Lv 5

Does John 14:28 actually prove that Jesus is not equal to the Father?

"You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." -- John 14:28

Does John 14:28 prove Jesus is less in nature than that the Father? Does this prove Jesus is not God? What does this term "greater" mean? How is it used? The word "greater" refers to office or position, not nature or essence! God is God because of His nature (Galatians 4:8). John 14:28 tells us that the Father has a "greater" office or position than Christ does. This is how the word "greater" is used as clearly seen in Genesis 41:40, which reads,

"You [Joseph] shall be over my [Pharaoh] house, and all my [Pharaoh] people shall order themselves as you [Joseph] command. Only as regards the throne will I [Pharaoh] be greater than you [Joseph].”

Pharaoh was "greater" than Joseph only by office or position, but not by nature. The nature of Pharaoh and Joseph were the same, that is, they are both human beings. Similarly, the president of the United States is "greater" than we are, as far as office or position is concerned, but certainly not by nature! Compare the usage of “meizon” (“greater”) in John 14:28 with the term “kreitton” (“better”) in Hebrews 1:4. You’ll notice, “kreitton” is used as a descriptive term of quality. Christ was qualitatively better than the angels (Hebrews 1:4). Likewise, “meizon” is used to describe the Father being “greater” in terms of position. John 14:28 does not say that the Father is qualitatively better, or qualitatively greater than the Jesus. As Dr. Walter Martin wrote in regards to Christ, “Since His intrinsic Nature is that of deity (John 8:58, compare Colossians 2:9), therefore qualitatively He was God manifest in the flesh, while quantitatively speaking He was limited as a man and could in all truthfulness state 'My Father is greater than I.’”

A great example of this is shown in John 13:16, a text often times cited by anti-Trinitarians, where, ironically, the same term ("meizon," "greater") is used. I say ironically, because John 13:16 is an excellent passage that can be used to portray that it is only by position/office that the Father is greater than the Son. Jesus uses the same word to describe His position of office. He says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him." A slave, in terms of office, is not positionally greater than his/her master. Likewise, the One sent is not greater than the One whom sent Him in terms of office/position.


*For those answering, be sure to read what I actually wrote.

Update 2:

Bar_Enosh, notice Jesus not say that the Father was greater qualitatively, as "greater," or "better" ("kreitton") is used in Hebrews 1:4.

You say that I took what Jesus had said in John 14 out of context; however, I argue quite the opposite. To get the full context, John 13 doesn't just end at v. 38, which says, "Then Jesus answered, 'Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!'" No, it continues into John 14, where we catch Jesus right in the middle of the conversation, where Jesus is telling His disciples where He is going, and why they can not follow, apart of the exact same conversation being had in John 13. How is this a different context?

Jesus had said in John 14:24, "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the [Father's who sent Me]." Yet that same Jesus said in John 13:16, "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his maste

Update 3:

...master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him." And it is in this sense that John 14:28 was understood by Origen, Jerome, Novatian, and Vigilius, who read the text thus: The Father, ὁ πεμψας, who sent me, is greater than I. Quite simple to see, no sophistication required.

Update 4:

This would be different if John 14 opened with a different scenery, but that's not what we have. We have Jesus speaking to the same group of people He was speaking to in John 13, holding the exact same topic of conversation.

22 Answers

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    It is critical to recognize that in John 14:28, Jesus is not speaking about His nature or His essential being. Christ had earlier said, “I and the Father are one,” in this regard, see John 10:30, but rather about His lowly position in the incarnation. The Athanasian Creed affirms that Christ is “equal to the Father as touching His Godhood and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.” In his commentary ‘Exposition of the Gospel of John,’ Arthur W. Pink relates Christ’s statement that the Father was ‘greater’ than Him to the great humiliation Christ suffered in becoming a man:

    “In becoming incarnate and tabernacling among men, [Christ] had greatly humiliated Himself, by choosing to descend into shame and suffering in their acutest forms… In this view, Christ was now contrasting His situation with that if the Father in the heavenly Sanctuary. The Father was seated upon the throne of highest majesty; the brightness of His glory was uneclipsed; He was surrounded by hosts of holy beings, who worshiped Him with uninterrupted praise. Far different was it with His incarnate Son, despised and rejected of men, surrounded by implacable enemies, soon to be nailed to a criminal’s cross.”

    Now, it is important to note the distinction between Greek words for ‘greater, ‘meizon,’ and ‘better,’ kreitton.’ Jesus specifically said, “The Father is greater than I,” not, “The Father is better than I.” The word ‘greater’ is used to point to the Father’s greater position, in heaven, not a greater nature. Had the word ‘better’ been used, however, this would indicate that the Father has a better nature than Jesus. This distinction is made clear in Hebrews 1:4, where ‘better’ is used in regard to Jesus’ superiority over the angels. The word ‘better’ in this verse indicates that Jesus is not just higher than the angels positionally; rather, He is higher than the angels in His very nature. Jesus is different, better, in kind and in nature from the angels.

