10

In John 10:30, Jesus states, "I and the Father are one."

The Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."

At least on the surface both look somewhat similar. Are there reasons to think that the statement in John 10:30 is intended to evoke the phrase in Deuteronomy 6:4?

4
  • It seems to follow the same pattern as Genesis 2:24, repeated several times throughout the New Testament.
    – Lucian
    Jun 14, 2020 at 21:51
  • 1
    It is not entirely clear why some consider it reasonable, or think it permissible, to impose ideas onto scriptural statements that are not directly presented or necessarily implied; in this case, reading a very specific concept into words that they do not carry in and of themselves.
    – user35499
    Jul 15, 2020 at 8:33
  • Are any of these answers of any value?
    – Dottard
    Sep 14, 2020 at 4:16
  • @Dottard Admittedly an allusion or echo is something difficult to prove or disprove, but most of the answers seem to focus on the meaning of "one" (whether identity or substance or purpose) rather than attempting to draw any parallels between the passages. In fact, yours is the only answer to even mention Deuteronomy, which would seem necessary for any substantive answer.
    – Soldarnal
    Sep 14, 2020 at 14:26

6 Answers 6

1
+200

In John 10:30, Jesus states,

"I and the Father are one (ἕν) (hen)

The Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (εἷς) (heis)."

In Greek, there are three different forms for the their word "one" (heis, hen and mia). Both John 10:30 and the Shema used the same word for "one" differing only in inflection. John 10:30 uses hen (a neuter noun, indicative of one in the sense of "unity", "being united" or "being in union with another". "oneness" among persons who have something in common or are part of the same group) to indicate that Jesus and the Father are not one person but united in something else. The context (vv. 28-29) tells us that both Jesus and the Father have the same ability to prevent their flock to being snatched from their hands which indicates that they are one in power. The Shema uses heis (a masculine noun, indicative of the numerical one. In John 10:16, one in the phrase "one shepherd" is heis in Greek which indicates a numerically one shepherd. In the same verse, one in the phrase "one flock" is mia, a feminine noun also indicating the numerical one. The noun being modified by mia is feminine in Greek (flock) that is why the word is used. )

Both John 10:30 and the Shema used the same word for "one" differing only in inflection.

According to scholars, John 10:16 (one flock, one shepherd) with John 10:30 (Jesus and the Father being one) and John 17:22 (the flock being one with Jesus and the Father) posits that the Shema has been utilised to indicate union among the three: Jesus, the Father and believers."

"This dissertation, however, argues that, rather than quoting the Shema, John incorporates it into his Christological portrait of Jesus' unity with the Father and of the disciples' unity with the Father, the Son, and one another.....According to John, Jesus does not violate the unity of God as it is proclaimed in the Shema. Rather, Jesus resides within that unity (10:30); he is therefore uniquely able to speak the words of God and perform the works of God. John depicts the unity of the Father, Jesus, and the disciples as the fulfillment of OT prophecies of restoration. Zechariah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel envision Israel as one people regathered in the Land, worshiping the one God of Israel (11:52; 17:11, 21-23). John filters this eschatological understanding of the Shema through a Christological lens: disciples of Jesus are the one flock gathered to the one Shepherd and testifying to Jesus' unity with the Father (10:16). The Farewell Discourse material confirms this thesis; Jesus models obedience to the Shema and also commands that he receive the love normally reserved for YHWH (14:15, 21, 23, 24). He issues his own commandment of love (13:34; 15:12), which has far-ranging implications for John's view of the Mosaic Law."

(The Shema in John's Gospel Against its Backgrounds in Second Temple Judaism, Lori Baron, 2015)

enter image description here (The Shema as the Foundation for John’s Theological Use of ‘One’: Identifying and Addressing Reservations, Andrew J. Byers, 2017)

0

I would argue no. Jesus' point in context is that He and the Father are not separate deities. Why did He say this? He was claiming divine prerogatives, and so needed to stress that He was not a rogue deity, which the Jews thought He was implying (if He's not the Father, and doesn't claim to be, how can He claim these prerogatives of God alone?). This climaxes when He claims to be exempt from keeping the Sabbath due to His being equal with the Father:

John 5:16-18 Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, because he did these things on the sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them: My Father worketh until now; and I work. 18 Hereupon therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he did not only break the sabbath, but also said God was his Father, making himself equal to God.

Clearly the way Jesus spoke of His Sonship was not the same as 'I'm a child of God,' nor is 'My Father works [on the Sabbath] and I too work' a valid response to 'You aren't allowed to work on the Sabbath.' The Jews understood He was claiming to be the offspring of God, and thus to be saying He is equal to God. Which He is. This is how He can be both God, and distinct from the Father, because He is the eternal Son of the Father. His Wisdom. His Word.

