Arianism is the nontrinitarian, heterodoxical teaching, first attributed to Arius (c. AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Father is greater than I (John 14:28)

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  • The Father is greater than I (John 14:28)

    John 14:28
    You heard that I said to you, I go away, and I will come to you. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (NASB)


    Some who deny the Lord Jesus is God will cite John 14:28 in thinking it supports their heretical belief. What they fail to understand is that when the Lord Jesus came from heaven to the earth He took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). As a servant He subjected Himself to the Father. Being "subject" to someone does not demand one is ontologically "less" than the one he/she is being subjected to. More specifically, functional subjection does not necessitate ontological inferiority. Wives are commanded to be subject to their husbands (cf. Ephesians 5:24; 1 Peter 3:1) but they are in no way less than (inferior) to their husbands. Both are equally human beings. In fact, the Lord Jesus was also subject to Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51) but that doesn't entail that they were ontologically superior to Jesus!
    1. Citing both John 5:18 and John 14:28 the TDNT reads: Nevertheless, John accepts the paradox that he is the Son who is both subject to the Father and yet also one with Him (10:30; 1:1). In other words, He is equal to the Father (3:352-353, isos, Stahlin)
    2. William Mounce: Jesus declares that, "The Father is greater than I" (14:28; 15:20). This does not suggest inequality in the Trinity, but rather expresses a willing subordination of the Son to the will of the Father (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Greater, page 309).
    3. A. W. Pink: "My Father is greater than I." This is the favourite verse with Unitarians, who deny the absolute Deity of Christ and His perfect equality with the Father—a truth which is clearly taught in many scriptures. Those who use these words of our Lord in support of their blasphemous heresy, wrest them from their context, ignoring altogether the connection in which they are found. The Savior had just told the apostles that they ought to rejoice because He was going to the Father, and then advances this reason, "For my Father is greater than I." Let this be kept definitely before us and all difficulty vanishes. The Father's being greater than Christ was the reason assigned why the disciples should rejoice at their Master's going to the Father. This at once fixes the meaning of the disputed "greater," and shows us the sense in which it was here used. The contrast which the Savior drew between the Father and Himself was not concerning nature, but official character and position.
    Christ was not speaking of Himself in His essential Being. The One who thought it not robbery to be "equal with God" had taken the servant form...In becoming incarnate and tabernacling among men, He had greatly humiliated Himself, by choosing to descend into shame and suffering in their acutest forms. He was now the Son of man that had not where to lay His head. He who was rich had for our sakes become poor. He was the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. In view of this, Christ was now contrasting His situation with that of the Father in the heavenly Sanctuary. The Father was seated upon the throne of highest majesty; the brightness of His glory was uneclipsed; He was surrounded by hosts of holy beings, who worshipped Him with uninterrupted praise. Far different was it with His incarnate Son—despised and rejected of men, surrounded by implacable enemies, soon to be nailed to a criminal's cross. In this sense, too, He was inferior to the Father. Now in going to the Father, the Son would enjoy a vast improvement of situation. It would be a gain unspeakable. The contrast then was between His present state of humiliation and His coming state of exaltation to the Father! Therefore, those who really loved Him should have rejoiced at the tidings that He would go to the Father, because the Father was greater than He—greater both in official status and in surrounding circumstances. It was Christ owning His place as Servant, and magnifying the One who had sent Him.
    John 14 Commentary - A.W. Pink's Commentary on John and Hebrews

  • #2
    Originally posted by Faber View Post
    John 14:28
    You heard that I said to you, I go away, and I will come to you. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (NASB)


