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"Chose your address Sohail"

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: Lactantius Jr

Submitted by Lactantius Jr. (United Kingdom), May 25, 2007 at 12:27

To Sohail,

First off, I refer to online resources which may be used to confirm the quotations from the Christian Scriptures cited. This is Bible Gateway, which quotes 20 English renderings, and which is at:- http://www.biblegateway.com/ The online Qur'an Browser used being at:- http://www.quranbrowser.com/ which quotes 10 English renderings of the Qur'anic Arabic, together with transliterated Arabic, and whilst I quote the Qur'an extensively, I do so, not because I believe it to be a revelation of the true and living God, I do not, but do so, because you as a Muslim believe it to be authoritative, and thus must accept what it says. Firmly believing that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, I seek to do just that, the main thing being the identity of Jesus Christ, the New Testament Scriptures, the primary source of reliable information about Him, clearly testifying to Who He is, and what only He can do:- "…………our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ………………….. Titus 2:13 "Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf." Hebrews 7:25 "There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 The Qur'an gives eloquent testimony to the New Testament Scriptures, as it does to the whole Bible , as the unaltered, unalterable word of Allah, which I have documented in my previous postings, and still you ask, "Give me one verse from the Qur'an which says it supports all the books in the bible."

I suggest you read Surah 5:44-46 the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of which follows, bracketed terms not being part of the original Qur'anic Arabic:- "It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers. We ordained therein for them: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.' But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrong-doers. And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel." Notice that the author of the Qur'an quotes a passage from the Bible, and what he quotes is Exodus 21:23-25. The passage goes on to say that Jesus confirmed the Torah of his day.

Historically we know what that Torah was, i.e. the Dead Sea Scrolls, NT citations where Jesus cites the OT books etc. Additionally, in this same surah, the author says that Jesus learned the Torah, the Book, the Gospel and Wisdom: "Then will Allah say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: This is nothing but evident magic.' " Surah 5:110 Historically we know what the Torah and the Book would have looked like at the time of Christ. In fact, the reference to Wisdom may even be an allusion to the Wisdom Literature found in the Hebrew Bible, i.e. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs etc. As far as Surah 5:47, 66 and 68 are concerned, the command is directed to the Jews and Christians of Muhammad's time to uphold the Torah and the Gospel, AND ALL THE REVELATION from their Lord.

The question being, what were the Torah and the Gospel in the possession of the Jews and Christians of Muhammad's time? Is there any data suggesting that the Torah and the Gospel were something other than that which we find in the Bible today, or before Muhammad? Furthermore, the expression ALL THE REVELATION which Allah sent down, means that the Jews and Christians were to accept every Book that Allah revealed through his messengers and prophets.

Now, the question is, what were the Books which Allah sent through his messengers and prophets? the Qur'an itself saying that Allah sent many messengers, some of whom are not mentioned in the Quran? And yet the Qur'an says that Muslims are to believe in them all, which means that they must accept all the Books given by Allah through them. Again, if the Muslim is in doubt about the contents of the Book, i.e. how many Books were revealed, then he must do what his book tells him to do, ask us Christians. "If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt." Surah 10:94

Whilst it is true that the Qur'an rejects the Deity of Jesus cf. Surah's 4:171; 5:17, 70-75; 9:30 the Qur'an attributes titles, qualities and functions to Christ which shows that He is indeed God. Other titles given to Jesus Christ affirming His essential Deity, include the Word of God and a Spirit from God cf. Surah's 3:39, 45; 4:171, and I refer to an Internet posting by Sam Shamoun titled Jesus' Divine Claims and Islam An Examination of Biblical Christology In Light of the Quranic View of Allah's Attributes http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/unique.htm in which Sam documents from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) and the Qur'an, certain titles and attributes of God and Allah, comparing them to statements made by Christ, and concludes:- "Christ's extensive usage of divine titles and prerogatives that are found in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Qur'an, affirms that Jesus' self-description is consistent with one claiming to be God Almighty. The Lord Jesus' use of divine titles that belong exclusively to God, shows that Jesus is God, or at least establishes the fact that Jesus claimed to be God. No true prophet of God would make such divine claims, unless of course the claims were actually true. And in the case of Christ, these divine claims are true since He is God in the flesh.

