Summa III, Question 20 – Christ’s subjection to the Father

Article 1. Whether we may say that Christ is subject to the Father?

“The Father is greater than I”(John 14:28). In the form of a servant Christ is subject to the Father.

Human nature from its beginning has a threefold subjection to God:

  1. By degree of goodness: “Why askest thou Me concerning good? One is good, God.” (Matt 19:17)
  2. As regards God’s power: “The Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
  3. By submission of will to God: “The creature serving Thee the Creator.” (Wisdom 16:24)

Article 2. Whether Christ is subject to Himself?

Augustine says (De Trin. i, 7): “Truth shows in this way…that the Son is less than Himself,” and what’s more, Christ in His human nature is the servant of God the Father, according to John 20:17: “I ascend to My Father and to your Father to My God and your God.” And whoever is the servant of the Father is the servant of the Son; otherwise not everything that belongs to the Father would belong to the Son.

To be master or servant is attributed to a person or hypostasis according to a nature, so Christ as man is subject to Himself inasmuch as He is Divine. This should not be confused with the Nestorian heresy, as if there are two persons, as if there was the person of the Word of God ruling and the person of the man serving.

“Whatever pertains to Him in His human nature is rather to be attributed to Him with a qualification; so that we say that Christ is simply greatest, Lord, Ruler, whereas to be subject or servant or less is to be attributed to Him with the qualification, in His human nature.”

I am reminded a bit in this article of Plato’s Republic, for the entire work is a dialogue is seeking “what is justice,” and the “republic” seems to come about by showing how one part of the same “body” is rightly subject to another.

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