Who is GREATER-the Father or the Son?
John 14:28 “You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses say of John 14:28, “this verse proves that Jesus is not God and is in fact inferior because his Father`is greater than he'.”
Philippians 2:5-8 and other passages clearly show that while on the earth, Jesus, who is the Son “was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb 2:9).
In fact the next verse explains v.10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Paul is referring to what the apostle John wrote about Jesus’ nature “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).
Paul further explains, “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. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col 1:16-17). No man or angel can create all things and hold them together. It is impossible for Jesus to be a created thing, a creature if he is the creator of all things seen and unseen according to the Scripture. Jehovah’s witnesses and Iglesia Ni christo need to pay attention to what the inspired word of god says and not ignore these clear portions of revelation.
We are told that Jesus the Son “Having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb 1:4). Jesus purposely “humbled himself' became a servant to the Father and mankind and while Christ was here as a man. His position was lower than God the Father's, thus His Father was “greater” than He. The word better used here implies a difference in nature, quality, or essence. The word greater denotes a difference in rank or position. Jesus Christ is said in Scripture to be better than the angels (Heb. 1:4). How can he be greater than angels if he is as the Jehovah Witnesses claim Michael the arch- angel? By nature He was superior to the angels. How can he be better than the angels if he is only a man as Iglesia ni Christo claims. God the Father called Jesus God in Heb. 1:8 and said for ALL the angels of God are to worship Him (Heb. 1:6), worship is an honor reserved only for God Himself (Rev. 19:10). Jesus by nature, being God is equal to God (John 1:1,14, John 5:23, John 14:1) but positionally, during His earthly time as a man, His Father was certainly “greater” than He.
*** Strong's Concordance states that meizon, the Greek word for greater (Greek Dictionary #3187) simply means “larger”. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the New Testament)
Vine's Dictionary says that meizon 'is the comparative degree of megas” (meaning “great” in the Greek). Vine's refers us to Titus 2:13 as an example “of rank” of persons, where Jesus is called “our GREAT God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (The Expanded Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Robertson's Greek Word Pictures- John 14:28 Greater than I meizoon (NT:3144) mou (NT:3406). Ablative case mou (NT:3406) after the comparative meizoon (NT:3144) (from positive megas (NT:3130)). The filial relation makes this necessary. Not a distinction in nature or essence (cf. John 10:30), but in rank in the Trinity. No Arianism or Unitarianism here. The very explanation here is proof of the deity of the Son (Dods).(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Other New Testament Dictionaries agree, meizon is positional: regarding authority, though EQUAL, the Father has authority over the Son (who became a man), as the sender is over the sent one, even though they are EQUAL iIn nature
A Jehovah’s Witness will say you are not equal to your Father. If we apply this to God’s nature, than by their own human logic, my father’s father was greater than he was, and so was his father. Tracing it back to our original ancestors, we can then say we are all decreasing in nature. But the fact is, we are equal in nature to our father, just not in position.
In John the comparative meizon appears only in the discourses. It brings into prominence Jesus' claims and the unique effectiveness of his work. In authority he is “greater” than Jacob (Israel), Abraham or other men, for he brings life (4:12; 8:53; 5:20, 36). His works have been given him by the Father who, however, despite the unity and equality which exist between the two, is “greater” than Jesus himself (10:29; 14:28). The commission with which the Father sends the Son is balanced by the Son's obedience in carrying out his work of love. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed., Colin Brown, Vol. 2, 1967, 1976, p. 426.
We see that “greater” is considered a positional word with emphasis position in relationship to others, i.e., He is 'larger” in greatness than others. How can Jesus call His Father greater, or higher in rank than Himself at Jn. 14:28 and yet be the “Great God” in Titus 2:13? Is this not a contradiction? Not if one became a willing servant to their Father while on earth. (Jn. 1:1, 14: The Word who was God, became flesh, a man). His Father, God, is 'greater” in position and authority than Jesus as a man in the role lf a servant.
The context in jn. 14:28 bears it out. Using Strong's and Vine's definition of “greater” and interpreting Jesus’ own words: “the Father is larger, higher in rank than I.” It is important to note that Jesus is not using a word which means the Father is better or superior to Him in quality of nature, but rather larger in (size or degree of) authority. We know “greater” does not refer to a different quality of nature BECAUSE Jesus uses the very same word to describe the greater SIZE works (greater in quantity, i.e., more works, not better works) that His disciples will do compared to His own works. If it meant nature as the Jehovah Witnesses state then we are greater then Jesus in nature- which would be absurd to any Bible believing person. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because 1 go to the Father.” (jn. 14:12)
From this prophecy, we conclude “greater” does not mean “better”, a word of quality, but means “larger”. The disciples were to do the same type of works, just more of them as they were spread throughout the world. Incidently what greater works (if this is nature not in size) has the Jehovah witnesses done?
Jesus make it clear in John 13:16” “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him” Same word meizon for greater. This cannot be related to nature since Jesus is human as his disciples are human.
