Craig Keener on “subordinationism”; 1 Corinthians 15:28

1 Cor. 15:24-28 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

This is a fairly short segment in Craig Keener's paper, "Is Subordination within the Trinity Really Heresy? A Study of John 5:18 in Context".

Let me remind all reading that Keener is an egalitarian and has no reason to see eternal submission of Christ as a basis for his stand in the gender role conversation. Further, he reminds us that there is no need to accuse either side of heresy or "tampering with the Trinity".

The first segment (John 5) is here.
In this first segment is Scripture, with my comments block-quoted/inset.
1) Christ reigns now.

Christ is currently at the right hand of the Father (which is traditionally, a place of equal power and authority, and lesser rank) - we have a current example of submission.

2) then comes the end, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father.

"The end" - this makes this an eschatological passage; one that tells us of the end of history (the future). Even then, the action of Christ is to deliver the kingdom to His Father, not to keep it for Himself.

3) after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

For those who believe that a Christian marriage is an authority structure and that the husband is the authority, this tells us that THAT AUTHORITY WILL END at this point.

4) AFTER destroying the last enemy, the final enemy to be destroyed is death.

That is a comforting piece of Scripture...death will be destroyed.

5) FOR God has put all things under Christ's feet.

God is the One who put Christ into power; Christ's authority (as Christ said many times while He walked the earth) was the authority of His Father.

6) BUT [emphasis mine] when it says äll things are put in subjection", it is plain that the Father is excepted

Scripture is telling us that the Father is NOT in subjection to Christ - the Father is excepted.

7) When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him,

Here is a Scriptural, Biblical example of the FUTURE and ESCHATALOGICAL submission of the Son to the Father.

8) that God may be all in all.

New Advent puts it: The Son also himself shall be subject unto him... That is, the Son will be subject to the Father, according to his human nature, even after the general resurrection; and also the whole mystical body of Christ will be entirely subject to God, obeying him in every thing.

MY QUESTION AND POINT (I think that the question must have gotten lost in the shuffle many times) is that if we have a past, present and future (creative, redemptive and eschatological) example of the Son in submission to the Father...where does Scripture tells us when this submission ends?

If there is no place that Scripture tells us that the submission of the Son ends; that He grasps full equality not only in essence and person, but also in His role in relationship to the Father, then the teaching that eternal submission is false is teaching from silence.

Keener's comments (bolded emphasis mine):

In some sense the messianic king and Son of man must reign forever (Isa 9:7; Dan 7:14; Luke 1:3233), but Jewish people also usually affirmed that God himself would reign more directly in the final time (Exod 15:18; Ps 146:10; Mic 4:7).40 So Paul's first hearers probably would not have found his point difficult to grasp.

Depending on how much weight one hangs on the grammatical details here, scholars debate the extent to which Paul shares with some of his contemporaries the view of an intermediate messianic kingdom. Some believe Christ's reign refers to his present reign concluded by death being placed under his feet at the believers' resurrection (1 Cor 15:25-26), others to a later period based on the succession of "thens" suggested in 15:23-24. In either case, in the end Christ himself will be plainly subordinated to the Father (15:28) in a more complete way than he is before that day (15:27), though he sits already at the Father's right hand (cf. Acts 2:34-35).

At that point, God will be "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28). This refers to his unchallenged authority over all else, in this context presumably including the Son. (...)

Despite some thorny questions about the meaning of some of Paul's language here, which we have not endeavored to resolve, this passage appears to affirm the Son's willing and loving subordination to the Father in the future era. For Paul, then, Jesus' deity (e.g., 1 Cor 8:6) is presumably not incompatible with his recognition of the Father's higher rank, even in the eternal future. Paul's wording does not indicate the sense in which the Son submits to the Father-it surely differs from the sense in which the rest of creation submits to both of them (Rev 22:3). But it does suggest that the Father and Son embrace roles that remain distinct in some respects even in eternity.

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