I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. This is how I would formulate this doctrine:

I believe in one God (ousia), who exists eternally in three persons (hypostasis) — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — all of whom are fully God, all of whom are equal.

Since there is only one God, one member of the Trinity, in his essence, cannot have more power, authority, or dignity than another. They all share in the exact same nature (ousia, ontos, “stuff”). I did not understand this until later in my Christian life. For many years I existed as a functional polytheist (a tritheist, to be technically precise). I believed the three members of the Trinity shared in a similar nature, not the exact same nature. In other words, just like you and I share in the nature of being homo sapiens, so the members of the Trinity are all from the “God species” . . . or something like that. But this is a bad analogy since, though you and I may be the same species, we are different in essence. You are you and I am me. I have my body and you have yours. But in the Trinity, all three persons share in the exact same essence. One in nature; three in person. One what; three whos.

Confused? Good. Anytime you have an “aha!” moment with regard to the Trinity, it is a good sign you have just entered into the world of heresy.

While I don’t believe there is an ontological hierarchy (gradation of essence, or all that stuff I said above), I do believe there can be a hierarchy in person. In other words, one member of the Trinity can take on a different rank than another. I think we can all agree that at the incarnation, this hierarchy presented itself as Father, then Son, then Spirit. After all, even Christ said that the Father was greater than he was (John 14:28). This is sometimes called a “functional hierarchy.” This should not be too difficult to process, as we can see many analogies to this in our own world. For example, President Obama is greater than I am in one respect. He is the President of the United States. Therefore, his position and authority are greater than mine. But he is not greater in essence. Similarly, parents are greater than children in rank. But they are not greater in their being. And (cover your eyes, egalitarians) I believe the Bible presents the husband as having greater authority than his wife. However, he is not greater in his ontos or humanity.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is last on the divine authority totem pole. The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit, and the Father is sent by none. There is much less said about the Holy Spirit in the New Testament than either the Father or the Son. But as far as honor and dignity, it would seem that Jesus Christ tops them all. When I read the Bible, I am struck by how much Christ is the center of all things. He is the image of God which is seen, the one who becomes incarnate and relates to humanity more than any other, he is the one who calls us friend, he is our intercessor, and he is the one in whom we are to believe for eternal life. In fact, the very name of our faith finds its basis in his name. It is not called Holy Spiritanity or Fatheranity. It is not even called Yahwehanity. It is called Christ-ianity.

Another way to think about it can be illustrated as follows: The first two members of the Trinity have very relational names. We find it easy to relate to the title “Father,” since most of us have an example (though not perfect) through our earthly fathers. So “Father” is endearing. And “Jesus” is a personal name. I figure that he will always go by that handle. And the father may always go by “Father.” But what about the Holy Spirit? “Holy Spirit” is such a distant and (forgive me) cold name. Is that really his name? First name “Holy” last name “Spirit”?  Do those who are close to him just call him “Holy,” while everyone calls him “Mr. Spirit”? Maybe in heaven we can get the insider scoop on what his real name is (not Yahweh…that is a Trinitarian name, as they are all Yahweh). Maybe Bob, John, Nate, or Michael. Just something more personal, as I envision having a very distinct relationship with him in the new earth.

My point is this: the Holy Spirit, while having equal power, authority, and diginity as the Father and the Son, and having the same nature as Jesus and the Father, is the least spoken about and recognized of all three members of the Trinity. By the way, before you begin to feel sorry for him, realize this: this is intentional. The Holy Spirit does not seek air time. We often talk about Christ’s humility (and rightly so), but we rarely recognize the Holy Spirit’s humility. His primary purpose is not to get you to recognize him (as deserving as he is), but to recognize Christ.

In the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17, the most Trinitarian section of the Bible), Christ speaks a lot about sending  the Holy Spirit (sometimes called “the Helper” or “the Spirit of Truth”), but notice what the primary goal of the Holy Spirit will be:

John 15:26
“When the Helper [Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

Did you get that? The all-powerful, omniscient, everlasting creator of all things — the Holy Spirit — will not testify about himself, his glory, and his person, but about Christ, whom the Holy Spirit loves with a greater love than we ccould ever imagine. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit testify about himself? After all, he has every reason to pat himself on the back and toot his own horn, yet all he wants to talk about is Jesus. Why?

