Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus’ Omniscience – A Lukan Perspective Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Muslim taqiyyist Paul Bilal Williams is at it again, this time quoting a story of Luke out of its immediate and over all contexts, in order to give the misleading impression that Christians are mistaken to assume that Jesus is fully divine.

The Objection

The dawagandist cites Luke 8:40-48 to prove that Jesus “did not posses the necessary and irrevocable attributes of deity such as omniscience”.

“Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

According to this Islamic propagandist, this event “proves that Jesus was a human being only, who was ignorant of certain common place facts (‘who touched me?’),” and therefore makes it “logically impossible for him to be God”.

However, what this actually proves is that this Muslim taqiyyist will go to any length to pervert the inspired message of the Holy Bible, such as wrenching statements out of context, in order to undermine the explicit Biblical witness to the Deity of Christ.

Williams’ argument assumes that God could never ask these kinds of questions. This means that Yahweh cannot be God as well, since in the Garden of Eden Yahweh called out to Adam in order to know where he was (cf. Genesis 3). Nor could Allah be god (which he actually isn't), as we explain in the following reply.

Did it ever dawn on Williams that Christ asked questions for reasons other than that he was ignorant? Is it possible that Christ may have been asking questions in order to lead individuals to confess and acknowledge their sins, or to stump his opponents, or even as a way of revealing just how evil and stiff-necked people are apart from the grace of God?

In fact, isn’t it the case that even human teachers ask questions of their students as a way of helping them to learn and grow? Schoolteachers often have more success by asking the right questions so that the pupils learn to discover the right answers for themselves, than by merely reciting facts in front of the classroom. Yet nobody would think that the teacher was asking such questions because s/he didn’t know the answers–unless, of course, you happen to be Paul Williams!

With that said, the dawagandist has left us no choice but to respond to his attack by examining Luke’s depiction of Christ. This will help us see whether the Islamic propagandist has correctly understood or actually perverted Luke’s purpose in narrating such stories, e.g. did the inspired author intend to convey the notion that Jesus was nothing more than a man whom God anointed to accomplish his will, or did he believe that Christ was more than a mere human being.

The Humanity of Christ

To begin with, there is no denying that Luke affirms that Jesus Christ truly was (and still is for that matter) a flesh and blood human being who was supernaturally conceived and born from a blessed virgin maiden:

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ Mary asked the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?’ The angel replied to her: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:26-35

As such, Jesus was like the rest of us in that he experienced genuine human limitations and weaknesses, yet with the exception of sin:

The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him. Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.’ Why were you searching for Me?’ He asked them. ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in MY FATHER’S house?’ But they did not understand what He said to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.” Luke 2:40-52

Jesus as God’s Unique, Divine Son

At the same time, however, Luke explicitly proclaims the Deity of Christ, that Jesus was more than a man since he is also the divine, unique Son of God who possesses all the essential attributes of God.

We are going to take a look at some of the divine characteristics which Luke testifies that Jesus possesses, including omniscience.

In the following pericope Jesus is depicted as having the authority to forgive sins, heal diseases, and to know what people were thinking within themselves:

“On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. AND THE LORD’S POWER TO HEAL WAS IN HIM. Just then some men came, carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him. Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. Seeing their faith He said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’ Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think: ‘Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, ‘Why are you thinking this IN YOUR HEARTS? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.’ Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen incredible things today!’” Luke 5:17-26

This isn’t the only time that Luke informs us that Christ had the divine ability to expressly forgive transgressions committed against God:

“Then one of the Pharisees invited Him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of fragrant oil and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!’ Jesus replied to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘say it.’ ‘A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one he forgave more.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ He told him. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.’ Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Those who were at the table with Him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” Luke 7:36-50

These statements are rather astonishing since the Holy Bible is quite clear that it is Yahweh who heals diseases and is the only One who is capable of forgiving sins and knowing what people are thinking since he alone knows everyone’s hearts:

“may You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and may You forgive, act, and repay the man, according to all his ways, since You know his heart, for You ALONE know the hearts of all the sons of men… When they sin against You—for there is no one who does not sin—and You are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to the enemy’s country—whether distant or nearby—and when they come to their senses in the land where they were deported and repent and petition You in their captors’ land: ‘We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked,’ and when they return to You with their whole mind and heart in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and when they pray to You in the direction of their land that You gave their fathers, the city You have chosen, and the temple I have built for Your name, may You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, their prayer and petition and uphold their cause. May You forgive Your people who sinned against You and all their rebellions against You, and may You give them compassion in the eyes of their captors, so that they may be compassionate to them.” 1 Kings 8:39, 46-50

“My soul, praise the LORD, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion… The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:2-4, 19

“I, I am He Who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25

“Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against Him.” Daniel 9:9

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

“And He told them: ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.’” Luke 16:15

“And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us.” Acts 15:8 – cf. Romans 8:27; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10

The Quran itself claims that forgiveness of sins is a divine prerogative:

“and who, when they have committed a shameful deed or have [otherwise] sinned against themselves, remember God and pray that their sins be forgiven–for who but God could forgive sins?–and do not knowingly persist in doing whatever [wrong] they may have done.” S. 3:135 Asad

