Revisiting the Issue of the Logical Coherence of the Trinity

A Further Reply to a Muslim Dawagandist Part 2

[Part 1]

Sam Shamoun

Is Jesus the Lord who Delivered Israel?

Here is Zawadi’s response to my claim that Jude, in verse 5, refers to Jesus delivering Israel out of Egypt:

Also, there is no reason to believe that the Lord being referred to in verse 5 is Jesus. There is nothing to show that this is necessarily the case.

This again exposes more of Zawadi’s Biblical illiteracy and inability to understand what he reads. It is inarguable that the Lord who delivered the Israelites in the context must be Jesus since Jude has just referred to him as Lord in the previous verse:

"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe." Jude 1:4-5

Moreover, the NT manuscript evidence further supports that Jude had Jesus in view since the best attested Greek manuscripts actually read Jesus in verse 5, as opposed to Lord:

"Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe." Jude 1:5 ESV

Noted Evangelical scholars Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski explain how both the variant readings and the context establish that Jesus is the Lord who saved Israel at the time of Moses (at least, according to Jude):

"After speaking of Jesus Christ as ‘our only Master and Lord,’ Jude could hardly have proceeded in the very next sentence to refer to someone other than Jesus as ‘the Lord.’ The Lord who delivered his people out of Egypt, then, must be the Lord Jesus.

"In fact, this is probably what the original text of Jude explicitly said. Many of the earliest manuscripts actually say ‘Jesus’ instead of ‘the Lord’ in verse 5, and this is most likely the original reading. There are three principles of the discipline of textual criticism that, when considered together, point to this conclusion.

"The first principle concerns the external evidence of the origins of the manuscripts. All other things being equal, the earlier and more widely attested reading is to be preferred. In this case both ‘Lord’ and ‘Jesus’ are among the earliest readings, but ‘Jesus’ is more widely attested. The Vaticanus and Alexandrinus uncials (fourth and fifth centuries, respectively) both have ‘Jesus,’ while the Sinaiticus and C uncials (also of the fourth and fifth centuries) are the major witnesses for ‘Lord.’ The reading ‘Jesus,’ though, has much greater support from the early translations of the New Testament into other languages (such as Coptic, Ethiopic, and Latin) and better support from the early church’s leading biblical scholars, including Jerome (early fifth century) and possibly the third-century Origen. The reading ‘Jesus,’ then, clearly has the edge in terms of external evidence.

"The second principle is that, all other things being equal, the harder or more difficult reading – the one that sounds the strangest, to put it crudely – is more likely to be original (since a scribe is more likely to change a text from something that sounds strange to something that doesn’t, rather than the other way around). Here, the reading ‘Jesus’ obviously has the edge. Three of the five members of the editorial committee for the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament thought, in fact, ‘that the reading was difficult to the point of impossibility.’ The other two committee members, Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren, agreed it was difficult but not impossible, and concluded that it was the correct reading.

"The third and most general principle is that whatever reading is more likely to have given rise to the others as alterations is probably the original reading. The answer to this question is much disputed, but we agree with those who argue that ‘Jesus’ is probably original because it is more likely that scribes would change ‘Jesus’ (the admittedly harder reading) to ‘Lord’ (or, in a few other manuscripts, ‘God’) but not vice versa.

"Whichever reading we follow, though, Jude’s immediately preceding reference to Jesus as ‘Lord’ at the end of verse 4 makes it clear that he is the subject of verse 5. According to Jude, the Lord Jesus not only existed during the time of the Exodus but was the one who both delivered Israel from Egypt and then destroyed the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness." (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place –The Case for the deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Chapter 8. Jesus Has Always Been There, pp. 98-99; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The translators of the NET Bible concur with the above authors’ assessment of the textual and contextual data:

24 tc ‡ The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Ihsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or1739mg), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (qeos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though Ì72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [qeos Cristos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA27 for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424c 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate.

sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Finally, Jude wasn’t the only author to claim that Jesus was there with the Israelites during the Exodus since the Apostle Paul believed this also and even wrote about it long before Jude did:

"For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert." 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

According to the Hebrew Scriptures Yahweh was the Rock who followed and nourished Israel during the wandering in the wilderness:

"I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he… The LORD ALONE led him; no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior… You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth… If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be! How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up? For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede." Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 12-15, 18, 29-31

This basically means that Paul (as well as Jude) believed that Jesus is Yahweh!

