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John 5:19 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 52 secs

Jesus Claims Equality With the Father
John 5:19
John Lesson #040
February 28, 1999
www.deanbibleministries.org

John 5:19 NASB "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless {it is} something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner'."

"Truly, truly" is the Greek is amen, amen [a)mhn, a)mhn], and although it is translated in the NASB as "Truly, Truly," is has a greater significance than that. It is a sort of call to attention; this is an important principle that is being articulated here and you need to pay attention to it. There are three times in this passage that Jesus does this. He does in verse 19, then again in 24 & 25.  Then literally, "I say to you, the Son is not able to do from Himself nothing"—literal Greek; bad English. In English if you have a double negative it indicates a positive, but in Greek that is not true. In the Greek, if you ever want to say that something in not ever going to happen you say, "It won't not never happen." Negatives are just piled on top of one another for emphasis. So by using two negatives here Jesus is emphasizing that the absolute position of the Son is being under the authority of the Father. Remember that in the kenosis Jesus restricted the independent use of His attributes. He is not going to operate independent of the Father, He is subordinate to the Father's plan for the human race and has made a volitional decision to fulfill the plan of God set forth in the council of divine decrees in eternity past.

There is an important little shift in the verbs here. In v. 17 there was the synonym ergazomai which means to work. Here we have the verb poieo. Four times it is used in this passage, each time with a different nuance and mood shift which is instructive doctrinally. The basic meaning of the word is to perform, to do, to enact, to complete, to execute, to implement, to apply, to operate, to work, to function. Here it is the present active infinitive, it is an infinitive of purpose, that the Son should not do or perform anything from the ultimate source of Himself. We have to notice that Jesus uses a very important word here to refer to Himself, and that is the term huios [u(ioj], a word for an adult son and is the title that is referred to Jesus both in terms of His being the Son of God and the Son of Man.

The doctrine of the Sonship of Christ

1)  "Son of" can mean offspring of or descendant of, but it does not restrict itself to that meaning. In the idiom, especially of Hebrew, the term meant "of the order of." For example, in 1 Kings 20:35 is the phrase "sons of the prophets," i.e. in the order of the prophets, they were one of the prophets. Also in Nehemiah 12:28 is the phrase "sons of the singers." That means they were one of the singers. So the phrase "Son of God" does not mean offspring of or descendant of, it means of the order of God and is a clear claim to full, undiminished deity. So in the phrase Son of God as applied to Jesus it indicates full, absolute deity. 

2)  In Jewish usage the term "son of" indicated equality and identity of essence or nature.

3)  The term "son of" indicated the essential character of someone. For example, Barnabus who was Paul's traveling companion on the first missionary journey was called the son of encouragement. That meant that his personality was that he was an encourager. So encouragement characterised the essence of Barnabus. Also the sons of Zebedee, James and John, were called the sons of thunder. That indicated something about their personality, that they were rather strong and had thunderous personalities of a fairly volatile, strong nature.

4)  The term "Son of God" also has a strong meaning related to kingship and the royal role of the Messiah. It is tied to the messianic King, the son of David. 2 Samuel 7:14 NASB "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, [15] but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took {it} away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. [16] Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever." There is a promise that David would have a son who would reign forever. So we have the connection here between royal kingship and the Messiah. Psalm 2:1 NASB "Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?" The picture here is of war against God and His anointed. The nations are gathered on one side, God and His anointed on the other. [2] "The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying," The Hebrew word for anointed is meshiach from which we get our word Messiah. Translated into Greek it is christos [Xristoj]. So here we see something interesting in terms of the relationship to the doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament, a mention of God and His Christ, His anointed one. This is a prophesy that takes place at the end of human history. [3] "Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!" This is the cry of autonomous man who wanted to be free from the authority of God and rejects God in negative volition. [4] "He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. [5] Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, [6] 'But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.'" This is the inauguration and coronation of the messianic King at the beginning of the Millennial kingdom. [7] "'I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You'." This is a quote from the King. In v. 6 it is Yahweh, God the Father speaking, but in verse 7 the one who is speaking is the Son. The decree of the Lord takes us from the future event of this final conflict between the Lord's anointed and all the nations of the earth and the coronation of the King and the establishment of the messianic kingdom, all the way back to eternity past where we have the council of divine decrees. This was an eternal decree, which means that there never was a time when this decree did not exist. So when, according to this passage, was God the Son begotten of God the Father? In the eternal decree. So Father and Son are functional terms describing the role of the first person and the second person of the Trinity in their essential nature and relationship to one another for all eternity. God the Son did not become God the Son simply at the incarnation or at some other time, or at the coronation. This raises an important question that has come up in theology that we have to deal with, that is, when Jesus was begotten. The day that is in view here is the day of the coronation and ties the fulfilment of the begottenness and His sonship as the messianic King through coronation, but it relates it back to eternal decrees and the eternal begotten relationship of the Son to the Father. Psalm 2:8, the Father is talking to the Son,  NASB "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession. [9] You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware." This is Jesus Christ coming back at the second advent at the head of the armies of angels, the Lord of hosts, to subdue the earth. The messianic King is portrayed here as the conquering hero who rules and subdues the earth, but as time went by in Israel it became apparent that all of the kings in the south failed, so there was going to be an ideal King and two psalms were written that were related to this.

