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Doctrine of God - Questions Concerning the Trinity Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 03 February 2008

I.  Introduction:

 I want to spend our time together tonight simply wrestling with some of the questions that you might have concerning the doctrine of the Trinity.  I am thankful to Barry for laying out our understanding last week.  As you have considered the doctrine this week, you may have some questions about the implications of what we believe.  I want to do my best in answering some of those questions tonight.  Granted, as Barry noted, there are parts of this doctrine that are simply mysterious and beyond our understanding.  Yet, we do want to consider the text and try and understand as best we can what God has revealed to us in His Word.  Before we begin, I want to briefly discuss the issue of the subordination of roles within the Trinity because I think it will help us in answering many of our questions.

II.  Subordination of roles in the Trinity

 A.  Explanation: As Barry said last week, all the persons of the Trinity are equal and equally God.  Yet, there is a sense in which the Son is subordinate to the Father in the work of creation and our redemption.  We see this evidenced in certain passages.  Look at John 1:1-3.  Jesus was with the Father in the beginning and John says that the Word was God.  Yet, John also says that the world was made through him.  Thus, Jesus was the agent of creation, equal in essence but subordinate in role.  Consider Jesus’ prayer in the Garden.  He states: My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26:39, also Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42).  Jesus willingly submits to the will of the Father.  He obeys the Father in carrying out His plan of redemption, which will mean His death on the cross.  Thus, in this sense, He is subordinate to the Father in the work of our redemption, while being equal to Him as well.  Thus, Jesus is “equal in being, but subordinate in role.” 1

 B.  Analogy: This subordination of the Son is very similar to the biblical role of women in marriage.  Paul tells women to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22.  Now, is Paul saying that women are not equal to men in their person?  No, Paul is simply saying that their role in marriage is one of submission.  Thus, in the same way, Jesus, the Son, is equal to the Father in essence, but submits to Father’s plan of redemption.

 C.  Implications: This understanding can help us make sense of certain passages and answer certain questions.  We want to be clear that this in no way teaches that Jesus is somehow less God than the Father (another teaching that is often referred to as ‘subordinationism’). 2   No, both are equally God.  They simply play different roles and are therefore distinct persons, namely Father and Son.

III.  Questions?  
1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1994), p. 251.  Grudem does a good job explaining the idea of the subordination of roles within the Trinity.

2 Ibid., p. 245ff.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 February 2008 )

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