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An Exegesis of Koran 5:27-36

October 12, 2016 Leave a comment

I have watched some videos by David Wood on Youtube. He is a Christian apologist who produces blogs about Islam. He is usually very critical of the Koran and Muhammad. He often portrays the beliefs of Muslims as being barbaric. If any Muslims actually believe and practice some of the things that he speaks about in his videos, then I would have to agree with him. However, I am not so sure that all Muslims are like that. To me, there appears to be many different versions of Islam. I do not know what percentage of the Muslim population of the world believes and practices some of the things that he talks about. However, I have been reading and studying the Koran and I keep seeing so many things in the Koran which appear to be teaching the same thing that I have read in the Bible. Anyway, I am going to provide an exegesis of a passage in the Koran that David Wood has spoken about in one of his videos. I really do not know what percentage of all Muslims in the world actually interpret this text the way that he does, but I disagree with his interpretation. The passage in question is Koran 5:27-36 and 5:32 in particular.

Before I begin the exegesis, first watch David Wood’s video.

Now, I will begin my exegesis of the passage from the Koran. I am using Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall’s translation of the passage.

Surah 5

 

5:27 But recite unto them with truth the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (The one) said: I will surely kill thee. (The other) answered: Allah accepteth only from those who ward off (evil).

The Koran confirms the Bible. (Koran 3:3,4; 10:38; 37:37) It contains the same teachings as the Bible. (Koran 41:43) The Koran teaches that we should not reject any of the messengers of Allah. Otherwise, we will become “disbelievers in truth.”

Lo! Those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. But those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them, unto them Allah will give their wages; and Allah was ever Forgiving, Merciful. (4:150-152, Pickthall)

Therefore, when we do an exegesis on this passage from the Koran, it is very important that we also examine the the teachings in the Bible to better understand the Koranic passage. In Genesis, we read:

And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and brought forth Cain and said, I have gained a man through God. And she again bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And it was so after some time that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice to the Lord. And Abel also brought of the first born of his sheep and of his fatlings, and God looked upon Abel and his gifts, but Cain and his sacrifices He regarded not, and Cain was exceedingly sorrowful and his countenance fell. And the Lord God said to Cain, Why art thou become very sorrowful and why is thy countenance fallen? Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? Be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go out into the plain; and it came to pass that when they were in the plain Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (Genesis 4:1-8, LXX)

In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, it explains why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God. It was because he offered it by faith.

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)

Through faith Abel obtained witness that he is righteous. The Koran says that he told Cain that God “accepteth only from those who ward off evil.” In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, it says:

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:16, NKJV)

Having the shield of faith, Abel trusted in Allah and was able to ward off “the fiery darts” of Satan and be righteous before Allah. No one can live a life without sin except for Jesus. In the Koran, it says:

If Allah were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave, on the (earth), a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: When their Term expires, they would not be able to delay (the punishment) for a single hour, just as they would not be able to anticipate it (for a single hour). (Koran 16:61, Yusuf Ali)

Therefore, it is only because of the mercy of Allah that anyone can ever really enter Paradise. It says in the Koran:

And (O Muhammad) say: My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for Thou art Best of all who show mercy. (Koran 23:118, Pickthall)

Find a merciful man. God is far more merciful than he. God is the Most Merciful. The sacrifice from the sheep that Abel offered to God (Genesis 4:4) prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins. In the Koran, it says:

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Koran 3:39, Pickthall)

And in St. John’s Gospel, it says:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (John 1:6, NKJV)

Being sent from God, John was not only “a prophet of the righteous” (Koran 3:39), but also a rasul, a messenger of Allah. Further on in this same chapter of St. John’s Gospel, it says:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NKJV)

John, a messenger of Allah and  a prophet of the righteous, has told us that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. If we do not accept what St. John the Baptist has told us about Jesus as being true, then we are “disbelievers in truth.” (Koran 4:150-152)

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the great mercy of Allah, our sins can be forgiven. The word, al-mutaqīna, translated “those who ward off evil” by Mr. Pickthall in Koran 5:27 is translated “the righteous” by Sahih International and “those who are righteous” by Yusuf Ali. Shakir translated the word “those who guard against evil.” Muhammad Sarwar translated it “the pious ones.” Mohsin Khan translated it “the pious” and Arberry translated it “the godfearing.”

Already, we have seen that Abel was able through his faith to guard himself against “the fiery darts” of Satan. (Hebrews 11:4; Ephesians 6:16) Also through his faith he was able to become righteous. (Hebrews 11:4) He trusted in the mercy of Allah when he offered up his sacrifice from among the sheep. The Koran says:

Lo! we believe in our Lord, that He may forgive us our sins and the magic unto which thou didst force us. Allah is better and more lasting. (Koran 20:73, Pickthall)

In the 24th Surah, it says:

Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you, not one of you would ever have grown pure. But Allah causeth whom He will to grow. (Koran 24:21, Pickthall)

Abel’s righteousness which he practiced came from God.

5:28 Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Abel is an example to show us how we should live.

Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Pickthall)

And verily We have sent down for you revelations that make plain, and the example of those who passed away before you. An admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 24:34, Pickthall)

He refused to fight back. He allowed Cain to kill him. Jesus told us:

But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:39, NKJV)

One needs to distinguish between commandments which apply to the whole Muslim community and those which apply to individual Muslims. Killing someone in a war that is started in self-defense is acceptable.

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. (Koran 2:190, Shakir)

Self-defense is one of three reasons given in the Koran for a Muslim community or nation to engage in war. However, peace is always better. (Koran 4:128) On the individual level, Muslims should obey Jesus (Koran 3:50; 43:63) and practice His commandments that He has given us. So, Matthew 5:39 applies to Muslims as well as to Christians. They should also follow the example of Abel (Koran 4:26; 5:28) with the help of the grace and mercy of Allah. (Koran 24:21)

5:29 Lo! I would rather thou shouldst bear the punishment of the sin against me and thine own sin and become one of the owners of the fire. That is the reward of evil-doers.

Abel preferred that his brother should burn in Hell for killing him than that he should fight back to defend himself. He left vengeance to God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19, NKJV)

In this verse from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul quotes from the Torah. (Deuteronomy 32:35) Concerning the Torah, the Koran says:

And they measure not the power of Allah its true measure when they say: Allah hath not revealed unto a human being. Say (unto the Jews who speak thus): Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance for mankind, which ye have put on parchments which ye show, but ye hide much (thereof), and (by which) ye were taught that which ye knew not yourselves nor (did) your fathers (know it)? Say: Allah. Then leave them to their play of cavilling.  (Koran 6:92, Pickthall)

The Torah is a “light and guidance for mankind.” Muslims must not avenge themselves. The Koran tells them to follow the teachings of the Torah unless they have been abrogated. (Koran 2:106) The Torah says that vengeance belongs to God. So, like Abel, Muslims should leave justice to God at the individual level. If another nation attacks their Muslim nation, they may fight back in self-defense. (Koran 2:190)

5:30 But (the other’s) mind imposed on him the killing of his brother, so he slew him and became one of the losers.

Murder begins in the mind. Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21, 22, NKJV)

St. John the Theologian, a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 10:2) and a Muslim (Koran 3:52), wrote:

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (I John 3:11,12, NKJV)

Cain was of Satan and “his works were evil.” Abel’s works were righteous because of the grace and mercy of Allah. (Koran 24:21) St. John also wrote:

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:15, NKJV)

Name-calling and hatred can bring a man to Hell.

5:31 Then Allah sent a raven scratching up the ground, to show him how to hide his brother’s naked corpse. He said: Woe unto me! Am I not able to be as this raven and so hide my brother’s naked corpse? And he became repentant.

Hiding Abel’s dead body does not prevent God from knowing what Cain had already done. In Proverbs, it says:

The eyes of the Lord behold both the evil and the good in every place. (Proverbs 15:3, LXX)

In the Koran, it says:

Unto Allah belong the East and the West, and whithersoever ye turn, there is Allah’s Countenance. Lo! Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (Koran 2:115, Pickthall)

We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Koran 50:16, Pickthall)

He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. (Koran 57:3, Pickthall)

Hast thou not seen that Allah knoweth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth? There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more but He is with them wheresoever they may be; and afterward, on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Lo! Allah is Knower of all things. (Koran 58:7, NKJV)

The Koran says that God sent a raven to teach Cain what to do with Abel’s dead body. Cain buried it. Burial is the preferred method of disposing of human remains. In the Book of Tobit it says:

And my clothes to the naked: and if I saw any of my nation dead, or cast about the walls of Nineve, I buried him And if the king Sennacherib had slain any, when he was come, and fled from Judea, I buried them privily; for in his wrath he killed many; but the bodies were not found, when they were sought for of the king. (Tobit 1:17,18)

We should follow the example of Tobit and bury the dead. (Koran 4:26) The Koran teaches by this story in the Fifth Surah that God wants us to bury the dead.

5:32 For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.

The reason for this commandment being given to the Children of Israel is the story of Cain and Abel. When Cain murdered his brother Abel, it was as if he murdered the whole world because not only did he kill Abel, but also all of Abel’s possible posterity was exterminated with his death. The Bible does not provide a genealogy of Abel’s posterity, but it does provide one for Cain. (Genesis 4:16-24) Abel has no posterity. Cain destroyed a whole world when he murdered Abel.

This view of murder and saving the life of another is actually in the Babylonian Talmud and in the Jerusalem Talmud. In the Babylonian Talmud, it says:

“Whoever destroys a soul from Israel, the Scripture considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life from Israel, the Scripture considers it as if he saved an entire world.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a)

This view of murder and saving life according to the Babylonian Talmud applies to Jews only. However, the Jerusalem Talmud provides a much broader scope of application. It says:

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” [Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1(22a)]

Not just Jews, but all people are included in this Talmudic teaching.

If Koran 5:32 says that only the murder of a Jew is as if one destroyed the whole world, then Muslims should not kill Jews except for one of the two reasons given in this verse. However, the reason for telling the Jews to value another’s life as if it were the lives of all humanity was because of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were not Jews. They were the first two children of everyone’s first parents, Adam and Eve. The Cain and Abel lesson, therefore, applies to everyone and not just to Jews or Muslims.

The reason for saying that a man’s life is as valuable as all the lives of all humanity, according to the Jewish Talmuds, is based on the story of the creation of man in Genesis chapter 2. In verse 7 of this chapter, it says:

And God formed the man of dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7, LXX)

Later, in the same chapter, it describes the creation of woman.

And God brought a trance upon Adam, and he slept, and he took one of his ribs, and filled up the flesh instead thereof. And God formed the rib which he took from Adam into a woman, and brought her to Adam. And Adam said, This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of her husband. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, LXX)

According to the Biblical account, all of humanity came from one man. Therefore, one life is worth the same as all of humanity. In the Talmud, it says:

For this reason was man created alone, to teach thee that whosoever destroys a single soul… Scripture imputes [guilt] to him as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whosoever preserves a single soul… Scripture ascribes [merit] to him as though he had preserved a complete world. (Sanhedrin 37a)

This concept of humanity springing from a single soul is also taught in the Koran.

