You are on page 1of 10

Agency Relationships within the Trinity

One of the most common and important legal relationships is that of agency. In an agency
relationship between two parties, one party, called the agent, agrees to represent or act
for the other, called the principal. The principal has the right to control the agents conduct
in matters entrusted to the agent, and the agent must exercise his or her powers for the
benefit of the principle only (Miller & Jentz, 2010, p. 446).
One of the purposes of this article is to provide an example of General Revelation Bible Studies (GRBS).
The usual meaning of general revelation is revelation other than the Bible which provides evidence of the
existence of God (see Romans 1:18-21). I want to expand on this narrow, yet accurate, definition and
include a wider, also accurate, definition of general revelation. Instead of only providing evidence of the
existence of God, the wider meaning refers to general revelation providing insights into the wisdom and
glory of God. This type of revelation enables us to understand God and creation better. We can worship
God with greater knowledge and understanding than we could apart from GRBS.
Most Bible studies involve looking at special revelation, namely Scripture, and then applying the
Word to our hearts, minds, and lives. GRBS begins with the wide definition of general revelation and then
we link and apply this knowledge to the Scriptures.

In this writing I will be covering the topic of agency relationships. Specifically, is there a principalagent relationship within the Trinity? Agency law is a topic of general revelation. While examining this
topic, we will think about how this applies to special revelation, namely the Scriptures. There are multiple
types of agency relationships in the context of Scripture, but this writing will focus on the agency between
the Father and Son. First let us get a glance at the types of principle-agent relationships.
The Father is a principal. The agents of the Father are Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and believers. Jesus
is a principal. The agents of Jesus are the Holy Spirit and believers. The Holy Spirit is a principal. The agents
of the Holy Spirit are the earthly Jesus--as He walked the earth at His first comingand believers. God
the Father, Son, and Holy Spiritis a principal. The agents of God are believers.
Should unbelievers be considered agents of God? I argue they are not. Unbelievers do not consent
to be Gods agents. They are liable to God for other reasons. As a person born into a nation is automatically
bound to the laws of that nation, so a person born into this world is automatically bound to the laws of
God. Unbelievers, therefore, are not considered agents of God in the same nuance as believers are.
Agency Relationships
Now let us spend the majority of our time with the Father as the principal and Jesus as the agent
in the context of our salvation. It is difficult to determine whether an agency relationship has always
existed between the Father and Son, or if this agency was formed at some point before creation. Jesus
did not always have a human nature. This nature was added at the incarnation. So were the Father and
Son always in a principal-agent relationship? Soon I will argue this agency comes to an end, and an ending
implies a beginning.
Agency relationships normally are consensual; that is, they come about by voluntary
consent and agreement between the parties. Generally, the agreement need not be in
writing, and consideration is not required (449).
2

Is the agency relationship between the Father and Son consensual, or is the agency an eternal reality with
no beginning and no end? As surely as God has always been and always will be, has this agency always
been and always will be? I believe this agency is consensual and was made at some point before creation,
but has not always been, just as Jesus has not always had a human nature. This relates to the question of
whether the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have these titles by their very nature, or if they chose these
roles. We know from Scripture the Son is equal to the Father in the Sons divine nature. However, in
Jesus human nature, the Father is greater than the Son. It appears the Father and Son were not in an
agency relationship by their very nature, for this would imply the Father has always been greater than the
Son, which is clearly unbiblical.
Earlier it was mentioned that the Holy Spirit is an agent of the Father and Jesus. This would imply
the Father and Jesus are greater than the Holy Spirit in their divine nature. This cannot be. What this
means is the Holy Spirit became an agent of the Father and Son for the purposes of Gods plan of
redemption, but the Holy Spirit is not an agent in the context of His divine nature. These agency
relationships, therefore, are not required by Gods nature but were formed at some point before creation
for the purpose of the salvation of the saints. These agency relationships create hierarchy within the
Trinity for the purpose of Gods plan of salvation, but in the nature of God there is no hierarchy. Such
understanding explains well how Jesus could say, [F]or the Father is greater than I (John 14:28) yet the
Scripture also says that although [Jesus] existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a
thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the
likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7).
If my position is correct then the Father and Son entered into a principal-agent relationship by
voluntary consent some time before the act of creation.

