Kok Jacobus. "The Plenipotentiary Idea As Leitmotiv in John's Gospel." In Die Skriflig 49(2), Art. #1923, 2015.
Kok describes Jesus in John's Gospel as a plenipotentiary, one empowered to act on God's behalf (Kok 2015, 1). He, in turn, empowers his believers to act in the role of God's agents. Kok's opinion is that this is a central and recurring theme in John's Gospel. Kok views Deuteronomy 18:15-22, where Moses speaks of another prophet rising, to be a backdrop for the concept of serving as the agent of God (Kok 2015, 1-2). There are numerous significant statements in John depicting Jesus as the fulfillment of various aspects of the prophecy.
Kok observes that when John presents Jesus as the plenipotentiary there is a subordination present in his role. In his nature, Jesus is equally God, but in his mission, he is obeying the will of the Father, reporting back to the Father and referring to the Father in prayer (Kok 2015, 2). He shows dependence on the Father in all things.
The challenge in this world is related to a division by family. John depicts everyone either in the family of life through belief or the family of death through spiritual blindness and unbelief (Kok 2015, 3). The purpose of Christ's coming is as a missionary to call people to belief and life.
Kok moves on into a consideration of agency in Jewish thought. Within the culture of the time, an agent was understood to act very like the one who sent him, with the same power and authority, as well as the same claim of honor (Kok 2015, 3). Jesus is presented as bearing divine ability and authority. Kok also notes that the cultural idea never presents the agent as actually being equal to or greater than the sender (Kok 2015, 4). A heirarchical relationship remains in effect. Jesus' goal, as described clearly in John 6:38-39, among other places, is to do the Father's will by gathering his believers for resurrection (Kok 2015, 5). As to acting as if the sender is present in person, Kok refers to passages such as the prologue in 1:1-18 and to statements such as those in 3:36 which describe Jesus as the one who saw God face to face, has been personally sent, and who brings God's presence to humans.
Because of the relationship of the Father and the Son, Kok finds that John's Gospel urges honoring the Father by honoring the Son, and that honoring the Father also brings honor to the Son. There is a reciprocity inherent in the relationship (Kok 2015, 6). This level of reciprocity exceeds what a head of state would grant to an envoy, as Kok recognizes (Kok 2015, 7). Kok continues in terms of the requirement of accepting Jesus so as to receive spiritual life.
The agent would always need to report to the sender. Kok sees this pattern in John's Gospel, as Jesus returns to God when his mission is complete (Kok 2015, 7). Further, as Jesus brings his mission to completion, chapter 17 describes him as sending his believers to continue some aspects of his ongoing mission. In John, Jesus' return to the Father is related to his death and resurrection. Kok sees this as an exercise of his authority (Kok 2015, 8).
In the post resurrection appearances of Jesus, Kok sees a specific act of passing the mission on to his disciples (Kok 2015, 8). They are given authority even to forgive sins, a prerogative of God. Kok sees this directed not only to the community insiders, but to the whole world (Kok 2015, 9). Again, this continues Jesus' mission.