Answering Biblical ‘Contradictions’: Was Jesus Equal to or Subservient to the Father?

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Skeptic’s Claim:

The God of the Bible claims contradicting attributes: Jesus is subservient to the Father, Jesus is equal to the Father.

My Response:

My son is obedient to his father, but is he not equal to me in his humanity? Are you not just as much of a person as your boss? Jesus obeyed His Father, but they are equals in their divinity. No contradiction.

The Skeptic:

That means that you have to read John 10:30 as “I and my Father are one [, but only in certain ways]” instead of simply “I and my Father are one”.

Did the Father beget Jesus? Then was there a time before Jesus was begotten when he didn’t exist? According to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD; and the Word was GOD.” And according to John 1:14, Jesus is the Word. But according to the earliest manuscripts of Mark 9:7, the Father says of Jesus: “Today I have begotten you”.

One who always existed would have a different nature than one that did not always exist.

My Response:

Reading John 10:30 to understand that Jesus was like God in every way except some obvious differences is the logical way to read it. Jesus was God in human form, which was one obvious difference that He wouldn’t have had to point out to those He was speaking to. His obedience to the Father was another distinction as well as His unique role while on earth, but His oneness with God the Father was the point He was making. There’s no reason to believe that Jesus meant there were no distinctions whatsoever between Himself and the Father simply because He doesn’t mention them in John 10:30.

Mark 9:7 actually doesn’t include “Today I have begotten you.” It does appear in Hebrews 1:5 as a quotation of Psalm 2:7, which is a Messianic prophesy. In terms of God’s relationship with the Son, begotten is a description of the relationship, not of actual birth. “Today” refers to a time when the Son was revealed and presented to the world.

The term “only begotten” occurs 6 times in the New Testament (monogenes, Strong’s #G3439) in reference to this Father-Son relationship. This doesn’t refer to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem because He is the Son from eternity past. The emphasis is on the Father-Son sameness, not of live birth. Christians are said to be “born” or “begotten” of God in a spiritual sense (ie. 1 John 3:9), obviously not a physical re-birth.

This is from the Nicene Creed:

“And [we believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father … .”

Jesus was “begotten, not made” because He has the same nature as God the Father, vs. something you ‘make’ or ‘create’ (cake, art, a house) that doesn’t necessarily have your nature.

To show a contradiction, you need to show more than a copyist error in the form of a misspelling, numerical error, exclusion of a letter or word here and there (which comprise the total <1% portion of early manuscripts that don’t agree) that does nothing to alter meaning. Or you need to show competing doctrines that can’t be reconciled by a straightforward reading with consideration of context and original language—the same method used when reading and understanding anything else.

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