The Father Is Greater Than I?

We’re going through the New Testament now and studying the doctrine of the Trinity and we’re in the gospel of John. Much of what John has said has easily lent itself to Trinitarianism. Tonight, we’re looking at a verse that I’m sure most Jehovah’s Witnesses get quite excited over. This one was also one used by Arius. It is John 14:28. Let’s go to the text.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

The Father is greater than the Son? Doesn’t that disprove the Trinity? Well, not quite. Now there is some explaining that has to be done, but this is true of most any interpretation. The question in this case needs to be “In what sense is the Father greater than the Son?”

Let’s note something else beforehand. We have seen John use highly Trinitarian statements throughout this gospel be it in the prologue of John, in John 8:58, in John 10:30, and in numerous other places. it is highly doubtful that all of those are wrong and this is the right one. Of course, that could be the case, but my opponents have far more verses to explain than I do.

I will instead be giving an interpretation of this that I haven’t really seen but one that I’ve had come while pondering on this text and that I think fits in with the biblical worldview and the way society existed in the ancient world.

Jesus tells his apostles that his going is cause for them to rejoice. Now this must have seemed to be something strange to them. Yet the reason they are to rejoice is that his returning to the Father will mean the coming of the Spirit in order for them to be able to complete the mission that they have.

So what will Jesus be doing during that time? Hebrews tells us that he sat down at the right hand of the Father and we are told that he makes intercession for us. Jesus is then acting before the Father in the role of the high priest.

In the ancient worldview, the Father would have been seen as the one who was enacting a covenant. Jesus’s role in this is that he would be the one called a broker who would be the go-between between the people and the patron, who in this case would be the Father.

The Father is the one who grants the forgiveness through the Son. This doesn’t change the nature of the Son. The Son, however, has on himself a role of making that intercession on the behalf of sinners as the mediator as 1 Tim. 2:5 states. We will look more at that verse when we get there.

The greater then refers to office. It does not refer to nature. What the anti-Trinitarian will have to demonstrate is that somehow this greater refers to nature and then they will have to explain away all the other passages in Scripture that are Trinitarian.

My final stance? This one is nothing to lose sleep over. I think it fits in just fine with the biblical stance.

We’ll continue the rest of this chapter tomorrow.

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8 Responses to “The Father Is Greater Than I?”

  1. Steve S Says:

    I read it as I see it. The Father or His Father. People go around circles with this. Another one is “If you have seen me you have seen the Father. I believe that Christ is God in man in the flesh. There could be no other way for man to be reconciled but through perfection.

  2. Steve S Says:

    One more thing. Isn’t it wonderful to have someone stand in the gap for us for our sin? There is no other way to the Father but through the Son.

  3. William Says:

    Good perspective. Indeed the non-trinitarians have a lot more explaining to do than us. John wouldn’t have put this in there if it didn’t continue the message that he was trying to convey. There are different points of view on this, but it all boils down to the same thing. Jesus wasn’t denying that he was God.

  4. apologianick Says:

    Thanks to both for your comments and I hope you’ll keep up with what’s going on here.

  5. Gabe Says:

    What do you mean the Father is greater in the “Office” sense than Christ?!
    I know each in the Trinity has a role and the way i see it is, it is a group Oneness effort to salvation. The Father has His part, Jesus has HIs part, and the Holy Spirit has His part also.
    I say Jesus was revering the Father because He was in the Flesh and the Father was still Deity.

  6. apologianick Says:

    Hi Gabe.

    I would have no problem with that either. I do believe there has been some subordination going on, but how this works I still am working out.

  7. Priyantha Abeyratne Says:

    we are creations – we are not the creators – with our limited understanding how can we describe the creators – we can only try – that’s why we will never describe GOD, Jesus and the holy spirit properly

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