Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Lord Jesus Christ – The Only True God and Eternal Life

In this article we are going to address Muslim dawagandist Sami Zaatari’s assertion that John 17:3 refutes the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After quoting John 17:3,

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Zaatari says:

The Greek word that is used for only is monos and the Biblical Greek Lexicon defines the word as follows:

Alone (without a companion), forsaken, destitute of help, alone, only, merely (Source)

Hence the word only means only!

Zaatari is correct that only means only. However, he is mistaken into thinking that this excludes Jesus from being God as well. The inspired, canonical Scriptures often employ such language in relation to the Father or the Son (as well as the Holy Spirit) without this meant to exclude the other Divine Persons of the Godhead. Lord willing, we will have more to say concerning this point in a forthcoming article.

Moreover, Zaatari is forced to interpret texts such as John 17:3 in light of what he perceives to be part and parcel of the Islamic faith, namely, unitarianism. Zaatari isn’t alone here since the following Muslim author admits that the only way that an Muslim Jesus will emerge from the Gospels is if they are read in light of Islamic unitarianism:

“It is absolutely impossible to get at the truth, the true religion, from these Gospels, unless they are read and examined from an Islamic and Unitarian point of view. It is only then that the truth can be extracted from the false, and the authentic distinguished from the spurious. It is the spirit and the faith of Islam that can alone sift the Bible and cast away the chaff and error from its pages…” (Reverend David Benjamin Keldani (‘Abdul Ahad Dawud), Muhammad in World Scriptures – the Bible [Islamic Book Trust, Malaysia 2006], p. 154)

However, if Muslim propagandists such as Zaatari were to stop reading the Gospels like John in light of their assumption of Islamic unitarianism and allow the context of John 17 to speak for itself perhaps they would be able to see that Jesus actually affirms his perfect Deity and essential co-equality with the Father.

With that said it is vitally important that we quote the immediate context of John 17:3 before we proceed to our rebuttal:

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself/in Your own presence, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word… Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.’” John 17:1-6, 24

Now that we have quoted the context of Jesus’ words we can begin addressing Zaatari’s distortions of Jesus’ statement.

Jesus – Sovereign Lord of all flesh

The first point to notice is that Jesus says that the Father has given him authority over all flesh which is a role normally attributed to God, just as the following Apocryphal source attests:

“And the king said to him, ‘Why do you not worship Bel?’ He answered, ‘Because I do not revere man-made idols, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all flesh.’” Bel and the Dragon 1:5

Jesus, therefore, shares in God’s exclusive rule over all mankind. More will be said on Jesus’ reign shortly.

Jesus – The Source of Life

Secondly, Jesus not only says that eternal life is dependent on knowing the Father and the Son, thereby making himself a necessary object of saving faith, he further asserts that the Father has permitted the Son to give eternal life to every single individual that the Father gives him. The Lord Jesus repeats this exact assertion throughout the Gospel, going so far as to say that he will personally resurrect the dead from their graves at the last day just by the sound of his voice!

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it… I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:21, 25-29

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:39-40, 54

“The Jews gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” John 10:24-33

Jesus further claims to be Life itself in contexts where he says that he is also the Truth and the Resurrection:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’” John 11:23-27

Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

These statements are significant in that Jesus is ascribing to himself the very functions and characteristics which the OT ascribes to Yahweh (cf. Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:2, 6; Psalm 95:6-8; Isa. 25:6-9; 43:10-13; Ezek. 37:12-14).

In fact, according to Islamic theology the titles “the Truth,” “the Resurrection,” and “the Life” are some of the names of Allah which cannot be attributed to any creature. For the details please consult the following articles and rebuttals:

In light of this Jesus is clearly affirming to be God while also personally distinguishing himself from the Father (as well as the Holy Spirit [cf. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 20:22]).

