Is Jesus Equal with the Father?

Article by Paul Chung

Many Christians, including the majority of Seventh-day Adventists, believe that Jesus is equal with God the Father in the absolute sense, and that He holds this position inherently from all eternity by virtue of Him being one of the Persons of the Trinity, or as the Second Person of the Godhead as Jesus is called by some. But is this true? Let's examine further what position Jesus holds in relation to His Father.

John 5:18 “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, BUT SAID ALSO THAT GOD WAS HIS FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD”. (Note: It wasn’t Jesus who claimed Himself to be equal with His Father. It was the Jews who accused Him of claiming to be equal with the Father because He said “God was His Father.”

Philippians 2:6 reads, “Who, being in the form of God, THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD:” Doesn’t this mean that Jesus is equal with the Father?

The above texts are often quoted to suggest that Jesus is equal with God... And it is true that when Christ claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews understood this to mean that Christ was also claiming to be equal with the Father. Paul's reason for why it is NOT robbery for the Son to be equal with the Father (in Philippians 2:6) is the fact that He is equal. If the Son is not equal with the Father, then it is robbery for him to rank himself with the Father; This should be clear.

Did the Jews misunderstand Christ? Did Christ really mean that He was equal with the Father when He said that "God was His Father"?

If Christ intimated that He was equal with the Father, has it always been that way? If not, then when and in what way?

Before moving forward and just to put this article in the right path, the article is not suggesting that Christ is not equal with the Father but tries to explain HOW He is equal. Christ IS equal but How? Let us now examine some evidence to see in what context His equality is referred to.

The Scripture says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON, WHOM HE HATH APPOINTED HEIR OF ALL THINGS, by whom also he made the worlds.(Hebrews 1:1, 2)

Verse 4 also says, “Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by INHERITANCE obtained a more excellent NAME than they.”

Verse 8 says that this more excellent NAME is the name “God,” which was given by the Father to His Son. “Unto the Son He [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Note: An heir is defined as a person who is legally entitled to inherit the property or rank of another on that person's death or at the appointed time when the person is to receive his recognition. If Jesus was the heir, then whatever he was to receive as the rightful heir, He did not possess it before.

Christ not only inherited His name but other things as well. Name means authority (Mark 11:9John 5:43), and it also means character and nature (Exodus 33:18-19Exodus 34:5-6). The name "Adam" means human (NATURE) for example, and that is why Eve was also called Adam:

"Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and CALLED THEIR NAME ADAM, in the day when they were created." Genesis 5:2

Did you catch that? Both Adam and Eve were called Adam, for they were both human beings-mankind. Adam was not only the "name" of the first man, but it is also used here to denote the "nature" of the first man and woman together. Adam and Eve were both ontologically or qualitatively Adam (human beings) and yet quantitatively, the name Adam refers only to the first man, the Eve's husband, the progenitor of the human race. So, in this sense, while the Father holds the distinction of the title "God" (not unlike how the first man's name is Adam), the Son is also equally called God (not unlike how Eve was called Adam) because He has the same divine nature or substance as the Father.

GOD THE FATHER ESTABLISHED THE ORDER OF HEAVEN

“THE SON OF GOD presented before him [Lucifer] the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of HIS LAW. GOD HIMSELF HAD ESTABLISHED THE ORDER OF HEAVEN; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35.3

Note: From the quote above we learn that prior to the fall of man and incarnation there was an order in heaven that God Himself had established.

“BEFORE the fall of Lucifer, he aspired for THE SUPREMACY THAT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO CHRIST, who was one with the Father in the government of heaven. There was war in heaven, and Satan and all the rebellious angels he had deceived were overcome. Those who had opposed THE WILL OF GOD IN APPOINTING CHRIST AS THE CHIEF RULER were cast out of the heavenly courts, and since that time they have been warring against the Most High."—Letter 24-1910.4

“Christ's time to show His divine power had not yet come. HE WAS FULLY AWARE OF THE GLORY HE HAD WITH THE FATHER BEFORE THE WORLD WAS. BUT THEN HE WILLINGLY SUBMITTED TO THE DIVINE WILL, and He was UNCHANGED NOW" —BEcho July 23, 1900, par. 6

Note: You see it was God the Father, before the fall of Lucifer, who set Christ in His place "Lucifer, he aspired for THE SUPREMACY THAT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO CHRIST" and Satan knew this!

