The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP's Exegetical Compilation: John 5:19-30

This is part of my Exegetical Compilation series, which I am slllooooowwwwlly posting up, and which can be found here.

John 5:19-30: while these verses definitely testify to a coming resurrection into judgment (literally crisis) of those who still do evil things, verse 23 expressly explains what the purpose of the judgment by the Son is for: so that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. Nor is this honoring at all intended to be a false or hypocritical honoring (the Greek term is routinely used in the NT for positive valuing of the object). Those who honor the Son, and so who honor the Father in honoring the Son, receive eonian life and come out of the death into life. It is also expressly on this principle, of rebels coming to properly honor the Father (through honoring the Son), that Christ declares His judgment is fair or just: “I do not seek My own will but the will of Him Who sent Me.” “I do absolutely nothing for Myself.” A judging that did not result in those who are being judged coming to honor the Father would be (per Arminianism) failure by the Son; and if it did not have such a goal at all (per Calvinism), it would be (by God’s standards) an unjust judgment.

verses 22-23: the purpose of the Father, in giving all judgment to the Son: {hina pantes timôsi ton huion kathôs timôsi ton patera} “in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (with the logical clarification that “the one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father Who sent Him”). The usual explanation of these verses, is that while the judgment may be given to the Son so that all may honor the Son, that doesn’t mean the purpose of Christ’s judgment is for all to honor the Son; but that would be a very strange disjunction of the purposes of the Son acting in judgment compared to the purposes of the Father! The Son may do nothing for Himself and may want people to honor Him so that the Father may be honored, but the purposes are mutually coherent: the Son purposes that the Father may be honored, and the Father purposes that the Son may be honored.

verses 24-25: the one who hears the word of the Son and believes in the Father Who sends the Son, already honors the Son and the Father (of course), so has eonian life and passes out of the death {ek tou thanatou} into the life, instead of coming into the judgment (or crisis) by the Son–the goal of judgment being that all may honor the Son and the Father, the result of which would be that those who come to honor the Son and the Father pass out of the death into eonian life. It is in this context that the double-amen occurs, promising that an hour is coming when the dead ones shall hear the voice of the Son, and those who hear shall live.

verses 26-27: Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He also gives (a more accurate translation than “gave”) to the Son to also have life in Himself, and gives to the Son (as the Son of Man as well as the Son of God per verse 25) authority to do judging–the goal of which was already just recently explained to be that all may honor the Son and the Father and so pass out of the death into eonian life.

verses 28-29: An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who do the bad( thing)s shall go out into a resurrection of judgment–the goal of the judgment being (as was just previously explained by Jesus) that all may honor the Son and the Father and so pass out of the death into eonian life.

verse 30: As the Son hears, He judges, absolutely not for Himself (with a double-negative emphasis in Greek), because He does not seek His own will but the will of the One Who sends Him. And His judging is fair (or just) {kai hê krisis hê emê dikaia estin}–because the goal of the Son’s judgment, as the Son just recently explained, is that all may honor the Son and the Father and so pass out of the death into eonian life.

Verse 23 not only expressly explains the goal of the Son’s judgment, but provides the context for understanding what the Son means by just or fair judgment–even when that judgment is, understandably, a crisis for the currently impenitent sinner, the one who is still doing the bad things.

The only two ways around this would be, first, to try claiming that “all” here only means “many”, so that the purpose of the Father and the Son in the judgment of the Son is not to bring all to honor the Father and the Son but only some to honor the Father and the Son. Personally I am glad it is not my task to try to explain that the Father and the Son have no intention for some rational creatures to honor the Father and the Son!–how could the Son choose that a rational creature never honors the Father?? That would be rebellion by the Son against the Father! That the Father would choose (and so ensure) that a rational creature would never honor the Son, would be for the Father to ensure that the Son is permanently dishonored. The choice itself is an act (as Calvinists of all people ought to be aware, yet in my experience they appeal to this notion more than Arminians, that if God chooses for only some people to honor Him, He somehow hasn’t chosen for people to dishonor Him).

