The false doctrine that God the Son eternally submits to God the Father is known as ESS (Eternal Submission of the Son, or Eternal Subordination of the Son). This false teaching has sometimes been applied to coerce women to submit to their abusive husbands.
ESS has been soundly refuted by many eminent theologians and pastors. This post features an article by Brad Mason which explains that Philippians 2 contradicts ESS. Brad’s argument is one of many Scriptural arguments that soundly refute ESS.
Here is a segment from Brad Mason’s article Answering Four Common Laymen Objections to ESS Critics.
(Philippians 2:18) [NKJV] Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
This passage in Philippians CANNOT mean: Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus, who having always and eternally been a subordinate Person of God by nature, nevertheless set aside this natural estate of obedience and submission in order to become obedient and submissive.1 [Emphasis original.]
Reflections by Barb
God the Son, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are eternally co-equal. Jesus in His divine nature is eternally co-equal with the Father. In my decades of walking as a Christian, I have found this to be a truth that bears much pondering. Again and afresh, new light shines when I ponder passages that speak about the co-equality of the Persons in the Godhead, and the uniqueness of Jesus in coming into the world as a man to voluntarily become a sin offering on our behalf and opening the way for us to be restored from certain death, to life in Christ.
1[September 16, 2022: This excerpt won’t match the linked post. From the linked post:
This post was originally published nearly 2 years ago on a different blog site, but has since been removed. So that my readers may still have access to this article, I have republished here under a different title.
[September 16, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to September 16, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 16, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 16, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 16, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
ESS Digest — ACFJ post listing other posts about ESS.
2 thoughts on “Philippians 2 contradicts the idea that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father”
This has kept me unknowingly in toxic relationships for years. But it is more complex than just a religious dogma taught wrongly. It is a conditioning that is not only established during childhood but inherited through generations where these beliefs were encoded in your subconscious mind or DNA and you automatically functioned from that place even while you consciously know the truth. You are part of this whole system without knowing it and it is only when you understand as victim the true source which is embedded in your inner man that you can truly start your own path to true healing, wholeness and freedom.
This is a wonderful thread of far reaching connotations, thanks to your and Brad’s Holy Spirit-helped sharpness.
My own upbringing was multi-denominational in spirit, and even the secular agnostics seemed to go along with the true meaning. But I did get sucked into these outfits (as a single) subsequently.