MADE EQUAL?

Matthew 11:27 (KJV) "ALL THINGS ARE DELIVERED UNTO ME OF MY FATHER: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH."

“The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. THE FATHER THEN MADE KNOWN THAT IT WAS ORDAINED BY HIMSELF THAT CHRIST, HIS SON, SHOULD BE EQUAL WITH HIMSELF; SO THAT WHEREVER WAS THE PRESENCE OF HIS SON, IT WAS AS HIS OWN PRESENCE. THE WORD OF THE SON WAS TO BE OBEYED AS READILY AS THE WORD OF THE FATHER. HIS SON HE HAD INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY to command the heavenly host. Especially was His Son to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. HIS SON WOULD CARRY OUT HIS WILL AND HIS PURPOSES BUT WOULD DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF ALONE. THE FATHER'S WILL WOULD BE FULFILLED IN HIM.Lift Him Up, p. 18

Some believe that because Christ was ordained to be equal with the Father on this occasion that He wasn't always equal with the Father previous to this. But the evidence suggests otherwise.

“There had been NO CHANGE IN THE POSITION or authority of Christ. LUCIFER’S ENVY AND MISREPRESENTATION AND HIS CLAIMS TO EQUALITY WITH CHRIST HAD MADE NECESSARY A STATEMENT OF THE TRUE POSITION of the Son of God; BUT THIS HAD BEEN THE SAME FROM THE BEGINNING. Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer’s deceptions”. —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 38.1

Note: Here we see that Christ’s position was only reaffirmed and that his position had always been the same from the beginning. There never was a time when the presence of the Son was not as the presence of the Father for the Son was made equal with the Father by virtue of Him being the Son of God or by the virtue of His begetting. However, the reality described here for us, is that the ontological equality (Son's divinity, being equal with the Father ) of the Son of God or the Son’s true position was not entirely perceived by Lucifer nor the angels. The reason being, Christ apparently operated “under God” {Ms43b-1891 par. 3} and functioned “next in authority” to the Great Lawgiver {2SP 9.1}; He “imparted to the angelic family the high commands of His Father.” {3SG 36.1} Although Lucifer understood that “Christ had the first place next to God” {Ms90-1910.4}. Thus when Lucifer saw the Son going into all of the counsels but he himself was not permitted, he began to question things and of course Lucifer’s "misrepresentations and his claims to equality with Christ" also obscured the situation at hand. Thus God had to clarify and make sure the angels understood that despite His Son’s humble, willing persona that Christ was actually Father’s equal. 

"Our great Exemplar was EXALTED TO BE EQUAL with God. "—Testimonies to the Church, vol. 2, p. 426

"The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. [Hebrews 1:1-5 quoted] God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been GIVEN AN EXALTED POSITION. HE HAS BEEN MADE EQUAL WITH THE FATHER. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son." —Testimonies to the Church, vol. 8, p. 268, 1904

Note: Both the Spirit of Prophecy and the Scripture reveal that it was the Father who granted the Son to be equal with Himself. It was the Father who exalted the Son and gave Him that special honor as His rightful heir. The Father, being the first, is the source of all things. But to the Son, He "invested" equality of power and authority. Jesus’ presence and word was to be the very presence and word of God the Father. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

EQUAL WITH THE FATHER

"The law cannot lower the standard or take less than its full demands, therefore it cannot cleanse us from one sin; but God’s Son, who is one with the Father, EQUAL IN AUTHORITY WITH THE FATHER, paid the debt for us. { RH July 29, 1890, par. 8 }.

