John 10:15 – Jesus Knows His God

Even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life [soul] for the sheep. — John 10:15, World English Bible translation.

Westcott & Hort Interlinear

According to one author who claims to have presented the idea that Jesus is God, that is, that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, John 10:15 means that Jesus “knows the Father to the same degree that the Father knows Him – infinitely!” And thus, this scripture, among others, is alleged to prove that Jesus is deity, which in turn is meant to say that Jesus is the only true God. Actually, the scripture does not say that Jesus said that he knew his God and Father to the same degree that his God and Father knows him, nor is there anything said about “infinitely!” We certainly find nothing that indicates that Jesus was claiming to be one being, or that he was claiming to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It should be apparent that some eisegesis is being placed over what Jesus actually said so as to make it appear that he said something that he did not say.

Evidently, what is happening is that the expression “even as”, rendered from the Greek word transliterated as “kathws”, often given the transliteration of “Kathos” (Strong’s #2531), is being interpreted to mean “in equality to”. It is true that the word can be “in proportion to”, but it rarely means absolute equality, especially in the sense that one would have attribute the meaning of the word as used in John 10:15 in order to make appear that Jesus is his God. The word is usually rendered in the King James Version as “as”, not “even as”.

Let us examine some parallel usages of this word in other verses, where the word is used in a manner similar to that of John 10:15. First, we come to Luke 6:36, where Jesus says to his disciples: “Therefore be merciful, even as (kathws) your Father is also merciful.” Was Jesus telling his disciples that their mercy must be absolutely equal to his God and Father, or was Jesus simply holding the mercy of his God and Father as example for disciples? Common sense tells us that our mercy could never match that of the God and Father of Jesus. Thus, Matthew Henry reasons that Jesus means:

“Imitate your Father in those things that are his brightest perfections.’’ Those that are merciful as God is merciful, even to the evil and the unthankful, are perfect as God is perfect; so he is pleased graciously to accept it, though infinitely falling short.”
Henry, Matthew. “Commentary on Luke 6”.
“Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible”.

Next let us look at 17:26:

As [kathws] it happened in the days of Noah, even so [the Greek word here is not kathws, but houtws, Strong’s #3779, meaning, “in this manner, thus, so”] will it be also in the days of the Son of Man.

From the context, as well as Jesus’ usage of the word “houtws” as related to the word “kathws”, we can see that Jesus did not mean that absolutely everything in the days of the Son of Man would be exactly equal to absolutely everything that was happening in the days of Noah. He is speaking of similarity, not equality. We should not expect, for instance, that the angelic sons of God will marrying the daughters of men, having corrupted offspring, etc. Nor should we expect someone to build an ark and bring some of all kinds of animals into that ark. Jesus was talking about a similar attitude of mind and conduct amongst the people, not that the people would be doing every detail exactly the same. Jesus further illustrates this similarity by the usage of the word again in Luke 17:28.

The next scripture is Luke 22:29, which we will quote from Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, since this translation retains the verb form of the word for “covenant”.

And, I, covenant unto you – as [kathws] my Father hath covenanted unto me – a kingdom,

It should be apparent that Jesus is not speaking his God’s covenant with himself as being equal to his covenant with his disciples. Paul states that the God of Jesus “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22, New King James Version) And we read that is stated to Jesus: “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you With the oil of gladness above your fellows.” (Hebrews 1:9) Thus the covenant that the God of Jesus makes with Jesus includes his being over his disciples; therefore, in Luke 22:29, Jesus is not talking about equality, but rather of the same manner.

While many more instances of the usage of the word kathws (kathos) that demonstrate that it does not necessarily mean “equal to”, we believe that these few should suffice for our purposes.

Contextually, Jesus is speaking about his being the shepherd of the sheep. Most translations have Jesus as claiming to be the “good shepherd” in John 10:11,14. The Greek word rendered “good” is the Greek word often transliterated as “kalos” (Strong’s #2570). It can indeed mean “good”, but it also can mean “genuine, approved.” In the context, Jesus is comparing himself others who had come before, who did not genuine care for the sheep. (John 10:8,10,12) These were not the genuine, approved shepherd; they were false shepherds.

