‘I and the Father are one’ said Jesus in John’s Gospel. What did he mean?


Now we come to the supreme claim, ‘I and the Father are one,’ said Jesus (John 10:30). What did he mean? Is it absolute mystery, or can we understand at least a little of it? Are we driven to interpret it in terms of essence and substance and all the rest of the metaphysical and philosophic notions about which the makers of the creeds fought and argued? Has one to be a theologian and a philosopher to grasp even a fragment of the meaning of this tremendous statement?

If we go to the Bible itself for the interpretation, we find that it is in fact so simple that anyone can grasp it. In John 17:11 we read of the prayer of Jesus for his followers before he went to his death: ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, that they may be one, as we are one‘. Jesus conceived of the unity of Christian with Christian as the same as his unity with God. In the same passage, he goes on: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one’ (17:20-22). Jesus is saying with simplicity and with a clarity which none can mistake, that the purpose of the Christian life is that Christians should be one as he and his Father are one.

~ William Barclay, The Gospel of John Volume 2, pp 86-87.

William Barclay (died 1978 in Glasgow, Scotland) was a Scottish author, radio and television presenter, Church of Scotland minister, and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow. He wrote a popular set of Bible commentaries on the New Testament that have sold over 1.5 million copies.



Categories: Christology, God, Gospels, Jesus, New Testament scholarship

40 replies

  1. Even some of the most conservative scholars ( That’s right Kenny lol..) don’t interpret John 10:30 as if Jesus is claiming coequality in essence with God Almighty, rather view John 10:30 as a unity in purpose. The same unity, expressed in reference to Christians united with God and Jesus in John 17:22, 24.

    > For Example, Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John notes:

    “We note that vss. 28 and 29 make the same statement about Jesus and about the Father: no one can snatch the sheep from either’s hand. This leads us to an understanding of the unity that is expressed in 30: it is a unity of power and operation…in itself this description remains primarily functional”

    > Urban C. von Wahlde, The Gospel and Letters of John, vol. 2 notes:

    “Jesus claims to have the same ability as the Father. In that sense, the Father and Jesus are “one.” Yet, in this context, the statement is not a metaphysical one. It is a statement of functional unity and in spite of its aptness for later Trinitarian debate, I would argue that its original meaning is not substantially different from that of John 5:17-18”

    > 2nd edition of George R. Beasley-Murray’s John notes:

    “The setting of v 30 in relation to v 28-28 shows that a functional unity of the Son and the Father in their care for the sheep is in mind. From earliest times it has been observed that Jesus says, “I and the Father are en, not eis, i.e., one in action, not in person”

    > F.F. Bruce makes similar comments in his The Gospel and Epistles of John notes:

    “Here we have a particular application of the statements in John 5:19-23. So responsive is the Son to the Father that he is one in mind, one in purpose, one in action with him.”

    > James McGrath stated in John’s Apologetic Christology reiterates the same point,

    “Nonetheless, the claim of the Son to carry out divine prerogatives is the key issue, and thus it is the idea that the Son and the Father are one in action that is in focus in the controversy described in the passage”

    > Marianne Meye Thompson’s article on the Gospel of John in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels states:

    “When the Gospel speaks of the unity of the Father and Son, it points especially to their unity in work of revelation and salvation (8:16; 10:25-30; 14:10-11; 17:10). That is to say, the actions and words of Jesus were truly the actions and words of God”

    > Warren Carter states in ‘John: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist’states:

    “This intimate reciprocal relationship is marked by unity in function and purpose: they are one (10:30)”

    > The commentary on John in the New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IX, written by Gail R. O’Day, makes a lengthy observation,

    “It is critical that the contemporary interpreter read v. 30 in the context of Johannine theology and not through the lens of the christological controversies of the second through fourth centuries or of the trinitarian doctrine that developed out of these controversies. The Greek word “one” is neuter, not masculine, so that Jesus is not saying that he and God are one person, or even of one nature or essence. Rather, he is saying that he and God are united in the work that they do. It is impossible to distinguish Jesus’ work from God’s work, because Jesus shares fully in God’s work”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Raymond Brown and James McGrath = liberals

      not credible.

