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When all else fails, John 10:30 relates Jesus as having said, “I and the Father are
one.” Short, succinct, to the point, and terribly flawed. In this verse, the manuscript Greek
for the English “one” is heis. 139 This word also occurs in John 17:11 and 17:21­23. John
17:11 reads, “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given me,
that they may be one as we are” (italics mine). Literal or metaphorical? John 17:21
reinforces the metaphor with the words, “That they [i.e., all believers] all may be one, as
You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they [i.e., all believers] also may be one in us,
that the world may believe that You sent me” (italics mine). If a person is faithful to the
equation, the sum total adds up to a whole lot more than three­in­one; a person either has
to think bigger and more blasphemous, or rewrite the rules of mathematics, if the Trinity
is to be preserved.

John 10:30, being a widely misapplied verse, nonetheless deserves a closer
examination. Trinitarian Christianity argues that Jesus declared, “I and the Father are
one,” whereupon the Jews prepared to stone him for blasphemy according to their
accusation that, “You, being a Man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). The argument is
that the Jews recognized Jesus’ claim to being God, so all should understand John 10:30
similarly. This might seem a reasonable argument at first glance, but only if the passage
is taken out of context.
To analyze the passage appropriately, we might begin with the preceding verse,
John 10:29, which emphasizes the separate and distinct natures of God and Jesus—One
the giver, the other the receiver. Many who subsequently read John 10:30 come away
with the understanding that this verse relates Jesus and God to be in agreement, one in
understanding, or one in purpose. And let us note Jesus’ response to the Jews’ accusation
of claiming divinity. Did he stand up with divine confidence and insist, “You heard me
right, I said it once, and I’ll say it again!”? Just the opposite; he said that they had
misunderstood, and quoted Psalm 82:6 to remind the Jews that the phrases “son of God”
and “you are gods” are metaphors. In the words of the Bible,
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I (God) said,
“You are gods”?
If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came
(and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father
sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said,
‘I am the son of God’?” (John 10:34­36).

Jesus included himself with those “to whom the word of God [i.e., revelation] came,” who were identified in the referenced Psalm 82:6 as “gods” with a small G or
“children of God.” Psalm 82:1 makes a bold metaphor by identifying judges as “gods”—
not as righteous men, not as prophets, not as sons of god, but as gods. Furthermore,
Psalm 82:6­7 leaves no doubt that “sons of god” refers to mortal human beings: “I [God] said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like
men, and fall like one of the princes.’” And lastly, let us not forget that the Greek huios,
translated as “son” in the above quote, was “used very widely of immediate, remote or
figurative kinship.”
So in reading John 10:30 in context, we find that Jesus identified himself with
other righteous mortals, emphasized the figurative meaning of “son of God,” denied
divinity, and behaved as would be expected of a flesh­and­blood prophet. After all, if
Jesus were a partner in Godhead, wouldn’t he have defended his rank with the confidence
of divine omnipotence?


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