Saturday, 16 June 2018

What is God’s Will for Man According to Christ?

There are Muslim apologists who are fond of quoting the following text to prove that Jesus taught Islam:
“Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.’ Answering them, He said, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.’” Mark 3:31-35
These polemicists argue that since Islam means submitting to God’s will, Jesus was therefore basically exhorting his followers to become Muslims by telling them that they must do the will of God. 
However, these taqiyyists conveniently forget to mention that Mark doesn’t leave us guessing as to what God’s will is for believers, but actually spells it out for us. 
Here is what God's will is according to this very same Gospel cited by these Muslim taqiyyists to establish their position:
“Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM!’” Mark 9:2-7 – cf. Matthew 17:1-5; 2 Peter 1:16-18
There are several points that need to be noted here. To begin with, we have the Lord Jesus being transformed in the presence of his followers in order to reveal to them his inner, abiding divine glory. We also have Moses and Elijah appearing as a testimony to the fact that Christ is the One whom the prophetic writings announced would be coming into the world.  We then have God the Father himself coming down in a cloud for the purpose of exhorting the disciples to listen to Christ since he is the Son whom he loves, a fact which God had already borne witness to on a previous occasion:
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I AM WELL-PLEASED.’” Mark 1:9-11 – cf. Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:22
Noted NT scholar Larry W. Hurtado helps bring out the significance of this event:
9:2-13 / The open and forthright nature of Jesus’ teaching about his coming death in 8:31-32 is matched here by a powerful disclosure of his true significance as the Son of God… The placement of this account right after Jesus’ promise of his future, glorious vindication (8:38-9:1) shows the reader a glimpse of that glory. The direct connection of this event with the sayings in 8:38-9:1 is underscored by the note after six days in 9:2, meaning six days after the sayings in 8:38-9:1 (cf. Luke 9:28, “about eight days”). The mention of six days is, however, also very likely an allusion to Exodus 24:15, where after six days, Moses is summoned to a mountaintop and is given a revelation of God. We have already seen how Mark alludes to the OT to elucidate the significance of the events he recounts.Here the point of the allusion is to alert the reader that what is about to take place IS A MANIFESTATION OF GOD (A THEOPHANY) like that mentioned in Exodus 24:15-18 and that a new revelation is here given that therefore surpasses the former one to Moses. (Hurtado, Mark: New International Biblical Commentary Based on the New International Version [Hendricksen Publishers, Inc., 1989], p. 144; capital and underline emphasis ours)
“Thus, several features in the account attest that Jesus is the Messiah and that his presence is the fulfillment of hopes for God’s salvation. But the passage shows that Jesus is even more than this. Additional items in the narrative show what this ‘more’ is. First, there is the description of Jesus’ transfigured appearance in 9:2-3. The reference to the dazzling white clothes (v. 3) is an allusion to Daniel 7:9, which is a description of God. This allusion suggests that the experience of the disciples in 9:2-13 IS A DIVINE MANIFESTATION like the visions of OT prophets (in addition to Dan. 7:9-14, see also Isa. 6:1-3; Ezek. 1:4-28; 8:1-4). But this means that the ‘transfiguration’ of Jesus shows him IN A FORM LIKE GOD, meaning that he is not just as the Messiah, an especially godly human chosen to rule in God’s name, HE IS HIMSELF ‘CLOTHED’ IN DIVINE GLORY.
“Second, the voice from heaven in 9:7 confirms this transcendent significance of Jesus in acclaiming him my Son, whom I love. The phrase is exactly the same as the first part of the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (1:11) and, like that statement, bestows upon Jesus AN UNEQUALED STATUS. ‘Beloved Son’ means that, of all those who have been called sons of God (in the OT, Israel, the king of Israel; in later literature, a righteous man), Jesus is superior to them all. Together with the transfigured appearance of Jesus, this statement shows that THERE RESTS UPON HIM UNPARALLELED GLORY AND DIVINE FAVOR. The cloud (9:7), recalling OT accounts in which the presence and glory of God are indicated by a cloud covering the spot where God manifests himself to someone (cf., e.g., Exod. 16:10; 19:9; 24:15-18; 34:5; 40:34-38), means that the unnamed voice from the cloud is the very voice of God.” (Ibid., pp. 145-146; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Hence, the will of God according to Mark is to believe that the Lord Jesus is the unique divine Son of God whom the Father loves and delights in!
Seeing that Muhammad denied that Christ is the divine Son of God,
The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them.God assail them! How they are perverted! S. 9:30 Arberry
He therefore stands condemned as a false prophet and an antichrist whose message turns God into a liar (God forbid!):
