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In John 17:11, Jesus prays that his disciples "may be one":

11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (ESV)

What does "being one" mean? In what sense are the disciples described as being one as Jesus and the Father are one? How does this sense relate to the similar phrasing used in John 10:30:

30I and the Father are one. (ESV)

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2 Answers 2

Collegiality

There is a sociological term called "collegiality". Strictly, it means the relationship between colleagues. The idea is that a college is a group of people united for one purpose. This usage of "college" can be seen in "Electoral College" or "College of Cardinals".

The idea behind collegiality is that while there is a separation of individuals, all individuals present come together in one mind and for one purpose.

Biblical passages

This is similar to the idea expressed here in John 17:11 from the question.

What Jesus is praying for is that we will share his thoughts and concerns and that he will share ours. He's praying for collegiality: that we come together with one mind and for one purpose.

Placing this in relation to John 10:30 becomes tricky since some denominations see this as collegiality while most see this as scriptural support for the trinity. A survey of that is a bit beyond the scope of this site (being doctrine).

Other references

However, there are other references to collegiality in the New Testament including this one:

Phillipians 2:2 (NASB)Emphasis added
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

The oft-cited verse 3 goes on to a bit more practical application of collegiality:

Phillipians 2:3 (NASB)
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Summary

When Jesus is praying that we "may be one", he is praying for our collegiality--he's praying that we will be of one mind and united in spirit for one purpose.

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The word translated "one" is in the neutral, not a masculine (or feminine) form. So it refers to unity: in purpose, actions, etc.

Jesus, The Father, and The Holy Spirit are "one" in other ways as well, but they are unitied in purpose and actions to achieve that purpose.

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