Hence, a Muslim must come to the conclusion that the recorded words of Christ in the Qur'an leave no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God. There is simply no way around it." Thank you Sohail for quoting Surah 2:77-79 yes I am familiar with it, and as you say, the correct interpretation of it couldn't be clearer, could it? Now let's see what happens, when specific parts of the passage in question are emphasised: "And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and THEY DO NOTHING BUT CONJECTURE." Surah 2:78 Once the passage is read in context, it is seen not to be speaking of Jews and Christians corrupting their Holy Book, but rather unlettered Jews, who were ignorant of the content of Scriptures and falsified revelation for gain. Yet, the Qur'an clearly speaks of learned Jews and Christians who knew Scripture, and would not sell it for gain: "And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, and that which has been revealed to you, in that which has been revealed to them, bowing in humility to Allah. They will not sell the signs of Allah for miserable gain.

For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account." Surah 3:199 "NOT ALL OF THEM ARE ALIKE. Some of the People of the Book are an upright people. They recite the signs (or verses) of Allah in the night season and they bow down worshipping. They believe in Allah and the last day. They command what is just, and forbid what is wrong and they hasten in good works, and they are of the righteous." Surah 3:113-114 It couldn't be clearer Sohail, could it?

No I don't mean pagan Eostr Sohail, I referred to Resurrection Sunday, and to Him Who "did death to death" by dying and rising from the dead, Who said of Himself:- "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die." John 11:25-26 and should you want to pursue your implication of pagan origins of Christianity, I'll be glad to oblige Sohail, and will also document Muhammad's incorporation of various pagan religions into Islam, these borrowings constituting significant facets of Islam. "Why Do You Call me Good? Only God Is Good"

You refer to Osama Abdallah's comments on Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 Osama claiming this shows "complete ignorance about what's written in the bible, and reveals the total blasphemy and darkness that polytheist trinitarian pagans are living in," which only demonstrates Osama Abdallah's complete ignorance about what's written in the Bible. "As he was starting out on a trip, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?' ‘Why do you call Me good?' Jesus asked. "Only God is truly good." Mark 10:17-18 "Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: ‘Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?' ‘Why do you call Me good?' Jesus asked him. ‘Only God is truly good.' " Luke 18:18-19 Sometimes it is very important to know WHICH WORD to stress in a sentence. The following sentence with only 7 words in it, has 3 very different "plain meanings," depending on which of the 7 words is stressed: "I never said she stole my wallet" What is the meaning of this sentence? Did you think:- "I NEVER said she stole my wallet" or "I never said SHE stole my wallet" or "I never said she stole my WALLET" ... which mean totally different things.

The problem is that in a written document, we don't have the intonation anymore, but then, we usually don't have "just one sentence" either, and the context will make clear what is the right intonation (and meaning) of a phrase, even if there are several possible meanings when taken in isolation. So after this introduction for the proper "setting of the stage", lets go to the contentious text itself, remembering that a text (a source of information or authority) taken out of context (the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage, and can throw light on its meaning) is a pretext (a purpose or motive alleged, or an appearance assumed, in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs). Muslims such as Osama Abdallah quote Mark 10:17-18 and Luke 18:18-19 so often, alleging that in them Jesus is denying His divinity, that I think a detailed explanation of this specific misunderstanding is in order.

I have the impression, that when Muslims read this statement by Jesus, they stress it [in disregard of context] as: "Why do you call ME good?" as if Jesus is shocked, and emphatically denies His goodness, and is utterly opposed to such a statement. I want to show in the following, that Jesus is not denying His goodness, but questioning this man's motives by asking him "*WHY* do you call Me good?" because this man is "altogether too obsequious and effusive in his approach," and "before you address Me with such a title, you had better think soberly about what the implications are, and especially what they are for you." Let's look at what the Bible really says, before we jump to conclusions too quickly.

