Jesus' God is repeatedly described in scripture as the Father. So in John 20:17 it seems obvious that when Jesus said "I to go my God" that he meant that he was going to his father:

Joh 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Would Miriam and the disciples have understood "your God" to refer to the Father? Or to "the Trinity"? (Would there ever be any confusion in their minds as to who was being referred to when Jesus mentioned God?)

In other words, when Jesus said "I go to your God" would they have to stop and think, "Well, my God his right here in front of me"? Or, "I guess he means the other parts of the Trinity"? In other words, did they understand their God to be the same as Jesus' God, or as more complicated than his?

  • @RevelationLad Can you please restate that last sentence? I don't follow.
    – user10231
    Jun 24 '16 at 19:26
  • 3
    In my view: i) If Jesus said he was ascending to "...your Father" he surely could not have been ascending to the Trinity if that included himself; ii) No one had told them about the Trinity, so they could not have wondered whether Jesus meant the Trinity, the rest of the Trinity or so on; iii) The Trinity only became revealed during the 2nd/3rd century and agreed to be real during the course of the fourth century. Jun 24 '16 at 21:35
  • @DickHarfield So by "my God" they understood "the father" and when he said "your God" they understood him to be saying the same thing? That's the pith of my question, that "your God" meant to them a unitary deity, "the father", nothing more complicated than that, right?
    – user10231
    Jun 24 '16 at 21:43
  • Right. Until they (or anyone else) were told otherwise, they can only have thought in terms of one, unitary God. In my view, the repetition (my Father, your Father ... my God, your God) was a rhetorical device. Jun 24 '16 at 21:48
  • @DickHarfield Yes, a device but with the net effect of "my God, who is also your God" and excludes Jesus from "participation" in "God". And coupled with "my father and your father" it connects with "my brothers" to indicate that he "participates" with the saints.
    – user10231
    Jun 24 '16 at 22:18

The text does not offer how the disciples understood the words that Yeshua used. We can only assume that they understood "My God" to mean he was going to the same God that he calls "their God", since that's exactly what the text says and none of the disciples offer any objection. Otherwise, there would be two Gods: one God that Yeshua calls his own and one that he attributes to his disciples.

In 1782, Joseph Priestly wrote in A History of the Corruptions of Christianity:

Christ was a man, naturally possessed of no other powers than other men have, but a distinguished messenger of God, and the chief instrument in his hands for the good of men; this was the original faith of the Christian church, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles. It must strike every person who gives the least attention to the phraseology of the New Testament, that the terms Christ and God, are perpetually used in contradistinction to each other, as much as God and man . . .

Christ himself always prayed to this one God, as his God and Father. He always spoke of himself as receiving his doctrine and his power from him, and again and again disclaimed having any power of his own, John v. 19: "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself." Ch. xiv. 10: "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me."

He calls his disciples his brethren, John xx. 17: "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Can any person read this, and say that the Unitarians wrest the Scriptures, and are not guided by the plain sense of them?


When I first read this many many years ago, I saw a meaning that I had always assumed was how everyone saw it and never gave it another thought. But maybe I was wrong after all. In my mind, this was a celebratory note about the atonement that Jesus had just achieved: my God is now your God; my father is now your father. The disciples had witnessed the intimate relationship that Jesus had had with his God and Father, but that relationship had been just as out of reach to them as it was for us. But after Christ's atonement they are now brought near to God (Hebrews 7:18-20). There is an old testament picture of this in 2 Kings Chapter 2. After Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind (a picture of Chrit's ascension), his cloak fell and was picked up by Elisha. Elisha asks "Where now is the God of Elijah?" The answer came in Elisha's demonstration of God's power in parting the Jordan river in exactly the same manner as Elijah had just done. In simple logic, Elisha still had the same God; but he had him in a different way. Elijah's God had always been Elisha's God, but never like this. So when Jesus says "my God and your God" I believe he is saying that God is now your God in the way that He is (and always has been) my God.