I can’t tell you how the role distinctions were chosen for redemption. It is possible that the Holy Spirit could have been the one who became incarnate and died on the cross. It could have been the Holy Spirit to whom all attention was given. Yet this is not the case. He elected to humble himself to the point of almost non-recognition.

I believe the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son. I believe the Holy Spirit deserves as much honor as the other members of the Trinity. Yet the greatest way for you to honor the Holy Spirit and evidence his work in you is to glorify Christ. What an example He is.

Why is Jesus greater in function than the Holy Spirit? Because that is the way he wants it. Amazing!

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    96 replies to "Why Jesus is Greater than the Holy Spirit"

    • Jay Altieri

      Karen, from post #31, that is a good question. It is a really tough one involving Greek grammar that I can’t do in 2000 characters. You have found what I think is the ONLY verse in the NT contraindicating my theory. As you noted from my article, my theory is that when Jesus was dead for those 3 days, he was totally dead. Dead means the total and permanent cessation of life. Jesus holistically died both physically and spiritually. Many Christians have fantasmic ideas of Jesus having extracurricular adventures in the spirit world while he was dead. Thus denying the spiritual death of Jesus. If Jesus did not die spiritually, then I’m not redeemed substitutionarily spiritually.

      Dead means no action, response, thought or power (Ecc 9:10). If Jesus was dead then he could not have raised himself. My proposal is that the resurrection of Jesus was done by God. This is confirmed throughout the NT. The whole trinity/unity thing (which I accept) gets quite fuzzy in this regard, but it is critically important for me that Jesus was totally dead or else he didn’t pay the full price of human sin. He must have died every way that a person can die.

      My only observation is that Jesus the man was totally dead. Was the 2nd P of the Trinity dead? I don’t know, I don’t ever say that. I prefer not to dissect and amputate the Godhead, as if it were a frog in a high school lab. Although I believe in the Trinity, I personally prefer to focus on the unity of HaShem.

      For a detailed grammatical study of the verse to which you refer, see here:

    • Karen C

      Dear Mr. Jay Altieri, I do now see that you and I greatly differ on our view. But in no way do I mean to demean your faith, and I believe you feel the same way towards me. I do want to say, I believe in Body, Soul, and Spirit. I perceived some time ago, that others believe in Body and Spirit (and that the soul and spirit are the same). I detected this difference over time in study notes in Bibles. In my view I believe that Jesus’ uncreated Soul is the Great I AM….conceived by the Holy Spirit and begotten of the Father. I do believe when Jesus stated that “unless He go away, the Holy Spirit cannot come”. I perceive that connected to James 2:26…a spirit cannot live in a dead body. However, this concept of His Resurrected Body (and what does all this entail?) shortly later does boggle the mind.
      Also, I certainly believe the words, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Also, the verses where Jesus declares God is the God of the Living, and not the dead…Abraham, etc.
      I appreciated something I read long ago, where an individual believed that the body/spirit manifests the soul. So, in death of the body, the spirit continues to manifest the soul. I think in many ways this has made much sense to me.
      Hence, obviously, are vastly different views. I appreciate your message, and I am ever amazed at how very different we all perceive the Trinity (once again and wherever it is discussed), and I think it ever evolves as we perceive the Bible more and more. It is rather comical…I think there is a saying about commentators, each having gone their own way…grin…
      Blessings to you and all of you in Jesus’ Name.

    • Btw Lora, I don’t think the Reformed Faith is using Aristotle to impose “hierarchy” as power in the Godhead, as more both order, but yes the “monarchy”, or regal nature of the Father God! Not really so much rule as first-place, again the regal in the Godhead! And again, Augustine held this. The Father is the first-person of the Godhead!

    • And btw, for those that have not read the classic book by T.F. Torrance: The Trinitarian Faith, The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church, you are missing both a personal treat, and a great historic statement of “The Trinitarian Faith”! 🙂

      You can still get this book in paperback! (345 pages, T&T Clark). The hardback (OP) has both the sweet Icon of Saint Athanasius, and The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, both in color! Aye, I have a first, 1988! 🙂

    • Btw, the great Russian Orthodox priest, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov wrote: Orthodoxy does not persuade or try to compel; it charms and attracts.” I don’t quote this so much for the EO itself, as the essence of the Trinity of God! It is much more than mental, but itself: “spirit and truth”!

