Author: answeringislamblog

Turning the Tables Pt. 6b: The Three Witnesses of 1 John 5:7

Continuing from where we left off https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/turning-the-tables-pt-6a-the-three-witnesses-of-1-john-57/, we are now going to see how the Quran attacks a mistaken notion of the Trinity while affirming the historic, orthodox understanding of this most glorious biblical truth.

The Quran’s Misunderstanding of the Trinity

The Muslim scripture censures those who would dare say that Allah is the third of three:

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three (inna Allaha thalithu thalathatin); when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And THEY BOTH used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away! S. 5:73-75 Pickhtall

As both the immediate context and the following verse indicate,

And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy Mind. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower of Things Hidden? S. 5:116 Pickthall

By “third of three,” the Quran is condemning those who take Allah, Mary and Jesus as three gods, which is not the belief and teachings of the historic Christian faith.

In fact, the Islamic scripture never says that they are disbelievers who say that Allah is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or that Allah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one God. Nor does it even employ the technical language which Arabic speaking Christians had coined to denote the Trinity, i.e., the Quran never rebukes Christians for affirming that Allah/God is Al-Aqanim-Al-Thalatha (“The Three Hypostases”), or that God is jawhar wahid thalatha aqanim (“one substance, three hypostases”). The reason why it doesn’t is because the author(s) and/or editor(s) were ignorant of what Christians actually believed about the Trinity, and the language they used to express it.

Lest the Muslims accuse us of misrepresenting the Quran’s teaching on the subject of the Trinity, note what the Muslim scholars responsible for producing the first major English study Quran have to say about this issue:

“In addition to reaffirming the full humanity of Jesus, the present verse commands Christians to say not ‘Three.’ This is understood as a command to abandon the doctrine of God as Trinity. Here they are merely told to refrain from asserting this doctrine, as it is better for them. In 5:73, Christians who call God ‘Three’ are more seriously criticized, but this verse is embedded in a larger discussion that seems to be addressing those Christians who took not only Jesus, but also his mother, Mary, to be divine (5:73c). In both the present verse and 5:73, however, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity as three ‘persons,’ or hypostases, ‘within’ the one God IS NOT EXPLICITLY REFERENCED, and the criticism seems directed at those who assert the existence of three distinct ‘gods,’ an idea that Christians themselves REJECT.” (The Study Quran, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr [HarperOne, 2015 First Edition], p. 267; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The Quran’s Affirmation of the Trinity

With that said, it make come as a shock to both Christians and Muslims that the Muslim “revelation” actually confirms the Trinity, albeit unwittingly.

For instance, the Quran confirms that Jesus is the preexistent Word of God who came forth as a Spirit from him in order to become incarnate from the blessed virgin Mary:

O People of the Book! Go not beyond the limits in your way of life and say not about God but The Truth: That the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was a Messenger of God and His Word that He cast to Mary and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers. And say not: Three (wala taqooloo thalathatun). To refrain yourselves from it is better for you. There is only One God. Glory be to Him that He have a son! To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in and on the earth and God sufficed as a Trustee. S. 4:171 Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar http://www.islamawakened.com/quran/4/st46.htm

Here is another version:

O ye people of the Book! do not exceed in your religion, nor say against God aught save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and His Word, which He cast into Mary and a spirit from Him; believe then in God and His apostles, and say not ‘Three.’ Have done! it were better for you. God is only one God, celebrated be His praise that He should beget a Son! His is what is in the heavens and what is in the earth; and God sufficeth for a guardian. Palmer

This passage echoes John’s teaching that Christ is the eternal Logos (Greek for Word) that became flesh, just as the authors/editors of the Study Quran candidly admit:

“… The understanding of Jesus as a messenger of God is consistent with several Gospel verses that state Jesus was sent by God (see, e.g., John 5:23; 5:30; 5:36-37; 6:39; 6:44; 6:57; 8:16; 8:18; 8:39; 8:43; 10:36; 12:49; 14:24; 17:21; 17:25; 20:21.) Yet the Quran ascribes unique distinctions to certain prophets, which then become the basis of their honorific titles in Islamic tradition. For example, God is said to have taken Abraham for a friend (v. 125), the basis of his honorific title Khalil Allah (the intimate friend of God), and to have spoken to Moses ‘directly’ (v. 164), the basis of his honorific title Kalim Allah (one who speaks with God).

“In the present verse, the uniqueness of Jesus among the messengers is affirmed in several ways, including his title Ruh Allah (‘Spirit of Allah’). He is referred to here and in certain places, however, as the Messiah (al-Masih), a term that in Arabic is understood to refer to his having been purified by God of sin (T). This is not unrelated to the concept of being ‘anointed,’ the root meaning of the word in Hebrew.

“He is also identified as God’s Word (see also 3:45; 19:34), an idea that has CLEAR RESONANCE with the Gospel tradition, where Jesus is identified as the ‘Word’ of God (See John 1). Christian and Islamic tradition, however, derive different theological conclusions from this appellation. In the Islamic context, the identification of Jesus as God’s Word does not preclude or overshadow his function as the bringer of the Gospel, which, like the Torah and the Quran, represent God’s Word and message to humanity. Some commentators interpret His Word here as the tidings Mary received of his miraculous conception in her womb or as an allusion to the Divine Creative Command Be! by which Christ was formed in Mary’s womb (see 3:45, 59; R, T). HOWEVER, while all created beings are brought into existence through God’s Word, Christ ALONE is specifically identified as ‘a Word from God.’ Some might argue, therefore, that Jesus, by virtue of being identified as God’s Word, somehow PARTICIPATES (UNIQUELY) in the Divine Creative Command, although this is not the traditional Islamic understanding of Jesus’ identification as a Word from Him (3:45).

“The miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth is also alluded to here in that he is identified as God’s Word committed to Mary (alqaha ila Maryam), which could also be rendered ‘cast upon Mary.’ Cf. 66:12, where it is said that God breathed His Spirit into Mary. Consistent with the implicit representation in 66:12 of Jesus as God’s ‘Spirit’ breathed into Mary, in the present verse Jesus is also identified as a Spirit from God. Cf., 2:87, 253; 5:110 where Jesus is strengthened… with the Holy Spirit. It is on this basis that Jesus is given the honorific title ‘Spirit of God’ (Ruh Allah) in the Islamic tradition. Some commentators, however, understand Jesus’ description a Spirit from God metaphorically and consider Spirit here to be either a reference to Jesus’ purity or a metaphor for God’s mercy (rahmah; R).” (The Study Quran, p. 267; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The Muslim scripture also describes the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God as a divine Person whom God sends to create and give life, just as we see in the following passages: 

(Muhammad), mention in the Book (the Quran) the story of Mary how she left her family and started living in a solitary place to the East out of her people’s sight. We sent Our Spirit to her, who stood before her in the shape of a well formed human being. Mary said, “Would that the Beneficent God would protect me from you. Leave me alone if you are a God fearing person”. He said, “I am the Messengers of your Lord. I have come to give you a purified son“. S. 19:16-19 Muhammad Sarwar http://www.islamawakened.com/quran/19/st23.htm

And Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her private parts, so We breathed into it of Our Spirit and she established as true the Words of her Lord and His Books and she had been among the ones who are morally obligated. S. 66:12 Bakhtiar http://www.islamawakened.com/quran/66/st46.htm

In these examples, the Spirit appears to Mary as a perfect looking man to announce to her that God has sent him to give her an absolutely pure son. The Spirit did this by God breathing him into Mary’s body in order to cause her to conceive Jesus in her blessed womb.

God also breathed his Spirit into Adam,

And when thy Lord said to the angels, ‘See, I am creating a mortal of a clay of mud moulded. When I have shaped him, and breathed My spirit in him, fall you down, bowing before him!’ S. 15:28-29 Arberry

For the obvious purpose of animating Adam’s body so he could become a living being. This shows that the Spirit is the personal divine breath of God through whom God creates and imparts life.

The Holy Spirit was also sent to strengthen Jesus during his earthly ministry,

When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead by My permission; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic; S. 5:110 Pickthall – cf. Q. 2:87, 253

Here we have an explicit reference to God’s Triunity, i.e., God/Allah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all working together as Jesus carries out his earthly mission. The Quran is doing nothing other than parrot the Holy Bible at this point:

“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. And His fame went throughout the surrounding region. He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by everyone. He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. And He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. When He had unrolled the scroll, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He rolled up the scroll, and He gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all those who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:14-21

“The word which He sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, the word, which you know, that was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:36-38

The Spirit is further sent to strengthened believers to remain faithful to the will of God:

Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah’s party. Lo! is it not Allah’s party who are the successful? S. 58:22 Pickthall

In order for the Spirit to strengthen all believers everywhere he must be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Yet the only way the Spirit could possess such attributes is if he is God in essence, a fact that is even admitted by the late Muslim translator and commentator Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

“… Cf. ii 87 and 253, where it is said that God strengthened the Prophet Jesus with the holy spirit. Here we learn that all good and righteous men are strengthened by God with the holy spirit. If anything, the phrase used here is stronger, ‘a spirit from Himself’. Whenever any one offers his heart in faith and purity to God, God accepts it, engraves that faith on the seeker’s heart, and further fortifies him with THE DIVINE SPIRIT, which we can no more adequately define in human language the nature of God.” (Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, p. 1518, fn. 5365; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hence, instead of condemning the Trinity the Islamic scripture actually bears witness to it by affirming that Jesus is the preexistent divine Word who became flesh, and that God’s Spirit is a divine Person who does what only God can do.

