A Response to the Muhammedan Site “Do Not Say Trinity”
This is a response to the “Do Not Say Trinity” article Jesus (pbuh): Nothing Divine about Him: Analyzing Jesus’ (pbuh) deity from the judgment perspective published by a Muslim author with the pseudonym “Question Mark” which was a response to Sam Shamoun’s article Jesus the Divine Judge of All: Responding to a Muslim Greenhorn. The argument of this Muslim, who I will refer to as DNST, is that Jesus being judge, according to the Bible, does not affirm His deity because He judges under the authority of God the Father. DNST argues that Jesus is a mere human agent or representative of God the Father just like believers who are also assigned as judges. I will be defending the position that Jesus’ role as judge affirms His deity according to the Biblical witness and that DNST’s reasons for denying this truth are problematic and erroneous. According to both Biblical and Islamic criteria Jesus is deity because of His unique role as judge. I will also show that DNST severely distorted Shamoun’s article when attempting to rebut it and use his statements to build his premise.
Merely asserting that “if somebody judges under someone else’s authority then there is nothing special” is not an argument and such rhetoric fails to properly interact with the Christian position. That is merely an assertion which ignores what Christianity has argued and taught for 2000 years. The first obvious and glaring reason as to why DNST’s argument is incorrect is that if Jesus pre-existed as deity and became a human, it wouldn’t matter if the Father assigned to Him the role of judge; He would still be deity as well as an innate judge due to His original and essential nature
The inspired Scripture teach that Jesus gives to God the Father the kingdom after having destroyed all His enemies who are in position to God’s rule:
“Then the end will come, when HE hands over the kingdom to God the Father after HE has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24)
Now does that mean the Father is not an innate King? Not according to Holy Scripture. One must understand the interdependent unique relationship that the Father, Son and Spirit enjoy. The problem is that these Muslims misunderstand certain verses, because they isolate them from their context and look at them with an Islamic frame of mind instead of seeking to understand the overall message of the Holy Bible and interpreting the individual passages against this background. With that said it is erroneous for DNST to 1) say a mere “somebody” is judging “under someone else’s authority” when Holy Scripture is very clear about that former somebody being deity. And 2) to say that “there is nothing special, let alone divine about his/her judgement capacity” when Holy Scripture is quite clear about Jesus’ role as judge emphasizing and underlining his divine authority and thus nature. If these two points can be clearly established then DNST’s foundational premise (anyone under God as judge cannot be God or innate judge himself) is proven wrong. Since DNST has chosen to ignore this crucial framework and not deal with it properly, his case is vulnerable and open to real exegetical criticism.
The taqiyyist had the opportunity to interact with John 5:22-23 where we see that Jesus’ role as judge is closely linked with His deity. Shamoun mentioned this text in the paper DNST distorted and attempted to respond to but he didn’t address it at all. Therefore, I will cite it again and make some comments in the hopes that he will realize his position is untenable and withdraw his paper.
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:22-23).
There is no better text which clearly answers the question as to why God the Father appointed Jesus as judge. Is it because 1) Jesus is a mere human judge acting as an agent or representative as DNST contends? Or is it so that 2) all may honor Christ just as they honor the Father by virtue of being the Son of God? Moreover, does the clear choice (choice 2) affirm Jesus’ deity? We need to unpack this text for a minute. In v. 22 the Father gives all judgement to the Son. Then v. 23 begins with hina (“that”) which in this context serves as a purpose clause, i.e. “so that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” Therefore, the purpose or reason behind the Father entrusting all judgement to Christ is so that everyone will honor Christ the same way God the Father demands He be honored. When v. 23 says “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” the word for honor there is τιμάω (timao). When this word is used of God, as it is used here, the meaning is to “revere” or “venerate” God in a special way according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon.(1) It should also be noted that this is how Thayer’s Lexicon defines John 5:23’s use of the word. This Greek word was used by Philo the Jew (B.C. 20 – A.D. 50) to explain that only God is to be given divine honor. He stated: “Let us, therefore, fix deeply in ourselves this first commandment as the most sacred of all commandments, to think that there is but one God, the most highest, and to honour (timao) him alone…”(2) The 1st century Jewish historian Josephus, in his work Antiquities of the Jews 1.156, also used the word in reference to the special honor only God is to receive: “…but as they are subservient to Him that commands them, to whom alone we ought justly to offer our honor (τιμὴν/timèn) and thanksgiving.” Hence, Christ is teaching that He deserves divine honor. Moreover, when v. 23 says “honor the Son just as they honor the Father” the word for “just as” or “even as” is καθώς (kathos). This word is defined in the following ways: according as, just as, even as, in proportion as, in the degree that.(3) Therefore, the purpose for entrusting all judgment to Jesus is that all will come to honor, revere or venerate Jesus to the same degree or in the same proportion as they honor, revere or venerate the Father – with divine honor. Since the Father is to be honored, revered and venerated as God – or to the greatest extent imaginable (as Philo’s contemporaneous use of the word timao also confirms) – so is Christ.