“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23
“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:9-12
There is more to the story. Jesus, elsewhere, told his followers that they must give up everything they have, even their own lives, for his sake. He further warned them that failing to do so would result in his coming to denounce them when he arrives with his angels to judge the world.
What makes these statements relevant to our discussion is that the Lord Jesus said these things to his disciples shortly before his transfiguration:
“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow ME. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for MY SAKE, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed OF ME and MY WORDS, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.’ Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing becamewhite and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. While he was saying this, a cloud formed andbegan to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him! And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.” Luke 9:26-36 – cf. Mark 8:34-38, 9:1; Matthew 16:24-28 (See also Mark 10:17-30; Matthew 10:37-39.) 
What this basically shows is that the Father was giving his express approval to everything that the Lord Jesus demanded from his disciples. In other words, by telling them to listen to his beloved Son the Father was testifying that it is his express will for all of Jesus’ followers to be willing to give up everything – including their own lives if necessary – for the sake of his glorious Son.
This isn’t the only thing that Christ expected his followers to do. After his resurrection, Jesus commanded the disciples to go into the entire world announcing to all men that they must turn to the risen Lord and believe in his name if they want to receive salvation from their sins:
“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed IN HIS NAME to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of MY FATHER upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:44-53 – cf. Matthew 28:16-20
And this is precisely what the Apostles went around doing, starting at Jerusalem:
“‘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. For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: The Lord declared to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!’ When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: ‘Brothers, what must we do?’ ‘Repent,’ Peter said to them, ‘and be baptized, each of you, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, ‘Be saved from this corrupt generation!’” Acts 2:29-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. You killed THE SOURCE OF LIFE, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. By faith IN HIS NAME, HIS NAME has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you. And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets—that His Messiah would suffer—He has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. Heaven must welcome Him until the times of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about by the mouth of His holy prophets from the beginning. Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen TO HIM in everything HE WILL SAY to you. And everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people. In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:16-26 HCSB
“The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: ‘By what power or in what name have you done this?’ Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed—let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation IN NO ONE ELSE, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.’ When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response. After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it! However, so this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.’ So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:5-20
“The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (HE IS LORD OF ALL)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And HE ORDERED US to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him ALL THE PROPHETS bear witness that THROUGH HIS NAME everyone who believes IN HIM receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:36-43
Thus, God’s will according to the inspired Scriptures is to believe in, obey and love his glorious Son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ since this is the only hope of salvation. As the Lord Jesus himself proclaimed in John’s Gospel:
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.’ Therefore they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, THAT YOU BELIEVE IN HIM WHOM HE HAS SENT… This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:27-29, 39-40
Therefore, the Muslim appeal to Mark’s Gospel ends up backfiring against these dawagandists since this Gospel shows that Christ and his followers were anything but Muslims. This in turn proves that Muhammad was a false prophet who preached a false message, one which contradicted the proclamation of the Lord Jesus and his blessed disciples. 
So much for the Muslim misuse of Mark’s Gospel.
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Related Articles