Jesus – The Preexistent Lord of glory

The Lord Jesus also says in his prayer that he and the Father shared the same Divine glory together before the world came into being, thereby affirming his personal preexistence! In fact, Jesus could not pray in this manner if he did not believe that he was Yahweh himself and co-equal with the Father, since Yahweh emphatically states that he will not share his glory with anyone:

“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:11

The Scriptures further attest that there is no heavenly being like Yahweh, which implies that there are none that share Yahweh’s splendor and majesty:

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God.” Psalm 86:8-10

“The heavens praise your wonders, O Yahweh, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with Yahweh? Who is like Yahweh among the sons of God? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O Yahweh God of hosts, who is like you? You are mighty, O Yahweh, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” Psalm 89:5-8

And yet Jesus says that he had (and will once again have) the same Divine glory that the Father had before the world was created!

Thus, since both the Father and the Son share the same Divine glory they must both be Yahweh God. As Evangelical Scholar Craig S. Keener explains:

17:4-5. On finishing the work see 4:34 and 19:30. The Old Testament declared that God would not give his glory to another (Is 42:8; 48:11); Jesus’ sharing the Father’s glory in this sense is a claim that he is divine. Judaism did have a category in which to understand Jesus’ divine claim here: God’s Wisdom was related to and in some sense identified with his glory (Wisdom 7:25-29). John’s Jewish Christian readers may have understood Jesus’ identity in analogous (albeit superior) terms (see comments on 1:1-18). (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament [InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il. 1993], pp. 304-305; underline emphasis ours)


1:1-2. Beginning like Genesis 1:1, John alludes to the Old Testament and Jewish picture of God creating through his preexistent wisdom or word. According to standard Jewish doctrine in his day, wisdom existed before creation but was itself created [sic]. By declaring that the Word “was” in the beginning, and especially by calling the Word “God” (v. 1; also the most likely reading of 1:18), John goes beyond the common Jewish conception to imply that Jesus is not created (cf. Is 43:10-11). (Ibid., p. 264; underline emphasis ours)

The following early church father said it best:

THE WORD, GOD INCARNATE. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: The Son, therefore, certainly is God by nature; and how then did the Father give him that “name that is above every name”? To this we say that when he was flesh, that is, human like us, he took the name of a servant and assumed our poverty and low estate. But when he had finished the mystery of the dispensation in the flesh, he was raised to the glory that belonged to him by nature, not as to something unaccustomed or strange or accrued to him externally and was given him from another, but rather as to that which was his own. For he spoke to God the Father in heaven, “Father, glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world was.” For, existing before the ages and before the worlds, as one that was of God and was God, he was clothed with the glory that belongs to the Godhead; and when he became a man, as I said, he endured neither mutation nor change but continued rather in that state in which he had constantly existed and such as the Father was who begot him, that is to say, like him in everything. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 128. (We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ (Ancient Christian Doctrine), edited by John Anthony McGuckin, Thomas C. Oden (series editor) [IVP Academic, Downers Grove, Il (June 30, 2009)], Volume 2, p. 4; underline emphasis ours)

Jesus – The Visible Appearance of Yahweh God

John provides further confirmation that Jesus had the glory which belongs uniquely to Yahweh:

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (doxasthe). 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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up (hypsotho) from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up (hypsothenai)”? Who is this “Son of Man”?’ Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory (eiden ten doxan autou) and spoke about him.” John 12:23-41

Jesus describes his death and subsequent exaltation in the words of Isaiah 52-53, the Suffering Servant of Yahweh who dies for the sins of God’s people. John himself refers to Isaiah 53:1 in explaining why so many of the Jews did not believe in Jesus. Here are the passages in question taken from the English translation of the Greek Version of the OT, otherwise known as the Septuagint (LXX):

Behold, my Servant shall understand, and be exalted/lifted up (hypsothesetai), and glorified (doxasthesetai) exceedingly. As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and thy glory shall not be honoured by the sons of men. Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider.” Isaiah 52:13-15

O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:1-12

John also quotes Isaiah 6:10 to show that the reason these Jews didn’t believe is because they were incapable of doing so since God hardened their hearts as a just consequence of their persistent rebellion and unbelief.