It is He Who hath produced you from a single person. (Koran 6:98, Yusuf Ali)

He it is Who did create you from a single soul, and therefrom did make his mate that he might take rest in her. (Koran 7:189, Pickthall)

In the Fourth Surah, it says:

O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you. (Koran 4:1, Pickthall)

Here is another video by David Wood. I agree with what he says about the creation of Adam and Eve in the Koran. The Koran essentially teaches the same thing as the Bible, but not in as much detail.

In the Tenth Surah, it says:

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. (Koran 10:94, Pickthall)

If Muhammad had asked a Jew about Koran 5:32, he would have received a Talmudic explanation of his revelation. So, both reasons for valuing one human life as if it were the same as that of all of humanity are valid: the creation of humanity from a single person, Adam, and the slaying of Abel by Cain thereby wiping out any posterity he would have had.

The word translated “church” in the New Testament is the Greek word, ekklesia. This word appears in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament — the Septuagint. See Psalm 21:22 in the Septuagint for an example. This corresponds with Psalm 22:22 in the Hebrew. In the King James Version, a quotation of this Septuagint verse is translated “church” in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews. See Hebrews 2:12, KJV. Therefore, the Church existed in the Old Testament. Ekklesia appears in other places in the Septuagint Old Testament as well.

In the writings of Blessed Augustine, one of the Church Fathers, we can read:

“Many a time have they fought against me from my youth up” (Psalm 128:1, LXX; Psalm 129:1). The Church speaketh of those whom She endureth: and as if it were asked, “Is it now?” The Church is of ancient birth: since saints have been so called, the Church hath been on earth. At one time the Church was in Abel only, and he was fought against by his wicked and lost brother Cain. (Psalm 129, by Bl. Augustine, p. 611, vol. 8, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts)

According to Blessed Augustine, Abel was the Church at the time that Cain slew him. There was only one righteous person in the world and he was  it. When Cain killed Abel, he destroyed the Church. From this lesson about Cain and Abel, we can say then that whoever kills a righteous person, it is as if he destroyed the whole Church. Abel’s posterity could have been brought up in righteousness fearing God.

I have heard Muslims say that Adam was a prophet. Maybe he became a prophet after the death of Abel.

This teaching has other applications. For example, it demonstrates the importance of banning the horrific crime of genocide. Also, the elimination of the dehumanizing practice of abortion can be drawn as a lesson from this text. Innocent unborn children who have souls given to them by God are not allowed to be born and eventually have children of their own because of the inhuman practice of feticide. Whole worlds are being destroyed in abortion clinics and hospitals by spiritually ignorant doctors.

In Koran 4:1, it says: “Be careful of your duty to Allah.” Our duty to Allah as we have already read in the Torah and the Koran is to preserve human life, not to destroy it.

There are only two exceptions given in this Koranic commandment not to kill — manslaughter and spreading corruption in the earth. Manslaughter or murder has been forbidden by both the Bible and the Koran. In the Torah, “the light and guidance for mankind” (Koran 6:92), we see Lamech, a descendant of Cain, lamenting over having killed a man. (Genesis 4:23,24) In Genesis 9, there is a commandment not to murder.

For your blood of your lives will I require at the hand of all wild beasts, and I will require the life of man at the hand of his brother man. He that sheds man’s blood, instead of that blood shall his own be shed, for in the image of God I made man. (Genesis 9:5,6, LXX)

The prohibition against murder also appears in the Decalogue.

Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:15, LXX)

Jesus taught that we should observe this commandment. (Mark 10:19)

In the Koran, there are prohibitions against murder in addition to the one given in Koran 5:32.

Lo! those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slay the prophets wrongfully, and slay those of mankind who enjoin equity: promise them a painful doom. (Koran 3:21, Pickthall)

O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you. Whoso doeth that through aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah. (Koran 4:29,30, Pickthall)

It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood-money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you, and he is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise. Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell for ever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom. (Koran 4:92,93, Pickthall)

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice. (Koran 6:151, Shakir)

Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty, We shall provide for them and for you. Lo! the slaying of them is great sin. (Koran 17:31, Pickthall)

And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped. (Koran 17:33, Pickthall)

The second exception is for “corruption in the earth.” This subject is a very lengthy one. So, I intend to talk about it in more detail in a future blog. For right now, I will give some brief explanations of this exception.

The verse is addressed to the Children of Israel. The exceptions which permit someone’s life to be taken as capital punishment are, therefore, found in the Torah, not in the New Testament and not in the Koran. Many of these injunctions for capital punishment have already been abrogated by the teachings of Jesus and His apostles. Some capital crimes mentioned in the Torah are: murder [Genesis 9:5,6; Numbers 35:16-21, 30-33 — abrogated by Deuteronomy 32:35, LXX; Psalm 93:1, LXX (Psalm 94:1, Hebrew); Romans 12:19], apostasy (Deuteronomy 17:3-7 — abrogated by I Corinthians 5:9-11), blasphemy (Leviticus 24:11-14,16,23 — abrogated by Matthew 12:32,36,37; I Corinthians 5:9-11), sexual immorality (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus  18:22; 20:10-16; 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:21-25 — abrogated by John 8:1-11; I Corinthians 5:9-11), and Sabbath-breaking (Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36 — abrogated by Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2; Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16,17; II Thessalonians  2:15).

The “messengers that came to them of old” in Koran 5:32 are Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job (called Jobab in Genesis 36:34,35), Moses, and Joshua. Ishmael may have been a prophet, too, as it says in the Koran, but there is not much evidence in the Bible to suggest that. The Bible neither affirms nor denies that he is.

5:33 The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

“Those who make war upon Allah and His messenger” — These words are usually interpreted as referring to those who make war upon God and Muhammad, but judging by the context of this passage and one of the punishments that would be inflicted upon those who do make war on them, it most probably refers to those who make war on God and Moses. The messenger might be Moses’ successor, Joshua, too.

Moses had a successor, Joshua. (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Joshua 1:1,2) Muhammad never appointed a successor.

This verse is speaking about actual military combat against God and His messenger and not about actions done by civilians who are not engaged in war. The word translated “make war upon” is the Arabic verb, ḥāraba. This verb appears in only one other place in the Koran: Surah 9:107.

And as for those who chose a place of worship out of opposition and disbelief, and in order to cause dissent among the believers, and as an outpost for those who warred against (ḥāraba) Allah and His messenger aforetime, they will surely swear: We purposed naught save good. Allah beareth witness that they verily are liars. (Koran 9:107, Pickthall)

A derivative of this word is the noun, ḥarb. It appears four times in the Koran: Surahs 2:279; 5:64; 8:57; and 47:4. In all four of these verses this word is translated war.

So then, the four punishments afflicted on the army attacking God and His messenger are those which are inflicted upon the attacking army during war. They are killed. They are hung on a tree. (The verb translated crucified probably has a broader meaning than mere crucifixion. It probably means to hang on a tree or a wood pole. Compare Koran 12:41 with Genesis 40:19,22.) They will have their hands and feet cut off during battle. People fought with swords in ancient times. In ancient Egypt, according to the Koran, Pharaoh used this as a form of punishment on those who converted to another religion.

And the wizards fell down prostrate, crying: We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh said: Ye believe in Him before I give you leave! Lo! this is the plot that ye have plotted in the city that ye may drive its people hence. But ye shall come to know! Surely I shall have your hands and feet cut off upon alternate sides. Then I shall crucify you every one. They said: Lo! We are about to return unto our Lord! Thou takest vengeance on us only forasmuch as we believed the tokens of our Lord when they came unto us. Our Lord! Vouchsafe unto us steadfastness and make us die as men who have surrendered (unto Thee). (Koran 7:120-126, Pickthall)

See also Koran 20:6-73 and 26:38-51. It is not likely that this practice of cross-amputation is a prescribed punishment given in the Koran for certain crimes. Pharaoh committed excess. He was a tyrant. (Koran 20:43) The Koran says that God is the best in mercy.

So say: “O my Lord! grant Thou forgiveness and mercy for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy!” (Koran 23:118, Yusuf Ali)

The Koran encourages believers to forgive unbelievers and not to inflict harm on them.

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement. (Koran 2:263, Pickthall)

“Or will be expelled out of the land” — Expulsion from the land occurs during warfare when the army of the monotheists drives out the army of the polytheists.

Waging war on God and His messenger is “striving after corruption in the land.” Look at this verse in the Fifth Surah.

The Jews say: Allah’s hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters. (Koran 5:64, Pickthall)

In verse 5:32 corruption refers to all other capital crimes mentioned in the Torah besides murder. In verse 5:33 corruption is the by-product of war. Being polytheists who want to wipe out monotheism, they will be degraded in this world in warfare and in the Hereafter in Hell.

The next verse, Surah 5:34, appears to indicate that the messenger in 5:33 is Muhammad, because the pronoun, ye, is used in reference to the first generation Muslims. In 5:32 the pronoun, them, is used referring to the Children of Israel during the days of Moses.

If Muhammad is the messenger spoken of in verse 5:33, then the punishments to be inflicted on those who wage war against God and His messenger are still to be inflicted during battle against armed soldiers and not against civilians.

The real enemy of man is Satan. The Koran says:

Tell My bondmen to speak that which is kindlier. Lo! the devil soweth discord among them. Lo! the devil is for man an open foe. (Koran 17:53, Pickthall)

The Bible says:

For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:19,20, NKJV)

So, the best warfare for any believer to wage is spiritual warfare. Defeat the devil and there will be more peace on earth.

5:34 Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Notice that those soldiers who want to repent, that is, stop fighting the believers before they are overpowered by them will not experience any of the afflictions of the war. They will not be killed in battle. They will not be hung from trees. They will not lose hands and feet in battle. They will not be driven out of the land. They can reside in peace with the believers. This verse says that God is forgiving and merciful. If they repent of polytheism and become monotheists, God will forgive them of their idolatry.

5:35 O ye who believe! Be mindful of your duty to Allah, and seek the way of approach unto Him, and strive in His way in order that ye may succeed.

The duty of believers to Allah after the polytheists repent is to show mercy toward them. It is better for a believer to speak kindly toward their former enemies and forgive them than to give money to the poor and then inflict bodily harm on the repentant soldiers. (Koran 2:263)

5:36 As for those who disbelieve, lo! if all that is in the earth were theirs, and as much again therewith, to ransom them from the doom on the Day of Resurrection, it would not be accepted from them. Theirs will be a painful doom.

