If Jesus is God, why did he say that only the Father is God?


“And this is eternal life, that they know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent.”
John 17:3

In light of the above verse, I find it hard to understand how one could possibly believe that Jesus is God. It seems pretty clear that Jesus is excluding himself as God in this statement. There are only two explanations I can think of that would still leave the possibility of Jesus being God.

First, it would still it would still be possible that Jesus is God if John misquoted him. This seems rather unlikely though because John was one of the twelve disciples and was very close to Jesus. It is hard for me to believe that he would have made a mistake of that magnitude.

The only other explanation I can think of that would still leave the possibility that Jesus is God, is if Jesus was being intentionally deceptive. This also seems unlikely because I can think of no reason why Jesus would want to mislead his disciples in such a way. Another problem with this line of thinking is that God cannot lie.

It seems to me that the only way to take this verse is at face value, that only the Father is God. If anyone has another explanation, I would love to hear it.




Refer, then, to John 10:30, in which Jesus says, “The Father and I are one.” If John meant that Jesus was not God in in John 17:3, then that implies that John was mistaken back in chapter 10. On the other hand, if in John 17:3, the evangelist isn’t saying that Jesus isn’t God, but rather, that there is only one God (which, by virtue of John 10:30, means that Jesus is God), then he’s really only saying that the Godhead sent Jesus to earth. :shrug:


I think this is my cue to bring up the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity is a unique entity, yet all three members coexist as God. There is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Individually, they have their roles, and as a whole, they make up the Trinity.

So, if Jesus wants to say that he isn’t God, that’s okay. Jesus and God are two separate entities. If Jesus wants to say that he and God are one, that’s also still valid, because Jesus and God make up two thirds of the Trinity. Since Jesus is part of the Trinity, he will exhibit some traits of the other members (for example, being sinless and holy).

I know I didn’t give a fantastically detailed explanation, but that’s because I have only a limited understanding of the Trinity. If there’s another who agrees with me and can elaborate, I would appreciate the backup.


I’m not sure that “The Father and I are one” really clarifies the situation. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Jesus is saying they are one in purpose or intent. An example of this usage in the Bible would be in 1 Cor. 3:8. Paul, referring to himself and Apollos says, “he who plants and he who waters are one.”

Another problem that I see is that in John 17:20 Jesus prays for believers to be one in the same sense that the Father and Son are one.

Lastly, even if I am wrong and John did mean that Jesus is God by saying “The Father and I are one,” we still seem to have a contradiction with John 17:3.


Things can sound confusing, I think you should read about the Trinity,
God the Father , the Son and the holy Ghost


I have, quite a bit. That is why I am wondering how the doctrine of the trinity could possibly be correct when Jesus states that the Father is the only true God. Paul also makes a similar statement in 1 Cor. 8:6. Reading about the trinity from the catechism, the early church fathers, or modern theologians isn’t really helping me understand how certain verses that seem to be in direct conflict with orthodox views can be reconciled. John 17:3 is among many verses that I have been unable to get an explanation of how it fits in with the idea of the incarnation.


This subject is way beyond me, perhaps a theologian or educated priest would be
A more accurate response ,



I’m going to try an explanation of the Trinity for Triceptorc and take a whack at what some think is a contradiction or see as evidence that Jesus is not God.

God. Humanity. Spirits. Three different beings.

God is the Creator. The beginning, middle, and end. Infinite. So great and vast that a full comprehension of Him is impossible.

Jesus came to us in human form so we humans could learn and experience God at a deeper more personal level. We understand a relationship with a parent. We viewed our God as our parent. Jesus’ words were for us to learn and understand more about “Our Father”, His Crucifixion (sacrifice) hits us at a very human level; his Resurrection and Ascension (and miracles) wakes us to his divine being (coming from God, returning to God). His earthly words prepared us for His divinity. I see no problem with what some see as a contradiction. Leaders and rulers talk about themselves in the first person (I am your king) and then sometimes refer to themselves in the third person (the King has spoken). Jesus modeled the correct relationship to his divine self.

The Holy Spirit was sent to us from God, Jesus told us It was coming, and it completes the connection we have sought with our Creator. The Holy Spirit existed as part of God before our Pentecost, but Jesus made it official at this moment for the apostles so we could recognize the Holy Spirit as well as the fruits of theHoly Spirit.