When Moses said, "the Lord is our God; the Lord is one," this was a statement about monotheism, not unitarianism vs. binitarianism vs. trinitarianism. In Hebrew, when the category of noun is right, such as here, to say that a noun is "one," means that it alone exhausts that category of thing.

A perfect example is Zechariah 14:9:

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name shall be one.

Here this is rightly translated "there shall be one Lord [acknowledged only]." And yet the Hebrew is "the Lord shall be one." The same for "and his name one" - this means He will be called upon universally by one name (namely, the whole world will recognize Yahweh, He who is, as the true in that age).

0

"Father" is God's eternal name, that is to say, it is not that once He was not Father but only God and then became Father, just, like we can say that He was not always the Creator of the universe in a fulfilled actuality, but became one when He decided to create it and actually created it. Not so with the "Father" for He is always, eternally, naturally, essentially Father. Since so, then it analytically implies that He always, essentially, necessarily has also His Offspring, the Son, who is thus co-eternal to Him and as such also God (John 1:1), possessing one essence with Him, for all essence any son gets from father and not a part of it, but 100% of this essence, so that man Achiles' son Neoptolemus is 100% man, just like his father; yet, in Father's and Son's relationship this essential begetting and essentially giving of 100% of essence is done eternally and infinitely, without any intrusion of process or time, thus the Son is eternally perfect (Hebrews 7:28).

Thus, yes, "I and the Father are one" means that both are God, possessing the very same essence 100%.

0

The Shema consists of three passages which are read in the morning and evening:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6 ESV)

13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you. 18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11)

37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 40 So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” (Numbers 15)

Given the breadth of the Shema, it is unlikely John intends a truncated version which considers only the first line. In addition, the LXX, preserves a literal translation for the Hebrew expression of "I am..." found in Numbers 15:41:

ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν ὁ ἐξαγαγῶν ὑμᾶς ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου εἶναι ὑμῶν θεός ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν

In each instance אני יהוה was rendered as ἐγὼ κύριος. Given the significant place ἐγὼ εἰμι has in the Fourth Gospel, it is unlikely John has the Shema in mind.

0

As is well understood, John's Gospel is not so much about the story of Jesus but the theology of Jesus; hence the ancient epithet, "John the Theologian" on hagiography.

John 10 refers to John 9 and the very significant miracle of restoring the sight of a man born blind (John 10:21). Further, the statement of John 10:30 about being one with the Father follows on the heels of John 10:1-16 about Jesus claiming to be the "Good Shepherd", another direct allusion to the claims of YHWH God in the OT: Ps 23, Eze 34:11-24 and Jer 31:9, 10 (more on this last reference shortly).

As if to reinforce this point, Jesus then makes the statement (v17, 18):

The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.

This, in effect, repeats Jesus' claim in John 2:19, Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” Note His claim to raise Himself.

Shortly afterward at "the feast of dedication" (John 10:22), the same themes are taken up again about Jesus being the Good shepherd and being the sources of eternal life (v28). [This is a regular theme of John: "I am the bread of life" John 6:35-51; "I am the resurrection and the life", John 11:25; "I am the way the truth and the life", John 14:6, "I am the vine", John 15:1-5; see also 1 John 5:10-12.]

As part of this discussion with the Jews, Jesus then claims (v30):

I and the Father are one.

In the above context, the Jews understood Jesus explosive claims and immediately accused Him of blasphemy (v33), “We are not stoning You for any good work,” said the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because You, who are a man, declare Yourself to be God.”

Was Jesus alluding to the Shema in Deut 6:4? Yes and No. "Yes" because the idea is certainly superficially similar but there are important differences:

  • Jesus changes the wording from "LORD" (YHWH) in the Shema to "Father"; However, in the NT this is understandable because Jer 31:9 combines the allusion of YHWH as both Shepherd and Father of Israel. The Jews were well aware of this because they understood their God, YHWH, as both "Shepherd" and "Father".
  • the word for "one" is changed from εἷς (masc, LXX) to ἕν (neut). The effect of this is to affirm Jesus' unity of essence with the Father. See below.

Therefore, if Jesus is alluding to the Shema, He is probably combining those ideas with the constant and strident monotheism of the OT as well:

  • Deut 4:35, You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
  • Deut 32:39, See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, …
  • Isa 44:6, Thus says the LORD, the King and Redeemer of Israel, the LORD of Hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God but Me."
  • Is 45:5, 6, I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God but Me … so that all may know, from where the sun rises to where it sets, that there is none but Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.

[In the LXX, Deut 32:39 contains the unpredicated phrase, ἐγώ εἰμι (I am!). This title of YHWH is repeated in the LXX in other places such as Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12, 52:6]

Thus, Jesus both affirms the theology of a single God and simultaneously claims His unity of being with the Father. No wonder Jesus was accused of blasphemy by claiming to be God (John 10:33).