Agents Duties to the Principal


Generally, the agent owes the principal five dutiesperformance, notification, loyalty,
obedience, and accounting (451).
How does Jesus fulfill these five duties?
An implied condition in every agency contract is the agents agreement to use reasonable
diligence and skill in performing the work. When an agent fails to perform any of her or
his duties, liability for breach of contract normally results (451).
As an agent of the Father, Jesus definitely fulfilled His duty to perform as He was obedient, even unto
death on a cross (see Philippians 2:8).
An agent is required to notify the principal of all matters that come to her or his attention
concerning the subject matter of the agency. This is the duty of notification, or the duty to
inform (451).
Jesus fulfilled this duty through prayer. As agents of God, we are required to take our concerns (and
praises) to God through prayer. To neglect prayer is to breach the contract with God. I used quotation
marks, because essentially we are in covenant with God, and covenants are a little different than
contracts.
Loyalty is one of the most fundamental duties in a fiduciary relationship. Basically, the
agent has the duty to act solely for the benefit of his or her principal and not in the interest
of the agent or a third partyThe duty of loyalty also means that any information or
knowledge acquired through the agency relationship is considered confidential. It would
be a breach of loyalty to disclose such information either during the agency relationship

or after its terminationThe agents actions must be strictly for the benefit of the principal
and must not result in any secret profit for the agent (452).
Jesus definitely fulfilled the duty of loyalty to the Father. When Jesus will return to judge the world and
who is elect and who is reprobate is confidential information. It would be a breach of duty for Jesus to
share this and other similar information with us. Jesus was loyal in every other way as well.
When acting on behalf of a principal, an agent has a duty to follow all lawful and clearly
stated instructions of the principal. Any deviation from such instructions is a violation of
this duty. During emergency situations, however, when the principal cannot be consulted,
the agent may deviate from the instructions without violating this duty. Whenever
instructions are not clearly stated, the agent can fulfill the duty of obedience by acting in
good faith and in a manner reasonable under the circumstance (452).
Jesus was definitely obedient. Jesus acted in good faith when He was unable to consult the Father but had
to make immediate decisions. We do not always have time to consult the Father through prayer, but often
we must make immediate decisions. Knowing the Word well enables us to make decisions likely to be in
alignment with the wisdom and will of God.
Unless an agent and a principal agree otherwise, the agent has the duty to keep and make
available to the principal an account of all property and funds received and paid out on
behalf of the principalThe agent has a duty to maintain separate accounts for the
principals funds and for the agents personal funds, and the agent must not intermingle
these accounts (452).
Jesus definitely fulfilled His accounting duty to the Father. Jesus did not hold anything back from the
Father, but all has been accounted for. Separate accounts probably does not apply in the relationship
between the Father and Jesus.
5

Principals Duties to the Agent


The principal also owes certain duties to the agent. These duties relate to compensation,
reimbursement and indemnification, cooperation, and safe working conditions.
In general, when a principal requests certain services from an agent, the agent reasonably
expects payment. The principal therefore has a duty to pay the agent for services
renderedThe principal also has a duty to pay that compensation in a timely manner
(452).
The Father pays Jesus for services rendered. This payment is the Church, the bride of Christ (see Revelation
21:2). Jesus will see His offspring (see Isaiah 53:10) and perhaps receive their crowns at His feet (see
Revelation 4:10). This compensation will be paid in a timely manner. In the eyes of eternity from a divine
standpoint, the time from creation to the new heavens and earth is definitely timely.
Whenever an agent disburses funds to fulfill the request of the principal or to pay for
necessary expenses in the course of a reasonable performance of his or her agency duties,
the principal has the duty to reimburse the agent for these payments. Agents cannot
recover for expenses incurred through their own misconduct or negligence, though (452).
Reimbursement and Indemnification does not really apply to the agency relationship between the Father
and Son. The Father compensates the services of Jesus through other means than monetary.
A principal has a duty to cooperate with the agent and to assist the agent in performing
her or his duties. The principal must do nothing to prevent such performance (452).
The Father fulfills this duty. He protected Jesus from dying before His time and brought His death and all
the prophecies to pass according to Scripture.