Jesus Christ – YHWH Ha Adon Incarnate!

In this article we are going to show how the NT writers took a specific title of Yahweh, namely the word adon (“Lord”), and applied it to the Lord Jesus in contexts where it is evident that they meant to identify the risen Lord as Yahweh Incarnate (even though they did not believe that he is the Father or the Holy Spirit).
The inspired Scriptures teach that Yahweh is our Lord or adon who ordains praise from the mouths of babes and infants so as to silence his enemies who refuse to do so:
Yahweh, our Lord (YHWH adonenu), how majestic is your name in all the earth, who has set your glory above the heavens! From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:1-2 WEB
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Septuagint (LXX), renders the divine name Yahweh (also referred to as the Tetragrammaton [“four letters”]) as (ho) Kyrios (Kyrie in the vocative) and adonenu as (ho) kyrios hemon:
O Lord, our Lord (kyrie ho kyrios hemon), how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! for thy magnificence is exalted above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise, because of thine enemies; that thou mightest put down the enemy and avenger.”
What makes this interesting is that the Lord Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2 to justify the worship he was receiving from the children, thereby silencing his enemies!
“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done,and the children who were shouting in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these children are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself”?’” Matthew 21:15-16
Now the only way that Christ could use this particular text as justification for the children praising him is if Jesus assumed that he was the Lord Yahweh whom the Psalmist was speaking of. As such, Jesus wasn’t simply identifying himself as adon in a general sense, but in the sense of being Yahweh Incarnate!
Christ is even said to be the Lord who knows all things:
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord (kyrie), You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:17
This isn’t the only text that ascribes omniscience to Christ:
“‘These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Meand have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” John 16:25-31
Here Jesus accepts the disciples’ confession that he is not only omniscient but that he also personally descended from the Father’s own presence in heaven and entered the world, thereby affirming his actual prehuman existence. 
Once again, the only way that Christ could ever be identified as the Lord who knows all things is if he is Yahweh Almighty in the flesh, since only Yahweh knows everything:
“Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge,” Job 37:16
“He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:4-5
“in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” 1 John 3:20
This again confirms that Jesus is being called Lord or kyrios in the sense of his being Yahweh God.
Moreover, the first Christians went as far as to worship Jesus as their Lord:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon ‘Iesou Christou), their Lord and ours… so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon ‘Iesou Christou), who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (te hemera tou kyriou hemon ‘Iesou Christou). God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (‘Iesou Christou tou kyriou hemon).” 1 Corinthians 1:2, 7-9
“This greeting is in my own hand—Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord (ton kyrion), a curse be on him. Marana tha that is, Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus (tou kyriou 'Iesou) be with you.” 1 Corinthians 16:21-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Here we see the earliest believers having communion with and worshiping the risen Lord in the same way that the OT saints praised Yahweh their God:
Exalt Yahweh our God. Worship at his footstool. He is Holy! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel among those who call on his name; they called on Yahweh, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud. They kept his testimonies, the statute that he gave them.” Psalm 99:5-7 WEB
I love Yahweh, because he listens to my voice, and my cries for mercy. Because he has turned his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death surrounded me, the pains of Sheol got a hold of me. I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called on Yahweh’s name: ‘Yahweh, I beg you, deliver my soul.’…  I will take the cup of salvation, and call on Yahweh’s name… I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on Yahweh’s name.” Psalm 116:1-4, 13, 17 WEB
Nor is this the only place where Jesus’ followers worshiped him as God:
“They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus (kyrie ‘Iesou), receive my spirit! Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord (kyrie), do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60
Contrast the way Stephen prayed to Jesus with the prayer of the Psalmist:
Into thine hands I will commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord (kyrie) God of truth.” Psalm 30[Heb. 31]:5 LXX
Now the only way that believers could have fellowship or intimate communion with their risen Lord is if Christ is omniscient and omnipresent. Yet Christ could only possess these characteristics if he is Yahweh God since no creature is capable of transcending time, space and place since a creature by definition is someone or something that is bound to the dimensions of space and time.
And not only do we see from 1 Corinthians how Christ’s disciples worshiped the Lord Jesus in the same way that OT believers worshiped Yahweh, we also see them ascribing other divine functions to him, such as referring to the day of Yahweh as the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Here is another text which does this very thing:
“just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus (te hemera tou kyriou hemon 'Iesou).” 2 Corinthians 1:14
Compare this with the way the OT Scriptures refer to this day, specifically in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible:
“Woe to you that desire the day of the Lord (ten hemeran kyriou)! What is this day of the Lord (he hemera tou kyriou) to you? Whereas it is darkness, and not light. As if a man should flee from the face of a lion, and a bear should meet him; and he should spring into his house, and lean his hands upon the wall, and a serpent should bite him. Is not the day of the Lord (he hemera tou kyriou) darkness, and not light? And is not this [day] gloom without brightness?” Amos 5:18-20 LXX
“Fear ye before the Lord God; for the day of the Lord (he hemera tou kyriou) is near; for the Lord has prepared his sacrifice, and has sanctified his guests And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will take vengeance on the princes, and on the king's house, and upon all that wear strange apparel. And I will openly take vengeance on the porches in that day, [on the men] that fill the house of the Lord their God with ungodliness and deceit… For the great day of the Lord (he hemera kyriou he megale) [is] near, [it is] near, and very speedy; the sound of the day of the Lord (hemeras kyriou) is made bitter and harsh. A mighty day of wrath is that day, a day of affliction and distress, a day of desolation and destruction, a day of gloominess and darkness, a day of cloud and vapour, a day of the trumpet and cry against the strong cities, and against the high towers. And I will greatly afflict the men, and they shall walk as blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord; therefore he shall pour out their blood as dust, and their flesh as dung. And their silver and their gold shall in nowise be able to rescue them in the day of the Lord's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealously; for he will bring a speedy destruction on all them that inhabit the land.” Zephaniah 1:7-9, 14-18 LXX
