Good day sister D
i was having a chat with a friend of mine about the trinity and he brought up Phil 2:6 and John 5:18. He said that he does not believe that the son and father are equal with authority but they are in form (deity).
How do you argue about the trinity doctrine with those scriptures in mind
It seems that your friend believes that although the father and son are equal in "form", they are not equal in authority.
It also seems (please correct me if I am wrong), that you believe that perhaps the father and son are not equal in "form".
First we must define the Bible's definition of "form".
It seems reasonable to me, that I will first do a scriptural examination of the verses that come to mind in addition to the ones you site... and as a priority, come to an understanding of how the form of Christ compares to the form of God the Father.
Understanding these things is so that we are equipped to defend our scriptural faith when we are sincerely asked.
If you would like to read this response with pop-up scriptures, you can click here:
It is important that we do not take John5:18 out of context. If we do, it cannot be accurately understood.
"17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
Lets start with verse 17...
"But Jesus answered them, 'My Father has been working until now, and I have been working'".
Here Jesus refers to God as his Father.
He stated the working of God and himself, in response to an objection to his working.
John5:16 shows us that Jesus seemed to defy the law of the Sabbath. This undermined the authority of the religious leaders whom he was speaking to. As a result, "the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought
to kill Him".
When we "seek"
something, we are eager to find it.
The Pharisees wanted to find a basis to kill Jesus.
They could not kill Jesus and make it appear just, simply because he defied the Sabbath, since Jesus accurately referred to David and the priests breaking such laws, and yet these were not condemned for it (Matt.12:2,3,4,5).
What did it mean to call God his Father? Did this mean that Jesus was himself
claiming equality with God? Was this really a just and accurate basis to accuse Jesus of this claim? Did it make him guilty of blasphemy and deserving of death?
Well, consider what this same hypocritical group themselves said, at John8:41 B...
"Then they said to Jesus, 'We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.'”.
Did this mean that the Pharisees were saying they were equal to God?
No, but rather they claimed they were obedient children of God who strove to imitate Him (1Pet.1:14,15,16; Eph.5:1; Luke3:38).
It was the perverted justice of the Pharisees that twisted Christ's words at John5:17, into two false
charges of which they could accuse him (John5:18)... that of breaking the sabbath, and of claiming equality with God. In fact, Jesus did neither. (Matt.12:2,3,4,5,6,8; John14:28).
In fact, if we finish examining the context, Jesus himself tried to correct this misunderstanding which resulted from claiming God as his Father.
See the next verse...John5:19...
"Then Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.'"
Neither the scriptures nor Christ himself said that he was equal to God. In fact, he corrected their twisting of his words, by declaring that he was an obedient slave of God (just as they
claimed to be)...unable to do anything without his Father's guidance. (John5:19)
John5:16 simply conveys the rationalizing of the Pharisees
, which according to John8:41 B, was complete hypocrisy on their part.
So when we read John5:18, we should understand from the context, that Jesus was not declaring himself equal to God
, but rather;
this verse conveys to us the fabrication of the Jews, as they sought a basis to charge and kill Jesus.
In claiming God as Father, the true meaning behind these words of Christ is only enforced by your other cited scripture and it's context....
"5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not deem himself worthy of snatching equality with God, 7 but emptied Himself and took the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of humans. 8 And being found himself in human design, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of impalement."
What is "the form of God"?
John4:24 tells us...
"God is Spirit
, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Was the "Word" spirit (John1:1)? Yes. It was not until he "became flesh" (John1:14) and "took the form of men" that he "emptied himself" of being this great spirit being.
The Bible teaches us that all things were made according to their own kind. All seeds grow into the kind from which they came.(Gen.1:11,12,21,24,25).
When it came to the creation of Adam, (Gen.1:26,27; Luke3:38) this man who was originally perfect and without sin, was declared to be created in the image of God.