This event as recorded by Mark, chapter 10 :13-22 reads:- "One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother Him. But when Jesus saw what was happening, He was very displeased with His disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to Me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.' Then He took the children into His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them. As he was starting out on a trip, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?' ‘Why do you call Me good?' Jesus asked. ‘Only God is truly good. But as for your question, you know the commandments: Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Do not cheat. Honour your father and mother.' ‘Teacher,' the man replied, ‘I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child.' Jesus felt genuine love for this man as He looked at him. ‘You lack only one thing,' He told him. ‘Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.' At this, the man's face fell, and he went sadly away because he had many possessions."

Firstly, we have to observe that this man is "praising Jesus highly" but then goes on to NOT obey what Jesus tells him he should do to inherit the eternal life that he desires. Some quick remarks about the context. Jesus has just taught the people that to enter the kingdom of God (= get eternal life), we need to accept it as a gift, just like the children who have no inhibitions in accepting gifts. Jesus tells us that we have to "unlearn" our adult behaviour of "having to earn everything" because we cannot earn God's favour and grace, but have to accept it as a free gift of love. And the next we read is that this man comes up and asks "what MUST I DO to inherit eternal life".

This shows how much this is entrenched in our nature and how hard it is to accept the pure grace (unconditional, unearned, undeserved, unending love of God). God's grace is without pre-conditions but not without consequences. Whoever has tasted of God's grace, in thankfulness, will then strive to live a life which is pleasing to God. We can only guess at why exactly this man is praising Jesus so highly when he approaches Him. Maybe he thought if he praises Jesus first, he might get a more favourable answer from him? One that is "easier to fulfill"? Isn't that a common approach of many people towards those who are (perceived to be) in authority on a certain issue?

But Jesus looks through these smoke screens and goes right to the core problem. Jesus isn't swayed by this man's attempt to win His favour the wrong way. This doesn't mean that this man was a total hypocrite - just trying to manipulate a bit in his own favour. Jesus won't let him do so. I think there are several indications that this man was very serious with his quest. He was a very religious man and had diligently observed the commandments of God. When Jesus gives him a short list of them, he responds that he has obeyed all these from his childhood to the present day. He was indeed a devout and committed believer.

We should also observe that Jesus lists the second tablet of the Ten Commandments, which deal with our relationship with our fellow men -- the examination into the relationship of this inquirer with the first tablet (about our relationship with God) will come later. But in all his diligent observance of God's law, there still was an insecurity whether that was "enough" to get him eternal life. This didn't let him rest in peace. He wanted to make sure that God would in the end accept him in the last judgment and grant him eternal life.

This man had his priorities right at least on this part. He was concerned with this most important question of what we have to do in this life, to be in the right place after it is over, and we have to face the judgment of God. "It is appointed for all men to die once, and then comes the judgement." Hebrews 8:12. And Jesus acknowledges the right and good desire of this man, we read that He looked at him and "He loved him". He sees that this man wants more and is serious about it, he knows this "religious observance of commandments" isn't "it" yet ` [otherwise he wouldn't have asked in this 'self humiliating way' of falling down before Jesus in front of a whole crowd]. Jesus sees the true desire of this man, and because of His love to him He tells him [after reviewing some basics = some of the Ten Commandments] what he needs for eternal life. Jesus says: Give away what you have to the poor. Then you will have a treasure in heaven. And then FOLLOW ME. This answer of Jesus cuts right through to the core of his problem. He was rich and his wealth and the security that comes with wealth, was too important for him to give up. He wanted eternal life, and he would have made great efforts to do many good deeds with his wealth and his abilities, no question about that. But giving it up completely? Trusting ONLY God and having his security in God only? This was too much for him. He did get the answer that he needed. But it was also the answer that exposed his true heart. His wealth and position was more important than God. And he went away sad. At another time Jesus said: You cannot serve two masters. Either God or money. "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24 And Jesus' command revealed that though this man had kept all the "outward commandments of behaviour", he was guilty of breaking the first commandment "I am the Lord your God, you shall have NO other gods before me" Exodus 20:2-3. Nothing is allowed to take priority over God.

