A Question I Was Asked:

"Doesn't John 6:38 Undermine the Trinity Teaching?"

The Question:

Why would Jesus say,

'For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.' (John 6:38).

Doesn't that verse undermine the Trinity teaching? Doesn't it make The Father and Jesus quite separate rather than a sense of the three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, undivisible in unity? Was Jesus inferring that His own will could have been different to His Father's will?

UK Apologetics Reply:

The difficulty here is that one verse is being picked out which does not appear to be very Trinity-like, then, purely on the strength of just that one verse, it is being suggested that the Trinity teaching could be wrong. However, authentic Christian doctrine never was - and never can never be - established in such a manner!

Putting all of the scriptural revelation together (which the serious Bible expositor must insist on doing), but with more of an accent on the New Testament (since revelation is progressive), one must, and indeed does, arrive at the point in which one may state that the Holy Trinity is clearly a biblical teaching. In short, there are many Scriptures which reveal that The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all 'God,' and yet God is certainly One. I am not going to go through all of those Scriptures here since we - and others - have done it elsewhere at some length.

To establish doctrine one must look at all the biblical texts on any particular subject, whether it is faith, grace, redemption or anything else. It is one of the hallmarks of the cults that they will pick on certain verses if those verses suit one of their pet theories; they will then magnify such verses - they don't seem to feel any responsibility to be essentially neutral, fair and painstaking in their initial, careful biblical analyses. But we should not bring any pet theories to scriptural evaluation, we must let Scripture speak for itself. When we do that, we arrive at true biblical doctrine. That is exegesis: To draw things out of Scripture. But if we, in an unbalanced and irresponsible approach, read things into Scripture, that is known as eisegesis. A very good example of such imbalance is the (so-called) 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' with their doctrine of 'baptism for the dead;' they establish that doctrine on just one verse (1 Corinthians 15:29), a verse which they seriously misunderstand. The point is: no matter how many other verses on baptism and conversion they may draw in, they will never find support for their idea; that should have told them that they were just plain wrong on this point! This is what I mean by being responsible in our exegesis and being careful to avoid eisegesis (reading things into Scripture).

Okay, so why does Jesus say what He does in John 6:38? He is underlining the fact that He did not come as some sort of 'loose canon' preaching an 'independent' message. The verse is not suggesting that Jesus might have had some contrary will to His Father but that He had decided that He had better keep quiet about that and just preach His Father's message. Rather, He is making the comment from the human viewpoint of His listeners who did not yet fully understand that He and the Father were One (John 10:30). He is underlining for all time that God is in full charge of everything which happens upon this earth; He has a divine plan and He won't deviate from that. Any idea that Jesus was suggesting that He might have had a different will or viewpoint is to read something into Scripture which is just not there.

The Father sent His Son according to the Scriptures; God, that is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, fulfilled the divine plan of all the ages. There is complete harmony within the Godhead. In our day, some charismatics seem to over-emphasize the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and Son, sometimes "revelations" and "prophecies" are accepted which even contradict the Scriptures, but, the fact is, no true divine revelation will ever contradict Scripture.

But the point I am making is that John 6:38 is not the only biblical verse which one needs to take into account on this topic; the verse must be read and understood in the light of the entirety of Scripture.
Robin A. Brace. January 17th, 2011.