What makes this assertion so amazing is that right after he cites Isaiah 6:10 John says that Isaiah actually saw the glory of Jesus and spoke about him! However, if we read Isaiah 6 in context the glory that the blessed prophet saw was the glory of Yahweh as he sat on his exalted throne:

“And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw (eidon) the Lord sitting on a lifted up (hypselou) and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory (tes doxes autou). And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (tes doxes autou). And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen (eidon) with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am here, send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people, Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah 6:1-10

It is rather clear from the above that John is claiming that when Isaiah saw Yahweh seated on his throne the blessed prophet was actually seeing the preincarnate Christ in his heavenly glory! This means that Jesus is none other than the Lord of the OT who spoke to the prophets!

This is not a novel interpretation but is the view held by the majority of NT scholars, just as the following quotations indicate:

“The quotation in this passage is from Isaiah 6:10, part of the passage in which Isaiah recounts his call to the prophetic ministry. When John says that Isaiah saw ‘his glory’ he means the glory of Jesus as the context makes it clear (vv. 36-38; see also 1:14). But in the context of Isaiah 6, the glory that Isaiah saw was the glory of the Lord… Here again, John speaks of Jesus not only as having existed during Old Testament times but also as having been the glorious Lord who spoke to and through the prophets. Thus this passage is another affirmation in the New Testament of the divine preexistence of Jesus Christ.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 2: Like Father, Like Son: Jesus Shares the Attributes of God, Chapter 8. Jesus Has Always Been There, pp. 93-94; bold emphasis ours)


41. Referring to the prophecy, the evangelist says, Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. The allusion is to Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple and his commission to be his messenger to Israel (Is. 6:1-13). The evangelist implies that what Isaiah saw in the temple was in fact ‘Jesus’ glory’, i.e. the glory of the pre-existent Christ. There are other NT and early Christian writings which imply the pre-incarnate Christ appeared in the OT times. Paul speaks of the rock in the wilderness from which water gushed as Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Justin Martyr says, when Moses ‘was tending the flocks of his maternal uncle in the land of Arabia, our Christ conversed with him under the appearance of fire from a bush’ (I Apology lxii. 3-4; Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 128). (Colin Kruse, The Gospel According to John: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, July 30, 2004], p. 275; underline emphasis ours)


12:39-41. On the text (Is 6:10), see comment on Mark 4:12. Isaiah 6:1-5 refers clearly to Isaiah seeing a vision of God, the Lord of hosts, in his glory when he received this message, but John explains that this manifestation of God was the Son, Jesus (v. 41). (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 296; underline emphasis ours)


88 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).

sn Because he saw Christs glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus. (NET Bible; underline emphasis ours)

This further means that Isaiah saw the very glory which Jesus says he had with the Father before the world was created.

Interestingly, John uses the same language to describe his experience as an eyewitness who had seen Christ after he had made his tabernacle among them by becoming flesh:

“And the Word became flesh and tabernacle/pitched his tent (eskenosen) among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the One and Only of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Thus, both Isaiah and John were given the privilege of seeing the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah saw the glory of the preincarnate Christ whereas John saw the glory of the Incarnate Christ!