But that’s not all since Luke tells us that, right after his resurrection and ascension into heavenly glory, Jesus’ followers went around proclaiming this same message of Christ forgiving sinners and turning people away from their transgressions:

“God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:26

“God exalted this Man to His right hand as Ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31

He even records a prayer which the early Church offered to their risen Lord where they bear witness to his omniscience:

“I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that JESUS began to do and teach until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles HE HAD CHOSEN… So when they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority…’ ‘Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the LORD JESUS went in and out among us—beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.’ So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘You, LORD, know the hearts of all; show which of these two YOU HAVE CHOSEN.’” Acts 1:1-2, 6-7, 21-24

It is abundantly clear from the context that the Lord whom the disciples prayed to is none other than the risen Christ since all throughout this chapter he is the One who is called Lord and said to have chosen the apostles.

The following Evangelical scholars concur:

“Luke’s word ‘prayed’ is a form of the verb proseuchomai, which was ‘a religious technical term for talking to a deity in order to ask for help.’ We can be reasonably sure that the ‘Lord’ to whom the disciples prayed was the Lord Jesus, for three reasons (which are to be considered cumulatively). First, like the other New Testament writers, Luke most frequently used ‘Lord’ (kurios) to refer to Jesus. Second, Peter had just referred to ‘the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 1:21) prior to the group’s addressing the ‘Lord’ in prayer. Third, Jesus personally chose the men who served as his apostles, including Paul and any others chosen after Jesus’ resurrection. The verb Luke uses in Acts 1:24 for ‘have chosen’ (exelexo) is the same verb that appears in another form earlier in the chapter in reference to Jesus having ‘chosen’ his apostles (exelexato, 1:2). In his Gospel, Luke uses another form of the same verb in reference to Jesus' choosing the twelve apostles (eklexamenos, Luke 6:13) and uses the related noun form in reference to the Lord Jesus’ ‘choice’ of Paul as an apostle (ekloges, Acts 9:15). Thus, when the disciples prayed that the ‘Lord’ would show them whom he had ‘chosen’ to be an apostle, we should understand this Lord to be Jesus himself.” (Robert Bowman & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 1: The Devotion Revolution: Jesus Shares the Honors Due to God, Chapter 3. What A Friend We Have In Jesus, p. 48)

Hence, not only did the Apostles ascribe omniscience to Christ they even prayed to him directly in the same way OT saints prayed to Yahweh God!

As Bowman and Komoszewski explain:

“One attribute of God that can bring comfort and assurance–or great anxiety and consternation–is the omniscience of God. The Bible states explicitly that God ‘knows everything’ (1 John 3:20). This knowledge is extremely detailed, including such minutiae as the number of hairs on one's head (Matt. 10:30). God knows what will happen from now until the end of history (Isa. 46:9-10). He knows what we will say before we say it (Ps. 139:4) because he knows what is in our hearts (Ps. 139:1-3). This is something that is true only of God, as Solomon acknowledged in prayer: ‘For you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind’ (1 Kings 8:39 ESV).

“The New Testament attributes this same omniscience to Jesus Christ. In the first recorded corporate prayer addressed to Jesus, the apostles and other believers confessed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart’ (Acts 1:24). For Jesus even to be able to hear prayers essentially implies, of course, unlimited knowledge. Elsewhere, the Gospels report that Jesus knew what other people were thinking (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:6-8; Luke 6:8). Jesus claimed to know what the ancient peoples of Tyre, Sidon, and even Sodom would have done under different circumstances (Matt. 11:21-23; Luke 10:13-15). He would have to know people’s hearts in this way in order to sit in judgment on all humanity at the end of history (Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22-23; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10). As Paul says, the Lord (Jesus) ‘will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart’ (1 Cor. 4:5). In the book of Revelation, Jesus asserts that when they see his warnings fulfilled ‘all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve' (2:23).” (Ibid, Part 2: Like Father Like Son: Jesus Shares the Attributes of God, Chapter 9. Jesus: The Right Stuff, pp. 118-119; bold emphasis ours)


“The book of Acts opens with Jesus’ final appearance to his disciples and his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:1-11). As the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit to come, they prayed the first recorded prayer to Jesus, addressing him as ‘Lord’ and acknowledging that he knows the hearts of all people (Acts 1:24). The Old Testament, of course, ascribes this attribute of knowing people's heart to Jehovah alone (1 Kings 8:39).” (Ibid, Part 3: Name Above All Names: Jesus Shares the Names of God, 13. He is Lord, p. 160; bold emphasis ours)

Nor is this the only time that Jesus’ followers prayed to him after he had entered into the heavenly presence of his Father:

“But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin!’ And saying this, he fell asleep.’” Acts 7:55-60

Once again, Stephen is portrayed as praying to the risen and exalted Lord in the same way that the OT saints prayed to Yahweh!

Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, LORD, God of truth.” Psalm 31:5

All of this shows that both the eyewitnesses who personally knew the historical Jesus and their immediate followers were already worshiping Christ as God shortly after his heavenly exaltation to the right hand of the Father!

We come to the end of part 1. It is time to move on to the second part of our rebuttal.