In Jn. 14:28 Jesus wasn't saying the Father is better than He in nature (he being a creature the Father being the eternal God) , but instead the disciples could do more, so could the Father do more.
'If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, “Have 1 been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father?” (John. 14:7-9)
One needs the God of Scripture to reveal to them whom the Son actually is. He is the exact representation of the invisible God.
Heb 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”
No man can be the brightness of his glory ( think of what Jesus revealed on the Mount of transfiguration where again the Father spoke with the glory over him, that He was his beloved Son.)
The word image charakter-from the same as 5482; a graver (the tool or the person), i.e. (by implication) engraving ([“character”], the figure stamped, i.e. an exact copy or [figuratively] representation): KJV-- express image.
The writer is conveying the exact expression (the image) of the invisible God was made known to man by a m an. He was precisely like his father who remained invisible in every respect.
The answer to all this is found in His state of humiliation- taking up the human condition from his conception, the form of man on earth. Growing to the time of being a priest (30 years of age) and being revealed to Israel.
Phil.2:5-8 “Who being in the form of (nature) God (Gal. 4:8: there is only one God by nature) did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (nature):” In becoming a man something changed since he was not in a servant role to the Father before He became man. This was a change of position, not a change in nature. He, as God, could not empty himself of His essential nature, since unchangeableness is part of his nature. All His attributes are eternal so he could not eliminate any but he could put them aside in using them as He entered time and space to reach mankind. That is how powerful God is.
“Their was a voluntary emptying to give up his independent use of his divine attributes while living on earth in a subordinate role to the Father. This did not change his nature as being the Son of God. That Christ gave up the “Independent exercise of the divine attributes” (Strongs Systematic Theology p.382).
When the scripture says “the Son can do nothing of himself” (Jn.5:19) it means while possessing all the nature and attributes of deity He did not independently use them on His own but obeyed his Fathers will and pleasure. The mistake made, is when one confuses subjection with inferiority, this is not the case. For example, Jesus in Lk.2:51-52 was subject to his parents. Here we have the God/man who is subjecting himself to two sinful humans. Certainly he was superior in both position and nature to them, being sinless and their creator. Does that mean they were 'better” than He, or merely “greater” for a temporary period of time while He was on earth? All would agree they were never, at any time, superior in quality to the Son of God. Jesus also put himself under the law being subject to its commands to fulfill it perfectly. Certainly he being the one who gave the law was greater, yet he willingly put himself under it. He was to be subject to the ruling authorities of Rome giving them their due. Temporarily, even the angels were even more powerful than him.
As the Chapter of Phil. 2 starts out teaching to esteem others better than yourself, to look out for others interests and to “let this mind that is in Christ Jesus be in you.” Are we to esteem them as greater in nature? Of course not. Paul then goes into the event of what took place in the incarnation. He ends with every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. Pointing to the exalted state He gave up that was restored to him, that He is forever more in. In fact Jesus is indeed still in a body which the Jehovah Witnesses deny. As it states in Scripture- 1 Tim.2:5: “For their is one God, and one mediator between God and man, THE MAN Christ Jesus.” Notice it says man- not angel. Only God can be a mediator for all mankind, this is the God who took up a body while on earth and was raised in this same body.
We do not need to go to the Greek words as the actual meaning, for the sentences describe themselves.
Rom 9:5: “according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (can YOU say amen?)
The Bible commands the wife to be subject to her husband, this is not a matter of inferiority verses superiority. Both are of the same species and nature yet there is a divine order as is stated in Eph.5:22 of the positional hierarchy. Because of a positional hierarchy.
Likewise the Father is over him positionally, just as the husband is over his wife. This is not a matter of inferiority verses superiority in ones nature but an order of divine decree.
Eph 5:21-23 submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” Christ was a perfect example to us of walking in the fear of God and in submission to the Father.
'Greater' not 'Better. For one who holds to the idea that the word “greater” (Greek-meizon), can be rendered as “better”, i.e., superior in nature, the following verses provide proof that better is not a synonym for greater. To substitute better for greater would destroy the meaning and make nonsense out of these texts:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater that John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Mt. 11:11)
Was John the Baptist superior in nature to all other men? On the other hand all believers would be greater in nature to John who was the greatest born of women.
“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Lk. 22:27)
Was Jesus lesser in nature than those He served? This means even the disciples who were sinful were greater than Him.
“You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” (Jn. 4:12) Was the woman asking Jesus if he was of a superior nature to Jacob?
'Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” (Jn. 8:53) Did the Jews ask if Jesus was of a superior nature to Abraham? It was about position.
In the same way in John 10:30-11:15 Jesus spoke to the antagonists “I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, 'I said, “You are gods” '? “If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), “do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
Jesus’ point was that they were given a ruling position by God (as judges) but they did not recognize His ruling position was also given by God. His was greater because He was by nature one with His Father, He was the Son of God. They got the message and were threatened by it. It is no different today by those who do not want to submit to the one God sent and make Him something other than He and the Scripture says He is.