According to the OT this is the day in which Yahweh comes to judge the world in righteousness, just as the following examples clearly demonstrate:  
"but the Lord (ho kyrios) endures for ever: prepared his throne for judgment. And he will judge the world in righteousness, he will judge the nations in uprightness. Psalm 9:8-9 LXX
"The plains rejoice, and all things in them: then shall all the trees of the wood exult before the presence of the Lord (tou kyriou): for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth; he shall judge the world in righteousness, and the people with his truth." Psalm 95[Heb. 96]:12-13 LXX
And yet the first Christians testified that the Lord who is coming to judge the world is none other than Jesus himself!
This shows that for the early Church, Jesus is the Yahweh and adon whom the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of, even though the believers knew that Christ isn’t the Father or the Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew Bible further testifies that Yahweh reigns on high as the Lord of the earth, whom all the so-called gods such as the angels worship in acknowledgment of his exaltation over them:
Yahweh reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Let the multitude of islands be glad!... The mountains melt like wax at the presence of Yahweh, at the presence of the Lord (adon) of the whole earth… Let all them be shamed who serve engraved images, who boast in their idols. Worship him, all you gods! For you, Yahweh, are most high above all the earth. You are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:1, 5, 7, 9 WEB
The Lord (ho kyrios) reigns, let the earth exult, let many islands rejoice… The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord (kyriou), at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (kyriou pases tes ges)… Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels For thou art Lord most high (kyrios hypsistos) over all the earth; thou art greatly exalted above all gods.” Psalm 96:1, 5, 7, 9 LXX
Yahweh is high above all nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like Yahweh, our God, who has his seat on high, Who stoops down to see in heaven and in the earth?” Psalm 113:4-6 WEB
The Lord (ho kyrios) is high (hypselos) above all the nations; his glory is above the heavens. Who is as the Lord our God (kyrios ho theos hemon)? who dwells in the high places (hypselois), and [yet] looks upon the low things in heaven, and on the earth:” Psalm 112:5-6 LXX
And yet Jesus is exactly like God in this sense.
For example, the author of Hebrews testifies that Christ is the Lord who sits enthroned on high next to God the Father, being the Son whom the Father glorifies as God and as the immutable Creator and Sustainer of all things, for whom all things exist, including the angels who worship him as God’s Firstborn:
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (hypselois) And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.’… But of the Son He [the Father] says, ‘Your throne, O God (ho theos), is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.’ And, ‘You, Lord [Kyrie – the Son], in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 6, 8-12
Jesus himself affirmed that he is the incomprehensible Son who alone knows the Father, and therefore the only one qualified to make him known, and who has been entrusted with all things, which in context refers to him possessing absolute sovereignty over heaven and earth:
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’” Matthew 11:25-27
This is brought out more clearly in the following text:
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” Matthew 28:18
The disciples themselves went around preaching that Jesus has been exalted above all creation to become Lord of all, with all spiritual powers being completely subjected to him:
“The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—” Acts 10:36
“and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23
“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” 1 Peter 3:21-22
The Apostle Paul goes as far as to say that Christ reigns as the God-man over every rule and authority that exists:
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10
Noted Evangelical Christian Scholar Murray J. Harris brings out the significance of Paul’s statements:
“… The separation of katoikei from somatikos suggests that two distinct affirmations are being made (cf. Vincent 906): that the total plenitude of the Godhead dwells in Christ eternally and that this fullness now permanently resides in the incarnate Christ in bodily form. It is true that before the incarnation the pleroma did not reside in Christ somatikos; it is not true that before the incarnation the pleroma did not reside in him at all. Thus Paul implies both the eternal deity and the permanent humanity of Christ. Moreover, katoikei  somatikos implies that both before and after his resurrection Christ ‘possessed’ a soma (cf. 1:22; 1 Cor 15:44; Phil 3:21).” (Harris, Exegetical Guide To The Greek New Testament: Colossians And Philemon [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI 2010], p. 89; bold emphasis ours)
Now returning back to the OT witness, the prophets announced that Yahweh is the great God and Lord of lords,
“For Yahweh your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords (wa’adone ha’adonim), the great God (ha’el), the mighty, and the awesome, who doesn’t respect persons, nor takes reward.” Deuteronomy 10:17 WEB – cf. Psalm 136:3
“For the Lord your God, he [is] God of gods, and the Lord of lords (kai kyrios ton kyrion), the great God (ho theos ho megas), and strong, and terrible…” LXX
Titles and roles which the NT ascribes to the risen and glorified Jesus!
“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (tou megalou theou hemon kai soteros Christou ‘Iesou), who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:13-14
“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings (hoti kyrios kyrion estin kai basileus basileon), and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14 – cf. 19:16
As if the inspired Christian Scriptures couldn’t make it any more clearer that Christ is the divineadon, and therefore Yahweh God Incarnate, they even went as far as to proclaim that Christ is the only Master and Lord,
“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon despoten kai kyrion ‘Iesou Christou).” Jude 1:4
As well as the one Lord through whom all things were created and exist:
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ (heis kyrious ‘Iesous Christos), by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6
Astonishingly, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible renders the phrase ha adon as ho despotes,
“Therefore the Lord (ha adon), Yahweh of Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says: ‘Ah, I will get relief from my adversaries, and avenge myself on my enemies;’” Isaiah 1:24 WEB
“Therefore thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts (ho despotes kyrios sabaoth), Woe to the mighty [men] of Israel; for my wrath shall not cease against min adversaries, and I will execute judgement on mine enemies.” LXX
And identify Yahweh as Israel’s one supreme Lord!
“Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one (shema yisrael YHWH eloheinu YHWH echad).” Deuteronomy 6:4 WEB
“Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord (kyrios ho theos hemon kyrios heis esti).” LXX
Here we see how the translators of the Greek OT rendered the divine name Yahweh as kyrios. This shows that a Greek speaking Jew would have understood the NT reference to Jesus beingheis kyrios (“one Lord”) as Jesus being identified with the same Lord that is mentioned in Deuteronomy 6:4!
The foregoing examples make it abundantly clear that the first Christian believers –the majority of whom were Jews – were all worshiping and proclaiming that Jesus is Yahweh in the flesh, being the exalted adon of all the earth. There is simply no way around this exegetically and contextually.
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).