    Some who deny the Lord Jesus is God will cite John 14:28 in thinking it supports their heretical belief. What they fail to understand is that when the Lord Jesus came from heaven to the earth He took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). As a servant He subjected Himself to the Father. Being "subject" to someone does not demand one is ontologically "less" than the one he/she is being subjected to. More specifically, functional subjection does not necessitate ontological inferiority. Wives are commanded to be subject to their husbands (cf. Ephesians 5:24; 1 Peter 3:1) but they are in no way less than (inferior) to their husbands. Both are equally human beings. In fact, the Lord Jesus was also subject to Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51) but that doesn't entail that they were ontologically superior to Jesus!
    1. Citing both John 5:18 and John 14:28 the TDNT reads: Nevertheless, John accepts the paradox that he is the Son who is both subject to the Father and yet also one with Him (10:30; 1:1). In other words, He is equal to the Father (3:352-353, isos, Stahlin)
    2. William Mounce: Jesus declares that, "The Father is greater than I" (14:28; 15:20). This does not suggest inequality in the Trinity, but rather expresses a willing subordination of the Son to the will of the Father (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Greater, page 309).
    3. A. W. Pink: "My Father is greater than I." This is the favourite verse with Unitarians, who deny the absolute Deity of Christ and His perfect equality with the Father—a truth which is clearly taught in many scriptures. Those who use these words of our Lord in support of their blasphemous heresy, wrest them from their context, ignoring altogether the connection in which they are found. The Savior had just told the apostles that they ought to rejoice because He was going to the Father, and then advances this reason, "For my Father is greater than I." Let this be kept definitely before us and all difficulty vanishes. The Father's being greater than Christ was the reason assigned why the disciples should rejoice at their Master's going to the Father. This at once fixes the meaning of the disputed "greater," and shows us the sense in which it was here used. The contrast which the Savior drew between the Father and Himself was not concerning nature, but official character and position.
    Christ was not speaking of Himself in His essential Being. The One who thought it not robbery to be "equal with God" had taken the servant form...In becoming incarnate and tabernacling among men, He had greatly humiliated Himself, by choosing to descend into shame and suffering in their acutest forms. He was now the Son of man that had not where to lay His head. He who was rich had for our sakes become poor. He was the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. In view of this, Christ was now contrasting His situation with that of the Father in the heavenly Sanctuary. The Father was seated upon the throne of highest majesty; the brightness of His glory was uneclipsed; He was surrounded by hosts of holy beings, who worshipped Him with uninterrupted praise. Far different was it with His incarnate Son—despised and rejected of men, surrounded by implacable enemies, soon to be nailed to a criminal's cross. In this sense, too, He was inferior to the Father. Now in going to the Father, the Son would enjoy a vast improvement of situation. It would be a gain unspeakable. The contrast then was between His present state of humiliation and His coming state of exaltation to the Father! Therefore, those who really loved Him should have rejoiced at the tidings that He would go to the Father, because the Father was greater than He—greater both in official status and in surrounding circumstances. It was Christ owning His place as Servant, and magnifying the One who had sent Him.
    John 14 Commentary - A.W. Pink's Commentary on John and Hebrews
    Get yourself a KJV, my friend.

    John 14:28 - ‘The Father is greater than I’.

    Watchtower teaching: The JW book Let God be True, 1946, p.110 says that Jehovah is greater than Jesus in his office and person. Jehovah they say is intrinsically greater than Jesus, and hence Jesus cannot be God Almighty. The JW book Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.410, says, ‘The fact that Jesus is lesser than Jehovah proves that He cannot be God in the same sense that Jehovah is’.

    The Bible Teaching: In John 14:28 Jesus is not speaking about His nature or being (Christ had earlier said in John 10:30, ‘I and the Father are one’), but about His lowly position of incarnation as a man. The Athanasian Creed says that Christ is ‘equal to the Father as
    touching His Godhood, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood’. Christ was here contrasting His human humiliation, shame, suffering, rejection, opposition by enemies, and
    soon crucifixion, with the Father’s majesty, glory and worship by the angels in heaven.

    Key: Jesus said, ‘The Father is greater (Greek: meizon) than I’, not ‘The Father is better (Greek: kreitton) than I’. ‘Greater’ refers to the Father’s greater position (in heaven), not to a greater nature. If the word ‘better’ had been used, this would indicate that the Father had a
    better nature than Jesus.

    i) The distinction is made clear in Hebrews 1:4 where ‘better’ (Gk: kreitton) is used to teach Jesus’ superiority over the angels in His nature and position.
    ii) This difference between ‘greater’ and ‘better’ is seen in this example:
    ‘The President of a country is greater (Greek: meizon) in position than his people, but as a human being he is not better (Greek: kreitton) in nature than his people’.
    iii) Jesus in becoming a man, not only took on a lower position than the Father, but also took on a lower position than the angels. ‘But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death’. (Hebrews 2:9)

    QUESTION:‘Do you agree that a President is greater in position but not better in nature than his people?’

    QUESTION: ‘In view of greater (meaning higher in position) and better (meaning higher in nature), is it not clear that in John 14:28 Jesus is speaking of the Father’s temporary higher position and not his higher nature than Jesus?

    QUESTION: How did Christ make Himself of no reputation when He became a man? (Phil. 2:6-9)

    1. He veiled His preincarnate glory in order to dwell among men, but never surrendered His deity or divine glory. On the Mount Transfiguration He allowed His glory to shine briefly. If Christ had not veiled His glory, mankind would not have been able to look at
    Him. When John saw His glory on Patmos he said, ‘I fell at His feet as dead’. (Rev. 1:17).
    2. He submitted to a voluntary non use of some of His divine attributes (on some occasions) in order to achieve His objectives. He never surrendered His attributes, but He did voluntarily cease using some of them on earth. Jesus showed His divine attributes of:
    i) omniscience (‘He knew all men’ John 2:24; 16:30;‘Lord thou knowest all things.’ 21:17
    ii) omnipresence (John 3:13 ‘the Son of man which is in heaven’).
    As God He was everywhere at once, but as man He chose to walk there.
    iii) omnipotence (Matthew 28:18 ‘all power is given unto me’.)

    3. He condescended to take on the likeness (form, appearance) of man and the form of a servant. (Phil 2:7). His becoming a man involved gaining human attributes (subject to weakness, pain, sorrow and temptation), but not giving up his divine attributes.

    Conclusion: ‘The Father is greater than I’ (John 14:28) said Jesus from the vantage point of His incarnation as a man. This verse relates to Christ’s voluntary subordination to the Father to accomplish His work on earth.‘Greater than’ refers to His greater position not His nature.

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