The second way around it would be to try claiming that “honor” doesn’t necessarily mean positively valuing God. But aside from the verb being a simple modification of the Greek word “to value” (as in the commandment to honor your father and mother), there are very many scriptures (including some here in GosJohn) indicating that God does not accept false honor of Himself (a pertinent example of the exact same term being YHWH’s complaint from Isaiah that people honor Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him), so such a theory requires for God (in any or all Persons) to be seeking a final result which God (in any or all Persons) does not accept.

Throughout the scriptures the unanimous theme is that those who honor God (whether or not this verb {timaô} or a cognate is used, but especially when this term is referenced) are accepted and saved from their sins; those who dishonor God, including by hypocritical honor, are rejected and punished. God may accept dishonest honor or other dishonor for a time in order to get other things done, but for God to seek to accept final dishonor would be self-contradictory.

Members may discuss these verses pro and con below, and are invited and encouraged to post links to other discussions of these verses, whether at the forum or off-site.

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Thanks very much for this Jason, just read through it. I like the way you break down the issues some would have with your interpretation, and then respond to them; it’s hugely helpful.

I often find that the nature and purpose of judgement is very rarely talked about, discussed or elaborated on by many people. Most just assume that a ‘day of judgement’ is a straightforward separation; rewards to the believers and hopeless punishment for unbelievers. There’s an air of ambiguity around it but many just assume it’s a basic final separation. Such a passage as this is a very interesting one because the purpose for it seems far bigger than ‘you’re in and you’re out’. It’s about the Father bringing honor to the Son and the Son bringing honor to the Father. You’ve neatly discussed the idea of what honor means in this passage (as I think that is the key point as to whether your interpretation on this is right or wrong)

Thanks :slight_smile:

Thanks for the compliments, and you’re welcome, Jonny! :slight_smile:

I think originally I ran this up as part of my discussion with fellow apologist JP Holding on his theory about honor/shame in the atonement and how that supposedly connects to final perdition. I didn’t think his ideas were altogether off-base – factoring in honor/shame cultural notions is an excellent aid to figuring out original implications in the scriptures (and I suspect that concept has A LOT to do with how divine violence is treated in the scriptures, too, though I’m nowhere near being ready or even able to unpack that idea yet).

But, yeah, if the goal of judgment is for everyone to come to honor the Son and the Father (which Jesus is very explicit about here), just how much eternal shame (and eternal shame of simple failure at that per JPH’s soft Arminian approach, reminiscent of Lewis whom we both admire) are we supposed to believe God will accept in having even one soul never coming (or coming back) to truly honor the Son and the Father?! On an agonistic paradigm, if JPH is right, that should be even less likely to be the final result! – that isn’t a shame God can just wave off and pass by and deal with eventually! God Himself in some OT verses stakes His own self-existence on His evangelism being altogether successful eventually! Which of course (since the ground of all reality cannot cease to self-exist or we wouldn’t be here now to talk about it) is a guarantee of His success.


Thank you for all the exegetical work you do. It is very helpful.

I was showing John 5:22,23 to a friend of mine today and he said that Jesus doesn’t actually say that the Father has entrusted all judgement to the Son “so that all may honour the Son”, or “so that all may honour both the Father and the Son”.
Jesus says “so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father”.
The problem is that some do not honour the Father very much.
This leaves the possibility that those who do not honour the Father will, in the same way, not honour the Son.
He thinks the passage is emphasising the sameness in the way that people will honour of the Father and the Son, rather than that all will honour the Father and the Son.

Any thoughts?

If that’s true, then the {hina} goal/result of the judgment is that some may be dishonoring the Father and the Son; which is not a legitimate (or even possible) goal if trinitarian (or even binitarian) theism is true.

