18"Why do you call Me good?” Jesus replied. “No one is good except God alone." (Mark 10:18 BSB, Luke 18:19 BSB)

How can Jesus be God Himself (and part of the Trinity) when he says "no one is good except God alone"? And then if Jesus is part of the Trinity, shouldn't they all be equal? So then why does Jesus say the following?

28"You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father because the Father is greater than I." (John 14:28 BSB)

If there are any duplicates, please suggest how I can edit this question to differentiate it from others.

  • 1
    Because of this, this, this, etc. Learn about kenosis, ousia vs hypostasis, subordination (not subordinationism), I can give you 20 reasons why, with 5 verses each (give your email and I can send an excel sheet), and that's just from the Gospels. Then there are another 150 verses I could give from the rest of the New Testament. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 21:58
  • 1
    I'd suggest you ask about the verse from John separately - it doesn't seem to me to have anything to do with the verse from Mark/Luke.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 5:35
  • The way I read this verse is that Jesus is trying to clarify for all present (the man included) whether he was regarding Jesus as God or not. Are you calling me good because you think I am God, or because you are careless in your words or theology? Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 16:47
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    @AlexStrasser I sense that you have a good answer, based on your comments and links. Can you please offer one? Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 21:53
  • Christ was constantly criticizing social mores and religious formalism; all Gospels detailing the event explicitly mention that the man was both young and rich; what they don't explicitly mention, but is self-evident from the way he talks, is that he is also well-raised and well-educated; specifically, he addresses Christ as good teacher, since teacher was a common way of addressing those that taught the Torah; Jesus then immediately jumps at the occasion, and invites him to think in more depth about what would otherwise constitute a mere social etiquette.
    – user46876
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 20:02

2 Answers 2


The teaching on this passage from such as Martin Luther (see link below) is that the rich young ruler approaches Jesus as 'good Master'.

The young man sees only a master who can instruct him with legal commandments. All he thinks he needs is the knowledge of good and evil. He thinks he has resource within himself to do all that is necessary - he just needs guidance as to what to do.

He hasn't seen the necessity of a Saviour. He doesn't know of his desperate need within. He has not (yet) appreciated that God has sent One to save - not to legally instruct.

For this is why the Son of God came forth. He is not a second Moses.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17 KJV.

So Jesus responds by speaking to where the young man is. And gives him food for thought according to his present spiritual state.

Why call me good ? None is good, but God.

The man who thinks he needs only legal commandments is a man who knows only of a distant Deity, unknown, unrevealed. He does all himself (so he thinks). He has yet to discover what Saul of Tarsus discovered :

O wretched man that I am ! Who shall deliver me ? Romans 7:24 KJV.

Martin Luther "A Treatise on Good Works

We ought first to know that there are no good works except those which God has commanded, even as there is no sin except that which God has forbidden. Therefore whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God's commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments. …

  • "God has sent One to save - not to legally instruct" I keep discovering what the Council of Trent was condemning when I read Protestant posts :) "Canon 21 —If any one saith, that Christ Jesus was given of God to men, as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey; let him be anathema." Also, what about the "but I say to you" passages among the plethora of others? Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 13:52
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    @SolaGratia I am not troubled in the slightest to be anathema to the Council of Trent. I rejoice in it. My brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Romans 7:4. There is no fruit to God out of law. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Galatians 3:10.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 14:35
  • 2
    @SolaGratia - When some Protestants speak of obedience to Christ, they call it "Lordship Salvation". It might not be so far from Catholic teaching. We are to obey Christ, but out of love, not law. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 16:45
  • James sums up the Bible's teaching on the matter quite well in James 2:8-13. Yes, we are to keep the moral law, the Commandments as made explicit, but out of love for God's having had mercy on us. Notice that it comes with a requirement: that we show mercy to others. The point is we are still to keep the Commandments, but we are judged by the law of liberty, which exalts mercy above judgement. Same laws, but now forgiveness for shortcomings—not a loosening or change of the laws (rather the opposite) which are reiterated here. Catholicism excludes obedience to the Law as a means of salvation. Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 22:41
  • The Law does not permit 'shortcomings'. This do and thou shalt live.. Luke 10:28.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 23:09

See https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/746-did-jesus-repudiate-his-divine-nature

Jesus is trying to show that the man is careless in his use of the word "good". He is not denying his deity, but trying to force the man to clarify what he means. He is trying to get the rich young ruler to either affirm that he (Jesus) is God or reject that idea. When Jesus then asks the man to sell all his belongings, give the money to the poor and follow him, the Lord is acting like God in authority; however, the man leaves. That is the rich youg ruler's answer: "No, Jesus, you are not my God."

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