With that said, we want to be clear in stating that we do no believe that the god of the Quran is the one true God of the Holy Bible, or that the trinity of the Quran is the same exact Trinity found in the inspired pages of the God-breathed Scriptures. Rather, what we have in the Quran is a satanic counterfeit set up to mislead and deceive people from discovering and believing in the one true God revealed in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of the blessed Apostle Paul:

“I would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly. Indeed, bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve through his trickery, so your minds might be led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might submit to it readily enough… For such are false apostles and deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-15

Our only purpose in mentioning this is to show Muslims that their own scripture testifies to the Trinity in that it acknowledges the one true God of Abraham, his eternal Word who became Jesus and the Holy Spirit, even though the Quran’s depiction of them is not identical to the same named Persons revealed in the Holy Bible.

So much for the Muslim criticism of 1 John 5:7.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural references taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning the Tables Pt. 6a: The Three Witnesses of 1 John 5:7

Here is another installment in my series where I take the typical Muhammadan objections and turn them against the beliefs of Muslims http://www.reformedapologeticsministries.com/2015/10/turning-tables-pt-5.html.

THE OBJECTION

The following passage, 

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7 Authorized King James Version (AV)

Is often taken to be the clearest, in fact the only explicit, proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity since it says that there are three who are one, namely the Father, the Word (Son), and the Holy Spirit, which is what the word Trinity literally means, i.e. three (tri) in one (unity).

However, since many modern NT scholars believe that this is a spurious verse that found its way into some very late medieval Greek NT copies, it is not surprising to find Muhammadan polemicists capitalizing on this information in order to discredit the doctrine of the Trinity and the reliability of the NT documents. Note, for instance, the following tirade:

Christians usually like to claim that Bible corruptions are not a big deal, that it never deals with doctrinal issues, yet in this case, 1 John 5:7 is a corrupted verse that does involve a doctrinal issue, specifically that of the Trinity. Trinitarian Christians of the past and even THE PRESENT often used/use this verse to prove the Trinity, hence we have a corrupted verse which is directly linked to doctrine. Also as I said, Christians even now still use this verse! Can you believe that? A verse that has been proven to be a forgery is still being used by Christians as evidence, this merely highlights the wide ignorance of Christian followers, that they really don’t know much about their faith and book. In fact I have a request for my readers, go talk to any Christian you know, and ask them what they think of 1 John 5:7, do not even infer that this passage is corrupt, just ask your Christian friend what he/she thinks of this verse, and indeed you will be surprised to see that many of them will not know that this verse is a corrupted forgery.

Now you would think that the problems end there, but they don’t, the problems only get worst. Trinitarian Christians like to claim that the Bible preaches the Trinity, yet if that is the case, then why did certain Christians need to insert a forgery to try and prove the Trinity? You see folks, not all Christians believed in the Trinity, this was a big problem, and Trinitarians knew there was a problem because this doctrine is not explicitly found anywhere in the Bible, and due to this problem they decided to forge a verse, which explicitly and clearly mentions a Trinity! Folks, just think of this, Trinitarians had to forge a verse to try and prove the Trinity, if that isn’t a problem then what is?!

It is quite clear my friends, the Bible cannot be trusted, and the doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible, if it was, then Christians wouldn’t need to forge the doctrine into the Bible.

And Allah Knows Best! www.muslim-responses.com (Sami Zaatari, The Problem of 1 John 5:7: http://web.archive.org/web/20130927224856/http://muslim-responses.com/Forged_Trinity/Forged_Trinity_)

Zaatari isn’t alone in his rant against the Comma Johanneum:

The only verses in the whole Bible that explicitly ties God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in one “Triune” being is the verse of 1 John 5:7

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

This is the type of clear, decisive, and to-the-point verse I have been asking for. However, as I would later find out, this verse is now universally recognized as being a later “insertion” of the Church and all recent versions of the Bible, such as the Revised Standard Version the New Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New English Bible, the Phillips Modern English Bible …etc. have all unceremoniously expunged this verse from their pages. Why is this? The scripture translator Benjamin Wilson gives the following explanation for this action in his “Emphatic Diaglott.” Mr. Wilson says:  

“This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. It is not cited by any of the ecclesiastical writers; not by any of early Latin fathers even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have lead them to appeal to it’s authority. It is therefore evidently spurious.” (The lie of 1 John 5:7 http://www.answering-christianity.com/1john5_7.htm; bold emphasis ours)

Here is another example:

“Again the Quran in surah al-Maidah, chapter 5, verse 73, it says, Laqad kafara allatheena qaloo inna Allaha thalithu thalathatin – that they are doing kufr, they are blaspheming, those who say that God is three in one; that means Trinity. And in surah an-Nisa, chapter 4, verse 171, wala taqooloo thalathatun–’Do not say Trinity.’ This says stop it, it’s better for you. The word ‘Trinity’ is mentioned in the Quran no less than two times.

“But if you pick up the Bible, in the complete Bible, the word ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned anywhere. If you read this big encyclopedia, its more than twice the size of the Quran – actually, you knows this is, it’s small ink. This is along with Arabic and English and commentary. The Bible actually is twice the size… more than twice the size of the glorious Quran. Nowhere will you find the word ‘Trinity’, nowhere!

“The closest verse that any Christian can come to, regarding the concept of the Trinity, is the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 7 which says, ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these Three are One.’ The closest verse regarding the Trinity is the first epistle of John, chapter 5, verse 7. And if you read the Revised Standard Version… they have thrown it out as a fabrication, as a concoction, as an interpolation. They’ve thrown it out! Who? Not Muslims.

“Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity, as I mentioned earlier. And in the catechism of the Church, they say, ‘the Father is a Person, the Son is a Person, and the Holy Spirit is a Person, but they aren’t three Persons; they are one Person.’ Person, Person, Person, but not three Persons, one Person. What is this? 1+1+1 is? Three, but the Christian says One!” (Zakir Naik Q&A-213 | Christian scholars removed trinity from Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBBjnEvmy38)

THE REBUTTAL

These objections are all presupposing that the word one confirms that all three are one God, e.g., by saying that the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are one the verse is essentially confirming that they are all one God, being united in essence. As we shall see, this assumption backfires against these Muhammadans since it ends up proving that Jesus claimed to be God Almighty in the flesh. But first we need to expose the shameless misrepresentation of what the doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches.

Islamic Deception At Its Finest

The quote from Naik provides a perfect illustration of Muslim deceit at its finest. Naik claims that the catechism of the Church teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three Persons but are actually one Person. This shameless lie is easy to refute since there is not a single Trinitarian catechism, which asserts that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a single Person. Rather, every orthodox catechism of both the past and present affirm that the Father, Son and Spirit are three eternally distinct, yet inseparable Persons who eternally coexist as one God. Take, for instance, what the following section from the Athanasian Creed states:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; NEITHER CONFOUNDING THE PERSONS; nor dividing the Essence. For there is ONE PERSON of the Father; ANOTHER of the Son; and ANOTHER of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge EVERY PERSON BY HIMSELF to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity. (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed; bold, italicized and underline emphasis ours)

And here is what the modern day catechism of the catholic church says:

253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God IN THREE PERSONS, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God.”84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature.”85

254 The divine persons ARE REALLY DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER. “God is one but not solitary.”86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, FOR THEY ARE REALLY DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.”87 THEY ARE DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER IN THEIR RELATIONS OF ORIGIN: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.”88 The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.”89 Indeed “everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship.”90 “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.”91

256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called “the Theologian”, entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:

Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . .92 (Catechism of the Catholic Church http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p2.htm; capital emphasis ours)

Naik is simply parroting the same trickery and misinformation of his master the late Ahmad Deedat, since he is the first one that we are aware of who claimed that the catechism of Christians teaches that the three are not distinct Persons, but are actually one and the same Person.

Now that we have refuted this gross lie, it is time to focus on the issue at hand.

An Inconsistent Argument That Backfires

According to the Muslim polemicists we cited, the following verse,

“There are three who testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one (hen eisi).” 1 John 5:7

Clearly and emphatically affirms the Trinity since it says that the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are one. This means that if we find a similar verse that uses the same or similar language to the above text, the Muslims would therefore have no choice but to admit that the Holy Bible does proclaim that the one true God is multi-Personal in nature.

Lo and behold, such a passage does exist!

“‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, nor shall anyone snatch them from My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them from My Father’s hand. My Father and I are one (hen esmen).’ Again the Jews took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘We are not stoning You for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, claim to be God.’” John 10:27-33

Here we have the Lord himself affirming that he is one (employing the same Greek word) with the Father in the context of granting everlasting life to all his flock, thereby guaranteeing that they shall never be lost or destroyed. Now for Christ to be able to preserve all true believers from ever perishing he must be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, since he must know who the flock are and be with all of them no matter where they are at, or how many they happen to be, so as to make sure that they remain perfectly safe and secure in his grasp. No wonder the Jews accused Jesus of making himself out to be God, since they could see that he was claiming the prerogatives and functions, which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Yahweh God Almighty alone:

“See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39

““There is none holy as the Lord, for there is none besides You, and there is no rock like our God… The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.” 1 Samuel 2:2, 6

“O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” Psalm 95:6-8a

“Indeed, from eternity I am He; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:13

This isn’t the only time where the Lord spoke of his ability to grant eternal life to all believers:

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will… Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-, 28-29

“‘For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ The Jews then murmured about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus therefore answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:38-44

Note that in the above examples Christ says that he shall be the One who gives life and raises the dead from their graves at the last day and hour by the power of his all-glorious and majestic voice!

