Some Misunderstood Verses of the Bible Now Put Back
Into Their Contexts
"I and the Father are one"
And Other Verses Commonly Misunderstood to Mean
That Jesus is God
“I and the Father are one”
John 10:30 is often quoted to show that Jesus is
equal to God. But when you read the verse in its context you will find
that the passage taken as a whole proves the opposite. People are often
content to quote the verse in isolation to show that Jesus said “I and the
Father are one” and then the Jews picked up stones to stone him because they
understood him to mean that he is claiming to be God. It is only when you
read the passage to see what comes before and after this verse that you will
realise that the Jews misunderstood what Jesus was saying. In fact, Jesus
tried to explain what he meant, and the explanation he gave is still in the
Bible for everyone to see. It is surprising that so many people who say
they love Jesus ignore his explanation and repeat the mistake which was made by
the enemies of Jesus. Here is the passage as it appears in the New
International Version of the Bible:
22It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area,
walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying,
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us
25Jesus answered, “I did tell
you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak
for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep
listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal
life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My
Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them
out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”
31Again the Jews picked up stones
to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles
from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33"We are not stoning you for
any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere
man, claim to be God.”
34Jesus answered them, “Is it
not written in your Law, `I have said you are gods’? 35If he called them
`gods’ to whom the word of God came — and the scripture cannot be broken —
36what about one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the
world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am
God’s Son’?” (John 10:22-36).
The passage when viewed as a whole shows clearly that
Jesus is not God. Let us observe the following points:
1. The disbelieving Jews insisted that Jesus should
tell them if indeed he is the Christ so they should not remain in suspense about
his identity (verse 24). A Christ as the title is used in the Bible refers
to a human being who is anointed as King of Israel. The title is used for
other humans as well (eg. Isaiah 45:1, Cyrus the Persian is called God’s
Christ). The Jews were expecting another Christ (Christ is a Greek
equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, and the Arabic word Maseeh). So
they asked Jesus whether he was the one they were waiting for. Jesus
replied that he had already told them, and he even performed miracles in God’s
name to prove his claim to be the Christ (verse 25), yet they do not believe him
(verse 26) because they are not Jesus’ sheep (verse 26). Those whom the
Father had given to Jesus, are Jesus’ sheep (followers), and they believe
Jesus when he said that he is the Christ (verses 27-29).
2. The true followers of Jesus will never perish,
because Jesus gives them eternal life. According to the same Gospel (John
17:3), eternal life means to believe that the Father is the only true God, and
that Jesus is the Christ and messenger of that one true God. Jesus gives
this knowledge to all those whom the Father has given to him (chapter 17:2).
What Jesus was speaking, then, were the words which, if believed, will
mean eternal life for all those who believe in them. This is why in the
same Gospel, Peter is quoted as saying on behalf of the disciples to Jesus,
“You have the words of eternal life. We know and believe that you are
the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). So they believed that Jesus was not
God, but the Holy One whom God sent (i.e. the Christ and Messenger of God).
The Good News Bible makes this passage slightly plainer:
You have the words that give eternal life. And now
we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God. (John
3. No one can snatch away the disciples from Jesus
(verse 28), because they were given to him by the Father, and the Father is
greater than all (verse 29). Since the Father is helping Jesus to keep his
disciples, no one can snatch them out of Jesus’ hand just as they cannot
snatch them out of the Father’s hand. When Jesus said that he and the
Father are one, he means exactly this: that the Father is helping him to
accomplish his tasks; and when he is busy trying to save his disciples from
being snatched away by the evil one, the Father is making sure that not one of
them will be lost except, of course, the one who was to betray him.
4. Jesus said that the Father is greater than all
(verse 29), including Jesus. Anyone having any doubt about this can read
John 14:28 where Jesus declares: “The Father is greater than I.” In
spite of this clear statement of Jesus, many who claim to follow him insist that
Jesus is equal to the Father. Whom should we believe — Jesus himself or
those who claim to follow him? His true followers can be distinguished as
the ones who stick to what Jesus himself said. Here is what Jesus directed
his followers to do:
If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.
Then you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John
5. When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”
(chapter 10, verse 30) the Jews picked up stones to stone him (verse 31). Jesus
could not understand their behaviour, because he had said nothing wrong. So
he asked them what he had done wrong to make them want to stone him (verse 32).