Thus, my initial point still stands and remains untouched since Zawadi wasn’t able to refute it. Jesus Christ can be our only Sovereign Lord Yahweh without this implying that the Father isn’t Yahweh or our Sovereign Lord. In a similar manner, the Father can be the only true God without this suggesting that the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot be the only true God as well.

Does the Biblical use of the Singular Conflict with the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity?

Zawadi further demonstrates his Biblical ignorance when he asks:

Also, I find it strange how Christians such as Shamoun can refer to God in the singular sense by calling Him "He". What does Shamoun mean by "He is one eternal being". Who is the "He" here? You have three people in that one eternal being. Doesn't Shamoun mean "them"? The "being" is not a person, thus Shamoun can't refer to that "being" as a "He".

Why do Zawadi’s statements not surprise me? The reason why the Biblical writers or Trinitarians use singular nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, participles etc. when speaking of God is to denote the fact that Yahweh is a singular Being. So to answer his question, when Trinitarians say that "He (God) is one eternal being" they mean that there is only one God, one eternal Being of God, one eternal, uncreated essence of God etc. Furthermore, God is a personal Being, and yet he is tri-personal, meaning that the one Being of God has three centers of consciousness. Hence, although God is personal he is not a single Person since God exists as three Persons simultaneously.

For a thorough discussion of these issues we suggest the following rather technical discussions by noted Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig (1, 2). [Note: the readers will have to set up an account in order to access these articles. We highly encourage doing so since one will find tons of great articles and audio and visual lectures and debates for free.]

Moreover, the Bible writers themselves use the singular in contexts where they have more than one Divine Person in view:

"And he blessed Joseph and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, THE ANGEL who has redeemed me from all evil, BLESS the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’" Genesis 48:15-16

The verb for bless that Jacob used here is singular even though he is praying to two subjects, specifically God and the Angel!

The Apostles of the risen Lord Jesus do something similar:

"Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear (kateuthunai) the way for us to come to you." 1 Thessalonians 3:11

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved (ho agapesas) us and by HIS grace gave (dous) us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage (parakalesai) your hearts and strengthen (sterixai) you in every good deed and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Although Paul refers to both the Father and the Son as loving, gracing, encouraging etc., he uses singular verbs all throughout here which is simply his way of describing their actions as essentially being one. And:

"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." Revelation 22:5

Compare this with the following:

"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty AND THE LAMB are its TEMPLE. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb IS ITS LAMP. The nations will walk by ITS LIGHT, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it." Revelation 21:22-24

John shows here that both the Father and the Son are the one Temple and glorious Light of the new creation. Thus, the Lord God who gives light to the new heavens and earth is actually the Father and the Son together!

John further writes:

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the THRONE of God AND OF the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The THRONE of God AND OF the Lamb will be in the city, and HIS servants will serve HIM. They will see HIS face, and HIS name will be on their foreheads." Revelation 22:1-4

John states that believers will see "HIS" face, have "HIS" name on their foreheads, and will serve "HIM." Yet John says elsewhere that the faithful will receive the name of both the Father and the Son,

"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze… By her teaching she misleads MY servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols." Revelation 2:18, 20b

"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him MY new name." Revelation 3:12

"Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had HIS name and HIS FATHER'S name written on their foreheads… These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God AND the Lamb." Revelation 14:1, 4

John also writes that both the Father and the Son have priests and servants who serve them:

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be PRIESTS of God AND OF Christ and will reign with HIM for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4-6

"The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent HIS angel to show HIS servants the things that must soon take place.’ …" Revelation 22:6, 16

Finally, John claims that the river of the water of life flows from the one throne that is shared by both God and the Lamb, which is a symbolic way of saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son to sustain the new creation. That the river of the water of life denotes the Holy Spirit is easily demonstrated by consulting John’s Gospel:

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." John 7:37-39

We, thus, have a depiction of the Triune God together as they manifest their glory in the new heavens and earth!