  • (+1) because I think this adds to the discussion. Welcome to the site and thank you for posting. I think I see what you are saying. But where do you see the scriptures refer to the work of Christ as an "atonement"?
    – user10231
    Dec 5 '16 at 12:00
  • Sorry, not sure if I should reply to comments here or above, but in answer to your question, Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2 come to mind. Dec 6 '16 at 22:59
  • An "assertion" is a "declaration" that something is so. Unless you provide a primary source or in some other way back up what you say there is no reason to post it because it is just hearsay. So the general rule of thumb for me is to be conscious of when I'm making a claim and then if I can back it up with evidence, do so but if not, strike it! Just walk through your post, find the assertions and then support them. Thanks. (Note: I'm not an authority here, just offering suggestions that lead to well received posts/answers).
    – user10231
    Dec 6 '16 at 23:11

I understand your question perfectly. I use to wonder the same thing a long time ago. What I discovered after a lot of research is that LANGUAGE has a big role in our confusion. Even today, English is 1 of the most confusing languages to learn and understand. Keeping in mind that the language spoken back in those days was NOT English, not modern day or "The King's English" it is safe to say SIMPLY that no one was confused or wondering if he was referring to himself or his father seperately. The way we can tell is not to focus on the words Jesus spoke, but to the REACTION when he spoke them. Prime example when Jesus said to the Pharisees "I am my father, and my father is me." They did not question if he ment "In essence" or not. The reaction was to attempt to STONE him right then and there! As if they were OFFENDED. As if a "blasphemous" act was committed right in their faces! That is because the words used, could not have been taken any other way. They were not said in the English words quoted here. In Hebrew it was flat out closer to "I am GOD. GOD and I are one and the SAME." less like "I am my Fathers child" The Pharisees would not have gotten so "hot under the collar" over a statement about being a CHILD of God. In the long run. Look at the surroundings. Study the culture of those times. Lots of things are understood better when a combination of Interest and anthropology are placed in view! Hope that helps!

  • Can you please provide some evidence that to say "my father is in me" is properly understood as "I am God"? Thanks and welcome to the site.
    – user10231
    Dec 5 '16 at 11:41

First of all Praise be to the Lord our God.

The question is really an interesting one.
Jesus's brothers and every one around him realized, he is "referring to the Lord our Father when he mentioned I am ascending to my Father and your Father. People believed that Jesus is the messiah whom the prophets spoke about. Here the mentality of the people is, Jesus is their redeemer. Later when Jesus was crucified and raised back from death after 3 days, here comes the belief on Trinity.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics SE, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. Our community looks for answers to reflect a good degree of research and references. Typically, we like answers that cite scholarly references and consider this a requirement. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. Sep 15 '16 at 0:02
  • Jim, this is a very important observation but you have not provided any evidence for your assertions. Can you please locate a primary source (such as a scholar who agrees and has reasons)?
    – user10231
    Dec 5 '16 at 11:43

Jesus and his brothers do indeed have the same God. There is only one God. However, the relationship sustained by Christ and by believers are not entirely alike. He calls God His Father, but he is also a part of the Holy Trinity. God is our Father; we are His by creation and the new birth. So while it is the same God being referred to, we must also be aware of the differences in perspective. Jesus' statement in this particular passage went show his followers their new relationship with God. He was personal, not just a distant spiritual power. They were now heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ as Paul says. This was a new concept for these Jews. Jesus was emphasizing this new relationship.

  • Welcome, @PastorShane. BH:SE is a little different from Christian Q&A sites. Rather than stating your theological opinion about the question, please provide the critical biblical scholarship or exegesis of the text itself that underlies your opinion. Here's the kind of answer we're looking for: meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/653/…
    – Schuh
    Aug 8 '16 at 17:53
  • (-1) for appealing to the [to my mind, bogus] dogma of Holy Trinity rather than appealing to the scriptures, which is what we're concerned with here, not traditions.
    – user10231
    Dec 5 '16 at 11:47

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