CONCLUSION

I suggest that Jesus was alluding to the Shema but much more than the Shema. By alluding to being the Good Shepherd, etc, Jesus was effectively claiming to be YHWH/LORD/Jehovah of the OT. He then caps this all off by claiming unity/oneness with the Father. No wonder the Jews wanted to stone Him for blasphemy.

APPENDIX - comments by others about the neuter form Jesus used in saying "I and the Father are one (neuter)".

Ellicott:

I and my Father are one.—The last clause of John 10:29 is identical with the last clause of John 10:28 if we identify “Father’s” with “My.” This our Lord now formally does. The last verses have told of power greater than all, and these words are an assertion that in the infinity of All-mighty Power the Son is one with the Father. They are more than this, for the Greek word for “one” is neuter, and the thought is not, therefore, of unity of person, but is of unity of essence. “The Son is of one substance with the Father.” In the plural “are” there is the assertion of distinctness as against Sabellianism, and in the “one” there is the assertion of co-ordination as against Arianism. At recurring periods in the history of exegesis men have tried to establish that these words do not imply more than unity of will between the Father and the Son. We have seen above that they assert both oneness of power and oneness of nature; but the best answer to all attempts to attach any meaning lower than that of the divinity of our Lord to these His words is found here, as in the parallel instance in John 8:58-59, in the conduct of the Jews themselves. To them the words conveyed but one meaning, and they sought to punish by stoning what seemed to them to be blasphemy. Their reason is here given in express words, “because that Thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).

Barnes:

I and my Father are one - The word translated "one" is not in the masculine, but in the neuter gender. It expresses union, but not the precise nature of the union. It may express any union, and the particular kind intended is to be inferred from the connection. In the previous verse he had said that he and his Father were united in the same object that is, in redeeming and preserving his people. It was this that gave occasion for this remark. Many interpreters have understood this as referring to union of design and of plan. The words may bear this construction. In this way they were understood by Erasmus, Calvin, Bucer, and others. Most of the Christian fathers understood them, however, as referring to the oneness or unity of nature between the Father and the Son; and that this was the design of Christ appears probable from the following considerations:

  1. The question in debate was (not about his being united with the Father in plan and counsel, but in power. He affirmed that he was able to rescue and keep his people from all enemies, or that he had power superior to men and devils that is, that he had supreme power over all creation. He affirmed the same of his Father. In this, therefore, they were united. But this was an attribute only of God, and they thus understood him as claiming equality to God in regard to omnipotence.

  2. The Jews understood him as affirming his equality with God, for they took up stones to punish him for blasphemy John 10:31, John 10:33, and they said to him that they understood him as affirming that he was God, John 10:33.

  3. Jesus did not deny that it was his intention to be so understood. See the notes at John 10:34-37.

  4. He immediately made another declaration implying the same thing, leaving the same impression, and which they attempted to punish in the same manner, John 10:37-39. If Jesus had not intended so to be understood, it cannot be easily reconciled with moral honesty that he did not distinctly disavow that such was his intention. The Jews were well acquainted with their own language. They understood him in this manner, and he left this impression on their minds.

-1

Since no one knows the operation of one's mind it's hard to knows exactly what their thinking may be from John 10:30.

For instance, from the context one can conclude that God the Father and the Son are one in purpose. That is to say that the sheep are equally safe in the Sons hand as well as in the Father's hand. The power of the Son is equal to that of the Father.

I'm convinced that John 10:30 is teaching that the Father and the Son are one in nature. Jesus is asserting the essential unity of the Father and the Son in the word "one" (hen). It is a neuter number to indicate equality of essence, attributes, design, will and work. "One" (meaning "one thing)"

Jesus distinguishes the "I" from the "Father" and uses the plural verb "are" denoting "we are." These words separate the persons within the Godhead, but "one" asserts their unity of essence or nature AS IDENTICAL.

The Jews understood Jesus correctly. There could be no mistake about His meaning. John 10:31, "The Jews took up stones AGAIN to stone Him." I believe the "AGAIN" refers back to John 8:58-59, where the Jews accused Him of blasphemy for saying He existed before Abraham was born or "sprang into existence."

Here at John 10:33, "The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out God." So to answer your question, I believe it's possible to think about the "Shema."

1
  • If the Jews understood Jesus correctly, why did they not become his followers? why did they kill him? (John 8:40) if they correctly understood him to be God, do the Jews also believe that they can kill God? If Jesus is the only true God, and the Father is also the only true God, can both statements be true?.The Father begot Jesus, but the same cannot be said about the Father. Jesus never claimed to be equal to the Father, his God, John 17:3, John 14:28. He is not the Creator for he himself plainly and unequivocally credited God as the Creator, Matthew 19:4.
    – user35499
    Jul 15, 2020 at 13:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.