by Mike Ratliff
ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA27)
“I and the Father are one.” (a personal translation of John 10:30 from the NA27 Greek text)
I read the following paragraph from one of my devotions the other day, “Visible disunity in the church is the worst it has ever been, but we must take care not to think that God’s people were once fully and visibly united on all matters of Christian living. Christians may have the Holy Spirit, but they are not free from sin in this life, and living in community with other believers always leads to disagreements…” Please notice that I am not writing this in defense of those certain so-called “Christian leaders” who “tweet” unbiblical and misleading things such as, “Spirit-led people can emphasize interpret & things differently. See FOUR Gospels! Your opinion isn’t the only Christian one.” My brethren, yes, there are four Gospels, but they are not four different “Christian opinions” nor are they in any way doctrinally opposed. That devotional that I quoted above went on to say that genuine Christians may indeed differ on many things, but not when it comes to true doctrinal issues such as the deity of Christ, the Gospel, our Lord’s Resurrection, Salvation by Faith through Grace alone, et cetera. As always, we must keep things in context. That passage I quoted above (John 10:30) seems enigmatic to some and I am sure some heretics have abused it, therefore, let us look at John 10:22-42.
Ἐγένετο τότε τὰ ἐγκαίνια ἐν τοῖς Ἱεροσολύμοις, χειμὼν ἦν, καὶ περιεπάτει ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἐν τῇ στοᾷ τοῦ Σολομῶνος. ἐκύκλωσαν οὖν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ· ἕως πότε τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις; εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστός, εἰπὲ ἡμῖν παρρησίᾳ. ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε· τὰ ἔργα ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου ταῦτα μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ· ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε, ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐκ τῶν προβάτων τῶν ἐμῶν. τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούουσιν, κἀγὼ γινώσκω αὐτὰ καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσίν μοι, κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου. ὁ πατήρ μου ὃ δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός. ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:22-30 NA27)
There was at that time the Feast of Dedication among those in Jerusalem. It was winter and Jesus was walking in the Temple on the porch of Solomon. Then the Jews encircled Him and were saying to Him, “How long will you keep us in suspense?” If you are the Christ, tell us openly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you did not believe works which I do in the name of My Father. These testify about Me, but you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me and I give to them eternal life into the age and they will never perish and no one is able to snatch any one of them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch any out of the hand of the Father. I and the Father are one.” (a personal translation of John 10:22-30 from the NA27 Greek text)
What do we learn here? Once again we see that our Lord lays it out plainly that those who belong to Him, hear His voice, believe Him, and follow Him. Those who are not His do not. Notice also that the evidence that He was who He said gave these “educated” men no excuse. They were educated in the Law and the Prophets and the “Writings.” Of all those who should have recognized that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy given in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah, these fellows were the ones, but they were spiritually blind and full of unbelief. Notice also that those who belong to the Son are held in His hand. He loses none of them. The Father gave them to the Son and both hold them forever. Verse 30 is a statement of co-authority, but it also structured in such a way, ἕν ἐσμεν, that says, “are one in essence.” Jesus was not backing down from His claim of deity by saying this, but was saying that, being the Son of God, He was equal with the Father. What was the Jew’s response?
Ἐβάστασαν πάλιν λίθους οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἵνα λιθάσωσιν αὐτόν. ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· πολλὰ ἔργα καλὰ ἔδειξα ὑμῖν ἐκ τοῦ πατρός· διὰ ποῖον αὐτῶν ἔργον ἐμὲ λιθάζετε; ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· περὶ καλοῦ ἔργου οὐ λιθάζομέν σε ἀλλὰ περὶ βλασφημίας, καὶ ὅτι σὺ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ποιεῖς σεαυτὸν θεόν. ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς· οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένον ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὑμῶν ὅτι ἐγὼ εἶπα· θεοί ἐστε; εἰ ἐκείνους εἶπεν θεοὺς πρὸς οὓς ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ οὐ δύναται λυθῆναι ἡ γραφή, ὃν ὁ πατὴρ ἡγίασεν καὶ ἀπέστειλεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι βλασφημεῖς, ὅτι εἶπον· υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ εἰμι; εἰ οὐ ποιῶ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πατρός μου, μὴ πιστεύετέ μοι· εἰ δὲ ποιῶ, κἂν ἐμοὶ μὴ πιστεύητε, τοῖς ἔργοις πιστεύετε, ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ γινώσκητε ὅτι ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί. Ἐζήτουν [οὖν] αὐτὸν πάλιν πιάσαι, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν. (John 10:31-39 NA27)
The Jews again took up stones that they might stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I showed you from the Father; because of which of them do you stone me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you being a man make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “ Has it not been written in your Law, “I said you are gods? If those he called gods to whom the word of God came and the Scripture is not able to be abolished, of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, do you say that He blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ If I do not do the works of my Father do not believe me, but if I do, even if you do not believe Me, believe the works that you may know and may continue to know that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” They were seeking, therefore, to seize Him again, and He went out from their hand. (a personal translation of John 10:31-39 from the NA27 Greek text)
This is an extremely powerful passage. Jesus bluntly tells these men that the good works He has been doing since His ministry began are the signs that are proof of who He is and there is no excuse for not believing who He is after witnessing them. I am just a teacher, but I can remember many times over last five years or so having large conflicts with those who opposed our stand against post-modernism, the Emergent Church in all its forms, et cetera and I would simply give these people God’s Word and they could only reply with human philosophy and anger. I would then tell them that they either had to believe and conform to what God’s Word said, literally, or I would no longer allow them to comment here with their mean, hateful statements. They left. That is still that standard. When someone disagrees with what I say or what some of you say in the comment section, it is so rare for it to be a biblical disagreement. It is nearly always something like, “I think, or I don’t agree… “ Well, you get the idea. That is what Jesus was running into and that is what we run into all over the visible church in our time and we must not let it distract us nor stop us.
Καὶ ἀπῆλθεν πάλιν πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου εἰς τὸν τόπον ὅπου ἦν Ἰωάννης τὸ πρῶτον βαπτίζων καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐκεῖ. 41 καὶ πολλοὶ ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἰωάννης μὲν σημεῖον ἐποίησεν οὐδέν, πάντα δὲ ὅσα εἶπεν Ἰωάννης περὶ τούτου ἀληθῆ ἦν. καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ. (John 10:40-42 NA27)
And He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first and He remained there. And many came to Him and were saying, John indeed did no sign, but everything John said about this man was true and many believed in Him there. (a personal translation of John 10:40-42 from the NA27 Greek text)
Notice that those who hear the Good Shepherd’s voice come to Him. Those who are in Christ, those who believe in Him and belong to Him are not so because they are the super religious. They don’t climb onto the religiosity treadmill. They do not become the ultra-pious people who become examples of perfection. They do not “let go and let God.” No, they struggle with sin just like the rest of us. They have lives to live and must walk through the fires of tribulation like all of Christ’s disciples. It is costly becoming the obedient slave of our Lord Jesus Christ. That cost become apparent even in one’s own family, on the job, amongst “friends” and within any relationships in this world. The Gospel divides. We do not exploit that division nor do we deliberately exacerbate it like some false prophets do. No, but if we simply stand firm and be the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ in the world, the world will eventually see that we are different and that can go two ways. God will use that to draw some to the Lord, however, others will respond in some form of hostility.
What is so strange for us in our time is when that hostility comes from within the visible church. My brethren, I have had very little persecution for my faith outside of the visible church. No, almost all of it has been from within. Do not be surprised when it comes your way. Be strong in the Lord my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!