In Trinitarian theology, when Jesus uttered the following words that indicate his subservience to the Father, which nature was Jesus "accessing" / "operating in": his divine nature, or his human nature?

  • John 5:19:

    So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

  • John 14:28:

    You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

  • Luke 22:41-42:

    And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Excerpt from Henry Bettenson's English translation of the AD 451 Chalcedon Formula:


and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the Godbearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ

I borrowed the language "operate in his divine/human nature" from Eleonore Stump's explanation of Jesus as God (min. 5:40-5:55).

To me, especially from dythelitism perspective where each nature has a distinct will, it makes more sense that in the 3 verses above Jesus operated in his human nature, whose divine nature communicated His will, just as we discerned God's will for us. Because if Jesus was operating in his divine nature, in order for these 3 verses to have any real meaning of subservience, how can one being has two potentially conflicting wills?

If there are major camps representing different answers, I'll edit this question to add a comparative-christianity tag.

  • Great question! Hopefully a mod won't close this one as well. May 11 at 20:16
  • 2
    I would've thought that he was submitting in his person rather than a nature. Submission is relational so it should be personal not nature based.
    – curiousdannii
    May 12 at 1:24
  • @curiousdannii I hope the answer can clarify. But wouldn't having the human nature subservient to divine nature makes more sense than what some Protestants conceive as "eternal subordination" within the Godhead? May 12 at 1:47
  • @GratefulDisciple The human nature is subservient within the Son. I don't think that helps explain the passages in John, though it probably does for Luke 22:41-42.
    – curiousdannii
    May 12 at 3:59

1 Answer 1


Specifically, it is not the nature but the person who acts. Christ has two natures, human and divine, and His actions and statements are ascribed to either one nature or the other. In John 5:19 Christ is referring to the one divine will, which He possesses by divine nature. The statements in John 14:28 and Luke 22:41-42 are ascribed to His human nature and will.

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