John 5:18 says

"Because of this, the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

Biblical Unitarians typically interpret this passage as the Jews being incorrect in claiming Jesus was making Himself equal with God, as a theme in John is people not understanding what Jesus is saying or who He is (this is made clearer at John 8).

Do Trinitarians agree that at this point in John's Gospel the Jews had adequate grounds to make the claim that Jesus was making Himself equal with God?

  • 1
    There are various elements at play here: the event itself, the Gospel's account thereof, the evangelist's own interpretation of his own words, and the reader's interpretation of the evangelist's words.
    – user46876
    May 19, 2021 at 19:46
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    @One God the Father. The short answer is yes. I just posted this answer today which is a similar question. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/60548/… Let me know what you think?
    – Mr. Bond
    May 19, 2021 at 22:19
  • @Mr.Bond Maybe re-tool it and answer this one as well? May 20, 2021 at 0:10
  • @OneGodtheFather What do you mean to "re-tool" it? I gave a cogent answer. How about I add this fact to the Jews claiming that Jesus was calling God His own Father. At Luke 2. Jesus was missing for three days and His parents were worried, vs46. And all that heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers, vs47 Jesus says at vs49, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in MY FATHER'S HOUSE." Compare to John 5:18
    – Mr. Bond
    May 20, 2021 at 0:27
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    Some pointers to potential answerers: Bill Schlegel's paper John 5:18 Making himself Equal with God. Dec 6, 2022 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18 ESV)

Question: Do Trinitarians agree that at this point in John's Gospel the Jews had adequate grounds to make the claim that Jesus was making Himself equal with God?

The statement made by John is obviously a prolepsis. At this point in the course of events, no one was trying to kill Jesus, nor had He made any statements about God being His Father. As John does elsewhere (for example John 2:19-22 and 7:37-39), he provides information to the reader which is not yet present in the event. Unlike other occasions, John does not add an explanation or take a position. He simply gives the reader advance notice of what is coming: the Jews will try to kill Jesus. He also gives reasons for this: He made Himself equal to God by His actions on the Sabbath and by calling God His own (ἴδιον) Father.

Therefore, at this point the Jews do not have adequate grounds for their claim. That is the reason John adds the prolepsis. What is fair to say is that John wants the reader to understand the current events are part of the sum total of the claims. In other words, the Jews understanding of Jesus claiming equality was not yet fully developed or made explicit (see John 10:22-31), yet what is taking place is one piece of evidence which is consistent with what the Jew's believe.

John's prolepsis functions as a witness regarding the question if Jesus said He was God. Clearly the Jews claim He did. They understood His actions and statements were making Himself equal to God, which to the monotheistic Jews, was a claim to be God, and was punishable by death.

  • So trinitarians are not monotheistic?
    – Kris
    Jun 17, 2023 at 21:21
  • @User14 The question is what Jews believe. They understood Jesus made Himself equal to God and for that He deserved to die. Jun 17, 2023 at 21:52
  • The question is do trinitarians believe the Jews were correct in saying Jesus was claiming equality with God. You infer that monotheism played a part in Jews belief that Jesus had blasphemed. But trinitarians claim to be monotheistic too,
    – Kris
    Jun 18, 2023 at 2:33
  • @User14 Here is the question: Do Trinitarians agree that at this point in John's Gospel the Jews had adequate grounds to make the claim that Jesus was making Himself equal with God? The answer is no. At this point in what John reports, the Jews do not have grounds. This is obvious since no one mentions killing Jesus and Jesus has not (yet) said God was His own Father. As I state in my answer John 5:18 is a narrator's prolepsis added to explain the reasons why (later) both things do occur. Jun 18, 2023 at 6:42
  • @User14 As to the issue of monotheism, Jews believe there is one God who does not have a unique Son. Therefore when Jesus calls God His own, ἴδιον, Father they understand that as blasphemy. OTOH the Trinitarian understands what Jesus say as affirming the existence of the Trinity: one God in three persons. Jun 18, 2023 at 6:46

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