BLOG POST

by Phillip Vanwinkle
DECEMBER 18, 2015

Answering Common Muslim Claims: "Jesus Never Said He Was God"

When discussing Islam and Christianity with Muslims, the first claim that Muslims make is that the Bible has been corrupted. Having dealt with that claim in an earlier blog post, I want to focus on the first question that Muslims will ask Christians.

They will say: “Where exactly did Jesus ever claim to be God?” As is the case in many instances, those who study the Bible the least, boast the most about how much they know.

They are confident that “Jesus never claimed to be God.” That claim is simply wrong! We will show that in this blog post. In fact, today we will prove firstly that Jesus claimed to be God in the New Testament, and secondly, we will use the New Testament to show that even according to the Quran, Jesus was claiming to be God.

Where did Jesus ever claim to be God?

In Exodus 3:13-14, God comes to Moses and wants him to go and save the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. Moses asks God a question. He says, “Who should I say is sending me? They will ask me, what is his name? What do I tell them?” Notice the conversation:

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

The expression “I AM” carries with it the idea that He is pure existence, that is, He had no beginning or ending. A footnote in the American Standard Version notes that "'I AM' comes from the same Hebrew Root as does the word JEHOVAH," the name of God which means "the Existing One." Keep this in mind as we continue studying.

John 8

Now let's look at John chapter 8. Jesus was in a heated discussion with the Jews, and as the chapter concludes, notice the conversation in John 8:56-59:

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad.

Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

One of the best ways to determine the interpretation of a somewhat difficult passage is to look at the context and see how the people who heard the statement understood it. 

These Jews knew what Jesus meant when He said Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He was telling them that He had indeed been around since Abraham.

We know this was their understanding, because their response was "But you're not even 50 yet! How could you have seen Abraham?" They knew that He was asserting his existence before He became flesh.

Then notice what Jesus said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

This word “was” is in aorist tense, which basically describes something that was not—and then it was. Unlike Jesus, Abraham did not always exist. When Jesus said this phrase before Abraham was, He indicated that Abraham was not already in existence, but had a beginning.

In contrast to Abraham's limited existence, Jesus says of Himself, ἐγὼ εἰμί, egō eimi, I AM. This verb is in present tense, showing that Jesus' claim was "I am, and always have been." In other words, before Abraham began to exist, Jesus already existed.

In fact, if you go back to Exodus 3, you will see that this "I AM" statement is the same one that was revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked, “Who shall I say sent me?” And Jehovah responds, “I AM”—pure, or Always Existing One.

Did the Jews of Jesus’ day understand what Jesus was claiming? Yes! How do we know this? Just look at their reaction:

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:59)

These Jews who were law-keepers believed that they had a right to stone Him—but why? They believed they had the right according to the law of Moses to kill Jesus because he claimed that He was God. Blasphemy is a charge punishable by death in their law (Lev. 24:16). Jesus claimed that He was deity—therefore they thought they had the right to kill him (cf. John 10:30-31; John 5:16-19).

We can conclude, then, that Jesus did claim to be God! But this is not the only time He claimed to be God. Let's look at another passage found in Revelation 1:17-18.

In this context, John is taken up into a vision, and he sees a being—who is none other than Jesus Himself. Notice his reaction:

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last (Rev 1:17)

Jesus is the One speaking in this verse. “But wait,” you may say. “He is not claiming to be God.” Oh, but He is! This is actually a quote from Jehovah in the Old Testament:

Thus saith the LORD  the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God. (Isa 44:6)

Notice the word LORD (in all capital letters in the KJV), which is the Hebrew word YHWH (Jehovah). Count how many times this word appears in this verse. How many Jehovahs do you see?

  1. Jehovah, the King of Israel
  2. His redeemer, Jehovah of hosts

Now notice that there are two persons mentioned here: Jehovah the King of Israel, and His Redeemer—Jehovah’s redeemer, the one that Jehovah will send to redeem: His redeemer, Jehovah of hosts.

You might think these two are one and the same. But is that really the case? Notice what Isaiah 41:13-14 says:

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Here again, not only do we see Jehovah mentioned, but also a second being who will help Israel as well. He is called the “redeemer” here. Keeping that in mind, let's take another look at Isaiah 44:16:

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.

So we can see that the redeemer in Isaiah 41 is Jehovah in Isaiah 44. Then after these two individuals are mentioned, that's when it says "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

Remember how Jesus claimed to be the first and the last in Revelation? This is what He told John in Revelation 1:17: Fear not; I am the first and the last.

In light of all these passages, consider the following syllogism:

  1. God (Jehovah) claims to be the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6)
  2. Jesus claims to be the first and the last (Rev. 1:17)
  3. Therefore Jesus claims to be God (Jehovah).

Now, I have discussed this passage with a Muslim before, and he was adamant that this is a reference to Allah. He said that he had studied his Bible thoroughly, and knew that this passage referred to Allah. The problem is that he did not read the next verse:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Rev. 1: 18)

So I had to ask: “When did Allah die?” Of course he had no answer. Why? Because this is not a reference to Allah, but to Jesus! We conclude again, that Jesus claimed to be God.

So far we have only looked at two instances in the New Testament where Jesus claimed to be God. There are others that we could cover, but for sake of time and space, I will just give you the references for your own study: John 10:30-33; John 5:16-18; Mk. 2:1-12; Mk. 2:28; Mk. 14:60-64 with Daniel 7:13-14. If there is interest, I can examine these passages as well in the future.

