Greater or better? Is there a difference?
Jehovah's Witnesses essentially
believe that there is no difference because they are taught that John chapter 14 verse 28 from the Bible proves that Jesus is inferior to His Father, when He said to His disciples, "My Father is greater than I."
The key to understanding this verse is the way in which the expression 'greater than I' is used. Is Jesus saying that His father is naturally better than
He is? Not at all! There is a New Testament word that means better in nature or being that Jesus could have, should have, and would have used, if that were the truth about Himself that He wanted to convey to His closest of followers.
Hebrews 1:4 provides an example of this meaning. Referring to Jesus it reads,
- '...having become so much better than the angels as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.'
However, in John
14:28 Jesus did not speak in these terms. The word He did use carries the connotation, greater in rank, not in nature.
Perhaps this may help. Earlier
in the same chapter Jesus uses this same expression in verse 12 saying that anyone who believes in Him will do the same and even greater works than He was doing. We all know that no could ever do better works than Jesus. Greater works is meant to say more
works, because Jesus explains that He very soon won't be on earth with them but with His Father. Works greater in number, not better. The Lord was comforting His disciples, not confusing them.
Here is an illustration: I am a father and I have a son. Utilizing these same words, my son might exclaim, "My father is greater than I," but in no sense would he be even suggesting that I am better than he is. We share the same
human nature but not the same position in rank. That's the difference! This, then, is the typical, loving, respecting father/son relationship. Now, I realize that analogies are not perfect comparisons, but they can help our understanding.
For example; the General is greater than the Captain; the teacher is greater than the student; and in keeping with this usage, the Father is greater than the Son... not better.