For the man asking Jesus "what must I do?" it was money, security, position, ... Yes, God is the source of all goodness and truth. [But God in the creation account pronounces His creation to be "very good" - a goodness derived from the one who made it. And there are many people called "good" in the Bible. Jesus has no problem with that at all. But Jesus points to the source of all goodness - and He doesn't say that He has nothing to do with this source.] Jesus peels away the man's attempt to 'manipulate' in his favour. And He says to him, "don't use divine attributes for Me IF you are not willing to follow what I am going to tell you". Jesus does then make this clear to the rich young man, by showing him WHO [what] really is his 'god'. Jesus with this question "WHY do you call me good -- only God is good" and his exposure of the man's true heart makes clear that this statement has to be read as "Only call me "good" [meaning: (from) God], if you are prepared to fully submit to what I will tell you". And though this does explain the statement, to fully understand the dynamic of this incident, we have to look even more carefully. There is much more. No prophet has ever talked in this "presumptious" way. "How can I get eternal life?" is the question. "Follow ME!" is the answer that Jesus gives. Do you see what He is claiming Sohail? He does NOT say, these are the teachings that God has given Me. Follow these rules and you will get to heaven. Neither did he just say, "follow God, submit to God", but he said "Follow ME!". Jesus talks to this man as if it is in His hand to give eternal life. Follow Jesus and you have eternal life. And that by the way is a constant topic in the teaching of Jesus. And it is completely against the tradition of Jewish teachers, who are approached and chosen by their students. But none of the disciples chose Jesus.

It is always Jesus Who comes up to them and "claims them" and commands them to follow Him. Do I read into the text that Jesus connects "obtaining eternal life" with "following Him"? I don't think so. This is a constant theme of Jesus' teaching: "I AM the resurrection and the life, who believes in ME will live (eternally), even though he dies (physically); and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die" (spiritually). -- John 11:25-26 "I will give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:28 In the Gospel of John alone there are 16 passages connecting the very words "eternal life" with faith in Jesus. And not only with the faith in Jesus, but that it is Jesus Himself who is GIVING this eternal life. Indeed Jesus several times says: I AM the LIFE. Jesus didn't say "I show you the way". He said "I AM the WAY" Jesus didn't say "I tell you about the truth". He said "I AM the TRUTH," Jesus didn't say "Following my words might give you a chance at eternal life". He said "I AM the LIFE". -- John 14:6 Jesus said: Follow me. [dozens of times] Back to our text in Mark chapter 10, the next 5 verses (23-27) being:- "Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God!' This amazed them.

But Jesus said again, ‘Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!' The disciples were astounded. ‘Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.' " There is a lot in this text which I don't go into right now, but it was the understanding of the disciples, that wealth is the visible blessing of God, and so they are astonished that Jesus says it is hard for rich people to get to heaven. They ask, if not even those on whom God's favour already rests, who then? Jesus says, humanly it is impossible. NO MAN can enter heaven out of his own power. Jesus goes back to the teaching He was giving just before this man came up to him. Like the Children we have to receive it from God as a gift. With MAN it is impossible [out of his own righteousness and good deeds], but God makes it possible [by His grace]. It isn't free of cost though. It does cost a hefty price to get to heaven. In fact, the cost is so high that no man can pay it.