Jesus Christ – The Son of God Who Voluntarily Chose to Die for Me

Muslim apologists are fond of pitting the Lord Jesus against his blessed Apostle Paul by quoting from the Gospels and Paul’s letters to show how their teachings supposedly contradict each other. One example of an alleged contradiction which these polemicists are fond of bringing up is Paul’s claim in Philippians 2:6-7 that Christ voluntarily set aside his divine status in order to become a slave, which supposedly contradicts Jesus’ own words in John 8:42 that he hadn’t come on his own initiative or desire.
In light of this assertion we are going to carefully examine the words of the Lord Jesus and his inspired emissary to establish that there is no genuine contradiction between them. Rather, this is nothing more than another sad and desperate attempt by Muslim apologists to distort God’s revealed truth in order to pit the Holy Bible against itself.

God sends forth His Son
Here we are going to see that both Christ and his blessed servant affirm that Jesus is God’s Son whom the Father sent to fulfill his will of saving believers from their sins.   

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:37-40
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” John 8:42
“do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” John 10:36

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh… He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:3, 32
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-7

Christ willfully humbled Himself to die for the salvation of sinners 
In this section we shall now how Jesus and Paul also perfectly concur that Christ wasn’t forced to come against his will, but willingly accepted to come out of his love for his creation in order to redeem it by his vicarious death on the cross.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” Mark 10:45 – cf. Matthew 20:28
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”” Luke 19:10
“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:27
“This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”” John 6:50-51
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:10-18
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing;but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:9-15

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 1:15
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:13-14

Concluding Remarks
With the foregoing in perspective, it should now become quite apparent what the Lord Jesus meant when he stated that he had not come on his own initiative. His point wasn’t that he didn’t willfully come to the earth in order to save sinners. Rather, his point was that his choice to come down from heaven wasn’t something which was in direct opposition to his Father, an act which went against his Father’s desires, since this was a decision which was in perfect agreement with the Father’s will. As such, there is no conflict between the message of Christ and his servant Paul, but perfect harmony and consistency, which is what we would expect seeing that the Apostle was inspired by the Spirit of the risen Christ to speak and record the revelation which God wanted to pass on to the Churches:
“which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13
“If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” 1 Corinthians 14:37-38
“since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you… For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.” 2 Corinthians 13:3, 10
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” Ephesians 3:1-7
So much for this desperate Muslim polemic. 
Unless noted otherwise, all biblical quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Related Articles


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Answering Sami Zaatari on the Pharisaic Accusation that Christ Claimed Deity

