As an Oneness Pentecostal, how do you interpret John 6:51 and John 6:65? I am finding it hard to see Oneness here.
This is a great question and to really answer it, I will address the first part of the issue; then in my next column I will finish the last. These are similar statements throughout John’s writing which tie together one thought represented. We can see this same motif in other passages like John 3:13 and 6:62, and the key is letting Scripture define the meaning of the term “son of man” here in John and not assuming our own interpretation.
The meaning is disclosed in John 6:51 where Jesus says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” The living bread that is come down from heaven is shown to be HIS FLESH. No Trinitarian would claim “God the Son” came down as FLESH from heaven. So the context is clear; the reference cannot be to another so-called “person of the trinity” being sent by another person, but instead refers to the flesh of God which came one way as Paul points out in Gal. 4:4, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
“Son of man” refers to that which was born in Bethlehem. The “sent” language is about the flesh of God being provided as substitutionary atonement. This is the prophetic fulfillment of the intention of God’s plan or Word in John 1:1 that had to actually take place in John 1:14. That is why Psalm 2:7 is quoted in connection with Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 13:29-34, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” It was through the man Jesus born at Bethlehem that the victory would be won.
These passages in John cannot be about Jesus literally coming down from heaven as “the Son” because the reference is clearly to His flesh. Remember, no Trinitarian believes God the Son had flesh in eternity past. Further the phrase “sent from heaven” is not literal but also the language of commission. The man Jesus was sent with a heavenly commission to do a task. That will be shown by looking at how this same language is used in other places in Scripture. I will address that in my next column.