3

John 5:21-23 (DRB) For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom he will.1 22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. 23 That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father.2 He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him.

There are only two possibilities here:

  • "as they honor the Father" describes being honored as common to the Father and the Son, but not necessarily of the same degree
  • "as they honor the Father" describes equality of honor

Question

  • How is it argued that the former is meant? (isn't it a bit like saying 'honor your parents as you honor God,' which is severely misleading?)
  • Isn't "as they honor the Father" redundant given this interpretation?

1 Notice that 'so also' refers to enjoying the very same perogative, one which doesn't admit of 'degree' (raising the dead either occurs or it doesn't—and clearly Jesus is speaking of something clearly unique to the Son, not a 'prophetic' ability to raise the dead with God's help: cf. "to whom He will").

2 In the Greek, it's even stronger, since the tenses are thus: "all men may honor the Son even as they do [currently] honor the Father." Which was and is of course by acts of the fullest worship.

  • As far as I know, this could be addressed to followers of Arius (more likely via historical document than living representative), JWs, or possibly LDS (Mormons), who might or might not consider it addressed to them, and probably no others. Surely you would get three very different answers if all three of these groups answered. It might help if you changed the tone a little so it doesn't sound like a rant, and maybe there are only two possibilities that you can think of. – disciple May 16 '18 at 22:46
  • It's not subjective that there are two possibilities, since the question hinges on one word, which is kathos (just as). Either it means just as (in the degree to which) or just as (just as it is so that). There are no alternatives available on a grammatical level. It's a matter of the semantic range of the word in the given syntax. Also, I'm not seeking a unified stance, just those who reject the deity of Christ in general. Just as a question asking how 'Protestants' interpret certain passages, whereas there is no one 'Protestant' position or church. I don't see a 'rant' in my question.. – Sola Gratia May 16 '18 at 23:25
  • Just to be clear, you are looking for an answer from any denomination that specifically does not believe in the deity of Christ. If that's true, you need to say that explicitly in your question and not in comments. Otherwise, this question belongs on Biblical Hermeneutics.SE (and probably does anyway). – JBH May 17 '18 at 2:47
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    I thought "How do those who reject the deity of Christ " was clear. – Sola Gratia May 17 '18 at 9:52
2

Jehovah's Witnesses believe a bit of both of those possibilities, depending on what kind of "honor" is being referred to. To the same degree as the Father is honored as "Judge of all the earth" (Gen. 18:25), they honor the Son as Judge. However, they do not honor the Son as being the Father or as God. Given the context of John 5:23, Jehovah's Witnesses qualify the "sameness of honor" assigned to the Father and Son to their respective roles as the judges of mankind.

Here are some Watchtower articles which discuss the meaning of John 5:23 (bold mine):

"Passing Over From Death to Life" - w64 12/1 p. 714-715

13 The Sender is greater than the one sent. Jesus himself said that. (John 13:16) God the Greater sent the Son the Lesser, for which reason Jesus also said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) The Father the Greater appointed the Son the Lesser to be a judge, committing all the judging with reference to mankind to the Son, who died sacrificially for them. If we humans respect the Father’s power to appoint, we ought to honor the one whom he appoints as judge. Just as we should honor God the Father who is “the Judge of all,” so we should honor the Son whom he appoints to judge mankind. Certainly if we do not honor the Son as God’s appointed judge, we do not honor God the Father who clothed his Son with judicial power. We cannot claim to honor God the Father and at the same time rightly ignore the Son as judge.

14 Our everlasting life depends on our thus honoring the Son as judge in the same way as we honor the heavenly “Father who sent him.” Today, by means of John’s written account in the Holy Bible, we are hearing Jesus’ words in this regard. If, after thus hearing, we do as Jesus said, namely, ‘believe on him that sent me,’ we shall have everlasting life. This life we shall enjoy in God’s promised righteous order of things under his kingdom.

"Source of His Life" - w62 10/1 p. 592

ALL along the evidence has been mounting up from John’s own writings that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. This very fact in itself argues that Jesus as a Son was dependent upon God and was not equal to God. A son is not greater than his father, but must honor his father, according to God’s command. As God’s Son, Jesus said: “I honor my Father.” (John 8:49) How, then, can anyone say he was making himself God or the equal of God when he said: “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him”? (John 5:22, 23, AV) In those words Jesus was not telling us to honor him as being the Father or as being God. He did not say we were to honor the Son as much as the Father.

34 Look at Jesus’ words again and see why he said he was to be honored just as the Father is to be honored. Jesus said that the Father had appointed him to be judge, to act as the deputy or representative of God the Supreme Judge. Hence as God’s appointed Judge the Son deserved to be honored. By honoring the Son we show respect for God’s appointment of the Son as Judge. If we do not honor the Son as Judge, then we do not honor “the Father which hath sent him.” But that does not mean we honor the Son as being God himself or honor the Son as much as God himself, who sent the Son.

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    "Jesus was not telling us to honor him as being the Father or as being God. He did not say we were to honor the Son as much as the Father." Interesting. So you take 'honor the Son just as you do the Father' to refer to 'just as you honor Him in that He is the rightful Judge over you?' – Sola Gratia May 17 '18 at 14:28
  • @SolaGratia Yes, that's correct. – 4castle May 17 '18 at 14:32

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