So, having proved that Jesus did indeed claim to be God in the New Testament, now let's look at the Quran, and shed some light on some of the verses in the Quran that should help Muslims to understand that Jesus did indeed claim to be God.

According to Muslim sources, the God of Islam has 99 names, and each name is equal to the other. There is not one name that is greater than the other names. All are the same, all are descriptions of the same being: God.

The question is this: Does Jesus ever refer to Himself using any of the 99 names of Allah, and in so doing claim equality with God? In fact, this is exactly what we find in the Quran. Let's take a look at several of these names and see what the Quran has to say.

Al-Haqq - The Truth

الحق

Al-Haqq

The Truth, The Reality

Al-Ḥaqq6:6222:623:11624:25

One name of Allah is Al-Haqq, meaning “The Truth.” One description of God is “The Truth.” The question then is, did Jesus ever refer to himself in this fashion?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Consider this syllogism:

  1. Jesus claims to be “the Truth”
  2. “The Truth” is God
  3. Therefore, Jesus is claiming to be God

Al-Baʿith – The Resurrector/Resurrection

الباعث

Al-Baʿith

The Resurrector

Al-Bāʿith22:7

Did Jesus ever claim to be the one who raises the dead? Did he ever claim to be “The Resurrection”? Indeed he did!

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:25)

Again:

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)

Consider this syllogism:

  1. God is the resurrector/resurrection
  2. Jesus claims that He is the resurrector/resurrection
  3. Therefore: Jesus claims to be God

Al-Awwal – The First

الأول

Al-Awwal

The First, The Beginning-less

Al-Awwal57:3

D

Al-Aakhir – The Last

الأخر

Al-Aakhir

The Last, The Endless

Al-Aakhir57:3

See our discussion above on Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6 Revelation 1:17-18 Revelation 22:13, 16.

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Rev. 1:17-18)

Syllogism:

  1. God is the First and the Last
  2. Jesus says that he is the First and the Last
  3. Therefore; Jesus is claiming to be God

Al-Malik – King of Kings

الملك

Al-Malik

The King, The Sovereign

Al-Malik59:2320:114,23:116

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev. 17:14)

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:16)

Syllogism:

  1. God is the King of Kings
  2. Jesus says that he is the King of Kings
  3. Therefore Jesus is claiming to be God

Al-Hadi – The Guide; The Way

 94

الهادي

Al-Hadi

The Guide, The Way

Al-Hādī22:54

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Syllogism:

  1. God is “the Way”
  2. Jesus says that he is “the Way”
  3. Therefore, Jesus is claiming to be God

An-Nur – The Light

النور

An-Nur

The Light

An-Nūr24:35

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Syllogism:

  1. God is “the Light”
  2. Jesus says that he is “the Light”
  3. Therefore; Jesus is claiming to be God

Al-Hakam – The Judge

الحكم

Al-Hakam

The Judge, The Arbitrator

Al-Ḥakam22:69

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: (John 5:21-22)

And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:27)

Again:

But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.  (Matt. 5:31-46)

Notice: he claimed to be the Son of Man in Mark 14:60-64, and now he says the Son of Man will be the Judge.

Syllogism:

  1. Jesus claims that He is the “Son of Man”
  2. Jesus claims the “Son of Man is the Judge”
  3. Therefore: Jesus claims that He is the Judge

Following that thought, we see:

  1. God is the Judge
  2. Jesus says the he is the Judge
  3. Therefore Jesus claims to be God

Al-Hasib – Bringer of Judgment

الحسيب

Al-Hasib

The Bringer of Judgment

Al-Ḥasīb4:64:8633:39

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. (John 9:39)

Syllogism:

  1. God is the “Bringer of Judgment”
  2. Jesus says that he is the one to bring Judgment
  3. Therefore, Jesus claimed to be God

Al-Hayy - The Living

الحي

Al-Hayy

The Living

Al-Ḥayy2:2553:220:111,25:5840:65

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Rev. 1:17-18)

I am the resurrection, and the life (John 11:25)

Syllogism:

  1. God is “the Living”
  2. Jesus says that he is “the living”
  3. Therefore, Jesus claims to be God

Al-ʿAfu - The Pardoner, the Forgiver

العفو

Al-ʿAfu

The Pardoner, The Effacer, The Forgiver

Al-ʿAfū4:434:994:149,22:6058:2

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.  And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. (Mark 2:5-12)

Syllogism:

  1. God is the one who forgives sin, “the Forgiver”
  2. Jesus claims to forgive sin, “the Forgiver”
  3. Therefore, Jesus claims to be God

Conclusion

These are only 10 of the 99 “names of Allah,” all of which Jesus claimed for Himself. Looking through this list of names, I could certainly find more places in the New Testament where Jesus makes claims to other names ascribed to Allah. However, I believe the point has been proven. This is not an article to try to prove whether or not Jesus is these things—it is simply proof to show that Jesus claimed to be God!

Jesus claimed to be God in several occasions. If our Muslim friends would study the scriptures in an unbiased manner, then they would be able to see this plainly.

Let us pray that with much patience and grace, God will allow us to reach out to our friends to show them the Truth of God’s Word.


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