Sign up ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Revelation 1:1 reads:

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.

So this is the image I get: Sometime before an angel sent by Jesus gave John the revelation, Jesus was given the revelation from God. I first wonder when Jesus was given the revelation: before his birth (assuming the validity of the Trinity doctrine), during his life, after his death but before his resurrection, after his resurrection but before his ascension, after his ascension. Then I obviously wonder how Jesus, being God fully, would not know the nature of the things spelled out in Revelation.

So, how do classic Trinitarians answer this question? Why does it appear that Jesus at some time did not know what God knew concerning the little details of the last days?

share|improve this question
Hmm, interesting. Until now, I have never interpreted the verse in that way... – Byzantine Sep 30 '13 at 2:46
I'm afraid that I don't really see something which needs answering here. If we take this as Christ is given that gift eternally (just as he is eternally begotten), then the question answers itself. – Ignatius Theophorus Sep 30 '13 at 5:06
Is 'classic Trinitarian' meant to mean anything other than 'Trinitarian'? – DJClayworth Sep 30 '13 at 14:43
Is it certain that "God gave [the revelation to] him to show his servants" means that God revealed it to Jesus, as opposed to giving him the role of revealing it to others? In Rev 20:4 judgement is given to those who sit on the thrones; they are not being judged, but they are judges. – James T Sep 30 '13 at 15:05
Maybe this falls under the "mysterious paradox" category of questions that can't be answered or understood...kinda like "How can Jesus be fully God and fully man?" or "Did Jesus know that he created the universe right after his birth?" – user5286 Sep 30 '13 at 16:17

6 Answers 6

One of the key things about the Trinity is that God is three persons of one essence. They have the same action, will, and power. They are all equals and eternal but the key is that they are not the same person. They interact with each other and with humanity in different ways. It's difficult to understand, even for systematic theologians (which I am not). It is something that we all accept by faith and trust in the teachers that have come before us.

There are a lot of ways this could have played out. Trinitarians are still very diverse in their beliefs on the exact nature of God and how He operates. Discussing when Jesus knew and what he knew could last a lifetime. However, given that the Revelation was written sometime between AD 70 and AD 90 (well after Jesus' ascension around AD 30), the generally accepted answer is that Jesus was with God in Heaven and thus was fully divine at the time he told John about the future.

It's not a question I've ever heard before, and it's a good one. The short version of the answer is that it gets glossed over in favor of talking about the actual revelation and not the details of how the message got to John.

share|improve this answer
See that is what the question is. If Jesus was fully divine at the time he received the revelation then we have a paradox. Jesus is fully divine and fully God, yet the Father held information that Jesus did not. Then the Father gave the information to Jesus, which He in turn gave to John through an angel. There is no doubt in my mind that Revelation as a whole supports the trinity, however, this one verse seems to confuse the doctrine we were all taught in Sunday school. All this to say, thanks for answering but I feel like the problem still exists. – fredsbend Sep 30 '13 at 18:28
Explaining the Trinity is a lot like explaining time travel. Any analogy I could use is flawed. But at the heart of the doctrine is that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate people that all are God. Being three separate people, they don't necessarily have to know the same things at the same exact time. But that doesn't stop them from all being God. Why that is an excellent question for a systematic theologian. The best I an do as an aspiring seminary student and part time Sunday school teacher is say that it's about faith. – crownjewel82 Sep 30 '13 at 18:52

Actually the answer is very simple. The confusion lays in the meaning of the word "revelation". It can be taken as "disclosure of earlier not known truths" which was to John for sure BUT it can by understood as "portion of facts and doctrines" which God the Father decided to reveal to humanity and passed it on through Jesus to John. In that sense it was NOT revelation for Jesus at all; he knew that (He was with His Father in their glory - John 17:5).

In a similar way Jude is using word "faith" to describe a set of doctrines pertaining salvation of man: Jud 1:3 Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. I hope it helps. Blessings in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Stanislaw Sylwestrowicz MATS, Gdansk, Poland

share|improve this answer
Thank you for your answer and welcome to the site. Here's a +1. That is certainly one way to look at it. I hope to see you post again soon. – fredsbend Nov 8 '14 at 17:23

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

We do know that Jesus did not have all of the knowledge of the Father.

Philippians 2:6-7 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

The word "robbery" throws a lot of people. The word is "harpagmos" in the Greek meaning plunder. The idea conveyed is that Jesus did not consider his equality with the Father as something to be held on to as tightly as a thief holds onto that which he has stolen.

Jesus made himself of a lower order. In some way we do not and maybe cannot understand, he set aside things so that he could be born and live among men. If Jesus had not set aside some things, he could not have lived among us.

Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

share|improve this answer
I gave you a +1 for bringing some new thought to the question, but I still feel like the question has not been answered. – fredsbend Nov 8 '14 at 18:55

What Revelation 1:1 describes is God the Father giving God the Son His permission to now reveal to us what is to come. It does not mean that Jesus did not know what these events were.

This is the nature of the Godhead, the Son rejoices to do the will of the Father, though He is equal with the Father (Philippians 2:6). Similarly, the Holy Spirit does not speak on His own authority but does the will of the Father (John 16:13), yet He is also equal. This unselfish love amongst the Godhead is a relationship men find difficult to comprehend.

share|improve this answer

Why does it appear that Jesus at some time did not know what God knew concerning the little details of the last days?

I don't see how this verse could be read as implying this: nothing in it suggests that Jesus didn't know the revelation that God (the father) gave him before he was given it. I'd interpret this verse as saying that the revelations that follow were assigned to Jesus to then reveal to John, rather than being assigned to angels or directly revealed through dreams or visions.

share|improve this answer

Mark 13:32

However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

The basic understanding, coming from an Trinitarian perspective, is that Jesus was fully God and fully man, both. Yet, all that He did on the Earth, He did as a man, and not "as" God.

That is, because He was the Son of God, He could have turned the stones to bread, being all powerful. Yet, He chose to operate and identify himself strictly as the Son of Man, hence wilfully limiting his power. Thus, the temptation there would appear to be that he was tempted to operate outside of the boundaries of being human, thus invalidating His ministry.

In the verse above, then, we see that the Son (of Man) was lacking in knowledge, by his own admission, that the Father possessed. This is then interpreted that, in His humanity, He did not know, because He operated out of His ability as a man (anointed by the Holy Spirit), but had He accessed His divine right, which was available but not He did not use, He knows all things.

This circumvents the premise that for Jesus to be given information or revelation from the Father would make Him less than God. It undercuts the argument, because it neither denies that He is God, and one with Him, knowing all things, nor does it deny him being and living as 100% human. Remember, Paul wrote that for those with the Spirit, the Spirit searches, even to the deep things of God, yet this still does not include Mark 13:32 -- see 1 Corinthians 2.

The same would then go for the Revelation, where indicated. It isn't that Jesus isn't God--it's that in His humanity, He purposefully did not act as God, either in deed or in knowledge and understanding. In the same way, Jesus Christ is still both fully man and fully God today. He was dead for approximately three days (depending on your counting), and is alive today, firstborn from the dead.

Thus, because He is both still Son of God and Son of Man, He is still capable of being given revelation from the Father, because He is the Son of Man. Yet at the same time, in His divinity, He would know all things.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.