Hence, for DNST to claim that Holy Scripture teaches that Jesus “candidly accepts that he has no divinely innate ability to judge” and that Jesus is not a divine judge, is specious and disingenuous. According to Jesus the reason why God the Father entrusts all judgement to Him is because God the Father wants humanity to revere or venerate Jesus in the exact same way He is revered or venerated. And because Jesus is God, just as John’s Gospel sets out to prove (cf. 1:1-3, 18) and as even Christ’s opponents and disciples realized that this is who He was claiming to be, He has the innate authority to judge:
“For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, ‘MY Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:16-18)
“I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God’” (John 10:30-33).
“The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God’” (John 19:7).
“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed’” (John 20:28-29).
He therefore judges by virtue of a divine right that is innate to Him.
As David J. Ellis remarks concerning this text: “Meanwhile one clear purpose for this delegation of authority to Christ is that all may honor the Son… recognizing His equality in authority and action.”(4) In fact the great Trinitarian apologist of the early church Athanasius (A.D. 296-373) cited John 5:23 as clear proof for Jesus’ deity and His equality with the Father in his Statement of Faith which was a defense of the Nicene Creed against the Arians. He stated: “the true Image of the Father, equal in honour and glory. For this, he says, ‘is the will of the Father, that as they honour the Father, so they may honour the Son also‘ (John 5:23): very God of very God…”(5) Thus, this is the historic Christian interpretation of this text and it nullifies DNST’s position.
Amazingly, in his paper DNST cites John 5:27 and 30 to try to support his opinion that Jesus is a mere human representative judge for God when just a few verses earlier in John 5:22-23 (which was just discussed), Jesus is given the authority to judge so that He will be honored as God. Not only that but just a few verses still earlier in vv. 17-18 (which was also just quoted) we are told very plainly that Jesus is God since He claimed to have the same divine right to work on the Sabbath that the Father does! The Jews correctly understood that Jesus was claiming to be equal to God since only God is exempt from resting on the Jewish Sabbath seeing that His providential work of sustaining and maintaining creation was crucial and could not be temporarily suspended, otherwise all creation would disappear!
However, even though vv. 17-18 and 22-23 severely undermine his interpretation, it is important to interact with DNST’s eisegesis of vv. 27, 30. He states:
…we find instances in the New Testament (NT) where Jesus (peace be upon him) candidly accepts that he has no divinely innate ability to judge but that he judges under the vested authority of God – Almighty:
“And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (Joh 5:27)
“I can do nothing on my own authority. I JUDGE ONLY AS GOD TELLS ME so judgment is right, because I am not trying to do what I want, but only what he who sent me wants.” (The Gospel According to John 5:30, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version)
· Jesus (peace be upon him) – can do nothing of his own authority, Jesus (peace be upon him) is ironically not just divinely impotent but also subservient to a higher authority.
· Jesus (peace be upon him) candidly admits that he judges under the authority of someone else – God.
· Jesus (peace be upon him) is confirmed about his judgments being “right”/correct, not because he is God but because they come from his higher authority, God – Almighty.
It is claimed that Jesus being given authority by the Father to execute judgement because He is Son of Man (John 5:27) refutes the position that Jesus has the divine innate ability to judge – and undermines the claim of His being God. However, it is clear that the reason God gave Jesus the authority to judge is because of who Jesus is in relation to God and man, i.e. Jesus is God’s unique Son and the divine Son of Man whom all nations are subject to and are expected to worship.
In other words, if Jesus’ use of the phrase “Son of Man” is a reference to Jesus’ deity then DNST is in error when asserting that Christ has no divine innate ability to judge.
A careful analysis of Jesus’ use of this term shows that Christ was claiming to be that very same Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel saw in a vision. For instance, elsewhere Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of Man Who sits enthroned at God’s right hand and Who rides the clouds of heaven:
“But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him” (Mark 14:61-65)
Here Jesus not only claims to be the unique Son of the blessed God, but He also says that He will be seated at the right hand of the Father, and therefore a co-occupant of God’s heavenly throne. He also states that He is the Son of Man who comes on the clouds.
Now to see why Jesus’ use of “the Son of Man” is significant compare His statement above with the following passage from Daniel:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14)
In v. 14 where it says all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him, the word for worship in Aramaic is ‘pĕlach’. When the word appears in the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament it is either used in reference to the exclusive worship given to God Almighty, or to the idolatrous service to false gods by people of other beliefs.
Hence, this Aramaic word clearly refers to exclusive divine worship and yet the Son of Man, whom Daniel saw and whom Jesus Christ claims to be, receives this very worship indicating that He is God! Since Daniel’s Son of Man is a person who is able to approach the Ancient of days, receive authority, glory, power, divine worship from all people, and everlasting dominion then He is a being that transcends all humanity and shares in the exclusive attributes and glory of God. In other words, this Son of Man would have to be God!