If your friend isn’t a trinitarian, that might not be important to him, and admittedly if a merely unitarian theology could be true (which I think is impossible but hypothetically granting it for sake of argument) it might be possible for the Father to act with an intention and goal to bring final dishonor to the Son, and so give all things to the Son for judgment so that even the Father may be dishonoring the Son like those creatures who are already dishonoring the Son. But even a unitarian Christian wouldn’t have to go with such a morally ass-backward theology! They might insist that the Father intends to honor the Son; and therefore since the Father honors the Son already, and since those (other) creatures who already honor the Son already honor the Son and do not come into judgment (or not the judgment of this type), then the goal of the Father in giving the Son judgment over those who currently dishonor the Son is so that all persons may come to honor the Son and so also to honor the Father. (Though how they could be honored in “just the same way” on a unitarian theology is a mystery I leave to the unitarians to work on. :wink: )

Also in the narrative context, Jesus is talking to people who think they’re honoring the Father – which is part of their complaint about Jesus – and who are already dishonoring the Son. If there was no intention to change that situation, there would be no reason to give the Son judgment over them so that they may be honoring the Son in just the same way as they honor the Father. So either the intention is to bring them to dishonor the Father in just the same way they dishonor the Son (though by dishonoring the Son they are already dishonoring the Father, though they may not realize that yet); or the intention is to bring them to honor the Son (and so also to truly honor the Father).

At any rate, I’m pretty sure that I’d be the one dishonoring the Father and the Son to say the Persons seek to dishonor each other by doing various things. :wink:

Also, this interpretation provides a coherent solution to the running mystery in GosJohn about how neither the Father nor the Son are judging anyone but instead are acting to save the world – and yet the Father and the Son are clearly acting to judge evildoers, not merely passively letting evildoers judge themselves, or letting a mere impersonal law somehow ‘judge’ them: the Father gives all judgment to the Son so that He may be raising those who do the evil things to judgment, and that’s a personal action of judgment by the Son (and by the Father). The answer is that they don’t judge with a judgment that leads to non-salvation. They judge in a way that leads those who currently dishonor God to come to honor God – and so, thus to come out of death and judging and into receiving eonian life from the Son, Who is given all things by the Father so that He may be giving eonian life to all things which He has been given. The eonian life is itself the judgment of God on those who are doing the evil things. This why Jesus can say in chapter 8 (thematically paralleling a later condemnation prophecy reported at the end of GosMatt 23), that some of His opponents will definitely be dying in their sins in rejecting that He is “I AM” – but then at some time later they shall come to be accepting and lifting Him up as “I AM” after all.

The case is thus interlocked with several other subsequent GosJohn testimonies about the purpose of Christ’s judgment and what He’ll be doing to bring about the judgment and what the result will be. Bringing positive honor to the Son (by the Father) and to the Father (by the Son) is all coherent with that. It’s also coherent with a thematically equivalent scene reported in GosMatt (which in harmonization this may even be the sequel to), where Jesus caught flack for healing someone’s non-fatal illness on the Sabbath and replied not only with a harsh denunciation against those who would deny God would do that, but also with what scholars call the Johannine Coda (language that sounds a lot like Jesus’ style in GosJohn).

It’s also interlocked with a full reading of Daniel 12, which Jesus briefly cites here in relation to having the authority and honor and power to raise all dead people to life again, some to a resurrection of (eonain) life and some to a resurrection of judgment. People like to cite Dan 12:2 as though that locks in the hopeless nature of the punishment, but Daniel 12 doesn’t end there: when Daniel asks the angel what the end result of this is going to be, the angel answers that the result will be the purging and cleaning of those who don’t do justice so that they will be instructed and come to do justice. And the wicked won’t understand (the purpose of what’s happening to them), and will continue doing injustice for some indeterminate time, but the instructors will understand and will shine like the sun into AHD OLAM.

For ease of reference, here’s a recent video interview I did on the John 5 / John 12 argument and its important connections to trinitarian theism for soteriology. It runs about 2-1/2 hours (plus about 20 minutes of afterchat, where I happen to go into a judgment parable from Matt 18 in depth.)

