Editor’s Note: John Wylie is the pastor of Springer Missionary Baptist Church in Springer, OK, and a frequent commenter here at Voices. I am on the road today (technically on vacation, though I actually did a lot of work while my wife drove yesterday – and a little while I did, but we won’t talk about that). I won’t be around to moderate comments on a topic that often becomes pretty snippy! So, play nice boys and girls. If things get out of hand, my only recourse will be the dreaded “close comments” option!
I would like to say that first of all this article will not be nearly as scholarly as Dave Miller’s was in 2011. In fact, I started to ask him to simply re-post that article. The only thing I can ask is that people not compare the two articles. The doctrine known as the Eternal Subordination of the Son is the idea that in the eternal age after all things are subdued unto Himself Christ will hand over the kingdom and subordinate Himself to the Father. The Biblical impetus for this is found in 1 Corinthians 15:24-2
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. (25) For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. (26) The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (27) For “HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. (28) Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
This seems to be a very straightforward text to me, that says that in our present time and in the future everything will be brought into subjection to Christ. Then, when all things are subdued, Christ will hand over that kingdom to the Father and even subject Himself to the Father.
There are two basic groups that I have encountered that take exception to ESS. First, there are those who believe that this doctrine erodes the coequal status of the Father and the Son and that it somehow implies that the Father and the Son have two different wills. Secondly, there are those who are egalitarians who have an aversion to anything that smacks of a hierarchy or submission.
This word subject in the text is the Greek word transliterated hupotasso? and according to Thayer’s lexicon the word means the following:
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one’s self, obey
4) to submit to one’s control
5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject
Some of the various ways this word is translated in the Bible are subject, submit, subdue, obedient, and even the word under is used. The meaning is very clear. Ancient translations and modern translations translated this word that way.
I think that the first mistake that is made here is the idea that submission makes one less than. The scriptures are clear that in His incarnation, and His offering of Himself, Christ submitted Himself. (Phil. 2:5-8, Luke 22:42) Does anyone reading this article believe that in His incarnation and death He was ever anything less than the King of Glory? Was He not equal with the Father? Or let’s put it this way, do we believe that an employee who submits themselves to their supervisor is less in value to their supervisor? The very idea that submission is bad, and makes a person less is nothing more than a worldly view. The Bible makes it plain that the path to exaltation is found on the path of subjection. (1 Peter 5:6) I do not believe and wholesale reject the very notion that Christ bringing Himself under the Father makes Him less than God. Further, the idea that submission means that there is a separate will involved here is also errant. Do we only submit to those we disagree with?
In the end, I believe that ESS is true because I believe that this very clear text teaches that very thing. Those who have concerns about the implications of ESS to the doctrine of the trinity have my respect and understanding, but those who have an ulterior motive of advancing egalitarian doctrine, and who despise every idea of submission and obedience do not.