No wonder Jesus’ words in Mark 14:61-65 were considered so blasphemous that the high priest tore his clothes. The members of the Sanhedrin knew He was claiming deity here, which they took be blasphemous since they erroneously assumed that Jesus was nothing more than an ordinary flesh and blood Jew.
In light of this, how does Jesus being given the authority to judge prove He is not the innately divine judge when the reason why God the Father gave Christ this authority in the first place is because He is the divine Son of Man whom Daniel saw everyone worshiping in the same way that God is? That doesn’t work at all.
We were told that John 5:30 (“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me”) somehow refutes Jesus’ deity and proves that Jesus “can do nothing of his own authority, Jesus (peace be upon him) is ironically not just divinely impotent but also subservient to a higher authority.” However this text needs to be properly unpacked as well. First, DNST quotes the Good News Bible also known as Today’s English Version which says “I can do nothing on my own authority.” That is not a good rendering of the text, however. Most translations render the Greek as something like “I can do nothing on my own” or “of myself“which is a statement of Jesus’ interdependence, harmony and unity with the Father. Jesus can’t act independently from the Father because they are one (John 10:30), not because He wants to but doesn’t have the power – that is absurd. Contra the foolish idea that Jesus was conceding that He was “divinely impotent”, the reality is that in this text Jesus was stressing His perfect union with the Father. As John Gill notes: “I am the Son that can do nothing separate from the Father, and contrary to his will, but do all things in conjunction with him; who sees all that he does, by being in him, and co-operating with him, and do the selfsame.”(6)
Muslims want to see limitation in these texts, but what Christ was communicating was unity and harmony. 5:30 is a re-stating of the same point made in 5:19 which says “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). Notice first that whatever the Father does, the Son has the ability to likewise do. That is divine omnipotence which completely refutes DNST’s eisegesis. In fact, some of the things which Jesus goes on to say He does like the Father proves this:
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, EVEN SO the Son also gives life to whom He wishes… Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, EVEN SO He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself… Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear HIS VOICE, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:20-21, 25-26, 28-29).
Jesus says that as the Son he, like the Father, is able to give life to whomever He wants and will actually resurrect the dead from their graves just by the power of His voice! Does DNST seriously want us to believe that these statements are meant to be a denial of Jesus’ absolute deity?
Secondly, although this text is also abused by DNST’s article the point is the same as v. 30. Jesus doesn’t act independently or contrary to the will of God the Father because they are interdependent and they work in unity or with one accord. And this is brought out by the fact that Jesus does everything God the Father does. Hence, all three eisegetical conclusions DNST makes based on John 5: 27 and 30 are incorrect. Even the Christian scholars he quotes to try to prove his position actually agrees with our position that Christ does nothing on His own because of His unity with the Father! Although DNST quoted this section from Albert Barnes he missed the crucial point he was making which refutes his false interpretation: “The Messiah, the Mediator, does nothing without the concurrence and the authority of God. Such is the nature of the union subsisting between them, that he does nothing independently of God.”(7) Hence, there is no point to quote Barnes when he refutes his argument. Although Christ the divine Son is under the Father in terms of subordination or rank, the Holy Scriptures are quite clear that He is equal to God the Father in terms of glory, power and substance/being.(8) Thus, the Son’s subordination is in terms of authority and DNST is therefore committing a categorical error or fallacy since he confuses position and rank with essence and nature.
After abusing Albert Barnes’ writings some more, DNST states:
(4.) Another very candid admission by the Christian Scholar is that Jesus (peace be upon him) even on the judgment day would judge “according to what Father wills and wishes”. This also poses serious questions on the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Think about it, which absolute Deity and a divinely absolute Judge would judge according to the will of someone else even on the Judgment Day (?)
Do these Muslims expect Christians to teach the opposite – that Jesus is going to judge contrary to God the Father’s criteria, standards or will? If Jesus did so He would be acting independently (not in union with the Father) which Scripture says Jesus doesn’t do because of their perfect, inseparable communion. Therefore, pointing out that on judgement day Jesus will judge according to God the Father’s will does nothing to show that Jesus isn’t God in nature; it simply shows just how unified in purpose and will the Son and Father truly are. As John 6:39 confirms: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). Therefore, when on judgement day Jesus judges the world based on the Father’s will, part of the meaning is that those the Father gave to Jesus will be raised up and be granted eternal life – since that is the Father’s will!
Secondly, the fact that Jesus will be the judge on the last day, in connection with His knowledge of the hearts of men, shows that He is deity. Believers are never said to know the hearts of all men in connection with their ability to judge (Matt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:2-3), only Christ can and will, something which the Old Testament says is unique to YHWH. This utterly refutes DNST’s position.
Compare, for instance, the following passages which affirm Christ’s perfect omniscience:
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25)
“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?’” (John 16:29-31).
“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, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep’” (John 21:17).
