Turning the Tables Pt. 2
We continue our series where we take some of the texts that non-Christian groups and cults often cite to undermine core, essential biblical doctrines and turn these same passages against them. We will again look at a verse that Muslims often quote to disprove the Deity of Christ and his essential coequality with the Father.
Muslim polemicists are quite fond of quoting Matthew 28:18, where the risen Lord announced to his disciples that he has been granted absolute sovereignty over the entire creation, in order to prove that Christ cannot be God on the grounds that Jesus had to be given such power. They surmise that if he were God then he would have already possessed such an authority and wouldn’t need someone else to give it to him. Note for example what the following Muslim polemicists state concerning this text:
VERSES THAT CONTRADICT THE TRINITARIAN DOCTRINE AND/OR THE DIVINITY OF JESUS…
Matthew 28:18 - All power was given to Jesus. (Yusuf Estes, The Bible … A Closer Look)
Bible says that Jesus’ powers were given to him
‘All power is given unto me.’ (Matt 28:18)
God is all-powerful, no one gives God His powers, otherwise He would not be God because He would be weak. Therefore, Jesus could not be God. (90 Verses says: Jesus is not God, Compiled by Adenino Otari)
Before we even address this gross distortion of this particular text, it is vitally important that we first cite the immediate context so as to get a more proper understanding of what Jesus meant:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father, AND OF THE SON, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
Pay careful attention to Christ’s words here. He not only claims to possess absolute power over all creation, he also identifies himself as the Son who shares in the one divine name of the Father and the Holy Spirit. He even assures his followers that he will personally be present with every one of them wherever they may go!
Jesus was basically making himself out to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, characteristics which belong to God alone, since this is the only way that he could have the entire creation under his control, and to be able to assist and empower all of his disciples to successfully carry out their commission, no matter how numerous and no matter where they may happen to be.
Now that we have cited the context we can begin addressing the Muslim assertion.
To begin with, the reason why Jesus was given divine authority over the heavens and earth is because Matthew’s Gospel teaches that Christ had assumed the status and function of a servant while he was on earth,
“But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Matthew 12:15-21 – cf. 3:16-17; Isaiah 42:1-4
In order to minister to others and offer his life as a vicarious sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins:
“even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 – cf. Mark 12:6-7; Luke 22:27; John 13:3-17; Romans 15:8; Philippians 2:5-8
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28
As such, Jesus was given an authority that had always been his by divine right, but which he voluntarily had set aside while he was on the earth.
Furthermore, as the Son Jesus is the beloved Heir of God for whom all creation exists:
“Having yet therefore ONE SON, HIS WELLBELOVED, he sent him also LAST unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, THIS IS THE HEIR; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.” Mark 12:6-8 – cf. Matthew 21:37-39; Luke 20:13-15
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” John 3:35
“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;” John 13:3
“All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:15
And as the Heir, God has appointed the Son to be the One who resurrects the dead at the last day and grants everlasting life to all those that believe in him:
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him… And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” John 17:1-2, 10
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, BUT SHOULD RAISE IT UP AGAIN AT THE LAST DAY. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP AT THE LAST DAY.” John 6:35-40
We are even told that Christ will raise the dead from their graves by the power and majestic sound of his glorious and sovereign voice!
“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will… Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself… Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear HIS [the Son’s] VOICE, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:21, 25-26, 28-29
The reason why Jesus is able to do this is because he is both the Truth and the Life,
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
And as such he is the Author or Creator or life, the One from whom life originates:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 14
“The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Creator of Life, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.” Acts 3:13-15 Modern English Version (MEV)
Suffice it to say, the foregoing biblical texts raise a host of problems for Muslims.
First, the Quran denies that Allah is a father to anyone, especially to Christ:
The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! S. 9:30 Arberry – cf. Q. 5:18; 6:101; 19:88-93; 21:26; 39:4; 72:3
To make matters worse, Jesus referred to himself as the incomprehensible Son who alone knows the Father in the exact same way that the Father knows him:
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” Luke 10:21-22
This is an explicit claim of omniscience since only an omniscient mind can know God in the same way that God knows him.
Yet this is an assertion that cuts at the very heart of the Quranic denial of Jesus’ essential coequality with God since the Islamic scripture has Christ denying that he knows God’s inner-self or soul:
And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: 'Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?' " He will say: "Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my innerself though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen. S. 5:116 Hilali-Khan
Second, the Islamic scripture denies that Allah has taken a son or someone else to be a partner in his sovereignty over creation:
And say: Praise be to Allah, Who hath not taken unto Himself a son, and Who hath no partner in the Sovereignty, nor hath He any protecting friend through dependence. And magnify Him with all magnificence. S. 17:111 Pickthall
He unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He hath chosen no son nor hath He any partner in the Sovereignty. He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure. S. 25:2 Pickthall
Third, the Muslim so-called “revelation” claims that Allah is the truth and life that raises the dead from their graves at the last hour:
“Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah to you all - (the messenger of) Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no God save Him. He quickeneth and He giveth death…” S. 7:158 Pickthall
That is because Allah, He is the Truth and because He quickeneth the dead, and because He is Able to do all things; And because the Hour will come, there is no doubt thereof; and because Allah will raise those who are in the graves. S. 22:6-7 Pickthall
Fourth, as Heir Jesus not only owns all Muslims but he also owns Muhammad himself, since everything has been made for the pleasure and glory of God's beloved Son!
Hence, the assertions of the Lord Jesus and his disciples not only establish that they went around proclaiming that Christ was/is God in the flesh, they further prove that Muhammad was actually a false prophet who preached another Jesus and a false gospel. As such, Muhammad was nothing more than an antichrist that misled people away from the knowledge of the true God which Christ brought to mankind:
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” John 1:18
The final problem with this Muslim polemic is that it ends up proving too much, since it proves that Allah of the Quran cannot be god (which he can’t be but for other reasons). This is because the Muslim’s “holy” book plainly states that Allah is an heir who receives an inheritance from what is supposed to be his own creation!
It is We who give life, and make to die, and it is We who are the inheritors. S. 15:23 Arberry
Lo! We, only We, inherit the earth and all who are thereon, and unto Us they are returned. S. 19:40 Pickthall – cf. Q. 3:180; 19:80
Allah is even said to be the best of those that inherit!
And Zachariah, when he cried unto his Lord: My Lord! Leave me not childless, though Thou art the Best of inheritors. S. 21:89 Pickthall
Thus, Allah belongs to a group of individuals who receive inheritance from others, thereby making him comparable to the very beings that he supposedly created.
This places Muslims in a major dilemma since they tell us that Allah is the all-sufficient God who created all things, and therefore owns everything. If this is true then how could he inherit from anyone when everyone and everything is supposed to already belong to him?
We will leave it to the Muslim apologists to solve this problem which they have created for themselves.