It is also interesting that in this very same chapter of John Jesus went on to say that whoever sees him sees the Father:

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’”John 12:44-46

Nor is this the only time that Jesus said this:

If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” John 14:7-11

Jesus’ point is that he is the only One capable of manifesting God perfectly since he is the Son who shares the same nature and glory of the Father and who alone comprehends him. As such there is no need to see the Father when the Son is present since the Father perfectly reveals himself, i.e., his nature, characteristics etc., in the Person of his beloved Son. This is brought out clearly in the following passages:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Luke 10:22 – cf. Matthew 11:27

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.” John 6:44-46

Jesus explains that the reason why all who are taught by God the Father come to him is because he is the only One who has seen him, e.g., he alone perfectly comprehends God and therefore is the only One qualified to reveal him. As noted NT scholar Murray J. Harris explains:

“Central to the Christian tradition is the belief that God as he is in himself cannot be seen by the physical eye; he is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:12). No one has seen him or can see him (1 Tim. 6:16). But equally central is the conviction that, in Christ, God the Father has revealed himself perfectly. Jesus Christ has accurately and comprehensively made visible the invisible nature of God:

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is God and who resides in the Father’s heart – he has revealed him. (John 1:18, my translation)

“Only the Son who shares the divine nature (cf. John 1:1) is qualified to reveal the Father personally and completely. John’s compound verb (exegesato, ‘he has revealed’) implies the perfection of God’s self-revelation in Christ. In response to Philip’s request, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us’ (John 14:8), Jesus remarked, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

“It is not only the apostle John who expresses this view of the role of Jesus. Paul depicts Jesus as ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1:15). That is, he is the exact and visible expression of a God who has not been seen and cannot be seen. Then there is the author of Hebrews, who declares that ‘the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’ (Heb. 1:3). The two Greek terms in this verse are colorful. Apaugasma (‘radiance’) pictures Christ as the ‘outshining’ or ‘effulgence’ or ‘irradiated brightness’ of God the Father’s inherent glory. Charakter (‘exact representation’) points to Christ as the flawless expression of God’s nature, one who is indelibly stamped with God’s character.” (Harris, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1994], pp. 70-71)

Jesus – The Divine King on the throne

Isaiah 6:1 and 52:13 also help us to better understand Jesus’ reference to the glory that he shared with the Father and which he was about to receive. A comparison of these texts along with some others indicates that the Servant is exalted to sit on God’s throne thereby sharing Yahweh’s rule over creation:

“Behold, my Servant will act wisely; he will be exalted (yarum) and lifted up (nissa) and shall be very high.” 52:13 Heb.

“Behold, my Servant shall understand, and be exalted (hypsothesetai), and glorified (doxasthesetai) exceedingly.” LXX

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord (adonai) seated on a throne, exalted (ram) and lofty (nissa), and the train of his robe filled the temple.” 6:1 Heb.

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, exalted (hypselou) and lifted up, and the house was full of his glory.” LXX

“For thus says the exalted (ram) and lofty (nissa) One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high (marom) and holy place, but also with him who is crushed (dakka; cf. Isa. 53:5, 10) and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 Heb.

“Thus says the Lord Most High (hypsistos), who dwells in the heights (en hypselois) for ever, Holy in the holies, is his name, the Lord Most High (hypsistos) resting in the holies, and giving patience to the faint-hearted, and giving life to the broken-hearted:” LXX

In light of these connections it is apparent that the Lord Jesus Christ is claiming to have shared in the Father’s rule over all things and was going to return to sit on the Divine throne in heaven along with his Father. This interpretation is further confirmed by what Jesus told Pilate:

“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” John 18:33-37

Notice that Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world which can only mean that his kingdom is in heaven. However, the only One who rules from heaven is Yahweh God!

“Yahweh is in his holy temple; Yahweh’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” Psalm 11:4

“I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.” Psalm 123:1

“Thus says Yahweh: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” Isaiah 66:1

“And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.” Matthew 23:22 – cf. 5:34

Thus, the only way that Christ could share in his Father’s reign and be seated on the same glorious throne is if Jesus is Yahweh God!

Interestingly, Jesus applied Isaiah 52:13 in relation to the lifting up of the Son of Man (i.e., his crucifixion and subsequent ascension into heavenly glory) which would be the means through which his Deity would be revealed.