"The world's Redeemer was EQUAL WITH GOD. His authority was as the authority of God. He declared that He had no existence separate from the Father… He was so perfectly connected with God, so completely embraced in His encircling light, that He who had seen the Son, had seen the Father, His voice was as the voice of God."—Bible Commentary Vol. 5, p. 1142

“The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. CHRIST WAS GOD ESSENTIALLY, AND IN THE HIGHEST SENSE. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.” —Review and Herald, April 5, 1906 par. 6

“HE WAS EQUAL WITH GOD, infinite and omnipotent.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 46.6

"Jesus CLAIMED EQUAL RIGHTS WITH GOD IN DOING A WORK EQUALLY SACRED, AND OF THE SAME CHARACTER WITH THAT WHICH ENGAGED THE FATHER in heaven. But the Pharisees were still more incensed. He had not only broken the law, according to their understanding, BUT IN CALLING GOD “HIS OWN FATHER” HAD DECLARED HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD. John 5:18, R. V." {DA 207.3}

The whole nation of the Jews called God their Father, therefore they would not have been so enraged if Christ had represented Himself AS STANDING IN THE SAME RELATION TO GOD. But they accused Him of blasphemy, showing that they understood Him as making this claim in the HIGHEST SENSE. {DA 207.4}

Christ is equal with God, infinite and omnipotent.”—The Youth’s Instructor, June 21, 1900. { 7ABC 461.1 } 

“But God’s Son, who is one with the Father, equal in authority with the Father, paid the debt for us.” { RH July 29, 1890, par. 8 }

“Not one of the angels could have become surety for the human race: their life is God’s; they could not surrender it. The angels all wear the yoke of obedience. They are the appointed messengers of Him who is the commander of all Heaven. But Christ is equal with God, infinite and omnipotent. He could pay the ransom for man’s freedom. He is the eternal, self-existing Son, on whom no yoke had come; and when God asked, “whom shall I send?” He could reply, “Here am I; send me.” He could pledge Himself to become man’s surety; for He could say that which the highest angel could not say,—I have power over My own life, “power to lay it down, and ... power to take it again.”—The Youth’s Instructor, June 21, 1900. { 7ABC 461.1 }

“The highest angel in heaven had not the power to pay the ransom for one lost soul. Cherubim and seraphim have only the glory with which they are endowed by the Creator as His creatures, and the reconciliation of man to God could be accomplished ONLY THROUGH A MEDIATOR WHO WAS EQUAL with God... { 1SM 257.1}

“Christ, the surety of the human race, works with uninterrupted activity. HE SPEAKS OF HIMSELF AS WORKING IN THE SAME WAY AS THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. He worked untiringly for the people of Israel. He sought to lead them to trust in Him who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him. Christ is the light which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. From Adam, through the patriarchal age, this light made plain the way to heaven. To it gave all the prophets witness. In mysterious procession future things swept before their vision. In every sacrifice Christ’s death was pointed out. His righteousness ascended to God in every cloud of incense. His majesty was hidden in the holy of holies. Christ was as truly a Saviour before as after His incarnation. AT THE VERY MOMENT OF TRANSGRESSION AND APOSTASY, HE ENTERED UPON HIS WORK, LABORING FOR THE SALVATION OF MAN WITH AN ACTIVITY EQUAL TO THE ACTIVITY OF GOD. {RH March 5, 1901, par. 8}

Note: The term, "God essentially, and in the highest sense." applies to Christ being completely 100% divine not unlike the Father-with same substance in nature as the Father; They are ontological equals. Christ is no less of a God in this sense than the Father. The Son of God is God essentially and in the highest sense because He is the only begotten Son of God. He is just as much God in His nature/substance as His Father as I am human in my nature/substance as my father. While there are other sons of God, even participants in the Divine nature via the Spirit, they are not the very substance of God Himself like this One Son is. They do not have the Divine attributes like He does! Only this Son, the only begotten Son of God, is Divine like His Father! Amen!

This however does not negate the fact that the Father still maintains His preeminence over the Son and that the equality of the Son was ordained/inherited from the Father. 

Father is the First and is the Original, True God...Christ is the "express image" of the True (original) God..the image cannot be the original but a reflection; therefore it is not correct to say that the Father is the image of the Son. Despite the fact that Ellen White spoke of Christ as being equal with God and as having the nature and authority of God, never did Ellen White refer to the One God as a deity of plural persons.

