John 5:23 – Honor the Son as the Father

For neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. — John 5:22-23, World English.

John 5:23 is often cited as proof that Jesus is Jehovah, or a person of Jehovah. In reality, there is nothing in John 5:23 that means that Jesus was claiming to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is nothing in John 5:23 that says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is more than one person. There is nothing in John 5:23 that says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is three persons. All such thoughts have to be added to, and read into, what Jesus said. Indeed, Jesus claimed the one who had sent him, which he spoke of in John 5:23, as the “only true God”, and by claiming the “only true God” had sent him, Jesus was, in effect, denying that he was that “only true God”. — John 17:1,3.In the Bible, only the God and Father of Jesus is identified as being Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Exodus 3:14,15) The scriptures show that Jesus was sent by Jehovah, speaks for Jehovah, represents Jehovah, and it was this same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who raised and glorified His Son. Jesus never claimed to be, nor do the scriptures present Jesus as, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom Jesus represents and speaks for. — Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Matthew 22:32; 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; 12:26; Luke 13:35; 20:37; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; 3:13-26; 5:30; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1.

Jesus’ power and authority is given to him from the only true God [Supreme Being]. Jesus is not Jehovah who gives him this dominion, all authority and power (with the evident exception of the position of being the Most High himself — 1 Corinthians 15:27), yet the exercise of this power and authority by Jesus is all to the praise of Jehovah, the unipersonal God and Father of the Lord Jesus. The Bible writers never claimed that Jesus is the ultimate “source” of his own power. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Psalm 2:6-8; 45:7; 110:1,2; Isaiah 9:6,7; 11:2; 42:1; 61:1-3; Jeremiah 23:5; Ezekiel 34:23,24; 37:24; Daniel 7:13,14; Micah 5:4; Matthew 12:28; 28:18; Luke 1:32; 4:14,18; 5:17; John 3:34; 5:19,27,30; 10:18,36-38; Acts 2:22,36; 3:13-26; 10:38; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:27; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Colossians 1:15,16; 2:10; Ephesians 1:3,17-23; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:2,4,6,9; 1 Peter 3:22.

Jehovah, the only true God, the God and Father of Jesus, never is “given” power at all; THE GOD AND FATHER OF JESUS IS POWER INNATE, the source of all. (1 Corinthians 8:6) The only true God, the God and Father of Jesus, does give to Jesus power, but not the power of being the source of all power, since it is obvious in that all that is given from the only true Supreme Being, that of being the only true Supreme Being is exempt from being given to anyone. (John 17:1,3; Ephesians 1:3,17-23; 1 Corinthians 15:27) All is still “of” the only true Supreme Being, “through” the one whom only true Supreme Being has made — appointed — as “Lord” over the church and the world; the one appointed only has power “through the strength of Jehovah”, “his God”. — Psalm 2:6; Isaiah 9:7; 11:2; 61:1-3; Ezekiel 34:23,24; 37:24; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 5:4; Matthew 28:18; Luke 1:32,33; Acts 2:36; 5:31; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:3,17-23; Philippians 2:9-11.

In harmony with this, the default reasoning concerning what Jesus stated in John 5:23 should be that Jesus was claiming to be the agent of Jehovah, the only true God, not that Jesus was claiming to BE the only true God. God gave to His son this authority, and thus we should indeed honor His son as we would honor the only true God Himself. The scriptures also tell us that receive one of the saints is to receive Jesus and the Father. (Matthew 10:40; John 13:20) Jesus, by his words recorded in John 5:23, was speaking of what the only true God has given to him; this authority in context is the authority to judge. By means of this authority given to the Son, the Son is due honor just as the only true God is due honor. It should be apparent that this honor is something that becomes due to the Son *because* of his being given the authority to judge, not because it is a honor that has been due to the son from all eternity past. Therefore, a time frame is set after which the Son is to receive this honor. If this “honor” means to give Jesus the worship, or ascribe to Jesus the glory, due to the only true God, then it would imply that the Son would not have received this worship until he had also received the authority to judge, which, if the thought be that this proves that Jesus is Jehovah, it would further mean that Jesus did not become Jehovah until he recieved the authority to judge, which authority Jesus received from Jehovah, the only true God who sent him. In reality, it is in view of this high honor conferred upon the Son by the only true God that we are told (John 5:23), “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” The explanation of this statement follows, and shows that the honor to the Son is as the Father’s appointed representative and agent in the great work, saying, “He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him.”

Some have claimed that Jesus was claiming one should give to him honor that is “equal to” God. Such seem to assume that the Greek word often transliterated as *kathos* means “equal to”. It can mean so, but that meaning is not inherent in the word, as can be seen by its usage all throughout the NT, and if the same reasoning be used, this would make the saints also the Supreme Being, and/or equal in power to Jesus. (See: John 17:11,22; Ephesians 5:25,29; 1 John 4:17) In John 5:23 it expresses that we should honor the one sent forth with the same kind of honor that we would give to the Sender. It does not mean to give to the one sent forth by the only true God the honor of being the only true God.

See also our study:
Jesus Received Worship

         
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