“The Father is Greater Than I”

Originally posted 10/5/2006.

Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I” [Jn 14:28]. This has two meanings. It means that the Son is less than the Father in His humanity, as the brilliant (and my favorite) theologian St. Thomas Aquinas shows.{1} The great saint observes that the Son is subject to the Father by reason of His humbling kenosis, according to 1 Cor 15:28: “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son also Himself shall be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”{2} Additionally, the Son said His Father is greater than Him because the Son proceeds from the Father, and the Father does not proceed from the Son.{3}

But the Father is not “better” than the Son. They are co-equal in power, wisdom, justice, simplicity, impassibility, etc.; the Son is eternally equal to the Father in natural greatness.{4} How is this true? Equality is a measure of greatness, greatness in God is the perfection of nature, greatness is essential to God, and therefore there is equality in God.{5} The Father and Son have the same essence and dignity, and this dignity is expressed as the relation of giver by the Father and the relation of receiver by the Son.{6} The whole perfection of the divine nature exists in each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity; ergo, the sum of the four relations in God is not greater than any one relation, nor are all the persons together greater than any one person.{7}

Notes & References
{1} Aquinas, St. Thomas. Summa Theologica I, q. 42, art. 4, ad 1.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid..
{4} Ibid., ad 2.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.
{7} Ibid., ad 3.

One Response to “The Father is Greater Than I”

  1. […] impleretur: Omnia recta sunt prudentibus et plana invenientibus scientiam. Protinus illud, Pater major me est, quoniam multum quodammodo conferre poterat lis [?] qui Filium Patris dignitate inferiorem […]

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