EQUAL AND YET NEXT TO THE FATHER

“THE SON OF GOD WAS NEXT IN AUTHORITY TO THE GREAT LAWGIVER. He knew that His life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man. He was of as much more value than man as his noble, spotless character, and exalted office as commander of all the heavenly host, were above the work of man. HE WAS IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS FATHER, NOT IN FEATURES ALONE, BUT IN PERFECTION OF CHARACTER.{2SP 9.1} Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 9; Also in Lift Him Up, p. 24)

“Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in the heavenly courts next to Jesus Christ, but Christ was one with God, ASSIMILATED TO THE IMAGE OF GOD TO DO THE WILL OF GOD. SATAN, KNOWING THAT CHRIST HAD THE FIRST PLACE NEXT TO GOD, began to insinuate to the angels that he should be next to God. His great beauty and exalted position made him feel that he was not receiving due honor in being second to Christ. Therefore he would suggest this to the angels, and this suggestion [began] to be communicated to the heavenly angels, and finally [it was] brought before God that Lucifer was the one who should be next to God. Thus the seed was sown and the result was that angels sympathized with Lucifer; next, there was war in heaven. Lucifer’s beautiful appearance was constantly exalted and THE LORD GOD OF HEAVEN [saw] that Lucifer and his party were very strong against Christ."—Manuscript 90-1910.4

"ASSIMILATED TO THE IMAGE OF GOD"
Note: According to the dictionary definition in EGW’s day, my good brother, here is exactly what to assimilate means:

1. To bring to a likeness; to cause to resemble. 
2. To convert into a like substance. [1828 dictionary]

It is a verb. It expresses an action that results in bringing something to a certain likeness, causing it to resemble something or converting it into a like substance. This by the way, is consistent with Mrs. White's usage of this verb. 

The salient point here is that when we read that the Son of God was “assimilated to the image of God to do the will of God’ what the plain reading indicates that God brought Him to this likeness as the One who would do His will. This, by the way, is why the pre-incarnate Son of God is the express image of the Father’s person. God did it! He brought forth His Son! He established Him as the Agent of creation. This is so very straight forward and simple that I am astonished that so many today fight against it.

Note: When it comes to authority there is an "equal yet next" dichotomy that exists with the Son of God. God and His Son are ontological (same substance and nature) equals just like how Adam and Eve are ontological equals, yet there is a Headship/Submission that exists between Father and Son not unlike Adam and Eve. As an analogy, the Husband and wife both have leadership functions in the home. While the husband is the head of the family unit (i.e. Eph 5:23; 1 Cor 11:3) and thus the supreme authority, the wife guides the house according to their agreed upon plan. While the woman has the husband as her head, she is also, in one sense, on equal footing with him. She has an authority over his body as he also has over hers (see 1 Cor 7:4). So there is a sense in which she is on equal footing and then a sense in which she is not-she is equal and yet next in authority to her husband.

LUCIFER'S POSITION WAS NEXT TO THE SON OF GOD

In the same way, Christ’s position and authority was NEXT TO the Father, Lucifer’s position and authority had been next to Christ:

“Satan’s position in heaven had been NEXT TO the Son of God. He was first among the angels….{Ms50-1900.7}

“In heaven Satan was NEXT TO the Son of God. {YI April 16, 1903, par. 3}

Note: Lucifer’s being “next to” the Son of God most certainly means that he was the next in line in the hierarchy and the chain of command. He was under Christ. This is a statement that most certainly places the Son above Him. Therefore Christ being “next to” to God (Father) certainly places the Son below the Father. 

THE HIGHEST PLACE IN HEAVEN, ABOVE THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD

"It means that when the angels came to claim THE HIGHEST PLACE in heaven, ABOVE the only begotten Son of God, it was not given to them. And because they did not receive it, there was war in heaven, and those that wanted A HIGHER PLACE, TO CROWD OUT CHRIST JESUS, were cast out of heaven because they would not repent and accept the rule of God; and they may be listening to me today." {Ms84-1910} 

In another place she states that "Ambition for the highest position excluded Satan from heaven..." {Ms33-1891}, and it is clear from the earlier quote that "HIGHEST PLACE" which is "above the only begotten Son of God" mentioned cannot be referring to Christ's position. 

