Saturday, February 4, 2017

Who is Jesus in the Qur'an and the Bible?

Is Jesus the Son of God?
This is not a minor issue; rather it is essential to determine the identity of Jesus and his relationship with God the father.  The Qur’an states that Allah “begotteth not nor is he begotten” (Sura 112:3) and the note (#6299) in the commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali indicate this is a negation of the Christian idea of the godhead of the Father, the Son, etc.  “The Christians call Christ the Son of God … God’s curse be on them:  How they are deluded” (Sura 9:30).  The next Sura goes on to state “[they take as their Lord] Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God ... [far is He] from having the partners they associate [with Him]”.

It seems that Muhammad – and possibly many Muslims today – understand the Biblical concept of Jesus’ sonship in a biological sense, with God the Father procreating with a female, culminating in the birth of Christ.  In fact, Muhammad asks, “How can He have a son when He hath no consort?” (Sura 6:101)  An understanding of the Hebrew term of sonship will help to clarify the issue here.  The Bible nowhere states or implies that God the Father had sexual relations and produced a biological son. 

Was Jesus begotten?
Some of the confusion results from the Biblical use of the term “begotten” in referring to the Father’s relationship with Jesus, in John 1:14,18 and the all-familiar John 3:16.  The Greek word translated “begotten” in the New Testament is monogenes, which means “unique” or “one of a kind”, not a result of biological procreation.  This term is also used in Psalm 2:7, which is quoted three times in the New Testament, “Today you are my Son, today I have begotten you.” (Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5; 5:5)  The Hebrew word used here is yalad (Strong #3205), which is used in the Old Testament to indicate biological birth, but also is used in a broad range of other meanings.  God has begotten or brought forth (yalad) “drops of dew” (Job 38:28) and the “frost of heaven” (Job 38:29).  The wicked bring forth (yalad) “falsehood” (Psalm 7:14) and God gave birth (yalad) to the “mountains” (Psalm 90:2).  So, the sonship of Jesus Christ is the more broad metaphorical description of his relationship with God the Father, not the narrow biological meaning.  Furthermore, it would not make sense to use the biological meaning because God is Spirit (John 4:24). 

Is Jesus equal with God the Father?
The Qur’an teaches that Jesus Christ was a prophet and is revered in Islam, but was a lesser prophet than Muhammad.  Sura 4:171 states, “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”.  

In Islam, Jesus was not equal with God and to make this statement would be blasphemous.  The Qur’an states that “God forgiveth not [the sin of] joining other gods with him” (Sura 4:116) and informs that “the Christians [went wrong] in raising Jesus the Apostle to equality with God” (Sura 4:C68).  The Qur’an advises believers to “join not any partners with Him [God]” (Sura 4:36) and further states “in blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary” (Sura 5:17).  

Does the Bible teach that Jesus Christ is equal with God? 
Yes, in a number of places.  In John 10:30, Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.”  It would be blasphemous for a normal human to utter that statement.  We know that is how the Jews understood it because, in the next verse, we read that they picked up stones to stone him.  John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.”  How do we know this is referring to Jesus?  Because in verse 14, John writes, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus stated in John 8:58, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."  This was a blatant quotation of Exodus 3:14 in which God (the Father, Jehovah, Yahweh) gives to Moses His name as “I am”.  And, here again, the Jews recognized the obvious association and picked up stones to stone Jesus for equating Himself with God.  Hebrews 1:8 states, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne O God is forever and ever’.” 

(An excellent book that addresses the above and other related issues in detail is Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims by Ron Rhodes, Harvest House Publishers, 2002)

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