Jesus Is Equal to God in His Honor
“so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (5:23–24)
The Father’s purpose in entrusting all His works and judgment to Jesus is so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. It is only fitting that those equal in nature (vv. 17–18), works (vv. 19–20), power and sovereignty (v. 21), and judgment (v. 22) would be accorded equal honor. The Father’s honor is not diminished by the honor paid to Christ; on the contrary, it is enhanced.
Although the unbelieving Jews thought they were truly worshiping God while rejecting His Son (cf. 16:2), such was not the case, for he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. This was an astounding claim on Jesus’ part, as D. A. Carson notes:
In a theistic universe, such a statement belongs to one who is himself to be addressed as God (cf. 20:28), or to stark insanity. The one who utters such things is to be dismissed with pity or scorn, or worshipped as Lord. If with much current scholarship we retreat to seeing in such material less the claims of the Son than the beliefs and witness of the Evangelist and his church, the same options confront us. Either John is supremely deluded and must be dismissed as a fool, or his witness is true and Jesus is to be ascribed the honours due God alone. There is no rational middle ground. (The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 255).
When He was asked, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (6:28–29). “He who hates Me,” He warned, “hates My Father also” (15:23). Those who refuse to honor the Son while claiming to honor the Father are actually self-deceived. John Heading writes,
It is not up to a man to decide that he will honour the One or the Other; it is either both or neither. In religious circles, it is too easy for unbelief to contemplate God but not the Son. Knowledge of One implies knowledge of the Other (John 8:19); hatred of One implies hatred of the Other (15:23); denial of the One implies denial of the Other (1 John 2:23). (What the Bible Teaches: John [Kilmarnock, Scotland: John Ritchie, 1988), 93)
That the Father and the Son are to be afforded equal honor forcefully asserts Christ’s deity and equality with God, who declared through the prophet Isaiah, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). Yet, the Father has commanded that all will honor the Son. In Philippians 2:9–11 Paul wrote,
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Willingly or unwillingly, everyone will eventually obey the Father’s command to honor Jesus Christ.
Jesus closed this section of His discourse by reaffirming His authority to give eternal life to whomever He desires. The Lord underscored the statement’s monumental significance by introducing it with the solemn formula amēn, amēn (truly, truly). He identified those who receive eternal life as those who hear His word (or message) and believe the Father who sent Him. As always in the Scriptures, divine sovereignty in salvation is not apart from human responsibility to repent and believe the gospel. The blessed promise to those who believe is that they do not come into judgment, but have passed out of death into life. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
The claims of Jesus Christ confront everyone, forcing all to make a decision either for or against Him. There is no neutral ground, for as Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters” (Luke 11:23). Those who accept Him for who He is, God incarnate in human flesh, will be saved from their sins through Him (Matt. 1:21; 1 Tim. 1:15; Heb. 7:25). But those who believe Him to be anything other than who He truly is will one day face His judgment (John 3:18; 9:39; 12:47–48; 16:8–9; Acts 10:38–42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1).
24 Once again Jesus prefaces an important truth with his characteristic “I tell you the truth.” As in the other locations, it does not stem from fear that the hearer might think that Jesus is not telling the truth. Rather, it is a rhetorical way of underscoring the crucial importance of the pronouncement that will follow. Jesus has just spoken of his role in judgment; now he explains how not to be condemned. To be set free from condemnation and enter into eternal life requires that a person hear the message that Jesus brings and believe in the one who sent him. In John’s language, hearing and believing are not so much two separate steps as they are a single act of obedience. Barrett, 261, notes that “akouein [GK 201] is used, as shama [GK 10725] is often used in the Old Testament, with the meaning ‘to hear and do,’ ‘to be obedient.’ ” As Jesus spoke a word and an invalid who lay helpless by the pool of Bethesda rose and walked away, now he speaks a word and spiritual invalids who respond in faith rise up and enter into “eternal life.”
The message that Jesus brought centers in the redemptive love of God the Father. To learn of the Father who longs for the return of the prodigal and to return in faith to that intimate relationship abandoned by Adam is to “cross over from death to life.” The verb (metabainō, GK 3553) may be used to indicate a change of residence (BDAG, 638; cf. Lk 10:7). Jesus is saying that those who hear and believe have by that response left their former residence in the realm of death and moved to a new home in the sphere of life. The perfect tense of the verb indicates that the change of quarters has already been made. Believers are enjoying eternal life right now. This is the strongest statement of “realized eschatology” found in the NT. Those who have eternal life will “not be condemned.” They will “not come into judgment” (NASB; eis krisin [GK 3213] ouk erchetai [GK 2262]) because that question has been settled forever on the cross.
5:24. In the Greek text our verse begins with the words, amen, amen, translated in the familiar KJV with the words “verily, verily.” Actually, this entire equality-with-God section began the same way back in verse 19. The theme of this entire section of John’s Gospel centers in the unity of the Father and the Son. John emphasized that both life and condemnation are present possessions with eternal consequences.
This verse challenges all readers to trust Christ through faith. Let us remember, too, that hearing and believing are almost synonymous in John’s use. The phrase he has crossed over appears in the perfect tense, meaning the actual crossing took place some time in the past, but the result continues to the present. In short, salvation is an accomplished fact and an assured position. Like John 3:16, John 5:24 is pure gospel.
5:24 In the preceding verses, we learned that the Lord Jesus had the power to give life and that, also, the work of judgment had been committed to Him. Now we learn how one may receive spiritual life from Him and escape judgment.
This is one of the favorite gospel verses in the Bible. Multitudes have become possessors of eternal life through its message. Doubtless the reason for its being so greatly loved is the manner in which it sets forth the way of salvation so clearly. The Lord Jesus began the verse with the words “Most assuredly,” drawing attention to the importance of what He was about to say. Then He added the very personal announcement, “I say to you.” The Son of God is speaking to us in a very personal and intimate way.
“He who hears My word.” To hear the word of Jesus means not only to listen to it, but also to receive it, to believe it, and to obey it. Many people hear the gospel preached, but do nothing about it. The Lord is saying here that a man must accept His teaching as divine, and believe that He is indeed the Savior of the world.
“And believes in Him who sent Me.” It is a matter of believing God. But does that mean that a person is saved simply by believing God? Many profess to believe in God, yet they have never been converted. No, the thought here is that one must believe God, who sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. What must he believe? He must believe that God sent the Lord Jesus to be our Savior. He must believe what God says about the Lord Jesus, namely, that He is the only Savior and that sins can only be put away through His work on Calvary.
“Has everlasting life.” Notice it does not say that he will have eternal life, but that he has it right now. Everlasting life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not only life that will go on forever, but it is a (higher) quality of life. It is the life of the Savior imparted to us who believe in Him. It is the spiritual life received when a man is born again, in contrast to the natural life which he received at his physical birth.
“And shall not come into judgment.” The thought here is that he is not condemned now and will never be condemned in the future. The one who believes on the Lord Jesus is free from judgment because Christ has paid the penalty for his sins on Calvary. God will not demand the payment of this penalty twice. Christ has paid it as our Substitute, and that is sufficient. He has finished the work, and nothing can be added to a finished work. The Christian will never be punished for his sins.
“But has passed from death into life.” The one who has trusted Christ has passed out of a state of spiritual death into one of spiritual life. Before conversion, he was dead in trespasses and in sins. He was dead as far as love for God or fellowship with the Lord was concerned. When he put his faith in Jesus Christ, he was indwelt by the Spirit of God and became a possessor of divine life.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 190–191). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 428–429). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 102). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1493–1494). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.