Even the Quran agrees that this is a function, which only God can and will carry out when that hour finally arrives:

That is because God — He is the Truth, and brings the dead to life, and is powerful over everything, and because the Hour is coming, no doubt of it, and God shall raise up whosoever is within the tombs. S. 22:6-7 Arberry

Interestingly, Christ even applies the very title “the Truth” to himself as he reassures the disciples that he will return to take them to live with him in the very heavenly presence of his Father:

“‘Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also. You know where I am going, and you know the way.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.’” John 14:1-7

Hence, Jesus’ claim to being one with the Father is an explicit affirmation that Christ is fully God in essence, and that God exists as a multi-Personal Being. There is simply no way around this fact for these Muslim polemicists if they are going to be honest and apply their own argument concerning 1 John 5:7 consistently.

We have more for these Muhammadans in the second part of our rebuttal https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/turning-the-tables-pt-6b-the-three-witnesses-of-1-john-57/.

What is the Messiah? Responding to Iglesia ni Cristo’s Misuse of Scripture Pt. 1

In the debate between Iglesia ni Cristo minister Jose Ventilacion and Reformed Baptist apologist Dr. James R. White (Who is God? Trinity Debate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N61p_-XwG4&t=1506s), White appealed to the Lord Jesus’ “I Am” (Gr. ego eimi) statements in John’s Gospel to show how Christ took to himself one of the unique names that the Hebrew Scriptures ascribe to Yahweh God (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 13, 25; 46:4; 48:12; 51:6; 52:12). White argued that in using this expression, the Lord was basically claiming to be Yahweh God in the flesh.

White specifically connected the Greek version of Isaiah 43:10 (commonly referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]),

“Be my witnesses; I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and the servant whom I have chosen (exelexamen) so that you may know and believe and understand that I am (hina… pisteusete… hoti ego eimi). Before me there was no other god, nor shall there be any after me.”

With the words of our Lord in John 13:18-19:

“I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen (exelexamen); but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He (hina pisteusete… hoti ego eimi).” New American Standard Version (NASB)

The verbal parallels are rather impressive, and strongly affirm White’s point that Christ was deliberately echoing the language of Isaiah for the purpose of identifying himself as the Incarnation of Yahweh God Almighty.

This explains why we find v. 19 rendered in the following manner:

“I am telling you this now before it happens so that when it happens, you will believe that ·I am he [LI am; Cthis may be an allusion to God’s (Yahweh’s) self identification as “I AM” in Ex. 3:14, or to God’s repeated claim that “I am he” throughout Is. 40—55; see John 8:24, 28, 58].” John 13:19 Expanded Bible (EXB)

“I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe that ‘I Am Who I Am.’” Good News Translation (GNT)

“I’m telling you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I AM.” International Standard Version (ISV)

“From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.” New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)

“From now on I tell you before the occurrence that you may have emunah (faith) when it occurs, that Ani Hu. [YESHAYAH 41:4; 46:10; 43:10]” Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Ventilacion responded by quoting the New Living Translation (NLT):

 “I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah.[e]” John 13:19

Ventilacion capitalized on the insertion of the words “the Messiah” (even though they are not in the Greek text) to show that Christ wasn’t referencing Isaiah 43:10, and therefore wasn’t claiming to be Yahweh God. Rather, Jesus was simply telling the disciples that the fulfillment of his words would prove that he is the long awaited Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In this rebuttal we are going to demonstrate why the NLT’s rendering does absolutely nothing to help Ventilacion’s case against White’s compelling presentation that John’s “I Am” sayings serve the purpose of identifying Christ as the God of the OT that became flesh.

John’s Testimony to the Divine Prehuman Existence of Messiah

In the first place, Ventilacion didn’t bother to mention the footnote that is given in the NLT, which actually confirms Dr. White’s point: 

e. 13:19 Or that the ‘I am’ has come; or that I am the Lord; Greek reads that I am. See Exod 3:14.

The note here not only affirms that the Lord was claiming to be God in the flesh but also references Exodus 3:14, which equates Christ with the very God who spoke face to face with Moses:

“One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro,[a] the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai,[b] the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. ‘This is amazing,’ Moses said to himself. ‘Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.’ When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ ‘Here I am!’ Moses replied. ‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father[c]—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord told him, ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.’ But Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’ God answered, ‘I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.’ But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them?’ God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,[e] the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’” Exodus 3:1-15

With that said, let us look at the immediate context of John 13 to see what Ventilacion conveniently ignored:

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had COME FROM GOD and would return to God (pros ton theon)… ‘I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.’” John 13:3

John tells us that Christ had come from God who had sent him, and was going to return to him, employing the same exact phrase here that he did in his prologue to describe the eternal Logos or Word’s intimate communion with God. More on this point later.

Jesus himself tells his disciples that he had come down from the Father and entered into the world, and was going to leave the world in order to return to the Father:

“’I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came FROM GOD. Yes, I came FROM THE FATHER INTO THE WORLD, and now I will leave the world AND RETURN TO THE FATHER (pros ton patera).’ Then his disciples said, ‘At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came FROM GOD.’ Jesus asked, ‘Do you finally believe?’” John 16:25-31

Pay close to attention to the fact that, as a result of Jesus no longer speaking figuratively, the disciples finally come to the realization that he indeed knows everything and doesn’t need anyone to question him to see if he does, having now been convinced that he in fact did come down from God. And seeing how Christ himself affirms that he is speaking plainly at this point, the INC cannot explain away his claims of having come down from the Father as figurative language.

Now compare this with John’s prologue:

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God (pros ton theon), and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God (pros ton theon).” John 1:1-2

The fact that John employs the same preposition pros to describe the Word’s eternal communion with God and the return of the historical Jesus to God in heaven shows that Christ is the very Incarnation of the eternal Word. In other words, the Word that was with God in eternity is none other than the same One who was going to leave this world and return back to be with God. The only difference is that the Word who came down from God existed as Spirit initially, but then returned to heaven with a glorified, indestructible flesh and bone body:

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he replied, ‘I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.’ Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!’ ‘My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’” John 20:24-29

“And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. ‘Why are you troubled?’ He asked them. ‘And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. But while they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy, He asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and He took it and ate in their presence.” Luke 24:36-43 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

“But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip… Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.” Acts 2:24, 29-33 HCSB

“We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.” Romans 6:9-10

“Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed… There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.” Hebrews 7:16, 23-26

With the said we are ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion where we will see further evidence for the eternal prehuman existence of the Lord Jesus.

 

Will the Real Bart Ehrman Please Stand Up? Pt. 2

As we stated at the conclusion of the first part of our discussion https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/will-the-real-bart-ehrman-please-stand-up-pt-1/, Ehrman believes that certain verses in the NT identify the Lord Jesus as the human manifestation of the Angel of the LORD, a divine figure that appears quite often in the Hebrew Bible. Ehrman believes that this is the view of the poem that the Apostle Paul incorporated in his letter to the Philippians, specifically in chapter 2, verses 5-11. Scholars commonly refer to this section of Philippians as the Carmen Christi (“Hymn to Christ”). Here is what it says:

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Ehrman believes that this poem was composed in the early forties, meaning within ten years of Jesus’ resurrection:

“Some scholars have had a real difficulty imagining that a poem existing before Paul’s letter to the Philippians – a poem whose composition must therefore date AS EARLY AS THE 40s CE – could already celebrate AN INCARNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING OF JESUS…” (How Jesus Became God, p. 259; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In explaining the reason why he rejects the position of some scholars who argue that the Carmen Christi does not speak of the prehuman existence of Christ, but rather focuses on his humanity in order to contrast him with Adam, Ehrman brings up Paul’s view of the Lord Jesus:

“Third, and possibly most importantly, from other passages in Paul it does indeed appear that he understands Christ to have been a preexistent divine being. One example comes from a very peculiar passage in 1 Corinthians, in which Paul is talking about how the children of Israel, after they escaped from Egypt under Moses, were fed while they spent so many years in the wilderness (as recounted in the books of Exodus and Numbers in the Hebrew Bible). According to Paul, the Israelites had enough to drink because the rock that Moses struck in order miraculously to bring forth water (Num. 20:11) followed them around in the wilderness. Wherever they went, the water-providing rock went. In fact, Paul says, ‘the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:4). Just as Christ provides life to people today when they believe in him, so too he provided life to the Israelites in the wilderness. That would not have been possible, of course, unless he existed at the time. And so for Paul, Christ was a preexistent being who was occasionally manifest on earth.

“Or take another passage, one in which Paul actually does speak of Christ as a second Adam. In 1 Corinthians, Paul contrasts Christ’s place of origin with that of Adam: ‘The first man was from the earth, and was made of dust; the second man is from heaven’ (15:47). What matters here is precisely the difference between Adam and Christ. Adam came into being in this world; Christ existed before he came into this world. He was from heaven.