Therefore it is impossible with man. God has to pay, so that we can come in for free. What is the price for entering heaven? Let us read on, it is all in the next 4 verses (28-31) of text. "Then Peter began to mention all that he and the other disciples had left behind. ‘We've given up everything to follow You,' he said. And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for My sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return, a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property--with persecutions. And in the world to come they will have eternal life. But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.' " Leaving ... to follow Jesus results in receiving ... eternal life. How? How is this price paid that offers us heaven and eternal life which we can't possibly earn on our own? Just read on, it is all there:- Mark 10:32-34 "They were now on the way to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with dread and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to Him in Jerusalem. ‘When we get to Jerusalem,' He told them, ‘the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die and hand Him over to the Romans. They will mock Him, spit on Him, beat Him with their whips, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again." and in Mark 10:45 we read:- "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give My life as a ransom for many." Jesus' death on the cross is the price. There He will pay the price for our sin and ransom us from hell. Jesus, AGAIN predicts His death and resurrection and also says WHY it is going to happen. Jesus didn't die? Why does He talk about it then all the time?

Jesus never said He was God? Really? The evidence is all over the place. Even in the very passages which Muslims think strengthen their case against the deity of Christ. If you look closer and read it carefully, even those who do not believe it should be able to see it. Summary and Conclusion: The statement/question by Jesus "Why do you call Me good? Only God is good" does ask the rich young man for his motivation in praising Jesus. And it admonishes him not to attribute to Him a quality which he is ultimately not willing to accept and act upon in obedience. Jesus does not reject that this attribute is appropriate for Him, but more than just "any praise" Jesus desires that the praise that is offered to Him is true and genuine. Furthermore, this passage contains some clear statements that link eternal life with our relationship to Jesus.

These claims would be blasphemous if indeed Jesus were just a man like any other prophet. Only God is the giver of life. So, this very passage contains a quite strong (implicit) claim to divine status. By taking such statements out of their immediate and overall contexts, the impression is given that the Lord Jesus is actually denying He is God, since he denies that He is good in the sense that God is good. In the first place, Jesus didn't say "I am not good, only God is good", but simply poses a question to the man to think more deeply about the implications of his words. The implication being that if Jesus is good, and only God is good, then Jesus is God. Again, note the logic behind this: 1. God alone is (absolutely) good. 2. Jesus is (absolutely) good. 3. Therefore, Jesus is God. If the man truly believed this, then he must be willing to abandon everything for Christ. This is precisely what Jesus demanded: "And looking at him, Jesus felt love for him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, FOLLOW ME.'" Mark 10:21 Jesus demands a devotion that is to be given solely to God.

This is clearly seen in light of the fact that Jesus' demand was made right after the man had indicated his observance to the last six commands of the Ten Commandments. These commands were given to govern a person's relationship with others. The first four commandments govern a person's devotion to God. The man's trouble was that he loved money more than God, and hence his money became an idol. He had to be willing to die to his idolatry by giving it up in order to devote himself completely to the pure worship of God. Yet, amazingly, Jesus never asked the man to follow the first four commandments, or to follow God completely, but directed the man to follow Him. The reason being, is that to wholeheartedly follow the Lord Jesus is to fulfill one's obligation to God. Thus, Jesus was implicitly claiming to be God since He was clearly saying that to follow Him is to follow God, to obey Him is to obey God, to love Him is to love God. Therefore Jesus is God! Why do we call Him good? Because He is - AND He is the Lord God. "The Father Is Greater Than I" "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you ' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater (Greek meizon) than I." John 14:28 Since Islam assumes Unitarianism/Monism (that Allah is one in being and in Person), it obviously means the Biblical God is not the same as the Qur'anic Allah, when He speaks of Someone being greater than Himself, because the Biblical God has revealed Himself to be Unity in Triunity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons), then it is quite possible for one member or Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members.