Once I believe in God, it is not difficult to understand the Trinity since we are dealing with body and spirit, earth and the vastness of heaven/eternity, and the connection between both the seen and unseen. Three beings: the Great Spirit, the Great Spirit in human form and the Great Spirit communicating between the human and divine. It feels very natural to me. Like two great telephones and a wire between them. (Excuse this crass metaphor)

Jesus’ words carry the full weight and authority of his humble mission in human form as well as his divine nature.


Jesus Christ does provide a relationship between himself and the Father in this statement in John 17. Knowing is eternal life. It must be remembered that at this point in time, Jesus Christ had transitioned in humility to body blood soul as well as his divinity. Don’t you know me, anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can one say “show us the Father”.


John 17:1-5
"When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, just as you gave him authority over all the people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”

If Jesus is not God, do you believe He was created by God before God created the earth? That would make Him a creature not God. What creation of God would ask God to glorify him with the same glory he and God shared before the world began?

I don’t follow your logic.


You’re probably going about this the right way. Some individuals form a bias and belief first, then try to convince themselves this bias is true due to the lack of information they themselves really do not understand. Many(I’m not saying you) who reject Catholicism and Her teachings go about it in this manner. Faith, reason, logic and prayer all have to come together.

The Trinity is the most important dogma of the Catholic faith, it’s also one of the most difficult beliefs to understand. If it can unite Catholics and Protestants, you can probably be sure there’s a lot of truth in how it’s understood by Christians.

One in purpose as you alluded to could have been assumed by some if all you had was that one verse:

John 10:30 - The Father and I are one

However that assumption would go against other verses and facts we know in that Gospel. Like many other things we study in Scripture, we cannot ignore the context that surrounds important verses like John 10:30, or John 1:1 So lets add the context to John 10:30 and expand it to John 10:31-33

31 The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
33 The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.”

If it was just by purpose alone, and not claims for being God that Jesus wanted to do the work and mission of the Father, his life would not have been threatened. The Jews answer that question for us.
If your read John 6 this is another very important chapter to Catholics, our understanding of the Eucharist comes from the words of our Lord. In a similar way, it isn’t just single verses, but the context in it’s entirety. The reactions of those who hear Jesus’ words can help us reasonably arrive at what was actually being put in question(if we questioned it).

It would be problematic to side with arguments against the divinity of Jesus, if you just based it on Scripture alone. Perhaps that’s why our protestant friends are comfortable with how Catholics have always understood and have taught the Trinity. The main reason being that you would have contradictions that would be hard to reconcile, and that would certainly make the arguments that Jesus was just a prophet, just a messiah and not God a very weak argument, even from a logical perspective. Sacred Tradition is not even included as proof of the belief, but that would further give weight to the Catholic teaching on this doctrine.

With regards to 17:3 I’m not sure how that would prove to be a contradiction. Especially if from above the Scriptural context has shown otherwise. It may appear to be a contradiction if you leave out another very important Catholic teaching and dogma, the Incarnation. A person trying to understand the Trinity needs all the pieces and has to be comfortable that every step along the way in the understanding and investigation, that how it’s taught and explained by the Catholic Church is not just logically and reasonably sound, but in faith, entirely true. The beauty of the Catholic Church and Faith is not just its teaching, but how it’s teaching stays true to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



Saint John also wrote, “In the beginnining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory [Jesus].”

This shows that Jesus was and is with the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally, Three Divine Persons in the One and only Go. Amen.

Plus, Jesus never really referred to Himself as God, because He wanted to show the need for humility to His disciples. In adition, while in His divinity He is equal to the Father, in His humanity He is lesser.

I hope this clarifies things for you! May God bless you and lead you to the Truths of Catholicism! :slight_smile:


The way words are used in the New Testament is often somewhat different from how we use them today. The name “God” in the NT is mostly used to refer to the Father and “Lord” to refer to Jesus Christ.

