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666 in the Bible and the Koran

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment

The symbolic number, 666, is attributed to the Antichrist in the Bible. (Revelation 13:18) It is the number of his name. Muslims call the Antichrist the Dajjal. I have never seen any place in the Koran where this number appears.

Here are the only three places in the Bible where this number appears.

The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold. (I Kings 10:14, NKJV)

The people of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six. (Ezra 2:13, NKJV)

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: his number is 666. (Revelation 13:18, NKJV)

This number is a symbolic number. The number six is the sum of the first three prime numbers: 1, 2, and 3. (A prime number is a number that is not divisible by any other number.) Six is also the third even number. (2,4,6) 6 x 6 = 36. 36 was called by the ancients a spherical number. A spherical number is a number that ends in the same number that one must multiply by itself to obtain it. 36 ends in 6. Another example of a spherical number is 25. 5 x 5 = 25.  16 is not a spherical number, because 4 x 4 = 16 and 16 does not end in a 4, but a 6. Actually, 36 is the third spherical number. 1 is the first spherical number. 1 x 1 = 1. The sum of all numbers from 1 to 36 is 666.

To determine who is the Antichrist, one needs to use the ancient Greek number system, not the ancient Hebrew number system. The ancient Hebrew number system was invented after all of the books of the Bible had been written.

If you write the Antichrist’s name using Greek letters, the sum of the values of the letters of his name according to the ancient Greek number system will add up to 666.

Now for some Bible-Koran trivia using this number, 666.

The 666th verse in the Bible is Genesis 25:7.

This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. (Genesis 25:7, NKJV)

The 666th verse in the New Testament is Matthew 20:18.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death. (Matthew 20:18, NKJV)

The 666th verse in the Koran is Koran 4:173.

And as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, He will give them in full their rewards and grant them extra from His bounty. But as for those who disdained and were arrogant, He will punish them with a painful punishment, and they will not find for themselves besides Allah any protector or helper. (Koran 4:173, Sahih International)

I do not think that this verse from the Koran is saying that one must earn God’s mercy. Actually, that is impossible according to the Koran.

If Allah took mankind to task by that which they deserve, He would not leave a living creature on the surface of the earth; but He reprieveth them unto an appointed term, and when their term cometh – then verily (they will know that) Allah is ever Seer of His slaves. (Quran 35:45, Pickthall)

It is saying that we must have righteous deeds which accompany our faith. This is the same thing that St. James taught when he said that faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) This is the same thing that St. Paul taught when he told the Corinthian Christians that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10) This is also the same thing that Jesus taught when He said that only those who do the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 7:21) However, we can never be good enough, so, in the end we enter the kingdom of God by His mercy. God is, according to the Koran, the most-merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 12:92)

The 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the 6th book of the Bible is Joshua 6:6.

Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” (Joshua 6:6, NKJV)

I Chronicles 6:66 is:

Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath were given cities as their territory from the tribe of Ephraim. (I Chronicles 6:66, NKJV)

Psalm 66:6 according to the Hebrew Masoretic text is:

He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him. (Psalm 66:6, NKJV)

The Psalms are not numbered the same way in the Greek Septuagint as they are in the Hebrew. Psalm 66:6 in the Greek Septuagint is:

The earth has yielded her fruit; let God, our God bless us. (Psalm 66:6, LXX)

Isaiah 66:6 is:

The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the Lord, who fully repays His enemies! (Isaiah 66:6, NKJV)

The 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the 6th book of the Twelve Minor Prophets is:

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? (Micah 6:6, NKJV)

In the Orthodox Old Testament, Jonah is the sixth book of the Twelve Minor Prophets. The Book of Jonah does not have six chapters.

John 6:66 says:

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (John 6:66, NKJV)

Jesus had just told the Jews and His disciples that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. Some of His disciples left Him after He said this. (The Twelve Apostles and the Seventy Apostles did not leave Him. These were others who had followed Him.)

The 66th verse of the 6th book of the New Testament is:

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) (Romans 3:5, NKJV)

The 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the 6th book of the New Testament is:

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:6, NKJV)

66th verse of the 6th Epistle of St. Paul is:

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:6, NKJV)

The 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the 6th wisdom book of the Old Testament is:

If one counts the prologue to this book as the first chapter, then the 6th verse of the 6th chapter of this book is:

And say not His mercy is great; He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins: for mercy and wrath come from Him, and His indignation resteth upon sinners. (Sirach 5:6, KJV)

Sirach was written before Wisdom, but if someone says that Wisdom is the 6th wisdom book, the 6th verse of the 6th chapter is:

For mercy will soon pardon the meanest: but mighty men shall be mightily tormented. (Wisdom 6:6, KJV)

The Letter of Jeremiah is attached the Book of Baruch as the sixth chapter of Baruch in many Bibles. In the Septuagint, the Letter of Jeremiah comes after the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The Lamentations of Jeremiah consists of five chapters. The 66th verse of the Letter of Jeremiah is:

For they can neither curse nor bless kings. (Letter of Jeremiah 66, KJV)

The Prophet Jeremiah was talking about idols. Idols are incapable of benefiting their worshipers.