It is true that nothing outside of the Holy Trinity's own existence could ever be greater than Him, but this doesn't necessarily imply that there cannot be some type of authority structure or ranking within the internal life and relationships of the Trinity Himself. So, what did Jesus intend to convey to His disciples, in saying that the Father was greater than He? In the first place, the term for "greater" (Greek - meizon) does not necessarily imply one who is greater in nature or essence. It can refer to someone or something being greater in position and/or authority. Strong's Concordance states that meizon, the Greek word for "greater" (Greek Dictionary #3187) simply means "larger." (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the New Testament.) Vine's Dictionary says that meizon 'is the comparative degree of megas' (meaning "great" in the Greek). Vine's refers us to Titus 2:13 as an example "of rank" of persons, where Jesus is called "our GREAT God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (The Expanded Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Robertson's Greek Word Pictures- John 14:28 Greater than I meizoon (NT:3144) mou (NT:3406). Ablative case mou (NT:3406) after the comparative meizoon (NT:3144) (from positive megas (NT:3130)).

The filial relation makes this necessary. Not a distinction in nature or essence (cf. John 10:30), but in rank in the Trinity. No Arianism or Unitarianism here. The very explanation here is proof of the deity of the Son (Dods).(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament) Other New Testament Dictionaries agree, meizon is positional: regarding authority, though EQUAL, the Father has authority over the Son (who became a man), as the sender is over the sent one, even though they are EQUAL in nature You might say Sohail, I am not equal to my Father, then by your own human logic, my father's father was greater than he was, and so was his father etc. and tracing it back to our original ancestors, we can then say we are all decreasing in nature.

But the fact is, we are equal in nature to our father's, just not equal in position. In John the comparative meizon appears only in the discourses. It brings into prominence Jesus' claims and the unique effectiveness of his work. In authority he is "greater" than Jacob (Israel), Abraham or other men, for he brings life (John 4:12; 8:53; 5:20, 36). His works have been given him by the Father who, however, despite the unity and equality which exist between the two, is "greater" than Jesus himself (John 10:29; 14:28).

The commission with which the Father sends the Son is balanced by the Son's obedience in carrying out his work of love. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed., Colin Brown, Vol. 2, 1967, 1976, p. 426. We see that "greater" is considered a positional word with emphasis on position in relationship to others, i.e., He is 'larger" in greatness than others. How can Jesus call His Father "greater," or higher in rank than Himself at John. 14:28 and yet be the "Great God" in Titus 2:13? Is this not a contradiction? Not if one became a willing servant to their Father while on earth. (John. 1:1, 14: The Word who was God, became flesh, a man). His Father, God, is "greater" in position and authority than Jesus as a man in the role of a servant. The context in John 14:28 bears it out. Using Strong's and Vine's definition of "greater" and interpreting Jesus' own words: "the Father is larger, higher in rank than I."

It is important to note that Jesus is not using a word which means the Father is better or superior to Him in quality of nature, but rather larger in (size or degree of) authority. We know "greater" does not refer to a different quality of nature BECAUSE Jesus uses the very same word to describe the greater SIZE works (greater in quantity, i.e., more works, not better works) that His disciples will do compared to His own works. If it meant nature, then we are greater then Jesus in nature- which would be absurd to any Bible believing person. He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because 1 go to the Father." John 14:12 From this prophecy, we conclude "greater" does not mean "better", a word of quality, but means "larger". The disciples were to do the same type of works, just more of them as they were spread throughout the world.

Jesus makes it clear in John 13:16 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him" Same word meizon for greater. This cannot be related to nature since Jesus is human as His disciples are human. In John 14:28 Jesus wasn't saying the Father is better than He in nature (he being a creature the Father being the eternal God) , but instead the disciples could do more, so could the Father do more. 'If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, "Have 1 been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father?" John. 14:7-9 One needs the God of Scripture to reveal to them whom the Son actually is. He is the exact representation of the invisible God. "Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" Hebrews 1:3 The writer is conveying the exact expression (the image) of the invisible God was made known to man by a man.

He was precisely like his father who remained invisible in every respect. To really "ink it in" that meizon can refer to someone or something being greater in position and/or authority, is demonstrated as the following Scriptures show:- "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater (meizon) than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:11 John being greater than all those born of women, does not imply that the rest were less human than John, or that they were inferior to John in nature. Here, the term must mean that John was greater in position and rank. "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater (meizon) than his master, nor is one who is sent greater (meizon) than the one who sent him." John 13:16 Both the slave and the one sent, are just as human as the master and the sender, having the same human essence and nature that the master and sender have.