This could not be a physical resemblance, because we know that God is a spirit. Perfect men therefore, are in God's spiritual
Does this mean that we must be equal to God?
No. So we see that a spiritual resemblance
is not necessarily spiritual equality.
A resemblance is a likeness, but the same form is the same substance.
Neither necessarily means equality.
A half glass of water is the same substance as a lake.
A child can share a likeness with his father.
If we were Adam, and we knew we had been made in God's image,
would we assume we were equal to God?
Let's return to Phil.2:5,6...
"5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not deem himself worthy of snatching equality with God
If we were to compare the various "forms" found in God's creation, we can illustrate this.
There was the form of plant-life, the form of birds, the form of fish, the form of animals, and the form of mankind.
Does a new-born human child exists in the form of a plant, a bird, a fish, a cat or other animal?
No. He exists in the form of his father. Does this necessitate that he is in all ways, equal to his father?
The "Word" existed in God's form. Both are spirit. But of all spirits, the "Word" bore the closest resemblance to the Father, because he directly came from God as God's only-begotten son (John3:16; 1:14,18). The rest of living creation came through
this only-begotten Son (John1:3,10; Col.1:16; Heb.1:2) at God's command (Heb.11:3; Gen.1:26).
This can compare to an only son of a man, who then takes the life his father gave him, and proceeds to have his own sons who are like grandchildren to the first father. The first son most closely resembles the first father. Yet the first son could not have children, if it were not for the power of life he received from his own father.
a son bears the form of his father. This is even true of faithful Chosen (Rom.8:14; Matt.5:44,45,48; Rom.8:14,15,16,17,18,19,23; 9:8,26; John1:12; Gal.3:26) once they are sealed as sons of God, and unseen to human eyes
, become born as spirit (Rom.8:9,11; 7:5; 5:24; 1Pet.1:23; 1Cor.15:50). If the faithful chosen who walk according to the spirit of God, are then considered His sons, does this also make them equal to God?
once sealed, they will exist "in God's form" of spirit
But they, like Christ, are obedient slaves
of God (Heb.5:8; Rom.6:17,18; Rev.7:3,4; 22:3,4; 1Cor.15:27,28). Like Christ, they can possess flesh along with spirit (1Pet.3:18; 1Cor.15:4,5,6,7,8; Acts1:3)
"A slave is not greater than his master" (Matt.10:24). We can only strive to learn to be like
our Master (Luke6:40). Even those who accomplish this (1Cor.2:16), will still be ruled over by that Master (Rev.19:16; 1:5,6; Phil.2:9,10,11).
So although Christ existed in both...
the form of God, and the form of mankind,
this comparison has nothing to do with an actual equality with either.
God is eternally and unchangeably Almighty God (James1:17; Psalm90:2; Mal.3:6 A).
Not so with Christ (Phil.2:7).
So when your friend says that God and Christ are "equal in form"...
this is both right and wrong.
Yes, the "Word", and the glorified Christ share the same spirit form
as God, but they are not equal spirits
. But your friend is also correct...that this does not mean that they have the same authority, because even after all things are made subject to Christ, God is not made subject to Christ, but rather, Christ remains subject to God. (1Cor.15:27,28)
Even the perfect "Son of (perfect) man" Jesus (like Adam), resembled God (1Cor.15:45; Dan.7:13; Matt.12:8; Col.2:9,10), and yet just as he himself stated, he was not equal to God (John10:29; 14:28).
Just as a son can exist in his father's form
(as is the case with Christ and the 144000) (spirit)
this does not include equality.
Regarding the "deity" of Christ...
If you are thinking that Christ should not be worshiped, and therefore does not share this sort of deity with God, this link may prove of interest:
I hope that both contexts...
that of the surrounding verses,
and that of the Bible,
helps to clarify the proper and accurate application of your two cited scriptures.
I also hope that it prepares you to reply to the question of your friend,
so that you can give him a scriptural basis for your faith.
Love in Christ,