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Sunday, October 11, 2009

ONE - John 10:30

[From the RDB Files]

“I and my Father are one” - John 10:30, KJV.

Trinitarians want to believe that Jesus was implying that he and his Father together make up one God. But there isn’t even the slightest suggestion that he intended the word “God” to be understood as being included in this statement. Instead, context and NT Greek grammar show just the opposite. (Famed trinitarian John Calvin rejected this scripture as trinitarian evidence for just that reason in his book Commentary on the Gospel According to John.)

If we insist on taking the statement literally, it would be much more likely (although still clearly impossible when the rest of John’s writings are examined) that he was saying, “I and my Father are the same person.”

There are numerous scriptures clearly showing that the Son is not the same person as the Father (although a very few figurative statements - such as “He who has seen me has seen the Father” - when taken literally could be wrongly interpreted in such a way). There are, in like manner, numerous scriptures clearly showing that the Son is not equally God with the Father.

For example: “My Father is greater than I” - John 14:28 (see the MINOR study, “Meizon vs. Kreitton”). And Jesus calls the Father “the only true God” (“who alone art truly God”! - NEB) - John 17:3. And Jesus’ Father is the God of Jesus - John 20:17 and Rev. 3:12. 1 Cor. 11:3 tells us that Jesus is head over the men of the Christian congregation (they are certainly not equal to him), and in a like manner, God is head over Jesus. Obviously they are not “one” in the same sense of being “equally God” as trinitarians insist.

In fact, when Bible writers write that a number of persons are “one,” they consistently mean it in a figurative sense.

For example, Paul includes himself and Apollos in a “oneness”: “He that plants [Paul] and he that waters [Apollos] are one” - 1 Cor. 3:6, 8. Obviously Paul does not consider himself literally one person (or any other literal “one”) with other persons. However, he, as many other Bible writers do, considers himself as “one” with others in a figurative sense.

Yes, 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” - p. 844, New Bible Dictionary, (2nd ed.), 1982, Tyndale House Publ.

However, since we are concerned with a scripture written by John, we need to be assured that John (and even more specifically that Jesus as quoted by John) uses this figurative sense of “one” for groups of individuals.

Therefore, let’s examine John 17:22. “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as we are one.” - NASB. (Compare John 17:11. - A footnote for John 17:11 in the very trinitarian The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1985 says: “the unity is to be like that between the Father and the Son.”)

Not only is it obvious that these Christians are not equally Christ with Jesus, nor equally God with the Father, nor are they all one person, but that they are all figuratively united in “will” and “purpose” with God. That is, they agree with and carry out the Father's will.

Notice that Jesus clearly defines his being “one” with his Father as being in the very same sense that he wants certain Christians to be “one”: “just as we are one” (NASB). There can be no doubt, then, that John 10:30 does not mean Jesus and the Father are equally God, but that, just as certain Christians were “one” in will and purpose so “the Father and I are one [in will and purpose].”

Although they have the same will and purpose as God, it is because they willingly and totally accept and conform to God’s will and purpose and take them as their own. God does not conform to their wills but they to his! This is exactly the same way that Christ is one in will with the Father (who alone is God) - Analyze John 6:38 (compare Luke 22:42 and Mark 14:36.)

Bible Greek expert Joseph H. Thayer tells us “one” can mean

“to be united most closely (in will, spirit), Jn x.30 [John 10:30]; xvii.11, 21-23 [John 17:11, 21-23]” - p. 186, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, tenth printing, August, 1984.

Commenting on John 10:30, J. H. Bernard, D.D. says in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John:

“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."[1]

Even the very 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, p. 809.

Trinitarian Professor William Barclay writing in his popular Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, The Westminster Press, 1975, pp. 74, 75, 76 says:

“Now we come to the supreme claim [of John 10:30]. ‘I and the Father are one,’ said Jesus. 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 hypostasis and all the rest of the metaphysical and philosophic notions about which the makers of 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,” continues Barclay, “we find that it is in fact so simple that the simplest mind can grasp it. Let us turn to the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel, which tells of the prayer of Jesus for his followers before he went to his death: ‘Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one’ (John 17:11). Jesus conceived of the unity of Christian with Christian as the same as his unity with God.”

“Here is the essence of the matter”, says Barclay. “The bond of unity is love; the proof of love is obedience. Christians are one with each other when they are bound by love, and obey the words of Christ. Jesus is one with God, because as no other ever did, he obeyed and loved him. His unity with God is a unity of perfect love, issuing in perfect obedience.[2]

"When Jesus said: ‘I and the father are one,’ he was not moving in the world of philosophy and metaphysics and abstractions; he was moving in the world of personal relationships. No one can really understand what a phrase like ‘a unity of essence’ means; but any one can understand what a unity of heart means. Jesus’s unity with God came from the twin facts of perfect love and perfect obedience. He was one with God because he loved and obeyed him perfectly....”