A HUSBAND AND WIFE-A DIVINE PATTERN

WHEN GOD CREATED EVE, HE DESIGNED that she should possess neither inferiority nor superiority to the man, but THAT IN ALL THINGS SHE SHOULD BE HIS EQUAL. {3T 484.1}

“WOMAN SHOULD FILL THE POSITION WHICH GOD ORIGINALLY DESIGNED for her, as her husband’s equal. {CTBH 77.3}

Now when we put these two statements, the conclusion is that woman should currently fill the position of her husband’s equal in all things? Would you agree? Yet let’s keep on reading because there is something else about woman’s position too:

“We women must remember that God HAS PLACED US SUBJECT to the husband. He is the head, and our judgment and views and reasonings must agree with his if possible. If not, the preference in God’s Word is given to the husband where it is not a matter of conscience. WE MUST YIELD to the head… {Lt5-1861.9}

“THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD of the family, as Christ is the Head of the church; and any course which the wife may pursue to lessen his influence and lead him to come down from that dignified, responsible position is displeasing to God” (Testimonies for the Church , vol. 1, p. 307).

“Let every husband who claims to love God carefully study the requirements of God in his position. CHRIST’S AUTHORITY exercised in wisdom, in all kindness and gentleness; so LET THE HUSBAND EXERCISE HIS POWER AND IMITATE THE GREAT HEAD OF THE CHURCH. {Lt18b-1891.27}

“Christ’s rule is one of wisdom and love, and when husbands fulfil their obligations to their wives, THEY WILL USE THEIR AUTHORITY WITH THE SAME TENDERNESS AS CHRIST USES TOWARD THE CHURCH. When the Spirit of Christ controls the husband, THE WIFE’S SUBJECTION will only result in rest and benefit, for he will require from her only that which will result in good and in the same way that Christ requires submission from the church. {Ms17-1891.8}

Did you catch that? At the very same time while teaching that woman is to occupy the original position designed by God which is equal in all things, sister White simultaneously taught that the husband was the head of the family and that the wife was subject to him and must yield unless it was a matter of conscience. Thus the husband holds the authority even while the woman is his equal in all things! Might I suggest that inspiration uses equality in a way contrary to modern understanding and sensibilities. This is a point that many social justice warriors loathe to admit and thus they use God’s Word to advance their cultural agendas.

The wife is the ontological equal ( not unlike the Son of God is to God the Father) to the husband, she holds a position as his equal in all things yet she is also simultaneously under his headship and must yield. Now if we bring children into this equation they are called to obey their parents and honor them equally. Even though there is a clearly a highest authority in the husband/wife unit, the mother stands as the husband’s equal and rules her children. Her authority is the same as his in relation to the little ones. Even though the children themselves might be cognizant that the father holds headship and is the highest authority between the two they cannot split the mother’s authority from the father’s and disobey her by saying that I only have to listen to Dad! If that were to happen then Dad might and even should step in and say “Son, daughter, your mother is absolutely equal to me and that’s how it has always been. You’d better obey her or else you will have a problem with me!” Apparently, Lucifer did just that. He tried to split the authority between the Father and the Son.

LUCIFER SAID, "THAT GOD'S COMMANDS ALONE WILL HE OBEY."

"At length all the angels are summoned to appear before the Father, to have each case decided. Satan unblushingly makes known to all the heavenly family, his discontent, that Christ should be preferred before him, to be in such close conference with God, and he be uninformed as to the result of their frequent consultations. God informs Satan that this he can never know. That to his Son will he reveal his secret purposes, and that all the family of Heaven, Satan not excepted, were required to yield implicit obedience. Satan boldly speaks out his rebellion, and points to a large company who think God is unjust in not exalting him to be equal with God, and in not giving him command above Christ. HE DECLARES HE CANNOT SUBMIT TO BE UNDER CHRIST'S COMMAND, THAT GOD'S COMMANDS ALONE WILL HE OBEY. Good angels weep to hear the words of Satan, and to see how he despises to follow the direction of Christ, their exalted and loving commander. {3SG 37.3}

Note: Why would Lucifer state that he would not follow Christ's commands, that He will only follow God the Father's commands alone? In the controversy in heaven, would you be able to switch up the Father and Son? In other words, would it have been possible for Lucifer and other angels to go for the Father's position? And then go to the Son and ask, why can't they be like the Father and demand equality as you have given to the Father? Would they have even thought this? Why did Lucifer request that the Father give to him the prerogatives His Son has and not the other way around? There was obviously some type of first and second authority in place in the Government of Heaven. While still maintaining full equality between them both.

