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What is the Oneness Doctrine?
Bible study on the Oneness doctrine.

The Oneness doctrine is popular among Evangelical and Oneness Pentecostal churches. It's a false doctrine teaching that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Oneness doctrine is traced back to the fist and second century, but was repopularized in the twentieth century. In 1913, Pentecostalism broke into two major divisions over the Oneness (Jesus only) doctrine1. By 1983, 44% of all Evangelical churches believed the "Jesus only" doctrine2.

Early History
Monarchianism dates back as far as the first century by some accounts, but is not clearly seen in history until the second century. This doctrine teaches that God is one person, and opposes teaching relating to the Trinity.

There are two major types of Monarchianism, dynamic and modal.

Dynamic Monarchianism
Dynamic Monarchianism is also called Adoptionism. This doctrine asserts that Jesus was born a man, and didn't preexist as God.

After Jesus proved Himself to be a sinless man, God adopted Him and filled Him with the Holy Spirit, thereafter making Him divine.

Dynamic Monarchianism is similar to the Jehovah's Witness doctrine that Jesus was created by God, and is not divine.

Modal Monarchianism
Modal Monarchianism is also called Sabellianism, named for Sabellius who became the leader of those who believed this doctrine in the 2nd century.

This doctrine teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are modes of the one God. It denies that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate individuals.

Oneness Pentecostal groups and "Jesus only" Evangelicals are modalists, composing the largest numbers of believers of this doctrine.

Unfortunately, through, this doctrine is spreading to other churches today.

An outward sign of Oneness and "Jesus only" churches is they baptized in the name of Jesus, rather than in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, they believe they're praying to Jesus whenever they pray, no matter how they address their prayer.

Twisting The Scriptures
Believers in the Oneness doctrine often twist the Scriptures by taking attributes and analogies of God in the Old Testament, and misapplying them to New Testament Scriptures relating to Jesus.

For example:

  • They take Old Testament Scriptures relating to God as the Creator (Gen. 1:1; 2:7).
  • They take New Testament Scriptures relating to Jesus as the Creator (Col. 1:16-19; etc.).
  • Then they conclude that God and Jesus are the same person, twisting the Scriptures, rather then rightly dividing the word of truth.
  • They ignore the fact that these same verses contradict their doctrine when the whole council of God is rightly divided.
    • Genesis 1:1 Elohim is plural, showing there is more than one individual in the Godhead, as reflected in Genesis 1:26 where the word "Us" is used.
    • Col. 1:16-17 Paul tells us that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus, indicating that He was active in creation, as a separate individual from the Father (Col. 1:19; Heb. 1:2).
  • They ignore other Scriptures that contradict their doctrine (Gen. 1:26; Jn. 1:1; Heb. 1:2).

Scriptures Refuting The Oneness Doctrine
Many Scriptures refute the Oneness doctrine. Here is a partial list of the better ones:

  • Gen. 1:1, 26 The plural word for "God" is used regarding creation, indicating that God (i.e., the Godhead) is composed of separate individuals.
  • Col. 1:16-19; Heb. 1:2 Jesus was active in creation as a separate individual.
  • Jn. 1:1 John uses the Greek definite article, to differentiate between two divine individuals in this verse.
  • Jn. 14:23 Jesus uses the plural pronoun "we" which shows He's a separate individual from the Father.
  • 1 Cor. 11:3 Christ is the head of man, and God is the head of Christ, showing that Christ and the Father are separate individuals.
  • 2 Jn. 1:9 John uses the word "both" showing that the Father and Son are separate individuals.
  • 1 Tim. 2:5 Jesus mediates between man and God (Father), showing that He is a separate individual from God.
  • Rom. 8:34 Jesus is at the right hand of God, interceding for us, showing that He is a separate individual from God.
  • 1 Jn. 2:1 Jesus is our Advocate in heaven, pleading our case before God, showing that He is a separate individual from God.
  • Rom. 8:26-27 The Holy Spirit is interceding for us, through differently than Jesus (Rom. 8:34), showing that the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God are three separate individuals.
  • 1 Cor. 15:23-24 Christ will hand over the kingdom to the Father at the end, showing He's a separate individual from the Father.
  • Phil. 2:10-11 Jesus will be exalted for eternity in heaven, and bring glory to the Father, showing that He's a separate individual from the Father.
  • Heb. 12:2 Jesus is in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the throne of God, showing He's a separate individual from the Father.
  • Heb. 13:8 Jesus is the same for eternity, showing that He'll always be a separate individual from the Father.
  • Rev. 22:1, 3 God (Father) and the Lamb (Jesus) are two separate individuals whom we'll worship in heaven.

We only need one Scripture, that's rightly divided, to prove a doctrine is false. Such was the case when Jesus taught the error of the Sadducees' doctrine on the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33).

Many plain Scriptures teach that Jesus is a separate individual from God the Father.

Therefore, all other conclusions from Scripture must agree with this fact, that Jesus is a separate individual from the Father, or else it's false.




  • 1 William H. Swatos and Peter Kivisto, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, (Rowman Altamira, 1998) p. 176
  • 2 Ibid, p. 358.