Not less convincing is the use of the title Lord (Kyrios). This term represents the Hebrew Adonai, just as God (Theos) represents Elohim. The two are equally Divine names (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:4). In the Apostolic writings Theos may almost be said to be treated as a proper name of God the Father, and Kyrios of the Son (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 12:5-6); in only a few passages do we find Kyrios used of the Father (1 Corinthians 3:5; 7:17) or Theos of Christ. The Apostles from time to time apply to Christ passages of the Old Testament in which Kyrios is used, for example, 1 Corinthians 10:9 (Numbers 21:7), Hebrews 1:10-12 (Psalm 101:26-28); and they use such expressions as “the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:21), “call upon the name of the Lord,” indifferently of God the Father and of Christ (Acts 2:21; 9:14; Romans 10:13). The profession that “Jesus is the Lord” (Kyrion Iesoun, Romans 10:9; Kyrios Iesous, 1 Corinthians 12:3) is the acknowledgment of Jesus as Jahweh. The texts in which St. Paul affirms that in Christ dwells the plenitude of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9), that before His Incarnation He possessed the essential nature of God (Philippians 2:6), that He “is over all things, God blessed for ever” (Romans 9:5) tell us nothing that is not implied in many other passages of his Epistles.


John 8:

56 Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM."


I think if you have a plural or Trinitarian view of God to begin with then Jesus can be part of God.

If you start with a singular non Trinitarian view of God then you see it as a contradiction.


’ ------------ The way to get ahead in business is to cosy up to the Democratic Party, and Barack Obama who the Democrats put in the White House. ’

This does not mean that Barack Obama is not part of the Democratic Party. In fact he’s an extremely important part of the Democratic Party.

or change it to Pelosi as speaker, Francis as Pope, or Mao as ruler. If the entity doing the action is plural eg God, the Democratic Party, Catholic Church or Chinese Communist Party, then the one sent or put etc can still be part of the entity that is doing the sending/putting etc.


I am searching myself on the godhead. I am learning to use the forum and went to the “ask the apologetics” thread and can’t seem to get it right. But, you have asked a question that matches almost what I am going to ask, and maybe someone would help us both.
My angle is this: If, Jesus was born God, then on Mount transfiguration he was made God. He was made God twice?

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
5) While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

In Romans 8:15 there is Adoption to become a spiritual disciple or son. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Your question matches my question because Jesus is not God in this scriputure, and so perhaps Jesus was not in the Mt transfiguration in the following history of his life. “And this is eternal life, that they know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent.”
John 17:3

In light of the above verse, I find it hard to understand how one could possibly believe that Jesus is God. It seems pretty clear that Jesus is excluding himself as God in this statement. There are only two explanations I can think of that would still leave the possibility of Jesus being God.

1And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Your question is on the 17th Chapter. I did a scripture search on the Bible Hub and typed Moses and Elias and the Book of John is not listed to tell this story. Therefore, the book of John was not written after this episode but before. But again we live in modern times… so this is where faith comes in, and so Christians believe that this episode of Jesus was to tell of his future to die on the cross, and that’s the bottom line for Protestant or Catholic.

Matt 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

I hope this answers your question but I need my question answered.


With regard to the transfiguration, you will remember that Moses went up a mountain into the presence of God and when he came back down the mountain his face shone that he had to veil it. Did Moses become God? No. But where did the shine come from? God alone.

Comparing this to Jesus Christ transfigured on the mount, Jesus Christ did not enter the presence of God, instead he was his own source of the shine. All that Jesus Christ did was unveil his divinity. Therefore he is God.

Moses was there on both counts. In the first instance God was the source of the shine. In the second instance God was the source of the shine, Jesus Christ himself.

Therefore I would conclude that the transfiguration was to evidence the fact of Jesus Christ’s divinity.


Thank you. You hit the nail on the head.


Here is my personal understanding:
This is an invitation to know who God is on a deeper level. At this point in the relationship with Christ, one should have firmly established that the LORD is God, and the LORD God is God, and God is God, just as the Holy Spirit is God, the Son is God, and the Father is God. With this prayer, we are invited into the relationship of the Holy Trinity, in which we learn the distinct relationships of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I have learned to find great enjoyment of discovering various means by which one person can be three distinct persons.

Here are some examples:
One possibility to have multiple persons from one person is cloning, which I find to be consistent with the Church knowledge of Jesus being the only-begotten Son who is eternally generated with the same exact image as the Father. However, cloning would only yield two distinct persons, even if there were multiple clones.
Another means to have multiple persons from one person is through the concept “you are what you eat.” According to this concept, if a person consumes God, then the person is God, which is what the Holy Spirit makes actual in the Mass.
If you combine these two examples, there are three distinct persons: God, eternally generated God who becomes human, and eternally spirated God who through God become human becomes God.

Thanks for sharing the enjoyable food for thought!

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