      F. F. Bruce was a good man, and you leave out lots of other comments of his.

      Bruce affirms that it “. . . could have a wider meaning than it has in its present context, and a meaning quite consistent with the general teaching of this Gospel” (p. 232)

      “the general teaching of this Gospel” = John 1:1-5; 1:14-18; 5:16-18; 8:24: 8:56-59; 10:30-33; 18:1-6; 19:1-7; 20:28 (My Lord and My God)

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      • No Kenny, its your erroneous trinitarian eisegesis, misinterpreting of verse Jn10:30 that has no credible at all as NT scholars have clearly exposed you falsehood …

        Wrong Kenny, F.F. Bruce – Biblical scholar and a Trinitarian, agrees:

        “Indeed the full force of modern scholarship agrees that in spite of any persistent apologetic efforts, Jesus meant in John 10:30 a unity of purpose and nothing more ” – F.F. Bruce, The Gospel and Epistles of John

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      • That quote is not there on pages 232-233. It is not there. Where did you get it?
        google books (of Gospel of John indicates it is the same pages as my own copy of F. F. Bruce’s The Gospel of John. Someone quoted it in an internet article, but it is not there.

        Looks like you got your info from this article, but it gives the pages (which you did not) and the quote is not there.

        https://onegodworship.com/the-father-and-i-are-one-an-examination-of-john-1030/#_ftn8

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      • Looks like you got all your quotes from that article. Nice cut and paste job! You did not do much deep research, just depended on that source, which seems bogus since that last quote is wrong.

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      • lol. Kenny , the 1st quote by FF Bruce in reference to Jn 10:30 where he exposes your dubious trinitarian misinterpreation of the verse is found in his publication – ‘The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, Notes’ 232-33

        However, the 2nd quote by FF Bruce is cited from a different publication – ‘The Gospel & Epistles of John’ was referenced by an excellent article from a blog i frequently reference and highly recommend here –

        Check these great articles that refute false trinitarian eisegesis –

        https://onegodworship.com/common-verses/

        I find the articles to be very informative and reliable and have no reason to doubt that the quote is not genuinely cited from a different book authored by FF Bruce – https://onegodworship.com/the-father-and-i-are-one-an-examination-of-john-1030/

        The fact remains Kenny that contrary to your false trinitarian eisegesis of Jn 10:30, FF Bruce, who you call “a good man” and who studied the Gospel of John for over 30 years affirms the proper biblical exegesis of verse Jn 10:30 to denote Jesus and his God are one in mind, one in purpose, one in action.

        Kenny, take FF Bruce correct interpretation along with many other reputable NT scholars who affirm that verse Jn 10:30 does not denotes Jesus and the father here share the same divine Homoousion, essence of being as you blindly and falesly presume kenny 🙂

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      • the problem is, the article, footnote # 8, sites
        F.F. Bruce, The Gospel and Epistles of John, p. 232-233.

        those pages are the same number for both books. I have the Gospel of John commentary, and Google books confirms the other book – same page number.

        It is on you to produce the page number or photo from the other book that you are claiming the quote is from; or the writer of the article got confused. It is yet to be proven that the quote is from F. F. Bruce – the second one.

        So your argument is defeated.

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      • In reference to John 10:30, J. H. Bernard affirms in his publication – A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John page 366

        “A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel…, and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate identity of ousia [Greek for ‘substance,’ ‘essence’], is to introduce thoughts that were not present to the theologians of the first century.”

        https://books.google.com.au/books?redir_esc=y&id=dJ08AAAAYAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=A+unity+of+fellowship

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      • Kenny be sincere and accept what J. H. Bernard has succinctly and affirmed clearly in his publication – ‘A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John’ why you need to abandon your misguided false trinitarian eisegesis of Jn 10:30, don’t be stubborn, be sincere and the truth will set you free inshaAllah

        Liked by 1 person

      • lol.. Kenny you’re living in denial wondering in a maze of error and confusion.

        My argument is not ‘defeated’ lol or dependent one quote (to be verified) from FF Bruce to substantiate the fact you adhere to a dubious, unsubstantiated, false trinitarian eisegesis, interpretation of Jn 10:30 kenny lol..

        FF Bruce, along with all other reputatble NT Scholars have completely annihilated and defeated your false trinitarian interpretation that erroneosuly presumes Jn 10:30 denotes Jesus and his God share the same divine Homoousion, essence or substance of being lol..

        Both your friend FF Bruce affirms in his first quote, along with all other reputatble NT Scholars confirm that the correct exegesis of Jn 10:30 denotes Jesus is declaring he is in unison in mind, one in purpose, in function and action with his one God

        Get it Kenny? Your false trinitarian interpretation has been defeated. You stubbornly misinterpret what Jesus is saying about his God in Jn and you continue to adhere to a defeated false argument that only exists as a mirage in your mind.