Biblical Examples of the Plural

At the same time, however, the Bible writers also use plurals for the Deity. For the sake of brevity we will limit ourselves to a few examples.

"And when God (Elohim) caused me to wander (hit’uw) from my father's house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’" Genesis 20:13

The verb hit`uw, translated "cause to wander", is the plural of ta`u. In light of this fact the passage can legitimately be translated as, "When they, Gods (Elohim), caused me to wander from my father’s house."

"and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God (Elohim) had revealed himself (nigluw) to him when he fled from his brother." Genesis 35:7

The verb which modifies God (Elohim) is nigluw (revealed) and is the plural of gla, and literally reads, "Gods, They revealed themselves to him."

It shouldn’t surprise the readers that both Abraham and Jacob used plurals for God since these men were aware that their God is multi-Personal. For instance, we saw above how Jacob prayed to God and the Angel, indicating that the patriarch knew that this particular Messenger was God. The following passage substantiates this point:

"In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’" Genesis 31:10-13

The Angel who appeared to Jacob identifies himself as the God of Bethel, or the house of God, the place where the patriarch anointed a pillar and made a vow to Yahweh after seeing him in a dream:

"Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: ‘I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’" Genesis 28:10-22

With the foregoing in mind it is rather astonishing that the Angel could tell Jacob that he is the very God of Bethel and that the latter anointed a pillar and made a vow to the Angel when Genesis 28 clearly says that the patriarch erected the pillar and vowed to Yahweh who had spoken to him in a dream at that place. This makes it obvious that the Angel was claiming to be Yahweh God Almighty, which explains why Jacob could pray to this Divine Messenger!

This concludes the second part of our rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, we will follow this up with a thorough refutation of Zawadi’s attempt of defending his irrational Islamic beliefs concerning Allah having bodyparts and the Quran being his uncreated speech.

Further Reading


(1) Zawadi thinks that he has a response to my assertion that the use of the conjunction kai, "and," in John 17:3 equates the Father and the Son in that this shows that both of them are fully responsible for granting eternal life, and that believers are therefore required to believe in both of them equally in order to be saved, thereby proving that they are coequal in essence:

Sam says that the word 'kai' in John 17:3 signified equality between Jesus and the Father. So lets take a look at these verses...

1 Thessalonians 2:15

who killed the Lord Jesus and (kai) the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men

1 Timothy 5:21

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and (kai) the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

So does that mean that your 'Lord' Jesus is also in equality to the prophets and angels? (Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "More on the Shahadah"; source)

There are two problems with Zawadi’s examples. In the first place, none of these verses are relevant since their contexts are completely different. In John 17 Jesus says that he grants eternal life to all that the Father gives him (v. 2), which explains why eternal life is dependant on him just as much as it depends on the Father. This establishes that Jesus is claiming coequality with the Father since he is able to do what God alone can do, i.e. Christ grants eternal life to all who believe in him.

Second, even in Zawadi’s examples one can see how the conjunction is grouping these persons with each other. For instance, the Jews didn’t just kill the prophets but Jesus as well, showing that the conjunction is being used to join Christ and the prophets together as the object of Jewish rejection and persecution.

In the second example, Paul is charging Timothy to hold to his commands since God, Christ and the elect angels are all watching him intently to see whether he will carry out his duties faithfully. Thus, even here the conjunction implies some sort of equality in that all three are equally watching Timothy, albeit not in the same sense. After all, the Holy Bible teaches that both the Father and the Son are omnipresent and omniscient whereas the angels are not (cf. Matthew 18:20; 28:20; John 16:30-31; 14:20-21, 23; 15:4-5; 17:23, 26; 21:17; 1 John 3:20; 5:20). Yet both Paul and the Bible writers believe that God assigns certain angels the task of watching over believers and of supervising Church services:

"If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.’" Psalm 91:9-16

"For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head." 1 Corinthians 11:10

"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14

Again, these cases are unlike John 17:3 where the context of the latter is dealing with Jesus being the Source of eternal life and a necessary object of saving faith, all of which assumes his coequality with the Father in essence and ability.

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