November 22, 2017

Order in the Home and in the Godhead, (2)

David Potter

This is part two of two • Part One

In a previous post, I discussed the analogy between the position of the husband in a marriage and the position of the Father in relation to the Son in the godhead. Paul invokes this comparison in I Corinthians 11:3. In the earlier post I discussed the temporary relationships between Father and Son involved in the carrying out of God’s plan of creation and redemption. In this post I want to extend the comparison to the eternal relationships. Please don’t get bogged down in the theological details, because the conclusion is both important and intensely practical.

I want to look at the eternal relationships from three angles. All three are biblically based, but the first is also philosophical and the second is logical, while the third is more directly exegetical.

Eternal generation

At least since the Council of Nicaea, Christians have used the concept of eternal generation to understand the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Some of the exegesis used to support this concept is suspect, but the concept works philosophically. The Father generates the Son. How else could we describe them as Father and Son? This generation cannot have a beginning, because the Son is co-eternal with the Father.[1]


This ideas is quite philosophical, so let us move on to the logical angle. Would God tell us so little about Himself that we have no clue as to the eternal relationships within the godhead? If we assign all the scripture about the submission of the Son to the Father and the sending of the Son and the Spirit to temporal relationships, what information do we have about the eternal relationships? Does God want to keep the internal workings of the Trinity a secret?

I am suggesting here that the temporary relationships tell us something about the eternal relationships. Are the members of the godhead interchangeable? For example, is there something in the personality of the Son that suits Him particularly to be the Revealer? He is the eternal Word (John 1:1). John seems to think that this aspect of His personality qualifies Him to reveal the Father (John 1:18).

First Corinthians 15:28

The third angle is direct exegesis. First Corinthians 15:23-28 tells us about the future rule of Christ. In verse 27, Paul says that God has “put all things under [Christ’s] feet.” The obvious exception is that the Father did not subject Himself to the Son. Then in verse 28, “the Son shall also himself be subject (hypotasso) unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” When I was in seminary, my theology professor taught us that the subjection of the Son after the subjection of all things was a temporary arrangement and that following this all the members of the godhead would be absolutely equal as was true in eternity past. Nothing in the verse or in the context would suggest that conclusion.

Does this mean that the Son is subordinate to the Father? God is not subordinate to anyone. Otherwise He is not God. If the Son is God, He is not subordinate. Are subordinate and submitted the same thing?

Here we should again consider the idea of taxis, or order, in the Trinity. Leadership is a role, not a status. Leaders are not superior by nature of their role. Much of the conflict in marriage would disappear if we concentrated on our roles.

If you have read this far, you probably agree with me that the Scripture clearly puts men in the role of leadership, Evangelical Feminists to the contrary. What Fundamentalist men need to consider is that leadership is not the same thing as superiority. Just as the Son is equal in status with the Father, so the wife is equal in status with her husband. Since she is your equal, you should treat her like your equal, while providing leadership at the same time.

Author’s note: I am indebted to Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, In Scripture, History, Theology and Worship, 2004, for many of the ideas in this post.

David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.

  1. When extended to the Spirit, the concept becomes eternal procession or eternal spiration. []

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