Vol.III No.I Pg.7
February 1966

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please discuss the oneness taught in John 17:11-f. ES.


The oneness of Jn. 17: is profound; and I can not do it justice here. The problem is further complicated by the shallow and almost blasphemous uses to which the passage has been put; as, "This proves we should all remain in the same building".

Oneness of Father and Son, of the Apostles, and of all who believe -- is obviously something more that organized or mechanical unity. Commenting upon Jn. 14:21, Henry Alford says:

"This unity has its true and only ground in faith in Christ through the Word of God as delivered by the Apostles; and is therefore not mere outward uniformity, nor can such uniformity produce it. At the same time its effects are to be real and visible, such that the world may see them".

The apostles were kept in God's name during Christ's personal ministry; and in His absence He prays God to continue this keeping "that they may be one" (Jn. 17:11-12). The name here is not a label, but refers to Holy characteristics of God, manifested in Christ; (Jn. 17:6) in which those who abide in God's word are kept.

(If you haven't enough interest in this to read Jn. 17: -- carefully -- do not expect this to make sense.)

Christ prays that all believers be one "in us" (Father and Son) and says this oneness is made possible through "the glory which thou gavest me" (Jn. 17:22). This is not the "glory" of authority (Jn. 7:39; Matt. 25:31) but a characteristic which believers share with Christ and the apostles -- "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14).

Jesus had said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23). The point of Jn. 17: is the oneness achieved when followers of Christ partake of His nature (2 Pet. 1:4) having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5-f.) loving and obeying Him, and thus having a "kinship" with God.

This kind of oneness among saints is the only true basis for their working together. Without it "meeting together" is meaningless, and the bonds of such mechanical union become sectarian. When oneness with God is hampered by union with men, separation is commanded (Acts 19:9; 1 Cor. 5:). Who "stays with the building" has no relation whatever with the spiritual unity God demands. This was so when loyal brethren "left the building" when the issues were the missionary society and the organ. It is so today when the issues are the benevolent societies and the social gospel.

Brethren truly desirous of attaining the oneness of Jn. 17: (by which physical "togetherness" is also kept) must show a willingness to study the Word of God together. Human tradition and sectarian lines must be put aside. Oneness in God and Christ are not achieved by quarantine, slander, name calling, or cruel treatment.