Were the Pharisees correct to infer from Jesus’ bold statements that he was claiming to be God? According to sound exegesis of the 1st century texts, yes. According to a Muslim apologist whose 7th century Arabian tradition does not allow for Christ’s deity, no. In his article, The Jewish Accusations, Sami Zaatari argues one should not appeal to New Testament texts where the Pharisees charge Jesus with claiming to be God as an argument for Christ’s deity. Zaatari briefly looked at John 10:29-33, but should have also included John 5:16-18 since there the Pharisees charge Jesus with making himself God as well.
Were the Pharisees too Incompetent and Deceptive to know what Jesus was Saying?
Instead of offering a deep a meaningful discussion on such texts in order to ascertain whether or not the context dictates the Pharisees were inferring correctly based on Christ’s words and deeds, Zaatari’s approach is to argue that since Jesus elsewhere calls the Pharisees liars, hypocrites, sons of the devil, murderers, those who do not follow God’s commands, and those who follow extra-biblical traditions instead of the Word of God (Mk 7:5-9; Jn 8:44), it therefore follows the Pharisees were unreliable and thus definitely incorrect in their assessment that Jesus was claiming deity. Zaatari asserts,
“Well as in any other case, whenever a witness makes a claim, the first thing you do is check if the witness is even competent enough to be trusted. So are these certain Jews even to be trusted in the first place? ... according to Jesus his accusers are hypocrites, they do not follow their Torah, rather they throw it away, and use their own man made traditions. So it is quite clear that these accusers are not competent enough to be trusted, nor is their speech to be taken as evidence”
Thus, this criticism needs to be addressed since there are biblical and logical problems with it. Then afterwards we will refute Zaatari’s sloppy handling of John 10:29-33 and also explain John 5:17-18.
Although Jesus correctly identifies the Pharisees as deceptive hypocrites who set aside God’s Word based on their conduct and discussions with Him, did that mean for Jesus that it was impossible for them to get anything right or to infer anything correctly in regard to Jesus’ words and deeds or connected theological issues? According to the same 1st century material the answer must be given in the negative.
Jesus granted their general ability to explain and apply the Law of Moses correctly in Matthew 23:2-3 when he says “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat (v. 2).” This is significant since Christ is speaking in light of the fact that “synagogues had a stone seat at the front where the authoritative teacher, usually a grammateus (‘teacher of the law’), sat.”(1) Jesus then told the people to “observe whatever they [Scribes and Pharisees] tell you (v. 3)” which presupposes their general ability to correctly teach the Law. Thus, according to Christ they were not always incorrect about everything theologically related, though it was said they did not practice what they preached (v. 3b). This refutes Zaatari since, with regard to the Pharisees’ charge that Jesus claimed deity, he asks, “And these are the people whom the Christians want us to believe?! I don't think so” as though the position of Christ comports with Zaatari’s refusal to admit they could be right about certain things.
On this same note, it should be made clear that although Jesus castigates the Scribes and Pharisees as liars in certain texts etc., he was not hesitant to say when they got something right. For example, in Mark 12:30-34 Jesus explains the two most important commands: loving God and loving your neighbour (vv. 30-31). Then v. 32 says “And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher.” This demonstrates the Scribe was able to understand Jesus correctly and know his theological statements were true. Yet, Zaatari argues as though these people were completely untrustworthy as theological witnesses and could not have gotten anything right insofar as interpreting Jesus’ statements and deeds is concerned. Thus Zaatari claims, “it is quite clear that these accusers are not competent enough to be trusted.” However, v. 32 clearly shows this Scribe was competent enough to realize Jesus’ teaching was correct. This is why v. 34 says “when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’” Not only was this Scribe not incompetent, he actually answered wisely or intelligently (NASB) according to Christ.
Moreover, although Nicodemus the Pharisee was not able to understand everything Jesus said to him in John 3:1-15, he did on the other hand correctly understand Jesus’ teachings to prove He was in union with God the Father and not working of his own accord: “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him’” (John 3:2). Notice, Nicodemus said “we know” demonstrating other Pharisees were also able to infer correctly concerning Christ’s teachings that He was in union with God the Father and not a renegade false teacher, though many assumed the opposite.
Therefore, according to the same New Testament material Zaatari appealed to which shows the Pharisees and Scribes were inclined to lie and engage in error, we see it was in fact possible for them to infer correctly from Jesus’ statements and interpret him in a valid sense at times. Hence, Zaatari is not justified in arguing they could not have been correct in their observations as to what Jesus’ teachings about himself proved in regard to who exactly He was claiming to be in John 10:26-36.
Logical Problems with Zaatari’s Argument
Now, with respect to the logical problem with Zaatari’s approach, it needs to be stressed that just because someone is prone to lie or be inclined to error, that does not mean they can not be right about anything. It does not mean everything they say should be automatically discounted. Their claims should be judged based on evidence. It is the logical fallacy of the inappropriate generalization to argue that just because the Pharisees were prone to lie, therefore their statements about Jesus and their understandings of his words and deeds must all be wrong. That is an illogical position to take. I personally view Zaatari and his Muslim colleagues as liars but that does not mean I would say everything they say is wrong. If, by chance, Zaatari said something on doctrine or morals which comported with biblical revelation, then he would be right; though he is in error regularly and has repeatedly been exposed to deliberately lie in his attempts to discredit the Bible, as one can easily see from our many rebuttals to his argumentshere.