“And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen’” (Acts 1:24).
“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Notice that according to John 16:29-31 and 21:17 Christ is said to know all things, and that in John 2:25 and Acts 1:24 we are told that Christ knows the hearts of all people and therefore “what was in man.” Moreover, 1 Corinthians 4:5 expressly teaches that Christ will disclose or reveal the purpose of everyone’s heart upon His return (the Lord’s Day/the day of judgement). Although this is true of Christ in connection with His role as judge, it is not true of believers who will judge. Why? Simply because Christ is omniscient and therefore absolute deity, whereas the believers are not. In their excellent work Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski refer to specific Old Testament texts which demonstrate that only YHWH knows the hearts of all men (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; Ps. 139: 23-24; Prov. 16:2; 17:3; Jer. 17:10). Hence, Christ must be God in order to know the hearts of men and judge them upon that basis.
Not only does this affirm Jesus’ deity according to the criteria of the Holy Bible but this is also the case when we examine the Islamic teaching concerning judgment. In the Sahih ahadith we learn that Muhammad believed that only Allah knows of all sins and the secrets of men’s hearts (thus having the ability to acquit people of their sin), and that as a result He alone is capable of judging of humanity:
“…O Allah! I surrender myself to You, and I believe in You and I depend upon You, and I repent to You and with You (Your evidences) I stand against my opponents, and to you I leave the judgment (for those who refuse my message). O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public…”(9)
“They were something over eighty men; Allah’s Apostle accepted the excuses they had expressed, took their pledge of allegiance asked for Allah’s Forgiveness for them, and left the secrets of their hearts for Allah to judge.”(10)
Hence, the fact that Jesus knows the hearts of all men/all their sins/what is in man and will judge them on that basis, He must be deity since these are Allah’s unique prerogatives according to Islam. I.e., according to taqiyyist’s false prophet, only Allah is the judge who knows about all sin/secrets of all hearts/what is in man and judges or forgives people of their sin on that basis.
Another error the DNST taqiyyist makes is that he claims that:
…we find Jesus (peace be upon him) exhorting others not to believe him if he solely judges/testifies:
“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31)
“If I testify on my own behalf, what I say is not to be accepted as real proof.” (Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version, John 5:31)
Ponder, which divinely absolute Judge or an absolute Deity would claim that if I judge or testify on my own then “it is not to be accepted as real proof”?
However, if he has the back up of God then his judgments and testimonials are to be accepted:
“But there is someone else who testifies on my behalf, and I know that what he says about me is true.” (Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version, John 5:32)
And, from the context it can be verified that God (“he”) said about Jesus (peace be upon him) that he is a judge with His authority on him and therefore a bona fide judge.
Without providing any meaningful argumentation or exegesis DNST boldly claims that in John 5:31 (“If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true” ESV) Jesus was actually telling people “not to believe him if he solely judges/testifies.” However, this is not Christ’s point at all. As Adam Clarke notes: “If I had no proof to bring of my being the Messiah, and equal to God, common sense would direct you to reject my testimony; but the mighty power of God, by which I work my miracles, sufficiently attests that my pretensions are well founded.”(11). In John 5:31 Christ was saying that if He bore witness about himself no one would believe His testimony or deem it true as a matter of fact – not that no one should. However, because “There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true” there is now no excuse to reject His teaching. It is insane to think that Jesus would ever insinuate that people should not believe His testimony no matter what the context or circumstance is. For, Christ taught that “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going” (John 8:14). DNST doesn’t quote any scholars to back his gross misinterpretation of John 5:31, though he won’t hesitate to take scholars out of context concerning numerous other texts. Could it be that no serious scholar in the whole world even remotely supports his eisegesis of this passage? Could it be that no matter how hard he tries to take scholars out of context he couldn’t force even one serious scholar to sound as ridiculous as him? DNST is misreading the Today’s English Version as well since that translation doesn’t have Christ telling people not to accept His testimony but that, as a matter of fact, it won’t be accepted if He testified on His own behalf without establishing His unity with the Father through various means. Again, as opposed to affirming His limitation or inability, Christ is establishing His perfect unity and interdependence with the Father for the purpose of benefiting those who would believe on him for salvation. This was probably the most outrageous assertion made by DNST.
DNST also remarks:
Nevertheless, we have instance in the Old Testament as well which states that Christ’s (peace be upon him) judgmental abilities is just another common place capacity enjoyed by others as well. We read in Genesis the following intriguing verse:
“Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” (Genesis 41:40)
Matthew Henry makes the following candid comment:
“Secondly, He has committed all judgment to the Son, has constituted him Lord of all (Act_10:36; Rom_14:9), as Joseph in Egypt, Gen_41:40.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)
Notice how bluntly and much more embarrassingly to the Trinitarian interpretation, Matthew Henry states that Jesus (peace be upon him) is Judge and “Lord of all” just AS (same degree) Joseph (peace be upon him) was. These sincere Christian commentators have candidly brought, not just the judgmental capacities of Jesus (peace be upon him) to that of Joseph (peace be upon him) but also Jesus’ (peace be upon him) lordship (“Lord of all”) at Joseph’s (peace be upon him) level.
