

All these words are addressed directly to Jesus Christ, as we have the singular,  αυτω, HIM, not as some, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who try to explain this as John looks to Jesus and says, “my Lord”, and then to heaven, and says “my God”. This is based on their theology and not what the text actually says.  On a point of Greek grammar, here we have the nominative case, that is used for the vocative in direct address, as can be seen in Matthew 11:26, “ναι ο πατηρ (even so Father)”, which is also nominative, in address to God the Father. Jesus does not rebuke Thomas for calling Him “ο θεος μου”, which He would have, if Thomas was wrong in what he said.

 

In Revelation 1:17-18, we read about Jesus Christ Appearing to the Apostle John:

 

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead. But He put His right hand on me, saying, "Do not fear; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and became dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Death and of Hades”

 

Jesus’ words here are very important as self Testimony on Who He is. The Words, “εγω ειμι ο πρωτος και ο εσχατος και ο ζων και εγενομην νεκρος και ιδου ζων ειμι εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων αμην”. Literally, “I am The First and The Last and The Living One I became dead and behold Alive I am forever and forever Amen”.

 

(I am The First and The Last), are no doubt a reference to Isaiah 44:6, “This is what Yahweh, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, Yahweh of Hosts, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no god but Me” (also 48:12). On Revelation 1:17, Dr Thayer says in his Greek lexicon, “ὁ πρῶτος καί ὁ ἔσχατος, i. e. the eternal One”. Jesus goes on to say, literally in verse 18,

 

As we shall see, Jesus’ words here about the Father being “Greater” than Himself, is functional, which is post Incarnational, as The Mediator,  and not eternal.

 

This chapter begins with the words spoken by Jesus Christ, where He says, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me”. It is clear from these words, that Jesus is saying to trust in the Father, and equally trust in Him. Where the Greek καί (also), is used for “sameness”. Only One Who is Himself God, could give this assurance of having faith in Him, as in the Father.

 

In verse 6 Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me”, where the emphasis is on the fact that He, and He alone, is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life. Jesus here is the Mediator between humans and God the Father, as is speaking as the God-Man.

 

When Philip asks Jesus to “show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (v.8), Jesus rebukes him for this, and says, “Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father?” (9). This does not mean that Jesus Christ is saying that He is the same Person as the Father, but, that He is equal to the Father, and what He says, is what the Father also says. He goes on to say, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very works themselves” (vs. 10-11). This is more than the “union” that believers have with God, as Jesus speaks of in chapter 17:21-22. Jesus is clear that His Authority is equal to the Father’s, and that what He says, should be enough, as the Father’s Authority is not “Greater” than His own, as God.

 

In Matthew 12:18, we read, “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved with whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Hm, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles”. The “Servant”, is Jesus Christ, as was foretold in the Old Testament Prophecy. Jesus says of Himself, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Where it is clear that He considered Himself to be “The Servant” of God the Father, to Whom He made Himself “subject”, during after His Incarnation.

 

In John 14:28, Jesus uses μειζων”, by way of comparison with the Father, while He was on earth. In Hebrews 2:9, we read, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”. Where Jesus is said to be “ἐλαττόω”, that is, “inferior” to even the created angels, because of His “suffering of death”. This position as we can see, is only “for a little while”, which is Incarnational. In John 13:16, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”. This is also true of Him during His time on earth, as He is The Servant, and was also “Sent” by God the Father. It is clear form this, what Jesus means in 14:28.