Thus, greater here, must mean in position and authority, not in essence and nature. "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater (meizona) things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 The preceding data shows that, depending upon the context, the word meizon can either mean, greater in nature, position, or even both. Thus, the only way we can know for certain what Jesus meant by saying that the Father was greater than Him is by reading His statement in its immediate context. A careful look at the entire chapter of 14 shows the Lord Jesus claiming to have all of God's omni-attributes: "And I WILL DO whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

You may ask ME for anything in my name, AND I WILL DO IT." John 14:13-14 The Lord Jesus Christ is capable of personally answering all prayers that are directed to Him, or are addressed in His name. The only way that He can both hear and answer all these prayers, is if He is both omniscient and omnipotent! "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, AND I AM IN YOU. Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him." John 14:20-21 The Lord Jesus Christ says that He is IN all the disciples, an impossible claim if he was only a man, or even an angel. But since Jesus is Almighty God, and since God is omnipresent, it therefore makes perfect sense for Christ to say He is able to dwell in all the believers at the same time. Finally: "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 Both the Father and the Son make their home with all true believers!

Christ is clearly claiming co-equality with the Father since He is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is! In fact, even those who heard Jesus knew that He was claming to be equal to his Father: "And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because He did this on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, AND I AM WORKING.' This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the sabbath but also called God His Father, making Himself equal (ison) with God." John 5:16-18 In light of the foregoing, it is quite clear what the Lord Jesus meant in saying that the Father was greater than Him. The Scriptures teach that when Christ became a man, He assumed the role and position of a slave/servant: "For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the One who serves." Luke 22:27 "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, do you wash my feet?' Jesus answered him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.' For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, 'Not all of you are clean.' When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.'" John 13:3-15 "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8 Thus, as long as the Lord Jesus Christ remained on earth in the form and position of a humble slave, enduring persecution, insults, injury, and subsequently the shame of the cross, the Father would be greater in position and honor. Once Christ returns to heaven to be seated alongside His Father, He would no longer be in that state of humiliation.

He would share, once again, that same divine glory and sovereign authority that He had with the Father before He had come to the earth as a man: "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was... Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:5, 24 Thus, the Father was greater in position and rank, not in essence and nature, and in denying it Sohail, you are committing a categorical fallacy.

You are confusing the category of position and rank, with the category of essence and nature, erroneously assuming that if one is greater in one way, i.e. position and authority, than they must be greater in every way, i.e. essence and nature. In light of these clear biblical truths presented, such is not the case at all. Returning to John the Baptiser:- "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater that John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:11 Was John the Baptist superior in nature to all other men?

On the other hand all believers would be greater in nature to John who was the greatest born of women. "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 Was Jesus lesser in nature than those He served? This means even the disciples who were sinful were greater than Him. "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" John 4:12 Was the woman asking Jesus if He was of a superior nature to Jacob? 'Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?" John 8:53 Did the Jews ask if Jesus was of a superior nature to Abraham? It was about position. In the same way in John 10:30-11:15 Jesus spoke to the antagonists:- "‘I and My Father are one.' Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me' The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.' Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods '? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 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? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.' Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand." Jesus' point was that they were given a ruling position by God (as judges) but they did not recognize His ruling position was also given by God. His was greater, because He was by nature one with His Father, He was the Son of God.

They got the message and were threatened by it. It is no different today, by those who do not want to submit to the one God sent, and make Him something other than He and the Scriptures say He is. You and I Sohail, and every other human being, are given free will to make choices, there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, and there will not be any prisoners in heaven, only those who want to be there, gladly choosing the gift freely offered to all who want it. "the gift of God, which is eternal life through Christ Jesus," Romans 6:23 You're not worth it, you don't derserve it, you can't earn it, but you're going to live forever Sohail, choose your address.

With kind regards and best wishes Lactantius Jr

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