Therefore, again, there is nothing special, let alone, divine about Jesus (peace be upon him) being judge (and “Lord of all”) otherwise Joseph (peace be upon him) would also have to be a divine judge and embarrassingly, “Lord of all”.
It must first be noted that Joseph is not the sovereign ruler of Egypt in the same way God is the sovereign ruler of His universe or humanity. However, according to Holy Scripture Christ is the sovereign ruler of the universe and humanity in the same way God is – obviously because He is YHWH Incarnate! Although Matthew Henry compares Pharaoh instituting Joseph as ruler of Egypt in Genesis 41:40 to Christ’s rule, the comparison is in the sense of vice-regency. The comparison is not made because the extent of the sovereign rule is the same with Christ and Joseph. That is not Henry’s point. Pharaoh had the greatest position in Egypt and Joseph was one notch under him in terms of subordination. So Christ currently and will in the future rule all humanity (which neither Joseph nor anyone else ever did) but God the Father is one notch above Him in terms of subordination. That is the point of Henry’s analogy, not that Christ’s rule is completely analogous to Joseph’s in Egypt. This becomes clear when one quotes the rest of Henry’s remarks which DNST conveniently omitted. Right after what DNST quotes, Henry goes on to speak of Christ’s rule over all people (Acts 10:36; Rom. 14:9) in terms of His deity. He states: “All judgment is committed to our Lord Jesus; for 1. He is entrusted with the administration of the providential kingdom, is head over all things (Eph 1:11), head of every man, Co1 11:3. All things consist by him, Col 1:17…”(12) Had DNST quoted the rest of Matthew Henry’s comments, his point would have been nullified.
One must ask: Was Joseph head over all things (all creation) like Christ is? No. Is Joseph head of every human like Christ is? No. Do all things consist by Joseph or, in other words, is it in Joseph that all things hold together as is the case with Christ? No. So is there any real comparison between Christ’s sovereign divine rule and Joseph’s rule over Egypt? Not apart from the concept of vice-regency. The extent of Christ’s sovereign rule far supersedes Joseph’s because Christ is God. DNST further states:
Furthermore, Joseph (peace be upon him) is given a very exclusive and special title – rather a divine title for many Trinitarians:
Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in His word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, “a revealer of secrets.” This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translate Joseph’s new name, “the saviour of the world.” The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Genesis 41:33-45)
Ironically, we find New Testament authors giving the same title to Jesus (peace be upon him) as well:
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (Joh 4:42)
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 Jn 4:14)
Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (Act 13:23)
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (Eph 5:23)
DNST’s argument hinges on a minority interpretation of Joseph’s title Zaphnath-paaneah denoting the same thing as Christ’s titles (saviour or saviour of the world), or having the same glory as Christ’s titles. However, we need to take into account that Joseph’s title has no meaning in Hebrew and it is not translated in Genesis. The original readers only hear a foreign word which they cannot attach meaning to. All attempts to try to understand this title are of later origin, found in commentaries, but not in the authoritative or inspired text. The main interpretation is “revealer of secrets” because Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. Although we cannot be sure of the meaning, this classical interpretation makes sense. Then there is another minority opinion that gives the title another meaning. I think it is irresponsible of Matthew Henry to give so much weight to this. It is a nice parallel to Jesus, since Joseph is a type or foreshadowing for Jesus, but the fact is: We simply do not know what the title means, and it was not given by God, but by a pagan Pharaoh who certainly knew very little about correct theology. The Bible simply reports that fact that Joseph was given a special title by Pharaoh without actually endorsing or emphasizing the meaning of the title, which should be obvious because its meaning is not given in the text.
However, even if one were to grant that the title did mean “saviour of the world” a good argument can be made that Joseph’s saviour-hood is temporal and not on the same level as Christ’s saviour-hood which is in reference to salvation from sin and wrath. In other words if one consults the context of Genesis 41 where Joseph receives this title from Pharaoh you will see for example that Joseph functioned as a temporal saviour in a time of drought by providing many people with grain/bread (Genesis 41:55-57).
Although Joseph serves as a lesser prophetic type of Christ, Christ is saviour of the world in a divine sense doing things only God does. For example Jude 1:5 affirms that Jesus is YHWH the saviour who saved His people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. The text reads: “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5 ESV). Although the reading “Jesus who saved a people” is the most evidenced(13), there are some early manuscripts which say “the Lord, who saved.” However, even if that reading is true v. 4 makes it clear that the Lord in the immediate context is Jesus. It states: “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).
