The Jews of Jesus’ time were resisting the recognition of Jesus as their Messiah. In response to a comment of Jesus, it is recorded,“For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:18
Their thinking was that since Jesus referred to God as his Father, therefore Jesus himself must be some sort of God. It is flawed reasoning, for it could therefore be argued that we ourselves must also be Gods, since God is also our Father.
(See, for instance, Galatians 3:26: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”)
Jesus actually expressed an inequality with the Father.
“If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” John 14:28b
“I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:50
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:30
It is clear that Jesus always credited his Father with greater power and authority. Co-equality was not an aspect he desired (Philippians 2:6).
In support that Jesus existed from before the Creation, reference is sometimes made to Chapter 8 of Proverbs:
“ “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.
When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
I was there when he set the heavens in place…” Proverbs 8:22–28
If one is to read the full chapter, and its continuation into the next chapter, the context clearly identifies that it is wisdom that is being personified—in the ninth chapter it is contrasted with folly. Wisdom is a recurring theme throughout the book of Proverbs, and the writer never goes further than showing that it is exhibited and illustrated in the wonders of nature and the creation of the world, and that it is a quality that is to be sought at every opportunity.
“For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 8:11
This wisdom was covered by a Greek word logo” (logos), which means ‘intelligence’, and the thoughts of Proverbs 8 are reflected in the opening words of John’s Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word (logo”), and the Word (logo”) was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1–3
Despite the frequently held thought that, in this passage, the Word was Jesus, such is an inference—it is not stated in the passage. It is unfortunate that the gender of the noun, being masculine, is confused with the intent of the word, which is neutral. Just as Wisdom is a feminine word in both Hebrew and Greek, so the word logos is masculine in Greek. The logos became flesh, that is, became a real tangible part of God’s plan, when Jesus was born.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14