“And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.’… Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up (hypsosete) the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, 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 8:23-29

Jesus is saying that his exaltation will confirm that he is Incarnate Deity, i.e., Christ is the preexistent Divine Son of God who left his heavenly place of glory in order to accomplish his Father’s will. As NT scholar Craig S. Keener puts it:

In 12:41, John attributes to Isaiah’s revelation of Christ’s glory both Isaiah quotations (ancients did not speak of two or more Isaiahs), one about a scene of glory in the temple (12:39-40; Isa 6:1-10) and the other about the servant being glorified and lifted in suffering (12:38; Isa 52:13-53:1). Early Christians would have undoubtedly linked Isa 6:1 with 52:13, because both texts use “exalted and lifted up,” as does 57:15. If so, they would have noticed that 6:1 and 57:15 spoke of God, and may have concluded that it was actually Jesus’ lifting up by crucifixion that revealed his identity as deity (cf. 8:28). This fits 12:23-24 and the place of 1:14-18 in the context of John’s whole Gospel: Jesus’ death is the ultimate theophany. (Keener, The Gospel of John – A Commentary: 2-Volume Set [Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Massachusetts: February 2004, Hardcover], p. 885)

The following Biblical scholar agrees:

“Isaiah 52:13 states, with emphasis, the exaltation of the Servant, presumably following the humiliation and death described in the following passage. There are two points to note about it: (1) The words ‘exalted’ and ‘lifted up’ (‘my Servant shall be exalted and lifted up’) occur also in Isaiah 6:1, introducing Isaiah’s vision of God on his throne (where the throne is described as ‘exalted and lifted up’), and in Isaiah 57:15, which describes God, dwelling in the heights of heaven, as himself ‘exalted and lifted up.’ The combination of the two Hebrew roots rum (‘to be high’, ‘to be exalted’) and nasa (‘to lift up’) is rare in the Hebrew Bible, and the verbal coincidence between these three verses is striking. Modern Old Testament scholars think that the two later passages, Isaiah 52:13 and 57:15, must be dependent on Isaiah 6:1. Early Christians would have observed the coincidence and applied the Jewish exegetical principle of gezera sava, according to which passages in which the same words occur should be interpreted with reference to each other… So, in light of the connections with Isaiah 6:1 and 57:15, the meaning of Isaiah 52:13 is that the Servant is exalted to the heavenly throne of God. This is why, in John 12:38-41, Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6 are brought together, and Isaiah is said to have seen Jesus’ glory, that is, when he saw the glory of the Lord in his vision in chapter 6 of his prophecy…” (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 1. God Crucified, 3.2. Christological monotheism: The early Christian reading of Isaiah 40–55, p. 36; bold emphasis ours)

As does this next commentary:

“Verse 41 could be clearer for us poor readers in the twentieth century. In what way did Isaiah, living centuries before Jesus, see his glory? This must refer back to the contexts of the quotes from Isa 53 and 6. In the first, Isaiahs speaks of the servant; in the second, of his inaugural glorious vision of God as King and Lord of hosts. In God’s glory, he has seen that of Jesus, for the Father shares it with him; and it is with the same glory that the servant has been exalted.” (Neal M. Flanagan, O.S.M., “John,” The Collegeville Bible Commentary: Based on the New American Bible: New Testament, ed. Robert J. Karris [Liturgical Press, September 1992 (Paperback)], pp. 1002-1003; bold emphasis ours)

Jesus shares God’s incommunicable attributes

In John 17 where Jesus says that he and the Father shared the same Divine glory Christ also spoke of being omnipresent:

I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me… And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”John 17:23, 26

The only way that Jesus could be in all believers and all the believers be in him, i.e. in constant fellowship with the exalted Christ and vice-versa, no matter where they are is if he is omnipresent. In fact, Jesus even claims to be present with every single believer in the same sense and to the same degree that the Father is!