The Church Fathers grouped Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah together with Jeremiah and the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The Church Fathers classified these books as canonical and not Ecclesiastical. To them, canonical meant the books that the Jews accepted as part of the canon of the Old Testament prior to the Council of Jamnia in 100 A.D. The Ecclesiastical books were the Old Testament books that were written after the Hebrew and Aramaic books of the Old Testament had been translated into Greek by the seventy Palestinian Jews during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (309-246 B.C.) Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah were among those books that the Seventy translated. Therefore, the Church Fathers classified them as canonical. Seven other books were written after this Greek translation had been made. These books were accepted by the Church, but not by the Jews. Therefore, they were labeled Ecclesiastical. The Church Fathers quoted from these books calling them “Holy Scripture,” “divinely inspired Scripture,” etc.

The 6th verse of the 6th chapter of the 6th Ecclesiastical book of the Old Testament is:

Neither was it lawful for a man to keep sabbath days or ancient fasts, or to profess himself at all to be a Jew. (II Maccabees 6:6, KJV)

Koran 6:66 says:

Thy people (O Muhammad) have denied it, though it is the Truth. Say: I am not put in charge of you. (Koran 6:66, Pickthall)

This  verse states a recurrent theme in the Koran. Muhammad was not a compeller over the people  to whom he preached. (Koran 10:99,100; 50:45) He was merely a plain warner and a bringer of glad tidings. (Koran 2:119; 25:56; 27:92; 33:45; 38:70, etc.) The hadiths written down over two years after Muhammad had died present a totally different Muhammad — one that forces people to convert to Islam. Those hadiths are hearsay and should not be given much attention or credence. Islam, according to the Koran, is submission to God and believing God’s messengers. It is not any of the elaborate religious systems that people call Islam today.

Koran 66:6 says:

O ye who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commandeth them, but do that which they are commanded. (Koran 66:6, Pickthall)

The Koran uses some graphic language when speaking about the torments that the damned will experience in the hereafter. This verse was addressed to believers. Muhammad did not teach that believers are guaranteed Paradise. Anyone can fall away after believing. None of the Church Fathers taught that people are “eternally saved” after believing either. We must strive to enter the “narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13) and take the kingdom of heaven by the force of our wills. (Matthew 11:12) Without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) Despite all of our efforts to become holy and abstain from sin, we will still be welcomed into God’s kingdom only by His mercy. We can never be good enough. We must still continue to strive to do what is right and good.

I have included these verses from the Koran for all of those Koranophobes out there. Someone was circulating an e-mail around many years ago saying that Koran 6:66 said something about the 9-11 attacks in 2001. The person who started circulating that e-mail was not quoting the Koran. He invented a verse that does not exist in the Koran. I have found that the Koran is relatively benign. The Sunna, however, has some barbaric stuff in it. I am glad that there are Muslims who do not accept those hadiths that teach barbarism even though they are graded sahih (authentic) by the compilers. To me, the Sunna is a massive collection of hearsay.

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Who are the Hypocrites?

September 4, 2017 Leave a comment

In the Koran and also in the Bible, there is mention made of hypocrites. In this blog post, I intend to look at some of those passages and talk about the characteristics of a hypocrite.

No professing believer should want to practice hypocrisy. The eternal consequences can be devastating. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus said:

“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. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV)

Praying to Jesus, prophesying in His name, casting out demons in His name, and performing miracles in His name do not guarantee one a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Doing the will of God does insure one a place there. The Lord will accuse those who are damned of practicing lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. (I John 3:4) Those who practice sin (that is, break God’s commandments) are practicing lawlessness and should not think that their prayers and other activities done in Jesus’ name will secure them a place in God’s kingdom at the end of this present age.

St. Paul said that love is the fulfillment of the Law. Those who love others instinctively keep the commandments.

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NKJV)

Someone who harbors hatred in his heart toward another person or group of persons is a murderer.

