Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

My Response to a Muslim’s Misuse of Acts 2:22

Sam Shamoun

In this blog post Muslim polemicist Paul Bilal Williams cites the following text to undermine the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“The apostle Peter, who tradition claims was the source for the stories in Mark’s gospel, reportedly told the world the following about Jesus and the actual source of his miraculous power:

‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.’

“Not God. Not the Second Person of the Trinity. Not God incarnate. Not God the Son.

A man.

Time to once again refute William’s blatant distortion of Peter’s Spirit-filled proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.

In the first place, which Christian denies that Jesus is a man? It is part and parcel of Christian theology to affirm that Jesus is a human being whom God [the Father] worked in and through:

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19

“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” John 10:37-38

“If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” John 14:7-11 

So we agree that Jesus is a man, but much more than that as we are about to demonstrate.

Second, this same Peter went on to preach that Jesus was put to death on the cross and then rose again since it was impossible for him to remain dead:

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:22-24

The apostle even claimed that Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection were foreseen and prophesied by the prophet David:

“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, NEITHER HIS FLESH DID SEE CORRUPTION. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:29-32

Since Islam denies all these facts this means that Muhammad stands condemned as a false prophet by the inspired message of both David and Peter, emissaries whom the Quran mistakenly claims were Muslims (cf. Q. 3:52; 5:111; 6:83-90).

Third, Peter also taught that Christ ascended to the right hand of God from which he then poured out the Holy Spirit upon his followers. He then went on to exhort the Jews to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit:

“‘Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, HE POURED OUT this which you now see and hear… Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’” Acts 2:33, 37-39 New King James Version (NKJV)

What makes this rather remarkable is that earlier in the same chapter the blessed Apostle cited the prophecy in Joel to explain the disciples’ miraculous ability to speak in various tongues by the power of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had poured out upon them:

“But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I WILL POUR OUT IN THOSE DAYS OF MY SPIRIT; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call ON THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be saved.” Acts 2:16-21

According to Joel, it is God who pours out his Spirit upon all flesh and it is his name which a person must call on, must confess, in order to be saved. And yet Peter stated it is Jesus who actually poured out the Holy Spirit upon believers, and even went as far as to exhort people to confess and call upon Jesus' name for salvation!

Nor is this the only place where Peter emphasized this point:

“And HIS NAME through faith IN HIS NAME hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” Acts 3:16

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: FOR THERE IS NONE OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:5-12

All of this shows that Peter has basically ascribed to the Lord Jesus the very functions which the prophet Joel attributes to Yahweh!

Now the only way that the Apostle could attribute the unique roles and deeds of Yahweh to the Lord Jesus is if Peter believed that Christ was not just a mere man, but was actually God who became man for the salvation of God’s people!

Finally, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 to show that not only did David foresee the resurrection of the Messiah, he also worshiped Christ as his Lord!

“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:34-36

To sit enthroned at God’s right hand means that Christ is now ruling from God’s heavenly throne as Lord over the entire creation since this is the place from where God reigns:

“The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” Psalm 103:19

Suffice it to say, this is also in direct conflict with the Quran which expressly denies that Allah would allow anyone to worship prophets as their lords:

It is not (possible) for any human being unto whom Allah had given the Scripture and wisdom and the prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof. And he commanded you not that ye should take the angels and the prophets for lords. Would he command you to disbelieve after ye had surrendered (to Allah)? S. 3:79-80 Pickthall

The Quran further denies that Allah shares his rule over creation with anyone:

And say: Praise be to Allah, Who hath not taken unto Himself a son, and Who hath no partner in the Sovereignty, nor hath He any protecting friend through dependence. And magnify Him with all magnificence. S. 17:111 Pickthall

This again ends up condemning Muhammad as a false prophet for contradicting the inspired testimony of David and Peter who both worshiped Jesus as the risen and exalted Lord.

Now I assume that Williams will try to use Acts 2:36 to prove that Jesus can’t be God since the text says he was made both Lord and Christ at his resurrection. Lord Jesus willing, I will therefore respond to this potential objection in my next post.

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible.

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