Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revisiting Christ’s Ignorance of the Day or Hour

Sam Shamoun

We have already written quite extensively on the subject of Jesus not knowing the day or hour of his coming to bring judgment upon Jerusalem, and how this affects his divinity. We will provide the links to all of our discussions on this topic at the end of the article. 

In this brief reply we want to provide a further reason why Christ did not know the day or hour of his coming in judgment against the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

But before doing so it is vitally important that we quote the passage in question, since this will enable the readers to follow along with our discussion:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father ONLY.” Matthew 24:36 – cf. Mark 13:32

With the text in view we can now proceed with our explanation.

According to the inspired Scriptures, when the Lord Jesus came to earth he not only took on a human nature, he also assumed the status and position of a slave/servant.

One will find this stated throughout the Gospels,

“But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah 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 will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory; And in His name Gentiles will trust.’” Matthew 12:15-21

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

“For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22:27

“And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’ So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, 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 should do as I have done to you. 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. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.’” John 13:2-17

As well as in Acts and the Epistles:

“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses… To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:13-15, 26

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together… by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:27, 30

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: ‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.’” Romans 15:7-9

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

The OT Scriptures also prophesied that the Messiah would assume the role and status of a servant in order to bring about God’s salvation and righteous judgment:

“‘Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law.’ Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it: ‘I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house. I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” Isaiah 42:1-8 – cf. Matthew 12:17-21

“Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall consider.” Isaiah 52:12-13 – cf. 53:1-12; 49:1-10; 50:4-10

The reason this is significant is because Jesus himself stated that a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing:

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

Jesus, therefore, in respect to his human nature and status as God’s Servant would only know and reveal whatever the Father commanded, a point which Christ reiterated on more than one occasion:

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.’” John 8:28-29

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, WHAT I SHOULD SAY AND WHAT I SHOULD SPEAK. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:49-50

Hence, as God’s Servant on earth it was not for the Son to know the hour of his coming in judgment in relation to his waking human consciousness, nor was it his place to reveal it to others. His role as a Servant meant that Christ in his waking conscious mind would only recall and reveal the things that the Father wanted him to know and proclaim.


The Son Transcends All Of Creation

Finally, it needs to be pointed out that this very same text depicts Christ as transcending the entire creation since it distinguishes him from both men and angels:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32

The Lord’s point is both clear and remarkable. It is to be expected that, unless God chooses to reveal this information, men would not know the day or hour seeing that they do not have access to God’s visible presence since he remains hidden from their sight:

“that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly… But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly… so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:4, 6, 18

Nor does mankind hear God’s voice in an audible manner. That is unless God chooses to appear in a visible form and speak in an audible voice, something which the Holy Bible says that God has done on occasion:

“And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.” Ezekiel 1:26-28 – cf. 2:1-10; Numbers 12:6-8; Isaiah 6:1-11; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 4:1-11

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” Mark 9:2-7

“‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’ Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to Him.’ Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.’” John 12:28-30

Yet this is not the normal way that God communicates to mankind.

Angels, on other hand, do have access to God’s visible presence and actually commune with him directly, since they dwell in heaven where they behold the manifestation of God’s glory as he appears to them seated on a throne:

“Then Micaiah said, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, “Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?” So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will persuade him.” The Lord said to him, “In what way?” So he said, “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, “You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.” Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you.’” 1 Kings 22:19-23

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” Job 1:6 – cf. 2:1

“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

And yet despite the angels close proximity to God, even they do not know the hour.

Now as far as the inspired Scriptures are concerned, men and angels constitute the world in the sense that they make up the entire category of rational creatures that God has made to fellowship with him. Notice, for instance, what the following verse says:

“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” 1 Corinthians 4:9

Here we see that the world of creation consists of angels and men. The only other category remaining is that of the Creator.

And yet Jesus in this passage sets himself above men and angels, and therefore above the entire creation, and positions himself in a unique relation to God as his Son!

Therefore, Christ not only differentiates himself from all creation, he also identifies God as the Father and himself as the Son. In so doing, the Lord places himself in the closest and most intimate position to God imaginable, i.e., whereas men and angels are God’s creation Jesus is God’s unique Son.

That Christ is claiming to be the Son who is distinct from and superior to all created beings, such as the angels, is confirmed by the following passages: 

“Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” Mark 1:13-14

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of HIS Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send HIS angels, and gather together HIS elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13:26-27

The Son of Man will send out HIS angels, and they will gather out of HIS kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:41-42

“When the Son of Man comes in HIS glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of HIS glory. All the nations will be gathered before HIM, and HE will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And HE will set the sheep on HIS right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:’” Matthew 25:31-34

In these verses Jesus is depicted as having sovereign authority over the angelic host, who are seen ministering and submitting to Christ in the same way that they serve and obey God:

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.” Psalm 103:19-21 – cf. Daniel 7:10

Hence, Jesus doesn’t belong in the same category of created beings such as men and angels, but rather with the Creator as the Son.  

Now lest someone accuse us of reading too much into the text, forcing it to say something that it actually doesn’t, we will simply quote from a highly liberal and critical source which also tends to see things our way:

13:32. This saying is particularly significant, for it preserves an early admission that Jesus (as the Son) did not have perfect knowledge of all things. Since this seems to conflict with the later doctrinal conclusions about Jesus, it was a common tendency of the copyists to omit the phrase nor the Son. This saying may be connected with the efforts of the later apostolic age to explain why Jesus’ prediction of the end did not in fact happen (see above on 9:1). This explanation would admit candidly that he did not actually know the schedule, for that was reserved for only the Father. Note that Luke has reworded the explanation and assigned it to the resurrection period rather than the earthly ministry (Acts 1:6-7). It is a MISTAKE to regard Mark as intending to emphasize the inferiority of Jesus to the Father; THE INTENTION IS JUST THE OPPOSITE. The Son is not classified among men, nor even the angelic beings, BUT HE IS SUPERIOR TO BOTH. (Lindsey P. Pherigo, The Gospel According to Mark, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible: Introduction and Commentary for Each Book of the Bible Including the Apocrypha With General Articles, edited by Charles M. Layman [Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN 1971], p. 666; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Since this commentary attributes errors and corruptions to the Sacred Scriptures, and even goes as far as to deny the perfect humanity and impeccability of Christ, no one can accuse it of being biased or of trying to make the text fit in with their belief in inerrancy and/or infallibility. Therefore, Its statements regarding Mark 13:32 become all the more authoritative since it is not trying to explain away or force the Scriptures to comport with some preconceived idea that the authors may have of Christ. Rather, this liberal commentary is simply allowing the text to speak for itself within its overall and immediate contexts. 

Thus, the very passage which anti-Trintarians such as Muslims use to disprove the Deity of Christ turns out to be one of the most powerful witnesses to Christ’s eternal nature and superiority over every created thing!

We conclude our discussion with the words that the blessed Apostle Paul recorded in his inspired Epistle to the Colossians:

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For BY HIM all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM. And He IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, and IN HIM all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, THAT IN ALL THINGS HE MAY HAVE THE PREEMINENCE. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:13-20

All Scriptural quotations taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible.


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