Finally, we need to be aware that the word “one” at John 10:30 and 17:22 is the neuter form hen. The two other forms for “one” are mia, which is the feminine form, and heis, the masculine form. Those who insist that John 10:30 means “the Father and I are one God” are clearly wrong as shown by New Testament Greek grammar alone. “God” in New Testament Greek is always masculine and must take masculine forms of adjectives, pronouns, etc. in agreement (see Mark 12:29, 32; 1 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:4-6 in interlinear Bibles).

Or, as Dr. Marshall puts it in one of his basic NT Greek grammar rules:

“Adjectives must agree with the nouns they modify in number, gender,...and case”. - p. 25, Rule 7, New Testament Greek Primer, Alfred Marshall, Zondervan Publishing, 1978 printing. (Compare 1 Cor. 3:8 in interlinear Bible [esp. note footnote in The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English] with NIV; NAB; LB; and CBW.)

Therefore, the use of the neuter “one” (hen) at John 10:30 shows “one God” could not have been intended by Jesus but instead shows “metaphorically, union and concord”! As we have seen in the study on “Wisdom” (BWF), we may have gender irregularities when someone is described figuratively (“metaphorically”) such as “he is a Rock” or “Jesus is the Lamb,” but when he is being literally described we must have gender agreement.[3]

If we insist on supplying an “understood” ‘God,’ it must be at a place which uses the masculine form of “one” (heis) in gender agreement (cf. Mark 10:18; Ro. 3:30). 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...” - p. 62, Baker Book House, 1977.

The very trinitarian Bible study reference book, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, agrees with trinitarian Young (above) in its discussion of John 10:30.

Truly, then, there is absolutely no evidence for a “trinitarian” interpretation at John 10:30. In fact, the real meaning shows Jesus is not God!

It’s interesting that some trinitarian scholars apparently (inadvertently?) admit that Gal. 3:20 shows God to be one person.

You should be aware, however, that some trinitarian Bibles translate Gal. 3:20 as “a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.” - NASB. The underlined words (“party” and “only”) are not in the original text, but certain trinitarians insist that something like “party” has to be understood in order for God to be three persons [a “party”] and not just one person.

However, even some trinitarian translators don’t believe such a translation of Gal. 3:20 is correct. For example, the Roman Catholic New American Bible (1970) renders Gal. 3:20 as:

“Now there can be no mediator when only one person is involved; and God is one [heis - masculine singular].”

And the highly trinitarian Good News Bible (GNB) renders it:

“a go-between is not needed when only one person is involved; and God is one.” - also TEV.

Even the extremely trinitarian The Amplified Bible, which often goes to incredible lengths in its attempt to produce trinitarian “proof” scriptures, renders Gal. 3:20 as:

“there can be no mediator with just one person. Yet God is [only] one PERSON.”

And yet the trinity doctrine states that God is “one God in three persons”! Isn’t it odd that these trinitarian scholars admit that this scripture shows God to be one person?

Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the information in this paper, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.


1. This hold true for the second century A.D. as well. For example, Tertullian (writing in Latin in the early 3rd century) tells us that John writes ‘We are one thing’ at Jn 10:30 - "'We are one thing' Unum, not 'one person' Unus. .... He accordingly says Unum, a neuter term [equivalent to hen in NT Greek], which does not imply singularity of number, but unity of essence, likeness, conjunction, affection on the Father's part, who loves the Son, and submission on the Son's, who obeys the Father's will." - ANF, 3:618, 'Against Praxeas.' Here we see Tertullian using "one" in "essence" (as did Origen, 3rd century A.D.) to mean both individuals having the same will or purpose. And that will is the Father's which the Son obeys perfectly. They are "ONE" then in "essence" (will) only because one of them is completely, perfectly subordinate to the will of the other! But over 100 years later trinitarians began insisting that the renowned Tertullian and Origen (credited by many trinitarians as being the founders of the modern trinity doctrine) had stated trinitarian truths by their uses of "substance/essence," etc.

2. John then reinforces Paul’s teaching that the relationship of Christians to Jesus is the same as Jesus’ relationship to God: one of obedience! Just as Christians are obedient to their superior, Jesus, so Jesus is obedient to his superior, God (who is the Father, alone): “The head of every man [Christian, of course] is Christ, ... and the head of Christ is God [who is the Father alone]” - 1 Cor. 11:3. NIV. (“This is eternal life: to know thee [Father - 17:1] who alone art truly God” - Jn 17:3, NEB.)

3. Also see the use of the neuter form of “equal” (isos) describing an alleged attempt of Jesus to be “absolutely equal” to God (see MINOR study, “John 5:18”) and the neuter plural form of “equal” being used to describe Jesus’ refusal to be “equal” to God (PHIL study, “Ison: ‘Equal’”). In addition to the other evidence showing the actual meaning of the word isos in these verses, the fact that it is in the neuter form shows immediately that the intended meaning did not include the understanding that Jesus was or was attempting to be absolutely equal to God himself. The Jews were accusing Jesus of attempting to be equal to God in only some attribute (neuter) at John 5:18 - probably authority. Paul is also saying at Phil. 2:6 that Jesus did not attempt to seize certain attributes (neuter) that were equal to God’s.

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