“And so, the interpretation of the Philippians poem that takes it as an indication that Christ was a kind of ‘perfect Adam’ does not work, on one hand, because the passage has features that do not make sense given this interpretation. And on the other hand, this interpretation is completely unnecessary. It does not solve the problem of an Incarnational Christology–because Paul clearly says in other passages that Jesus was indeed a preexistent divine being who came into the world. That’s what this poem teaches as well.” (Ibid., pp. 261-262; bold emphasis ours)

Ehrman thinks that texts such as Galatians 4:14 suggest that Paul believed that the Lord Jesus was God’s chief angel, in fact THE Angel of the Lord mentioned throughout the OT:

“But this means that in Galatians 4:14 Paul is not contrasting Christ with an angel; he is equating him with an angel. Garrett goes a step further and argues that Galatians 4:14 indicates that Paul ‘identifies [Jesus Christ] with God’s chief angel.’

“If this is the case, then virtually everything Paul says about Christ throughout his letters makes perfect sense. As the Angel of the Lord, Christ is a preexistent being who is divine; he can be called God, AND HE IS GOD’S MANIFESTATION ON EARTH IN HUMAN FLESH. Paul says all these things about Christ, and in no passage more strikingly than in Philippians 2:6-11, a passage that scholars often call the ‘Philippians Hymn’ or the ‘Christ Hymn of Philippians,’ since it is widely thought to embody an early hymn or poem devoted to celebrating Christ AND HIS INCARNATION.” (Ibid., p. 253; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Ehrman further argues that this is the position held by some of the other NT writers as well:

“In the most thorough investigation of Christological views that portray Jesus as an angel or an angel-like being, New Testament scholar Charles Gieschen, helpfully defines the Jewish notion of an angel as ‘a spirit or heavenly being who mediates between the human and divine realms.’ Once Jesus was thought to be exalted to heaven, he was quickly seen, by some of his followers, to be this kind of heavenly mediator, one who obediently did God’s will while he was here on earth. From there, it was a very small step to thinking that Jesus was this kind of being by nature, not simply because of his exaltation. Jesus was not only the Son of God, the Lord, the Son of Man, the coming messiah; he was the one who mediates God’s will on earth as a heavenly, angelic being. In fact, it came to be thought that he had always been this kind of being.”

“If Jesus was the one who represented God in human form, he quite likely had always been that one. He was, in other words, the chief angel of God, known in the Bible as the Angel of the Lord. This is the figure who appeared to Hagar, and Abraham, and Moses, who is sometimes actually called ‘God’ in the Hebrew Bible. If Jesus is in fact this one, he is a preexistent divine being who came to earth for a longer period of time, during his life; he fully represented God on earth; he in fact can be called God. Exaltation Christologies became transformed into incarnation Christologies as soon as believers in Jesus came to see him as an angelic being who performed God’s work here on earth.

“To call Jesus the Angel of the Lord is to make a startlingly exalted claim about him. In the Hebrew Bible, this figure appears to God’s people as God’s representative, and he is in fact called God. And is it turns out, as recent research has shown, there are clear indications in the New Testament that the early followers of Jesus understood him in this fashion. Jesus was thought of as an angel, or an angel-like being, or even the Angel of the Lord–in any event, a superhuman divine being who existed before his birth and became human for the salvation of the human race. This, in a nutshell, is the incarnation Christology of several New Testament authors. Later authors went even further and maintained that Jesus was not merely an angel–even the chief angel–but was a superior being: he was God himself come to earth.” (Ibid., pp. 250-251; bold emphasis ours)

This is a rather shocking assertion on Ehrman’s part since he actually believes that the Hebrew Bible identifies this particular Angel as the visible manifestation of Yahweh God Almighty!

Note, for example, the following quotation where Ehrman discusses Genesis 16:7-14, which speaks of the Angel appearing to Hagar:

“… But then, after referring to this heavenly visitor as the Angel of the Lord, the text indicates that it was, in fact, ‘the LORD’ who had spoken with her (16:13). Moreover, Hagar realizes that she has been addressing God himself and expresses her astonishment that she had ‘seen God and remained alive after seeing him’ (16:13). Here there is both ambiguity and confusion; either the Lord appears as an angel in the form of a human, or the Angel of the Lord IS THE LORD HIMSELF, GOD IN HUMAN GUISE.

“A similar ambiguity occurs two chapters later, this time with Abraham. We are told in Genesis 18:1 that ‘the LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre.’ But when the episode is narrated, we learn that ‘three men’ come to him (18:2). Abraham plays the good host and entertains them, preparing for them a very nice meal, which they all three eat. When they talk to him afterward, one of these three ‘men’ is identified explicitly as ‘the LORD’ (18:13). At the end of the story we are informed that the other two were ‘angels’ (19:1). So here we have a case where two angels AND THE LORD GOD HIMSELF have assumed human form–so much so that they appear to Abraham to be three men, and they all eat the food he has prepared.

“The most famous instance of such ambiguity is found in the story of Moses and the burning bush (Exod. 3:1-22). By way of background: Moses, the son of Hebrews, had been raised in Egypt by the daughter of Pharaoh, but he has to escape for murdering an Egyptian and is wanted by the Pharaoh himself. He goes to Midian where he marries and becomes a shepherd for his father-in-law’s flocks. One day, while tending to his sheeply duties, Moses sees an astonishing sight. We are told that he arrives at Mount Horeb (this is Mount Sinai, where later, after the exodus, he is given the law) and there, ‘the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush’ (Exod. 3:2). Moses is amazed because the bush is aflame but is not being consumed by the fire. And despite the fact that it is the Angel of the Lord who is said to have appeared to him, it is ‘the Lord’ who sees that Moses has come to the bush, and it is ‘God’ who then calls to him out of the bush. In fact, the Angel of the Lord tells Moses, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the god of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ (Exod. 3:6). As the story continues, the Lord God continues to speak to Moses and Moses to God. But in what sense was it the Angel of the Lord that appeared to him? A helpful note in the HarperCollins Study Bible puts it: ‘Although it was an angel that appeared in v. 2, there is no substantive difference between the deity and his agents.’ Or as New Testament scholar Charles Gieschen has expressed it, this ‘Angel of the Lord’ is ‘either indistinguishable from God as his visible manifestation’ or he is a distinct figure, separate from God, who is bestowed with God’s own authority.” (Ibid., 2. Divine Humans in Ancient Judaism, pp. 56-57; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Since Ehrman believes that Paul and some of the first Christians taught that Jesus is the incarnation of the Angel of Yahweh, and since this Angel is the human appearance of Yahweh himself, this means that Jesus is none other than the very Incarnation of Yahweh Almighty!

How, then, can Ehrman make the argument that no NT writer ever identifies Jesus as Yahweh, when that is precisely what some of the inspired authors taught according to Ehrman’s own view that believers such as Paul proclaimed that Christ is the Incarnation of the OT Angel of Yahweh? If these Christians believed that Jesus is that very Angel mentioned in the Hebrew Bible then this means that according to Ehrman’s own logic, they must have believed that Christ is the human manifestation of Yahweh God Almighty himself.

But it gets a lot worse for Ehrman.

Ehrman argues that the Philippians’ poem not only proclaims that God exalted Jesus to a higher status in order to make the risen Lord equal to himself, but that he even conferred upon Christ the name Yahweh, and commands all creation to worship the risen Lord in the exact same way that Yahweh is supposed to be worshiped according to the prophet Isaiah!

“… For the Philippians poem, Christ started out as divine, but at his exaltation he was made even ‘more divine,’ in fact, HE WAS MADE EQUAL WITH GOD.

“This is a point that is widely agreed upon by interpreters, and it is because of the wording of the final two stanzas of the poem, vv. 10-11. There we are told that God ‘hyperexalted’ Jesus, so that ‘At the name of Jesus / Every knee should bow / Of those in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. / And every tongue confess / That Jesus Christ is Lord / To the glory of God the Father.’ The causal reader may not realize this, but these lines allude to a passage in the Hebrew Bible. And a striking passage it is. According to the original passage as found in Isaiah 45:22-23, it is to Yahweh alone, the God of Israel, that ‘every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess’…

“The prophet Isaiah is quite explicit. There is only one God, NO OTHER. That God is Yahweh. That God has sworn that to NO OTHER shall every knee bow and every tongue make confession. Yet in the Philippians poem, it is not to God the Father–apart from whom, according to Isaiah, ‘there is no other’–but to the exalted Jesus that all the knees will bow and tongues confess. Jesus has been granted THE STATUS AND HONOR AND GLORY of the One Almighty God himself.

“This interpretation of the Christ poem in Philippians shows that VERY EARLY in the Christian movement the followers of Jesus were making audacious claims about him. He had been exalted TO EQUALITY WITH GOD, even though God himself had said that there was ‘no other’ apart from him. Somehow, Christians were imagining that there was indeed ‘another.’ And this other one was EQUAL WITH GOD. But it was not because he was God ‘by nature’–to use a later philosophical/theological term that came to be applied to discussions of Christ’s deity. He was God because God had made him so. But how could he be God, if God was God, and there was only one God? This became the key question of the Christological debates in later times, as we will see. At this stage, all we can say is that early Christians were not bothered enough by this dilemma, or this paradox, to have written anything about it, so we don’t know exactly how they dealt with it.