    This distinction between ‘greater’ and ‘better’ can be illustrated in the president of the United States. The president is in high position than the rest of us. Therefore, the president is greater, ‘meizon,’ than the rest of us. However, he is still just a human being, and thus he is not better, ‘kreitton,’ than the rest of us. Notice that Jesus never used the word ‘better’ regarding His relationship with the Father. Rather, Jesus used a word, ‘greater,’ that points to the Father being higher in position only. During the time of the incarnation, Jesus functioned in the world of humanity, and this necessitated Jesus being lower than the Father positionally.

    Is the president of the United States intrinsically better than us by nature, or is it more correct to say that his position is greater than ours? In view of the distinction between Greek words for ‘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 higher position and not nature?

    Source(s): Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 1993. 146-47. Print.
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  • 4 years ago

    John 14 28

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  • 10 years ago

    "Does John 14:28 actually prove that Jesus is not equal to the Father?"

    No. I don't think any one scripture "proves" anything. That's how people get in trouble in the first place, hanging their doctrines on just a few scriptures, and not taking the rest of the Bible into consideration. However, I think John 14:28 better fits better with a non-Trinitarian understanding than with a Trinitarian understanding. After all, Trinitarian doctrine states that all members of the Trinity are "co-equal." And - as your yourself have pointed out - they interpret John 1:1c to meant that the Word shares "all the qualities" of the Father. If *ALL* qualities are shared and they are co-equal, then the Father couldn't be greater than the Son.

    "Pharaoh was "greater" than Joseph only by office or position, but not by nature."

    Right, but they're not the same being, are they? So your analogy fails.

    I agree with Bar_enosh: Trinitarian philosophizing is appealed to to make sense of this verse ("Three persons, one being," essence and nature, etc). That is, words and concepts not found in the Bible but in the later writings of Christian philosophers are used.

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  • pappyg
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    No, when Jesus was upon this earth the Father was greater then He, But not know, He sits a His right hand on David's throne also to many other scriptures say He was/is equal.

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  • 10 years ago

    Peace be unto you. These verses may prove otherwise:

    John 10:29

    My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.

    Here, Jesus (peace be upon him) says that God the Father is greater than all, including himself and the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot be three different persons that are equally God, because the son says that the Father is greater than the other two. 

    Only- without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively

    John 17:3

    Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

    Jesus calls the Father the only (without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively) TRUE God. Therefore, the Father is alone, solely and exclusively God, because with others or anyone further, it is not the TRUE God.

    Many people who believe Jesus is God or even the son of God, did not have the Old Testament as their basis for the true nature of God. Please read from the Old Testament:

    Isaiah 43:11

    11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

    Isaiah 45:22

     "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

    Isaiah 42:8

    "I am the lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.

    Isaiah 45:5 

    I am the lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

    Numbers 23:19

    God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

    Deuteronomy 6:4

    Hear, O Israel: The lord our God, the lord is one.

    Malachi 3:6

    "I the lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

    As you can see, God clearly says there is no savior beside Him, apart from Him (He says "Me" and not us) there is no god, He will not give His Glory to another. And this is a couple thousand years before anyone in the world has even heard the name Jesus. And God even says that He does not change! Therefore, the True God could not have a son, nor have partners, nor could He be a man, and the Lord thy God is one.

    Jesus reassures us of this last point.

    Mark 12:29-30

    29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

    How can one love God alone with all their heart, soul, mind and strength when they love Jesus just as much? I most certainly love Jesus, as I am even named after him, but I love God infinitely more. May God continue to guide us all to the 'Straight Path.' Peace be unto you and the blessings of God.

    Source(s): [2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the Sabeans; anyone who believes in GOD, and the Last Day, and leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. There is no God except Allah.
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  • You are merely philosophizing and comparing apples to oranges, taking verses out of context to apply to other contexts.

    Is it really that hard for Trinitarians to accept what Jesus clearly said for what it is?

    Jesus did not say "the Father is greater in office and position than I am." That's Trinitarian eisegesis.

    Jesus says nothing about essence or nature. Those are Trinitarian distinctions that are not found on Jesus' lips.

    Jesus said, "The Father is greater than I."

    The truth may be inconvenient to those who hold a different belief, but it is still the truth.

    Source(s): The HOLY Bible
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  • 10 years ago

    I agree. "Greater means greater position", not better or even different

    Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. seems to imply the opposite.

    The Lamb will eventually be in the throne of God Rev 22:3

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  • 5 years ago

    No, it does not. The fact that our Lord has a God does indeed prove it.

    Hebrews 1:9

    Ephesians 1

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  • 10 years ago

    Clint, please understand. The Lord Jesus "Lowered Himself from His Deity and became like us by His own will. In this short period of 33.5 years He was 1) Human 2) Divine. He can say (according to His humanity that (My father is greater than me) and He also can say "That all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father" John 5:23

    "Who being in the form of God ...But He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant" Phil 2:6-7

    Source(s): Gospel
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  • 10 years ago

    John 20:17 will tell you exactly what kind of greater Jesus was talking about. It says "I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God.

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