We demonstrated that according to Jesus and the New Testament witness, the Pharisees and Scribes were able to correctly infer things at times and were not completely incompetent. So now the decisive factor in determining the truth of this issue is whether or not exegesis of the relevant texts validates their charge that Jesus was claiming to be God, or if proper exegesis refutes their charge and shows they were wrong.
Exegesis of John 5:16-18; 10:26-36 Proves the Pharisees’ Correctness on this Matter
John 10:26-36
In his essay Zaatari only quoted and interacted with John 10:29-36. However, to really understand the text one must not start at v. 29, but must examine vv. 26-36:
26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one.” 31The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.32Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:26-36).
The first question is: Were the Pharisees correctly interpreting what Jesus said in vv. 26-30 which immediately led them to pick up stones in v. 31 and say Jesus was making Himself God in v. 33? If in vv. 26-30 Jesus said something indicating He was God, that means the Pharisees were right to say he was claiming deity in v. 33. Close examination of those verses shows Jesus was applying Old Testament texts about YHWH to Himself demonstrating He is the God of the Old Testament. Thus, in this case the Pharisees were correct in their assessment.
Themes in vv. 26-29 such as Jesus having sheep, sheep hearing Jesus’ voice, sheep following Christ, Jesus giving His sheep life, and no one snatching the sheep out of Jesus’ hand are lifted directly from Old Testament texts concerning YHWH and His sheep. Hence, Jesus was showing He is the God of the Old Testament. Such Old Testament texts include:
“5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:5-8).
“‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
2There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.6The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:2, 6)
13Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?” 14Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I send to Babylon and bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice” (Isaiah 43:13).
Hence, in vv. 31, 33 the Pharisees correctly realized Jesus was applying these Old Testament texts about YHWH to himself and rightfully stated He was making Himself God by doing so. Jesus adds to this Old Testament application by then declaring that He is one with the Father (v. 30). D. A. Carson’s comments are noteworthy:
“If ... Jesus’ will is exhaustively one with his Father’s will, some kind of metaphysical unity is presupposed, even if not articulated. Though the focus is on the common commitment of Father and Son to display protective power toward what they commonly own (17:10), John’s development of Christology to this point demands that some more essential unity be presupposed, quite in line with the first verse of the Gospel. Even from a structural point of view, this verse constitutes a ‘shattering statement’ (Lindards, BFG, p. 52), the climax to this part of the chapter, every bit as much as ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ forms a climax to ch. 8. The Jews had asked for a plain statement that would clarify whether or not he was the Messiah. He gave them far more, and the response was the same as in 5:18; 8:59.”(2)
Thus, according to the overall context and structural considerations, Jesus was claiming deity when saying He was one with the Father.
Now, the second question is: Is Zaatari correct in his assessment of vv. 33-36 that “Jesus does not accept their accusation [of claiming deity], rather he rejects their accusation”? He presents two arguments here. The first is Jesus allegedly corrects the Pharisees by identifying Himself as the Son of God in v. 36 which Zaatari claims “does not make you God, rather it made you a servant of God.” Hence, Zaatari posits Jesus denied their charge of claiming to be God and declared Himself a servant of God instead. Second, Zaatari argues Jesus’ quotation of Psalms 82:6 (“I said, you are gods”) shows Jesus rejected He was God Almighty.
However, he is reading things into the text when he asserts Jesus’ use of the title Son of God in v. 36 is a corrective to their accusation that He was claiming to be God. He also errs when claiming Jesus’ use of Psalms 82:6 somehow shows He did not believe He was YHWH. The actual meaning of this text leaves no room for Zaatari’s opinions as we will see.
Jesus’ point in vv. 34-36 is that if these Jews are going to fault Him for claiming to be the Son of God (as they did in 5:17-19 already), claiming to be one with the Father, and applying Old Testament YHWH texts to Himself, then they are inconsistent. Why? Because if it is blasphemous for Jesus to teach His divine sonship involving metaphysical unity with the Father, when Jesus was actually “consecrated and sent into the world” (presupposing pre-existence and unique unity with the Father), then surely these Jews are guilty of hypocrisy by this logic. For, men in Psalms 82:6 are called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” when they are neither metaphysically one with God the Father (deity), nor consecrated and sent into the world by the Father (pre-existent). Hence, Jesus was mocking them and their futile conclusion that He was a blasphemer when really He came from heaven and had the Father’s support. They, on the other hand, were hypocritical since they had no problem identifying mere mortal Israelite judges aselohim and sons of the Most High.
Far from denying deity, Jesus was simply showing their double standards and demonstrating how ignorant their charge of blasphemy really was. As noted, Jesus in v. 36 affirmed His pre-existence (by saying the Father set Him apart and sent Him into the world) and unique sonship (a divine Old Testament office different from your average “sons of God;” see Prov. 30:3-4; Isa. 9:6 cf. John 5:18); never rejecting their correct inference in v. 33 that He was making Himself God. Therefore, Zaatari is way off base when he claims, “he rejects their accusation.” There is nothing indicating that at all once the context is understood. That has to be read in. This is clear and so Merrill C. Tenney stated,
