Bible Question:

When Jesus gave his prophecy about the end of this system of things, He stated. “But of that day, or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the father.” Had Jesus been the equal Son part of a Godhead (Trinity) surely he would have known what the father knows. But Jesus did not know, so how are we to believe that he is equal to God?

Bible Answer:

Who was Jesus? That is the key that unlocks the mystery as to why Christ did not know when the end of the world would occur. The reason Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:36 and Acts 1:7 may be confusing is that one does not understand the true nature of Jesus Christ.

Who Was and Is Jesus?

Because some people do not understand the nature of Jesus Christ, they are confused about Christ. Some think He was only a man or only God. Over the years, a quiz has been given to a group of adults which is designed to determine what they know about Christ. There is one statement that almost everyone misses. It is a true and false statement. The statement is “Jesus was a man.” The answer that is usually given is “False.” Their answer reveals that they do not understand Jesus was both God and man. Scripture teaches that Jesus was one hundred percent God and Jesus was one hundred percent man. He was both! Romans 1:2-4 teaches that Christ was the God-man.

which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord . . . Romans 1:2-4 (NASB)

The term Son of God means that Jesus was God. That is the definition that Jesus gave us for the expression “Son of God.”

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, . . . Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? John 10:31-36 (NIV)

Here we are told that the Jews were going to stone Jesus because He claimed to be God. They understood that Jesus was saying He was God. Notice how Jesus responded, ” . . . because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” In that culture the term “Son of God” was equal to saying He was God. So they were going to stone Him for blasphemy. Scripture teaches that Jesus was both God and man.

The Kenosis Theory of Christ

Philippians 2:6-8 also reveals that Jesus was the God-man.

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 (NASB)

Notice that Jesus existed in the form of God before He became a man. The Greek word for “form” is  morphe. It means “to have the very nature, essence  or same attributes” and it occurs two times in this passage. Jesus was in the morphe of God and He was in the morphe of man. Jesus had the very nature of God and man. He was God of very God and man of very man.

The word, “emptied” is the key word in this passage that helps us understand the answer to the question, “How can Jesus be God since He did not know the time of the end?” This Greek word is kenoo which means “to deprive” or “to empty.” It means that Jesus “emptied” Himself, but in what sense did He empty Himself? Some have mistakingly said that Christ emptied His attributes. But if that was true, then He would cease to be God.  The correct answer is that He limited the use of His divine prerogatives.

Christ Limited His Divine Prerogatives

Which attributes did He limit? We know that God has glory (Exodus 33:21-23) and appears as light (1 John 1:5). When Jesus was born in human flesh, His Shekinah glory was not visible to others because He limited His glory. Jesus limited His Shekinah glory except temporarily on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3) when He glistened as the sun.

And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Mark 9:2-3  (NASB)

This means that while He was among us He limited His glory.

Christ Limited His Knowledge

Jesus limited His wisdom also!

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52  (NASB)

Also, He limited His knowledge while He was on earth. Consequently, He could experience and understand what it was like to be a human. At the age of twelve, He was teaching the religious authorities.

And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Luke 2:47  (NASB)

Later in His ministry these things are said about Him,

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”  John 1:47 (NASB)

But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Rise and come forward!” And he rose and came forward. Luke 6:8 (NASB)

. . . and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man. John 2:25 (NASB)

Jesus therefore said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. John 8:28 (NASB)

The only reason Jesus needed to be taught was that He had decided to limit His knowledge while being a man. Yet, He healed people of diseases, walked on water, knew people’s thoughts, calmed the sea waves, killed a tree with a command, disappeared, and forgave sins. He proved He was God by His actions.

Why Didn’t Christ Know The Future

So, why did Jesus say,

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Matthew 24:36 (NASB)

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority . . .” Acts 1:7 (NASB)

The answer is that the Father had not revealed it to Jesus Christ yet. Remember that when Christ came in human flesh,, He limited the use of His knowledge. Yet, Jesus was God. John 10:38 tells us the Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in the Father.

. . . the Father is in Me, and I in the Father John 10:38. (NASB)

The Father and Christ were one in essence. Both the Old Testament and the New Testaments tell us that God is one, and God is the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit. That is, God is a trinity. But as the God-man, Jesus had willingly chosen to limit His knowledge while living as a man. He was like a man in every other way. He became hungry, slept, drank liquid, wept, and eventually died on a cross for the sins of the world so that we could have peace with God.

Conclusion:

After Jesus’ resurrection, He returned to heaven and rules. He is coming again some day. He is God! He calls us to trust Him for the forgiveness of our sins.

Suggested Links:

What is the meaning that Jesus is the Son of God?
What does Son of Man and Son of God mean?
Was Jesus God in the Old Testament? – The Trinity
What is the Trinity?
The Trinity Mystery, part 1
The Trinity Mystery, part 2
Is the Trinity equal even though they have different roles?