        As i’ve said Kenny, be sincere, be cured and take FF Bruce correct exegesis and understanding of Jn 10:30 where he affirms Jesus is simply declaring he is in unison with his God in purpose and action, where J. H. Bernard has succinctly summarized the truth for you to set you free inshaAllah:

        “A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel…, and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate identity of ousia [Greek for ‘substance,’ ‘essence’], is to introduce thoughts that were not present to the theologians of the first century.” ( A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John page 366)

        Liked by 1 person

    • 2nd edition of George R. Beasley-Murray’s John notes:

      “The setting of v 30 in relation to v 28-28 shows that a functional unity of the Son and the Father in their care for the sheep is in mind. From earliest times it has been observed that Jesus says, “I and the Father are en, not eis, i.e., one in action, not in person”

      yes, that is good, because “one in person” would mean Modalism, Sabellianism, that the Father became human – no Trinitarian ever taught that – that is an early heresy.

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      • Kenny, your side comment is irrelvant and a distraction. The key point of George R. Beasley-Murray’s biblcal exegesis on Jn10:30 is the verse contextallly denotes functionaly unity between Jesus and his God, action in unison,

        You falsely presume claiming 10:30 denotes Jesus and the father here share the same divine Homoousion, essence of being..lol.. your false trinitarian eisegesis of the verse only exists in your mind Kenny, not in this verse as George R. Beasley-Murray and many other reputatable NT scholars have exposed your misguidance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Trinitarian Biblical Scholar, David Brown, who has significantly contributed to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, says:

        …. the “oneness of essence is not the precise thing here affirmed”…- David Brown, “John,” The Classic Bible Commentary,”

        In addition, John Calvin, Protestant Reformer, a Trinitarian, states in his commentary:

        “[Jesus] therefore testifies that his affairs are so closely united to those of the Father, that the Father’s assistance will never be withheld from himself and his sheep. The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.” – John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. > Tasker, R, The Gospel According to St John notes:

    “The expression seems however mainly to imply that the Father and the Son are united in will and purpose. Jesus prays in [John 17:11] that His followers may all be one (hen), i.e. united in purpose, as He and His Father are united”

    > Bernard, J.H – A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John notes:

    “A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel (cf. 5:18,19; 14:9,23 and 17:11,22), and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate indentity of OUSIA [‘essence’], is to introduce thoughts which were not present to the theologians of the first century”

    > Calvin, John, Commentary on the Gospel of John.

    “The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! Some great quotations!

      Ken will be embarrassed by John Calvin’s commentary:

      “The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.”

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      • Lol …. Although Calvin postulated a trinitarian view of Jesus, he did’nt profess/ specifically interpret John 10:30 as scriptual confirmation of Jesus proclaiming here to share the same essence of divinity with his God, the Father, which saddly and often is dubiuously used by Trinitarians like Kenny to apply trinitarian eisegesis to this verse to presume what only exists as a mirage in his mind …

        Bible writers consistently described groups of individuals as “one” figuratively in the sense of their being “united in will and purpose.”

        Here’s how one respected trinitarian reference book states it:

        “‘One’ also expresses the unity between Christ and the Father (Jn 10:30), the union between believers and the Godhead, and the unity which exists among Christians (Jn 17:21; Gal. 3:28). ‘One’ further expresses singleness of purpose” , New Bible Dictionary)

        Even trinitarian New Testament Greek scholar W. E. Vine when discussing the Greek word for “one”

        says: “(b) metaphorically [figuratively], union and concord, e.g., John 10:30; 11:52; 17:11, 21, 22….” – An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words”

        Trinitarian scholar Robert Young commented on this knowledge of the word “one” at John 10:30 in his Young’s Concise Critical Bible Commentary:

        “The particle en [hen] being of the neuter gender, can hardly signify ‘one being, i.e. one God,’ but rather ‘one in will, purpose, counsel…”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” John 17

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    • As far as Im concerned, Gospel of John cannot be taken seriously as affirming/ reflecting the actual sayings and deeds of the historical Jesus as acknowledged by many NT Scholars, Including those NT Scholars who profess the doctrine of the Trinity

      Liked by 1 person

  4. And yet, just read verse 31 – and 33

    30 I and the Father are one.”

    31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,
    32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

    33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

    Same reaction in John 5:16-18 and 8:56-59

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    • It interesting to note that a trinitarian-translated New English Bible (NEB) translates theos correctly at John 10:33 ( in reference to Psalm 82:6) as “a god” whereas the KJV and other translations do not.

      Young’s Concise Critical Bible Commentary by trinitarian, Dr. Robert Young, confirms/ states:

      “`makest thyself a god,’ not `God’ as in C.V. [King James Version or `Common Version’], otherwise the definite article would not have been omitted, as it is here, and in the next two verses, — `gods .. gods,’ where the title is applied to magistrates, and others ….”

