Bassam Zawadi has made an attempt to respond (*) to my article (*) regarding the issue of whether Jewish and Christian converts to Islam are required to observe the Law of Moses, even if this means that they must break specific Quranic commands to do so.
We will see here that Zawadi helped to establish my case against Muslims, providing evidence that some Muslim apologists are inconsistent in their argumentation.
We will further show how Zawadi contradicts himself and that his arguments can be used against Muhammad to show that he isnt a true prophet.
This is all a result of Shamoun not understanding the point that Muslims are trying to make. Muslims are not saying that the Christians and Jews today should follow the Law. What we are saying is that they should follow Islam and become Muslims.
He then claims:
However, what we also do is criticize the hypocrisy of Christians who claim to love Jesus and follow him and yet don't do what he taught and that is "follow the Law". However, because Muslims don't believe that Jesus' revelation and teaches[sic] are to be applied today and were only for a specific amount of time, we don't apply them. However, since Christians insist on rejecting the prophet hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and want to stick to Jesus, then we ask the Christians why they don't follow the teachings of Jesus? Where on earth did Jesus teach that he came to die for the sins of the world and that his sacrifice came to replace the Law? Where? They can't show this. They have to appeal to Paul or whoever else for that. When we read Jesus' teachings, we clearly see that he taught his people to stick to the Law...
He repeats this again at the end:
In conclusion, Christians are hypocrites for claiming to love and follow Jesus and yet don't follow the Law, which Jesus taught. Muslims are not saying that Christians should follow the Law. Muslims say that they should follow Islam and become Muslims. We are only pointing out the hypocrisy and ignorance of Christians who claim to love and follow Jesus' teachings, yet don't do so.
So Zawadi wants us to believe that this is nothing more than a mere smokescreen operation! Zawadi constantly asks why they are not following this or that commandment even though he really isnt interested in them following the Old Testament Law or specific acts of Jesus. To him it is irrelevant whether Christians follow the Law of Moses, since what really matters for him is that they become Muslims or not. After all, Zawadi realizes that by becoming Muslim Jews and Christians wont be able to obey all the OT commands since the Quran has canceled many of them!
Basically, Zawadi has created this alleged hypocrisy. Christians believe the WHOLE Bible including its development of revelation. Even Jesus points beyond his own words and actions to the time and events that will happen after he goes back to the Father when the disciples will take the gospel to the ends of the earth:
"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." John 16:12-13
"Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." John 20:21-23
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
The Apostles are authorized to make rulings for new situations. They ruled that Gentiles were not required to observe many aspects of the OT Law such as circumcision, and permitted them to eat meats like pork provided they met specific conditions (cf. Acts 15).
Moreover, Zawadi presumes to be speaking on behalf of all Muslims (which is a rather arrogant attitude to begin with) when he claims that my article does not address the point being made by Muslims. Here is a quote that demonstrates that my article was addressing an actual argument made by certain Muslim polemicists, showing that Zawadi is simply speaking presumptuously:
What remains, then, is that Jesus, on whom be peace, upheld the prohibition against pork. His disciples also upheld it, AND SO MUST ALL HIS FOLLOWERS. Those who fail to uphold it need to be informed and reminded of this rule from God.
THIS IS ONE REASON WHY GOD SENT HIS FINAL MESSENGER, on whom be peace. God says:
"O people of the Scripture ! Now has Our Messenger come unto you, expounding unto you much of that which you used to hide in the Scripture, and forgiving much. Now has come unto you light from Allah and a plain Scripture."
(The Meaning of the Glorious Quran 5:15). (Ally, Eating Pork; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Does anyone believe for a moment that this specific Muslim was not really saying that Christians should follow the Law because Jesus followed it, but was merely highlighting the fact that Christians are hypocrites for claiming to love Jesus but fail to do as he says in reference to obeying the OT?
Thus, there may be some Muslims who, like Zawadi, are simply trying to expose Christians for being hypocrites for not observing Christs command to follow the OT Law. But these Muslims were not the focus of my discussion, since my intent was to address those individuals like Shabir Ally who do teach and believe that the OT Law is still binding upon the true followers of Christ. They are not raising this issue solely to expose the hypocrisy of Christians, but to convince Christs followers that they should perform certain commands such as circumcision and to abstain from certain practices such as eating pork.
Furthermore, Zawadi may not be telling Jews and Christians to follow the Law but the Quran sure does:
Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing they have the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. S. 5:43
Note how this passage clearly tells people to turn to the Torah instead of coming to Muhammad for judgment!
Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers. S. 5:44-45
The prophets and rabbis judged by the Torah, which was what God wanted them to do.
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the ungodly. S. 5:46-47
The above verses command Jesus followers to judge by the Gospel, not the Quran! And:
Had they performed the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have eaten both what was above them, and what was beneath their feet. Some of them are a just nation; but many of them -- evil are the things they do Say: 'People of the Book, you do not stand on anything, until you perform the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to you from your Lord.' And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; so grieve not for the people of the unbelievers. S. 5:66, 68
It is rather interesting to note that one Muslim actually quotes Q. 5:68 to prove that the Quran commands Christians to continue following the instructions of the Torah regarding issues such as circumcision, contrary to the teaching of Paul:
An admonishment from the Glorious Qur'an:
"Say: O People of the Book! You have naught (of guidance) till
you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto you from your Lord. That which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy
and disbelief of many of them. But grieve not for the disbelieving folk." Glorious Qur'an 5: 68
1.The observance of the TORAH and the GOSPEL is Commanded and NOT of the EPISTLES, written by Apostles / Ministers ordaining their own RULES.
2.The Bible tells us that Paul was a "minister" of Jesus and not a Prophet.
3.Jesus Christ was circumcised in his foreskin and so are the Muslim males. (Akbarally Meherally, Disobeying the Everlasting Commandment of God: http://www.mostmerciful.com/everlasting-command.htm)
The readers should see the obvious problem with the above injunction: How can a Jew or Christian observe the Law, the Gospel and the Quran at the same time when the latter contradicts the teachings of the previous two Scriptures?
As far as Jesus not teaching that a person is saved by his vicarious sacrifice is concerned, note what he says in the following passages:
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:28
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:24-47
"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:50-58
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep just as the Father knows me and I know the Fatherand I lay down my life for the sheep The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my lifeonly to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." John 10:11, 15, 17-18
"Jesus replied, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:23-24
Moreover, Jesus didnt replace the Law but perfectly consummated and fulfilled it, and it is Jesus fulfillment and consummation of that Law which Christians are commanded to follow:
Zawadi quotes Matthew 19:16-21 to prove that Jesus taught that a person is saved by observing the Law. Here is our response to this assertion:
Zawadi also quotes Mark 7:10 to show that Jesus wasnt merely emphasizing that a person had to observe the Ten Commandments, but the entirety of the Law. He also quotes the following:
Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
The concept of sacrifices is not found in the ten commandments.
So Jesus did not only emphasize on the ten commandments.
And proceeds to say that:
He emphasized that they should even do everything that the teachers of the law told them to do...
1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
Obviously the teachers of the law are telling people to follow the law and Jesus ordered people to follow what the teachers say, which consequently means that Jesus is indirectly telling them to follow the law!
Zawadi somehow thinks that animal sacrifices are incompatible with Pauls theology or with the Christian faith, but he is wrong for at least two reasons. First, Jesus gave this particular instruction before the New Covenant was instituted. It is vitally important to note that Jesus only made mention of the New Covenant during the Last Supper, on the night of his betrayal:
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord." 1 Corinthians 11:23-27
The New Covenant wouldnt be inaugurated until Jesus death:
"In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living." Hebrews 9:16-17
This means that the Old Covenant would be in operation until that specific point in time.
Second, Jewish Christians, including Paul, continued to offer animal sacrifices long after Jesus resurrection and ascension (cf. Acts 21:26; 24:17). Thus, offering animal sacrifices poses no problem for the Christian since this does nothing to prove Zawadis assertion that Gentile followers of Jesus are required to obey the Law of Moses. See the above links regarding Jesus consummating the Law for additional details.
Moreover, in order to appreciate what Jesus was actually saying in Matthew 23 it is important to quote the immediate context, something that Zawadi conveniently fails to do:
"They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them "Rabbi." But you are not to be called "Rabbi," for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth "father," for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called "teacher," for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides! You say, "If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath." You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, "If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath." You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by Gods throne and by the one who sits on it. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spicesmint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the lawjustice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, "If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets." So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." Matthew 23:4-34
In light of Christs rather scathing attack on the Pharisees and teachers of the Law it should be patently obvious that the last thing Jesus had in mind was to follow them wholeheartedly!(1)
As the context itself demonstrates, Jesus point was that his disciples should follow their reading of the Law for the time being, that is, until he sends out prophets, wise men (or scribes) and teachers who would be given his authority to interpret the Law, as well as to bind or loose believers from certain commandments:
"Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever." Matthew 16:16-19
"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:17-19
"And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues." 1 Corinthians 12:28
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare Gods people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:11-16
"Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles." 2 Peter 3:1-2
Once Christ had sent them out, the believers were not to follow the Pharisaical reading and/or interpretation of the Torah any longer.