"But Lucifer, the most glorious angel next to Christ, thought himself equal with God and made the effort, because of his beauty and glory, that he should be next to God, and then he COULD WORK OUT GOD’S PLANS. Thus Lucifer claimed the position NEXT TO THE CREATOR. But Christ was the only begotten Son of God. Lucifer made war in heaven and would not take the position God assigned him, therefore he fell from his high estate and has been in the world, a warring element against God’s plans..."{Lt189-1909.29}

Note: Please note carefully which position Lucifer strived to obtain. It says, "he should be next to God, and then he COULD WORK OUT GOD’S PLANS. Thus Lucifer claimed the position next to the Creator." This shows that Lucifer wanted Christ's position which was "next" in command to the Father.

NO CHANGE IN THE POSITION

"He [Christ] was one with the Father before the angels were created. Satan was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone." (1SP 17.1) (bracket added)

“There had been NO CHANGE IN THE POSITION or authority of Christ. LUCIFER’S ENVY AND MISREPRESENTATION AND HIS CLAIMS TO EQUALITY WITH CHRIST HAD MADE NECESSARY A STATEMENT OF THE TRUE POSITION of the Son of God; BUT THIS HAD BEEN THE SAME FROM THE BEGINNING. Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer’s deceptions”. —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 38.1

"The true position of the Son of God had been the same from the beginning. Many of the angels were, however, BLINDED BY LUCIFER'S DECEPTIONS. He so artfully instilled into their minds his own distrust and discontent that his agency was not discerned. Lucifer had presented THE PURPOSED OF GOD IN A FALSE LIGHT to excite dissent and dissatisfaction." { EP 12.1 }

"The world's Redeemer was equal with God. His authority was as the authority of God. He declared that He had no existence separate from the Father. The authority by which He spoke, and wrought miracles, was expressly His own, yet He assures us that He and the Father are one." —Review & Herald, January 7, 1890, p.1

Note: It was "Lucifer’s envy and misrepresentation and his claims to equality with Christ had made "NECESSARY A STATEMENT OF THE TRUE POSITION of the Son of God; but this HAD BEEN THE SAME FROM THE BEGINNING." If "FROM THE BEGINNING" is to be understood as Christ's point of origin, then, we can say Christ was "given" the position of equality by virtue of His inheritance from the day that He was begotten...but it appears that this fact may not have been fully disclosed to all the heavenly host until Lucifer's insurgence which made it necessary for the Father to set the record straight...as shown below:

THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth THE TRUE POSITION OF HIS SON and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both….Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and TO HIM IT WAS COMMITTED TO EXECUTE THE MIGHTY COUNSELS OF HIS WILL. The Son of God had WROUGHT THE FATHER'S WILL in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and TO HIM, AS WELL AS TO GOD, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this HE WOULD NOT SEE POWER OR EXALTATION FOR HIMSELF CONTRARY TO GOD'S PLAN, BUT WOULD EXALT THE FATHER'S GLORY AND EXECUTE HIS PURPOSES OF BENEFICENCE AND LOVE. {PP 36.2}

Note: If Christ’s position “had been the same from the beginning”, then Christ had always assumed a position that is next in command to the Father...“THE SON OF GOD WAS NEXT IN AUTHORITY TO THE GREAT LAWGIVER. He knew that His life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man.” —Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 9; Also in Lift Him Up, p. 24. Although Christ “has been made equal with the Father," the Father’s position always precedes that of Christ. If Christ had been equal with the Father in the absolute sense "from the beginning", then how is it that Christ was "next in authority to the Great Lawgiver"? Did Christ's position change? Inspiration tells us otherwise; Christ's position "HAD BEEN THE SAME FROM THE BEGINNING"