      I love this quote from Bulgakov on the great depth of the Trinity of God: “The dogma of consubstantiality, which safeguards the unity of the Holy Trinity, thus remains a sealed book so far as we are concerned – for in a religious sense it has neither assimilated nor unfolded.” Wow! That draws me up, and simply gives me Awe in the doctrine of GOD triune!

    • Reece

      “Confused? Good. Anytime you have an “aha!” moment with regard to the Trinity, it is a good sign you have just entered into the world of heresy.”


      I lol’d.

    • What, not to recognize the transcendence of God Triune is “heresy”? Not from the quote of Bulgakov either! Just small minds, seeking small definitions!

    • And btw “thinking” always helps, and the EO are simply our historical front-runners in both Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity (God Triune)!

    • And before someone who “reads” says something more, I am NOT advocating Bulgakov’s doctrine of “Sophia”! However, for those that do think and read, his book: The Comforter, is well worth the challenge to read and study! (Printed by Eerdman’s btw).

    • Lora

      Fr. Robert (Anglican)

      You know I like Aristotle….especially his statement:
      Theology is the queen of the sciences and
      philosophy is her handmaiden.

      Therefore, philosophy must serve theology.

      Paul quoted from many of the Greek philosophers because he was seeking to reach a Greek audience.
      Even though Greek thought is a huge part of western civilization, as Christians, we need to show more interest in Judaism.

      I think its all about balance….during the early centuries of church history, Jewish believers were pushed out of the church as the churches embraced anti-Semitism….as evident in the Marcionite Propensity.

      I believe in the Trinity and that the Trinity existed throughout the Old Testament (seen through a glass darkly, but more clearly in the New Testament)
      However, all of us need to be more willing to glean insights from Judaism since it is the historical foundation of Chrisitianity.

    • Lora

      Fr. Robert (Anglican)

      You know I like Aristotle….especially his statement:
      Theology is the queen of the sciences and
      philosophy is her handmaiden.

      Therefore, philosophy must serve theology.

      Paul quoted from many of the Greek philosophers because he was seeking to reach a Greek audience.
      Even though Greek thought is a huge part of western civilization, as Christians, we need to show more interest in Judaism.

      I think its all about balance….during the early centuries of church history, Jewish believers were pushed out of the church as the churches embraced anti-Semitism….as evident in the Marcionite Propensity.

      I believe in the Trinity and that the Trinity existed throughout the Old Testament (seen through a glass darkly, but more clearly in the New Testament)
      However, all of us need to be more willing to glean insights from Judaism since it is the historical foundation of Christianity.

    • @Lora: I could not agree more! Note I lived and taught in Israel in the late 90’s. And as I have noted here several times, I am most certainly pro-Israel, and actually something of a “Biblical” Zionist (Historic Pre-Mill, myself, with something of the PD, Progressive Dispensational). Sadly John Chrysostom himself was part of this anti-Jewish aspect!

      The Trinity is surely and wholly biblical, but it is certainly a progressive revelation, and not fully or doctrinally understood until even after the NT revelation itself. But see too (Gen. 18: 1-8, etc.) See also the Pre-Nicene people, like Theophilus of Antioch, who was the first to use the Greek form of “trias” for the Trinity. As too again, Tertullian and Origen, without their work and help we would not understand the great Trinity of God nearly as well!

    • There were certainly problems too with some the early Jewish believers, as the so-called “Ebionites” (Heb. poor). After the fall of Jerusalem they denied the divinity of Christ while accepting him as prophet, teacher, and in some sense Messiah. But they rejected the Pauline Letters, showed some Gnostic tendencies, and kept the Jewish rituals and commandments, including the Sabbath. They were vegetarians, somewhat like the people at Qumran. Their gospel, called the Gospel of the Ebionites, has survived only in quotations in Epiphanius. They suffered heavily in the Bar Kochba revolt but survived until the Islamic conquest, when they were wiped-out.

    • Btw Lora, If you like Christian philosophy, check out Herman Dooyeweerd, the man behind much of Van Til’s ideas.

    • Lora

      Thank you Robert for the info on Judaism….I appreciate you loyalty to God’s chosen nation.