If that video isn’t showing up on your browser, try clicking or copy-pasting this address:

Thanks very much Jason for some good thoughts to think through myself and discuss with my friend.
The video was good too. Thanks.

Jason, you wrote: God Himself in some OT verses stakes His own self-existence on His evangelism being altogether successful eventually!

I’d love to know what those verses are, please.

Nick Hawthorn

To me, Jesus was the one and only God Himself in the flesh. He became a Son when He came to Earth as a man ( a son) to teach us how to be sons of God. From this point of view, my interpretation of the verses being discussed differ a bit. From what I understand, Jesus was addressing the Jewish leaders who believed that they were the sons, God’s chosen people. That in order to receive the blessings of life, one had to be Jewish and follow all of the laws that they prescribed. Jesus was telling them that this was not true. For a son of God (all who follow God’s word) does not take authority into his own hands and judge people by his own interpretation of what the word says. In other words, we are not to force others into our own beliefs by making laws and dictating to people what they should do. God has given each of us our own lives. Besides, if our interpretations happen to be incorrect, this dishonors the Father. A true son of God is only to follow what Jesus does. We must set an example and let others judge the truth for themselves. This way we let the word of God speak for itself. Doing the works of God in the Spirit of God ( tending to needs of others, healing, love and respect etc.) is what gives us life and is seen by all. People will automatically be drawn to it or come to it of their own volition. Those who choose not to follow will bring judgment upon themselves, suffering the consequences of their own actions. This can also bring people to the truth. Jesus was letting the Jewish leaders know that their authority was about to come to an end. The evilness of their own ways had come to fruition and was going to destroy them. Once the truth comes to light, the true sons of God would rise in power and execute judgment. We are given the power to execute judgment on those who break the universal laws of God, but this authority was given only to the sons of God because we judge not according to our own will but in all righteousness according to God’s word.

Nicholas, whenever God swears upon Himself to accomplish something, He’s essentially swearing by His own self-existence and so putting that at stake if He doesn’t bring about what He intends.

So for example, in regard to the Abrahamic covenant (which may be the first example of this in the scriptures, and definitely the one Jews appealed to as evidence that God will surely bring to righteousness all of Abraham’s descendants, even as many as the stars of the sky or the sands of the sea), the Hebraist writes that God, intending to more superabundantly exhibit the immutability of His saving {boulê}, even interposed with an oath, swearing upon Himself since He could swear by nothing greater, so that by two immutable things (the visible YHWH and the invisible YHWH, the Father and the Son making covenant with each other as Paul talks about in a related discussion at Galatians 3), in which it impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong expectation lying before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul, both secure and confirmed. (Heb 6:13-19)

Another perhaps more famous example is the lead-in to the end of Isaiah 45 (cited by Paul at least twice), “I have sworn by Myself – the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back – that to Me every knee will bow and every tongue shall swear allegiance,” so that “in YHWH all the descendants of Israel will be justified and will glory.” Which is again connected to the Abrahamic covenant which cannot be broken by the sin of Abraham or any descendant so long as the Son, though sinless, sacrifices Himself for those who would otherwise break the covenant in sin, in order to keep the covenant between the Father and the Son intact.

Several months ago a critic of my John 5 theory posted a rebuttal attempt on Facebook, that I haven’t gotten around to mentioning here yet – nor even my reply! Unfortunately I’ve lost the original link, but I saved the discussion in my notes.

Be aware that this discussion involves getting very picky about Greek grammatic form! And I know Jesus almost certainly wasn’t speaking Greek to these people, so arguments about nit-picking Greek grammar may seem specious. But I’m working on the assumption that John’s choice of translation into Greek could be important enough to check on for getting the correct intention of meaning.