Thus, there is no question that it is the Lord Jesus who saved a people out of the land of Egypt surrounding the Exodus. However, the Old Testament says that YHWH saved the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by sending His messenger or angel (Himself) to guide them. Exodus 23:20 states: “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20). However, this angel is YHWH himself (Isaiah 63:8-10; Exodus 33: 12-15) – the angel of YHWH’s presence (face) as He is known which means “the angel who is His face, or in whom His face is manifested.”(14).
Jesus also saves people from their sins,
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)
Something which again the OT ascribes to YHWH!
“O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:7-8)
Thus, Jesus is YHWH and His saviour-hood reflects His deity, unlike Joseph’s saviour-hood. As Philip Graham Ryken and Michael Lefebvre observe:
“…the New Testament epistle of Jude points back to the Old Testament teachings on Yahweh’s Messenger, saying, ‘Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe’ (Jude 5). Jude was not reading New Testament theology back into the Old Testament story of the exodus; he was pointing to what is already present and pervasive in the exodus story: God both sent and was himself present in his Messenger to save (and discipline) his people on the way out of Egypt. Jude now reveals that the Messenger of the Lord in the exodus story is Jesus, the Second Person of the triune God.”(15)
Moreover, there are texts which identify Christ as “our God and saviour,” thereby connecting His work of redemption with His deity, i.e., the reason Jesus is able to save people from their sins and from everlasting destruction is only because He is God. For example Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 state, “…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), and “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Joseph is never said to be our great God in connection with His role as saviour, nor is he said to save anyone from their sins.
The fact of the matter is that New Testament writers were ascribing specific Old Testament descriptions of YHWH as the only God who can save to Christ. For example Psalms 106:21 identifies YHWH as “God, their Savior.” Likewise YHWH said the following in Isaiah 43:3 and 25: “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” And “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” Or Isaiah 45:21-22: “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” See also 2 Samuel 22:3. These Old Testament descriptions are clearly being appropriated to Christ in the New Testament, which demonstrates that DNST is incorrect for asserting that Jesus is only a saviour in the way Joseph was. The problem with the taqiyyist’s assertions is that Jesus doesn’t merely save people from physical famine, but from their sins, and the only reason why He can do so is because He is YHWH.
DNST further argues:
As if sharing divine functionality and celebrated title were not enough, we find Christian believers occupying the very throne of Jesus (peace be upon him) with him to judge:
“…as Dr. Lightfoot observes, out of Dan 7:18, but the difficulty is, in what sense the apostle means the saints shall judge the world; not merely in a comparative sense, for so even will the Heathens, the men of Nineveh, and the queen of Sheba, judge and condemn the Jews; nor as assessors on the throne with Christ, for though they shall sit on the same throne with him as reigning, yet not as judging with him…” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:2)
If Jesus (peace be upon him) is divine because he is also a judge then his throne has to be special and no one could use it lest even they would be divine, however, very idolatrously we find that Christian saints (plural) would “SIT ON THE SAME THRONE WITH HIM” and exercise divine judgments of condemning mortals and even higher beings – Angels!
What is even more ironical is that John Gill quotes Dr. Lightfoot and both are famous figures in Bible Exegesis; they are not Muslims but sincere Trinitarian Christians who do believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is God yet they candidly admit that various saints would sit on the SAME THRONE WITH JESUS (peace be upon him) –, this gives more weight to the fact that there is nothing divine about Jesus (peace be upon him) being judge and his throne.
Gill comments on Lightfoot’s application of 1 Corinthians 6:2 (saints judging the world) to Daniel 7:18 where the saints rule God’s eternal kingdom with God, under the supreme authority of God of course. To say someone will sit on the same throne is not literal, however, since that would be one huge throne! Rather, throne here refers to believers sharing in God’s rule over creation while also continuing to serve and worship the Father and the Son forever (cf. Rev. 5:8-14; 20:4-6; 22:1-5). Therefore, DNST’s main objection (saints being on the same throne as Christ relegating His position to a mere saint) is nullified. Second, it is amazing that DNST would say Christ is not deity in the context of a discussion concerning Daniel 7:18, when I clearly proved earlier that Daniel 7:13-14 affirms Jesus’ deity. How can Daniel 7:18 refute Jesus’ deity when just four verses earlier He is said to receive the same exact worship which only God can receive?
DNST’s distortion of Sam Shamoun’s words
When building his main premise DNST takes Sam Shamoun out of context. For instance, he states that:
If somebody judges under someone else’s authority then there is nothing special, let alone, divine about his/her judgment capacity.
On the contrary judging under somebody does prove that (a) The (divine) attribute of judgment is not innate in the subject candidate and (b) The subject candidate works under the servitude of some higher authority. Both the arguments establish that the subject candidate is not an absolute Deity thus any service/worship rendered towards him/her would be the sin of “shirk”
Christian Apologist, Sam Shamoun ratifies our premise when he apologizes that Christian believers are not deified because they judge under the authority of Christ (peace be upon him) and do not innately possess the divine attribute:
Fifth, the believers judge the world on behalf of the risen Lord, or as Christ’s agents and representatives. As such, they will not be judging on their own authority, but will be pronouncing Christ’s verdict upon the world.
