Question & Answer Forum

Is Jesus the Son of God equal with the Father?

In dealing with a subject as sacred and profound as this, we must attempt to be clear in the meaning of the words we use. “Equal” is not the same as “equivalent.” When two mathematical terms are equivalent, one may be used in the place of the other. In that sense, the Father and the Son are not equivalent. They are two distinct Persons and have distinct roles in the Godhead, yet God is one (Deu 6:4) and there is one God (4:35). The Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are equal in substance and in every attribute. The Son is “the express image of His (God’s) person” (Heb 1:3), meaning He answers exactly to God’s substance. All that God is He is.

That they are two distinct Persons is quite evident in many Scriptures, including at His anointing (Mat 3:16, 17) and transfiguration (17:5). Peter tells us that the voice on the Mount of Transfiguration was the Father’s, speaking from heaven (2Pe 1:17, 18). The Father’s voice came from heaven and the incarnate Son was on earth, while the Spirit descended from heaven to earth at His anointing. These three distinct Persons are equally God; the Father (Psa 102:24a, compared with Heb 1:10) and the Son (John 20:28) are both addressed as God

The leaders of the Jews knew that, when the Lord Jesus referred to God as His Father, He thus claimed equality with God (John 5:18). Of course, those unbelieving men didn’t always have their theology right, so we can accept their statement only if it agrees with God’s. “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (Heb 1:8). The speaker in this passage is God (v 1), the Father to this King (v 5), and He addresses the Son as God.

The psalms enumerate the unique works of God (Psa 105) and His unique attributes (Psa 139). The Gospel of the Son of God, John’s Gospel, demonstrates that our Lord did those works and possessed those attributes.

“I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) expresses the equality of the Father and the Son.

D. Oliver

Was the deity of the Lord Jesus somehow limited in His humanity?

By definition, God is spirit (John 4:24, ESV), infinite in His duration (Isa 57:15), ability (Luk 1:37), and attributes (1Jo 1:5). Limited deity is an oxymoron. Being in one place and “becoming flesh” (Joh 1:14) did not limit His omniscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence; He was without beginning (Joh 1:1) or end (Heb 1:12) and He was holy (Luk 1:35). The Pharisees balked at His forgiving the paralyzed man (Mar 2:5), since only God has this power (v 7; Psa 130:4). The Lord Jesus had and has that power that belongs solely to God (Mar 2:10).

Nonetheless, His Father told Him what to say (Joh 12:49b) and the very words He should speak (v 49c). The Father showed Him each act He did (5:19). These truths do not indicate that He was limited, but that He was subject to His Father. This affirms that the Father and Son have different roles in the Godhead. The Father directs and the Son carries out the direction, while the Spirit enables.

D. Oliver

Does the Lord Jesus possess omniscience only as far as the Father allows? (John 13:3)

The passage from which this question arises is, “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands . . .” (John 13:3). Another passage that raises this question is “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mar 13:32). The Lord’s statement, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power” (Acts 1:7), may shed some helpful light on this issue. The Father has placed information in His authority. It is His right to disclose it in keeping with His purpose. The Son knew all things (John 16:30). For instance, He knew all that the Father was going to do, but He only acted on what the Father was doing at that moment (5:19). He knew all that was involved as He brought God into full revelation (1:18), yet He only spoke what the Father told Him to speak (12:49). In the passage under question in John 13, He always knew what the Father had committed into His hands, but He now acted in keeping with that awareness. He always acted, thought, and spoke consistent with His distinct role in the Godhead.

D. Oliver

Why was the Revelation given by the Father rather than by Jesus Christ Himself (Revelation 1:1)?

The Revelation is given by God, Who, of course, we understand in this passage, is the Father.

The defining portrait of the Lord Jesus in the Revelation is “One like unto the Son of Man” (1:13; 14:14). As such, He has authority to execute judgment (Joh 5:27) and to extend God’s rule throughout God’s creation (Heb 2:6-8). The Revelation gives us the course of events leading to this fulfillment, when the word comes from the throne, “It is done” (Rev 21:6).

In His role as the Son of God and as the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus always moves in subjection to His Father and in dependence on His God, respectively. Because He is God, the Lord had full knowledge of all these events and He did not lack the ability to communicate them. We cannot but worship when we see Him always acting within the role entrusted to Him.

When it was God’s purpose to strengthen His people and enable them to be true to the soon-coming Sovereign, He committed that communication to Jesus Christ, the ascended Man. His role, as Son of God and Son of Man is to communicate. As His God and Father, God’s role is to determine what, when, and how to communicate.

D. Oliver