They replied that Jesus had committed blasphemy since he was only a man
yet he claimed to be God (verse 33). But it is clear from the Bible
passage above that Jesus did not claim to be God. He only claimed to be
the Christ (verse 25). When did he say he was God? They were
deliberately misquoting Jesus and putting words in his mouth which they will try
to use later as false evidence against him so they could have an excuse to kill
6. Jesus admits that he said, “I am God’s Son”
(verse 36). But he said that this means nothing more than the fact that
God had set him apart as his very own and sent him into the world (verse 36).
The fact that God set him apart means that God selected him for a task,
set him apart from the rest. The Arabic title for a person like this is
Mustafa (meaning The Chosen One). All of God’s Prophets deserve
this title. The fact that God sent him into the world means that he is
God’s Messenger. He is sent with a message from God. Obviously,
the God who sent Jesus is not Jesus himself.
7. Jesus tried to explain to them that even if he
said something which they misinterpreted as meaning that Jesus is claiming to be
God, they should realise that some human beings were called ‘gods’ in the
Bible, and the Jews do not disagree with this (verse 35), so they should not
disagree with Jesus so quickly before he gets a chance to explain his words.
To get a fuller understanding of what Jesus is saying here, let us refer
to the Bible passage to which he called their attention. The passage is in
the 82nd Psalm:
“I said, `You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
The passage from the Psalms shows that God had honoured
some humans by calling them “gods.” But of course they were not really
gods. This is just a figurative expression used in the Bible. Jesus
reminded the Jews of this so that they should understand that even if he says
something that makes them think he is claiming to be God, they should take it as
a figurative expression that does not mean what it sounds like. Furthermore
Jesus clarified that what he actually said was that he was God’s Son (verse
36). He says that if others can be called “gods,” he does not see why
they object to him calling himself God’s Son which means that God had selected
him and sent him with a message for the people.
The clear meaning of the passage,
then, is that Jesus is not God. He is one selected by God (i.e. he is
Mustafa) and he is sent by God (i.e. he is God’s Messenger). When he
calls himself God’s Son he means nothing more than that.
Yet, despite the detailed study of
the passage as above, some will hold on to tradition and reject the explanation
that Jesus provided in verses 34-36. They will insist on taking verse 30
out of its context and give it a meaning which Jesus said is the wrong meaning.
They will then agree with what the Jews said and disagree with what Jesus
said. This attitude leads to confusion, as we will presently see.
Even if verse 30 is taken in
isolation to change its meaning from what Jesus meant, it does not solve
anything. It only raises more problems. Jesus cannot be one and the
same as the Father whereas he said himself that the Father is greater than he
(John 14:28). Jesus said that he and the Father are in fact two (John
8:14-18). And no one had seen God at any time although they had already
seen Jesus (1 John 4:12). The best solution for all this is to go back to
the teachings of Jesus himself, then you shall know the truth, and the truth
shall set you free (John 8:31-32).
Before Abraham was, I am
John 8:58 is one of the most misused verses of
the Bible. Because Jesus in that verse says “Before Abraham was, I
am,” two implications, one unnecessary, and the other false, are drawn from
that verse. The unnecessary implication is that since Jesus existed before
Abraham that means he existed always. This is a preconceived notion that
people force into the text. “Before Abraham” does not mean
“always”. Melchezidek in the Bible is shown to have existed
before Abraham (Hebrews 7:3). Does that mean that Melchezidek is God?
Obviously, we cannot take a created being as God.
The false implication is that
Jesus by saying “I am” was uttering God’s name which God declared to Moses
in Exodus 3:14-15.
The Bible is confusing on this
point because it gives three versions of God’s calling Moses, and the three
versions do not agree with each other. The best that can be said is that
the name of God announced there is Yahweh. Compare the three versions
1. The Yahwist version (Exod 6:28 - 7:7) says
nothing about the name of God being revealed because for the Yahwist editors the
name Yahweh was already known among the Israelites. They say that this
name was being used since the time of Enosh, the grandson of Adam (Genesis
2. The priestly version (Exod 6:2-13)
contradicts this by saying that this name was not known before (Exod 6:2).
God’s command to Moses here is
So say to the Israelites, “I am Yahweh . . .” (Exod
and Moses repeated this to them (6:9).
3. But in the Elohist version (Exod 3:13-22)
God’s instruction to Moses is different:
This is what you are to say to the Israelites. “I
am has sent me to you” (Exod 3:15).
