John 10:30 – In What Sense Are Jesus and the Father One? Part 1: One in Person?

We have discussed John 10:30 several times. This study is in response to a dissertation that has been presented by an unnamed author, and thus we will be discussing some of the claims of that dissertation. (Since our original posting of this back in 2009, Part I of the dissertation has been removed.) From time to time we will be referencing that dissertation as “the dissertation”. We believe that the reader will benefit from our earlier discussions regarding John 10:30.

John 10:30 is regarded by trinitarians, as well as oneness believers, as proof that Jesus is “deity“, with deity evidently being interpreted to mean the one true God. Jesus is recorded as saying in John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek transliteration of this as given by the Westcott & Hort Interlinear is “egw kai ho pateer hen esmen.” The question is raised concerning what sense Jesus would speak of himself and his Father as one. The dissertation present three main views: (1) one in person; (2) one in power, and (3) one in purpose.

One in person: This view is held by our oneness brothers, and some others. This claim would be that Jesus and his Father are one person, and thus, in effect that Jesus is not only his own God, but that Jesus is his own Father, and that the Father is his own Son, and that Son of the Father is the Father of whom he is the son, etc., although most oneness believers would probably not state their belief as we have. They do, however, attribute Jesus’ words in John 10:30 as declaration of Jesus that he and his Father are the one true God, the one true Supreme Being.

One in power: The dissertation claims that this view means that Jesus is one “divine nature” with his father. Evidently, “divine nature” is being looked upon as a synonym of the terms “divine essence” or “divine power”. It is claimed that this is the view favored by trinitarians, and trinitarians are claimed to be the Orthodox (right view) Christians.

One in purpose: The dissertation presents this view as meaning that Jesus is united with his Father in purpose, that Jesus is in full agreement with his Father, and that Jesus always does what his Father desires. It is claimed that those who hold to this view deny the deity of Christ, and Unitarians and “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are named as some who hold to this view. It is further claimed that Mormons typically give this view, but it also claimed that Mormons believe that Jesus is God.

The dissertation presents the idea that the alleged “orthodox” (right view) Christians think of the other two groups as getting something right and as well also getting something wrong. According the dissertation, Oneness believers do accept Christ’s deity, but fail to appreciate the distinction between Jesus and his Father. The dissertation then asserts that the other ‘anti-trinitarians’ make the distinction between Jesus and his God and Father, but, according the dissertation, they claim that these “anti-trinitarians” do not see the “the divine unity of nature. essence, or power” that Jesus shares with his Father.

The question is asked as to who is right and the declaration is made that the trinitarian interpretation “does justice to the text in context better than the other interpretations.” Our position is that the Bible is the orthodox, the right view, of which the “one in purpose” view above comes the closest, and that the Biblical orthodoxy of John 10:30 is in harmony with the context as well as the entire Bible, and not only this, but that the oneness and trinitarian views both have to use human imagination, and based what is being imagined, assumptions are made, and then those imaginative assumptions have to added to, and read into what Jesus said.

Not One in Person

We agree with the dissertation that Jesus is not asserting that he and his God and Father are one person. The least plausible way to understand John 10:30 is that it means that Jesus is the Father. We agree that if this is what Jesus meant to say, Jesus could have easily said such by stating “I am the Father,” and the plural verb would not have been necessary.

The problem is that in English, we do not generally say “John and Mary are one”, although this kind of expression is sometimes done. If I say “John and Mary are one”, however, who would think that I am saying that John and Mary are one person? If someone said to “John and Mary are one”, we would normally think of “one” as being used in the context of agreement in spirit on some issue (which should be revealed in the context or should be known by the hearer), or the context of the marriage bond (as of general knowledge), etc. Recently, HBO presented WE ARE ONE: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. In saying, “We are one”, the “one” is left to be understood in light of political atmosphere that in which the word is being said. No word is provided as the word being modified by “one”. We do understand that it means “one” in purpose, goals, etc. We would certainly not think that by saying “We are one”, that all the participants would be saying that they are one person. Likewise, in the context, Jesus lets us know of his relationship with his Father. Concerning the sheep, Jesus said: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all.” (John 10:29) Jesus declares concerning his Father that his Father is a different person than himself, declaring that his Father had given the sheep to him, and, thus, in effect, that his Father is greater than him. In John 10:30, Jesus speaks of himself as one person, “I”, and then he adds to himself another person, the Father. Then Jesus that both of these persons “are one.”

As noted, in the koine Greek, as in many other languages, nouns often take masculine, feminine or neuter genders. Usually, this kind of “gender” does not specify that what is being spoken of is a male or female. In the Biblical Greek, the noun used as titular name of an inanimate object can be masculine, or it can be feminine, without designating the object as either male or female. Adjectives related to those words often take a gender form in harmony with the gender of the noun being described. The Greek adjective for “one” in John 10:30 is “hen”, which is neuter, and thus the noun that being described by “hen” has to also be neuter. Jesus himself did not give the adjective “one” an object, but he left it as understood. We have not seen any “oneness” author supply a Greek word for the term “person” that would be needed in harmony with the neuter gender of the word “hen”. The word transliterated as “proposon” is sometimes translated as person, but this word does not exactly match the English concept of person, and can itself mean an outward countenance, and thus such an application could mean that Jesus and his God and Father are one in outward countenance, but not that they are one person.

Regardless, all through the New Testament Jesus is kept separate from his Father, and also from his God, the Supreme Being over Jesus. Jesus is never presented as the Father, nor is Jesus ever presented as the Supreme Being. Either thought has to be imagined, assumed, and then the imagined assumptions have to added to, and read into, each and every scripture that is presented to allegedly support the imagined assumptions. The default assumption is that Jesus is not his Father and that Jesus is not his God, and this default assumption is what should be applied to Jesus’ words in John 10:30, unless we can actually find true and strong scriptural reason to think otherwise. Since there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that makes Jesus into Yahweh, except that one use their imagination and form assumptions so as to make the scriptures appear that way, and since absolutely all of the scriptures can be harmonized together without adding the thought that Jesus is his God, Yahweh, in reality there is no reason to add to John 10:30 that Jesus was claiming to be his God, or that Jesus was claiming to be his Father, or that Jesus was claiming to equal to his God and Father.

As recorded in John 10:32, Jesus pointed out the real reason that Jews were seeking to kill him. In John 10:33, the Jews denied that they were seeking to stone him because of his good work. Does this make their denial true? Hardly, they had earlier denied that they were even seeking to kill Jesus (John 7:1,19,20), thus proving themselves to be liars. To give credence to this idea would in fact be calling Jesus a liar as Jesus pointed out the real reasons why they wished to kill him. The Jewish leaders cause or reason to kill Jesus was false. Jesus told why they sought to kill him. Jesus spoke the truth; the Jewish leaders spoke in accord with their Father. — John 7:19,20; 8:44.

Click Here for refutation of Part 2 of the dissertion, “One in Power?

This was originally posted 2009; edited and redated: 1/17/2014.

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Copyright 2014 Jesus and His God

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