Then shall the Son also himself be subject ... - It has been proposed to render this, "even then shall the Son," etc.; implying that he had been all along subject to God; had acted under his authority; and that this subjection would continue even then in a sense similar to that in which it had existed; and that Christ would then continue to exercise a delegated authority over his people and kingdom. See an article "on the duration of Christ's kingdom," by Prof. Mills, in Bib. Rep. vol. iii. p. 748ff. But to this interpretation there are objections:
(1) It is not the obvious interpretation.
(2) it does not seem to comport with the design and scope of the passage, which most evidently refers to some change, or rendering back of the authority of the Messiah; or to some resumption of authority by the Divinity, or by God as God, in a different sense from what existed under the Messiah.
(3) such a statement would be unnecessary and vain. Who could reasonably doubt that the Son would be as much subject to God when all things had been subdued to him as he was before?
(4) it is not necessary to suppose this in order to reconcile the passage with what is said of the perpetuity of Christ's kingdom and his eternal reign. That he would reign; that his kingdom would be perpetual, and that it would be unending, was indeed clearly predicted; see 2 Samuel 7:16
; Psalm 45:6
; Isaiah 9:6-7
; Daniel 2:44
; Daniel 7:14
; Luke 1:22-23
; Hebrews 1:8
But these predictions may be all accomplished on the supposition that the special mediatorial kingdom of the Messiah shall be given up to God, and that he shall be subject to him. For:
(a) His kingdom will be perpetual, in contradistinction from the kingdoms of this world. They are fluctuating, changing, short in their duration. His shall not cease, and shall continue to the end of time.
(b) His kingdom shall be perpetual, because those who are brought under the laws of God by him shall remain subject to those laws forever. The sceptre never shall be broken, and the kingdom shall abide to all eternity.
(c) Christ, the Son of God, in his divine nature, as God, shall never cease to reign.
As Mediator, he may resign his commission and his special office, having made an atonement, having recovered his people, having protected and guided them to heaven. Yet as one with the Father; as the "Father of the everlasting age" Isaiah 9:6
, he shall not cease to reign. The functions of a special office may have been discharged, and delegated power laid down, and that which appropriately belongs to him in virtue of his own nature and relations may be resumed and executed forever; and it shall still be true that the reign of the Son of God, in union, or in oneness with the Father, shall continue forever.
(5) the interpretation which affirms that the Son shall then be subject to the Father in the sense of laying down his delegated authority, and ceasing to exercise his mediatorial reign, has been the common interpretation of all times. This remark is of value only, because, in the interpretation of plum words, it is not probable that people of all classes and ranks in different ages would err.
The Son also himself - The term "Son of God" is applied to the Lord Jesus with reference to his human nature, his incarnation by the Holy Spirit, and his resurrection from the dead; see the note on Romans 1:4. (For the evidence of the eternal sonship, see the Supplementary Note on the same passage.) It refers, I apprehend, to that in this place. It does not mean that the second person in the Trinity, as such, should be subject to the first; but it means the Incarnate Son, the Mediator, the man that was born and that was raised from the dead, and to whom this wide dominion had been given, should resign that dominion, and that the government should be re-assumed by the Divinity as God. As man, he shall cease to exercise any distinct dominion. This does not mean, evidently, that the union of the divine and human nature will be dissolved; nor that important purposes may not be answered by that continued union forever; nor that the divine perfections may not shine forth in some glorious way through the man Christ Jesus; but that the purpose of government shall no longer be exercised in that way; the mediatorial kingdom, as such, shall no longer be continued, and power shall be exercised by God as God. The redeemed will still adore their Redeemer as their incarnate God, and dwell upon the remembrance of his work and upon his perfections Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 11:15; but not as exercising the special power which he now has, and which was needful to effect their redemption.