The Father’s Humility In Eternity Past

In the previous post we began a series on the humility of God the Father. We spent time establishing that Father, Son, and Spirit are perfectly equal in essence and character. Humility therefore marks the Father as much as it does the Son and Spirit. We turn our attention in this post to the Triune relationship before the world was created.

The Father’s Humility before Creation

The interaction of the Trinity pre-exists creation and has always been characterized by humility. John gives us a glimpse of this…”And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). This is a unique window into Trinitarian interaction.

The sharing of glory and honor predates the world. The Father has always been passionate about exalting his Son. The way the Father interacts with the Son in his incarnate state is reflective of how he has always treated him. In theological terms the economic Trinity cannot be separated from the immanent Trinity.

When Scripture says that God is jealous for his glory we must remember that we are talking about a Triune God (Is 48:9-11). Giving glory happens in community. The Father, Son, and Spirit are equally passionate about extolling one another. God is indeed passionate for his glory. The Father is adamant that the Son be lifted high. The Son is deeply concerned that the Father be honored. The Spirit refuses to shine the light on himself, he wants Christ to be seen.

When viewed through this lens God’s glory becomes a brilliant display of humility. Glory happens precisely when one selflessly lifts another. In the divine economy I would go as far as saying that God’s glory is his humility. Tim Keller helps further capture this outward looking posture of the Trinity.

“Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love.”

2 thoughts on “The Father’s Humility In Eternity Past

  1. Again, I ask: can’t inherent attributes be distinguished from roles? I do see how the Father glorifying the son is, in a sense, demonstrating humility. It’s the Father not thinking so highly of himself that He wants no other to have any glory. But can’t it also be viewed as not diminishing the Father’s glory in any way by sharing it? Not even sharing it, but expanding it? Or maybe even enhancing it? Compare that sort of ‘humility’ with Christ giving up deity to become a beaten and murdered human. Yes, that was as part of the trinity. And certainly, as was alluded to in an earlier post, God can ‘feel’ and understand, better than we can ourselves, what trials and suffering we go through. But when broken out into the persons of the trinity, there were very different roles.

    Additionally, I’d like to ask ‘why is God jealous or passionate for His glory?”.

    Is it because He’s a heavenly egomaniac that requires continual adulation to feel good about Himself. No. He doesn’t need anything from us. It’s for us. Even worship, I think, is for us. God doesn’t need it. We do. This is an idea I don’t think most consider, and could really revolutionize our worship. It’s not something we do because we have to, but because we need to.

    1. Rob, these are some good thoughts. I enjoy the thought provoking discussion. I do believe that inherent attributes can be distinguished from roles. However, I also believe that inherent attributes will always be present in whatever role is executed by Father, Son, or Spirit. In other words, if humility as an inherent quality in the Trinity then it will always characterize whatever role and work is assumed by any of the three persons.

      Your thought on God’s honoring of the Son enhancing his own glory is helpful. I agree that the mutual honoring of the members of the Trinity ultimately works toward the display of the one God’s glory. I choose the language of display over against enhance or increase because I think a perfect reality only remains to be seen. To your point on the very different roles of the Trinity I think that humility and glory can be discerned uniquely in each person. I believe that this glory will always overlap because we are talking about one God, yet you are right that the distinction demands that we see something different as well.

      So for example, there is a unique expression of humility and glory when the Son takes on the form of a child, when the Spirit comes to indwell us, when the Father stoops to hear our prayers, etc. In looking at the distinct roles of each member of the Trinity we will discern some glorious expressions of humility. If you are interested in exploring this topic further you gotta check out John Owen’s brilliant book on the Trinity. I have provided a link below. This book is worth reading.

      Click to access john-owen-communion-with-the-triune-god.pdf

      God’s jealousy and passion for his glory, another good topic. I like your take on it…it puts his passion for his glory in the context of our good. In other words, his glory is outward looking. God’s passion for his glory viewed in a Trinitarian context is also very helpful as it shows an outward looking focus from one member of the Godhead toward another.

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