It would appear from this that God’s name is “I am,”
but it is clear upon careful study that in this passage the Elohist scribes
substituted “I am” for “Yahweh” in the same instruction given in (Exod
Even if God really did announce
his name to be “I am” as in Exodus, chapter 3, verse 15, this still does not
prove that Jesus applied the name “I am” to himself. Jesus never said
his name is “I am”. He is quoted as saying “Before Abraham was I
am” (John 8:58). If “I am” is Jesus’ name, then we should be able
to replace the “I am” in this passage with “Jesus,” since these are both
names of Jesus. The passage would then read as follows: “Before
Abraham was, Jesus.” This, of course, makes no sense because the idea
that Jesus called himself “I am” is not there in the text, but it is
someone’s own interpretation forced into the text. Notice that we would
have no difficulty replacing the “I am” in Exodus 3:15 with either “God”
or “Yahweh”, as follows:
This is what you are to say to the Israelites. “God
has sent me to you” (Exod 3:15).
This is what you are to say to the Israelites. “Yahweh
has sent me to you” (Exod 3:15).
Another point worth paying attention to is this: the
writer of the fourth gospel never believed Jesus to be God. This proves
that Jesus never said he is God. Otherwise, how could it be possible that
the author of the fourth gospel never knew it? He believed that the Father
is the only true God, and that Jesus is the Christ and messenger of God (see
Furthermore, a distinction which
is present in the Greek version of the Bible is lost from the English versions.
In the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament, the phrase
translated “I am” is “ho on” in the Greek. If the author of
the fourth Gospel wanted to show his readers that Jesus repeated the phrase, he
would no doubt have quoted Jesus as saying, “Before Abraham was, ho on.”
But he did not. Instead, he quoted Jesus as saying, “Before
Abraham was, ego eimi.” Readers of his Greek manuscript, then,
would have seen that Jesus’ statement in John 8:58 is different from God’s
statement in Exodus 3:15. And this, of course, is what the author of the
fourth Gospel intended.
Furthermore, the Syriac Peshitta
version of the Bible, one of the old versions of the Bible, reads in John 8:58,
“Before Abraham was, I was.” Was this changed from what the author
wrote? How can we know? Suppose this was the original phrase, then
those who rest their case on the common rendering will be disappointed on the
Day of Judgement. Why not rest our case on a much more plain verse of the
Bible — one in which Jesus clearly differentiates between himself and God?
Take this one for example, where Jesus says to his enemies:
You are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the
truth that I heard from God” (John 8:31).
Who is Jesus then? A man who told the truth which he
heard from God. In other words, he was a messenger of God. When a
clear statement like this is issued from the lips of Jesus, why wrangle with the
passages that are not so clear, and try to twist them to mean the opposite of
what Jesus has been saying in other clear verses all along?
Anyone who wishes to
convince himself/herself that Jesus is God should look for clear evidence in the
Bible to show that Jesus is God. But the clear evidence is to the
contrary. The Bible teaches again and again that Jesus is not God, but a
Servant of God (e.g. Matthew 12:18).
In the very next chapter of John,
chapter 9, v.35, Jesus declares that he is the son of man (RSV). And
anyone who knows the Bible as the Israelites to whom Jesus spoke will know that
a son of man cannot be God. The Bible declares that God is neither a man
nor a son of man (Numbers 23:19).
How can he be called clean that is born of a woman? Behold
even the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight.
How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?
A Virgin Will Give Birth
Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most misunderstood
verses of the Bible. This passage in a defective translation reads: “a
virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The word Immanuel means “God is with us” (see Good News Bible, p.
673). Now, because Matthew (ch.1, v. 23) applies this prophecy to Jesus,
it is mistakenly believed that this proves Jesus is God.
First, Matthew never meant to
portray Jesus as God. The belief in Jesus divinity was formulated long
after Matthew’s gospel was written. Matthew’s gospel proves throughout
that Jesus was a servant of God (e.g. Mt. 12:18; 24:36; 27:46).
Second, the name given to an
individual in the Bible cannot prove that he is God. “Elijah” means
“Jehovah God.” Does that prove that Elijah is Jehovah God? Absolutely
Not. Similarly, the name Immanuel does not prove that Jesus is God with
us. Neither does the name “Elihu” (meaning “God himself”) prove
that the name Elihu is God himself (see I Sam 1:1).
Third, although the prophecy is
taken, in Matthew 1:23 to refer indirectly to Jesus, the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14
actually refers directly to a child born during the lifetime of the prophet
Isaiah. That child was called “Immanuel”, meaning “God is with
us,” and he was God’s sign given to King Ahaz that God will help King Ahaz
and his people. God’s promise to King Ahaz, in the 7th chapter of
Isaiah, is that before the child is old enough to distinguish right from wrong
the enemy kings will be defeated by God’s help. You have to read the
entire chapter to get the full meaning. It is not right to pull one verse
out of context and give it a different meaning. That child was indeed
born, and God called him Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8). If King Ahaz had to wait
seven hundred years for Jesus to be born before God’s help comes, he and his
people would be long dead before God’s help comes. What, then, will be
the significance of such a promise? The promise had a timely fulfillment.
The prophecy referred not to Jesus who was to be born hundreds of years
later, but to a child who was born in the time of King Ahaz.
A further point to notice is that
the child spoken of in Isaiah will at first not be able to differentiate between
good and evil. Those who say that Jesus was that child should not turn
around and say that Jesus is God, because there has never been (and will never
be) a time when God does not know the difference between good and evil.
Matthew mistakenly applied this
prophecy to Jesus because Jesus was born of a virgin, and the text speaks of a
virgin giving birth. Matthew was relying on the Greek Septuagint version
of the Bible where in Isaiah 7:14 the Greek word “parthenos” meaning
“virgin” is used. But the book of Isaiah was originally written in
Hebrew. To find Isaiah’s meaning it is necessary to go back to the
original language than to refer to a translation alone. The Hebrew
manuscripts has instead of “virgin” the Hebrew word “almah” meaning “a
young woman of marriageable age.” If the writer of Isaiah wanted to say
“virgin” he would have used the Hebrew word “bethulah” meaning
“virgin”. But he did not. This is why the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible (and many other versions) read “young woman” instead of
Jesus was indeed born of a virgin;
both the Bible and the Qur’an confirms that. But Isaiah chapter 7, verse
14, does not speak of a virgin birth, and does not refer to Jesus. Jesus
is never called “Immanuel” in the Bible. The angel announced his name
as “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
Whoever has seen me has
seen the Father
In John 14:9 Jesus (peace be upon him) is quoted
as saying: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” This is often
misunderstood to mean that Jesus is God. But Jesus clearly said that no
one has seen God at any time (John 5:37). Those who say that Jesus is God,
are disagreeing with what Jesus himself said. If Jesus was God why would
he say to the people looking at him that they never saw God? And why would
the author of the 1st Letter of John in the Bible, writing some seventy years
after Jesus was taken up, say that no one had ever seen God (1John 4:12)
although he knew that multitudes had already seen Jesus? The meaning of
John 14:9 is not that Jesus is God, but that by knowing Jesus, one gets to know
God, since Jesus teaches about God. This meaning is confirmed by John 1:18
where the writer says that no one had ever seen God, but Jesus had made God
known to the people. In the 17th Chapter of the same Gospel, Jesus
declared that eternal life means knowing that the Father whom Jesus worshipped
is the only true God and that Jesus is the Messiah who was sent by God.
He was manifest in the flesh
1 Timothy 3:16 is often quoted to show that
“God was manifest in the flesh.” This is how it appears in later
manuscripts of the Bible. The earlier and more reliable manuscripts
(Notably Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) read “He was manifest in the
flesh,” and “He” from the context clearly refers to Jesus. This
passage does not show that Jesus was God. It reflects Paul’s doctrine
that Jesus before he appeared in the flesh was a being higher than men but lower
than God. “The head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is
her husband, and the head of Christ is God,” writes Paul in 1 Corinthians
Mighty God, Everlasting Father
Isaiah 9:6 speaks of one whose name shall be
called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We are often told that this is a prophecy about Jesus, and that it proves
that Jesus is God. But the problem this prophecy presents cannot be
ignored by any honest person. If it is taken literally then Jesus is the
“Everlasting Father.” But Jesus clearly taught that he was not the
Everlasting Father. According to Matthew, while Jesus was on the earth he
Do not call anyone on earth “father,” for you have one
father, and he is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9, New International Version).
If Jesus was not the “Everlasting Father,” neither was
he “Mighty God.” Either we take the passage literally in which case it
contradicts the clear teaching of Jesus, or we take it figuratively, in which
case “Everlasting Father” doesn’t really mean “Everlasting Father,”
and “Mighty God” doesn’t really mean “Mighty God.”