      I’m not sure about the whole presuppositionalist epistemology- I see it as a reaction to Enlightenment philosophy.

      Having read the 1934 debate between Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, I believe a good solution can be found in the work of J.I. Packer, specifically
      Fundamentalism and the Word of God (1958)

    • Lora

      Jesus said He came to serve- I don’t see Him claiming to be greater than the Holy Spirit…that attitude doesn’t fit with His sinless nature.

    • @Lora: I do not fully follow Van Til’s presuppostionalism as an apologetic, but I do agree basically with the presuppositional position of the authority of God’s Word. To me the evidential approach alone (to God’s Word) is a human position, itself, and philosophical overly. I would not disconnect from reading and considering Dooyeweerd or Van Til either! Especially in the light of both John Frame and Vern Poythress work towards Van Til. Poythress’s new book (this year) on Logic is simply the stuff of the “neo-Calvinist” positions! A heady book and read!

      Packer is a good man, but a bit too “Puritan” for me! And surely however, Pack is not in the place philosophically of either Barth or Brunner. And I really don’t see Packer as a strict theologian either! But a great Anglican Evangelical certainly!

    • Lora

      This example may be simplistic, but….

      So many of us sing that Sunday school song about the walls of Jericho tumbling down….so we assume that is what the Bible says too….(presuppositionalism)

      However, archaeologists have found the walls of Jericho and they were never broken. They fell down into the ground without breaking. (evidence)

      Scripture tells us that the children of Israel were marching around the city in formation- but once the walls fell, they walked straight into the city- implying they were still in formation.
      So we see how evidence clarifies our presuppositions….

      If the walls had tumbled down, then the children of Israel would have broken rank and stepped over the rubble best they could, making them easy targets for archers inside the city.
      based on my experience in military,
      that you also have 🙂

      Most of what is taught in the churches is interpretation of someone and is not necessarily true…..that’s why each one of us needs to recognize the Holy Spirit as our Teacher.

      So then, people who discourage us from recognizing the Holy Spirit as our teacher should be ignored, right?

    • […] This appeared at a blog I highly regard and respect, Parchment and Pen. Author C. Michael Patton originally posted this under the title Why Jesus is Greater than the Holy Spirit. […]

    • You are confusing the apologetic of Presuppositionalism, with the “presuppostional” authority of Holy Scripture! The two are different! I hold the latter, but not the former! And we also must not loose sight of the biblical aspect of “genre”, in hermeneutics.

    • […] One thing I like about C. Michael Patton is that he’s honest. He will write what many Reformed proponents think, but are reluctant to publicly affirm. Like, for instance, his post from earlier this month in which he posits that the Trinity is a hierarchy: God is on top, Christ is in the middle, and the Holy Spir…. […]

    • Lora

      Words of Jesus in red:

      And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.
      Luke 12:10

      So Michael….
      What is Jesus actually saying about the Holy Spirit?

      For the Christian, final authority in all matters of faith is God’s Word.

    • Indeed if we are going to seriously engage and follow the Ecumenical Councils, at least the first Five, we simply must see the Trinity of God in some sense of the position of the Hierarchy, but this must not needs mean just some “functional” aspect alone. For in reality the Fatherhood of God, and the Father as the regal and monarchy of God in the Godhead was also held by Augustine, and he certainly did not overly press the mere hierarchy of the Godhead. But perhaps the great “Order” of the Godhead would be closer? See the Council of Constantinople I, 381.

      But note, I am as an Anglican myself, closer to the EO here, both historically and theologically.

    • And btw just a historical point too, but in Orthodoxy, the three persons in the Trinity are accepted as coequal, eternally self-existent, and mutually indwelling through “circumincession”.

    • Lora

      There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
      That is wider than the sea;
      There’s a kindness in His justice,
      Which is more than liberty.

      There is mercy with the Savior,
      There is healing in His blood;
      There is welcome for the sinner,
      First grace then wisdom understood

      If we make His grace seem so narrow,
      With crude limits of our own;
      Then we prove our lack of wisdom,
      With a zeal He will not own.

      For the grace of God is broader,
      Than the measure of man’s mind;
      And the wisdom of the Eternal,
      Is most merciful and kind.