Zawadis assertion is all the more amazing in light of what he says next:
Now EVEN Muslims believe that when Jesus came, some rules and regulations of the Law did not apply to his people anymore. However, that does not mean that it was completely replaced!
The assertion that even Muslims believe Jesus set aside some of the Law presupposes that the NT makes the same point!
Note the blatant contradiction. He accuses Christians of being hypocrites for not obeying Jesus in observing the entire Law. But his above comments imply that Jesus in the NT did set aside some aspects of the Law.
So now what does Zawadi want his readers to conclude from these contradictory statements? That Jesus commanded his followers to carry out the entire Law, and not just some aspects of it? Or did Jesus replace some parts of the Law, which means that his followers are not obligated to obey every part of it? Can Zawadi make up his mind?
More importantly, since Zawadi says that Muslims believe that Jesus set aside some of the rules of the Law, a point which the Quran itself makes:
And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Taurat (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. S. 3:50
We want him to therefore show us from the Quran itself what specific OT regulations and commands did Jesus absolve his people from having to observe. According to the Quran, did Jesus cancel out practises such as Sabbath observance, animal sacrifices, holy feasts such as Passover etc., all of which God commanded the Israelites to follow in the Torah?
More specifically, we want Zawadi to prove from his Quran that, contrary to the NT teaching, Jesus didn't release Gentile believers from observing circumcision or from the dietary prohibitions of the Law.
If he can't tell us exactly what aspects of the Law Jesus freed his people from, on what basis can he even argue against the NT teaching that Christ through his apostles released Gentiles from carrying out injunctions such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, dietary restrictions etc.? How does he know that the Quran doesn't agree with the NT on this very issue especially when the former expressly states that Jesus did set aside certain commands without specifying what these commands were? Isn't Zawadi worried that by attacking Paul and the NT on this issue he may in fact be attacking his own religious text?
Zawadi also assaults Paul for claiming in the book of Hebrews, specifically 7:18-19 and 8:13, that the Law was useless and weak, and then quotes Psalm 19:7 to show that the Law is perfect. Since we have already addressed the meaning of these texts here:
There will be no need to refute Zawadis distortion of these passages in this rebuttal.
What we will instead do is turn the tables on Zawadi by showing how Muhammad fails Zawadi's own assertions and arguments. Muhammad stated that he came to confirm the Law and the Gospel:
He has sent down upon thee the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel. S. 3:3
And We have sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that was before it, and assuring it. So judge between them according to what God has sent down, and do not follow their caprices, to forsake the truth that has come to thee. To every one of you We have appointed a right way and an open road. If God had willed, He would have made you one nation; but that He may try you in what has come to you. So be you forward in good works; unto God shall you return, all together; and He will tell you of that whereon you were at variance. S. 5:48
The Islamic source material even records instances where Muhammad was shown a Torah and confessed that he had complete faith in it:
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:
A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.
They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.
He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4434)
"Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] and said: Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah WHICH WE HAVE and testify that it is the truth from God? He replied, CERTAINLY, but you have sinned and broken the covenant CONTAINED THEREIN and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to men, and I dissociate myself from your sin. They said, We hold by WHAT WE HAVE. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you. So God sent down concerning them: Say, O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people." (Ibid., p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)
These reports basically demonstrate that Muhammad upheld the teachings found within the Law. And in light of Zawadis claim that Jesus commanded that his followers should follow the entire Law, not just the Ten Commandments, with Psalm 19:7 teaching that it is perfect then it logically follows that Muhammad would command his followers to carry out the Law and not toss it aside. After all, how can you improve on something that is already perfect?
The foregoing leads us to therefore expect that Muhammad would command his followers to:
Yet the problem Zawadi faces is that Muhammad neither implemented nor commanded his followers to continue observing the above instructions and practices. In other words, Muhammad failed to uphold Gods perfect Law, and even dared to replace it with his own laws and commands! Muhammad, therefore, stands condemned by the very God who revealed his perfect Law to Moses.