However, Jesus was indeed the genuine shepherd approved and appointed by Yahweh. Jesus said that his God and Father had given these sheep to him. (John 10:29) Jesus’ statements correspond with the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:23,24:

Ezekiel 34:23 I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.
Ezekiel 34:24 I, Yahweh, will be their God, and my servant David prince among them; I, Yahweh, have spoken it.

The one genuine shepherd that Yahweh, the only true God who sent Jesus (John 17:3), has set up over Yahweh’s sheep is spoken of as “David.” David, however, is used prophetically to designate the Messiah, and does not necessarily always refer to the person David, the son of Jesse. (See Psalm 16:9,10 and Acts 2:25-36) Thus Jesus, as recorded in John 10, is claiming to be that one genuine shepherd whom Yahweh has approved and set over the sheep.

Jesus, before coming to the earth, was with the only true God, possessing a mighty celestial glory that he did not possess during the days of his flesh. (John 1:1,2; 17:3,5; 1 Corinthians 15:40; Hebrews 2:9; 5:7) Jesus had learned from his God and Father before he had ever become flesh. (John 8:28) We read that the angels in heaven always see the face of God. (Matthew 18:10) Certainly any of the angels could also say that they know God as God knows them, without any thought that any of these angels would be God Almighty. Jesus’ reference, however, was of himself as a man. As a man, he had been with his God and Father before he had become a man, and thus he is the only man who has descended from heaven and thus he is the only man could tell of heavenly things by his own personal experience. — John 3:12,13.

Jesus, however, in John 10:15, is speaking of himself as a man, and not as though he were God. He is the man approved to shepherd the sheep because he personally knows Yahweh, and Yahweh personally knows him, and has approved him while he was in the days of his flesh. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) It is the man Jesus Christ who gave his soul for the sheep, not God. — 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

“Hypostatic Union” and John 10:15

Many who believe that Jesus is God apply a doctrine called “hypostatic union” to the words of Jesus, claiming that sometimes he spoke as the alleged God Jesus (meaning that Jesus is by nature [being?] God Almighty), and that other times he spoke as the human Jesus. This doctrine is usually stated by trinitarians as meaning that Jesus is “fully God and fully man” at the same time. Although some scriptures are presented where this doctrine is read into those scriptures, such an idea is never actually presented in the Bible. It is not our intent to discuss this doctrine in detail at this time, but we might wonder how this doctrine might have application to John 10:15. We have not found anyone who believes this doctrine who have actually applied it to John 10:15, but we thought we would present some thoughts on this.

Jesus says that he knows his Father, and that the Father knows him. Was this Jesus the alleged God being speaking in this manner, or was it Jesus the man? Evidently, those who use John 10:15 as a proof text that Jesus is Yahweh would have it that when Jesus said, “Even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father,” that Jesus was speaking as “God”, and not as a man. Many of them claim that as a man, Jesus did not know everything, as can be seen from his words recorded in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. But the rest of the verse, in which Jesus is quoted as saying, “I lay down my life [soul] for the sheep,” would have to be viewed as Jesus the human speaking, and the alleged Jesus God Almighty. However, this view loses the connection between Jesus’ knowing and being known by his God and Father and his laying down his life for the sheep. It is because Jesus, as a human, knew his God and Father and that his God and Father knew him, that Jesus is the genuine shepherd approved by the Father, and being approved, Jesus had the sinless human soul that can be laid down for the sheep, providing the ransom sacrifice necessary to offset the condemnation in Adam. — Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

As to the idea that there is anything in Jesus’ words to indicate that he had “infinite” knowledge (whatever one might consider that to mean), or that Jesus is ominiscient, having a sentiency that know absolutely everything in the universe, such an idea has to be assumed, and read into what Jesus said.

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