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

St. Paul said that people who practice certain sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21, NKJV)

Murder is one of those sins. Hatred is a form of murder. It  is murder in one’s heart. So, anyone who harbors hatred in his heart does not have eternal life abiding in him and he will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

If a man truly loves another man’s wife as himself, he will not commit adultery with her. If he truly loves an unmarried woman, he, likewise, will not commit fornication with her. By practicing adultery and fornication, he bars both himself and the women with he does such acts from the Kingdom of God. St. Paul warns us not to be deceived.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10, NKJV)

People who are practicing fornication and adultery and thinking that they will inherit the Kingdom of God are deceived. They separate themselves from God, by not loving God. If they truly loved God, they would abstain from fornication and adultery. So, the adulterers and fornicators who think that they love each other really do not. No one can truly love another person unless he first loves God above all else. Those who practice the other sins mentioned in I Corinthians 6:9,10 and Galatians 5:19-21 should not think that they will inherit the Kingdom of God either.

In the Koran, it says:

Whoso doeth right it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong it is against it. And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves. (Koran 41:46, Pickthall)

People who do wrong, wrong their own souls. However, it is possible to have miraculous gifts, give away all of one’s goods to feed the poor, die as a “martyr,” and still lose one’s soul.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV)

The absence of love is hate. Those who hate others are murderers. Murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them and they will never inherit the Kingdom of God. One might still wonder whether those who feed the poor have love. Maybe they do, but it is still possible to do all of that and not have love. That is what St. Paul was teaching in the passage quoted from I Corinthians 13.  In the Koran, it says:

And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him. (Koran 76:8, Pickthall)

Those who do these acts of kindness out of love for God are the ones who profit spiritually and have a reward from God in the afterlife. Love for God produces love for others.

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? (I John 4:20, NKJV)

Love for others produces charitable deeds.

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (I John 3:17, NKJV)

Likewise, it is possible to profess faith in God and not possess faith in God. In the Catholic Epistle of James, it says:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Thus is the Word of thy Lord justified concerning those who do wrong: that they believe not. (Koran 10:33, Pickthall)

People who practice unrighteousness are not true believers. Jesus said that there will be unbelievers mixed among the believers until the end of this present age.

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30, NKJV)

I remember someone telling me about people who would party and fornicate on Saturday night and then get up Sunday morning and go to church. I also remember attending an event for single Christians. Someone there was telling me about all of the women there at that event. He said that he had fornicated with some of them in the back seat of his car. I was immediately turned off when I heard that. Tares among the wheat. The tares are the hypocrites. In the Koran, it says:

Verily Allah knoweth those who believe, and verily He knoweth the hypocrites. (Koran 29:11, Pickthall)

Hypocrites are people who say they believe in God, but in reality they do not. The kind of lives they live demonstrate their unbelief. “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad), they say: We bear witness that thou art indeed Allah’s messenger. And Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His messenger, and Allah beareth witness that the hypocrites indeed are speaking falsely. (Koran 63:1, Pickthall)

There will be hypocrites mixed in with the believers until the end of this present age. God knows who they are.

Hypocrites tell people to obey God’s commandments, but they do not obey them. Their walk does not match their talk.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do… “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:1-3,13, NKJV)

Hypocrites might also tell people that it is all right to break God’s commandments. I have met many people over the years who think that the words, “saved by grace through faith,” in Ephesians 2:8 have granted Christians a license to sin. It is true that we are saved by God’s mercy, but no one has been given by God a license to sin. In the Koran, it says:

O Prophet! Keep thy duty to Allah and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 33:1, Pickthall)

If one is keeping one’s duty to God, then one is obeying God. Apparently, the disbelievers and the hypocrites in this verse wanted Muhammad to disobey God. That is why it says “obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites.”

Hypocrites strive to win converts and then teach the converts to travel the path to hell.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15, NKJV)

Allah promiseth the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers fire of hell for their abode. It will suffice them. Allah curseth them, and theirs is lasting torment. (Koran 9:68, Pickthall)

Hypocrites do good deeds in order to be seen by men. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little. (Koran 4:142, Pickthall)

But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments… Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:5,14, NKJV)

So, hypocrites are people who profess to believe in God, but in reality they do not. They do not possess love for God and others. They do not have genuine faith which is manifested in good deeds. If they do good deeds, they do not do them out of love for God and one’s fellow man. They do them in order to be seen by men and receive praise from others. Hypocrites lead others to hell by teaching them to practice their ungodly lifestyle. Hypocrites profess to believe in God, but encourage others to disobey God.