These words from the Koran are reminiscent of the words of Jesus in the Gospel.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:24-27, NKJV)

The army of the unbelievers fight the monotheists trying to gain power over the entire world. Even if they should gain the whole world and even more, what they gain in warfare can never ransom their souls from Gehenna and the Day of Judgment after the resurrection of the dead.

This verse from the Koran applies not only to the unbelievers spoken of in this passage from the Koran, but to all unbelievers. The verses I just cited from St. Matthew’s Gospel are directed not just to the Jews to whom Jesus spoke, but to everyone. He commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and teach them everything that He commanded them.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19,20, NKJV)

The Koran also says to obey Jesus. (Koran 3:50; 43:63) The Koran confirms the Gospel. It does not contradict it or replace it. The Torah and the Gospel are “a guidance for mankind.” (Koran 3:3,4; 10:38; 37:37)

In conclusion, there might be Muslims who actually interpret the Koran the way that David Wood does, but I think that they are misinterpreting it. I think that if people look for something evil and bad in the Koran, they will produce an interpretation of the Koran similar to that of David Wood. Also, I think that if one tries to interpret the Koran without reading and studying the Bible, he will inevitably come up with the wrong interpretation. Remember that those who ignore the words of  the messengers of Allah in the Bible are “disbelievers in truth” (Koran 4:150-152) and have “wandered far astray.” (Koran 4:136)

Categories: Islam, Religion Tags: , , , ,

The Intercession of the Saints in the Bible and the Koran

July 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I spent a large portion of my life believing like a Protestant Christian. I became aware that Roman Catholic Christians often pray to the Mother of God and the Saints while watching TV and also after having come in contact with Roman Catholics in school and in other settings. As a Protestant, I was always told that praying to a Saint is idolatry. However, my views on the subject began to change while I was watching EWTN. I remember a priest telling about a time when he was on a Christian talk show. Two of the men on the show were Protestants. They were about to pray for a vast number of people who had sent in letters requesting prayer. The priest asked them, “Why they do not ask someone on the other side to pray for these people?” They answered that it was wrong to do that because Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Then he asked them, “Why then are you praying for these people?” That got me to thinking. If people on this side pray for people, then it must be all right for someone on the other side to pray for them as well. When I was converting to Orthodox Christianity, I learned that not all prayer is worship. Prayer directed to the Saints or the Mother of God is not worship. It is called prayer, but really it is only communication. There is scientific evidence that people do not cease to exist after they die  and the Bible and the Koran provide some instruction pertaining to intercession. Muslims, like Christians, have different views on the subject of the intercession of the Saints.

First of all, it is important to realize that death is not the end of human existence. People have a consciousness that continues on after one dies. This consciousness is often referred to as the spirit or the soul. In the Bible, it is quite clear that the souls of dead people continue to exist. There is the story about Saul speaking to Samuel after he had died. Saul went to a medium and asked her to call up the soul of Samuel. She did. Then Saul had a conversation with Samuel. (I Samuel 25:1; 28:7-20) In the Book of Revelation, there are the souls of martyrs who pray in Heaven.

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11, NKJV)

In the Koran, it says:

And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah “dead.” Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not. (Koran 2:154, Pickthall)

In modern times, there have been many studies done on near death experiences (NDEs). Thousands of cases have been examined by numerous doctors and scientists. The evidence is quite compelling that people really do have souls which survive the deaths of their bodies. Here are some videos on the subject. The first one is quite long and the others are considerably shorter.

 In the Bible and in the Koran, it says that we should pray for others. The Bible says to pray for everyone.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (I Timothy 2:1,2, NKJV)

The Koran says that we should pray for our parents.

Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not “Fie” unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little. (Koran 17:23,24, Pickthall)

Whenever one prays the Fatihah, one includes others in his prayer.

Thee we worship. Thee we ask for help. Show us the straight path. (Koran 1:4,5)

So, anyone who prays this prayer is also interceding for others while he prays. In the Old Testament, Abraham prayed for Abimelech.

But now return the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live; but if thou restore her not, know that thou shalt die and all thine…  And Abraam prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his women servants, and they bore children. (Genesis 20:7,17, LXX)

According to the Koran, Abraham also prayed for his father.

He said: Peace be unto thee! I shall ask forgiveness of my Lord for thee. Lo! He was ever gracious unto me. (Koran 19:47, Pickthall)

There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: “We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever,- unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone”: But not when Abraham said to his father: “I will pray for forgiveness for thee, though I have no power (to get) aught on thy behalf from Allah.” (They prayed): “Our Lord! in Thee do we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) Final Goal. (Koran 60:4, Yusuf Ali)

Job prayed for Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar.

7 And it came to pass after the Lord had spoken all these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Thaemanite, Thou hast sinned, and thy two friends: for ye have not said anything true before me, as my servant Job has. 8 Now then take seven bullocks, and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and he shall offer a burnt-offering for you. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will only accept him: for but his sake, I would have destroyed you, for ye have not spoken the truth against my servant Job. 9 So Eliphaz the Thaemanite, and Baldad the Sauchite, and Sophar the Minaean, went and did as the Lord commanded them: and he pardoned their sin for the sake of Job. (Job 42:7-9, LXX)

Simon Magus asked for the prayers of St. Peter.

Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” (Acts 8:24, NKJV)

Muhammad prayed for some Muslims who did not fight.

It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him). (Koran 3:159, Pickthall)

Muhammad also prayed for some women.

O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah, nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right – then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 60:12, Sahih International)

It is perfectly all right, therefore, according to both Christianity and Islam, for someone whose soul is still united to his body to pray for someone else.

In the Koran, it says that the angels pray for us who are on Earth.

The heavens may almost rend asunder from above them and the angels sing the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth; now surely Allah is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (Koran 42:5, Shakir)

The Bible teaches that those in Heaven know what happens to those on Earth. There are people all over the world who repent of their sins and cry out unto God. Many may live thousands of miles apart and repent at the same time. The angels and the souls of people who are in Heaven know when people repent and rejoice.

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance… Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:7,10, NKJV)

In the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, many Old Testament Saints are mentioned in chapter 11. In the twelfth chapter, it says that those Old Testament Saints surround us like a great cloud of witnesses. They are aware of what we do.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV)

Since they are aware of what we do, it is possible to talk to them and ask for their prayers.

There are some people who obtain things in prayer more easily than others do. In the Catholic Epistle of St. James it says:

16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16-18, NKJV)

This is why we should ask for the Saints to pray for us. The effective, fervent prayers of righteous men and women avail much.

Both the Bible and the Koran teach that there are differing degrees of glory the righteous experience and there are different rewards. Some have progressed further in righteousness and holiness than others. In the Bible, there is Jesus’ parable of the sower. Some seed falls on the wayside, others among the rocks, others among the thorns, and others on the good ground.

3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” … But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-9,23, NKJV)

Only the good ground bears fruit. They are the only ones who will inherit the Kingdom of God. Among them, nevertheless, there are some who bear a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. They will be rewarded according to how much fruit they bear. The more fruit one bears, the greater the reward. St. Paul says that we pass from one degree of glory to another.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18, NKJV)

Some have advanced further in degrees of glory than others. The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that there are differing degrees of glory and rewards among the righteous departed.

Is one who followeth the pleasure of Allah as one who hath earned condemnation from Allah, whose habitation is the Fire, a hapless journey’s end? There are degrees (of grace and reprobation) with Allah, and Allah is Seer of what they do. (Koran 3:162,163, Pickthall)

Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary; degrees of rank from Him, and forgiveness and mercy. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 4:95,96, Pickthall)

Whoso desireth that (life) which hasteneth away, We hasten for him therein what We will for whom We please. And afterward We have appointed for him hell; he will endure the heat thereof, condemned, rejected. And whoso desireth the Hereafter and striveth for it with the effort necessary, being a believer; for such, their effort findeth favour (with their Lord). Each do We supply, both these and those, from the bounty of thy Lord. And the bounty of thy Lord can never be walled up. See how We prefer one of them above another, and verily the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment. (Koran 17:18-21, Pickthall)

The Koran also says that he who has borne witness to the truth has power of intercession with Allah.

And those unto whom they cry instead of Him possess no power of intercession, saving him who beareth witness unto the Truth knowingly. (Koran 43:86, Pickthall)

The people who cry out to false gods to intercede for them do so foolishly because the false gods have no power of intercession with Allah. The words, “saving him who beareth witness unto the Truth knowingly,” refer to St. John the Baptist and Jesus. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus said:

You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. (John 5:33, NKJV)

In St. Matthew’s Gopel, Jesus said:

Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11, NKJV)

St. John the Baptist is the greatest man born of a woman except for Jesus. (John 1:24-30)

Regarding Jesus, we have this verse from St. John’s Gospel.

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37, NKJV)

Jesus also has borne witness to the truth. Therefore, according to Koran 43:86, Jesus has power of intercession. In St. Paul’s writings, it says that Jesus intercedes for His followers.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34, NKJV)

23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25, NKJV)

Jesus, like the Holy Spirit, is one of three hypostases of the Deity. Jesus is the Word of Allah which has become incarnate. (Koran 4:171; John 1:1-3, 14) The Holy Spirit also intercedes for those who follow Jesus and strive to obey His commandments. (The Father’s commandments are also the Son’s commandments. All things that the Father has are Mine.— John 16:15, NKJV) In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, it says:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26,27, NKJV)

False gods are not intercessors with Allah. Praying to a false god is useless and foolish. Both the Bible and the Koran teach the same thing regarding this matter.

Then maketh he prayer for his goods, for his wife and children, and is not ashamed to speak to that which hath no life. For health he calleth upon that which is weak: for life prayeth to that which is dead; for aid humbly beseecheth that which hath least means to help: and for a good journey he asketh of that which cannot set a foot forward: and for gaining and getting, and for good success of his hands, asketh ability to do of him, that is most unable to do any thing. (Wisdom 13:16-19)

They worship beside Allah that which neither hurteth them nor profiteth them, and they say: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Would ye inform Allah of (something) that He knoweth not in the heavens or in the earth? Praised be He and High Exalted above all that ye associate (with Him)! (Koran 10:18, Pickthall)

Shall I take (other) gods in place of Him when, if the Beneficent should wish me any harm, their intercession will avail me naught, nor can they save? (Koran 36:23, Pickthall)

Or choose they intercessors other than Allah? Say: What! Even though they have power over nothing and have no intelligence? Say: Unto Allah belongeth all intercession. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. And afterward unto Him ye will be brought back. And when Allah alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are repelled, and when those (whom they worship) beside Him are mentioned, behold! they are glad. (Koran 39:43-45, Pickthall)

God  can also refuse to listen to the prayers of anyone who intercedes for someone else. St. John the Theologian said that we should not pray for someone who has committed a sin leading to death.

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. (I John 5:16, NKJV)

In the Old Testament, God said that even Moses and Samuel could not intercede for the Jews because of the magnitude of their sins.

