JUSTIN AND ST. JOHN ON THE SUBORDINATION OF THE SON.
The second matter connected with the relations of the doctrine of Justin Martyr to that of St. John, is the subordination of the Son to the Father.
I have already noticed this truth (page 49), but, owing to its importance it may be well to devote to it a few further remarks. The author of “Supernatural Religion” does not seem to realize that in perfect Sonship two things are inherent, viz., absolute sameness (and therefore equality) of nature with the Father, and perfect subordination in the submission of His will to that of the Father.
He consequently asserts:—
“It is certain, however, that both Justin and Philo, unlike the prelude to the Fourth Gospel, place the Logos in a secondary position to God the Father, another point indicating a less advanced stage of the doctrine. Both Justin and Philo apply the term [Greek: theos] to the Logos without the article. Justin distinctly says, that Christians worship Jesus Christ as the Son of the True God, holding Him in the Second Place [Greek: en deutera chora echontes], and this secondary position is systematically defined through Justin’s writings in a very decided way, as it is in the works of Philo, by the contrast of the begotten Logos with the unbegotten God. Justin speaks of the Word as the ’first born of the unbegotten God’ ([Greek: prototokos to agenneto Theo]), and the distinctive appellation of the ‘unbegotten God,’ applied to the Father, is most common in all his writings.” (Vol. ii. p. 291)
Now, when Justin speaks of holding Christ “in the Second Place,” he does no more nor less than any Trinitarian Christian of the present day, when such an one speaks of the Son as the Second Person of the Trinity, and as the only begotten Son and the Word of the Father.
When we speak of Him as being the Second Person, we necessarily rank Him in the second place in point of numerical order. When we speak of Him as being the Son, we naturally place Him as, in the order of conception, second to, or after, Him that begat Him; [94:1] and, when we speak of Him as the Word, we also place Him in order of conception as after Him Who utters or gives forth the Word.
Justin says no more than this in any expression which he uses.
When he speaks of the Father as the unbegotten God, and the Son as the Begotten God, he does no more than the most uncompromising believer in the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity in the present day does, when, in the words of the Creed of St. Athanasius, that believer confesses that