Does Someone Have to Be in Charge? (Part 4)

Kristen, who comments here frequently, has put together two articles on “biblical” authority. Here is the premise in her own words:

God cannot be found in the Bible to be setting up a “someone always has to be in charge” system of top-down human hierarchy.  Someone, in fact, does not always have to be in charge.  Sometimes it works just fine to have no one in charge, or a group of equals in charge.  It really depends on the circumstances.

The original articles by Kristen Rosser are at No Longer Qivering. I want to learn her information well, so I jotted down a simple outline of her study. Please browse the outline, then if your spirit it so led, go over to the full articles to read her extended insights. Posted with permission.

…it seems apparent that the notion of the Trinity as a hierarchy of authority between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a continuation of this notion of the Great Chain of Being into the Godhead Itself. But is this the way the Bible actually describes the submission of the Son to the Father?

1. Jesus temporarily laid down His equality with the Father to become a man. His exalted authority and glorious honor returned to Him after His resurrection.

a. Phil 2:6-9

i. He humbled himself to become a man and gave up his equality with God.

ii. Now, “God hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name.”

b. Heb 2:9

i. He was made a little lower than the angels…

ii. …so that he could taste death like all men.

iii. He is  “crowned with glory and honor.”

2. The very nature of the Trinity disproves the need for authority and submission.

 a. The three persons of the Godhead have the same will.

b. Submission is only necessary with there is a difference of will.

c. The only time the Divine Will differed was when Jesus, the man, questioned His Divine purpose.

i. Hebrews 5:8 says that Christ learned obedience through his suffering.

ii. Obedience was new to Jesus, hence He has to learn it, because the three wills were One in eternity past.

3. Divine Mutuality is evident even during the Incarnation.

a. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently [at once] give me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)

i. “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be [that the Christ must die]?”

ii. Jesus was positive the Father would follow Jesus’ will, but Jesus himself was choosing to follow the planned task.

b.  “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” (John 5:19)

i. Jesus sees the Father. The Father does not tell Jesus what to do.

ii. This aspect of triune divinity cannot be compared with human relationships. (Col 1:15, Heb 1:3)

c. God is the head (source or origin) of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3)

i. In context, this verse refers to origins.

ii. Christ is the title for the human and promised Messiah. Notice the verses say God is the head of Christ, not the Son.

iii. Christ, the human Messiah who is Jesus, originated in eternity with God.

iv. Through Christ, man was formed. Through  man, woman was formed.

v. All things come from God.

This passage is not setting up a hierarchy: God-Christ-man-woman— because it is not stated in that order; instead, it is given in chronological order according to when each came into the world: the man, created by and through Christ; then the woman, taken out of the man; then the Christ, sent by God.

4. There is a dynamic movement of authority between the  Father and the Son depending on time and circumstance.

a. “And when all things shall be subdued to him [the Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:28)

i. The context is looking ahead to the final resurrection when Christ shall deliver the Kingdom to the Father and all things are put under Christ’s feet, including death.

ii. Christ, a part of creation Himself, was given all authority over creation at the present time by the Father.

iii. When the end comes, Christ will hand it all over to the Father, who is outside creation and thus not under Christ’s authority.

iv. When the end comes, the Son (Christ) will be subject to the Father. This future subjection contradicts the notion the Son is always in submission to the Father.

v. Eph 1:21 states that God has put Christ above “every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the one to come.” This suggests the future subordination of Christ is a one time event closing the authority structure of this created world.

vi. Also,  since an article is added before God (the God) in verse 28 as opposed to God (the Father) in verse 24, there may be room for a different interpretation of meaning. “Accordingly, 1 Cor 15:28 . . . may be better translated, ‘so that the Godhead may be all in all.’” Phillip Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ.

b. The Trinity shares authority.

i. It makes sense that the Son would be in submission to the Father during His human incarnation, not in his eternal divine state.

ii. “We cannot, then, use the submission of the Son to the Father at certain times and events as an indication that the nature of the Godhead is a divine hierarchy.” KR

iii. To view the Trinity as a divine hierarchy, changes the very nature of the persons of the godhead. They can only be in subjection if their essence differed from each other. This difference would create 3 different gods instead of One.

Part five will conclude my outlining of Kristen’s articles. It will cover authority in marriage.

3 thoughts on “Does Someone Have to Be in Charge? (Part 4)

  1. Linda, to clarify: I never said the Father was at any time subject to the Son. I said that authority moves dynamically between the Father and the Son– but I am talking about authority over the Creation. It is the Creation that is under the authority of God, not members of the Godhead that are in authority over One Another. When the Son was made flesh and dwelt among us, He made Himself subject to the Father as all humans are subject to the Father. Then at the Resurrection, the Father gave all authority over the Creation to the Christ, the Son. The Son is currently in authority over the Creation; the Father has given that authority to the Son, but the Father is not under the Son’s authority. THat’s what I meant by a dynamic movement of authority– not that the Father and Son were in an authority/subordingate relationship and then switched Who was in charge of Who.


  2. “There is a dynamic movement of authority between the Father and the Son…”

    I don’t ever see in Scripture where the Father is subject to the Son. Even the verse that says the Son could call down angels to deliver Him doesn’t mean the will of the Father in the sacrificial death of the Son would have ceased; best-case scenario in the interpretation of the statement by Christ is that it may have been delayed some in time, though I feel Jesus was simply declaring His power through the Father’s will. The Son, after all, was “slain before the foundation of the world.” It was a done-deal.

    Don’t you think I Corinthians 15:27 is important for the flow of verse 28? The passage goes out of its way to emphasize that at NO time is the Father under the authority of the Son. Rather, verse 27 shows the ultimate authority – at all times – behind the work of the Son. I can appreciate your comments about the triune nature of God, and that, if one part is subject to the other part of the Trinity, then they seem to no longer be one God. However, isn’t that just the mystery of the Trinity and the incomprehensible doctrine of three-in-one deity?


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