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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

John 5:23 - "That all may honor the Son JUST AS [kathos] they honor the Father." - NIV

Jn 5:23 - "That all may honor the Son JUST AS [kathos] they honor the Father."  - NIV
     Some trinitarians insist that if we honor the Son just as we honor the only true God (in the person of the Father), then we are honoring him as God!  However, kathos simply does not have to mean "exactly equal" as these trinitarians want us to believe.  Therefore John 5:23 does not have to mean that the honor given to the Son has to be exactly equal in quantity and quality as that given to the Father. 
     For example, 
"just as [kathos] Moses lifted up the [copper] serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up" - John 3:14, NRSV
     These two events are hardly exactly equal.  There is a degree of similarity only.  Just as there was  a "lifting up" in one part of the comparison, there was also  a "lifting up" (of a different kind and to a different degree) in the other part.  We know Moses didn't lift up a timber as large and heavy as the one Jesus died on.  We know he didn't swing it up and anchor one end in a hole in the ground until the copper serpent died a horrible death.  We know that the one act was much more important than the other in all respects.  It was a similar act only in a certain respect and to a certain degree.
     And examine Luke 11:30,
"Just as [kathos] Jonah became a sign to the people of Ninevah, so the Son of man will be to this generation," - NRSV
     This does not mean the two signs are equal either literally or figuratively.  The details of the sign to the Ninevites were very different from the sign of Jesus' death and resurrection.  The degree of importance of the sign of Jonah was much less than that of Jesus!
     And John 17:16,
"[Jesus followers] are not of the world, just as [kathos] I am not of the world." -  NKJV
     It would be foolish to insist that, in every aspect of the phrase, Jesus' followers were not of the world precisely as he was not.  We could, in such a case, end up `proving' that Jesus' followers had been created in heaven as spirit persons before all the rest of creation, just as he had been.  (Or for trinitarians, that they had always existed as God Himself from all eternity.)
     It seems evident from context alone that kathos, as used by Jesus in all the above examples at least, merely means that one event or circumstance is just as certain as the other event:
     (1) "Just as certainly as Moses lifted up the copper serpent in the desert, so must the 
             Son of man be lifted up."
     (2) "Just as surely as Jonah became a sign ..., so the Son of man will be to this 
     (3) "[Jesus' followers] are not of the world, just as surely as I am not of the world."
     (4) "That all may honor the Son just as surely as they also honor the Father."
     There are many such examples (e.g., Jn 13:15; 17:18; 1 Jn 4:17 ["like" in NIV]).  They also illustrate the fact that the honor of the Son may be of a lesser degree and/or kind than that of the Father in spite of "just as" [kathos] at John 5:23.
(There is another word that can mean "as," "just as," "equal to," etc.  That is ὡς - see Thayer, # 5613, [2. c.].   At Matt. 5:48 we read: "You  [true worshipers of God] must therefore be perfect, just as (ὡς)  your heavenly father is perfect." - NJB.  But  God (and only God) is absolutely perfect.  So what happens when you apply the same type of trinitarian reasoning as above to this scripture?  - -  The same thing happens if you insist on interpreting kathos at John 17:18 with the "exactly equal" understanding:  Jesus' followers, in that case, were spirit creatures in heaven before the creation of the earth [and equally God, trinitarians would be forced to say], and Jesus sent them to earth to assume fleshly bodies and to die sacrificial deaths to ransom all of mankind!  Surely such an interpretation of kathos in this scripture is unacceptable to Christians!)
     Another interpretation for Jn 5:23 for those who will not acknowledge the truth of the above grammatical and contextual evidence, but insist on an "absolute equality of honor" interpretation: 
     Just as an official representative or ambassador sent from a king was to be treated by the king's subjects with the same honor as the king himself (when the ambassador was acting in his official capacity) in those times, so Jesus (sent by God himself) was to be given the same honor in his capacity as God's appointed judge as God himself would expect.  Although the honor actually due the individual ambassador in his own right may have been very little (if any), when he was representing the king, the honor given to him was considered to be actually given through this representative to the king himself!  Honoring Jesus' judgments would be honoring the one who sent him.  "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." - Jn 5:23.


Nick Batchelor said...

We are to honor God and also honor our parents. If we dishonor our parents we dishonor God. This does not mean that we honor them to the same degree. We honor God and Christ but it only makes sense that more honor would be given to the "Most High" Jehovah. (Psalms 83:18)

Nick from Florence, Italy

Saga said...

JOHN 17:22

22 Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.

---Saga Oliveira - RJ/Brasil----

Timitrius said...

John 17:23 is a very interesting parallel to John 5:23:

"that all may honor the Son JUST AS (kathws) they honor the Father" (5:23, NIV)
"Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them EVEN AS (kathws) you have loved me." (17:23, NIV)

It's unreasonable to believe that Christians are to love God to EXACTLY the same extent as God loved Jesus as this would be impossible.

As John Gill notes on this verse:

"The nature of this love is such as that he bears to Christ; it is from everlasting; a love of the utmost delight and pleasure; it is special and peculiar, unchangeable, and will continue for ever: there is not the same reason for his loving them as his Son; and this as must NOT be thought to denote EQUALITY, but SIMILITUDE and ORDER."

He also notes regarding Ephesians 5:2:

"as Christ also hath loved us;
with a love exceeding great and strong, which is wonderful, inconceivable, and unparalleled; and even as the Father has loved him; with a love that is free and sovereign, unchangeable and everlasting, of which he has given many instances; and a principal one is hereafter mentioned: the "as" here is a note of SIMILITUDE, NOT of EQUALITY; for it cannot be thought that the saints should love God, or Christ, or one another, with a love EQUAL to Christ's love to them"

And 1 John 3:3:

"purifieth himself even as he is pure...this "as" is only expressive of some degree of LIKENESS and SIMILITUDE, and NOT PERFECT EQUALITY,"

Yet as a Trinitarian he predictably says that in John 5:23 it DOES mean equality.