Questions to consider: If Christ had always assumed the equal authority in the absolute sense no different than the Father, how is it that Lucifer was able to deceive the angels...for it would have been clearly evident? Why didn't the angels know? Why was it necessary that at some point in time the Father had to reveal this fact to the rest of the heavenly host? And if Christ was absolutely equal with the Father, why is it that Christ was ORDAINED by the Father to be equal in such a manner before the heavenly host? Why did it take the Father to set the record straight? For Christ's words alone would have been sufficient. Furthermore, it is evident that while Christ was made equal, Christ is still subject to the Father in that He "WOULD CARRY OUT HIS [Father's] WILL AND HIS PURPOSES BUT WOULD DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF ALONE. THE FATHER'S WILL WOULD BE FULFILLED IN HIM.

SAME POSITION IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH

“Christ’s time to show His divine power had not yet come. He was fully aware of the glory He had with the Father before the world was. But THEN HE WILLINGLY SUBMITTED TO THE DIVINE WILL, AND HE WAS UNCHANGED NOW. {BEcho July 23, 1900, par. 6}

Note: Back "then" that is pre-incarnate existence, He willingly submitted. This is simply who He is and His incarnation did not change Him.

"Christ volunteered to come to our world and give to men the true light. God gave His only begotten Son to the world TO REVEAL THE FATHER AS SUPREME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH. Christ came in the form of humanity, to meet and overcome the enemy and his devices. {Lt132-1910.6}

"Jesus emptied Himself, and in all that He did self did not appear. HE SUBORDINATED ALL THINGS TO THE WILL OF HIS FATHER. When His mission on earth was about to close, He could say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” And He bids us, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself”; let self be dethroned, and no longer hold the supremacy of the soul. {MYP 162.1}

Note: There are actually many quotes in EGW's writings which show that even in the pre-incarnate state God the Father was supreme. For example when disputing over the body of Moses the pre-incarnate Christ actually refers the issue to the Father. When the politics of the great controversy was first starting the Son of God told Lucifer that God Himself had established the order in heaven. When it came time to settle the matter conclusively it was God the Father who stepped in. Also, there was the quotes which speak about Lucifer wanting to be above the Son of God.

Note: Again if we read the Spirit of prophecy it can be seen that when the King of the universe (this would be God Father) revealed to all the heavenly host His Son's true position and the relationship that He sustained to all created beings (i.e. the Son shared His throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled Them Both) this was not a change of His position. The Father declared that only He, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter His purposes and it was committed to Him to do the Father's will. And when the Son exercised His divine power it was not in seeking power or exalation of Himself contrary to God's plan. In all He did He exalted the Father's glory and executed His benevolent purposes of love (see Patriarchs and Prophets pg 36). In other words He was under the Father's Headship even back then. He willingly submitted to this even back then and when He came to the earth He was unchanged. 

"Lucifer, who was determined to have Christ’s place in the heavenly courts, lost his glorious position and was exiled to this world. In contrast to this, Christ laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown and came to this world to stand at the head of humanity as man’s Saviour. He transferred His home to the world occupied by fallen human beings, BUT HIS CHARACTER AND HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GOD WERE UNCHANGED... {Lt128-1910.16}

Note: The Son's character and relationship to God were unchanged! While He took upon Himself a new form and added a new type of Sonship He was actually simultaneously retaining His original character and original relationship. He was still the Divine Son to use EGW's language elsewhere and had added a new sense of Sonship to it.

THE SON IN SUBMISSION TO THE FATHER

“But I would have you know, that…the Head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor 11:3 partial quote)

"The creation of our world was brought into the councils of heaven. There the covering cherub prepared his request that he should be made PRINCE to govern the world then in prospect. This was not accorded him. Jesus Christ was to rule the earthly kingdom; UNDER GOD He engaged to take the world with all its probabilities. THE LAW OF HEAVEN SHOULD BE THE STANDARD LAW FOR THIS NEW WORLD, for human intelligences.... {Ms43b-1891 (July 4, 1891) par. 3}

Note: Here we see, again speaking well before the incarnation, that the Son of God was "under God." This was the law of heaven. Here we see that the Son of God has a title that the Father does not. He is heaven's Prince. While He is also King and Lord, just like His Father, He is also the Prince.