“One final point to make about the Philippians poem may have occurred to you already. I have been calling the Christology that it embraces ‘incarnational,’ since it portrays Jesus as a preexistent divine being who becomes human. But there is obviously an ‘exaltation’ element in the poem as well, since at Jesus’s resurrection God exalted him to an even higher state that he had before. In a sense, then, this poem provides us with a transitional Christology that combines an incarnation view with an exaltation view. Later authors will move even further away from an exaltation Christology, such that Christ will come to be portrayed AS BEING EQUAL WITH GOD BEFORE HIS APPEARANCE IN THE WORLD–in fact, AS EQUAL WITH GOD FOR ALL TIME. But this is not the view of the Philippians poem. For this beautiful passage, as quoted by and presumably believed by Paul, Christ was indeed a preexistent divine being. But he was an angel-like being, who only after his act of obedience to the point of death WAS MADE GOD’S EQUAL.” (Ibid., pp. 264-266; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And:

One other point needs to be reemphasized at this stage however. If one uses the term high Christology to talk about this kind of incarnational view, the Prologue of John would be presenting a very high Christology indeed—higher than that even in the Philippians poem. For the author of that poem, as for Paul himself, Christ was some kind of angelic being before becoming a human— probably the “chief angel” or the “Angel of the Lord.” And as a result of his obedience to God unto death, he was given an even more exalted state of being as one who was EQUAL TO GOD IN HONOR AND STATUS as the Lord of all. This in itself is a remarkably exalted view of Jesus, the rural preacher from Galilee who proclaimed the coming kingdom of God and who, having ended up on the wrong side of the law, was crucified. But the Prologue of John has an even more elevated view of Christ. Here, Christ is not an angel of God, who was later “hyperexalted” or given a higher place than he had before he appeared on earth. Quite the contrary, even before he appeared, he was the Logos of God himself, a being who was God, the one through whom the entire universe was created. (Ibid., pp. 277-278; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Finally:

12. The Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible, YHWH (= Yahweh), which serves as the personal name of God, was translated in the Geek version by the term Kurios, which comes into English as “Lord.” And so, when the text indicates that every tongue will confess that “Jesus is Lord,” it appears to mean that everyone will acknowledge THAT JESUS HAS THE VERY NAME OF YAHWEH HIMSELF. It is important to note, however, that Jesus is still differentiated from God the Father, since all this is to happen to the Father’s “glory.” (Ibid., p. 381; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Since Ehrman acknowledges that the Carmen Christi affirms that God the Father has made Jesus equal to himself in honor and status, and has even given him the very name Yahweh, which is why the risen Lord shall eventually receive the exact same worship that Isaiah 45:23 says Yahweh is supposed to receive from all creation, how then could he argue that no NT writer ever taught that Jesus is Yahweh or equal to God?

The following lengthy citation from Ehrman does a great job of summing up his position concerning the belief of Paul and certain others regarding Christ:

Other Passages in Paul

The incarnational Christology that lies behind the Philippians hymn can be seen in other passages of Paul’s letters as well. I have already said that Paul understood Christ to be the “rock” that provided life-giving water to the Israelites in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:4) and pointed out that Paul stated that Christ, unlike the first Adam, came from “heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47). When Paul talks about God “sending” his son, he appears not to be speaking only metaphorically (like John the Baptist is said to have been “sent” from God in John 1:6, for example); instead, God actually sent Christ from the heavenly realm. As he put it in the letter to the Romans, “For what the law could not do, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” (8:3). It is interesting that Paul uses this term likeness—just as the Philippians poem did when it spoke of Christ coming in the “appearance” of humans. It is the same Greek word in both places. Did Paul want to avoid saying that Christ actually became human, but that he came only in a human “likeness”? It is hard to say.

But it is clear that Paul does not believe Christ just appeared out of nowhere, the way angels seem to do in the Hebrew Bible. One of the verses in Paul that long puzzled me was Galatians 4:4, in which Paul writes, “When the fullness of time came, God sent his son, born from a woman, born under the law.” I always wondered why Paul would indicate that Christ had been born from a woman. What other option is there, exactly? But the statement makes sense if Paul believed that Christ was a preexistent angelic being. In that case, it is important to point out that Jesus was born in a human way: he did not simply appear as the Angel of the Lord did to Hagar, Abraham, and Moses. Here in the last days he actually was born in the likeness of human flesh, as a child.

Paul says even more exalted things about Christ. In Chapter 2, we saw that some Jewish texts understood God’s Wisdom to be a hypostasis of God—an aspect or characteristic of God that took on its own form of existence. Wisdom was the agent through which God created all things (as in Proverbs 8), and since it was God’s Wisdom in particular, it was both God and a kind of image of God. As the Wisdom of Solomon expressed it, Wisdom is “a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty . . . for she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (7:25–26). Moreover, we saw that Wisdom could be seen as the Angel of the Lord.

Jesus, for Paul, WAS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD. And so he too was God’s Wisdom, before coming into this world. Thus Paul can speak of “the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). Even more striking, Christ can be described as the agent of creation: 

For us there is one God, the Father,

from whom are all things and for whom we exist,

and one Lord, Jesus Christ,

through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor. 8:6)

This verse may well incorporate another pre-Pauline creed of some kind, as it divides itself neatly, as can be seen, into two parts, with two lines each. The first part is a confession of God the Father, and the second a confession of Jesus Christ. It is “through” Christ that all things come into being and that believers themselves exist. This sounds very much like what non-Christian Jewish texts occasionally say about God’s Wisdom. And God’s Wisdom was itself understood to be God, as we have seen. So too Jesus in Paul. One of the most debated verses in the Pauline letters is Romans 9:5. Scholars dispute how the verse is to be translated. What is clear is that Paul is talking about the advantages given to the Israelites, and he indicates that the “fathers” (that is, the Jewish patriarchs) belong to the Israelites, and “from them is the Christ according to the flesh, the one who is God over all, blessed forever, amen.” Here, Christ is “God over all.” This is a very exalted view.

But some translators prefer not to take the passage as indicating that Christ is God and do so by claiming that it should be translated differently, to say first something about Christ and then, second, to give a blessing to God. They translate the verse like this: “from them is the Christ according to the flesh. May the God who is over all be blessed forever, amen.” The issues of translation are highly complex, and different scholars have different opinions. The matter is crucial. If the first version is correct, then it is the one place in all of Paul’s letters where he explicitly calls Jesus God.

But is it correct? My view for many years was that the second translation was the right one and that the passage does not call Jesus God. My main reason for thinking so, though, was that I did not think that Paul ever called Jesus God anywhere else, so he probably wouldn’t do so here. But that, of course, is circular reasoning, and I think the first translation makes the best sense of the Greek, as other scholars have vigorously argued.13 It is worth stressing that Paul does indeed speak about Jesus as God, as we have seen. This does not mean that Christ is God the Father Almighty. Paul clearly thought Jesus was God in a certain sense—but he does not think that he was the Father. He was an angelic, divine being before coming into the world; HE WAS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD; he was eventually exalted TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD AND WORTHY OF ALL OF GOD’S HONOR AND WORSHIP. And so I now have no trouble recognizing that in fact Paul could indeed flat-out call Jesus God, as he appears to do in Romans 9:5.

If someone AS EARLY in the Christian tradition as Paul can see Christ AS AN INCARNATE DIVINE BEING, it is no surprise that the same view emerges later in the tradition. Nowhere does it emerge more clearly or forcefully than in the Gospel of John. (Ibid., pp. 266-269; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Pay close attention how Ehrman candidly acknowledges that Paul and some of the earliest Christians believed that Jesus is the divine Angel of Yahweh, the Incarnation of God’s own Wisdom, and the Agent whom God used to create all things, who was then highly exalted by God after his resurrection to become equal with the Father and worthy of receiving the exact same honor and worship that God himself receives.

With the foregoing in perspective, could Ehrman be any clearer that certain NT authors do in fact affirm that Jesus is both Yahweh God Incarnate and equal to Yahweh God the Father in power, glory, honor, majesty and worship?

Lord Jesus willing, we will be posting more articles on Ehrman contradicting himself in the near future.

Related Articles

Who is this Son of Man? A Review of My Debate with Dr. Bart Ehrman (Part 1) http://credohouse.org/blog/who-is-this-son-of-man-a-review-of-my-debate-with-dr-bart-ehrman-part-1, (Part 2) http://credohouse.org/blog/who-is-this-son-of-man-a-review-of-my-debate-with-dr-bart-ehrman-part-2

Will the Real Bart Ehrman Please Stand Up? Pt. 1

In this series of post I am going to be documenting some of Bart D. Ehrman’s contradictions, specifically those he has made in respect to Christ’s divinity. After reading and listening to him for so many years, it has become apparent to me that Ehrman is more than willing to contradict what he has said or written in order to avoid making specific concessions, which would confirm that the conservative, evangelical position regarding the Trinity and the Deity of the Lord Jesus is actually correct.

Take, for instance, what Ehrman said in the cross-examination section of his debate with Evangelical professor Justin Bass that took place on September 18, 2015:

“Paul, by the way, doesn’t say Jesus is equal with God of Israel… He is definitely not Yahweh for any author of the New Testament! Yahweh and Jesus are different beings in the New Testament… Paul does not say that Jesus is Yahweh… You show me a place where Paul says Jesus is Yahweh.” (Primitive Christianity, “Jesus is NOT Yahweh the God of Israel – Bart D. Ehrman” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zogxeFBP6l0)

It is interesting see how Ehrman ends up contradicting himself in this very same exchange since, after Professor Bass pressed him on the meaning of Philippians 2:9-11, Ehrman does a u-turn and admits that, “God has given him a position equal with himself but he hasn’t made him into Yahweh.”

I am now going to cite from Ehrman’s books to show where he himself admits that the NT writers do in fact proclaim that Jesus is equal with Yahweh and is even called Yahweh.