But if your eyes are already reflexively crossing at hearing (or reading) that, the short version is that this rebuttal attempt ends up destroying the salvation promise of John 3:16. Which, maybe other Christians are willing to sacrifice, but I’m sure not! :laughing:

The verb form for honoring the Son and the Father, {timôsi} is exactly the same both ways: it’s a 3rd person plural (to match “all”) present active form. Strictly speaking it would read “so that all are honoring the Son accord-as (they) are honoring the Father”. (The 3rd person pronoun “they” is implied in the verb even though not printed out in the Greek here.) However, the mood of the verbs either way could be indicative or could be subjunctive.

Indicative mood would be equivalent to our future tense in English: “so that all shall be honoring the Son just as they shall be honoring the Father”. So one way around the conclusion of a successful remedial (and truly re-tributive) judgment, is to try claiming that the result of the judgment shall be that some people equally do not honor the Son just as they do not honor the Father.

But those who shall be judged in the resurrection, already do not honor either the Son or the Father (whether from dishonoring both actively or only actively dishonoring one of them, the Son by local context)! – that is exactly why they are being raised to a resurrection of judgment! So on this theory, there is no real result to the judgment, much less a goal, of all equally honoring or, on this theory, equally dishonoring both Persons. This way of trying to get around the conclusion also falls into the problem of “honoring” really meaning “dishonoring”, although the problem is admittedly more subtle and nuanced than trying to claim that someone can falsely honor God and have that be the goal or result of God’s judgment.

This wasn’t what my opponent was attempting, but I thought I should mention it while passing by.

What my opponent was trying, was an appeal to the mood being subjunctive instead of indicative.

The subjunctive mood has two main grammatic functions in Greek. One is to show the doer of the verb reflexively doing the verb: the doer verbs himself, doing the action to himself. That can’t be what’s happening here, since the doer of “honoring” is verb-ing the Son and the Father.

The other purpose of the subjunctive mood is to speak in terms of possibility, which is naturally related to the mood being used for a future tense. In English we can get across the same combined two meanings with “may verb” or “may be verbing”. Thus, “so that all may be honoring the Son just as they may be honoring the Father”.

Before I continue, I’ll take the opportunity to mention that since the mood forms are identical, the meaning could be future tense for one and subjunctive for the other. So someone could theoretically translate the clause “so that all may be honoring the Son just as they shall be honoring the Father”. But the connecting {kathôs} between the two verbs shows that equivalent meanings are meant.

My opponent’s idea, then, was that the (possible) subjunctive mood of the verb(s) stresses possibility not future certainty, so instead of “may” (which could be read in English either way) the proper translation would be something like “so that all might perhaps honor the Son just as they might perhaps honor the Father”. Since, on this argument, the verb would only indicate possibility of result, not certainty, then that would leave open the possibility of failing the goal as a result, and so would allow that some people never come to honor the Son and the Father after all even though this rebuttal attempt acknowledges that this will be God’s intended goal in giving all judgment to the Son and so in raising those who dishonor the Father and the Son (and otherwise who do the bad things) to a resurrection of judgment.

Note that this could only be an Arminianistic attempt; no Calvinistic theory could seriously allow that God ever truly tries to bring anyone who shall be finally lost to truly honor Him and so, as Jesus puts it here, to thereby come out of the death and into eonian life. (My opponent, if I recall correctly, was Arm not Calv.)

Note also that this fourth attempt requires allowing that post-mortem salvation could be at least theoretically possible, even after the judgment has started, since this salvation from sin (and from rebellion against and dishonoring of God) would be acknowledged as the goal of God. (Possible post-mortem salvation after final judgment, was not something my opponent actually meant to acknowledge by this theory, if I recall correctly.)

This rebuttal attempt requires, however, first that the {hina} must be only the goal and not the result – which is grammatically possible, but then the attempt needs to acknowledge that {hina} might mean the result of a goal, too. The rebutter no doubt would appeal to extended context as deciding the case one way or another; but then second, the rebuttal attempt must either ignore the local reference to Daniel 12 or must shift the argument over to arguing against Daniel seeing that the righteous ones shall be teaching those unrighteous ones raised to olam abomination to do justice instead. So far as John 5 is used in an extended Johannine argument for universal salvation (via John 17 for example) the appeal to extended context to settle the {hina} question might not work either.

