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


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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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