John’s Proclamation to Christ’s eternal equality with God

Here is what Ehrman wrote concerning John’s Gospel:

“… Among other things, in this Gospel there are not simply allusions to Jesus’ divine power and authority. There are bald statements that equate Jesus with God and say that he was a preexistent divine being who came into the world. This view is not simply like Paul’s, in which Jesus was some kind of angel who then came to be exalted to a higher position of deity. For John, Jesus was equal with God AND EVEN SHARED HIS NAME and his glory in his preincarnate state. To use the older terminology (which I favored back then), this was an extremely high Christology.” (Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee [HarperOne, 2014], 7. Jesus as God on Earth: Early Incarnation Christologies, p. 270; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And:

“One of the most striking features of John’s Gospel is its elevated claims about Jesus. Here, Jesus is decidedly God AND IS IN FACT EQUAL WITH GOD THE FATHER–before coming into the world, while in the world, and after he leaves the world. Consider the following passages, which are found only in John among the four Gospels:

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld his glory, glory as of the unique one before the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:1, 14; later this Word made flesh is named as ‘Jesus Christ,’ v. 17)
  • But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, and I also am working.’ This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. (5:17-18)
  • [Jesus said:] ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ (8:58)
  • [Jesus said:] ‘I and the Father are one.’ (10:30)
  • Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ (14:8-9)
  • [Jesus prayed to God:] ‘I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.’
  • [Jesus prayed:] ‘Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’ (17:24)
  • Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (20:28)

“I need to be clear: Jesus is not God the Father in this Gospel. He spends all of chapter 17 praying to his Father, and, as I pointed out earlier, he is not talking to himself. But he has been given glory EQUAL TO THAT OF GOD THE FATHER. And he had that glory BEFORE HE CAME INTO THE WORLD. When he leaves this world, he returns to the glory THAT WAS HIS BEFORE. To be sure, Jesus comes to be ‘exalted’ here–he several times talks about his crucifixion as being ‘lifted up’–a play on words in reference to being ‘lifted onto the cross’ and being ‘exalted’ up to heaven as a result. But the exaltation is not to a higher state than the one he previously possessed, as in Paul. For John, he was already both ‘God’ and ‘with God’ in his preincarnate state as a divine being. Nowhere can this view be seen more clearly than in the first eighteen verses of the Gospel, frequently called the Prologue of John.” (Ibid., pp. 271-272; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Again:

“… As we saw, the Prologue of John stressed that Jesus was the incarnation of the preexistent Word of God who was both with God and was himself God. This incarnation Christology is one of the ‘highest’ views of Christ to be found in the New Testament…” (Ibid., pp. 297-298; bold emphasis ours)

Ehrman also comments on Jesus’ use of the phrase “I Am”:

“Even though this view of Christ as the Logos made flesh is not found anywhere in the Gospel of John, its views are obviously closely aligned with the Christology of the Gospel otherwise. That is why Christ can make himself ‘equal with God’ (John 5:18); can say that he and the Father ‘are one’ (10:30); can talk about the ‘glory’ he had with the Father before coming into the world (17:4); can say that anyone who has seen him has ‘seen the Father’ (14:9); and can indicate that ‘before Abraham was, I am’ (8:58). This last verse is especially intriguing. As we have seen, in the Hebrew Bible when Moses encounters God at the burning bush in Exodus 3, he asks God what his name is. God tells him that his name is ‘I am.’ In John, Jesus appears TO TAKE THE NAME UPON HIMSELF. Here he does not receive ‘the name that is above every name’ at his exaltation after his resurrection, as in the Philippians poem (Phil. 2:9). He already has ‘the name’ while on earth. Throughout the Gospel of John, the unbelieving Jews understand full well what Jesus is saying about himself when he makes such claims. They regularly take up stones to execute him for committing blasphemy, for claiming in fact to be God.” (Ehrman, pp. 278-279; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The next set of quotes concerning John’s Gospel are taken from another one of Ehrman’s books criticizing the Holy Bible:

“Thing are quite different in the Gospel of John. In Mark, Jesus teaches principally about God and the coming kingdom, hardly ever talking directly about himself, except to say that he must go to Jerusalem to be executed, whereas in John, that is practically all that Jesus talks about: who he is, where he has come from, where he is going, and how he is the one who can provide eternal life.

“Jesus does not preach about the future kingdom of God in John. The emphasis is on his own identity, as seen in the ‘I am’ sayings. He is the one who can bring life-giving sustenance (‘I am the bread of life’ 6:35); he is the one who brings enlightenment (‘I am the light of the world’ 9:5); he is the only way to God (‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me’ 14:6). Belief in Jesus is the way to have eternal salvation: ‘whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (3:36). HE IN FACT IS EQUAL WITH GOD: ‘I and the Father are one’ (10:30). His Jewish listeners appear to have known full well what he was saying: they immediately pick up stones to execute him for blasphemy.

“In one place in John, JESUS CLAIMS THE NAME OF GOD FOR HIMSELF, saying to his Jewish interlocutors, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58). Abraham, who lived 1,800 years earlier, was the father of the Jews, and Jesus is claiming to have existed before him. But he is claiming more than that. He is referring to a passage in the Hebrew Scriptures where God appears to Moses at the burning bush and commissions him to go to Pharaoh and seek the release of his people. Moses asks God what God’s name is, so that he can inform his fellow Israelites which divinity has sent him. God replies, ‘I Am Who I Am … say to the Israelites, “I Am has sent me to you”’ (Exodus 3:14). So when Jesus says ‘I Am,’ in John 8:58, HE IS CLAIMING THE DIVINE NAME FOR HIMSELF. Here again his Jewish hearers had no trouble understanding his meaning. Once more, out come the stones.” (Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We don’t Know About Them) [HarperOne, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 2009], Three. A Mass Of Variant Views, pp. 79-80; bold and capital emphasis ours)

So according to Ehrman, John depicts Jesus as an eternal Being who has always possessed God’s name and has always been equal to God the Father.

In the second part of our discussion https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/will-the-real-bart-ehrman-please-stand-up-pt-2/, we are going to see Ehrman claiming that some of the early Christians believed that Jesus Christ is the human incarnation of the OT Angel of Yahweh, and how this admission further illustrates Ehrman’s gross inconsistencies.

Shabir Ally Proves Muhammad was a Terrorist! Pt. 2

I continue from where I left off https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/shabir-ally-proves-muhammad-was-a-terrorist-pt-1b/.

Recall Ally’s second criteria which he uses to determine whether a religious book’s teaching on war is just or not, namely, does the Book present its heroes and models as peaceful individuals? Ally employs this specific criterion to show how specific OT characters, which are associated with violence, are depicted within the Quran as being peaceful individuals, whose violent deeds are not recorded or are considerably toned down. Ally argues that this is evidence that the Quran’s message to Muslims is that they are to strive to live at peace with everyone, including the unbelievers, and should never harm or attack anyone simply because they do not believe in Islam.

We are now going to use Ally’s criterion to prove the exact opposite point by showing how Muhammad took a rather important biblical figure and reshaped his story in such a way as to mimic Muhammad’s view of unbelievers, in order to give the deceptive and misleading impression that all of God’s true prophets treated disbelievers in the exact same way that Muhammad did.

The Quranic Proof

And We verily gave knowledge unto David and Solomon, and they said: Praise be to Allah, Who hath preferred us above many of His believing slaves! And Solomon was David’s heir. And he said: O mankind! Lo! we have been taught the language of birds, and have been given (abundance) of all things. This surely is evident favour. And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order; Till, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving. And (Solomon) smiled, laughing at her speech, and said: My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Thy favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto Thee, and include me in (the number of) Thy righteous slaves. And he sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? I verily will punish him with hard punishment or I verily will slay him, or he verily shall bring me a plain excuse. But he was not long in coming, and he said: I have found out (a thing) that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings. Lo! I found a woman ruling over them, and she hath been given (abundance) of all things, and hers is a mighty throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah; and Satan maketh their works fairseeming unto them, and debarreth them from the way (of Truth), so that they go not aright; So that they worship not Allah, Who bringeth forth the hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knoweth what ye hide and what ye proclaim, Allah; there is no God save Him, the Lord of the Tremendous Throne. (Solomon) said: We shall see whether thou speakest truth or whether thou art of the liars. Go with this my letter and throw it down unto them; then turn away and see what (answer) they return, (The Queen of Sheba) said (when she received the letter): O chieftains! Lo! there hath been thrown unto me a noble letter. Lo! it is from Solomon, and lo! it is: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; Exalt not yourselves against me, but come unto me as those who surrender. She said: O chieftains! Pronounce for me in my case. I decide no case till ye are present with me. They said: We are lords of might and lords of great prowess, but it is for thee to command; so consider what thou wilt command. She said: Lo! kings, when they enter a township, ruin it and make the honour of its people shame (athillatan). Thus will they do. But lo! I am going to send a present unto them, and to see with what (answer) the messengers return. So when (the envoy) came unto Solomon, (the King) said: What! Would ye help me with wealth? But that which Allah hath given me is better than that which He hath given you. Nay it is ye (and not I) who exult in your gift. Return unto them. We verily shall come unto them with hosts that they cannot resist, and we shall drive them out from thence WITH SHAME, AND THEY WILL BE ABASED (athillatan wahum saghiroona). He said: O chiefs! Which of you will bring me her throne before they come unto me, surrendering? A stalwart of the jinn said: I will bring it thee before thou canst rise from thy place. Lo! I verily am strong and trusty for such work. One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: I will bring it thee before thy gaze returneth unto thee. And when he saw it set in his presence, (Solomon) said: This is of the bounty of my Lord, that He may try me whether I give thanks or am ungrateful. Whosoever giveth thanks he only giveth thanks for (the good of) his own soul; and whosoever is ungrateful (is ungrateful only to his own soul’s hurt). For lo! my Lord is Absolute in independence, Bountiful. He said: Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will go aright or be of those not rightly guided. So, when she came, it was said (unto her): Is thy throne like this? She said: (It is) as though it were the very one. And (Solomon said): We were given the knowledge before her and we had surrendered (to Allah). And (all) that she was wont to worship instead of Allah hindered her, for she came of disbelieving folk. It was said unto her: Enter the hall. And when she saw it she deemed it a pool and bared her legs. (Solomon) said: Lo! it is a hall, made smooth, of glass. She said: My Lord! Lo! I have wronged myself, and I surrender with Solomon unto Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. S. 27:15-44 Pickthall 

The Analysis

This fairy tale provides several key insights into the mindset of Muhammad since it reveals that he had always intended to mount an offensive assault against anyone and everyone who believed in a religion other than Islam.

