A Series of Answers to Common Questions

Sam Shamoun


According to Jesus, no one knows the day or hour of his coming in judgment except the Father (cf. Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). No one obviously includes the Holy Spirit. Yet, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t know everything how can he be God?


This is a severe misunderstanding of Jesus’ words since Christ wasn’t including the Holy Spirit in his discussion. His point was that no human being, no angel, not even himself, knew the exact date of his coming to judge Jerusalem. Here are Jesus’ exact words which helps to illustrate this point:

"But of that day and hour no one knows, NOT EVEN the angels of heaven, NOR the Son, but the Father only." Matthew 24:36

"But of that day or that hour no one knows, NOT EVEN the angels in heaven, NOR the Son, but only the Father." Mark 13:32

The questioner erroneously has assumed that the phrase "no one knows" is inclusive, that it necessarily includes every single entity with the exception of the Father. On the contrary, the fact that Jesus goes on to mention that neither he nor the angels know clearly indicates that Christ wasn’t referring to every single entity but to a more restricted group. After all, if the phrase "no one knows" meant everyone then there was no need for Christ to mention the angels and himself since they would have naturally been included. Thus, Christ’s statement regarding angels and the Son not knowing demonstrates that Jesus was referring to a specific class of individuals, namely human beings, when he said that no one knows. In other words, Jesus was saying that no human being knows the day he would come to bring judgment upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem for rejecting him, neither the angels, not even himself. This explains why the King James Version rendered the Greek in the following manner:

"But of that day and that hour knoweth NO MAN, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Mark 13:32

The translators correctly inferred from the context that "no one" meant no man.

It must be pointed out that phrases such as "no one," "not one," "all," "everyone" etc., are not necessarily inclusive terms, but can have a more limited sense, just as the following examples prove:

"His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which NO ONE knows but himself." Revelation 19:12

John obviously didn’t mean that the Father didn’t know Jesus’ name since he is the Source of the Son’s revelation and has full knowledge of Christ:

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John," Revelation 1:1

"All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Matthew 11:27

It is obvious that John meant that no creature knows Jesus’ name.

"What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all; for I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: ‘NONE IS RIGHTEOUS, no, NOT ONE; NO ONE understands, NO ONE seeks for God. ALL have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; NO ONE DOES GOOD, NOT EVEN ONE.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Romans 3:9-20

Paul here is dealing with individuals who have rebelled and willfully violated God’s commands. Again, Paul didn’t mean to include Christ, the elect angels, and infants that die within his list of all those that have willfully sinned and broken God’s commands.

"It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put EVERYTHING under his feet?’ In putting EVERYTHING under him, God left NOTHING that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see EVERYTHING subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." Hebrews 2:5-9 NIV

The inspired author of Hebrews cites Psalm 8:4-6 where it says that God has placed everything under the control of man. Now the author of Hebrews didn’t mean that even God himself was made subject to man, even though the expressions "everything" and "nothing" are used. As the Apostle Paul put it:

"Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ‘For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one." 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

These examples should help the readers see why caution must be used before assuming that expressions such as "all," "no one," are inclusive, that they necessarily include everyone and everything. The context will help determine whether these words are being used inclusively or in a more limited sense.

More importantly, the Holy Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit knows everything that God knows and fully comprehends the very mind of God!

"God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God EXCEPT THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God." 1 Corinthians 2:10-12

The Holy Scriptures explicitly state that God’s thoughts, his ways, his knowledge are infinite and beyond comprehension:

"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen." Romans 11:33-36

"O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it." Psalm 139:1-6 ESV

"He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure." Psalm 147:4-5

Hence, for the Holy Spirit to know and be able to search the mind of God means that the Holy Spirit is omniscient, that he too knows everything perfectly!

We conclude our discussion in the words of the renowned Bible scholar and commentator John Gill who wrote regarding Matthew 24:36:

no, not the angels of heaven; who dwell there, always behold the face of God, stand in his presence ready to do his will, and are made acquainted with many of his designs, and are employed in the executing of them, and yet know not the time of God's vengeance on the Jews; to this agrees the sense that is given of the day of vengeance in (Isaiah 63:4) it is asked,

“what is the meaning of these words, "the day of vengeance is in my heart?" Says R. Jochanan, to my heart I have revealed it, to the members I have not revealed it: says R. Simeon ben Lakish, to my heart I have revealed it, (ytylg al trvh ykalml), "to the ministering angels I have not revealed it".”

The Ethiopic version adds here, "nor the son", and so the Cambridge copy of Beza's; which seems to be transcribed from (Mark 13:32) where that phrase stands; and must be understood of Christ as the son of man, and not as the Son of God; for as such, he lay in the bosom of the Father, and knew all his purposes and designs; for these were purposed in him: he knew from the beginning who would betray him, and who would believe in him; he knew what would befall the rejecters of him, and when that would come to pass; as he must know also the day of the last judgment, since it is appointed by God, and he is ordained to execute it: but the sense is, that as he, as man and mediator, came not to destroy, but to save; so it was not any part of his work, as such, to know, nor had he it in commission to make known the time of Jerusalem's ruin: but my Father only; to the exclusion of all creatures, angels AND MEN; but not to the exclusion of Christ as God, who, as such, is omniscient; NOR OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, who is acquainted with the deep things of God, the secrets of his heart, and this among others. (Source; underline and capital emphasis ours)

Another text which is used to deny the omniscience of the Holy Spirit is Matthew 11:27 (cf. Luke 10:22) where Jesus says no one knows the Father or the Son. Again, much like Matthew 24:36 (cf. Mark 13:32), a careful consideration of the immediate context will show that Jesus was speaking of human beings, that no man knows the Father and the Son:

"At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and NO ONE knows the Son except the Father, and NO ONE knows the Father except the Son and ANY ONE TO WHOM the Son chooses to reveal him.’" Matthew 11:25-27

Here, Jesus refers to God hiding his wisdom from the wise and understanding, and revealing it to babes. This clearly refers to human beings, that God has chosen to reveal himself to humans whom the world considers as unwise and unlearned as opposed to those who are viewed as wise and knowledgeable. As the Apostle Paul put it:

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18-29

Moreover, the "no one" whom Jesus mentions refers to the "any one to whom" he will choose to reveal God. In other words, Christ will sovereignly and freely choose to reveal himself to specific persons from that group who do not know God. And we know that the objects of Christ's message and revelation are human beings:

"No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." John 1:18

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

Thus, the exegesis of the immediate context demonstrates that Jesus' reference to "no one" doesn't include the Holy Spirit (or even the angels for that matter). The context basically shows that Jesus was referring to men, that no human being knows God and therefore is in need of Christ to reveal him.

Scripture references taken from the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Holy Bible, unless stated otherwise.

A Muslim response to this article is discussed here.

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