Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Does that mean that Jesus is God?

Summary

This article discusses three statements made by Jesus that are sometimes used to argue that the Father and the Son are a single divine Being, and therefore that Jesus is God.  These statements are:
 – The Father is in Me, and I in the Father. (John 10:38)
 – I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)
 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)

This article concludes that these statements must not be taken literally, but more or less have the same meaning, namely that the Father and Jesus are “perfected in unity” (John 17:23).

Purpose

This article continues the analysis of John’s gospel to determine what view John had of Jesus. The ultimate purpose is to provide information for the interpretation of the statement in John 1:1 that Jesus was theos, which may be translated “God” or “god” or “like God.”  The following are the articles in this series:

1.  Did John also refer to Jesus as theos in John 1:18?    
2.  Did Thomas call Jesus “my God” in John 20:28?  
3.  Is Jesus called God in John’s gospel? 
4.  Did Jesus claim to be God? (John 10:33)
5.   Jesus said, I and the Father are one.  Is Jesus God?  Current article
6.   Jesus is equal with God.  Next article
7.   Jesus is subordinate to the Father.
8.   Jesus always existed. In development
9.   
Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. In development

The Father is in Me, and I in the Father. 

This statement is found in John 10:38 and in 14:11.  That they are “in” one another is sometimes understood as proof that Jesus and the Father are a single divine Being.  However, in God’s kingdom everybody is “in” everybody.  Not only is the Father “in” Jesus and Jesus “in” the Father, but:

● Jesus is in His disciples (15:4, 5; 14:20).
His disciples are in Jesus (15:2, 4-7; 14:20). 
The “Spirit of truth … will be in you” (14:16-17).

What does it mean that Jesus is “in” His disciples?

Jesus explained this by means of the parable of the true vine (John 15).  Jesus is the true vine and His disciples are the branches (15:2-8).  Jesus said to His disciples, “abide in Me, and I in you” (15:4, 5).  In other words, these two concepts are equivalent: For His disciples to abide “in” Jesus, is the same as for Jesus to abide “in” them.  And that Jesus abides “in” them is explained as that His “words(15:7; cf. 14:23) and His “love(15:7, 9-10) will abide in them, and that they will keep His “commandments” (15:10).

What does it mean that the Father is “in” Jesus?

Just like Jesus’ words, love and commandments remain “in” His disciples, the Father’s words, love and commandments remain “in” Jesus:

In the parable of the true vine Jesus said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

He explained that “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” because “the words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).

When Jesus astonished the Jews with His knowledge, they asked, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”  Jesus responded, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:15-16).  In other words, the Father’s words (teaching) remained in Jesus.

The Father’s words, love and commandments therefore remain “in” Jesus.  In this way Jesus remained “in” the Father and the Father “in” Jesus.  It does not mean that Jesus and the Father are literally one and the same Being or Person.

I and the Father are one.

Father and I are oneThis statement in John 10:30 is also often used to argue that Jesus is God.  However, Jesus prayed as follows for His disciples:

Keep them in Your name … that they may be one even as We are” (17:11).
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one” (17:22).

Just as the disciples must be “one,” but not literally one person, The Father and the Son are not literally one Person.

For beings to be “one” means that they are “in” one another.  This we see if we note how Jesus continued His prayer:

That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (17:21).
That they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity” (17:22-23).

The expressions “one” and “in” should therefore not be taken literally, but as meaning to be “perfected in unity” (17:23).

He who has seen Me has seen the Father.

Jesus said,

14:9 He who has seen Me has seen the Father; … 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. (cf. 12:45)

Jesus’ words in 14:9 are also sometimes ignorantly used to argue that Jesus is God.  However, verse 10 indicates that we can see the Father in Jesus because “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me” (14:10).  As argued above, for two beings to be “in” one another means to be “perfected in unity.”

Conclusion

The statements:
The Father is in Me, and I in the Father.

 – I and the Father are one.
 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father.
have the same meaning, namely to be perfected in unity.  It does not mean that they are literally one Being or one Person.

NEXT: Jesus is equal with God.