It seems as if everybody accepts that the Bible represents the Son as subordinate to the Father. For example, in Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to his Father, “yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39).
However, people identify different types of subordination and regard certain types of subordination as consistent with equality and others not.
One type of subordination was the two natures theory that was formulated at Chalcedon in 451. In this, following the Hypostatic union, the one person of Jesus Christ has two distinct natures, human and divine. (Two natures of Jesus | Theopedia). And His statements of subordination, such as that He does not know the day and hour of His return, but only the Father (Matt 24:36), were made from His inferior human nature. As the Athanasian Creed states,
“Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood.”
Consequently, “He will always and forever exist in heaven as a glorified man, albeit God at the same time” (Two natures of Jesus | Theopedia).
However, the two natures theory only explains the subordination of the Son after His incarnation while the Bible says that the Son always was subordinate to the Father. For example:
- The Father sent the Son, gave Him what to do and what to say (John 6:38; 8:42; 12:49; 17:4).
- The Father created the Universe “through” the Son (Heb 1:1-2).
Furthermore, the Bible says that the Person of the Son (not only His human nature) will always be subordinate to the Father. For example:
- God created all things “through” His Son (Heb 1:1-2) and, when all sin and consequences of sin have been removed from creation, the Son Himself also will be subjected to God so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:28).
- Statements such as that “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3) and that the Father is His God (Eph 1:3; Rev 3:12) refer to Him as a Person; not to one of His two natures only.
Therefore, another type of subordination that is suggested is an eternal functional subordination between the Persons, including that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father:
“The subordination of the person of the Son to the person of the Father … which permits the Father to be officially first, the Son second, and the Spirit third, is perfectly consistent with equality.” (Augustus Strong (1836 – 1921) Systematic Theology, Volume 3)
“All three Persons of the Godhead are equal in nature. … What the Bible does teach is an economic (or relational) subordination within the Trinity. The three Persons of the triune Godhead voluntarily submit to each other respecting the roles They perform in creation and salvation.” (GotQuestions)
Hodge maintained that “In the Holy Trinity there is a subordination of the Persons in relation to the mode of subsistence and operation.” For example, he says, while it is true that “The Father sends the Son” and that “The Father operates through the Son,” still “the Son is never said to send the Father, nor to operate through him.” (Reformed Theologian Charles Hodge (1797 – 1878), Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1952, p445)
“Some have sought to interpret biblical passages that speak of the Son submitting to or being subject to that Father as only describing a temporary, less than ideal state of affairs … Any possibility of the submission of the Son to the Father being a temporary or less than ideal state of affairs seems out of the question here (1 Cor 15:28).” Glenn Peoples)
My question is, does this second type of subordination replace the two natures theory? Does it explain all indications of subordination that we find in the Bible, or is the two natures theory still required to explain some indications of subordination that are not explained by eternal functional subordination?