And the Lord said to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before My face, My soul could not be toward them: dismiss this people, and let them go forth. (Jeremiah 15:1, LXX)

In the Koran, it says that God told Noah not to intercede for the people who were about to be drowned.

Then We inspired in him, saying: Make the ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command cometh and the oven gusheth water, introduce therein of every (kind) two spouses, and thy household save him thereof against whom the Word hath already gone forth. And plead not with Me on behalf of those who have done wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. (Koran 23:27, Pickthall)

It also says in the Koran that God would not grant forgiveness to some people for whom Muhammad would intercede. God told him not to pray for them.

Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (Koran 9:80, Pickthall)

Whether thou ask forgiveness for them or ask not forgiveness for them is all one for them; Allah will not forgive them. Lo! Allah guideth not the evil-living folk (Koran 63:6, Pickthall)

In both of those verses from the Koran it says that God does not guide people who want to continue living evil, sinful lives and not adopt a righteous lifestyle. There is no point in praying for God to forgive someone who refuses to repent. This is what it means when it says in the Koran that no one can intercede for someone except by Allah’s permission.

Allah is He besides Whom there is no god, the Everliving, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist; slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission? (Koran 2:255, Shakir)

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne, arranging the matter [of His creation]. There is no intercessor except after His permission. That is Allah , your Lord, so worship Him. Then will you not remember? (Koran 10:3, Sahih International)

On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. (Koran 20:109, Yusuf Ali)

He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves and for fear of Him they tremble. (Koran 21:28, Shakir)

According to the Bible, the Saints pray for us. The High Priest Onias and the Holy Prophet Jeremiah prayed for the Jews. Both of them had already died when this vision was revealed.

12 And this was his vision: That Onias, who had been high priest, a virtuous and a good man, reverend inconversation, gentle in condition, well spoken also, and exercised from a child in all points of virtue, holding up his hands prayed for the whole body of the Jews. 13 This done, in like manner there appeared a man with gray hairs, and exceeding glorious, who was of a wonderful and excellent majesty. 14 Then Onias answered, saying, This is a lover of the brethren, who prayeth much for the people, and for the holy city, to wit, Jeremias the prophet of God. 15 Whereupon Jeremias holding forth his right hand gave to Judas a sword of gold, and in giving it spake thus, 16 Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with the which thou shalt wound the adversaries. (II Maccabees 15:12-16)

Therefore, it is all right to ask for their prayers, but we must be striving to live a virtuous life when we do ask for their prayers. Otherwise, their prayers on our behalf may not help us at all. However, one can also ask them to pray that we do live virtuous lives and keep God’s commandments. Their prayers  can help one advance spiritually.

In the Orthodox Christian tradition, it is acceptable to ask a pious deceased relative or friend to pray for one. I found this video on Youtube. I thought that it was interesting because this Hindu woman is doing what we Orthodox Christians do.

Here are some videos about how Muslims view the intercession of the Saints. You will notice that they all do not agree on the subject. Some think like Protestants and absolutely refuse to ask someone on the other side to pray for them. Others ask Muhammad and pious deceased imams to pray for them.

I conclude this blog with an Orthodox prayer.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and all Thy Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for Thou art a merciful God, and lovest mankind. Amen.

Aqidahs of Believers

July 8, 2016 Leave a comment

I remember when I used to visit various Protestant churches in my younger years that I would see various statements of faith. Many of these statements of faith contained affirmations of basic Christian doctrines like the existence of only one God and the Triune nature of God. They would say various things about the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible, the last days, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc. Many of the non-denominational churches that I visited had statements of faith that were probably less than ten years old. That is to say, they were written very recently as compared to the doctrinal confessions of the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians. These statements of faith are called creeds. In Arabic, the word is aqidah. In the Koran, Orthodox Christians are called believers, but many Muslims are unfamiliar with the creeds of Orthodox Christians. I am going to discuss creeds here as they pertain to Muslims and Christians.

In the Koran, it says:

Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (Koran 2:62, Pickthall)

and in another surah:

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good). (Koran 3:85, Yusuf Ali)

These verses seemed to be contradicting each other, but actually they do not. One can be a Christian and be a Muslim. The word, Islam, in Koran 3:85 refers to a way of life and not a theology. Islam means submission, obedience, surrender, sincerity, and peace. A person who sincerely surrenders his life to God and strives to obey Him is practicing Islam. This is why the disciples of Jesus are called Muslims in the Koran.

When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: “Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” Said the disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Koran 3:52, Yusuf Ali)

According to verse 2:62, Jews, Christians, and Sabeans who believe in God, the Last Day (that is, the Resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment), and do righteous deeds will not be eternally damned. The Jews and Christians in this verse are not those who have become members of the Muslim community. Otherwise, they would not be called Jews and Christians in this verse. The Sabaeans are probably people who believe in one God, but have no particular religious affiliation. That is the view of some Koranic commentators.

Verse 3:85 is actually teaching the same thing that Jesus taught in the Gospels.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NKJV)

The disciples of Jesus were Muslims because they had surrendered their lives to God. A Muslim is one who has surrendered to God.

Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27, NKJV)

The Orthodox Christians are called believers in two surahs: Surah 30 and Surah 85. In Surah 30, it says:

The Romans have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious Within ten years – Allah’s is the command in the former case and in the latter – and in that day believers will rejoice In Allah’s help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Merciful. (Koran 30:2-5, Pickthall)

Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall wrote this explanation of this Surah.

    Ar-Rûm, “The Romans,” takes its name from a word in the first verse.
The armies of the Eastern Roman Empire had been defeated by the Persians in all the territory near Arabia. In the year A.D. 613 Jerusalem and Damascus fell, and in the year Egypt. A Persian army invaded Anatolia and was threatening Constantinople itself in the year A.D. 615 or 616 (the sixth or seventh before the Hijrah) when, according to the best authorities, this Sûrah was revealed at Mecca. The pagan Arabs triumphed in the news of Persian victories over the Prophet and his little band of followers, because the Christian Romans were believers in the One God, whereas the Persians were not. They argued that the power of Allah could not be supreme and absolute, as the Prophet kept proclaiming it to be, since the forces of a pagan empire had been able to defeat His worshippers.
The Prophet’s answer was provided for him in this grand assertion of Theocracy, which shows the folly of all who think of Allah as a partisan. It opens with two prophecies: that the Romans would be victorious over the Persians, and that the little persecuted company of Muslims in Arabia would have reason to rejoice, “within ten years.”* In fact, in A.D. 624 the Roman armies entered purely Persian territory, and in the same year a little army of Muslims, led by the Prophet, overthrew the flower of Arab chivalry upon the field of Badr.
But the prophecies are only a prelude to a proclamation of God’s universal kingdom, which is shown to be actual Sovereignty. The laws of nature are expounded as the laws of Allah in the physical spheres, and in the moral and political spheres mankind is informed that there are similar laws of life and death, of good and evil, action and inaction, and their consequences — which no one can escape by wisdom and cunning. His mercy, like His law, surrounds all things, and the standard of His judgment is the same for all. He is not remote or indifferent, partial or capricious. Those who do good earn His favour, and those who do ill earn His wrath, no matter what may be their creed or race; and no one, by the lip profession of a creed, is able to escape His law of consequences.
It belongs to the middle group of Meccan Sûrahs.
*The word in the Arabic (bida’) implies a space of not less than three, and not more than nine, years.
(The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, pp. 289,290, The New American Library, Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, public domain)

Notice that Mr. Pickthall said, “Because the Christian Romans were believers in one God.” He had a much better understanding of Trinitarian theology than many Muslim clerics do today. Trinitarian Christians do not worship three gods. They worship only one God who consists of three hypostases: Father, Word, and Spirit. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety and not one-third of God or a completely different god from the other two. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. This is a mystery which we do not try to explain. One Orthodox Christian theologian calls the Trinity a cross for the mind. The Koran says concerning God:

They encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. (Koran 2:255, Pickthall)

St. Paul says that “His ways” are “past finding out.” (Romans 11:33)

The Holy Prophet Moses said:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, to do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, LXX)

So, we back away from trying to explain the mystery and accept what has already been revealed to us concerning it.

In the 85th Surah, the Koran calls Christians believers there, too.

By the heaven, holding mansions of the stars, and by the Promised Day. And by the witness and that whereunto he beareth testimony, (self-)destroyed were the owners of the ditch of the fuel-fed fire, when they sat by it, and were themselves the witnesses of what they did to the believers. They had naught against them save that they believed in Allah, the Mighty, the Owner of Praise, Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is of all things the Witness. Lo! they who persecute believing men and believing women and repent not, theirs verily will be the doom of hell, and theirs the doom of burning. Lo! those who believe and do good works, theirs will be Gardens underneath which rivers flow. That is the Great Success. Lo! the punishment of thy Lord is stern. (Koran 85:1-12, Pickthall)

Mr. Pickthall gave this explanation of this surah.

   Al-Buruj takes its name from a word in verse 1 which I have translated “mansions of the stars.” The word has the meaning of towers or mansions and is applied to the signs of the Zodiac. Verses 4 to 7 are generally taken to the massacre of the Christians of Najrân in Al-Yaman by a Jewish king Dhû Nawâs, an event of great historical importance since it caused the intervention of the Negus and led to the Abyssinian supremacy in the Yaman which lasted until the War of the Elephant (Sûrah CV) in the prophets year of birth. Professor Horowitz thinks that the words “owners of the ditch, of the fuel-fed fire” refer not to any historical event but the conditions of all persecutors in the hereafter.
An early Meccan Súrah. (The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, p. 435, The New American Library, Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, public domain, ISBN: 0-451-62305-3)

The believers who were being persecuted in this surah were Christians. In the commentary on verses 4-9 of this surah in The Study Quran it says this regarding the interpretation of most Koranic commentators.

Most say that the religion of those persecuted was Christianity. (The Study Quran, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr,  p. 1497, Harper Collins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, New York 10007, Copyright 2015 by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ISBN: 978-0-06-112586-7)

The aqidah in the Koran and the one that forms the basis for the aqidahs of all Muslims consists of six articles of belief.

  • There is only one God and no other besides Him.
  • There are angels.
  • The teachings of the Old and New Testaments are true and should be obeyed.
  • The revelations of the prophets and messengers of God are true and their commandments which they have received from God should be obeyed.
  • There will be a general resurrection of the dead and a Last Judgment which will soon follow.
  • God is sovereign over the affairs of men and the rest of creation.

There is some disagreement between Sunni and Shiite Muslims regarding the last article of belief. The Sunnis emphasize predestination. The Shiites believe in neither complete free will nor complete predestination. The Mutazilis put a much heavier emphasis on free will than the Shiites.

