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The Apologists  Bible Commentary



John 5

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22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,


Commentary Jesus expands His Divine prerogatives further by coupling His ability to give life to whom He will with the ultimate judgment to come.  These two "works" constitute the "greater works" mentioned in verse 20.  The Father does not judge because He has given all judgment to His beloved Son, and the Son gives life to whom He will because the Father has entrusted Him with judgment on the last day.  The Jews knew that only God was "judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25); for Jesus to claim that He had been given this Divine prerogative, in the context of defending Himself against the charge of blasphemy, would be odd indeed, if Jesus intended to deny his equality with the Father.

James warned us about speaking evil of or judging a brother. He pointed out that anyone who does judge steps out of his role as a subject of the Law and, in effect, claims authority over it. "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy" (James 4:12). So when Jesus stated that the Father "has entrusted all judgment to the Son," He was again claiming deity. Only God, who gave the Law, is above it. Jesus must be honored as God, and submitted to in all things. "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him," is Jesusí inescapable conclusion (TC).

Other Views Considered

Jehovah's Witnesses

objection:  Witnesses argue that since the Son receives authority from the Father to execute judgment, the Son cannot be Almighty God - for Almighty God does not receive authority from another.  Rather, the Son is an angelic being whom God gives authority to judge; God judges through the Son, just as He judged Pharaoh through Moses, and as the "gods" (i.e., human judges) in Psalms 82 judged on God's behalf in Israel.

Response:  God proclaims that He is coming to judge the earth (1 Chronicles 16:33; Psalms 96:13, 98:9).  While Witnesses may believe that the Father is coming to the earth with the Son in the last days, it is clear from this verse that only the Son will execute judgment ("not even the Father judges anyone").  It must be stressed that nowhere does this passage teach that the Father judges through the Son, but rather that the Son's will perfectly matches the Father's and therefore the Son's judgment is just (v. 30).  God used Moses to execute judgment on Pharaoh (that is, to punish him), not to judge him.  Human judges were termed 'gods' in Psalms 82 because they represented God in a narrowly defined role.  However, the context makes clear that the 'gods' are themselves subject to God's ultimate judgment - whereas this verse says the Father will not judge anyone, for He has committed all judgment to the Son.  The Father is not acting through an intermediary - He commits judgment to His Son, whom He knows will judge just as He would, for they are One.

A sound exegesis takes this verse at face value and does not require reading into it an intermediary role for the Son that is nowhere here mentioned.  With a proper understanding of the true Nature of God's Son, the plain meaning harmonizes perfectly with the OT passages cited above.  God will come to judge the earth in the Person of His Divine Son.

Trinitarians believe that within the Godhead there are distinctions of role.  The Father sends; the Son and the Spirit are sent.  We also recognize that the Son submits to the Father's authority in perfect love, and the Father reciprocates by showing the Son "all things that He does."  The Father commits judgment to the Son, and the Son will execute it in complete harmony with the Father's will.  Thus, the fact that the Father gives authority to the Son does not present a problem for Trinitarians.

Everyone - righteous and unrighteous alike - will be brought before God the Word.  For the Father has committed all judgment to Him....He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to everyone, assigns to each person what is righteous according to his works (Hippolytus, c. 205 a.d.).

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