In fact, Muhammad actually got angry with one Muslim for merely reading the Torah:
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah
Umar ibn al-Khattab brought to Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) A COPY OF THE TORAH and said: Allah's Messenger, This is a copy of the Torah. He (Allah's Messenger) kept quiet and he (Umar) began to read it. The (colour) of the face of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) underwent a change, whereupon AbuBakr said: Would that your mother mourn you, don't you see the face of Allah's Messenger? Umar saw the face of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and said: I seek refuge with Allah from the wrath of Allah and the wrath of His Messenger. We are well pleased with Allah as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as Prophet. Whereupon Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moses were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if (Moses) were alive (now), and he found my prophetical ministry, he would have definitely followed me.
Transmitted by Darimi. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 69; ALIM CD-ROM Version)
The foregoing highlights Muhammads insecurity and contempt for Gods true Word. It further exposes him for being inconsistent, since he claims that his Quran was sent down to confirm the Torah and yet frowns upon those who would actually read it!
Thus, if Paul is guilty for setting aside the Torah then Muhammad is guilty of a greater sin for telling the Jews and Christians that he believed in it, while setting aside most of its commands and looking down upon his companions for even reading it!
To conclude, we want to thank Zawadi for his "response" since it actually helped to highlight the point of our initial paper, namely, that many Muslims are incapable of applying their own arguments consistently since to do so would lead to a rejection of both Muhammad and the Quran. The method of reasoning that these Muslims typically employ against Jews and Christians can be used more forcefully against Muhammad to show that he was a false prophet.
Quotations of the Holy Bible were taken from the New International Version (NIV).
Quotations of the Quran were taken from Arthur J. Arberrys version.
1. In light of Jesus severe rebuke of the Jewish rulers in Matthew 23, certain scholars are convinced that Jesus was being sarcastic when he told the disciples to listen to the Pharisees because they sat on Moses seat. As reformed scholar and apologist Dr. James R. White puts it:
We first note interpreters such as Jeremias and Carson view this passage as engaging in biting irony. The Jewish leaders have presumed to sit in Moses' seat, as suggested by Merx, Moulton, and Zahn, focusing on the use of the aorist tense of the verb "to sit." They sat themselves in this place, but improperly. Such an understanding is certainly in line with the biting attack that follows immediately in the rest of the chapter.
But I am more prone to accept Gundry's understanding, in which he rejects the satirical interpretation and instead notes,
So long as sitting in Moses' seat qualifies the speaking of the scribes and Pharisees, "all things whatever" does not include their interpretative traditions, but emphasizes the totality of the law. "Therefore" establishes the qualification. They do keep their traditions. But they do not practice what they speak while sitting on Moses' seat. Hence their traditions are not in view. Though elsewhere Matthew is concerned to criticize the scribes' and Pharisees' interpretations of the law, here he is concerned to stress the necessity of keeping the law itself. As usual, his eye is on antinomians in the church. (Robert Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), pp. 454-455.)
Indeed, the Lord's unwillingness to become an "ecclesiastical rebel" is in perfect harmony with the Scriptural teaching on the subject of authority in the church. There was nothing in the tradition of having someone read from the Scriptures while sitting on Moses' seat that was in conflict with the Scriptures, and hence, unlike the corban rule which we saw earlier in Matthew 15, Jesus does not reject this traditional aspect of Jewish synagogue worship. He does not insist upon anarchy in worship in the synagogue anymore than His apostle Paul would allow for it in the worship of the church at Corinth. It is quite proper to listen to and obey the words of the one who reads from the Law or the Prophets, for one is not hearing a man speaking in such a situation, but is listening to the very words of God. Indeed, when Ezra read the law to the people in Nehemiah chapter 8, the people listened attentively, and cried "Amen! Amen!" at the hearing of God's Word. And who can forget the result of Josiah's discovery of the book of the covenant in 2 Chronicles 34? It is proper to have men in positions of authority in the synagogue, just as in the Church. But Jesus points out that the listener is still to exercise a critical eye, for he is not to imitate the evil behavior of those who have been entrusted even with the sacred duty of leading the people of God in worship. (White, The Catholic Verses: Matthew 23:1-3 (Part I), January 22, 2005; source)
Whatever the interpretation, this point is clear from the context: Jesus was not endorsing the blind acceptance of everything that the Jewish elders taught, since he both rebukes them and promises to send to his followers inspired spokespersons who would explain the true meaning of Gods Law.
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