    • ‘There Is A Wideness In God’s Mercy’, by F.W. Faber. one time Anglican priest, who became a Roman Catholic priest, in the 19th century. But many of his hymns were still popular with the Protestants.

    • Circumincession Definitions

      Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
      1. n. In theology, the reciprocal existence in one another of the three persons in the Godhead.

      1. n. theology The reciprocal existence in each other of the three persons of the Trinity.

      GNU Webster’s 1913
      1. n. (Theol.) The reciprocal existence in each other of the three persons of the Trinity.


      1.circum- + Latin incedere, incessum, to walk. (Wiktionary)


      “Lastly, this is to be especially considered — that this circumincession of the Divine Persons is indeed a very great mystery, which we ought rather religiously to adore than curiously to pry into.”

      NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

      “This outcome of the circumincession of the Persons in the Trinity is so far from introducing Sabellianism, that it is of great use, as Petavius has also observed, for (establishing ) the diversity of the Persons, and for confuting that heresy.”

      NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

      “Creed, bk.iv. ch. iv., secs. 13, 14), “the circumincession is most proper and perfect, forasmuch as the Persons mutually contain Each”

      NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

    • This might wake or put to sleep some people? 😉

      Protestant and Catholics differ in their interpretation of communio as model of ecclesial unity binding on members of the Mystical body of Christ. A dyadically reduced trinitarianism underpins the Barthian school of thought.

      “The Father remains the sole principle, because the Son has nothing he has not received from this source. But the Trinity is asymmetrical reciprocity, not a symmetrical hierarchy proceeding from the Father. Its asymmetry is precisely the root of its dynamism as eternal Act, eternal “perichoresis” [21] On this logic, Barth’s pneumatological minimalism cannot be inherently rooted in the filioque. My own hunch is that Barth’s binitarianism is more deeply planted in that other culprit Jenson identifies: the “merely two-sided understanding of human community and so of historical reality, inherited from the ‘I-Thou’ tradition of 19th-century German philosophical anthropology”
      ― Aaron Riches, “Church, Eucharist, and Predestination in Barth and de Lubac: CONVERGENCE AND DIVERGENCE IN COMMUNIO” Communio 35 (Winter 2008).[22

    • […] Check out the whole post at Parchment and Pen […]

    • Lora

      Thank you Robert….the hymn I posted is based on the original that you mentioned.
      However, the hymn had poor logic, so I re-wrote it and posted my re-write.

      At times I print it out and frame it for friends.

    • G Dunn

      The Holy Spirit is that spirit of the Father, the Only True God.

      I don’t really have to prove the foundation of the Judeo-Christian faith, just because in 381 they said this was a faulty and incomplete foundation, adding two more persons to the so-called GODHEAD.

      There was then and is now no GODHEAD at all, only the named elohim, YHWH Elohim, the Father and One True God.

      Your speculations start out with a false presupposition, and is for that reason ludicrous. Trinity.

      The Holy Spirit, being the aspect and invisible presence of YHWH Elohim is neither lesser or equal or inequal, just another aspect of the One True God.
      Just as the Word is what God thought and then said (manifest).

      Fundamental to understanding of the faithful. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, not God the Son, whom He, the One True God sent. And this is true gospel.

      This is eternal life, that they know thee the ONLY True God, and Jesus Christ whom YOU sent.

    • Steve

      Amen to G Dunn
      The gospel is simple. It is for everyone. Through the years many have lived of the avails of a “mystery”.
      The Trinity is 1) nowhere dealt with, especially where anyone could justly claim, it was given space deserving of it being the most important doctrine in the Bible. 2)There have been millions of pages written trying to explain it and as we witness in this blog, there is no agreement by those who believe what they cannot understand, and apparently can’t explain. 3) Page after page in the Bible would lead the student who is able to shed the scales from his eyes and take God’s word for it’s simple truth. Jesus is God’s son. God is Jesus Father. Jesus came into existence in his mother womb. As he grew up a time came when God commissioned him to be the Messiah (Christ) his spokesman/agent. Acts 5 v 46,47,Duet 18 v 18 and 19, Acts 2 v 22-36 3 v 23, 7 v 37.
      Jesus is a man just like you and I Hebrews 2 v 9-18 is quite clear that the sinless sacrifice for our sins had to be a 100% human(not 100% human AND 100% God)
      The doctrine is full of contradiction and volumes have been written trying to explain them. Here we find another example in this blog of , although they may seem nuances to some they are disagreements. The Athanasian Creed states “This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.” Trouble is this was written at least 100 years after the Nicean Creed and probably 50+ church councils later . So the early “Christians from Acts 2 right up until the gavel dropped pronouncing this creed as the final word there were very few people (if you read the history) who held all these points as “their faith”. I don’t see anywhere in the Gospels the apostles preaching this “creed”
      nor can I find direct scripture that coherently addresses 75% of it’s 44 points.
      Perhaps more attention should be paid to 1 Cor. 4 v 6 “Do not go beyond what is written.” We’d all be better off.

