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Dismantling the Muhammadan perception of John 1:1 Pt. 3

In this third part of my rebuttal I am going to provide further evidence from John’s Gospel that Jesus isn’t merely a lesser, subordinate deity to the Father, but is actually identified as Jehovah God Almighty in the flesh.

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” John 12:37-41 New International Version (NIV)

Amazingly, the Evangelist alludes to the language Moses employed in respect to Israel’s disbelieving in Jehovah despite all the signs he performed in their midst,

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?’” Numbers 14:11 NIV

To describe the unbelief of the Lord Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries even though he had carried out so many miracles before them. But even more shocking is John’s citing Isaiah 6:10 to prove that Isaiah actually saw the glory of the prehuman Christ, which is why the prophet spoke of Jesus.

The reason why this is so shocking is because Isaiah actually beheld the glory of Jehovah, whom he saw visibly seated on his heavenly throne!

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. One cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ The posts of the door moved at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.’…  Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me.’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn and be healed.’” Isaiah 6:1-5, 8-10

John is basically telling us that the God whom the prophet saw enthroned in heaven, the God whose glory he beheld, was actually the Lord Jesus Christ in his preincarnate existence!

12:41 With its stronger eternal support hoti is to be preferred over hote (“when”; Metzger 203). Autou refers to Jesus, as the following peri autou makes clear. Apparently Isaiah had a vision of the pre-incarnate glory of Christ (cf. 17:5)–as the One subsisting in God’s essence (Phil 2:6). ‘Elaleesen 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of laleo. (Harris, p. 238)

Ver. 41. “This did Isaiah say, when he saw his glory and spoke of him.” John justifies in this verse the application which he has just made to Jesus Christ of the vision of Is. vi. The Adonai whom Isaiah beheld at that moment was the divine being who is incarnated in Jesus. Herein also John and Paul meet together; comp. 1 Cor. x. 4, where Paul calls the one who guided Israel from the midst of the cloud Christ.  Some interpreters have tried to refer the pronoun autou, of him, not to Christ, but to God. But the last words: and spoke of him, would be useless in this sense and this remark would be aimless in the context. The Alexandrian reading, “because he saw,” instead of “when he saw him,” is adopted by Tischendorf, Weiss, Keil, etc. But it does not appear to me acceptable. Its only reasonable sense would be: “because he really saw his glory and spoke of Him so long beforehand (a thing which seems impossible).” But this reflection would be very coldly apologetic and quite useless for readers who were accustomed to hear the prophecies quoted. It is much more easy to understand how the conjunction hote, which is quite rarely used, may have been replaced by hoti, which appears in every line, than how the reverse could have taken place. The ancient Latin and Syriac versions are agreed in supporting the received text. The sense of the latter is simple and perfectly suitable. “It was of Christ, who manifested Himself to him as Adonai, that Isaiah spoke when he uttered such words.” John proves that he has the right to apply this passage here. (Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John with an Historical and Critical Introduction, translated from the third French edition with a preface introductory suggestions, and additional notes by Timothy Dwight President of Yale [Funk and Wagnals Publishers, New York 1886], Volume 2, pp. 235-236:; bold emphasis ours)

This is further confirmed by what the Apostle wrote in his prologue:

“No one has EVER seen God. It is God the only Son (monogenes Theos), who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Note the following renderings of this text:

“It is true that no one has EVER seen God AT ANY TIME. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known.” J. B. Phillips New Testament

“No one has seen God AT ANY TIMEthe only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” New American Standard Version (NASB)

“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” English Standard Version (ESV)

“No one has ever seen God. The uniquely existing God, who is close to the Father’s side, has revealed him.” International Standard Version (ISV)

John is emphatically clear. Since no one is able to perceive who and what God is like apart from the revelation of God’s only-begotten Son, who himself is God in essence, this means that Isaiah could not have seen Jehovah in his visible glory if it wasn’t the Son making him known. Therefore, the God who appeared to Isaiah in order to commission him as his prophet was none other than the unique, divine preexistent Son.

In fact, this would be true of all the other places in the Hebrew Bible where Jehovah appears in visible form to his servants:

“Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel, and under HIS FEET there was something like a paved work of sapphire stone as clear as the sky itself. He did not lay His hand upon the nobles of the children of Israel. Also they saw God, and they ate and they drank.” Exodus 24:9-11

“And he said, ‘Hear, therefore, the word of the Lord: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside Him on His right hand and on His left. The LORD said, “Who will persuade Ahab so that he will go up and die at Ramoth Gilead?” And one said this, and another said that. Then a spirit came forth and stood before the LORD and said, “I will persuade him.” The LORD said to him, “How?” And he said, “I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” And He said, “You will be successful and persuade him. Go forth, and do so.” Now therefore, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets here, and He has spoken evil concerning you!’” 1 Kings 22:19-23

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar, and He said: Strike the capitals so that the thresholds shake; break them off onto the heads of all of them. Those who remain I will slay with the sword. Not one of them will get away; not one fugitive will survive.” Amos 9:1

According to John, this was none other than the Son appearing as Jehovah since no one can have access to the Father apart from the Son’s revelation of him.

