John 14:9: “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Oneness advocates typically do not engage in textual interaction. Rather, they appeal to isolated passages outside of its contextual significance esp. their big guns, Isa 9:6; John 1:1; 10:30 and, of course, John 14:9.
Before we look at John 14:9, note the obvious fact: Nowhere in the NT, did Jesus Christ ever state that He was the same person as the Father, nor did anyone in the NT ever call him Father, rather He is “the Son of the Father”– a distinct person (Dan. 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:1b, 18; 5:17-18; 6:38; 10:17, 30; 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 6, 8-12; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13 et al.).
Exegetical – Contextual.
John 14:9 Oneness people routinely quote this passage (usually in the same breath with John 10:30), as though it was part of the passage. But again Only by removing this passage from the document and immediate context can Oneness teachers posit a modalistic Oneness understanding. Consider the points below, which provide a crystal clear refutation to the Oneness unitarian view of John 14:9:
1. Verse 23: “We will come to him . . . we will make our abode with him.” Here in John 14:9, Oneness advocates confuse Jesus’ perfectly representing the Father with His identity, pretexting the passage with no consideration of the context of chap. 14 and John’s theology. What is not considered by Oneness believers is the fact that throughout chap 14 Jesus distinguishes Himself from the Father (and the Holy Spirit). So it would patent eisegesis to isolate John 14:9 and force into it a Oneness unipersonal understating of Jesus claiming He is the same person as the Father. But note, a few verses later (v. 23), Jesus clearly affirms His deity as Son in distinction from the Father:
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and MY FATHER will love him, and pros auton eleusometha [‘to him WE will come’] and monēn par’ autw poiēsometha [‘at home with him, WE will Make’].”
Against the Oneness notion (and v. 9), – Jesus specifically used two first person PLURAL indicative verbs (eleusometha, “We will come” and poiēsometha, “We will make Our”) abode with him.” This is part of chap. 14. Oneness folks normally cherry-pick passages (esp. with v. 9) out and then pretext into them a modalistic understanding—again, this is pure eisegesis.
2. Context: In verse 6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” In verse 7, He explains to His disciples that if they “had known” Him they would “have known” the Father also. Jesus then says to His disciples, “From now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Thus, by knowing Him they “have known” and “have seen” the Father (note the parallel: “have known,” “have seen”). Still not understanding (i.e., by knowing Jesus they know and see the Father), Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (v. 8). Jesus then reiterates (as a corrective) that by seeing Him they can see, that is, “know” or recognize the invisible Father (v. 9). The context is obvious: by knowing and seeing Jesus (as the only way to the Father; cf. v. 6), they could really see (i.e., know/recognize, cf. John 9:39) the invisible Father (cf. John 1:18; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:16).
The Son is and has been eternally subsisting as the perfect and “exact representation” (charaktēr) of the very nature (hupostaseōs) of Him (autou, “of Him,” not “as Him”; Heb. 1:3).
Therefore, when they see Jesus, they “see” the only way to, and an exact representation of, the invisible unseen Father, for Jesus makes Him known, He explains or exegetes Him. So John 1:18, “No one has seen God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [exēgēsato, “exegeted”] Him.”
Hence, it is God the Son who is the very image of the invisible Father (cf. Col. 1:15) who brings out, that is, exegetes the Father: “He [Jesus] has made known or brought news of (the invisible God)” (Bauer, 2000: 349). One cannot have the Father except through the Son, Jesus Christ: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23; see also John 17:3).
Note also that in 14:10, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father when He declares: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” To reiterate, the undisputable fact is this: not one time in the New Testament does Jesus (or any other person) state that He Himself is the Father.
Further, the Father is spirit. Hence When Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” the only thing His disciples literally saw was Jesus’ physical body. Both Oneness believers and Trinitarians agree that the Father is invisible and does not have a physical body. Hence, Jesus could not have meant that by seeing Him they were literally seeing the Father.
3. Jesus’ use of first and third person personal pronouns and verb references in the Gospels. Throughout John 14 and 16 Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father. He does so by using first person personal pronouns (“I,” “Me,” “Mine”) and verb references to refer to Himself and third person personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “His”) and verb references to refer to His Father.
For example, John 14:16, Jesus says, “I will ask [kagō erōtēsō, first person] the Father, and He will give [dōsei, third person] you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16; also cf. 14:7, 10, 16; etc.).
Lastly, there has never been a recognized biblical scholar, commentator, NT Greek grammar, nor Lexical source that has ever interpreted John 14:9 in a Oneness-unitarian way. The fact is, neither this text, nor John’s entire theology supports the Oneness idea that Jesus is the same person as the Father. The Jesus of biblical revelation is God, distinct from the Father and Holy Spirit. The one true God has revealed Himself as triune, not unitarian or unipersonal as Muslims, JWs, and Oneness advocates believe.
Who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).