Question: "What did Jesus mean when He said, 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30)?"
Answer: In John 10 Jesus presents Himself as the Good Shepherd and, in a debate with the Jewish leaders, makes the claim, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). It was a bold statement—one His audience found quite audacious—and it reveals much about who Jesus is.
Five key observations can be made concerning this passage. First, Jesus claimed to be one with God in the sense of being equal to Him. Jesus did not claim to be merely a messenger or prophet of God, but of equal power with God.
Second, His audience understood that Jesus was claiming equality with God the Father. In verse 31, “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.” Why? Blasphemy was a crime punishable by death according to the Jewish Law. When Jesus asked why they were planning to kill Him, they answered, “For blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). If Jesus had been lying or deceived, His statement would have been blasphemous. In fact, the only way His words were not blasphemy is if Jesus was telling the truth about His equality with God.
Third, Jesus referred to Himself as God’s Son and to God as His Father (John 10:36–37). He used Psalm 82:6 to show that the Messiah has the right to claim the title “Son of God.”
Fourth, Jesus claimed that that Father sent Him: “the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world” (John 10:36). In this statement, Jesus claimed preexistence in the Father’s presence. No biblical prophet had ever made such a claim before; yet Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham (John 8:58).
Fifth, Jesus only stated that the Jews did not believe Him; He never said they misunderstood His claim to be God. John 10:38 notes, “Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Jesus was not correcting a misunderstanding. They understood what He said perfectly. He was correcting their willful rejection of Him.
Colossians 1:16–17 affirms Jesus’ same teaching: “In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” John 1:1 explicitly notes that Jesus was both with God in the beginning and was God.
In summary, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father as part of a larger argument to note that He had existed from eternity past, lived in perfect oneness with the Father, held the same power as God, and was sent by God the Father’s authority. Unfortunately, He was rejected as divine by the Jewish leaders. Jesus’ claim to have equal power as the Father was not blasphemy. It was the plain truth.