How can there be subordination in the Trinity?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
 It may sound strange to speak of subordination within the Trinity. After all, Jesus and the Father are "one" (John 10:30). Subordination makes us think of a lower rank or a subservient position. T...

July 01 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
There is some aspect of subordination in the Trinity to the extent that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit subordinate their will to God the Father in order to accomplish God's divine purposes. 

First it is the clear deduction of Scripture that the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity share full and equal divinity with one another and are in full communion and accord with each other. Neither is greater or lesser than the other. They are all united in will and purpose and eternally co-exist. In John 17:5 Jesus reveals his eternal co-existence with God the Father when He prayed, "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." This is a scripture which the Jehovah Witnesses would loathe because it contradicts their unscriptural view of Christ. 

Now to address the question of voluntary subordination. Philippians 2:5-9 teaches, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." This is one of the most vivid illustration of subordination in the Trinity.

We learn from the above passage that Jesus voluntarily subordinated or submitted Himself to God the Father in order to accomplish the divine works of Calvary. In so doing He exercised total obedience to the Father and set aside His heavenly glory and took on human flesh so that He could die for our sins on the Cross. God later reinstates Him to the same position of glory that he occupied before He came to earth as God incarnate. However, Jesus never lost His divinity in His humanity.

His earthly mission was not theologically possible without some form of subordination. Jesus declares "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). God sent Him on behalf of the Godhead to accomplish what was humanly impossible to achieve by any other means. 

Similarly, the Holy Spirit voluntarily subordinates Himself to God the Father and God the Son. Jesus declares in John 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." Here we notice that the Holy Spirit does the bidding of both the Son and the Father. He is sent of Christ and proceeds from the Father. This also reveals the union and unity of purpose in the Trinity. 

The Spirit also conveys the will of Jesus to the churches. He reveals His truth to the believers and is their spiritual companion and guide in their journey of faith, even in trials (John 16:7-15). More specifically Jesus shows that the Holy Spirit is His divine agent. He teaches of the Holy Spirit saying "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16:14). The address to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2, is conveyed by the Holy Spirit yet this message is from Christ. 

I agree with Michael Houdman that the Biblical subordination order is never in the reverse so that the Spirit or the Son send the Father. This is more of a divine order that God in His infinite wisdom has permitted. It does not in any way suggest that God the Father is greater or more divinely superior than God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. The three are One in essence, in nature and purpose.

March 14 2015 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shantkumar S. Kunjam An Indian, Mennonite Church, Pastor, Administrator, Bishop,
I completely endorse S. Michael Houdmann's answer. Any way I would like to add these few things.

There in the Bible we find a kind of greater respect for the ones who have taken subordinate position.

In Ps. 56:4,10 there is greater respect for the Word of God by the psalmist, and this respect is by the help of God Himself. In Ps. 138:2 it is addressed to God that He has magnified the Word more than His great Name. In Is. 42:21 the LORD Himself has exalted His law, the Word of God. All this because God's righteousness depends on the Word of God.

The same way the Son has given greater respect to the Holy Spirit when He said that sin against the Son could be forgiven but the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be ever forgiven (Mt. 12:32).

As far the Seven Spirits before the throne of God (Rev. 4:5) is concerned (See Snyder's question/comment), the number seven seams to be symbolic. In Revelation 1:4 in the greetings to the seven Churches by the Triune God, the seven spirits seams like a name of the Holy Spirit. There is one Holy Spirit but there is a plurality of seven in Him. The same is true for God in O.T. There is one God Elohim, bout this word Elohim is plural gods. It does not mean that there are many gods in O. T. God. It possibly only means that there is plurality of godness in O.T. God. Another name for the Holy Spirit seams to be Seven Eyes (Zezc. 3:9), stone here is possibly referring to Jesus Christ. So let us not be confused with this Seven Spirit name. It describes the Holy Spirit as God and Jesus are described in 1:4-5 in different ways.

January 26 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Andre Watson Watson
Would collaboration within the trinity be considered heresy? Why or why not?
It is often difficult to use human terms to explain divine operations. I see the three agreeing as one, as more of collaboration and/or coordination versus subordination. 

Now, there are references where one is subject or submits, to one or both of the other two, but in no way establishes a lesser and greater paradigm. What is established, is the role being portrayed, at that time,as needed.

The three, still agree. Creator Father agrees with Creator-Mediator Son agrees with Creator Generator Holy Spirit. IMHO. That's my 02.

January 08 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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