ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS MUSLIMS ASK
– A FOUR PART SERIES –
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DEITY OF JESUS THE MESSIAH
(God incarnate, Son of God, Trinity, etc.)
THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS that Muslims ask Christians are related to the following four general areas:
- The person of Jesus (God incarnate, Son of God, Trinity, etc.)
- The crucifixion of Jesus
- The authenticity of the Bible (contents, changes, etc.)
- The Nature And Character of God (Trinity, etc.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS OF PART ONE:
#1. “WHY DO YOU BLASPHEME BY CALLING JESUS ‘GOD’? HOW CAN JESUS BE GOD?”
- “How can Jesus be God when he did things God doesn’t or won’t do?”
- “How can Jesus be God and man at the same time? He is either God or he is man!”
- “But what possible reason or need would God have to become a man?”
#2. “DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS THE ‘SON OF GOD’?”
- “Why do you call Jesus the ‘Son of God?’ God is not a man who gets married and has sons!”
- “Do you believe Jesus the Messiah is God just because he is called, ‘the Son of God’ in the Bible? Adam, Israel and others also are called God’s sons in the Bible.”
- “Why do you think God’s miracle of causing Jesus to be born of a virgin proves he is ‘the Son of God’?”
- “Jesus’ birth was just another miraculous creation of God like the creation of Adam. It doesn’t make him ‘the Son of God’.”
#3. “DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS ONE OF THREE GODS (THE TRINITY)?”
With each question we will first try to understand why Muslims ask the question. Then we will look at both short and longer answers, and then finally, in some cases, we will look at answers from the Qur’an. (All Qur’an quotations are from the Yusuf Ali translation.)
QUESTION #1: "WHY DO YOU BLASPHEME BY CALLING JESUS ‘GOD’? HOW CAN JESUS BE GOD? "
WHY DO MUSLIMS OBJECT TO THIS? See The Qur’an’s Teaching:
(Sura 5:72,73) “They do blaspheme who say: ‘God is Christ the son of Mary.’ But said Christ, ‘O children of Israel, Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’ Whoever joins other gods with God, God will forbid him the garden, and the fire will be his abode… for there is no god except One God.”
(Sura 3:79) “It is not (possible) that a man, to whom is given the Book and wisdom and the prophetic office, should say to people, ‘Be ye my worshippers rather than God’s.’”
(Sura 4:171) “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him.”
ANSWER #1: Explanation From John 1:1-3,14:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth.”
This part of the Holy Injil (New Testament) tells us the eternal Word of God, which in the beginning of creation was “with God,” also “was God.” Everything God created, He created by saying, “Be!” which means He created everything by Himself, by His own Word. God's Word is not another God; God's Word is God's communication of Himself. Can God exist without His Word? Obviously not. Was there ever a time when God's Word did not exist? Of course not. This is like my speech or communication, which is a distinct entity of my being, but certainly is not a second being separate from me. So God is One, and part of that oneness is His Word, which comes out from Him and communicates Himself to us. In Arabic Jesus is called, “Kalamat Ullah,” the Word of God. He came out from God and came into the world as a human being. God in His sovereignty chose to reveal Himself to us through His Word – His Word, who became one of us and lived among us. In comparing Jesus Christ with the prophet Adam, the Bible tells us, “The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47) After 33 years on this earth, when the Lord Jesus the Messiah was about to return back to heaven, he himself indicated he had existed in Almighty God from before creation: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do, and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4,5)
THERE ARE REALLY THREE PARTS TO THIS QUESTION:
- “How can Jesus be God when he did things God doesn’t/won’t do?”
- “How can Jesus be God and man at the same time? He is either God or man!”
- “But what possible reason/need would God have to become a man? God is omnipotent and can do whatever He wants!”
QUESTION #1a: “HOW CAN JESUS BE GOD WHEN HE DID THINGS GOD DOESN’T OR WON’T DO?” After all, the Bible itself teaches…
- Jesus talked about God as “my God,” (John 20:17) but God has no God.
- Jesus prayed to God instead of to himself.
- Jesus was submitted to God instead of to himself.
- Jesus got tired (John 4:6; Matthew 8:24), but God doesn’t get tired (Psalm 121:4; Isaiah 40:28).
- Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1 & Heb. 4:15), but God cannot be tempted (James 1:13).
- Jesus got hungry and thirsty (Matt. 4:2; John 19:28), but God never gets hungry or thirsty. (Psalm 50:9-13; Acts 17:25).
- Jesus learned obedience and grew up into a mature and perfect man (Hebrews 5:9), but God never changes (James 1:17).
- Jesus was born and also died, but God is everlasting.
- Jesus was confined to one human body, but God is omnipresent.
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK THIS WAY? See the Qur’an’s teaching:
(Sura 2:255) “God! There is no God but He – the living, the self-subsisting, eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep … and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them …”
(Sura 5:116) “And behold God will say, ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, “Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God”?’ He will say, ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say).’”
(Sura 5:72) “They do blaspheme who say, ‘God is Christ the son of Mary.’ But said Christ, ‘O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’ Whoever joins other gods with God, God will forbid him the garden, and the fire will be his abode.”
As one Muslim wrote, “… it is … demeaning to call God a human! God literally contained in a man named Jesus? God needing sleep? God needing food? God falling on His Face in prayer? To whom? God going to the bathroom? God being born from between the legs of a woman? God at the mercy of His enemies; being spit upon, beaten, mocked? God dying? God a man?”
1) Jesus, The Perfect Human Being:
The description of Jesus we read in the Injil is the description of One who became a human being – who “became flesh” (John 1:1-3,14). It does not say that a man somehow made himself God (impossible!); it says God caused His eternal Word to became a human being (for God anything is possible!). Jesus became a real man. He was not an apparition, nor was he just pretending to be a man. In Hebrews 2:17 it says Jesus became like us “in every way.” In Hebrews 4:15 it further explains that He “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh! Therefore He did things we do and lived with the limitations we live with. If he didn’t do those things he would be God simply disguised as a man – only a virtual man; a “let’s pretend” man; not really one of us.
Jesus is Almighty God, but for our sake He chose to also become a real human being. At any time He could have used His powers as God, but He chose instead to function as a human being with only the abilities and limitations of a human being. He was still God and could have used His divine powers, but instead by choice He became a human being able to die (God cannot die) as a substitute for mankind. He did this for us!
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
He voluntarily took upon himself our humanity, in order to become a perfect substitute able to die in our place. In that way He could deliver us from death and the power of Satan over us:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14,15)
From the beginning the people of God had offered animal sacrifices, which only temporarily covered their sins. We needed a sinless and perfect human being, not an animal, to be our substitute. Since there was no sinless human being and God cannot die, He provided a perfect substitute to die for us by sending his eternal Word to become a real human being, living a sinless life in a real human body:
“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘(animal) Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a (human) body have you prepared for me …’” (Hebrews 10:4,5)
The description of Jesus we read in the Injil is the description of a perfect human being, confined within a human body, subject to all the limitations of humanity, but living as a sinless man of God, fully trusting in God and empowered by God:
- In becoming a human being, He fulfilled God’s will by being born of a woman after nine months in her womb; a helpless infant. (Philippians 2:5-7; 2 Corinthians 8:9)
- As a human being submitted to God, He began life not knowing everything, but slowly learning as He grew in knowledge and maturity. (Luke 2:52; John 5:6)
- As a normal human being, He got hungry, thirsty, tired and sleepy.
- As a human being trusting God, He was filled with God’s Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1,14; Matthew 12:17,18)
- As a human being submitted to His “Father”, He prayed to God. (Luke 6:12)
- As a human being walking with God, He experienced (and resisted) every temptation to sin we experience. (Hebrews 4:15)
- As a human being taught and empowered by God (instead of his own power) He performed miracles (Luke 5:17; Matthew 9:8), perceived wisdom and powerfully taught God’s truth to people.
- And as a human being surrendered to God’s will (Luke 22:42) and empowered by God, He entered into death and came back to life again (1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 1:19,20; Colossians 2:12), conquering death and Satan, in order to give us eternal life.
2) Jesus, Our Perfect Mediator with God:
He not only became a perfect human being to be our substitute, He became our perfect “high priest” (mediator), who fully understands our temptations and struggles. We read the following about Him:
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17,18)
“… we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Yes Messiah Jesus was fully God, who chose not to use his divine powers, but instead chose to live as a complete human, subject to our temptations, in order to be our perfect substitute and our perfect mediator. If He had used his divine powers to overcome temptations, he would not have been like us, and therefore he would not have been qualified to be our substitute or our mediator with God.
3) Jesus, The Last Adam:
Another reason why He chose to not use his divine powers in his human life was to fulfill God’s original purpose in creating mankind. Jesus succeeded where Adam failed:
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive … Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit … The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22,45,47)
When the disciples saw Jesus miraculously calm the sea they were totally amazed and astonished, asking each other, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27) He was a man who was exactly what God had created mankind to be. He was a man of God who was given authority from God to command the natural elements. He was a man fully obedient to God and filled with the Spirit of God.
Perhaps a more appropriate question for us to ask in our complete astonishment would be, “What sort of God is this, who loved us so much that He become a complete human being, living in a human body with all our limitations, without using his own powers as God?”
QUESTION #1b: “HOW CAN JESUS BE GOD AND MAN AT THE SAME TIME? HE IS EITHER GOD OR HE IS MAN! How can he be on earth praying to God in heaven, talking about God as ‘my Father’ and He and the Father still be one God?”
ANSWER: A New Form: In God’s act of creation, His eternal Word came out of Him when He commanded “Be!” and yet He did not become two gods. In the same way, when he spoke His eternal Word into the virgin Mary, God's Word remained God and at the same time became a man like us. Jesus never stopped being Almighty God’s Eternal Word. God says in the Holy Injil,
“… Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … All things were made through him … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:1,3,14)
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you …” (1 John 1:1,2)
“For by him all things were created … all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together ... For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 1:16,17; 2:9)
He changed his form, not His person. He is not sometimes God and sometimes man, nor is He half God and half man. He is both fully God and fully human at the same time – even if we cannot understand it!
ANSWER FROM ISLAM: Tauhid (God’s Oneness or Unity) and the Eternal Qur’an: In the early days of Islam, Muslim scholars struggled over the relationship of the Qur’an to God Himself. Some said the Qur’an is God’s Word and therefore it must be eternal and uncreated. Others said that the Qur’an had to have been created by God because if it was eternal and uncreated, it would mean there are two gods. After a long time of controversy the scholars concluded that the Qur’an was not created, but is God’s uncreated speech which has been kept eternally on a table in heaven and brought down section by section and dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. At the same time they firmly declared that this does not in any way compromise or deny the oneness (tauhid) of God. Muslims should have no problem, therefore, in understanding the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is God’s eternal Word which came down to live among us as a human being, and this does not in any way compromise or deny the unity of God.
QUESTION #1c: “BUT WHAT POSSIBLE REASON OR NEED WOULD GOD HAVE TO BECOME A MAN? He is fully able to forgive any sin and to grant salvation to whomever He pleases. God is omnipotent and can do whatever He wants!”
ANSWER: Yes, God can do whatever He wants, except He cannot violate His own character. Otherwise He would self-destruct! He would no longer be God! The character of God, especially his love and justice, compelled him to become a man.
God's love: One of God’s greatest attributes is love. True love is self-giving (not taking) for the sake of another. God gave Himself to us in order to do for us what we could not do for ourselves – to wipe away our sin and save us from judgment and eternal death. He loved us so much that he Himself became our substitute by becoming one of us. Thus He can forgive and save from eternal judgment/death anyone who will accept His gift of salvation. God’s love compelled him to give for us what is dearest to Him:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16);
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9,10);
“... he too shared in their humanity (flesh and blood) so that by his death he might destroy...the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Heb. 2;14,15)
God's justice: God’s justice requires Him to do this. The Bible teaches that although God has the power to do anything ("For nothing is impossible with God" – Luke 1:37), He cannot do things that would violate his own character such as lie ("… it is impossible for God to lie ..." – Heb. 6:18) or be unfaithful to His promises ("If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." – 2 Tim. 2:13). One of the attributes of God’s character is justice. Nahum the prophet wrote, “… the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.” (Nahum 1:3) He was repeating what the Lord God Himself had said earlier to the prophet Moses in Exodus 34:7.
To illustrate this, suppose I were to steal a very valuable item from your home and sell it to buy drugs or to gamble, and by the time you found me I had already wasted all the money. If I were then to confess my sin and beg your forgiveness, you would be faced with a choice. You could either forgive me, which would mean absorbing the loss, or you could gain some satisfaction by having me arrested and prosecuted. If you chose to forgive me, the cost of your forgiveness would be the value of the item I stole from you plus the shame of being burglarized. You would have to be willing to accept all that loss by voluntarily choosing to give the value of the item to me. But suppose you chose to have me prosecuted, but the judge took pity on me and decided to “forgive” me. How would you feel? You would certainly feel that judge was unjust! Forgiveness is never just a matter of words because it is never free! That judge suffered no loss, so how could he forgive me? Forgiveness can only be given by the person who is willing to absorb the injury, loss or cost involved. God is certainly not an unjust judge who would simply declare us forgiven without suffering any loss Himself, just because He wanted to!
We seem to be faced with a dilemma. If God, because of His love, were to forgive our sins without giving us the full punishment according to His own law, He would be unjust and would be violating his own character. But if God in His justice were to condemn us, how could we ever endure the eternal punishment in hell that we deserve?
However, the eternal Word of God became a man (Jesus) so he could take our punishment upon himself (God cannot die, but a man can die). He did this so that he could be merciful in forgiving us but also be just in doing so:
“... God presented him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement ... He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus ...” (see Rom. 3:22-26).
[FOR OTHER BIBLE INDICATIONS OF THE DEITY OF CHRIST
SEE THE ARTICLE ENTITLED,
“BIBLE INDICATIONS OF THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST”]
QUESTION #2: “DO YOU BELIVE JESUS IS THE ‘SON OF GOD’?”
THERE ARE FOUR PARTS TO THIS QUESTION:
- “Why do you call Jesus the ‘Son of God’? God is not a man who gets married and has sons!”
- “Do you believe Jesus the Messiah is God just because he is called, ‘the Son of God’ in the Bible? Adam, Israel and others also are called God’s sons in the Bible.”
- “Why do you think God’s miracle of causing Jesus to be born of a virgin proves he is ‘the Son of God’?”
- “Jesus’ birth was just another miraculous creation of God like the creation of Adam. It doesn’t make him ‘the Son of God’.”
QUESTION #2a: “WHY DO YOU CALL JESUS THE ‘SON OF GOD’? GOD IS NOT A MAN WHO GETS MARRIED AND HAS SONS!”
WHY DO MUSLIMS OBJECT TO THIS? See The Qur’an’s Teaching:
(Sura 72:3) “And exalted is the majesty of our Lord; He has taken neither a wife nor a son.”
(Sura 112:3) “He begetteth not, nor is he begotten.”
(Sura 23:91) “No son did God beget, nor is there any god along with Him.
(Sura 9:30) “The Jews call Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God … God’s curse be on them; how they are deluded away from the truth!”
(Sura 4:171) “… So believe in God and His apostles … (Far exalted is He) above having a son.” [from Yusuf Ali’s notes 675 & 676: “… the Christian attitude is condemned, which … attributes a physical son to God … The doctrines of Trinity, equality with God, and sonship are repudiated as blasphemies. God is independent of all needs and has no need of a son to manage His affairs …”]
ANSWER #1: This expression is used metaphorically and not in a physical sense. The Bible does not teach that God got married to Mary and had a baby! That is blasphemy! Almighty God is not a physical being, so such a thing is not only unthinkable, it is impossible! The term, “Son of God” is used as a metaphor to describe a spiritual relationship, which we will see below (see answer #5).
The following are a few examples of the common use of this kind of metaphor in the Bible:
“… and all the daughters of song are brought low …” (Ecclesiastes 12:4)
“Go up to Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt!” (Jeremiah 46:11)
“Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord … and has married the daughter of a foreign god.” (Malachi 2:11)
“The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one.” (Matthew 13:38)
“James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder) …” (Mark 3:17)
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God … You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.’” (John 8:42,44)
“… the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience …were by nature children of wrath …” (Ephesians 1:2,3)
Yes, Jesus was born physically of the virgin Mary about 2000 years ago, so He has been the son of Mary for some time, but he has always been the Son of God:
“… in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son … through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:2).
ANSWER #2: “Son of God” is a title, not a description. Messiah Jesus was not sexually “begotten” by God. He was not born of God in the physical sense! This is evident from the following Bible verses:
- in Romans 1:4 he says that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God,”
- in Hebrews 1:4,5 God says that Jesus “inherited” the name “Son,” and
- in Hebrews 5:4,5 he says that Jesus was “called” (chosen) to be the Son of God.
ANSWER #3: Jesus was not “born” the Son of God; but He has been repeatedly revealed to be the “Son of God.” If Messiah Jesus had been born to God as a physical Son, it would have happened on one specific day. But he has always been, and always will be the Son of God.
The phrase in Psalm 2:7, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father,” would seem to indicate Jesus became the Son of God on one certain day, but it is repeated four times in the Holy Bible and each time it refers to a different occasion, which shows he is revealed to be the Son of God on each of the following occasions:
1) On the day he became our High Priest by offering His own life as a sacrifice for us on the cross:
“So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But god said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ [quoted from Psalm 2:7]” (Hebrews 5:5)
2) On the day He conquered death and came back to life, three days after dying on the cross:
“But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’” [quoted from Psalm 2:7] (Acts 13:30-33; see also Romans 1:4)
3) On the day He sat down at the Father’s right hand in heaven, having risen from the dead and ascended to heaven:
“After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’” [quoted from Psalm 2:7] (Hebrews 1:3-5)
4) On the day He will return to earth as king to rule the entire world:
“I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’” (Psalm 2:7-9)
5) On every day! The Son of God is eternal and has no beginning or end of life.
“Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)
“but in these days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:2)
ANSWER #4: There are various aspects of the meaning of the metaphor, “son.” The fact is that the term “Son of God” is in the Bible. We can say it does not make sense and reject it or we can struggle to understand why God has used that term. Obviously “son” is a human word which carries with it various cultural aspects of a relationship. These same cultural meanings clearly apply to God’s relationship to Messiah Jesus. Here are several (*The first three are the most important):
- *The One The Father Loves: [“firstborn son” shows an even more unique love relationship]
- Israel: “… Israel is my firstborn son ...Let my son go, so he may worship me.” (Ex.4:22,23)
- David: “... David my servant ... My faithful love will be with him ... I will also appoint him my firstborn ... I will maintain my love to him forever ...” (Psalm 89:20-28)
- Solomon: “... tell my servant David ... I will raise up your offspring to succeed you ... I will establish his kingdom ... I will be his father, and he will be my son ... my love will never be taken away from him as I took it away from Saul.” (2 Samuel 7:8,12-15)
- Jesus: “As soon as Jesus was baptized ... a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17; also see John 5:20; Matt.17:4,5)
- *One Just Like The Father: [“a chip off the old block” or “like father, like son”]
- Jesus: “No one has ever seen God, but the only son who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18)
- Jesus: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Hebrews 1:3)
- Jesus: “the image of the invisible God.”
- Jesus: “... the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does ... 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 ...” (John 5:19-21)
- Jews: “If you were Abraham’s children, said Jesus, then you would do the things Abraham did.” (John 8:39)
- Jesus: “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son?” Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may learn and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:36-38)
- *One Who Came Out Of The Father:
- Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father ...” (John 1:14)
- Jesus: “... you are from below; I am from above ... for I came from God ...” (John 8:23,42)
- Jesus: “... that I came from God. I came [out] from the Father and entered the world ...” (John 16:28; see also John 6:38,51)
- One Who Obeys His Father:
- Jesus: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you ... I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:1,4)
- Jesus: “My food”, said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
- Jesus: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.” (John 9:4)
- One Produced By The Power Of The Father:
- Adam: “... Adam, the Son of God” (Luke 3:38)
- Jesus: “How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin? The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34,35)
- Jesus is God’s “Unique Son”:
- Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son ...” (John 3:16)
- Isaac: “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love …’” (Gen.22:2; Isaac was the son of promise, therefore he was called Abraham’s unique son even though Ishmael was his older son.)
[The King James translation uses “only begotten” Son, but that is an inaccurate translation of the Greek word, “monogenes,” which literally means “unique” or “one of a kind.” See www.answering-islam.org/Dictionary/begotten.html]
ANSWER FROM ISLAM: There are many “anthropomorphic” expressions in Islam too – The Qur’an mentions things like God’s hands (38:75), face (6:52) and throne (11:7), but they are obviously not meant to be understood physically. As in the Bible, they are human expressions used metaphorically to help us understand some spiritual meaning.
QUESTION #2b: “DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS THE MESSIAH IS GOD JUST BECAUSE HE IS CALLED, ‘THE SON OF GOD’ IN THE BIBLE? ADAM, ISRAEL AND OTHERS ALSO ARE CALLED GOD’S SONS IN THE BIBLE.” (See Luke 3:38 – “... Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God”; Hosea 11:1 – “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”; Romans 8:14 – “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”; Galatians 3:26 – “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.”)
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK THIS WAY? Muslims normally do not think this way. Only the rare Muslim who has studied the Bible or a Muslim who has been taught some kind of apologetics would ask this kind of question.
ANSWER#1: Jesus is The Unique Son of God: We don’t believe Jesus the Messiah is God just because he is called “The Son of God” in the Bible, although this term does imply his deity (see previous question). There are other, stronger reasons for believing he is God. Even though many people are called sons of God, Jesus the Messiah is so uniquely greater than all the others that he is called “The Son of God” as well as “God’s only Son”:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16,18)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)
ANSWER#2: The Double Meaning of the Term, “Son of God”:
1) The Term, “Son of God” Is Used Mostly As a Term Synonymous With “Messiah.” (Other synonymous terms are “Son of David,” “King of Israel” and “Son of Man.”):
“Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’” (John 1:49)
“‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’” (John 11:27)
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30,31)
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16:16)
2) The Term “Son of God” Also Clearly Implies That He is God. The Jewish religious leaders tried to stone the Lord Jesus specifically because he called Himself the Son of God:
“Jesus answered … ‘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.’ Jesus answered them …‘Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”’” (John 10:25-36)
On the following occasions in the life of Jesus the Messiah He accepted the worship of people who recognized His deity:
“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ … When [he] had climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:25-33)
“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?’” (Mark 5:6,7)
“As week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:26-29)
QUESTION #2c: " WHY DO YOU THINK GOD’S MIRACLE OF CAUSING JESUS TO BE BORN OF A VIRGIN PROVES HE IS ‘THE SON OF GOD’? GOD DOES MIRACLES AS HE CHOOSES IN THE LIFE OF EACH PROPHET." (Muslims seem to believe that miracles have no specific purpose in and of themselves, but are simply “signs” given by God to prove His power and to warn sinners to repent.)
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS? Teaching of Qur’an:
(Sura 3:45-47,59) “Behold! The angel said: ‘O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from him. His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity, and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.’ She said, ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?’ He said, ‘Even so: God createth what He willeth when he hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, “Be,” and it is!’… ‘The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam. He created him from dust; then said to him, “Be” and he was.’”
(Sura 19:17,19-23,27-30) “We sent to her our angel…He said, ‘Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.’ She said, ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?’ He said, ‘So (it will be). The Lord saith, “That is easy for me; and (We wish) to appoint him as a sign* unto men and a mercy from us.” It is a matter (so) decreed.’ So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried (in her anguish), ‘Ah! Would that I had died before this!’...At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said, ‘O Mary! Truly an amazing thing has thou brought! O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!’ But she pointed to the babe…He (Jesus) said, ‘I am indeed a servant of God. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet…’”
[* Yusuf Ali’s note: “The mission of Jesus is announced in two ways. (1) he was to be a sign to men. His wonderful birth and wonderful life were to turn an ungodly world back to God; and (2) his mission was to bring solace and salvation to the repentant. This, in some way or other, is the case with all apostles of God…”]
ANSWER: Almost without exception, every miracle recorded in the Bible reveals some purpose which God had in causing it. For example, the plagues in Egypt sent by God through the Prophet Moses were sent to punish Pharaoh and his gods, and to force him to release the people of Israel from slavery by showing His power was greater than that of Pharaoh’s gods. Jesus did not heal lame and blind people and cast out demons simply to show that God had given him power. He healed people because of his compassion for them, and also to validate the truth of his message.
There was a very specific purpose for the virgin birth of Messiah Jesus. He was born after nine months of pregnancy, through the natural human birth process, by a human mother (Mary). This was to reveal his human origin as a descendant of Adam. That is why he constantly referred to himself as, “The Son of Man.” He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. But He was born without a human father to reveal his divine origin, i.e., that He was “The Son of God,” the eternal Word of God, who came out of God and became flesh (John 1:1-3,14). This truth is amplified by the following verses:
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:34,35)
“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world ... for I proceeded forth and have come (out) from God …’” (John 8:23,42)
“The first man (Adam) was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47)
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:51 - see also John 6:33,38)
“... he who descended from heaven ... He who comes from above ...” (John 3:13,31)
“Jesus, knowing ... that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, …” (John 13:3)
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” (John 16:28)
[also many times Jesus said his heavenly "Father" had sent him]
QUESTION #2d: “JESUS’ BIRTH WAS JUST ANOTHER MIRACULOUS CREATION OF GOD LIKE THE CREATION OF ADAM. IT DOESN’T MAKE HIM ‘THE SON OF GOD’.”
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS?
(Sura 3:59) “The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He said to him, ‘Be!’ and he was.”
(Sura 3:47) “She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so, God createth what He willeth. When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, “Be,” and it is!’’”
ANSWER: Throughout history there were only three people not born in the normal way (from a mother and a father) - Adam, Eve and Jesus. Let’s look at them:
1) Adam Was Created Out of the Dust of the Ground, Had No Human Parents and Was Fully Grown From the Beginning:
When God created Adam (as the Qur’an also says) he…
“… formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7).
God breathed life into the dust, and gave life to it, forming Adam out of the dust of the ground. So when God created Adam he had no human parents. Nor did he grow up in the normal way, but was a fully grown man from the moment he was created.
2) Eve Was Created Out of Adam and Was Fully Grown From the Beginning:
When he created Eve, he…
“… took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:21-23).
Instead of creating Eve out of the dust like Adam, God made Eve out of Adam. Like Adam, she did not grow up, but was immediately a fully grown woman. Adam realized the intimate relationship he had with Eve when he said that she was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Eve was already in Adam and was taken out of him. GOD’S PURPOSE IN CREATING EVE THIS WAY WAS TO MAKE ADAM AND EVE ONE FLESH, OUT OF WHICH ALL HUMAN BEINGS WOULD BE BORN. Since Adam and Eve were one flesh, all human life from that time on has come out of them. It is as if all humanity is one lump called “Adam,” and slowly generation by generation we are all being born out of that lump called Adam. We are all bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. We were in Adam and Eve when they sinned and when they were put out of the garden. Today we are bearing the negative results of our original parents’ sin, just like children today carry the genetic strengths and weaknesses of their parents.
3) Jesus Was Born Out of Mary Without a Human Father, and Grew up Normally:
Before Jesus was born the angel told Mary she would have a son, and she replied,
“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34,35)
Jesus the Messiah was not born out of the dust of the ground like Adam, nor was he created fully grown like Adam and Eve. He was born from a human mother after nine months of pregnancy and grew up in the normal way, but he had no human father.
SO WHAT WAS GOD’S PURPOSE IN THIS KIND OF BIRTH?:
(a) God caused Jesus to be born of a woman (Galatians 4:4) in order to be human like us ‑ born OUT OF ADAM.
Through Mary, Jesus is the son of Adam, fully a human being just like we are. Because he was born this way he is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. The Scripture says he “shared in (our) humanity.” (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus is part of that lump of humanity just like we are. The Scripture says he became flesh (John 1:14). He became one of us! GOD’S PURPOSE IN JESUS BEING BORN OF MARY WAS FOR HIM TO BE FULLY HUMAN:
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Hebrews 2:11) Why?
“He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17,18)
(b) At the same time God caused him to be born without a human father because he came OUT FROM GOD IN HEAVEN – the eternal Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-3,14).
“The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47)
“... the one who came from heaven .... The one who comes from above ...” (John 3:13,31);
“... He who comes down from heaven.” (John 6:33);
“... For I have come down from heaven.” (John 6:38);
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:51);
“... I am from above ... for I came from God.” (John 8:23,42).
In other words, being born of a human mother was needed for him to be one of us – the Son of Adam. Being born without a human father was needed to show He came out from God – the Son of God. In his parentage we see both his complete humanity and his full deity. Why? So He could be the perfect sinless substitute for us sinners, and overcome the power of sin and death to give us eternal life.
“We have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15);
“He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14,15)
QUESTION #3: “DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS ONE OF THREE GODS (THE TRINITY)?”
WHY DO MUSLIMS OBJECT TO THIS? The Qur’an’s Teaching:
(Sura 4:171) “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and His apostles. Say not, ‘trinity.’ Desist! It will be better for you, for God is one God....”
[from Yusuf Ali’s notes 675 & 676: “… the Christian attitude is condemned, which … invents the doctrine of the trinity … The doctrines of Trinity, equality with God, and sonship are repudiated as blasphemies …”]
(Sura 5:73,116) “They do blaspheme who say, ‘God is one of three in a trinity: for there is no god except One God. … O Jesus, the son of Mary. Didst thou say unto men, ‘Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God’? He will say, ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say).’”
ANSWER #1: Jesus is God’s Eternal Word: No, the Bible does not teach that Jesus the Messiah is one of three gods. It teaches that he is the eternal Word of God, through whom all things were created:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:2)
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16,17)
“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
ANSWER #2: Jesus Himself Said That There is Only One God: The Bible does not teach that there are three gods. In fact, it states categorically at least 29 times that there is only one God! (see a list of them in the first question of Part Four). Jesus Himself taught:
“‘The most important one [commandment],’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”’” (Mark 12:29,30)
[For a fuller explanation of the Trinity see Part Four:
“ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TRINITY
AND OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD”]