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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: Have the Different Members of the Trinity Had the Same Function for All Eternity?

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Have the Different Members of the Trinity Had the Same Function for All Eternity? (Was Jesus Always the Son?)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 18

When we speak about the Trinity it is important that we make the distinction as to how the different members exist in their essence or nature and how they operate and function with one another. Technically speaking, this is the difference between the ontological Trinity (who they are in their essence or being) and the economic Trinity (how they function with one another).

Are They Eternally Ordered This Way?

There has been some question as to whether each member of the Trinity has had the same function for all eternity. There are those who believe the Son submitted to the Father only during the time when He was here on the earth. Before that time, He was not in a subordinate relationship with God the Father. Only when He became human did He submit Himself to God the Father. Now that the Son has completed the redemption for the human race, He has returned to His former exalted position without any further submitting of Himself to God the Father.

Others, however, believe that the submission of the Father to the Son, as well as the Spirit to the Son and the Father is something that has been eternal. While equal in character, each has eternally performed a distinct role.

Christians are divided as to which view properly states the eternal relationship between the three members of the Trinity.

Could They Have Performed Other Duties?

This brings up a related question. There is also the issue as to whether each member of the Trinity performs or could perform other duties. Could the Father have come to earth instead of the Son? Could the Son have been the Comforter instead of the Holy Spirit? Is there any reason to believe that each is limited in the role in which they have?

Each Member of the Trinity Has a Different Role within the Godhead

The general teaching on the subject is that the Father is the head of Deity; the Son is the one who reveals Deity, while the Holy Spirit carries out the work of Deity. In some passages, we find that one member of the Trinity seems to carry out the entire process.

What is clear from Scripture is that each member of the Trinity has an assigned role. Beyond this, we should be careful about drawing firm conclusions.

Summary – Question 18
Have the Different Members of the Trinity Had the Same Function for All Eternity? (Was Jesus Always the Son?)

There are divisions among Bible believers as to whether the submissive role of the Son to the Father, and the Spirit to the Father and the Son, has been eternal.

There have been those who have argued that each member of the Trinity is free to perform any role within the Godhead. Jesus was not the Son for all eternity but rather He became the Son when He came to this earth. This was not His eternal role among the members of the Trinity. In addition, He was not necessarily the One who would take on this role.

In other words, the Holy Spirit or God the Father could have come to earth instead of God the Son. If this was the case, then God the Son could have been sent into the hearts of believers instead of God the Holy Spirit. The roles, therefore, are not fixed.

Others believe that they have been eternally ordered as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and they could not perform different roles. The Son has been eternally submitting to the Father and the Holy Spirit submitting to the Father and the Son.

This seems to be one of these questions which nobody can answer for certain. What we do know is that they have always acted in one accord and that they have loved each other for all eternity.

How Do the Different Members of the Trinity Work with Each Other? ← Prior Section
How Can We Categorize False Views about the Trinity? Next Section →
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