Why doesn't the Son know? - 12/19/2004

Many blessings for your excellent website - it is an invaluable tool. I am a biblical fundementalist again after several years in the Catholic church, and your site has been a wonderful resource for determining where the differences lie in the various religious doctrines. I am often shamed at how lightly I have taken the scripture in evaluating those doctrinal differences - never again. But as with any new learning adventure, even one begat by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there are still questions that I have that I hope you can help with. I'll start off with one off of the rapture page:

Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

I have a hard time comprehending this verse. As the Bible indicates the nature of a triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), how can it be that the Son does not know the hour of judgement? Does this indicate that the Man Christ does not know, but the Son does (thus delving into the mystery of the nature of Christ The Man and Christ The God)?

There are dozens of other questions, but for now, I'll leave it at that.

God Bless you for your Ministry, may you have the peace and joy of Christ with you as we celebrate His Birth.





CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:


Hi Nick. Thanks for writing. You raise a good question. This verse (and its parallel in Mark 13:32) are used frequently be the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Mormons use this verse to argue that Jesus is a separate god from Father God, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses use it to argue that Jesus is less than God (in fact, an angel). However, you got the answer exactly right. You asked, Does this indicate that the Man Christ does not know, but the Son does (thus delving into the mystery of the nature of Christ The Man and Christ The God)? That is exactly the right answer. Let’s explore this a little bit.

Prior to the incarnation, the eternal Son of God was one in person and nature – fully divine. After the incarnation, He was still one in person, but two in nature – divine and human. In His divine nature, Jesus was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Indeed, He exhibited these divine traits at various times during His earthly ministry. However, in his human nature, Jesus was subject to the limitations and pains of humanity. He knew hunger, weariness, the need for sleep, physical pain, and was “growing” in knowledge.

At various times in the gospels, Jesus acted under the influence of one nature over the other. As an example, in Matthew 21:19 we find that Jesus, in His hunger approached the fig tree to pick and eat a fig, not knowing (in His human ignorance) that the tree bore no fruit. He then exercised His divine omnipotence by causing the fig tree to wither. As another example, Jesus knew (by divine omniscience) that Lazarus had died, so He went to Bethany (John 11:11). When Jesus arrived, he exchanged His omniscience for human ignorance and asked where Lazarus had been laid (John 11:34).

In Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36, Jesus was speaking from the vantage point of His humanity. By not exercising His divine omniscience, the Man Jesus did not know the day or the hour of His return. A further argument can be made by the fact that while each Person of the Trinity is part of one God, each Person is distinct from the others, with separate roles. Jesus could voluntarily surrender His divine omniscience of the time of His return, choosing instead to leave that to the Father.

Have you ever tried to fully comprehend concepts like eternity or infinity? As humans with finite minds, we cannot do it. If we really try to think of time that doesn’t end, or an infinite supply of marbles, it just doesn’t compute. If I have an infinite supply of marbles, and give you each odd numbered marble, then we both still have an infinite supply of marbles. In this case, infinity divided by two equals infinity. If I gave you one marble, I would still have an infinite supply, so infinity minus one equals infinity. Mathematics becomes irrational when dealing with infinite amounts. It gives me a headache when I try to fully understand that. Similarly, when we try to fully comprehend our triune God, it boggles the mind. God is three Persons in one, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. These infinite qualities defy a naturalistic explanation or understanding. We should expect this in the God who created space, time, and everything within. It’s a testimony of His greatness. However, it also makes it difficult to explain His nature adequately in any human language. However, the answer you suspected is the clearest and best explanation based on a thorough understanding of God’s nature based on His Word.

I hope this helps confirm what you suspected if nothing else. May the Lord bless you as you study His Word.

In Christ,

Ben Rast
Contender Ministries