If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it
be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17, KJV)
John 7:17, like many other passages in the Bible, teaches that God and Jesus were distinct entities from each other.
To understand the Bible's teaching on any point, it is always important to consider all other verses on the same subject, to discover the sum and the balance of their truths, and to use the Bible to explain itself. In the table below, a number of these texts are provided that illustrate the same truth as is found in John 7:17, contrasted with the parallel truths that God and Jesus are "one," and that God (the Father) is "one."
|God and Jesus Are Separate
||God and Jesus Are One
||God/Father Is One
|And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. (John 8:16, KJV)
||I and my Father are one. (John 10:30, KJV)
||One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6, KJV)
|If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:24, KJV)
||And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22, KJV)
||That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:6, KJV)
|Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:32, KJV)
||And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17:11, KJV)
||But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6, KJV)
|That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21, KJV)
||That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21, KJV)
||Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. (John 8:41, KJV)
|These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (John 17:1, KJV)
||Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. (John 8:19, KJV)
||And this is life eternal, that they might know thee [Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3, KJV)
|For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Timothy 2:5, KJV)
||If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:7, KJV)
||And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9, KJV)
Naturally, the apparent "oneness" of the Father and Jesus can be said to be a unity between them, for it is likened to the oneness Jesus desires his disciples to have with his Father. Clearly, the disciples will never be God, nor could ever be God, so their oneness does not apply to oneness of being. Neither were Jesus and the Father the same being. They are two, united in purpose, but divided in that God is spirit while Man is flesh.
God (the Father) was in Christ, as Jesus taught plainly, but Christ was not the Father. Had Christ been the Father (God), why would he have addressed the Father in his prayer? The Father need not pray to Himself, nor does God pray to God.
Jesus and the Father are separate entities, yet one in spirit and in purpose.
Update: Answers to Questions
Q: You say ”Jesus and the Father are separate entities, yet one in spirit and in purpose” please explain “one in spirit”.
A: This is an important and valid question. I had actually left it intentionally simple so as not to complicate the answer, but intending the expression to have a dual meaning. To clarify, let us consider the Bible's own usage of the expression "in spirit."
||Passage with "in spirit"
||A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
||Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
||They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.
||Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
||He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
||And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
||And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
||In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
||But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
||God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
||When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
||Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
||For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
In these texts, the term "spirit" is used to mean one's character, ideals, or seat of emotions--alluding to one's perspective, mood, or attitude. A similar word in these cases might be "soul," but translators (at least of the KJV) were careful to differentiate between "soul" (Greek ψυχή/psyche) and "spirit" (Greek πνεῦμα/pneuma), both of which can also be translated as "breath." The Bible itself indicates how similar these words are in Hebrews 4:12 where God's word is likened to a two-edged sword that is capable of dividing between them.
When speaking of Jesus and the Father being "one in spirit" in this sense, I refer to them as being in agreement, in unity, in these characteristics. They have the same perspective, character, and attitude. When using this sense of meaning, I refer to Jesus (the man) and the Father (God) as separate entities who work together in unity.
But there is another sense of "spirit" which could legitimately apply. Jesus said "God is (a) spirit" (John 4:24). God is not made of flesh and blood as we are. He is a spiritual being: immortal, invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The Father, who IS spirit, was in Christ. Thus, Christ had his own human spirit, just as any of us has a spirit, and Christ also had the Spirit of God, the Father, dwelling in him. God is not said to have two spirits, but one (see Eph. 2:18; 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Deut. 6:4). Therefore, the spirit of God dwelling in Jesus was God's actual presence and Being.
Q: Just so I understand, are you saying that God is three personalities in one, that is that there is God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit?
A: No. The Bible does not teach that God is three personalities. The Bible is clear that God is one single entity (see 1 Cor. 8:6; John 17:1-3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Deut. 6:4; Mal. 2:10; Eph. 4:6; Jam. 2:19). The Bible indicates, however, that God, who is omnipresent, was present in Christ (see 2Cor. 5:19). Christ, whose humanity veiled the presence of God (see Hebrews 10:20), was God's representative to mankind. Simultaneously, as flesh-and-blood man, he is man's representative and mediator to God (see 1 Timothy 2:5).
Note that saying "God the Spirit" is actually spiritualism, as I outlined in another answer HERE.