    • Lora

      I agree with most of what you said, G Dunn.

      I do believe in the Trinity- but I also believe that each one of us should be remembering David’s words in Psalm 19:12-14 AND that each one of us should be asking Elohim to keep us back from presumptuous sins.

      Trying to put God in a box with 3 compartments is arrogant and sinful…..

      So my statements are not directed at you G Dunn but to the author who presumptuously wrote the initial post….

    • G Dunn

      To Lora:

      All elohim are not YHWH elohim even in the good sense of the word.
      Since my investigation two years ago, the translation from the Hebrew ‘elohim’ to the Koine ‘theos’ is faulty and not correspondent.

      Michael Heiser gives a good 6 categories of the word, in his PDF “What is an Elohim?” which is easily googled. Only one category fits the One True God. All else are lesser or false or imaginary. Even though Heiser is trinitarian, I believe and add to his categories of ‘elohim.’

      We define YHWH Elohim as He told us to. His first principle is the Shema, which is said to put upon our foreheads and hands in Deut 6. This Shema first says God is One, and what this ONE means all must face and decide. Contrast to the mark of the beast, which would put some other thing:

      Rev 20
      4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

      We see then, how important the Shema is to God.
      The first law was to have no other elohim to His face.

      Still is, and all trinitarians abrogate their own first command.

    • Steve

      I believe Jesus is not superior to the “Holy Spirit” In Luke 1 v 35 we read “The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee; THEREFORE also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the SON of God.
      Don’t you find it curious that all the action during Jesus conception was by the “Holy Spirit”. It would appear to me that the “Holy Spirit” is his father, which begs the question unless the “Father” and the “Holy Spirit” are the same “PERSON” Jesus father is not “the Father”. So unless children aren’t subordinate to there parents I would say Jesus is God’s son therefore he is subordinate to God forever! (1 Cor, 15 v 28)
      When Jesus says “into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23 v 46) is he speaking of the “Holy Spirit” as “his” spirit”? If so was “his spirit” also his father? Or is his spirit another person within the “person” of Jesus, is he a “binity”, wouldn’t that make a quadrant instead of a “Trinity”?
      The Trinity generates more questions than answers simply because the doctrine is not articulated anywhere in the scriptures. This fact alone lends itself to the conclusion that even if it were true it would be unimportant. Unfortunately it draws it’s adherents into a labyrinth who’s exit is also the entrance , that is the solution to the much mentioned “mystery”, an outcome that’s been sought by many but found by few,

    • Ricky

      I believe though the trinity is one everyone points back to Christ because he is the example given to us on the will of the Father for us. Christ is the physical representation of what we should be thats why all focus is on him so we may become as him. The Holy Spirit’s role is to continue to lead us to that example which is Christ and guide us with deeper understanding of the Word which again is Christ John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. So in the end They are all one but the emphasis is placed on Christ because he is the physical demonstration of the fathers will for us and a godly character

    • zac

      This was the best explanation of the Holy Spirit I have ever heard. He sort of follows the type engendered by John the Baptist. I too would think he would have a name but has chosen to remain anonymous for His Brother’s sake.

      There are gifts in which the giver is known and there are those which come from an anonymous source.

      While he is definitely ascribed male pronouns to describe him as male, he sure seems to reflect the silent, humble feminine nature of a Mother or wife.

      I wonder if this would infer that maybe he is more like his anonymous Mother than His Father, by which Her name would be known ? But would also be an anonymous figure in Heaven who takes on the name of our Father.