Fourth, even though the believers are granted the privilege to reign and judge with Jesus, they are still subject to the authority of Christ.
These passages make it abundantly clear that it is Christ who gives believers the right to reign and judge with him. Yet these verses also show that Jesus will continue to reign over all of them as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, the believers do not share parity of status with the Father or the Son, but will remain subject to them forever.
Just for another reminder, Shamoun wrote the above lines to prove that there is nothing divine about Christian believers even though they judge others because (1) They judge under the authority of superiors. (2) Their judgments would not be originating innately from themselves because “they will not be judging on their own authority” but that (3) they are only “representatives” and “agents” of someone else.
In trying to show that Shamoun grants his premise (anyone acting as judge under another can not be divine) he carefully and intentionally omitted where Shamoun demonstrated that Jesus’ role as judge affirms that He is God despite being subordinate to God the Father and that believers being assigned as judges does not affirm their deity – all of which was not addressed by NDST. In fact if you compare his quotation of Shamoun’s article to the article in its totality he cuts up his words without even using ellipses’. It is ironic because in between the points he quotes (points 4 and 5) there are statements from Shamoun which damage and refute his argument. Notice he quotes Shamoun on his points 4 and 5 (out of order for some reason) but he doesn’t quote all of Shamoun’s fourth point. That is because it destroys his position. Shamoun states in point 4:
Fourth, even though the believers are granted the privilege to reign and judge with Jesus, they are still subject to the authority of Christ. All of the saints whom the Lord Jesus will glorify will remain in subjection to him and will be required to worship and serve him for ever and ever. This is precisely why we find the Apostles and the NT writers referring to themselves as slaves or bond-servants of Christ:
“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” Romans 1:1
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
“just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,” Colossians 1:7
“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.” James 1:1
“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:1a
“Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:” Jude 1:1
Believers, on the other hand, do not receive worship from one another since all such worship belongs to God alone.
It is quite clear that if the taqiyyist actually quoted all of Shamoun’s fourth point he would see that it is not only egregious but impossible to claim that believers are on the same level as Christ in regard to their roles as judges. Moreover, Shamoun exegetically demonstrated the following points throughout his article which refute DNST’s main premise and his distortion of Shamoun’s words/position:
Our analysis has shown that, contrary to the assertions of greenhorn, the believers’ exaltation does not make them gods, nor does it disprove the Deity of Christ.
The believers will judge the world on behalf of Christ, being His agents who pass on Christ’s verdict upon the wicked. Believers also rule because of what Christ has done for them out of His love and compassion. It is Christ who has made all believers a kingdom of priests to serve both him and God forever.
Hence, the kingdom which the believers receive is Christ’s own kingdom which He graciously shares with those whom He loves and which He has redeemed by His blood.
What Christ has basically done is to restore mankind to exercise the dominion which God intended them to have from the very beginning of man’s creation:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Genesis 1:26-28 – cf. Psalm 8:3-7
Notice how God gives mankind dominion as part of making them in His image, i.e. just as God rules over everything, man also rules as His representative over the physical creation, without this meaning that man is God and without diminishing God’s rule by it.
Therefore, since Christ brought redemption and restoration, it is to be expected that His followers will also receive a certain measure of “rulership” — just as God initially intended it.
Hence, what the NT says about Christ granting His followers the right to rule over the earth and judge the wicked is not completely surprising. This teaching is found right there in the Holy Scriptures from the very beginning.
Christ, however, rules and judges as the Father’s beloved Son and sovereign Lord of all creation.
In other words, the reason the Father has exalted Jesus above all creation and has appointed him to be the Judge of all the earth is so that everyone comes to acknowledge that Christ is Yahweh God incarnate. The Father wants all creation to know that Christ will determine the eternal fate of every single individual so that they may all come to the realization that Jesus isn’t simply God’s agent. Rather, Christ is actually Yahweh God who became flesh for the redemption of mankind, the One for whom everything and everyone exists.
This is precisely why the NT writers took OT texts speaking of Yahweh and adopted OT language which referred to Yahweh’s role as the Judge and the Savior of all the world, and ascribed all of that to Christ. The reason why the inspired authors did this is because they wanted their readers to know and believe that Jesus Christ is Yahweh Incarnate, the very God that the OT prophets said would come to judge the wicked and deliver His people from destruction.
Yet we do not find the NT doing this for the disciples or believers, e.g. the NT authors never take OT texts referring to Yahweh’s exclusive functions or attributes and apply them to the followers of Jesus.
Therefore, to compare Jesus’ status with that of the believers is to compare apples and oranges, or more like apples and pineapples!