An Atheist Who Believes in God

July 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I have watched a video this afternoon which has inspired me to write this blog post. Frank Schaeffer tells about his spiritual journey and his new belief in a paradox. He believes that God does not exist and God does exist. He talks about the “certainty addicts” who seem to think they have all of the answers. He is still a member of a Greek Orthodox Church in Massachusetts. I can see some of the traces of the Orthodox way of thinking in some of his reasoning. However, although I can agree with him on some points, I cannot fully agree with him on everything.

Here is the video. It lasts about an hour.

As far as certainty is concerned, I think that Jesus taught that it is possible to be certain of some things. He taught that we can know the truth.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31,32, NKJV)

Even the Koran teaches that one can be certain of the truth. It says:

There is no compulsion in religion. Certainly, right has become clearly distinct from wrong. Whoever rejects the devil and believes in God has firmly taken hold of a strong handle that never breaks. God is All-hearing and knowing. (Koran 2:256, Muhammad Sarwar)

The prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament demonstrate that the Bible is the Word of God. The mathematical miracles in the Koran demonstrate that it is a work of Divine Providence and therefore a revelation from God.

However, both the Bible and the Koran teach that we cannot know everything. God is incomprehensible. We can never know everything that there is to know about God.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” (Romans 11:33-35, NKJV)

Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous. (Koran 2:255, Pickthall)

We cannot analyze God in the same way that we can analyze the parts of a frog after dissecting it. We always encounter a mystery whenever we encounter God. God is far bigger than we are.

There are two types of theology: apophatic theology and cataphatic theology. When we use apophatic theology, we define God in terms of what He is not. When we use cataphatic theology, we define God in terms of who He is.

Nature itself teaches us that there is a God. We should not doubt His existence.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21, NKJV)

The created world in which we live points to a Creator — an Intelligence behind it all. The Contemporary Islamic Music artist, Maher Zain, has expressed this truth regarding the existence of God well in his song, “Open Your Eyes.”

God is in all places at all times. He is everywhere we are.

To God belong the East and the West; whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God; God is All-embracing, All-knowing. (Koran 2:115, Arberry)

It is He that created the heavens and the earth in six days then seated Himself upon the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes forth from it, — what comes down from heaven, and what goes up unto it. He is with you wherever you are; and God sees the things you do. (Koran 57:4, Arberry)

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, Pickthall)

We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein. (Koran 50:16, Arberry)

God “fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:23)

Faith is necessary in order to draw near to God in prayer. If one wants to know God, he must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)

Genuine faith is faith without doubt. It is faith that manifests itself in good deeds.

The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful. (Koran 49:15, Sahih International)

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. (John 20:27, NKJV)

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26, NKJV)

Those who do not strive to keep God’s commandments do not genuinely know Him.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3,4, NKJV)

Not through science, not through philosophy, but through prayer prayed in faith do we discover God. The words of this song by the Contemporary Christian Music artist, Pat Terry, illustrate this point quite well.

Both the Koran and the Bible teach that there will be a final judgment. God will judge everyone at the end of this age.

O ye who believe! Come, all of you, into submission (unto Him); and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you. And if ye slide back after the clear proofs have come unto you, then know that Allah is Mighty, Wise. Wait they for naught else than that Allah should come unto them in the shadows of the clouds with the angels? Then the case would be already judged. All cases go back to Allah (for judgment). (Koran 2:208-210, Pickthall)

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31, NKJV)

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31-33, NKJV)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7, NKJV)

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31, NKJV)

There can be no paradox that states that God exists and He does not exist. Both Christianity and Islam are revealed religions. Both teach that there is a God who created everything. Both teach that God is omnipresent. Both teach that genuine faith lacks doubt. Truth can be known. There are certainties. We cannot know everything, but we can be certain of some things. The existence of God is a certainty. The knowledge of God is possible. We discover God through prayer prayed in faith that He is there listening to our words. Maybe someday Frank Schaeffer will rethink his theology or the lack thereof. God is his judge. We should not judge him, but we should reject his error.

 

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. (Koran 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, Pickthall)

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.

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. 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?” 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. Guide us to 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.

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. 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. 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:

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. 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. 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.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 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)

Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 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:

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. 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.

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. This done, in like manner there appeared a man with gray hairs, and exceeding glorious, who was of a wonderful and excellent majesty. 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. Whereupon Jeremias holding forth his right hand gave to Judas a sword of gold, and in giving it spake thus, 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 or 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. His death (Koran 3:55; 5:117) and His ascension into Heaven do, of course, imply that Jesus bodily arose from the dead.

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. God baptized the Muslims with rain water.

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.

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