      I wonder, if like John the Baptist, who ushered in the first coming of Jesus, would be a type for the Spirit taking on a name and arriving here to usher in Jesus’ Second Coming ?

      Afterall…John was said to be filled with the Spirit from his birth. If that is a clue to anything future, then would not the Spirit with a name & body be filled with his own Spirit ?

      A Brother to Christ who is his anonymous Best Man chosen to prepare the Bride for her Master & remains in the background preparing things for the wedding feast so as not to overshadow the Groom in His Glory ?

      I would like to know what his mane is…..

    • zac

      What if He was one of us ?

    • […] there a hierarchy within the Trinity? Michael Patton suggests there is an order similar to the order in which we usually recite the parts of the […]

    • craig bennett

      I thought the mutually submissive circle was complete in that the Holy Spirit conveys our prayers back to the Father, who both hears and answers them.

    • Tony Robinson

      God is not a name. It is a title denoting something or someone that determines right from wrong. This is why the judges were called gods, as mentioned by Jesus. Morality is based upon the godhead. It is the essence between the three persons that does not change. As many Trinitarian theologians may state, “same is substance (immutable, eternal moral character), but distinct in subsistence (personhood and role). There is another but smaller debate among Trinitarians as to whether these roles have existed eternally or if they developed them at some point amongst themselves in eternity past.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not take their cues from our family relationships, but rather the other way around.

      In the economic or publicly legal sphere, you will generally see the son mentioned after the father representative of patriarchal authority. Even in Matthew, you will see this authority flow passed from father to son, going down to Joseph of Bethlehem, but then you will see Mary introduced since the authority of kingship actually came from her (a plot twist). A mother usually does not draw much attention, but when she does, it is usually interesting to try to figure out why. Often she is mentioned after the father sone relationship in kingdoms: she serves as witness regarding both men.
      The godhead is a unity of three relational beings. The aspect I am highlighing is how does their relating work? The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to itself, but rather testifies regarding the Father and Son. He is very much present, but is seen as a facilitator that is sent by authority of the Father at the request of the Son. Jesus does not send the Spirit in a manner as if on equal footing as far as role because He lives out the act of submission to the Father as the first Adam was supposed to. Anytime you see Christ sending the spirit, as in John 15:26, the authority of the Father is still acknowledged. This indicates a hierarchy in one facet of how the relationships are expressed.

      Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
      Joh 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
      Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

      Look even closer at this role relationship that was demonstrated at the inception of Christ: Lu 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. The role is that the Son is following the lead of the Spirit. This relationship follows Him throughout this life:

      Lu 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

      Mt 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

      There is definitely an authority structure being displayed, not in moral superiority because they are of the same substance, but in role due to their unique subsistence.

      A higher is the one that gives a seal of approval to the lower, not the other way around. Again, this is seen in Christ’s life in the way His ministry functioned:
      Lu 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him (Seal of approval), and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Here the Father is introduced after the Holy Ghost but it follows royal ettiquette of the Father giving a summary judgement)
      Lu 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

      And finally, there is the relationship displayed through repercussions invoked by how we treat members of the godhead. Likewise, a crime against a lower, even in this life, does not receive the same penalty as the same crime done to someone in more loftly role (attack me versus attacking the president). This discrimination is seen in the following:
      Mt 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
      Both are God, but one’s role is very different than the other.

    • Andrew Rogers

      I have thought the opposite in one respect. Yes, it seems that the Holy Spirit is at the bottom since He sends no one but is Himself sent. But then Jesus explains that we can blaspheme the Father and Son with hope still of forgiveness but we cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit. This to me places the Holy Spirit in a uniquely exalted position above Jesus and the Father. And it doesn’t surprise me since it seems to natural for the senior to protect the junior with more vigour.

    • Gordon

      Eternal functional subordination mustneeds mean ontological subordination. The one whocan never be worthy can only be so because that one is not of intrinsic worth.
      That is why humans will not be lower than the angels forever.
      That is why the church fathers uphold the trinity while you openly deny it while yet claiming to uphold it using semantic prattle.
      It’s also why the church has held women as inferior beings to men except in ability to be saved (and even that is unbiblical according to Solomon) for thousands of years, and why it is only recently that the ontology and economy of the sexes have come hypocritically unbalanced.

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