The first thing to notice is that the queen of Sheba is caught totally off guard when the hoopoe delivers and drops Solomon’s letter into her palace, showing that she hadn’t made any threats against Solomon and his people. Rather, she and her people were minding their own business when Solomon allegedly sent a letter threatening her that she and her people had to convert or suffer the consequences.

This is precisely what Muhammad did, namely, send threatening letters to various kings and peoples, telling them to surrender to Islam if they didn’t want to come under his wrath. Muhammad even started off his letters in the same way that he had Solomon begin the letter that he supposedly sent to the Queen of Sheba, namely, by writing “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”!

It has been narrated on the authority of Anas that the Prophet of Allah wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome), Negus (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) despot inviting them to Allah, the Exalted. And this Negus was not the one for whom the Messenger of Allah had said the funeral prayers. (Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4382 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=019&translator=2&start=0&number=4382)

And:

The Prophet was commanded to convey Islam to all of mankind. Allaah said (interpretation of the meaning):

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind”

[Saba’ 34:28]

So the Messenger of Allaah did as he was commanded. He called his people and those who were around him first, and when Islam became established in Arabia, and the Arabs entered the religion of Allaah in crowds, he began to call others, and he sent his messengers and envoys to the kings and rulers.

Muslim (1774) narrated from Anas that the Prophet of Allaah wrote to Chosroes, Caesar, the Negus and to every tyrant, calling them to Allaah. This was not the Negus for whom the Prophet offered the funeral prayer.

Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath:

The Prophet wrote to the Negus who became Muslim and for whom he offered the funeral prayer when he died, then he wrote to the Negus who came to the throne after him and who was a kaafir.

The Prophet sent ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Hudhaafah to Chosroes; Dahyah to Caesar the king of Byzantium; Saleet ibn ‘Amr to Hawdhah ibn ‘Ali in al-Yamaamah; al-‘Ala’ ibn al-Hadrami to al-Mundhir ibn Saawa in Hajar; ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas to Jayfar and ‘Abbaad, the two sons of al-Jalandi in ‘Ammaan; Shujaa’ ibn Wahb to Ibn Abu Shamir al-Ghassaani; and Haatib ibn Abi Balta’ah to al-Muqawqis. He wrote to the Negus and he became Muslim, and when he died, he wrote to the Negus who succeeded him and sent ‘Amr ibn Umayyah to him.

The Messenger of Allaah called them to Islam and to worship Allaah alone.

See Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim (3/688-697), where he quotes the letters of the Prophet and the responses of those kings.

The text of the letter of the Messenger of Allaah to Heraclius the king of Byzantium was as follows:

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad the slave and Messenger of Allaah to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantium. Peace be upon those who follow true guidance. I call you with the call of Islam. Become Muslim and you will be safe, and Allaah will grant you a two-fold reward, but if you turn away, upon you will be the sins of the Areesiyyeen (peasants i.e., his followers and subjects who would follow him in kufr).

‘Say (O Muhammad): “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allaah (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allaah. Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims”’

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:64].”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 7; Muslim, 1773.

None of these kings believed except for the first Negus, the king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), and the king of ‘Ammaan and his brother.

Heraclius would have become Muslim, were it not that he feared what his people would do to him. He was afraid that he would lose his kingdom. The same was true of the others, who preferred the life of this world to the Hereafter, so ultimately they were the losers.

It is narrated in al-Bukhaari and Muslim, in the hadeeth referred to above, that when Heraclius asked Abu Sufyaan about the attributes of the Prophet and the message to which he was calling people, he acknowledged that he was indeed the Messenger of Allaah. He said:

“If what you say is true, then he is a Prophet, and he will soon occupy the place beneath these two feet of mine. I knew that he would emerge, but I did not think that he would be from among you. If I knew that I could reach him definitely, I would have done my utmost to go to meet him, and if I were with him, I would wash his feet.”

This indicates that he knew that he would not be safe from being killed if he were to migrate to the Prophet. It was narrated that he said: “I know that (i.e., what they said about the Prophet) is correct, but I cannot do anything. If I do anything my kingdom will be lost and the Romans (Byzantines) will kill me.” And it was also narrated that he said: “By Allaah, I know that he is a Prophet who has been sent, but I fear the Byzantines and what they will do to me. Were it not for that, I would follow him.”

Ibn al-Qayyim mentions in Zaad al-Ma’aad (3/694) that when Heraclius heard news of the Negus becoming Muslim, he said: “By Allaah, were it not for the sake of holding on to my kingdom, I would have done what he has done.”

His fear for himself and his kingdom prevented him from becoming Muslim and migrating to the Prophet.

But if Heraclius had really understood the words of the Prophet in the letter that he sent to him: “Become Muslim and you will be safe,” and he had understood that in general terms as applying both to this world and the Hereafter, he would have been safe from all that he feared if he had become Muslim. But guidance is in the hand of Allaah. The Negus, the king of Abyssinia, became Muslim and remained in power.

See Fath al-Baari, commentary on hadeeth no. 7; Sharh Muslim by al-Nawawi, hadeeth no. 1773. (Islam Question and Answer, 36861: The letters of the Prophet to the kings https://islamqa.info/en/36861; bold emphasis ours)

The supposed reaction of Heraclius is similar to the queen of Sheba’s alleged response and therefore highlights the fact that, much like the latter’s reaction to Solomon’s threat, the Byzantine emperor was caught off guard by Muhammad’s letter.

All of this indicates that Heraclius and the other leaders to whom Muhammad wrote hadn’t done anything to provoke Muhammad to war. It was Muhammad who started the threats and hostilities with the unbelievers, not the other way around.

This is further confirmed by what Muhammad has Solomon saying in response to the queen’s reply to his threatening letter:

Go thou back unto them [that have sent thee]! For, [God says:] “We shall most certainly come upon them with forces which they will never be able to withstand, and shall most certainly cause them to be driven from that [land of theirs], despicable and humbled! (athilatan wahum saghiroona)!’” S. 27:37 Muhammad Asad

Solomon threatens to attack the queen and her people until they are driven from their land in humiliation in order to show how despicable they truly are.

Compare this with the way the following English versions of the Quran render this passage:

Go back to them, for We shall come to them with armies they can never resist. We shall expel them from it just like the meanest people, and they will be humiliated. T. B. Irving

Go back [and tell] them, that we will come to them with soldiers whom they will be unable to face, and We will expel them from their land in humiliation, and disgrace. Safi Kaskas

Go back to your people: we shall certainly come upon them with irresistible forces, and drive them, disgraced and humbled, from their land.’ Abdel Haleem

Return to them. We will come to them with troops they cannot face and we will expel them from it abased and humiliated. Aisha Bewley

“… Indeed, we will definitely drive them out there from humiliated, and they will be (utterly) belittled.” Muhammad Mahmoud Ghali

Go back to them, and we will bring to them forces they have no power to face, and we will certainly drive them out from there in humiliation while they are disgraced. Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Return to them, for we will surely come to them with soldiers that they will be powerless to encounter, and we will surely expel them therefrom in humiliation, and they will be debased. Sahih International

So go back to them (with your gifts). We shall come with such troops (to invade) them that they will not have (the power) to fight back, and, humiliating them, we shall drive them out from there in such a plight that they will be dishonoured (becoming prisoners).’ Dr. Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

“… And we shall certainly cause them to be driven therefrom, humiliated and belittled!” Mohammad Shafi

(To the hoopoe, he said,) “Go back to them (and let them know that) we will come to them with forces they cannot imagine. We will evict them, humiliated and debased.” Khalifa

These translations help highlight what Muhammad was really thinking and what he really felt about the unbelievers.

In fact, what makes this verse all the more relevant in unveiling Muhammad’s view of the unbelievers, and what he was planning to do to them once he had the upper hand, is that the very word for humiliate, belittle etc., which appears here, namely saghiroona, is also found in Q. 9:29, which happens to be the very passage where Muhammad called for the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians!

