Question: What does John 10:30 have to do with Trinitarianism?

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Question: What does John 10:30 have to do with Trinitarianism?

John 10:30 was an important scripture in the early debates related to Trinitarianism

One author wrote of it:

[John 10:30] was a key verse in the early Trinitarian controversies. On the one extreme, the onarchians (Sabellians) interpreted it to mean "one person", although the "one" is neuter, not masculine. On the other extreme, the Arians interpreted this text, which was often used against them, in terms of moral unity of will. The Protestant commentator Engel, following Augustine, sums up the Orthodox position: "Through the word "are" Sabellius is refuted; through the word one" so is Arius.." [In the Gospel of] John... all these relationships between Father and Son are described in function of the one's dealings with men. It would be up to the work of later theologians to take this gospel material pertaining to the mission of the Son add extra and draw from it a theology of the inner life of the Trinity.[1]

In Greek, the masculine would be used to indicate a oneness of person or being, and neuter implies a oneness of purpose

Note that “one” in this verse is neuter, not masculine. In Greek, the masculine would be used to indicate a oneness of person or being, and neuter implies a oneness of purpose. So, read literally the verse merely says that Jesus and the Father are one in purpose or will: only a belief in the Trinity at the outset would lead one to read this as a Trinitarian passage. A non-LDS Christian scholar wrote of these verses:

The basic reason for this choice is to be found in John 10:30: “The Father and I are one” (hen). Note that Jesus is not saying, “The Father and I are numerically one” (heis), but uses a term meaning “we are together” (Greek hen, as used again in v.38: “The Father is in me and I am in the Father”). The union of the Father and Son does not blot out the difference and individuality of each. Union rather supposes differentiation. Through love and through reciprocal communion they are one single thing, the one God-love.[2]

Note also that later theologians had to contribute ‘extra’ information to solve the problem. This extra eventually resulted in the Trinitarian formulae of today.

Notes

  1. Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I–XII (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. Inc.), 403, 407.
  2. Leonardo Boff, Trinity and Society, trans. Paul Burns (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1988), 5.