Psalm 45 anticipates the idea King. Psalm 45:6 NASB "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.," indicating that the rule of the messianic ruler is characterised by righteousness. "Your throne" is addressed to Elohim. Then it gets a little more complicated in the next verse. [7] "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows." Two Gods here. This is a clear expression of the Trinity: address of God in verse 6 and then the addressing of that same God in v. 7 and referring to "Your God." The word "anointed" in the Hebrew is meshiach. "God" being addressed here is the Messiah, the messianic King, the ruler in the Millennium. "Your God" is God the Father. "Therefore God [God the Father], has anointed you [God the Son] with the oil of joy above your fellows."

Psalm 110, the enthronement psalm. Verse 1 NASB "The LORD [Yahweh] says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'." This psalm indicates the time when God the Son ascended into haven and sits now at the right hand of God the Father until the second advent when His enemies will be made a footstool, a symbol of conquering and domination, when Jesus Christ returns to establish the 1000-year Millennial reign on the earth.

Amos 3:7 NASB "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets." So we have the revelation of God to His servants the prophets and His ultimate prophet is Jesus Christ, and that revelation is going to be discussed in John chapter 5.

5)  When did Jesus become the Son of God? Some say it was at the incarnation, others at the public presentation by John the Baptist at His baptism, others say it was at His ascension, and still others say it is at His coronation.

6)  The term "Son of God" relates to Christ's essential deity and not generation. Therefore this term relates to His eternal relationship to the Father and is not a term acquired at any time in human history. He is the eternal Son of God, Galatians 4:4; Romans 8:3; Colossians 1:13-17. All other nuances which relate to Son of God are simply derivatives of this main idea. So when we talk about the Son of God in terms of His coronation it is derivative to the main idea of His eternal generation from the Father.

7)  The eternal Son of God became the Son of God in relationship to His humanity at the incarnation, but He was eternally the Son of God.

8)  The Sonship is recognised at the baptism when God the Father announced, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." But it didn't start there because when Jesus was twelve he stayed behind at the temple and He said he had to be about His Father's business.

9)  It doesn't occur at the resurrection or ascension because Jesus addresses the Father as Father all throughout His earthly ministry. He refers to Himself as the Son in John chapter five, chapter ten, and other places.

10)  The term Son in Hebrews 1:3 which relates to the coronation relates to the sonship in relationship to the Davidic covenant and the coronation of the Son of God as the Davidic sons in fulfilment of the Davidic covenant.

11)  Jesus is declared to be the eternal Son of God in the day of the issuance of the eternal decree in Psalm 2:7, which is not a prophecy of His coronation but is a prophecy of His victory because He was declared the Son in eternity past.

Back to John 5:19, Jesus says "the Son," and there the very use of that term is just weighted with meaning for the Jews that are listening. It is a slap in the face. By the use of the term they are hearing, "I am the ideal messianic King, the divine one from all eternity, and I can't do anything from the ultimate source of myself unless I see the Father doing it, because I am completely subordinate to His will and His plan."

"…for whatever the Father does," and this is a present active subjunctive, indicating potentiality, whatever the Father planned, "these things the Son also does in like manner," present active indicative. He carries it out and fulfils it in complete submission to the plan of the Father.

The bottom line on this is Jesus is the Son of God and that is why he can redeem us—because He is fully God. We cannot have life in any other than one who is eternal life, and that is where Jesus is going in this argument. Because He is who he is, He is the only one who has the ability to go to the cross and die as our substitute. For that reason all judgment is given to Him and He becomes the one who is the source of eternal life. So that man can have life in no other name, for there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved.