Friday, 25 March 2016

A Case for the Deity of Christ in Light of Muslim Objections, Part V

Continuing from Part IV

2 Peter
"Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ… (2 Peter 1:1)

Here 2 Peter identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as our God and Savior. This is an explicit reference to the Deity of Christ from another early Christian document.

Muslim Objection:
Muslims will usually say that there is a differentiation between God and Jesus in the next verse – 2 Peter 1:2. Thus they say 1:1 is calling the Father “our God,” and only calling Jesus “our Savior.” Therefore, they say Jesus is not God.

Christian Response:
Firstly, if you make the claim that “our God” refers to the Father, and “Savior” refers to the Son in 1:1 then that causes major problems in the Greek. Moreover, other surrounding verses such as 1:11 and 3:18 indicate that Jesus is referred to as both God and Savior because of similar language being applied to Christ.
Dr. Ben Witherington III remarks:

The phrase “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” in 2 Peter 1:1 may be taken to mean that Jesus is both our God and our Savior.
In favour of this conclusion is the phrase “our Lord and Savior, Jesus” at 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18 (cf. 2 Pet 2:20; 3:2). Furthermore, as J.N.D. Kelly points out, if we distinguish two persons here, then the word “our” only refers to God, and we are left with the awkward phrase “Savior Jesus Christ” applied to Jesus. Against this, however, is said to be the immediate context in 2 Peter 1:2, where the phrase “of God and our Lord Jesus” is definitely a reference to two persons, not just one. It is hard to say which view should be adopted; however, the absence of the definite article and the presence of “our” tips the evidence in favour of Jesus being called “God” in 2 Peter 1:1. If so, this text is like John 1:1, 20:28, Romans 9:5, and Hebrews 1:8-9 in calling Jesus “God.” The term soter “Savior,” was used of God the Father in the Old Testament. Here it is applied to Jesus as the one who brings salvation. (47)

After both sides are examined it becomes clear that Jesus Christ is being identified as God in 2 Peter 1:1. The opposing view causes major problems with the Greek and other surrounding passages indicate that Jesus is God and Savior. Moreover, the word Savior is a common title for God in the Old Testament and it is applied to Jesus here. Therefore Dr. Witherington III and a host of other NT scholars rightly conclude that 2 Peter 1:1 affirms the Deity of Christ.

1 John
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true — even in his Son Jesus Christ.He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

Here the apostle John identifies Jesus Christ as the true God. This is a clear reference to the Deity of Christ and it matches the theology found within his other writings.

Muslim Objection:
Muslims may assert that it is the Father alone who is being identified as the true God and not the Lord Jesus.
Christian Response:                
We can know that this is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ as the true God for many reasons. First of all, 1 John 5:20 says that the one who is eternal life is the true God. Well in 1 John 1:1-3 we find that the Lord Jesus Christ is the word of life/eternal life!

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
(1 John 1:1-3)

Notice that Jesus Christ is identified as the eternal life, the same eternal life that 1 John 5:20 says is the true God.
This is how we can know that Jesus is being called the true God here. Moreover, who can be eternal life other than the eternal God?

On another note 1 John 1:1-3 and 1 John 5:20 indicate that Jesus is omnipresent in that we can all have fellowship with the Son in real time. In order for all of humanity to be able to have fellowship with Christ right now, Christ would have to be omnipresent or in other words ‘everywhere.’ This is an attribute of God. This is what 1 John 5:20 means when it says, “And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ.” These passages entail Jesus’ omnipresence and thus Deity. This is also indicated in the other writings of John:

20in that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you 21he who is having my commands, and is keeping them, that one it is who is loving me, and he who is loving me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.' (John 14:20-21)

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Commenting on 1 John 5:20 the late Dr. Raymond Brown states:

In 1 John 5:20 there are two sentences: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding to know the true One [alethinos]; and we are in the true One, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” In the first sentence of this passage it is quite clear obvious that “the true One” is God the Father; indeed, some textual witnesses clarify it by adding “God,” giving a combination that would be translated “the true God” … The first sentence tells us that the Son has come and enabled people to know the Father, and that the Christian abides in the Father and Son. The real problem concerns the opening of the second sentence that I have italicized. To whom does the “this” refer? The most proposed possibilities are that it is a reference to either “Jesus Christ” or to “the True One” (i.e., the Father in the preceding sentence). Grammar favors the nearest antecedent, which here is “Jesus Christ who thus would be called true God.” Yet, since God the Father was referred to as “true” twice in the first sentence, one might suspect that “true God” is a reference to Him. Certainly in John 17:3 “the one true God” refers to God the Father and not to Jesus Christ. Can we learn something from the other predicate in this second sentence of 1 John 5:20 i.e., “eternal life”? Twice in the fourth Gospel Jesus speaks of himself asthe life” (11:25; 14:6), while the Father is never so called. Yet John 6:57 speaks of the “living Father” and makes it clear that the Father is the source of the Son’s life. Thus it seems probably that in Johannine terminology either the Father or the Son could be designated as “life,” even as both are designated “light” (1 John 1:5; John 8:12; note that it is the Epistle that calls the Father light while the Gospel calls Jesus light). It may be, however, that the predicateeternal lifedoes favour making Jesus Christ the subject of the sentence we are discussing, for only eight verses earlier (5:12) the author of the Epistle stated: “The person who has the Son has life.”
Moreover since the first sentence of 1 John 5:20 ends with Christians dwelling in God the Father, tautology is avoided if the second sentence ends by relating Christians to JesusWhen all the factors are added, probability seems to favour the thesis that 1 John 5:20 calls Jesus Godusage not unusual in Johannine literature. (48)

2 John
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love. (2 John 1:3)

Jesus as the “Fathers Son” or the “Son of God” is often overlooked and misunderstood. This title, however, is in fact an affirmation of the Deity of Christ.

Muslim Objection:
Zaatari states: They [The Jews] believe that the Son of God was not divine. They believe that the Messiah was not divine. So when Jesus says I am the Christ the Son of the living God that doesn’t make him divine.
That just proves our stance that the Son of God is a righteous judge and servant and that he is indeed the Messiah who came to save his people … (49)

Christian Response:
It appears that Zaatari thinks that when Jesus is identified as the Son of God it was in the exact same sense as the Old Testament when others were called “sons of God” and that there is nothing unique about this title for Jesus. Zaatari appears to hold the view that the title “Son of God” in the New Testament only means a righteous judge and servant of God and Messiah.

If it is true that the Jews understood Son of God to be a common name for a servant of God who judges things righteously and if this is the position of the New Testament why then in 1 John does the Apostle say that Jesus is the only/sole unique Son of God?

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Son of God in reference to Jesus is unique in that it means that Jesus is the only one who bears the nature of God and has that unique relationship with the Father.
Jesus being the Son of God is not biological but it has to do with his high Christology (high view of Jesus pertaining to his Deity). Secondly, if the Jews believed that Son of God was being used as a common phrase that had no implications of Deity then why in John 5:18 did the Jews understand Jesus’ Son of God statements to mean that he was saying he was equal with the Father?

For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him
; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)

It is clear that contrary to Zaatari’s assertions, these Jews did not take Jesus’ claims of being God’s Son to simply mean that he was a righteous judge/servant of God or Messiah figure.
The texts say that these Jews understood his Son of God statements to mean that he was making himself equal with God and that the Son of God statements were so blasphemous they wanted to kill him for uttering them. This is also evident at the trial of Jesus in Mark 14 where Jesus affirms he is the Son of the blessed God after which the high priest tore his clothes wanting him to be put to death! If this was a common title the Jews would not have reacted as such. The Son of God title with reference to Jesus is not merely denoting servitude to God or righteousness, although Jesus did in fact humble himself; rather, it is a unique title of Deity and Jesus is the unique Son in that sense. Thus 2 John 1:3 is affirming the Deity of Christ. More importantly, Jesus himself denies that the word “Son” has the same meaning as “servant”:

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” John 8:34-36

We clearly see here that servants do not have the same status as sons.

Besides, Jesus in the following parable distinguishes his relationship to God as his beloved Son from the prophets who were merely God’s servants:

“He then began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.
At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.” But the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.’” Mark 12:1-8

The Owner in the parable is supposed to be God and, according to the OT, the servants whom the Owner sent were God’s prophets:

“From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day.” Jeremiah 7:25

“Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’” Jeremiah 44:4 – cf. 25:4; 26:5; 29:19; 35:15

In light of the foregoing it is apparent that Jesus clearly believed that he was more than a mere servant of God. Christ actually believed that he was the beloved Son of God and the unique Heir who owned everything that God possesses.

It’s interesting to note that Zaatari accepts Jesus as the Son of God when his own Quran forbids him to believe that – even though the Quran doesn’t even understand what Christians mean by Son of God.

They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Master and Lord. Jude 1:4

Here Jesus is called “our only Master” and “Lord” (Kyrios). This elevates Christ above all creation because YHWH is Master and Lord of all believers. Jesus must be YHWH. This also violates Islamic Tawheed demonstrating that Jesus is above all humanity and is indeed God himself. Tawheed al-Rububiya: Unity of Lordship is violated. Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifat: Unity of the Names and qualities of God is violated. According to Muslims, Allah alone is Master and Lord of all believers. Thus, Jesus is God.

Muslim Objection:

Zaatari states: If this is true, then there is a slight problem, because the verse says that Jesus is their ONLY master and Lord, what does that mean? That means there is no other Lord and master, meaning the Father nor Holy spirit are masters or Lords and therefore we should not worship them. (50)

Christian Response:
Although Zaatari isn’t addressing the Tawheed issue he does implicitly concede that Jude is teaching that Jesus is Master and Lord, an affirmation of the Deity of Christ. Zaatari then insinuates that Jude is wrong however, by asserting that Jude believed Jesus is the only Master and Lord, to the exclusion of the Father and Spirit. In other words, he is assuming that Jude is teaching that the Father and Spirit aren’t our Master or Lord. But is that what Jude meant?

Jude affirms and presupposes that both the Father and the Son are truly God and expresses this by ascribing different titles of Deity to both, i.e., the Father is called God whereas Jesus is called Lord in the sense of being Yahweh.

Moreover, even though Jude doesn’t say much about the Spirit what he does say is sufficient to establish that he believed in the Spirit’s Deity:

“These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have/devoid of the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 1:20-21

Disbelievers are those who do not have the Spirit, which presupposes that believers do, and true Christians are those who pray in union with and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now, the only way for all believers to have access to one and the same Spirit no matter where they dwell is if the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. However, in order for the Spirit to be omnipresent he must also be God since God alone is omnipresent (cf. Psalm 139:1-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-4).

Besides, we are told elsewhere in the Holy Bible that the Holy Spirit is eternal,

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14

Thus, since the Spirit is eternal this means that he too must be God as well since only God is eternal.

The Spirit is also the Lord of the Church since he assigns specific tasks to particular members of the spiritual body of Christ and even determines when and where they will go:

“While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.’” Acts 10:19-20

“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” Acts 13:1-4

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” Acts 16:6-7

It is therefore clear that Jesus is not the only Master and Lord to the exclusion of the Father and the Spirit. Rather, his sovereignty over and ownership of all believers, as well as the entire creation, is shared by both the Father and the Spirit since the NT emphatically affirms the Deity of all three Divine Persons.

Finally, notice that Zaatari doesn’t deny that Jesus is being identified as Lord and Master here. Since that is the main issue the thesis has therefore been established, despite all of the red herrings that Zaatari tried to raise in an attempt to shift attention away from this fact. The fact of the matter is that book of Jude teaches the Deity of Christ by attributing essential divine attributes to Jesus, thereby making him a co-equal Divine Person with the Father and the Spirit. Muslims may not like it and they may bring up side issues but that is irrelevant.

According to John every creature worships Jesus in the same exact way that they worship God:

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throneAND TO THE LAMB be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14

There are two points to be gleaned from this.
- Jesus receives the same exact honor that God does which would be sheer idolatry if he were nothing more than a creature, no matter highly exalted a creature he may be.
- The fact that every single creature in every place is worshiping/shall worship God and the Lamb, i.e. Jesus, provides conclusive and powerful testimony that Christ is not a creature, but is personally distinct from all of creation.
As such Jesus is on the Creator side of the Creator/creature divide.
- Also notice that in the Apostle John’s book of Revelation 22:6 it is the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets who sent his angel.
So it is God Almighty who was the one to send the angel. However in verse 16 of the same chapter it is Jesus who sends the angel!
- The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.
(Revelation 22:6)

I, Jesus, have sent my angel
to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)

Muslim Objection:
This exact argument was raised by Brother Shamoun near the end of his debate with Zaatari on the Deity of Christ. (51) However Zaatari didn’t even attempt to address it.
I was unable to locate any Muslim article or audio that even attempts to address this argument.

The New Testament testimony is clear. Every New Testament book (with the exception of 3 John due to small size) teaches the Deity of Christ. This article demonstrates that even though Muslim apologists have taken their best shots at undermining the Biblical witness to the Deity of Christ, every New Testament book (with the exception of one) teaches that Jesus is God. There is not just one passage affirming Christ’s Deity in each book either. I only examined one passage from each book due to space constraints. I could list dozens more. Praise God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.


(Special thanks to Jochen Katz, Sam Shamoun and Anthony Rogers for their assistance in editing and input).

1. Yahya Hayder Seymour, Premier Christian Radio July 9th 2009, (time slice) (12:22-12:26)
Shabir Ally, None of the Bible's Writers Believed that Jesus is God
4. Bassam Zawadi,
5. Saint Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John 1-40, Edmund Hill, [New City Press, 2009], p. 499
6. J. Robertson McQuilkin, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, [Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1995], p. 167
7. (Sam Shamoun vs. Sami Zaatari, Is Jesus God? (time slice) (42:42- 43:05)
8. Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew a Commentary: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12
Volume 1, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004], p. 550
Shabir Ally, Faith Under Fire, Who Was Jesus
10. Michael J. WilkinsJ. P. Moreland, Jesus Under Fire, [Zondervan, 1996], p. 88
John Eberly, Al-Kimia: The Mystical Islamic Essence of the Sacred Art of Alchemy, [Sophia Perennis, 2005], p. 113
Robert M. Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski, Darrell L. Bock, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, [Kregel Publications, 2007], p. 249
13. Adeel Khan,
Has Jesus been prophesied in the OT?
14. Sami Zaatari,
15. J. D. Michaelis : Anmerk. in loc.; apud Dr. J. P. Smith's Script. Test. vol. ii., p. 287. [See another quotation from the same writer (Resurrection of Jesus, p. 272-3), given in "Illust. of Unitarianism," p. 266, No. 5, second edit.] John Wilson, The concessions of Trinitarians: being a selection of extracts from the writings of the most eminent biblical critics and commentators, [James Munroe, 1845], p. 384
Robert M. Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski, Darrell L. Bock, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, [Kregel Publications, 2007], p. 142
17. Bruce Metzger, The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions, [Baker Academic, 2001], p. 85
Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P, Volume 3, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995], p. 797
19. Bart Ehrman, Whose Word Is It? [Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006], p. 161
Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology, [Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994], p. 188, footnote 276
Lars Hartman, Into the Name of the Lord Jesus: Baptism in the Early Church, [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1997], p. 42
Sami Zaatari,
23. Shadid Lewis, Islam vs. Christianity: Why We Chose to Leave and Believe? (Shadid's Opening Statement - 1 of 6), (28:26-28:38)
Richard Bauckham, God crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament,
Didsbury lectures, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999], pp. 37-38
25. Sami Zaatari,
25. B.W. Johnson,
27. I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel, [InterVarsity Press, 2004], p. 394
28. Shabir Ally,
29. Sami Zaatari,
30. Sami Zaatari,    
Robert M. Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski, Darrell L. Bock, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, [Kregel Publications, 2007], pp. 82-84
32. Shabir Ally,
33. Bassam Zawadi,
34. Sami Zaatari,
35. Shadid Lewis, Islam vs. Christianity: Why We Chose to Leave and Believe? (Shadid's Opening Statement - 1 of 6), (28:38 - 29:00)
Gerry Matatics, (42:56 - 43:09)
Gordon Donald Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2007], p. 508
Sami Zaatari,
39. Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology, [Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994], pp. 181-182
40. Charles T. Carter, Preaching: The Lordship of Jesus Christ

41. Bernard L. Ramm, An Evangelical Christology: Ecumenic and Historic, Regent College Publishing, 1993, p. 112
42. Richard BauckhamThe Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009], p. 125
43. Osama Abdullah,
45. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: A Classic Defense of the Deity of Jesus Christ, [Solid Ground Christians Books, Birmingham, Alabama: First Printing, November 2003], “The Witness of the Catholic Epistles”, pp. 264-265
Sami Zaatari,
47. Ben Witherington III, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Volume II: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1-2 Peter,  [InterVarsity Press, 2008], p. 295
Raymond E Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology, [Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994], p. 184
49. Sami Zaatari, Louis Ruggiero vs. Muslim Sami Zaatari Debate: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God? Part 1, (56:55 - 57:20)
50. Sami Zaatari,
51. Sami Zaatari vs. Sam Shamoun Debate: Is Jesus God?



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