“When SATAN learned the purpose of God, he WAS ENVIOUS AT CHRIST, AND JEALOUS because the Father had not consulted him in regard to the creation of man. Satan was of the highest order of angels; but Christ was above all. He was the Commander of all Heaven. HE [Christ] IMPARTED TO THE ANGELIC FAMILY THE HIGH COMMANDS OF HIS FATHER.” —Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, p. 36, ‘The Temptation and Fall’, 1864

“It is a mystery that One equal with the eternal Father should so abase Himself as to suffer the cruel death of the cross to ransom man; and it is a mystery that God so loved the world as to PERMIT His Son to make this great sacrifice.” —The Signs of the Times, Oct. 24, 1906

"His Son He had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was His Son to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. HIS SON WOULD CARRY OUT THIS WILL AND HIS PURPOSES BUT WOULD DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF ALONE. THE FATHER'S WILL WOULD BE FULFILLED IN HIM.”—Lift Him up, p. 18

He [the Son] then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that He had been pleading with His Father, and had OBTAINED PERMISSION to give His own life as a ransom for the race, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon Himself,... Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father YIELDED UP His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no.” It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether TO LET guilty man perish, or TO GIVE His darling Son to die for them….{EW 126.1; 127.1 [brackets added for clarity]}

Note: The “high commands”, "permit" and "obtained permission" spoken of all came from the Father. Christ was executing His Father’s will; "His Son would carry out His [Father's] will and His purposes". The pre-eminence of the Father is indicated here before the incarnation of Christ.

"Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven, and the heavenly choir sang a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sang a note higher than they had done before, because of the great mercy and condescension of God IN YIELDING UP His dearly Beloved to die for a race of rebels.... {EW 126.2}

"Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father YIELDED UP His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no.” It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether TO LET guilty man perish, or TO GIVE His darling Son to die for them.... {EW 127.1}

Note: While the Father maintains His preeminence, there is also a mutual submission between Father and Son for the Father yielded to the Son's request to save the human race but ultimately it was the Father who held the final say. Thus we see Headship of the Father operative here.

“...Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into HIS PURPOSES, and TO HIM IT WAS COMMITTED TO EXECUTE THE MIGHTY COUNSELS OF HIS WILL. The Son of God had wrought THE FATHER'S WILL in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. BUT IN ALL THIS HE WOULD NOT SEEK POWER OR EXALTATION FOR HIMSELF CONTRARY TO GOD’S PLAN, BUT WOULD EXALT THE FATHER’S GLORY AND EXECUTE HIS PURPOSES OF BENEFICENCE AND LOVE. {PP 36.2}

Note: the mighty counsels (plural) of the Father's will. 

Following is further evidence from Scripture as to how the Father's pre-eminence will always be maintained even in the future days to come...

If Christ was equal with the Father in the absolute sense and possessed this position inherently from the "beginning" and this had been the position he had always maintained, then how is it that it was God the Father who ordained all things to be under Christ but at the exclusion of Himself and would continue to maintain His preeminence over Christ even "when all things shall be subdued unto" Christ?

1 Corinthians 15: 24-28: “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, THEN SHALL THE SON ALSO HIMSELF BE SUBJECT UNTO HIM THAT PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIM, that God may be all in all."

Did you catch that? "then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him..."

"'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,' 'For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man.' The head of every man is Christ, as THE HEAD OF CHRIST IS GOD. 'And ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.'"—Ellen G. White, Home Missionary, June 1, 1897


John 14:28 "My Father is greater than I."

I John 10:29 "My Father…is greater than all."

John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing; I only seek the will of the Father."

John 6:57 "I live by the Father."

Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN and in earth."


Further comments from the SDA pioneers:

"The Father was greater than the Son in that he was first. The Son was equal with the Father in that he had received all things from the Father." —James White, Review and Herald, January 4, 1881 (year of his death)

"While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in the point of time. He (the Father) is also greater in that he had no beginning, while Christ's personality had a beginning." —Ellet J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889