“‘Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 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.’ … 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 14:20-21, 23

Jesus further tells his followers that they can only live a fruitful Christian life to the glory of God by remaining in union with him:

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; APART FROM ME you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Not only is Christ affirming his omnipresence here he is also making himself out to be omnipotent since he is the One who enables and empowers all of his followers to bear spiritual fruit!

Moreover, Christ told his disciples that they would start praying directly to him after he ascends to the Father and that he would then empower them to do greater number of miracles than he did while on earth:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in MY NAME, THAT I WILL DO, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask ME anything in MY NAME, I WILL DO IT.” John 14:12-14

Again, the only way that Jesus could answer all his followers’ prayers no matter where they’re at and give them the ability to perform greater works is if Jesus believed he has all of God’s omni-attributes, e.g., omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent!

That’s not at all. On two different occasions Jesus’ disciples told Christ that they believed he was omniscient, with Jesus accepting rather than correcting their belief!

“‘Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:30-31

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’” John 21:17 – cf. 2:23-25

This now leads us to our next section.

Jesus – Thomas’ Risen Lord and God

According to John, when Thomas saw the risen Christ a week after his physical, bodily resurrection he proclaimed Jesus to be his Lord and God. And instead of rebuking Thomas Jesus actually accepts this exalted confession of faith:

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:24-29

In the OT, particularly the Septuagint, the words Lord and God are often associated each other. In fact, whenever these two words are brought together this always refers to Yahweh:

O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou), in thee have I trusted: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me… O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou), if I have done this; (if there is unrighteousness in my hands;) if I have requited with evil those who requited me with good; may I then perish empty by means of my enemies.” Psalm 7:1-2, 4-6 [Heb. 1, 3-5]

O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou), I cried to thee, and thou didst heal me… O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou), I will give thanks to thee for ever.” Psalm 29:3, 13 [Heb. 30:2, 12b]

“Awake, O Lord (kyrie), and attend to my judgment, even to my cause, my God and my Lord (ho theos mou kai ho kyrios mou). Judge me, O Lord, according to thy righteousness, O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou); and let them not rejoice against me.” Psalm 34[35]:23-24

Thus, Yahweh is the only Lord God that exists for a monotheistic Jew like Thomas, which means that by confessing him as his Lord and God Thomas was acknowledging that Jesus is Yahweh!

The following Evangelical scholars help us understand just how truly significant this confession is seeing that it comes from the lips of a monotheistic Jew:

“There is essentially no controversy among biblical scholars that in John 20:28 Thomas is referring to and addressing Jesus when he says, ‘My Lord and my God!’As Harris says in his lengthy study on Jesus as God in the New Testament, ‘This view prevails among grammarians, lexicographers, commentators and English versions.’ Indeed, it is difficult to find any contemporary exegetical commentary or academic study that argues that Thomas’s words in John 20:28 apply in context to the Father rather than to Jesus. The reason is simple: John prefaces what Thomas said with the words, ‘Thomas answered and said to him’ (v. 28a NASB). This seemingly redundant wording reflects a Hebrew idiomatic way of introducing someone’s response to the previous speaker. John uses it especially frequently, always with the speaker’s words directed to the person or persons who have just spoken previously in the narrative (John 1:48, 50; 2:18-19; 3:3, 9-10, 27; 4:10, 13, 17; 5:11; 6:26, 29, 43; 7:16, 21, 52; 8:14, 39, 48; 9:11, 20, 30, 34, 36; 12:30; 13:7; 14:23; 18:30; 20:28). It is therefore certain that Thomas was directing his words to Jesus, not to the Father. No one, of course, would ever have questioned this obvious conclusion if Thomas had said simply ‘My Lord!’ It is the addition of the words ‘and my God’ that have sparked some creative but untenable interpretations of the text.

“Thomas’s words echo statements addressed in the Psalms to the Lord (Jehovah), especially: ‘Wake up!’ Bestir yourself for my defense, for my cause, my God and my Lord [ho theos mou kai ho kurios mou]!’ (Ps. 35:23). These words parallel those in John 20:28 exactly except for reversing ‘God’ and ‘Lord’. More broadly, in biblical language ‘my God’ (on the lips of a faithful believer) can refer only to the Lord God of Israel. The language is as definite as it could be and identifies Jesus Christ as God himself.

“In identifying Jesus as God, Thomas, of course, was not identifying him as the Father. Earlier in the same passage, Jesus had referred to the Father as his God. It is interesting to compare Jesus’ wording with the wording of Thomas. Jesus told Mary Magdalene, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God’ (theon mou kai theon humon, John 20:17). As in John 1:1 and John 1:18, the Father is called ‘God’ in close proximity to a statement affirming that Jesus is also ‘God.’ Here again, as in John 1:18, we do not see the apostle John distinguishing between the Father as ‘the God’ (ho theos) and Jesus the Son as only ‘God’ (theos without the article). In fact, whereas Jesus calls the Father ‘my God’ without the article (theon mou, 20:17), Thomas calls Jesus ‘my God’ with the article (ho theos mou, 20:28)! One could not ask for any clearer evidence that the use or nonuse of the article is irrelevant to the meaning of the word theos. What matters is how the word is used in context. In John 20:28, the apostle reports the most skeptical of disciples making the most exalted of confessions about Jesus, John expects his readers to view Thomas’s confession as a model to follow. Recognizing Jesus as the One who has conquered death itself for us, we too are to respond to Jesus and confess that he is our Lord and God.” (Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, Chapter 12. Immanuel: God with Us, pp. 142-143; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, since Thomas confesses Jesus as his Lord God, and since the only Lord God that a monotheistic Jew can ever confess is Yahweh, seeing that he is the only true God that exists, this means that Thomas was confessing Jesus to be Yahweh his God. Even anti-Trinitarians like the Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that when an Israelite says “my God” he can only be referring to Yahweh his God:

“In its articles on JEHOVAH, the Imperial Bible Dictionary (Vol. I, p. 856) nicely illustrates the difference between Elohim (God) and Jehovah. Of the name Jehovah, it says: ‘It is everywhere a proper name, denoting the personal God and him only; whereas Elohim partakes more of the character of a common noun, denoting usually, indeed, but not necessarily nor uniformly, the Supreme…. The Hebrew may say the Elohim, the true God, in opposition to all false gods; but he never says the Jehovah, for Jehovah is the name for the true God only. He says again and again my God…; but never my Jehovah, for when he says my God, He means Jehovah. He speaks of the God of Israel, but never of Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. He speaks of the living God, but never of the living Jehovah, for he cannot conceive of Jehovah as other than living.’” (Aid to Bible Understanding [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1971], p. 885; bold emphasis ours)

Furthermore, since Jesus accepted Thomas’ confession this shows that Jesus must have also thought that he is Yahweh the only true God.

Finally, since Jesus affirmed that the Father is the only true God, and since he is not the Father, this means that Jesus wasn’t a Unitarian nor was he a Muslim. The evidence conclusively proves that Jesus affirmed and taught his followers that the only true God was multi-personal and that he was also the only true God along with the Father (as well as the Holy Spirit).

Concluding Remarks

Here is what we have discovered from John’s Gospel.

  • Jesus is the Son who gives eternal life to all whom the Father gives to him (v. 2).
  • Eternal life is dependent on knowing the Father AND the Son (v. 3).
  • Christ and the Father shared the same Divine glory before the creation of the world (v. 5). According to the Holy Bible this is a glory which Yahweh does not give to any other god and which no heavenly being shares.
  • John says that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory when he saw Yahweh seated on his throne in Isaiah 6:1-10. This means that Jesus is Yahweh God, even though he is not the Father, and that the glory which he set aside had to do with his heavenly rule, symbolized by the throne Isaiah saw, which Christ shared with the Father.
  • Jesus has all the omni-attributes of God. By claiming to have these unique Divine attributes Jesus is affirming his absolute Deity.
  • Thomas worships Jesus as his Lord God, with Jesus accepting Thomas’ confession of faith. Since the only Lord God that a monotheistic Jew has is Yahweh this means that by accepting Thomas’ confession Jesus was confirming that he is also Yahweh, the only true God!
  • Therefore, Jesus not only taught that the Father is the only true God he also spoke of himself in such a way as to make himself one with the only true God.

We can further add the witness of the Evangelist himself. According to John’s prologue Jesus is the eternal Word who as to his essence is fully God, existed in intimate loving fellowship with God the Father before creation, and was the Divine Agent who brought all creation into being. The following translation best captures the meaning of John’s Greek:

“In the beginning the Word was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father. And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity (kai theos een ho logos). This Word was in the beginning in fellowship with God the Father. All things through His intermediate agency came into being, and without Him there came into being not even one thing which has come into existence… In the universe He was, and the universe through His intermediate agency came into existence, and the world of sinners did not have an experiential knowledge of Him… And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent [His physical body] among us. And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… Absolute deity in its essence no one has ever yet seen. God uniquely-begotten (monogenes theos), He who is in the bosom of the Father, that One fully explained deity. John 1:1-4, 10, 14 (Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: October 12, 1994 (Paperback)], pp. 209-210; bold and italic emphasis ours)

It is apparent that John didn’t see any conflict with Jesus being God in essence and with Jesus’ own affirmation that the Father is the only true God and that there is only one God:

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” John 5:44

In fact, since it is this very Gospel which says that there is only one true God this means that Jesus must also be the true God, unless we assume that monotheistic Jews like John and Thomas would actually be willing to honor or worship a false god.

However, we know that this can’t be the case since John himself warns believers against committing idolatry:

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21

This proves that as far as John’s Gospel is concerned Jesus is just as much the only true God as the Father is (as well as the Holy Spirit). Moreover, by affirming that Jesus is also the only true God this further confirms that John believed that Jesus is Yahweh since Yahweh is the only true God according to the inspired Hebrew Scriptures:

“There is none like You, O Yahweh; You are great, and great is Your name in might… But Yahweh is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.” Jeremiah 10:6, 10

In light of our analysis the testimony of both Jesus and John is crystal clear: Jesus is Yahweh God who set aside his Divine authority in order to perfectly accomplish the purpose of his Father. As such, John 17:3 does not exclude Jesus from being the only true God. That is simply Zaatari’s gross misreading and/or distortion of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is apparent that Zaatari is reading into the Holy Scriptures his Islamic presupposition of unitarianism in order to force these inspired documents to agree with the false teachings of his false prophet, which unfortunately him can’t be done.

With that said we can conclude with Christian apologist Ron Rhodes’ excellent summation of John’s witness to the eternal and absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“Without doubt, John’s Gospel is the richest book in the New Testament in regard to various evidences for Christ’s deity. Unlike the Synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John begins his Gospel in eternity: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (John 1:1, emphasis added). It is from this eternal perspective that John understands the true significance of the work of Christ.

“In John’s Gospel, Jesus claims to be God (John 8:58), is recognized by others as being God (20:28), and is portrayed as being preexistent and eternal (1:15,30; 3:31) self-existent (1:4; 5:26), omnipresent (1:47-49), omniscient (2:25; 16:30; 21:17), omnipotent (1:3; 2:19; 11:1-44), and sovereign (5:21,22, 27-29; 10:18). Christ is also recognized as being the Creator of the universe (1:3), and He claims to be the theme of entire Old Testament (5:39,40). These and many other evidences in John’s Gospel point to the full deity of Jesus Christ.” (Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses [Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 1993; here], 4. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Gospel of John, p. 99)

We couldn’t have said it any better!

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