It is obvious that the taqiyyist has badly distorted Shamoun’s position since he wasn’t arguing that a person who has been appointed to judge cannot be God. Rather, what Shamoun’s statements in context were actually referring to was the disciples being appointed as judges without this implying that they were also divine. Shamoun clearly distinguishes between the Son’s appointment with that of the disciples since the former judges because of His unique relationship and status as God’s unique Son and the divine Son of Man who is co-equal with the Father in divine essence, honor and majesty:
“Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately” (John 13:31-32).
“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify YOUR Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, HE MAY GIVE ETERNAL LIFE. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me TOGETHER WITH YOURSELF, with the glory which I had WITH YOU BEFORE THE WORLD WAS‘” (John 17:1-5, 24)
Astonishingly, not only does Jesus claim to be the Son whom the Father glorifies and grants eternal life to all whom the Father gives Him, which is an exclusively divine function and ability, He even goes so far as to claim to have existed in the same divine glory with the Father before the creation of the physical world!
The Son is also the divine Agent of Creation and the Father’s beloved Heir to whom all things belong:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them HE GAVE THE RIGHT to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 9-14)
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:35-36)
“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:15)
“and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them” (John 17:10)
What makes these statements so astonishing is that according to the Old Testament Yahweh not only created all things by and for Himself, He is also adamantly against sharing His divine glory and majesty with any another!
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together” (Isaiah 48:11-13). – cf. 43:6-7, 20-21; 44:24; 45:12, 18-23
The disciples, on the other hand, judge solely because of the grace of the Lord Jesus, not because of any divine right they possess to do so.
Thus, whereas the disciples judge on behalf of Christ due to His grace, Jesus judges everyone so that all men will come to honor and glorify Him for who He is, namely, the divine Son of God and Owner of creation.
In light of Shamoun’s actual position and comments one must ask how DNST could ever come to the conclusion that his article somehow grants that Jesus is on the same level as believers in regard to being judges. The only conclusion is that DNST is fond of employing taqiyya and deception by omission.
Until and unless DNST interacts with Shamoun’s arguments as to why Jesus’ role as judge affirms His deity and why the believers’ roles as judges do not, he has no basis to continue with his position.
In conclusion we have clearly shown that Jesus Christ is the divine judge and therefore deity. This is true despite Jesus being subject to God the Father in terms of authority. We have also demonstrated that believers are not divine even though they also judge. We have seen that DNST took Sam Shamoun as well as other Christian writers out of context to support his views even though when you consult the context of these writings DNST’s thesis is countermanded and refuted. We have seen that the alleged Biblical support for his position was not handled properly and that once responsible exegesis is applied to the texts his arguments do not hold water. It is my hope that DNST will withdraw his paper and make a formal apology for distorting Holy Scripture.
Christ has risen, He is Lord!
1.) Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, [Harper, 1887], p. 624
2.) Philo, The Decalogue, 65
3.) Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, [Harper, 1887], p. 314-315
4.) David J. Ellis, John, F.F. Bruce, New International Bible Commentary, [Zondervan, 1979], p. 1242
5.) Athanasius, Statement of Faith, 1
6.) John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, John 5:30
7.) Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, John 5:30
8.) See John 17:5, Revelation 1:17-18 & Isaiah 44:6, Acts 2:33; 5:31. With respect to Jesus in Acts 2:33 and 5:31 being exalted to God’s right hand one must understand the background of this kind of language. We see for example how the Jews contemporaneous with Christ would use this phrase (God’s right hand) and why it was applied to Christ in the New Testament by looking at certain literature of that period. The Pseudepigraphal book titled Testament of Job (First Century B.C. – First Century A.D) is a Greek work which teaches that YHWH’s right hand is a metaphor for His power or majesty. In other words to say that Jesus is at the right hand of God is to say that Jesus is so intimately connected with the Father’s being that when the Father shows His power or majesty, it is actually Jesus doing it: “Now I will show you my throne with the splendor of its majesty, which is among the holy ones. My throne is in the upper world, and its splendor and majesty come from the right hand of the Father. The whole world shall pass away and its splendor shall fade. And those who heed it shall share in its overthrow. But my throne is in the holy land, and its splendor is in the world of the changeless one. Rivers will dry up, and the arrogance of their waves goes down into the depths of the abyss. But the rivers of my land, where my throne is, do not dry up nor will they disappear, but they will exist forever. These kings will pass away, and rulers come and go; but their splendor and boast shall be as in a mirror. But my kingdom is forever and ever, and its splendor and majesty are in the chariots of the Father.” (Testament of Job, Ch. 33)
9.) Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 482
10.) Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5 Book 59, Number 702
11.) Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, [N. Bangs and J. Emory, 1825], p. 523
12.) Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5
13.) Robert Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, [Kregel Publications, 2007], pp. 98, 313 n. 10
14.) Franz Delitzsch, Carl Friedrich Keil, Isaiah, 2:454-455. Cited in Robert Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, [Christian Scholars Press], p. 201
15.) Philip Graham Ryken, Michael Lefebvre, Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One, [Crossway, 2011], The Mysteries of the Trinity