A few misunderstood statements
The oneness of Christ and God is often misunderstood in a few verses.
The Shepherd in Ezekiel 34, and John 10
Christ’s message of “One Sheep and one Shepherd” in John 10, comes from Ezekiel 34. In verse 23, God prophesied the coming Messiah, saying, “I will establish one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them – My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
From verses 1 – 22, “the Shepherd” described was God. Ezekiel used the expression “Adonai (Lord) Yihvah” to describe the speaker. This term specifically identified God Himself, in Judges 6:22; Isaiah 28:16; 48:16; and 61:1.
It was perhaps because of that Old Testament message, that Jesus ended His message of the Shepherd saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Here, he imitated the statement Yihvah our ELOHIM, Yihvah, ECHAD. The invisible God, and His image formed “one unit” in the Old Testament.
The sharing of the title “Shepherd,” emphasized the oneness of Christ and God. The Apostle Paul also emphasized this oneness in 1 Timothy 1:1, 2:3, 4:10, and Titus 1:3, 2:10, and 3:4, when he used the expression, “God our Savior,” to describe the Father. This came to a climax in Titus 2:13, when he prophesied the “appearing of the glory of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” in the LORD’s Day, when Christ and God will become as “one unit,” as they were in the Old Testament.
I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me
The meaning of “the Father is in Me,” is easily understood, as referring to the spirit of God in Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:19). This described the outpouring of God’s spirit when Jesus was baptized, and a voice was heard from heaven, saying, “this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). So Paul told us, “in Him the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Paul also prayed that we would be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
The statement “I am in the Father” (John 10:38; 14:11,20; 17:21), requires some explanation. This message is only found in John’s Gospel. It began in John 1:18, “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.” The meaning of “in the bosom” is clear in John 13:23. The disciple who Jesus loved was “in His bosom,” in His love. This is explained in John 15:10, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” The message of John 15:1-10, is simply that to abide in Christ, we must keep His commandments, just as He abides in the Father, by keeping His commandments.
This is the true God and eternal life
Part of the mystery of Christ and God lies in Jesus’ statements, “no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son” (Luke 10:22). And, “not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).
Christ is the Word, the only speaker for the invisible God. Apart from Christ, no one can know God.
Therefore, John said in 1 John 5:20:
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true (God); and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. οὗτός (This) is the true God and eternal life.
The understanding of God, which comes through Christ, is “the true God.”
John described two persons: God, “who we may know,” and Christ, “we are in Him.” From the beginning of the letter, John emphasized the necessity of a relationship with two persons. In Chapter One, verse 3, he said, “indeed, our fellowship is with the Father, AND with His son, Jesus Christ.” In Chapter Two, verse 23, he said, “he who denies the Son does not have the Father.” And in verse 24, he said, “you will abide in the Son, and in the Father.”
But many have been confused by the statement, “οὗτός (This) is the true God and eternal life.” In this statement, “this” refers to neither Christ nor God, but to the idea he is trying to express, that we know the true God through Christ. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains the grammar this way: the expression “οὗτός” in passages like Acts 4:11; 7:19, and 8:26 “refers to the leading subject of a sentence, although in a position more remote.” The most direct comparison is 2 John 1:7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” The “deceiver” in 2 John 1:7 is not Jesus Christ, in the immediately preceding phrase. The message of 1 John 5:20 is the same message of John 17:3, “this is eternal life, that they know You the one true God and Jesus Christ who You have sent.” Through Christ, we know the one true God and have eternal life.
Of course, God also reveals Himself through nature and through the order of the world, such that all men are without excuse, even those who do not know Christ.
Christ and God are not the same being
The profound mystery of the relationship between Christ and God has caused Christians to debate the “oneness” of Christ and God for nearly two thousand years.
As we explained in Chapter 10, the meaning of “Yihvah our ELOHIM, Yihvah, ECHAD” is found in the first four uses of the expression “ECHAD” in the Book of Genesis. Christ and God came together as “one unit.” Christ is the image of God, and His spokesman. Jesus Himself explained His oneness with God in John 5, when He said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
To say that Christ and God are the same “being” or “person,” does not agree with the teachings of the Bible:
- Christ was born of the Father; He was birthed as a separate spiritual being.
- The Spirit of Christ and the spirit of God are two separate Spirits.
- The Father was the true Creator, and He counsels with no one, including Christ.
- Christ only attained perfection through submission to God; only God is inherently good.
- Christ became as much better than the Angels, when He became the first Son of God.
- Christ will submit to God after the LORD’s Day, and God will be our only Lord and God.
We must embrace the Apostolic explanation of Christ and God. John said, “we are of God, he who knows God listens to us” (1 John 4:6).
Not My will but Yours
Jesus told us we would truly believe that He is the speaker, and image of God, on the cross, “when you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that I AM (Yihvah ELOHIM), and that I do nothing of Myself; but as the Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28).
Christ’s ultimate act of imitation and submission to the Father came in the garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed, and His sweat became as great drops of blood, saying, “Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Glorify Me together with Yourself
At the heart of many Christian’s confusion regarding Christ is their desire to magnify Christ.
Through His obedience on the cross, Christ was glorified. Jesus began His prayer in John 17, with “Glorify Your Son.”
Paul said that because Jesus Christ was “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” God gave Him the name above every name, “so that at the name of Jesus, every knee would bow down” (Philippians 2:8, 9).
Therefore, Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him as their Lord. And Christ also directed His disciples to go to a mountain to worship Him.
The Apostle Paul spoke to everyone’s desire to magnify Christ. He began his letter to the Colossians explaining Christ as, “the first in all things, that in all things He might have pre-eminence” (Colossians 1:18).