      Also the meaning of Jn 10:33 is also admitted by noted trinitarian NT scholar C. H. Dodd:

      “making himself a god.” – The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel – Cambridge University Press:

      A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John by trinitarians Newman and Nida also admits:

      “Purely on the basis of the Greek text, therefore, it is possible to translate [John 10:33] ‘a god,’ as NEB does, rather than to translate God, as TEV and several other translations do. One might argue on the basis of both the Greek and the context, that the Jews were accusing Jesus of claiming to be `a god’ rather than ‘God.”

      The highly respected trinitarian W. E. Vine indicates the proper rendering here:

      “The word [theos] is used of Divinely appointed judges in Israel, as representing God in His authority, John 10:34″ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

      So, in the NEB it reads:

      ” ‘We are not going to stone you for any good deed, but for your blasphemy. You, a mere man, claim to be a god.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your own Law, “I said: You are gods”? Those are called gods to whom the word of God was delivered – and Scripture cannot be set aside. Then why do you charge me with blasphemy because I, consecrated and sent into the world by the Father, said, “I am God’s Son”?’ “

      Liked by 2 people

    • @Ken Temple

      All their reaction proves is that the gospels portray the jewish people as if they were ignorant of scripture an exegesis.

      Liked by 1 person

      • no, it demonstrates that they understood what He was claiming.
        Same in Mark 14:60-64

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      • lol.. You’re wrong Kenny, the Jews did not understand Jn 10:30 to denote Jesus was claiming to be one with his God in sharing the one and same divine Homoousion, essence of being as you falsely presume applying your erroneous trinitarian eisegesis of the verse lol..

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ken, Jesus said the father of the Jews was the devil, the father of lies.

      Why do you trust them to tell the truth about Jesus?

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      • So, you agree that John 8:44 and all around it is the historical Jesus?

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      • Their reaction in the text demonstrates that Jesus was claiming to be God by nature/substance.

        As D. A. Carson points out in his commentary on John, the neuter for “one” in John 10:30 is used because if John had used the masculine for “one”, it would have been saying that they are the same person, and that would teach Modalism / Sabellianism.

        As it is, the whole gospel affirms the Deity of Christ by substance, and the distinction in persons, which is what the doctrine of the Trinity is all about – One God by substance, in three persons from eternity past.
        Also, John 1:1-5; 14; 20:28 demonstrates the Deity of Christ.

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      • Kenny, you’re lost, there is nothing historical about the G of Jn in terms of the says and deeds of Jesus and his self understanding lol… you know that Kenny 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh kenny, the reaction in reference to Jn 10:30 from the Jewish opponents was not because contexually Jesus was claiming to share the same divine substance or essence of being with his one God Kenny lol.. as some NT trinitarian profess…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Defeated your arguments a long time ago: see Baucham’s comments”

    Kenny you’re diverting away from the key discussion point regarding the clear refutation by NT scholars that affirm Jn 10:30 does not denote Jesus claiming to share the one substance and essennce of divinity with his God, as falsely and erroneously presumed and interpreted by trinitarian polytheists like you

    Lol wrong Kenny neither you or your friend Bauckham have refuted anything

    Applying proper Biblical Exegesis you need to contextually associate both Mark 10:17 & Mark 12: 28:32 in conjuction with main guiding principle and most important comandment declared in with Math 4:10:

    Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

    In Mark 12: 28:32 it explicity declares that the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

    So you see Kenny lol.. your erroneous eisegesis of these verses, including John 10:30 shows a trajectory towards the doctrine of the trinity not found in the bible …

    Kenny, again you continue to expose yourself as a polytheist by applying your erroneous trinitarian eisegesis to these verses to presume each deity of the trinity are a divine person because they share the same essence of divinity. What this illustrates is that you worship 3 distinct personal divine gods! Not HIm the One God

    Lol .. When applying biblical exegesis the reference of ‘One God’ is not defined as some sort of a divine substance or an essence that is shared within divine persons kenny lol…

    HE God Almighty is a personal deity, not a substance Lol…

    None of those verses in John, neither in Mark biblically substantiate trinitarian ‘monotheism’ that The One God, HE is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS One divine Being? Lol… until you biblically substantiate that HE The One God is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS one being, i.e trinitarian ‘oneness’ you will forever be a polytheist worships 3 distinct separate personal gods.

    Kenny, feebly arguing that all those verses show each person of the trinty are divine cos they share the same essence of divinity does not make them One God, rather it shows you worship 3 distinct divine gods that share the same essence of divinity, ….

    are you grasping the difference Kenny! Lol…??????

    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

    32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but HIM

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