I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
The Trinitarian Question
Jesus said He would go to the Father (Jn. 16:28). He also said that He came forth from the Father. The question that trinitarians will ask concerning this verse is; "if Jesus is the Father, who is Jesus going to"? They say that Jesus going to the Father is proof of more than one person. They say it shows us that there is distinction between the Father and the Son.
The Trinitarian Dilemma
Is it just me or is defining the "distinction" a pretty major problem for trinitarians? The common accusation that they falsely (and ineffectively) throw at us is that we believe there is no distinction between the Father and the Son. We do believe in a distinction between the Father and the Son concerning the natures, not as in persons (Ep. 4:4). They are not two persons, but two natures of one person; Jesus (Jn. 10:30). The Father dwells in the humanity of Jesus; therefore, Jesus is the Father by way of His divine nature (1 Tim. 3:16).
This is another stance that will always backfire on the Trinitarians. Quoting this verse of scripture and then asking us to see two individual persons is at best a stretch. At worst, it is a detriment to the whole scheme of trinitarian thinking. The question that the trinitarian will ask when citing this passage is "If Jesus is the Father, who is Jesus going to?" "Is Jesus going to Jesus?" This is the standard trinitarian straw man argument.
To fully understand the dilemma that faces the trinity doctrine, we must revisit the underlying principle of coexistence. The trinity, according to the creeds, is co-existent. According to this definition, wherever the Son is, so is the Father also. This is known as the doctrine of perichoresis. This means that everywhere that Jesus ever was, the Father had to be with Him.
Jesus said that the Father was with Him repetitively (Jn, 8:29). Jesus constantly reminds the disciples that the Father is with Him. It almost seems to make perichoresis sound correct until we get to the place where Jesus is going to the Father. When Jesus says He is going to the Father, perichoresis goes out the window. If I am going to come to you, then I am not with you. How could Jesus have the Father with Him, and at the same time be going to the Father? How can He be with the Father and not with the Father at the same time? This is impossible. If Jesus is going to the Father then He cannot have been with the Father the whole time. This is utter contradiction.
Reconciling the Contradiction
If we are to understand what Jesus meant when He said He was going to the Father, we must understand the context in which He was saying it. Notice that He was not just going to the Father, but He also came forth from the Father (Jn. 16:28). The key word there is the word "forth". He didn't say I came from the Father. He said He came 'forth' from the Father. These are two different things. To come from something is to say I was there and now I am here. Like saying I came from New York and now I live in Florida.
To say I came forth from something is another thing altogether. The word 'forth' means 'into view'. What Jesus was saying was that He came into view from the Father. Before He could not be seen, but now He has become tangible. In other words, He came from being invisible and intangible and returned to being invisible and intangible. He came forth from deity and returned to deity; He came forth from Spirit and returned to Spirit. This refers more to His office and position rather than His location. He couldn't have been saying He was going back to the location where the Father was, for the Father was ever with Him. The Spirit of God is omnipresent. It is everywhere present. You can never go anywhere where God is not.
Jesus, when making this statement, was not saying that He came from where the Father was and was returning again to that place. He was saying that He once was an invisible Spirit and after becoming a man, physical in nature; He was going back to His divine state of being. He was the Father, unlimited; then as the Son, He was the Father humbling Himself as a man, taking upon Himself the limitations of humanity (Ph. 2:7-8). After His purpose on earth was fulfilled, He went back to the Father; the deity.
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). The Lord Jesus is that Spirit. The Lord Jesus is the Spirit of God in the form of a man. When He was finished with His work as a sinless man, He returned to His existence in the realm of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that is still in operation in the church today, and the Lord is that Spirit.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
I and my Father are one.
1 Timothy 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.