Here are a couple of translations of that particular text:

Fight those who neither believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not embrace the religion of the truth, being among those who have been given the Book (Bible and the Torah), until they pay tribute out of hand and have been humiliated (saghiroona). Hasan Al-Fatih Qaribullah

From those to whom the Knowledge (Book) has been given, fight those who do not believe in Allah and the life to come (beyond death), who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Rasul have made forbidden, and who do not embrace the understanding of the Religion of Truth (the knowledge of the reality and sunnatullah) until they are humbled and give the jizyah (the cost of persisting on a false belief) willingly. Ahmed Hulusi

What makes this even more interesting is that this Arabic word saghir is employed in the context of Allah disgracing and humiliating Satan for disobeying his command:

(Allah) said: “(O Iblis) get down from this (Paradise), it is not for you to be arrogant here. Get out, for you are of those humiliated and disgraced (al-saghireena).” S. 7:13 Hilali-Khan

Hence, Muslims are to treat unbelieving Jews and Christians in the same way that Allah treats Satan!

Ally’s Dilemma

Thanks to Ally’s own criterion we have come to discover that Muhammad was indeed a violent man who had always intended to attack the unbelievers in order to force them to become Muslims or, in the case of the Jews and Christians, pay a sum of money as a sign that they had been subjugated/humiliated/abased/disgraced by Muhammad and his hordes. As one renowned Muslim scholar and commentator put it:

Paying Jizyah is a Sign of Kufr AND DISGRACE

Allah said…

<until they pay the Jizyah>, if they do not choose to embrace Islam…

<with willing submission>, in defeat and subservience…

<and feel themselves subdued.>, DISGRACED, HUMILIATED AND BELITTLED. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, FOR THEY ARE MISERABLE, DISGRACED AND HUMILIATED. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said…

<<Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, FORCE THEM TO ITS NARROWEST ALLEY.>>

This is why the Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, THESE CONDITIONS THAT ENSURED THEIR CONTINUED HUMILIATION, DEGRADATION AND DISGRACE. The scholars of Hadith narrated from `Abdur-Rahman bin Ghanm Al-Ash`ari that he said, “I recorded for `Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, the terms of the treaty of peace he conducted with the Christians of Ash-Sham:

‘In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. This is a document to the servant of Allah `Umar, the Leader of the faithful, from the Christians of such and such city. When you (Muslims) came to us we requested safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion.

We made a condition on ourselves that we will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims.

We will not prevent any Muslim from resting in our churches whether they come by day or night, and we will open the doors [of our houses of worship] for the wayfarer and passerby.

Those Muslims who come as guests, will enjoy boarding and food for three days.

We will not allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit [or betrayal] against Muslims.

We will not teach our children the Qur’an, publicize practices of Shirk, invite anyone to Shirk or prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.

We will respect Muslims, MOVE FROM THE PLACES WE SIT IN IF THEY CHOOSE TO SIT IN THEM.

We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons.

We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor.

We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets.

We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discretely, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices [with prayer] at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets.

We will not bury our dead next to Muslim dead, or buy servants who were captured by Muslims. We will be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.’

When I gave this document to `Umar, he added to it, `We will not beat any Muslim. These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion IN RETURN FOR SAFETY AND PROTECTION. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 9:29 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2566&Itemid=64; capital and underline emphasis ours)

This is why Muhammad deliberately reshaped Solomon’s character to resemble his own, recasting this true prophet and anointed Israelite king to mimic Muhammad’s own attitude and treatment of unbelievers. Muhammad obviously did this in order to convince his followers that this has always been the way that God’s true emissaries have dealt with the disbelievers.

Yet in painting Solomon in this manner, Muhammad revealed his true attitude and desires, exposing the fact that right from the very beginning his intention had been to attack the unbelievers until he had total control over them so he could then impose his will upon them.

Therefore, if Ally is going to be consistent and honest he has no choice but to accept the fact that per his own criterion, Muhammad was an evil tyrant whose desire had always been to violently subjugate the unbelievers since he could not tolerate the fact of people following a religion other than his own.

Thus, instead of vindicating Muhammad Ally’s methodology actually condemns him as an unjust and wicked impostor whose idea of peace meant that everyone either had to become Muslim or come under his total control and dominance. In Muhammad’s mind, this was the only way that true peace could be obtained and become a reality.

We therefore want to personally thank Ally for arbitrarily coming up with a criterion that ended up helping us expose his false prophet for being the evil, vile human being that he truly was. We truly appreciate Ally’s assistance in strengthening our case against his prophet, and do hope he continues his indirect jihad against Muhammad since we will be right here waiting for him to come with more arguments for us to use against his false prophet.

Related Articles

Muhammad – I am all the Prophets http://www.answeringislam.net/Quran/Sources/allprophets.html

Is Islam a Religion of Peace? http://answeringislam.net/Shamoun/na_debate.htm

Muhammad and the Meccans: Who Antagonized Whom? http://answeringislam.net/Shamoun/antagonizing.htm

Muhammad the Antagonist Still! http://answeringislam.net/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/zawadi/mo_antagonizer.html

Banu Qurayza – A Tribe Betrayed http://answeringislam.net/Responses/Osama/zawadi_banu_qurayza.htm

Reexamining Muhammad’s Treachery Against the Banu Qurayza http://answeringislam.net/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/zawadi/mo_qurayza.html

The Prophet of Terror and Mayhem Pt. 1 https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/the-prophet-of-terror-and-mayhem-pt-1/, Pt. 2 https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/the-prophet-of-terror-and-mayhem-pt-2/, Pt. 3 https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/the-prophet-of-terror-and-mayhem-pt-3/

 

One Mediator and One God: Addressing the Misuse of 1 Timothy 2:5 by Protestant Apologists

OR

Deriving Right Doctrines from Wrong Texts Pt. 2

I proceed with my reply https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/one-mediator-and-one-god-addressing-the-misuse-of-1-timothy-25-by-protestant-apologists/ by focusing on how the inspired Greek NT employs the word heis (“one”), to see whether there is any merit to the Roman Catholic claim that this particular term doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of some one else sharing in or possessing that specific quality, role, title etc. ascribed to a particular individual or thing.

I will cite verses where the word heis is used in reference to a particular individual that is described as carrying out a specific function or possessing a certain name or quality, and then quote passages where others are said to also perform that same task or described as having that same title or characteristic.

God Alone Is Good

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone (oudeis agathos, ei me heis, ho Theos).” Mark 10:17-18

Compare:

“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good (agathos) and righteous man,” Luke 23:50 ESV

“The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good (agathos) man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.” Acts 11:22-24

God Alone Is Holy 

“Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy (hoti monos hosios). All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4

Compare:

“Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but he, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy (hosios), innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:23-26

Even though the verse employs monos instead of heis, it is still relevant nonetheless since it shows the flexibility in which these terms are used in the God-breathed Scriptures.

One Lord 

“… and one Lord (heis Kyrios), Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:6b

one Lord (ho Kyrios), one faith, one baptism;” Ephesians 4:5

Compare:

“With it we bless the Lord and Father (ton Kyrion kai Patera), and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.” James 3:9

“Worthy are you, Lord our God (ho Kyrios kai Theos hemon), to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.” Revelation 4:11

“Slaves, obey your human masters (kata sarka kyriois) in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord (ton Kyrion). Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord (to Kyrio) and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord (apo Kyriou) the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ (to Kyrio Christo). For the wrongdoer will receive recompense for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality. Masters (Hoi kyrioi), treat your slaves justly and fairly, realizing that you too have a Master (Kyrion) in heaven.” Colossians 3:22-4:1

One Teacher

“As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher (heis gar estin hymon ho didaskalos), and you are all brothers.” Matthew 23:8

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord (Ho Didaskalos kai ho Kyrios),’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher (ho Kyrios kai ho Didaskalos), have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14 NIV

Compare:

“Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers (didaskalous); then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers (didaskaloi)? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 

One Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock (mia poimne), one shepherd (heis poimen).” John 10:14-16 – cf. 1 Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20

Compare:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds (poimainein) of the church of God, which he bough with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 New International Version (NIV)

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (poimenas kai didaskalous), to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 English Standard Version (ESV)

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds (poimanate) of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV

One Judge 

There is one lawgiver and judge (heis estin [ho] nomothetes kai krites) who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12

“Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his SonAnd he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22, 27

“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42 – cf. 17:30-31

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by HIS appearing and HIS kingly power… From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for HIS appearanceThe Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to HIS heavenly kingdom. To HIM be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 18 – cf. Matthew 16:27; 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 4:2-5; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Compare:

“Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,” 1 Peter 1:17

“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28

“How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones? Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters?” 1 Corinthians 6:1-3

Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for [the] thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

One Father

“Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven (heis gar estin hymon ho Pater, ho ouranios).” Matthew 23:9

Compare:

“For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us,” Romans 4:17

“I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:14-15

“Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.’” Ephesians 6:1-3

This last case is rather interesting:

“They answered and said to him, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God (hena Patera echomen, ton Theon).’” John 8:39-41

The Jews tell Jesus that they have one Father, namely God, right after claiming that Abraham was their father!

With the foregoing in perspective, it is clear that heis does not always exclude other individuals from sharing in the characteristics and/or functions assigned to a specific person. As we have seen, it can and often does convey the sense of first, primary, but not the only one in the sense of excluding anything or anyone else from possessing those particular qualities or roles assigned to a specific individual. As such, citing a text where the Lord Jesus is said to be the one mediator doesn’t in and of itself exclude others from participating in Christ’s mediation. In fact, in the next part of our discussion we will see how born again believers are called to participate in Christ’s priestly work, and are therefore expected to pray and make intercession for the salvation of all mankind, which is precisely what a mediator does.