“Had Jesus not meant to convey a claim to deity, he undoubtedly would have protested the action of these Jews by declaring they had misunderstood him. On the contrary, Jesus introduced an a fortiori argument from the Psalms to strengthen his statement. Psalms 82:6 represents God as addressing a group of beings whom he calls ‘gods’ (Heb.Elohim) and ‘sons of the Most High.’ If, then, these terms could be applied to ordinary mortals or even angels, how could Jesus be accused of blasphemy when he applied them to himself whom the Father set apart and sent into the world on a special mission?”(3).
Confirming our point is A. W. Pink who noted:
“The meaning and force of our Lord’s argument is obvious. If, in a book which you admit to be of Divine authority, and all whose expressions are perfectly faultless, men which have received a Divine communication to administer justice to the people of God are called ‘gods’ and sons of the Highest; is it not absurd to bring against One who has a higher commission than they (One who had been sanctified and sent by the Father), and who presented far more evidence of His commission, a charge of blasphemy, because he calls Himself ‘the Son of God’?”(4).
Jesus was not saying that His title “Son of God” was on the same level as those in Psalms 82:6, he was simply showing that since they had a similar title they should likewise be condemned according to the faulty logic employed by the Pharisees. For more information on the uniqueness of Jesus’ title and position as Son of God see here.
Now, Zaatari’s concluding claim is that the Pharisees lied about Jesus asserting deity so that they could have Him executed. However, we refuted that by explaining Jesus never denied they were correct to infer He was claiming deity in John 10:26-36. He in fact affirms His deity very strongly in the context by applying Old Testament texts about YHWH directly to Himself and then affirming His oneness with the Father in a climactic way in v. 30, as well as His pre-existent sonship in v. 36.
Also, after applying those Old Testament texts to Himself and claiming to be one with the Father in vv. 26-30, the Pharisees immediately picked up stones in v. 31. This fits with our view which says they were genuinely offended and convinced He was blaspheming and claiming deity. This does not fit with Zaatari’s idea that “they began to create lies against Jesus, so they could use these lies as an excuse to murder him.” Their speedy grabbing of stones after Jesus’ bold claims is not the same thing as “creating lies against Jesus.” Again, their quick reaction shows they were not using lies as an excuse to Murder Him here, but were actually persuaded that He wasequating Himself with God, and they wanted to murder Him because of it.
John 5:16-18
Moreover, it is not the desire of John to convey the idea that the Jews were incorrect to think Jesus was claiming deity. We know this is the case because of John 5:16-18 which has a similar charge from the Jews. Zaatari failed to interact with this important text in his essay:
16And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ 18This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:16-18).
Notice when v. 18 says “he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” that this is John’s commentary on the situation. Why then did the Jews want to kill Jesus according to John? Was it not because they genuinely and correctly thought he was making Himself equal with God? John himself is affirming Jesus was, as a matter of fact, making Himself equal to God by identifying Himself as God’s Son; and that this is the reason the Jews wanted to kill him. He does not say they incorrectly or deceptively said he was making Himself equal with God as to get Jesus executed based on lies. So why would John in other places then switch his position and say the Pharisees lied by claiming Jesus was making Himself God, as Zaatari posits?
John affirms they were correct in their claim that He was asserting deity. This is because the Jewish persecution of Jesus for working on the Sabbath like His Father is recognition of the fact that Jesus was claiming to be on the level of God who alone sustains creation on the Sabbath (i.e., works on the Sabbath). As Andreas J. Köstenberger remarks,
“The consensus among Jewish rabbis was that God does indeed work constantly, but that this does not amount to him breaking the Sabbath. Since the entire universe is his domain, he cannot be charged with transporting an object from one domain to another; and God lifts nothing to a height greater than himself”(5).
By saying both He and the Father can work on the Sabbath, He was asserting that He is on the level with the One who constantly works due to upholding the universe. Christ’s deity was clearly affirmed and recognized by the Jews and John in regard to this point.
But, again, the question for Zaatari is: If John, as he argues, wished to convey the idea that the Jews were lying about Jesus claiming to be God so as to have him executed based on something they made up, why does this same author say, as a matter of fact, that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because he really was making Himself equal with God (v. 18)? The reality is the Jews actually did believe Jesus was blaspheming and hence that is one of the reasons they wanted to have him executed. It is not the author’s intention for people to come away with the false opinion that the Pharisees deceptively and incorrectly charged Jesus with claiming to be God. Thus, Zaatari needs to rethink his specious argument.

Christ has risen, He is Lord!

1.) D. A. Carson, Matthew, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 8, [Zondervan, 1984],  p. 471-472
2.) D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm B. Eerdmans, 1991], p. 395
3.) Merrill C. Tenney, John, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, [Zondervan, 1981], p. 113
4.) Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One, [Zondervan, 1975], pp. 556-557
5.) Andreas J. K√∂stenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, [Baker Academic, 2004], p. 185