Editorial: Equal Rights

Scarcely an issue in modern society has been more volatile in the last fifty years than “Civil Rights.” It plays a major role in accepting or rejecting politicians and their policies, yet millions of people in the world are still oppressed.

The Lord Jesus taught, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). This means all men without distinction of race, creed, or color. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4). The many thousands of missionaries who have carried the message of the Gospel throughout the world give powerful evidence that Christians believe, “There is no difference for all have sinned” (Rom 3:23), and gladly accept the “whosoever” of John 3:16.

However, the Word of God reveals an equality within the Godhead that cannot be compared to any form of equal rights among men. In John 5, when the Lord Jesus healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda, “The Jews sought the more to kill him, because He said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God (v 18). It is amazing to us that the Jews understood the Lord’s claim so well. In Philippians 2:6, Paul writes of the Lord Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The word “equal” in this verse is a plural. It literally means that eternally, the Son has been equal in His Person, knowledge, wisdom, power, majesty, glory, mercy, love, and grace to God. Three equal Persons, yet God is One.

John 17 begins with an announcement of tremendous authority by the Son to the Father: “Father, the hour is come.” In the same verse, He said, “Glorify Thy Son,” then He said, “that Thy Son may also glorify Thee.” The order is significant. This is one of a number of statements in John 17 that declare His absolute equality in the Godhead. In John 17:2, the Son is given “authority over all flesh.” There cannot be a higher authority. Then He “gives eternal life.” He must possess it before He can give it. In verse 5, He speaks of “the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” It is not glory “from Thee” or “by Thee,” but it is glory “with Thee.” In verse 10, He said, “Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine,” and again the order is significant. In verse 21, He said, “Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee.” This reminds us of His words to Philip in John 14:9-10, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” In John 10:30, He said, “I and the Father are One.” In John 17:22, He said, “We are One.” Commentators have suggested that John forsakes good grammar to give us good doctrine. He did not say “We are Two” or “We are Three,” but, “We are One.” Before we accuse John of poor grammar, let us remember that this is the language of the Holy Spirit of God.

Our response is “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh. . . ” (I Tim 3:16).