I and the Father Are One

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When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), what did He mean? The gender of the Greek word for “one” in this passage is not masculine but neuter, designating the Father and Jesus not as one person but as one entity (“one thing”). The clear affirmation of Jesus’ deity in John’s gospel is striking, as it raises some important questions regarding His relationship to God the Father. If God the Father—Yahweh, the great “I Am,” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—is God, and Jesus is God as well, how many gods are there?

In first-century Jewish minds, this raised the specter of ditheism (belief in two deities), which violated the age-honored belief in one—and only one—God. This the Jews daily recited in their creed, the Shema (from the Hebrew word for “hear”): “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4).

This makes it all the more remarkable that John’s gospel boldly attributes deity not only to the Father but to Jesus as well (especially in 1:1, 18; 20:28). More than once, Jesus’ opponents attempt to stone Him for blasphemy (8:59; 10:31), and the central charge is that He, a mere man, made Himself to be the Son of God. For example, consider John 19:7:

We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.

How, then, are we to account for the affirmation of Jesus’ deity by monotheistic Jews, such as the Apostles, who apparently didn’t see an insurmountable contradiction between belief in one God and the worship of Jesus? In short, the answer is this: they believed that Jesus’ identity was wrapped up in Yahweh, Israel’s God, in such a way that He and the Father were one while at the same time remaining two distinct persons. Later on, this affirmation became the foundation on which the church fathers built the doctrine of the Trinity—the belief that there is only one God, in three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit.

Thus, it is impossible to divide Jesus and the Father—both are divine, and their mission is one and the same.

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