The third and, I think, decisive problem against this rebuttal type, is that the subjunctive in Greek actually has a third function when used with a {hina}! When that happens, then the form indicates a formal royal declaration, or some other authoritative promise of what shall be happening in the future. This can be seen in the world-famous John 3:16, to give a relevant example of Johannine usage, where God gives His only begotten Son {hina}, so that, all those who trust in Him shall not be perishing but shall be having eonian life. The verb form there is just the same as the form for the honoring verb here in John 5:23 (though the verbs themselves are different of course: dying and having/receiving back there, honoring here). It’s a perfect example of the royal/divine promise or declarative form.

The {hina}, in other words, along with a mood of the honoring verb(s) which could be subjunctive or indicative, combines to create an effect similar to how in slightly archaic English someone can use “may” as a permission or promise about something that could otherwise go either way but will happen one way instead of the other if the promise or permission is kept: so that all who trust in Jesus may (by God’s promise and gift) be having eternal life. No Christian anywhere thinks that those who trust in Christ for eternal life might only possibly maybe perhaps receive eternal life! God Most High would be failing His side of the promise if so!

By exactly the same token, I argue that we should not think that God might only possibly maybe perhaps achieve His goal of God’s own judgment: so that all shall be honoring the Son just as they shall be honoring the Father.

I suppose a related attempt at getting around this conclusion, could be a unitarian Christology where Jesus (however much of a created super-angel he, not He, may or may not be) is only a creature and so may fail in keeping the royal/divine declarative promised goal and purpose of the Father giving all judgment to the Son: the Father, being God, wouldn’t fail in the purpose of His judgment, but the Son not being God could fail.

To that I would reply, first, be that as it may I’m a trinitarian theologian working out a trinitarian soteriology primarily for an expected reading audience either of fellow trinitarians or at least who have some interest in a trinitarian logic-of-salvation; and second, that this hardly would lead anyone to think any kind of merely unitarian Christology is worth investing our faith in; especially because, third, there is no way for such a unitarian appeal to avoid the parallel possibility of failure of the promise of John 3:16! The Son, not being God Most High Himself on this theory, might possibly fail His promise that (per John 6:37) He shall not lose any of “the all” who have been given to him by the Father including (v.40) all the ones whom Jesus shall be raising on the final Day! If you are asking us to put our trust in a not-God person for salvation, but admitting that trusting in some not-God person instead of in God for salvation could lead to someone not receiving eonian life (call it eternal life as you wish), then thanks but no thanks! – we’ll keep trusting in God for our salvation instead, and not put our faith in any lesser lord or god!

Ultimately, then, I find the four or five ways around my conclusion to be unsatisfactory, especially when in one or another way they violate the coherency of trinitarian theism (or, as with the fifth riposte attempt, appeal to an outright denial of ortho-trin).

Right. If the {hina} goal/result was that all who already dishonor the Father and the Son would never come to honor the Son and the Father, that would at least be a consistent goal and result (if highly though implicitly anti-trinitarian) – and what most people seem to think the verse says somehow when it literally says the opposite! :unamused:

But if the {hina} goal/result was that all who already dishonor the Father and the Son would come to dishonor the Father and the Son, then that’s ludicrously redundant to set as a goal/result.

It’s the difference between a military court judging a criminal as being in contempt for the court saying to each other, “Our goal now is to make sure that our soldier never respects us,” which though weird would be consistent; and saying, “Our goal now is to make sure that our soldier doesn’t respect us.” Dumbasses, the soldier already doesn’t respect you all, that’s why he did something in contempt of the court!

Jn.5:22 Furthermore, the Father judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Some commentators interpret v.23 as a forced honoring, as they also view passages such as Phiil.2:9-11; Isa.45:21-25; Rev.5:13, etc: