John 10:30 & 34-36 – Divinity, Hermeneutics and Inerrancy

Over the last three weeks we have examined four things in John 10.
• The symbolism behind the sheep, shepherd, sheepfold, watchman, thieves, wolves and robbers.
• The implication of Jesus’ words for both the believers (sheep) and unbelievers (thieves, robbers, wolves).
• The implication of Jesus’ works for believers and unbelievers.
• And the tendency of unbelievers (and even believers) to divorce Jesus words from His works.

In today’s lesson, we deal with the texts that we skipped.
• Specifically, we will look at three very important topics that Jesus brings to our attention.
    o His divinity
    o His hermeneutics
    o His view of Inerrancy


John 10:30 (ESV) — 30 I and the Father are one.

The implications of this statement are powerful and wide-ranging.
• I want to deal with just two of them.
• (1) It’s often overlooked meaning in context
• (2) It’s relationship to the Jewish Shema

Meaning in Context:
This is a fascinating study that revolves around the meaning of the Greek word for “one”.
• There are two words used in Greek for “one” – “heis” and “hen”.
• Their meanings are as follows:
    o “heis” – “a single thing” – DBL; “single person or thing” – BDAG.
    o “hen” – “under the control of, under the influence of, in close association with” – BDAG.
• In other words, “hen” is “one in action, not in person” – Beasley-Murray.
• Interestingly, the word in our text today for “one” is “hen”.

What does this mean for our text?
• So, in line with Jesus’ apologetic for His ministry in John 5, Jesus is telling us here that He and the Father are “one in action” – Beasley-Murray.
• D.A. Carson says simply, “Jesus and His Father are perfectly one in action…what Jesus does the Father does”.
• And Jesus Himself says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

In the context of John 10, what is the action that Jesus and the Father are one in?
• The action is the preservation of our salvation.
• Jesus says of Himself in vs. 28, “no one will snatch them out of my hand”.
• And He says of His Father in vs. 29, “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”.
• In other words, Jesus and the Father are unified in eternity in their securing our eternity.

But does this verse speak to the Deity of Christ as we so often us it to do?
• D.A. Carson says it, “does not affirm complete identity”.
• Kostenberger says it is, “not an affirmation of complete identity”.
• Beasley-Murray says its purpose is to show the “functional unity of the Son and the Father”.

However, all of these men also concede that given the greater context of the entirety of John’s Gospel, “some kind of metaphysical [identity] unity is presupposed” – D.A. Carson.
• Or, as Kostenberger puts it, “an ontological [nature of being] unity between Jesus and the Father seems presupposed”.

And so with respect to the presuppositions of deity behind this verse, Kostenberger and Richard Bauckham point out that what they see is a clear allusion to the Jewish Shema.
• Let’s briefly explore this connection.
• And this connection may be why the Jew’s sought to stone Him for blasphemy.

The Shema:
What is the Shema?
• Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV) — 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

What is Jesus purpose in alluding to the Shema in verse 30 (Bauckman’s take)?
• Bauckham seems to be saying that Jesus chose His words carefully in light of the Shema.
• He calls Jesus choice of words here a “necessary adaptation of language”.
• As we have seen, the “one” in verse 30 allows for a distinction to be made between the person of the Father and the person of Jesus.
    o They are not one person.
• Theirs is a unity that “does not erase their difference”.
• This distinction allows for Jesus and the Father to be separate persons, but one in identity as God.
• Bauckham says this is how Jesus includes Himself in the Jewish Shema.
• God is one God, one in identity as Ruler and Creator of the universe.
• But God is different persons – the Father and the Son in our text.
• “Jesus’ claim to oneness with the Father amounts to including Himself with His Father in the unique identity of the one God as understood in Jewish monotheism” – Bauckham.
• And this means that a Jew can affirm Jesus as God without compromising the Shema!


John 10:34–36 (ESV) — 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Before we go any further, it seems that at some point in this discourse with the Jews, Jesus made reference to Himself as the “Son of God”.
• This, along with His allusion to the Shema, would explain why the Jews sought to stone Him in verse 31.
• And it would explain why Jesus says here that this is the reason they had previously accused Him of blasphemy.

Moving on, let’s see how Jesus rebukes them with a proper hermeneutic.

Jesus Refutes – Hermeneutics 101:
The Jews told Jesus, as we discussed last week, that they sought to stone Him not because of His works but because of his words – “you, being a man, make yourself God” (vs. 33).
• So obviously they took offense that Jesus used the word “God” to refer to Himself – “I am the Son of God”.
• Jesus responds to their accusation with a little Bible interpretation lesson.

To get at what Jesus is saying, we need a little semantic range background on the word for “god”.
• The Hebrew word “elohim” or Greek “theos” has numerous meanings.
• For example, it can mean “God”; “idol”; “mighty one”; “judge”; “great”; “ruler”; “heavenly being”; etc.
• In other words, it does not always mean “the God” and is used to refer to people who are “judges” or “rulers”.
• BTW – It is for this reason that we know Jesus is not using this line of reasoning as an argument for His deity.
    o If He were, His “argumentation would be without merit” – D.A. Carson.
    o “I’m God because men who weren’t God were called God” – makes no sense.

It must be pointed out here that there is a completely different way to understand Jesus' quote from Psalm 82 and it is a view that does advocate that Jesus is arguing for His divinity.
• The key to this approach is how one understands "elohim".
• I will cover this approach next week.

Knowing this about how “god” is used in the OT, Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6-7.
• Psalm 82:6–7 (ESV) — 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
• He then asks the Jews, “If he called them god”, why do you call me a blasphemer “because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
• His logic is pretty simple (D.A Carson).
    o (1) “Scripture proves that the word ‘god’ is legitimately used to refer to others than God himself.”
    o (2) “If there are others whom God (the author of Scripture) can address as ‘god’ and ‘sons of the Most High’ (i.e. sons of God).”
    o (3) “On what biblical basis should anyone object when Jesus says, I am God’s Son?”
• And, given the works He has done through the Father, “how much more can he whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world be so termed?” – Beasley-Murray.
• “If the word ‘gods’ can be used of mere men because of their function—if judges can be called gods—then how much more should I be called God in the full sense since I have received a unique commissioning and exercise unique power?” – James Boice.

So what is the point:
• Remember, they never contested His works.
• Their beef was with His words.
• And, here Jesus shows them that given the use of the word “god” in Scripture, they really shouldn’t have a problem with His words either.
• But, so as not to discount the Jews understanding of Jesus’ claim, D.A. Carson points out:
    o (1) They are “partly right (he does make himself equal with God)”
    o (2) They are “partly wrong (this fact does not establish a competing God)” - blasphemy
    o (3) They are “profoundly mistaken (they have not grasped the drift of their own Scriptures)”
• In other words, their misuse of Scripture with the word “god” is only the beginning of their errant relationship with God’s word – in its written and incarnate forms.
• Finally, Jesus’ hermeneutical rebuke enables Him, once again, to appeal to His works – the evidence for His claims.
    o This gives Him some “breathing space” between Him and the violent mob (D.A. Carson).

Speaking of God’s word and error – Jesus has something to say about that too in John 10.


John 10:35 (ESV) — 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken

We see in verse 35 that Jesus’ argument about the usage of the word “god” hinged on His declaration that “Scripture cannot be broken”.
• So what exactly is Jesus saying about Scripture with this comment?

The Greek word for “broken” in our text is “lyo”.
• When Jesus says that Scripture cannot be “lyo”, He is saying that it cannot be annulled, abolished, invalidated, destroyed or dissolved – BDAG.
• Or, put another way, He is saying that Scripture cannot be “proved false” – D.A. Carson.

Two other uses in Scripture can help us see this meaning.
1) Matthew 5:17 (ESV) — 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”.
• Jesus didn’t come to destroy, dissolve, falsify or annul Scripture under His new covenant of grace.
• If He did, this would indicate that the Law (God’s word) was now invalid.
• This is why Jesus stressed He came to “fulfill them”.
• The importance of this is that Jesus came to fulfill what was true.
• For if He fulfilled what was false, He did nothing.
• So in relation to our text today, “Scripture cannot be broken”, in part, because Jesus is its fulfillment.

2) 1 John 3:8 (ESV) — 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
• This verse contrasts beautifully the difference between fulfilling what is true and cannot be broken (God’s Law) vs. destroying (“lyo”) what is a lie and deceit (Devil’s work).
• This implies, then, that from God’s perspective there is a quality about that which “cannot be broken” and that which Jesus came to “destroy”.
• So in relation to our text today, that quality has to do with origins.
• “Scripture cannot be broken” because it has its origin in God; it is His Law.
• Those things which are “of the devil” such as sin and the “works of the devil”, on the other hand, will be destroyed (“lyo”) because they have their origins in a rebellion from God and His Law.

So, if we remember nothing else from today’s lesson, we must remember that Jesus viewed Scripture as inerrant.
• He did so because its origin was God and He was its fulfillment.
• And so the claim of many liberal scholars that the Doctrine of Inerrancy is a modern invention is complete nonsense.
    o For more on this, visit this link.
• BTW - for a thorough treatment on the meaning of inerrancy, see the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Lessons for Us:
• Jesus is one in action with the Father.
• Jesus can be worshipped as God in the context of the Shema – 3 persons but 1 identity.
• Hermeneutics matters – we have to be careful.
    o Mishandling verse 30 is an example.
• Jesus considered God’s word incapable of being destroyed, invalidated, annulled or proved false.
    o We call this Biblical Inerrancy.