For Protestant readers, these analogies apply regarding the subject of predestination among the Muslims. The Sunnis believe more like the Presbyterians and the Primitive Baptists. The Shiites are more like the Calminians (those who blend Calvinist theology with Arminian theology). The Mutazilis are more like the Free Will Baptists and the Methodists.

Some verses from the Koran which provide a basis for five of the articles of belief in this aqidah are:

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Koran 4:136, Pickthall)

Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers. (Koran 2:98, Pickthall)

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing. (Koran 2:177, Pickthall)

The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers – we make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

(The same are) those who say: Lo! Allah hath charged us that we believe not in any messenger until he bring us an offering which fire (from heaven) shall devour. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Messengers came unto you before me with miracles, and with that (very miracle) which ye describe. Why then did ye slay them? (Answer that) if ye are truthful! And if they deny thee, even so did they deny messengers who were before thee, who came with miracles and with the Psalms and with the Scripture giving light. (Koran 3:183,184, Pickthall)

So believe in Allah and His messengers. (Koran 4:171, Pickthall)

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. (Koran 4:150,151, Pickthall)

Lo! We inspire thee as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as We imparted unto David the Psalms; and messengers We have mentioned unto thee before and messengers We have not mentioned unto thee; and Allah spake directly unto Moses; messengers of good cheer and of warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (Koran 4:163-165, Pickthall)

Allah made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and pay the poor-due, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a kindly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road. (Koran 5:12, Pickthall)

There are two Creeds (or aqidahs) which came out of the Ecumenical Church Councils. From the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), there is this one.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of His Father, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, being of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made, both which be in Heaven and in Earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from Heaven] and was incarnate and was made Man. He suffered and the third day He rose again, and ascended into Heaven, and He shall come again to judge both the living and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before He was begotten He was not, or that He was made of things that were not, or that He is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that He is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

There are some disagreements among Muslims as to whether the Word of God is created of uncreated. Jesus is called the Word of Allah in Koran 4:171. Those Muslims who say that the Word of Allah is uncreated are the right-believing ones according to this Creed. St. John the Theologian, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples (Matthew 10:2; 17:1-8) and a Muslim (Koran 3:52), wrote:

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 nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3, NKJV)

It is important that we accept what the apostles of Jesus wrote. Jesus Himself said to His apostles:

He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, KJV)

The First Council of the Constantinople wrote this Creed in 381 A.D.

   We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, being of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made Man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
And [we believe] in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Amen.

In our personal prayers and in church we Orthodox Christians usually say I instead of we in order to personalize our confession of faith.

There are no contradictions in the Koran.

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction. (Koran 4:82, Sahih International)

We Trinitarian Christians do not believe that Jesus is a unipersonal Deity. We believe that He is one hypostasis of God who consists of three hypostases. He is distinct from the other two. These verses do not contradict the teachings of other verses regarding Christians in the Koran.

They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, Son of Mary (Koran 5:17, Pickthall)

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, Son of Mary. The Messiah (Himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

These verses are condemning the Sabellian heresy. In 5:72, Jesus calls another hypostasis of the Deity Allah. He does not deny that He is Allah. Since each hypostasis is God in His entirety, it is only appropriate that one hypostasis call another hypostasis Allah or God. The Koran does not provide all of the teachings of Jesus regarding Himself which are found in the Gospels. It does tell Muslims to believe the Gospels. (Some Muslim clerics say that Allah gave Jesus a book which was called the Gospel, but there is absolutely no historical evidence for such a book. Two of Jesus’ disciples wrote two of the Gospels — Sts.Matthew and John. St. Mark wrote what he had learned from St. Peter. St. Luke interviewed people who knew about the events and teachings of Jesus. The Injil is the Four Gospels. The other books of the New Testament should be accepted, too. — St. Matthew 10:40)

Koran 4:171 condemns the Tritheist heresy. Koran 5:116 condemns the Maryamite heresy. We Orthodox Christians do not believe that Allah took unto Himself a Son. We believe that the Son proceeded from the Father. The procession of the Son from the Father is different from the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father. The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” These words do not mean that God had sex with someone and physically procreated a son. These words are theological words and we really do not know what they mean. Remember Deuteronomy 29:29 and Koran 2:255 as quoted earlier in this blog.

Whenever the Koran condemns the doctrine of Allah taking unto Himself a Son, it is speaking about the Adoptionist heresy. Paul of Samosata and Nestorius taught Adoptionism.

The Koran also condemns the Bitheist heresy. (Koran 9:30,31; 16:51)

We believe that Jesus is a sacrifice for our sins.(I Corinthians 15:3; I John 2:1,2) St. John the Baptist said that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) The Koran speaks of Jesus’ death in three places. (Koran 3:55; 5:117; 19:33)

The Koran calls St. John the Baptist “a prophet of the righteous.”

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Koran 3:39, Pickthall)

There are no textual variants of John 1:29 among the Greek manuscripts. Therefore, we can rest assured that what our Bibles say that St. John the Baptist said about Jesus is correct.

We believe that Jesus arose from the dead and will never die again. (Matthew 28; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24:1-49; John 20,21) The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is implied in Koran 3:55. Jesus spoke about His resurrection in Koran 19:33.

We believe that He ascended into Heaven. (Mark 16:19,20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11) The Koran mentions Jesus’ ascension into Heaven in Koran 3:55 and 4:158.

The Holy Spirit is not the Archangel Gabriel as so many Muslim religious leaders say. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that the Holy Spirit is the Archangel Gabriel. The Holy Spirit is the third hypostasis of the Deity. He is God in His entirety. He is not one-third of God. (I have already spoken about Trinity math earlier in this blog.)

We believe in all things visible and invisible. Among the visible things are the angels. We believe in the existence of angels.

We believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church will always exist. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) Anyone who tries to extinguish the Church has become an ally of Satan because he is trying to prevail against it along with the gates of Hell. The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Timothy 3:15) The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church into truth by councils. (John 16:13; Acts 15:28)

We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. (Acts 22:16) I found this interesting verse in the Koran which seems to teach the same thing.

When He caused calm to fall on you as a security from Him and sent down upon you water from the cloud that He might thereby purify you, and take away from you the uncleanness of the Shaitan, and that He might fortify your hearts and steady (your) footsteps thereby. (Koran 8:11, Shakir)

Shaitan is the Arabic name for Satan.

Jesus commanded His followers to baptize (Matthew 28:19,20) and said that we need to be baptized. (Mark 16:16; John 3:3-5) The Koran says that we should obey Jesus. (Koran 3:50; 43:63)

Like the Muslims, we believe in a bodily resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. (John 5:28,29; Matthew 25:31-46) We believe in a blessed afterlife for faithful believers in God. (Isaiah 65:17-25, LXX)

We Orthodox Christians believe that God is sovereign, but man still has a free will. Although man has a free will, he still needs God’s assistance in order to work out his salvation in the fear of God.

We Trinitarian monotheists are believers. (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7) Therefore, according to the Koran, our two Creeds are acceptable in Islam.

Verily We have brought the Truth to you: but most of you have a hatred for Truth. (Koran 43:78, Yusuf Ali)

No One is Good but God

July 5, 2016 Leave a comment

One of the verses that gets thrown at Christians by non-Christians in order to substantiate the claim that Jesus never claimed to be God is in St. Mark’s Gospel. It is this text which I give here:

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:17,18, NKJV)

A superficial reading of this passage would appear that Jesus was denying that He was good and that He was God. However, when one examines the text along with other passages of Scripture one can clearly see that that is not the case.

In the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, there are two prophecies regarding the Messiah which indicate that He would never sin. The first is in the seventh chapter. It says:

For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good; and the land shall be forsaken which thou art afraid of because of the two kings. (Isaiah 7:16, LXX)

The Messiah, according to this text, will be someone who does not sin before He has a consciousness of the difference between sin and virtue. In other words, He will be sinless from birth. The second prophecy regarding His sinlessness is in the 53rd chapter. It says there:

For He practised no iniquity, nor craft with His mouth. (Isaiah 53:9, LXX)

These prophecies would be fulfilled because God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) The Koran, likewise, affirms that God keeps His promises.

It is a promise of Allah. Allah faileth not His promise, but most of mankind know not. (Koran 30:6, Pickthall)

In the Koran, it says this about Jesus.

And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, and had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son. (Koran 19:16-19, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “faultless” in this passage is zakiyyan. It literally means “purified.” This idea of Jesus being purified or sanctified is in agreement with Orthodox Christian doctrine regarding the incarnation of God the Word. The Orthodox Church teaches that Jesus assumed a fallen human nature like ours and sanctified it or purified it as the Koran teaches. In Hebrews, it says:

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrew 2:17, NKJV)

We have a fallen human nature, a nature that is inclined toward sin and could die. Jesus had a nature like that, too, but in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah, He never sinned. “That which is not assumed is not healed,” says one of the Church Fathers. (I think that it was St. Athanasius who said this, but I know that St. John of Damascus said something very similar in An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. “That which is not taken is not healed.”) If God the Word never assumed a fallen human nature like ours, then He did not heal it.

Unlike Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians, we Orthodox do not accept Blessed Augustine’s view on original sin. The Holy Prophet Ezekiel said:

But the soul that sins shall die: and the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the iniquity of the transgressor shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20, LXX)

Everyone is guilty of his own sins and not the sins of his parents or ancestors. Mortality was transmitted to us from Adam, but the guilt of his first sin was not. Because we die, we sin. (Romans 5:12 – This verse is incorrectly translated in many Bibles.)

Jesus purified the mortal, fallen human nature that He assumed from His mother and He never sinned.

St. Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples (Matthew 10:2; 17:1-6) and a Muslim (Koran 3:52), said this about Jesus:

21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22  “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. (I Peter 2:21-24, NKJV)

St. Paul said that Jesus knew no sin.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthian 5:21, NKJV)

The Church Fathers interpret the words “to be sin for us” to mean “to be a sin offering for us.” Remember that St. John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Jesus said:

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:29, NKJV)

So, if Jesus is “purified” (Koran 19:19), “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21), “refused the evil, and chose the good” (Isaiah 7:16, LXX), “practised no iniquity” (Isaiah 53:9, LXX), “committed no sin” (I Peter 2:22), and “always does those things which please” God the Father, then Jesus is good. Since “no one is good but One, that is God” (Mark 10:18) and Jesus is good, Jesus, therefore, is God. Jesus never denied that He is good. Actually, He claimed to be good. (John 8:29) Jesus never denied that He is God. Actually, He claimed to be God. (John 8:58; Exodus 3:13,14) Therefore, Mark 10:17,18 is not a denial of Jesus’ Deity

Remember, we Christians do not worship three gods. We worship one God who has three distinct hypostases. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety. When we speak of the Trinity, we say:  1+ 1+ 1 = 1. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery which we do not try to explain. God transcends space, time, and even mathematics.

