One With Jesus
When Jesus said I and my Father are one you have said that this does not mean one in purpose, but one in essence. According to the Greek word "one" this is correct, but what about when Jesus prayed to the Father and said let them be one as we are one (John 17:11). How do you explain what Jesus is saying? Is he saying that we are to be one in essence as He and the Father are one in essence?
Jesus did pray that those who believed in Him would be one, even as He and the Father were one (John 17:11). The word translated one is the Greek neuter hen, which occurs as the predicate nominative to eimi, meaning "to be." In the neuter, when hen does not modify a noun, the meaning is one "thing," not one person. Jesus was not saying that He was one in person with the Father, but one in unity. Even the context displays that this was His meaning. Jesus not only said that He and His Father were one, but also prayed that the church would be one in the same manner as He and the Father were (again implying a distinction). It is impossible for the church to be one in any other way than a unified sense of one. We are one when we have the mind of Christ.
Let it also be remembered that Jesus is praying. God has no need of prayer, but men do. Jesus was praying because He was a man, albeit God manifest in flesh. He was unified with the mind of the Father. Jesus plainly declared that He always did that which pleased His Father, and that He only did that which the Father was doing, and said what the Father told Him to say(John 8:29; 5:19; 8:26). Jesus even said His will was in unity with the Father's (Luke 22:42; John 4:34; 5:30). The fact that Jesus said He was in unity with the Father does not belittle or differentiate Christ's deity from the Father's, but demonstrates the genuineness of Jesus' humanity.
Gramatically and contextually, then, the meaning is clear that Jesus meant a unity of mind and purpose, not essence. This does not preclude John 10:30 from meaning essence, however. In that passage, the grammar and context indicate that that is the meaning. John 17:11 could be taken to indicate that Jesus is no more God than we are, if we only had this verse to examine. John 10:30, however, clearly declares Jesus to be God. So are these two verses opposed to one another? No. All this indicates is that words and meaning are determined by grammar and context. We need not approach the Scripture with a mentality that says the Scripture has to say everything in one passage. Different passages cannot contradict, but it can give different perspectives in different places, even using the same words to do so. What we see here with John 10:30 and 17:11 is what we see throughout the NT--Jesus is portrayed as being both God and man. Sometimes one aspect of His person is emphasized, and sometimes the other is emphasized. This is not contradictory, but complimentary.
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