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John 10:23-39

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By Nick P.

John 10
23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.
24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me,
26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and the Father are one."
31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?
35 If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came--and the Scripture cannot be broken--
36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.
38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
This passage of Scripture has often been used by many different cults for many different purposes and is one of the passages that overall is least cited to show the deity of Christ. (John 10:30 is often cited but most people forget the rest of the passage shows deity as well.) How do cults misrepresent this passage?
The Mormons and New Agers (New agers aren't a cult of course though but just a wrong belief) claim that this is proof that we are to be gods because Jesus said "You are gods."
Jehovah's Witnesses use this to support their belief that there are many gods (Thus justifying John 1:1) and say that the one Jesus was with his Father was purpose and not nature.
Oneness Pentecostals and other modalist groups point to John 10:30 and use it to show that Jesus is the Father.
So what is the truth?
The beginning of this passage shows us dealing with the identity of Christ. The identity of who Christ is has always been the controversy around him. Few people question what Christ did. To this day though, people are still debating over who he was. No man has caused such controversy. (We must remember that the shocking thing to the first Christians was not that Jesus was fully God but that he was fully man. The first major heresies accepted his deity but rejected his humanity.)
Jesus then speaks about his sheep. He speaks that he gives eternal life. No one can snatch the sheep out of his hand. Then he points out that his Father has given them to him and is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of his hand. (Notice a little parallel in the snatching and the hands?) Then he concludes with the climatical "I and the Father are one."
Now we should point out first that when Jesus said the Father is greater it wasn't denying his deity. One can be lesser in rank but still possess the same nature. I am less in rank than my boss at work but both of us are equally human in nature. The Jews had a belief even in an angel named Metatron who was a lesser YHWH. Both were called YHWH though.
The Oneness Pentecostals first off would use this verse to show that Jesus is the Father but does that really make sense? The Greek word here is "hen." It's neuter meaning that it refers to a nature here. There are many other words that could have been used to show that they were one person. The early church fathers when debating modalism also pointed out that the passage says "I and my Father ARE one." Had it been a singular it would have been "I and my father AM one." It's an excellent point. There are other passages that show problems with modalistic beliefs. (John 8:14-18 for instance.)
But the JWs will take this and say "Well in John 17:21 Jesus prayed that we would be one. Does that mean we would be the same person? No! Jesus was claiming to be one in purpose with the Father."
This sounds good but here's the problem. Why would the Jews stone him for that? "You're wanting to do the work of God? You must die you wicked blasphemer!" The Jews understood the claim very well. They knew that he was claiming to be God. Christ asks them why and that is the reason he tells them.
Now Christ does not deny what he said a bit. Instead, he goes into their Scripture and uses an argument against them. The style of this argument in the Jewish mindset would have been called "Qal Wahomer." Today, we call it "A fortiori." It's going from a lesser point to a greater point.
Jesus often used this style. You circumcise a man on the Sabbath? Great! I can heal the whole man on the Sabbath. God sends rain on the unjust? How much more will he send it for the righteous? The wicked judge who neither fears God nor cares about men helps the widow. How much more will your Father in Heaven hear your requests?
He then goes to one of the more difficult passages for many to understand. What is going on in Psalm 82? Mormons, JWs, and New Agers all misunderstand this passage.
Psalm 82
1 God presides in the great assembly;
he gives judgment among the "gods":
The gods is a sarcastic remark. We'll see what it means later but look at how these "gods" are described.
2 "How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 "They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
There can be no doubt that these people are not good and friendly. These are wicked people who are using their power for evil.
6 "I said, 'You are "gods";
you are all sons of the Most High.'
7 But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler."
The speaker then mocks them. They are certainly gods as they do have a power over the Earth and rule but they are not gods by nature. They are mere men. They will die like every other ruler.
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.
Finally, a plea to the one true God to judge. What is Jesus's point in quoting a verse from this passage?
Jesus is using the a fortiori (qal wahomer) as stated earlier. He looks at this passage and says "Alright. These wicked and evil people are called gods and your Scripture which is perfect and cannot be broken affirms this so you have to accept that. Now if these wicked and evil people have the right to be called gods, how much more do I have the right being the righteous one to be called the Son of God?"
Notice something here. Nowhere in this passage before has he said that he was the Son of God. When could he have possibly said anything like this in this passage? In John 10:30. To claim to be the Son of God was equal to claiming to be God. Son of in those days often meant, "One who had the characteristics of." Who has the characteristics of God but God alone?"
Jesus never denied the charge that he was claiming deity and we know this because in verse 39 the Jews again tried to seize him. He had made his claims and could not be refuted. The only way out was to try to execute him somehow.
I recommend using this passage in working with the cults. It's very powerful and deals with several at the same time. May God bless any who work with the cults in leading them to the truth.
In Christ,



Email the author at Apologianick@wmconnect.com