To my Muslim readers, I say that Koran 4:171 is talking about the Tritheist heresy taught by John Philoponus, Eugenius of Seleucia, and Conon of Tarsus, not the Orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The Tritheists committed excess by denying the unity of the three hypostases of the Deity into one God. In Surahs 30 and 85 (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7), Muhammad called Orthodox Christians “believers.” He called the Sabellian Christians disbelievers. (Koran 5:17,72) Jesus is Allah, but Allah is not Jesus. Allah often refers to Himself in the Koran using the first person plural pronouns, We, Us, and Our. The Sabellians believed that Jesus is a unipersonal God who became incarnate and who manifests Himself in one of three different modes: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Sabellians would say that Allah says, “We are Jesus.” We Orthodox Christians reject that heresy.

I have seen non-Christians on the internet using Mark 10:17,18 as a proof-text to support the notion that Jesus denied that He is God. I hope that my explanation of this text in this blog is helpful. Jesus never denied that He is good and He never denied that He is God. When this passage is interpreted using other passages of Scripture, one must reach the conclusion that Jesus is good and He is God.

Categories: Islam, Religion Tags: , , , ,

Probably Not What You Would Expect

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

I have been browsing the internet and have come across some interesting videos. Some have changed some of my own misconceptions about things. Well, look at this video first. It is one of those videos I found on Youtube. This young lady makes some great videos. I hope she does not mind me posting some of them in my blogs. Here, she talks about being single and other things.

Now watch this video.

Are you shocked? You see the stereotype does not always fit. Here is another video.

Here is one more video which dispels the stereotypic image that many of us non-Muslims have about them.

I might disagree with their unitarian theology, but if I, as a Christian, cannot love these people and treat them with the human dignity that they deserve, then I really am not practicing my religion.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (I John 4:20,21, NKJV)

 

Categories: Islam, Religion Tags:

Stoning Jesus

May 21, 2016 Leave a comment

In the Koran, it says:

Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance for mankind, which ye have put on parchments which ye show, but ye hide much (thereof), and (by which) ye were taught that which ye knew not yourselves nor (did) your fathers (know it)? Say: Allah. (Koran 6:92, Pickthall)

The Book which Moses brought is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah is a light and a guidance for mankind. From it one can learn what is right and what is wrong. The Torah prescribes stoning as one manner in which capital punishment is to be administered for certain sins. In this blog I am going to look at the reasons for stoning and attempt to ascertain why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus.

In the Gospels, we read:

23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” 25 So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:23-29, NASB)

56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59, NASB)

Jesus had been talking to the Jews. After He said to them, “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” they wanted to stone Him. In another place in the Gospel according to St. John, we read:

30 “I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a Man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? 35 “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:30-38, NASB)

Here, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus after He said, “I and the Father are one.” Some people say that what Jesus meant when He said this was that He was in agreement with the Father and was doing the Father’s will. If that is true, then is there a place in the Old Testament that says that one should be stoned for obeying God? No, of course not.

Let us look at some passages in the Torah about stoning and see which ones the Jews were using to justify stoning Jesus.

Working on the Sabbath

This passage in Numbers says that a man was stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

32 And the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And they who found him gathering sticks on the Sabbath day brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel. 34 And they placed him in custody, for they did not determine what they should do to him. 35 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Let the man be by all means put to death: do ye all the congregation, stone him with stones. 36 And all the congregation brought him forth out of the camp; and all the congregation stoned him with stones outside the camp, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32-36, LXX)

This is the only incident where someone was stoned for not observing the Sabbath. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is anyone ever stoned for doing so.

Jesus was not breaking the commandment regarding the Sabbath. So, in both instances when the Jews wanted to stone Him, they did not want to do that because He was breaking the Sabbath.

Disobeying Parents

Another reason for stoning someone is for disobeying one’s parents.

18 And if any man has a disobedient and contentious son, who hearkens not to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother, and they should correct him, and he should not hearken to them; 19 then shall his father and his mother take hold of him, and bring him forth to the elders of his city, and to the gate of the place: 20 and they shall say to the men of their city, This our son is disobedient and contentious, he hearkens not to our voice, he is a reveler and a drunkard. 21 And the men of his city shall stone him with stones, and he shall die; and thou shalt remove the evil one from yourselves, and the rest shall hear and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, LXX)

Jesus was already a grown Man. This passage would not apply to Him. Anyway, in the Koran it says that Jesus was “faultless.” (Koran 19:19) Jesus also said that He always does those things that please God. (John 8:29) So, He never disobeyed His mother or His stepfather while He was growing up.

Fornication

Another reason for stoning was for fornication, that is, having sex before one becomes married.

16 And the father of the damsel shall say to the elders, I gave this my daughter to this man for a wife; 17 and now he has hated her, and attaches reproachful words to her, saying, I have not found tokens of virginity with thy daughter; and these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall unfold the garment before the elders of the city. 18 And the elders of that city shall take that man, and shall chastise him, 19 and shall fine him a hundred shekels, and shall give them to the father of the damsel, because he has brought forth an evil name against a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife: he shall never be able to put her away. 20 But if this report be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel; 21 then shall they bring out the damsel to the doors of her father’s house, and shall stone her with stones, and she shall die; because she has wrought folly among the children of Israel, to defile the house of her father by whoring: so thou shalt remove the evil one from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:16-21, LXX)

The two passages in the Gospels say nothing about Jesus having sex with anyone. He was not married, but He never committed fornication.

Adultery and Rape

Two other reasons for stoning are for committing adultery and for rape.

22 And if a man be found lying with a woman married to a man, ye shall kill them both, the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou remove the wicked one out of Israel. 23 And if there be a young damsel espoused to a man, and a man should have found her in the city and have lain with her; 24 ye shall bring them both out to the gate of their city, and they shall be stoned with stones, and they shall die; the damsel, because she cried not in the city; and the man, because he humbled his neighbour’s spouse: so shalt thou remove the evil one from yourselves. 25 But if a man find in the field a damsel that is betrothed, and he should force her and lie with her, ye shall slay the man that lay with her only. 26 And the damsel has not committed a sin worthy of death; as if a man should rise up against his neighbour, and slay him, so is this thing; 27 because he found her in the field; the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to help her. (Deuteronomy 22:22-27, LXX)

Jesus was not accused of having committed either of these sins by the Jews in those Gospel passages.

Practicing the Occult Arts

Fortune telling and sorcery are also punishable by stoning in the Torah.

And as for a man or woman whosoever of them shall have in them a divining spirit, or be an enchanter, let them both die the death: ye shall stone them with stones, they are guilty. (Leviticus 20:27, LXX)

Jesus was once accused of casting out devils by Beelzebub (that is, Satan).

22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (Matthew 12:22-24, KJV)

No one wanted to stone Him for doing that though. In those Gospels passages, there is no allegation of sorcery lodged against Jesus.

Human Sacrifice to False Gods

Another reason for stoning is for offering one’s child to a false god.

Thou shalt also say to the children of Israel, If there shall be any of the children of Israel, or of those who have become proselytes in Israel, who shall give of his seed to Moloch, let him be surely put to death; the nation upon the land shall stone him with stones.(Leviticus 20:2, LXX)

Jesus did not have any children. Therefore, this passage does not apply to Him.

Cursing God

Another reason for stoning was for cursing God.

10 And there went forth a son of an Israelitish woman, and he was son of an Egyptian man among the sons of Israel; and they fought in the camp, the son of the Israelitish woman, and a man who was an Israelite. 11 And the son of the Israelitish woman named THE NAME and curse; and they brought him to Moses: and his mother’s name was Salomith, daughter of Dabri of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in ward, to judge him by the command of the Lord. 13 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 Bring forth him that cursed outside the camp, and all who heard shall lay their hands upon his head, and all the congregation shall stone him. 15 And speak to the sons of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, Whosoever shall curse God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that names the name of the Lord, let him die the death: let all the congregation of Israel stone him with stones; whether he be a stranger or a native, let him die for naming the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24:10-16, LXX)

Jesus did not curse God when He was speaking to the Jews.

Before looking at the next two reasons for stoning in the Torah, let us first look at these passages in the Old Testament.

God’s Name

13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  (Exodus 3:13,14, NASB)

I God, the first and to all futurity, I AM. (Isaiah 41:4, LXX)

Be ye My witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I AM: before Me there was no other God, and after Me there shall be none. (Isaiah 43:10, LXX)

Hear Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of Israel, who are borne by Me from the womb, and taught by Me from infancy, even to old age: I AM; and until ye shall have grown old, I AM: I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you. (Isaiah 46:3,4, LXX)

In these passages, God calls Himself I AM. In Hebrew and also in Aramaic this is only one word. In the first passage about stoning Jesus, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” I AM is what God called Himself when speaking to Moses from the burning bush. He told Moses to tell the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) In the second Gospel passage Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They understood that what Jesus was claiming was that He is God.

Proselyting for False Gods

According to the Torah, someone can be stoned for trying to get people to worship any other god but the one and only true God.

6 And if thy brother by thy father or mother, or thy son, or daughter, or thy wife in thy bosom, or friend who is equal to thine own soul, entreat thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, 7 of the gods of the nations that are round about you, who are near thee or at a distance from thee, from one end of the earth to the other; 8 thou shalt not consent to him, neither shalt thou hearken to him; and thine eye shall not spare him, thou shalt feel no regret for him, neither shalt thou at all protect him: 9 thou shalt surely report concerning him, and thy hands shall be upon him among the first to slay him, and the hands of all the people at the last. 10 And they shall stone him with stones, and he shall die, because he sought to draw thee away from the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10, LXX)

If Jesus was claiming to be God, then in the Jews’ opinion He would be leading them away from the true God. They did not believe the words of Jesus. Therefore, they wanted to stone Him.

Idolatry

The next passage from the Torah forbids idolatry. Idolaters can be stoned.

2 And if there should be found in any one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God gives thee, a man or a woman who shall do that which is evil before the Lord thy God, so as to transgress his covenant, 3 and they should go and serve other gods, and worship them, the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which he commanded thee not to do, 4 and it be told thee, and thou shalt have enquired diligently, and, behold, the thing really took place, this abomination has been done in Israel; 5 then shalt thou bring out that man, or that woman, and ye shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. 6 He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness. 7 And the hand of the witnesses shall be upon him among the first to put him to death, and the hand of the people at the last; so shalt thou remove the evil one from among yourselves. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7, LXX)

If Jesus claimed to be God and the Jews did not believe His words, then they would find a just reason for stoning Him in this passage. The Jews believed that He was not God and was claiming to be God. Therefore, they wanted to stone Him.

In John 8:58, Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham. There is no teaching about reincarnation in the entire Bible, nor is that doctrine taught in the Koran. Jesus said:

So Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” (John 7:16, NASB)

I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world. (John 8:26, NASB)

I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father. (John 8:38, NASB)

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49, NASB)

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24, NASB)

Whenever Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” He was speaking the words that the Father told Him to speak. The words of Jesus are the words of Allah. Jesus claimed to be Allah.

In the Koran, it says:

They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. (Koran 5:17, Pickthall)

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (Himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

Jesus is Allah, but Allah is not Jesus. Whenever one says that Allah is Jesus, one is speaking the heretical doctrine of the Sabellians. The Sabellians believed that there is only one hypostasis in the Deity and that Jesus is the incarnation of that one hypostasis. They denied the existence of two other hypostases in the Deity: the Father and the Holy Spirit. They believed that Jesus manifested Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which were three different modes of the Deity’s existence and not three different hypostases of God.

The Orthodox Christian doctrine is that there are three distinct hypostases in the Deity. These hypostases are not three distinct gods, but three distinct Persons who are one and the same God. Everywhere the Father is, there is the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the Son is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son.

All three hypostases share the same essence. One essence, one God. The same essence, the same God. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety, but distinct from the other two.

In Koran 5:72, it says that Jesus said: “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord.” In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus said to St. Mary Magdalene:

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” (John 20:17, NASB)

Since each hypostasis of the Deity is Allah (that is, God) in His entirety, it is appropriate, therefore, for one hypostasis to call another hypostasis Allah, or God. In Koran 5:72 and in John 20:17, Jesus was not denying that He is Allah. He was merely calling another hypostasis of the Deity Allah. Koran 5:72 teaches that Jesus is not a unipersonal God who manifests Himself in three different modes of existence. Jesus acknowledges the existence of at least one other hypostasis in addition to Himself in that verse from the Koran.

Every part of God’s essence belongs to all three hypostases. If it were possible to divide the divine essence of Allah into tiny, infinitesimal particles, each particle would belong to all three hypostases of the Deity. The divine essence, however, is unknown. No one knows of what substance God consists. In fact, no one will ever know.

Jesus is a Man. He is 100% human and 100% God. The two natures are joined together without division, without separation, without mixture, and without change. The divine nature of Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The human nature is limited in power, knowledge, and location. His divine nature is infinite. His human nature is finite.

Now, let us look at these passages about Jesus’ trial before the Jewish High Priest and the Sanhedrin.

61 But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I AM: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. (Mark 14:61-64, KJV)

67 Art Thou the Christ? Tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: 68 And if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go. 69 Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God. 70 Then said they all, Art Thou then the Son of God? And He said unto them, Ye say that I AM. 71 And they said, What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth. (Luke 22:67-71, KJV)

Jesus was questioned by the High Priest in St. Mark’s Gospel. He was questioned by several Jews in St. Luke’s Gospel.

The Jews wanted to put Jesus to death because of blasphemy. He called Himself “I AM.” He said that He is God. Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and 17:2-7 are the basis for putting Jesus to death in the Jews’ opinion.

The Jews did not want to stone Him because the Passover lamb was going to be sacrificed the next day. They wanted the Romans to execute Him. So, they delivered Him to the Roman governor Pilate. (See Matthew 26:3-5 and John 19:14.)

Jesus was crucified by the Romans and not by the Jews as some seventh century Jews asserted. (See Koran 4:157.) He voluntarily laid down His life. No one took it from Him.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17,18, NKJV)

He was buried and arose from the dead. He appeared to over 500 people during a forty day period of time. (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20,21; Acts 1:1-3; I Corinthians 15:3-8)

When He was on the Cross, there were two thieves that were crucified on both sides of Him. St. Luke recorded this conversation of the thieves with Jesus while He was on the Cross.

39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43, KJV)

Jesus told one of the thieves that He would be with Him in Paradise. In the Koran, it says that Jesus was among the righteous.

And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. (Koran 6:85, Pickthall)

It also says in the Koran that anyone who ascribes partners unto Allah is forbidden Paradise.

Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

Jesus went to Paradise with one of the thieves. Jesus is, therefore, not a partner of Allah, that is, a separate god from Allah. (See Koran 5:116.) Jesus is Allah.

The Father is Allah. The Son is Allah. The Holy Spirit is Allah. However, there is only one Allah. The Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit. The Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. God is love. (I John 4:8,16) God is the Loving. (Koran 11:90; 85:14) All three hypostases love each other with constant, unconditional, self-sacrificial love. There is no dissension or contention in the Trinity.

To conclude, the Jews wanted to put Jesus to death because He claimed to be God. The basis for doing so, in their opinion, is found in two passages from the Book of Deuteronomy. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and 17:2-7) There are three distinct hypostases in the Deity who are one and the same God sharing the same essence. Jesus is one of these hypostases. Jesus went to Paradise. He was among the righteous. (Koran 6:85) He never claimed to be a separate god from Allah. (Koran 5:116) He said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) Jesus is Allah (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58), but Allah is not Jesus. (Koran 5:17,72) Jesus is the Son of God, who is also God. Jesus is not the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is not a unipersonal God who manifests Himself in three different modes like the Sabellians teach. Jesus is also human. As human, He is finite and limited in His abilities. As God, He is infinite and able to do all things. Those who disbelieve what Jesus said concerning Himself in the Gospels are “disbelievers in the truth” and Allah has prepared for them “a shameful doom.” (See Koran 4:150-152.)

The Incarnation of Allah the Word

March 26, 2016 Leave a comment

The Koran and the Bible are in agreement regarding the Incarnation of the Word of God. Both books teach that Jesus is the Word of Allah and that He was conceived by a Jewish virgin, the Virgin Mary.

Being a Christian and one of the People of the Scripture, I am, according to the Koran, supposed to “observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed” to me from my Lord. (Koran 5:68) and not “forge a lie against Allah.” (Koran 6:94) So, first of all, I will talk about what the Bible says about the Word of Allah in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only one or two books were originally written in Greek. Tobit, Judith, parts of Daniel, parts of Esther, and a few verses in Jeremiah were originally written in Aramaic. Most of the books were originally written in Hebrew consonants with no vowels. In the third century B.C., an Egyptian king got some Palestinian Jews to come to Alexandria, Egypt and translate the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures into Greek. According to a traditional account, a miracle occurred during the translation. Each of the seventy translators worked separately on the project translating the same texts into Greek. All seventy had the exact word for word translation. This miraculous translation is called the Greek Septuagint. During the first century, there were Jews who lived outside of Israel. They spoke Greek and used the Greek Septuagint in the synagogues. Most of the quotes from the Old Testament which are found in the New Testament come from the Greek Septuagint. The prophecies of Christ are much clearer in the Septuagint.

In the Psalms, there are two verses which talk about the Word of God, that is the divine Logos.

By the Word (Greek, Logos) of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them by the Spirit of His mouth. (Psalm 32:6, LXX)

My heart has uttered a good Word (Greek, Logos). (Psalm 44:1, LXX)

The Psalms in the Septuagint are numbered differently than in the Hebrew Masoretic text. These texts are Psalm 33:6 and Psalm 45:1 respectively in the Hebrew. The Word in both texts is interpreted by the Church Fathers as referring to the Second Person of the Trinity. All Three Persons are mentioned in Psalm 32:6, LXX.

Now to digress a little here for those who may not understand Christian doctrine. We Orthodox Christians do not worship three gods. In our Creed, the first words are, “I believe in one God…” Although we worship one God, we still believe that this God of ours has three hypostases. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety. The Father is God in His entirety. The Word is God in His entirety. The Holy Spirit is God in His entirety. We do not believe that each hypostasis of the Godhead is one-third God.

I will use three mathematical equations to illustrate what we believe. The first two do not illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. The last one will.

1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1 (Mathemtically correct, but no, this is not what we believe about each hypostasis of the Trinity.)

1 + 1 + 1 = 3 (Mathematically correct, but this would indicate the existence of three distinct gods, which of course is a heresy.)

1 + 1 + 1 = 1 (Mathematically incorrect, but theologically true. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery. We do not try to explain it.)

Each hypostasis is distinct from the other two. The Father is neither the Word nor the Holy Spirit. The Word is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Word.

All three hypostases share the same essence. If we could divide the divine essence (i.e., substance) into tiny particles, each particle would belong to all three hypostases. Everywhere one hypostasis is, there are the other two as well. All three hypostases are omnipresent.

The Word is often called in Scripture the Son. According to our belief, the Father eternally begot the Son. The Son has an origin but no beginning. (The Holy Spirit, likewise, has an origin but no beginning.) This terminology often confuses non-Christians. Many might think that we think that the Father has a wife and had sex with her. However, that is not true. We do not believe that Allah the Father had sexual relations with anyone. The Son was begotten of the Father, but not sexually begotten. The terms beget and begotten are theological terms which describe something we cannot begin to understand with our limited intellects. We use the language of Scripture when we talk about the Deity because the Bible contains a record of God’s revelation to man.

Before the mountains were settled, and before all hills, He begets Me. (Prov. 8:25, LXX)

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John 1:18, KJV)

Now, I wish to cite four places in the Old Testament prophets where the Word of Allah is mentioned.

And the Word (Greek, Logos) of the Lord came to me, saying… (Jeremiah 1:11; 13:8; Ezekiel 6:1; 7:1, LXX)

The Logos of the Lord came to Jeremiah and to Ezekiel, saying… The Logos of the Lord is a Person. He came and He spoke. He also assisted the Father and the Holy Spirit in the creation of the heavens. (Psalm 32:6, LXX)

In the Old Testament there are also prophecies about the incarnation of the Word of Allah. Look at these prophecies in Isaiah and Baruch.

14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Emmanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall He eat, before He knows either to prefer evil or choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good; and the land shall be forsaken which thou art afraid of because of the two kings. (Isaiah 7:14-16, LXX)

35 This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. 36 He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. 37 Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Baruch 3:35-37)

So now we see that God has a plan. Allah the Word, therefore, needs a vessel in order to become incarnate for our salvation and fulfill His plan. The Koran speaks highly of the one chosen to conceive the Word of Allah. Her name is Mary.

And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation. (Koran 3:42, Pickthall)

And We made the Son of Mary and His mother as a Sign: We gave them both shelter on high ground, affording rest and security and furnished with springs. (23:50, Yusuf Ali)

And His mother was a saintly woman. (Koran 5:75, Pickthall)

God chose the best woman to be His mother. There is a saying among us Orthodox Christians. God gave us His Son and we gave Him a virgin Mother. We do not believe that God had sex with Mary. We do not believe that she is a goddess. We do not worship three gods.

Before looking at the Koran’s account of the incarnation, let us first look at the account in the Gospel according to St. Luke.

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38, NASB)

Mary was “engaged to a man whose name was Joseph.” After the angel told her she was going to become pregnant with the Son of the Most High, she asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary had taken a vow of perpetual virginity. She was not planning on having sex with her fiancé, Joseph, after they got married. She “guarded her chastity” (Koran 21:91) and her “body was chaste” (Koran 66:12).

In the Koran, it says:

(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). (Koran 3:45, Pickthall)

In St. Luke’s Gospel it says that the Archangel Gabriel gave Mary the good news. The Koran says that more than one angel said this to her. Maybe another angel spoke to her at some other time prior to Gabriel’s announcement. Maybe there was another angel with Gabriel, but the Gospel account is silent about the other angel. We do not know. We only know that there is this discrepancy between the two accounts. Of course, when one thinks further about this matter, there was another angel present with Mary when Gabriel visited her – her guardian angel.

The Koran says in verse 3:45 that Jesus is a Word from Allah. Remember Psalm 44:1, LXX. Allah uttered a good Word.

The next passage from the Koran is in the Fourth Surah.

O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. (Koran 4:171, Pickthall)

“People of the Scripture” here refers only to the Christians since the Jews did not accept the New Testament and did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The Koran frequently calls Jesus the “Son of Mary” to emphasize that He has no biological father and that His conception and birth were miraculous. Jesus is also called in this verse “His Word.” He is the Word of Allah. Allah conveyed His Word to Mary. In the Arabic, the word translated “conveyed” is alqāhā. It literally means threw or cast. This, of course, is an anthropomorphic expression. One should not think that the divine essence possesses hands and actually threw His Word to Mary. All three hypostases are omnipresent. The Word of Allah was already present with Mary. This expression in the Koran describes an activity of the Omnipresent Deity.

In the Gospel according to St. John, it says:

1 In the beginning was the Word (Greek, Logos), and the Word (Greek, Logos) was with God, and the Word (Greek, Logos) was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3, NASB)

The Word of Allah is Allah. St. John who wrote this was one of Jesus’ twelve Apostles and a worshiper of Allah. (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52) He was on Mount Tabor with three other Apostles when Jesus was transfigured. (Matthew 17:1-8) Therefore, St. John was rightly guided.

The Koran says that Jesus is “a spirit from Him.” Allah the Father is the “Father of spirits.” (Heb. 12:9) Allah forms the spirit of man within him. (Zech. 12:1) The humanity of Jesus is created, but His divinity is uncreated. “A spirit from Him” is referring to the creation of His human spirit and soul. All three hypostases are involved in the creation of human spirits and souls. It is prophesied that “Wisdom has built her house.” (Prov. 9:1) Wisdom is another word for the second hypostasis of the Godhead. (See I Cor. 1:24.) So, the Word of Allah was involved in the creation of His own humanity. In Job, it says, “The Divine Spirit is that which formed me.” (Job 33:4, LXX) So, the Holy Spirit who is the third hypostasis of the Godhead also creates spirits and souls

The Koran says to believe in Allah and His messengers (that is, all of the prophets) and say not “Three.” In the times of Muhammad, there was a heresy called Tritheism, which John Philoponus and a couple of bishops propagated. The Tritheists taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three different gods. This heresy is rejected by the Orthodox Church. “Allah is only One God.” Actually, the word Allah does not have a plural form in Arabic. It does not possess gender either. It is a special word in Arabic used for God. So, Allah can only be one in Arabic. “Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son.” The Arabic text here is: “Sub’hānahu an yakūna lahu waladun.” “Glory be to Him to be for Him a begotten Child.” An yakūna is translated “to be” in verse 4:172. “The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah.” (Koran 4:172, Pickthall) “Lan yastankifa al-masîhu an yakūna abdan lillahi.” In Pickthall’s translation as well as other English translations, the words, an yakūna, are translated “should have” in verse 4:171. Actually, the Koran says that Jesus is a begotten Child of Allah, but not sexually begotten. (Walada means begot. Waladun is derived from this Arabic word.) Like the word, alqāhā, one should not interpret the word, waladun, literally. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are theological terms. Beget and begotten as well as proceed are also theological terms. Sub’hānahu waTa’ala is an appellation that Muslims frequently place after the name of God, Allah. It means “Glory be to Him and He, The Most High.” So, “sub’hānahu,” does not mean “Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty.”

Another text in the Koran

And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient. (Koran 66:12, Pickthall)

All three hypostases of the Godhead are mentioned in this verse. We, that is, the Father and the Son, breathed therein something of Our Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Christ” and the “Spirit of the Son” in the New Testament. (See Romans 8:9, I Peter 1:11, and Galatians 4:6.) He is also “the Spirit of your Father” (Matt. 10:20) and “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.” (Rom. 8:11) Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine.” (John 16:15, NKJV) The Holy Spirit belongs to both the Father and the Word.

Breathing the Spirit on someone is something that Jesus did a week after His resurrection.

He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22, NASB)

Again, this is another anthropomorphic expression. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. The Holy Prophet David asked, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?” (Psalm 138:7, LXX)

In the Gospel according to St. Luke, it says:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35, NASB)

Both the Koran and the Bible are in agreement about the Holy Spirit facilitating the conception of the Word of Allah in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Mary is called the daughter of Imran in the Koran. According to Church tradition, Mary’s father’s name is Joachim. Imran is probably another name for Joachim just like Idris is another name for Enoch in the Koran. (See Koran 19:56 and 21:85.)

The text from the 66th Surah says, “She put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient.” In the Gospel, it says, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’” She agreed to cooperate with God and conceive the Word of Allah.

The next passage is from the 19th Surah.

And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless Son. She said: How can I have a Son when no mortal hath touched me, neither have I been unchaste? He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that We may make of Him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained. And she conceived Him, and she withdrew with Him to a far place. (19:16-22, Pickthall)

Here, the whole Trinity sends their spirit who assumed the likeness of a perfect man. This might be the Archangel Gabriel or maybe another angel who came after Gabriel. The angel said to her, “I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless Son.” Remember the prophecy in Isaiah:

For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good. (Isaiah 7:16, LXX)

The Word of Allah is Allah who never sins. Therefore, after He became incarnate He was faultless.

Jesus is also said to be a “revelation for mankind” and “a mercy from Allah.” In the Gospel according to St. John, it says:

And the Word (Greek, Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, KJV)

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John 1:18, KJV)

Remember the prophecy in Baruch:

Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Baruch 3:37)

The prophecy is that God (Baruch 3:35) would show Himself on earth and converse with men. After Jesus was born, He conversed with men. Jesus is the incarnate Word of Allah who is Allah.

So Jesus is a physical, bodily revelation for mankind. He is also a mercy from the Father and the Holy Spirit. After all, it was the Father and the Holy Spirit who sent Jesus.

Draw nigh to Me, and hear ye these words; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: when it took place, there was I, and now the Lord, even the Lord, and His Spirit, hath sent Me. (Isaiah 48:16, LXX)

Jesus is the name that Joseph gave Him after He was born, because an angel told him in a dream to name Him that.

And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, KJV)

Jesus saved His people from their sins by dying for them on the Cross. St. John says:

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2, KJV)

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:14, KJV)

So, the Koran confirms the Bible when it says that Jesus is “a mercy from Us.”

Finally, how are the human and divine natures of Jesus joined together? Here is what the Council of Chalcedon said. It is the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Church. This council met in 451 A.D. – 158 years before Muhammad started receiving his revelations.

This wise and salutary formula of divine grace sufficed for the perfect knowledge and confirmation of religion; for it teaches the perfect [doctrine] concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and sets forth the Incarnation of the Lord to them that faithfully receive it. But, forasmuch as persons undertaking to make void the preaching of the truth have through their individual heresies given rise to empty babblings; some of them daring to corrupt the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation for us and refusing [to use] the name Mother of God (Θεοτοκος) in reference to the Virgin, while others, bringing in a confusion and mixture, and idly conceiving that the nature of the flesh and of the Godhead is all one, maintaining that the divine Nature of the Only Begotten is, by mixture, capable of suffering; therefore this present holy, great, and ecumenical synod, desiring to exclude every device against the Truth, and teaching that which is unchanged from the beginning, has at the very outset decreed that the faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers shall be preserved inviolate. And on account of them that contend against the Holy Ghost, it confirms the doctrine afterwards delivered concerning the substance of the Spirit by the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers who assembled in the imperial City; which doctrine they declared unto all men, not as though they were introducing anything that had been lacking in their predecessors, but in order to explain through written documents their faith concerning the Holy Ghost against those who were seeking to destroy His sovereignty. And, on account of those who have taken in hand to corrupt the mystery of the dispensation [i.e. the Incarnation] and who shamelessly pretend that He who was born of the holy Virgin Mary was a mere man, it receives the synodical letters of the Blessed Cyril, Pastor of the Church of Alexandria, addressed to Nestorius and the Easterns, judging them suitable, for the refutation of the frenzied folly of Nestorius, and for the instruction of those who long with holy ardour for a knowledge of the saving symbol. And, for the confirmation of the orthodox doctrines, it has rightly added to these the letter of the President of the great and old Rome, the most blessed and holy Archbishop Leo, which was addressed to Archbishop Flavian of blessed memory, for the removal of the false doctrines of Eutyches, judging them to be agreeable to the confession of the great Peter, and as it were a common pillar against misbelievers. For it opposes those who would rend the mystery of the dispensation into a Duad of Sons; it repels from the sacred assembly those who dare to say that the Godhead of the Only Begotten is capable of suffering; it resists those who imagine a mixture or confusion of the two natures of Christ; it drives away those who fancy His form of a servant is of an heavenly or some substance other than that which was taken of us, and it anathematizes those who foolishly talk of two natures of our Lord before the union, conceiving that after the union there was only one.
Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that He is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching His Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching His manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of His Father before the worlds according to His Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to His manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us. (Definition of Faith of the Council of Chalcedon, vol. 14, pp. 263-265, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 3473, Peabody, Massachusetts 01961-3473, ISBN 1-56563-130-7)

The two natures of Christ are joined together by diffusion, not confusion. The divine nature permeates the human nature. They are joined together without change. The divine nature remains uncircumscribed while the human nature is circumscribed. The two natures are joined together without separation or division. They can never be separated from each other again. Jesus continues to share the same essence with the other two hypostases. Jesus is one Person who has two natures. He is fully God and fully human. Whenever we speak of the two natures of Christ, we have another mathematical equation for explaining them: 1 + 1 = 1. That is another mystery.

In the Koran, it says:

He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him). And they were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it. Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying. (42:13-15, Pickthall)

Orthodox Christians were called “believers” in the 30th Surah. (See Koran 30:2-4.) The Holy Trinity is the true God of Muhammad. One of the problems that I see with Islam today is that their religious leaders ignore all of those passages in the Koran about the Bible and do not use the Bible to help them understand the Koran. I will end this blog with this warning from the Koran.

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. But those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them, unto them Allah will give their wages; and Allah was ever Forgiving, Merciful. (4:150-152, Pickthall)