Under the common law, a principal is required to provide safe working premises,
equipment, and conditions for all agents and employees. The principal has a duty to
inspect the working conditions and to warn agents and employees about any unsafe areas
(453).
In this context, the Father provides working conditions favorable (i.e. safe) for fulfilling Jesus mission
of public ministry and His death on the cross. Jesus came in part to die on the cross, so the Father is
required to ensure Jesus death on the cross comes to pass according to Scripture.
Agents authority
An agents authority to act can be either actual (express or implied) or apparentExpress
authority is authority declared in clear, direct, and definite terms. Express authority can
be given orally or in writingActual authority may also be implied. An agent has the
implied authority to do what is reasonably necessary to carry out express authority and
accomplish the objectives of the agency. Authority can also be implied by custom or
inferred from the position the agent occupies (453).
We can assume the express authority was declared orally. For the Father and Son to form an agency
relationship in writing seems unnecessary as God is free from sin. God does not lie and commit fraud.
There is no authority greater than God who would require a written contract in order to enforce it in court.
As for agency relationships among men, written contracts are often required due to the sinfulness of
humanity. Divorce was allowed as a mercy because of the sinfulness of humanity. [Jesus] said to them,
Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it
was not so (Matthew 19:8). Jesus also has the implied authority to do as needed to fulfill His express
authority. Apparent authority does not apply or at least is unnecessary to consider here.

Ratification occurs when the principal affirms an agents unauthorized act. When
ratification occurs, the principal is bound by the agents act, and the act is treated as if it
had been authorized by the principal from the outset. Ratification can be express or
implied (455).
Ratification does not apply between the Father and Jesus.
Liability in Agency Relationships
Frequently, a question arises as to which party, the principal or the agent, should be held
liable for contracts formed by the agent or for torts or crimes committed by the agent
(455).
Since God is free from sin, these areas do not apply. For agency relationships among humans, these areas
do apply and are an application of the justice and righteousness of God. The Lord has provided man with
wisdom and grace to come up with laws which uphold justice and righteousness. In ancient Israel, God
Himself provided the Mosaic Law to uphold justice and righteousness in the land of Israel. Today through
common grace, God enables nations to come up with laws to reduce injustice, although the laws of man
are less than perfect. Common grace prevents absolute chaos in this world, so praise God for common
grace to both believers and unbelievers. Christians can enter politics in an attempt to help society improve
justice and righteousness through good laws.
How Agency Relationships Are Terminated
Agency relationships can be terminated by lapse of time, purpose achieved, occurrence of a
specific event, mutual agreement, and termination of one party (459). When does the agency relationship
between the Father and Jesus come to an end? Did it have a beginning? Does it have an end? The agency
relationship for sure covers the time of Jesus first coming. I would suggest it ends when Jesus hands the

kingdom over to the Father (see 1 Corinthians 15:24). I am open to other suggestions. If this contract
between the Father and Son comes to an end, it is the result of lapse of time, purpose achieved, and the
occurrence of a specific event. Mutual agreement does not apply since this is in the result of cancelling a
contract for reasons other than completion. Termination of one party does not apply since the Father and
Jesus must fulfill the contract in order to fulfill Gods covenant with humanity.
Termination by operation of law applies to such relationships among humans, but not between
the Father and Jesus. Operation of law is needed because of the existence of sin in the world. Operation
of law covers death, insanity, impossibility, changed circumstances, bankruptcy, and war. Without sin,
these events would not occur.
General Revelation Bible Studies
Do you have a better understanding of GRBS? We took a subject from general revelation, namely
the subtopic of Agency Relationships under the main topic of Business Law, and linked this topic with
special revelation. We could continue on by examining the other principal-agent relationships introduced
earlier to gain and ever increasing understanding of God, the subtopic of principal-agent relationships,
and how this applies to our lives. We can worship God more comprehensively, although never fully, with
this understanding. I find GRBS to be very helpful, interesting, encouraging, and faith exalting. Business
law, or any other topic, speaks of the wisdom and glory of God. The Lord did not create a world in which
thousands upon thousands of subjects are exclusive to Scripture. The many academic subjects studied in
schools across the world can all be integrated with faith, and I believe this is best done by putting effort
into examining these subjects and through meditation we can experience more intimacy and a greater
knowledge and experience of God and how His fingerprints are found everywhere. What are the
connections between academic subjects and the Creator? There are almost endless interdependent and
interrelationships in creation and everything can be tied to Christ in some way, shape, or form. Halleluyah!

Work Cited
Miller, R. L., & Jentz, G. A. (2010). Agency relationships. In Fundamentals of business law: Summarized
cases (8th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western/Cengage Learning.

10