The Apostle further confirms this by identifying the Baptist as the voice, which Isaiah prophesied would cry out in the desert to prepare the people for the appearance of Jehovah God:

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’… John said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” just as the prophet Isaiah said.’… John answered them, ‘I baptize with water, but One stands among you, whom you do not know. This is He who comes after me, who is preferred before me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” I did not know Him, but for this reason I came baptizing with water: so that He might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “The One on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and have borne witness that He is the Son of God.’ Again, the next day John was standing with two of his disciples. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:14-15, 23, 26-36

Pay close attention to the fact that the One whom John came to prepare for is the Lord Jesus Christ. Now here’s the context of the prophecy, which both the Apostle and the Baptist had in view:

“The voice of him who cries out, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rough places a plain; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.’… O Zion, bearer of good news, get yourself up onto a high mountain; O Jerusalem, bearer of good news, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; see, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11

According to the prophet, the One whom the envoy prepares for is Jehovah God Almighty who comes to shepherd his people, which is precisely what Jesus does!

“‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and am known by My own. Even as the Father knows Me, so I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also bring them, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I received this command from My Father.’… Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you did not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, nor shall anyone snatch them from My hand.’” John 10:11, 14-18, 25-28

In other words, Jesus is the Jehovah God whose coming was heralded by the Baptist!

To sum up the Evangelist’s witness:

Jesus is the Jehovah God who appeared to Isaiah in his visible glory, seated on his heavenly throne and surrounded by the seraphim.

The Baptist is the voice that Isaiah said would be sent to prepare for the coming of Jehovah God to shepherd his flock, and whose glory all flesh would see. And yet Jesus Christ is the One whom John was sent to bear witness to. This means that Jesus is none other than Jehovah God in the flesh whose glory was seen by the people and his disciples.

In light of the foregoing, could the Evangelist be any more explicit in identifying Jesus Christ as Jehovah God Almighty, being the very unique divine Son of God who is essentially coequal to the Father?

What About Moses? 

The Muslim neophyte quotes certain unitarian heretics who cite the following OT text,

“So the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you a god (elohim) to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother will be your prophet.’” Exodus 7:1

To prove that Jesus is nothing more than God’s agent like Moses, his shaliach so to speak, which is why he can be addressed as God since, like the OT prophets before him, Christ spoke in the place of God and with God’s authority.

To say that this is a desperate argument would be to put it rather mildly.

Moses is called god solely because he was God’s agent authorized to speak on God’s behalf. Christ, however, isn’t merely God because he represents the Father, but rather because he possesses all of God’s essential attributes, and does what only can God do. Take, for instance, the following texts:

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will… Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-29

“‘For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ The Jews then murmured about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus therefore answered them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:38-44

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6

In these examples, Christ identifies himself as the Son who came down from heaven in order to fulfill the Father’s will, which includes raising up or resurrecting all who put their trust in him on the last day. Christ further says that he gives life to whomever he chooses, and states that the hour is coming when he will personally resurrect the dead from their graves by the power of his voice. The Lord even claims to be the Truth and Life.

Now the reason why Jesus’ statements are astonishing is because even the Quran acknowledges that these are prerogatives and characteristics, which can only be ascribed to God!

That is because God — He is the Truth, and brings the dead to life, and is powerful over everything, and because the Hour is coming, no doubt of it, and God shall raise up whosoever is within the tombs. S. 22:6-7 Arberry

Note that it is God who is the truth, gives life and who will resurrect the dead from their graves when the hour comes. And these are all the things that the Lord Jesus says in regards to himself, i.e., Christ is the Truth that gives life to whomever he so wishes, and who will raise the dead from their graves at the last hour!

And yet none of these things are ascribed to Moses. Moses is never said to have come down from heaven to give life, or to raise all the dead at the last day and hour. Nor is Moses ever identified as God’s agent of creation, or as the truth and the life. To, therefore, liken Moses’ being called god to the NT portrayal of Jesus as God is to compare apples and pineapples. It is simply desperate to say the least, since the things said of Christ are never said of Moses.

This should sufficiently put to rest the desperate and feeble attempts by this greenhorn and the unitarian heretics he cites to pervert the clear, explicit witness of John’s prologue to the essential Deity and eternal prehuman existence of the Lord Jesus as the Word or Logos of God.

Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.

Further Reading

Jehovah’s Witnesses and John 1:1: New Evidence Advances the Discussion

“From God (QEOS) To God (NOYTE)” (The Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Vol. 62, Pt 2, October 2011)

John 1:1c in the Sahidic Coptic Translation: What the Scholars Really Said

The New World Translation: What the Scholars Really Said

John 1:1 in the Sahidic Coptic Translation

Hoskyns and Coptic John 1:1

John 1:18 in the Sahidicc Coptic Translation

Coptic John 1:1 & New World Translation

The Gospel of John in Sahidic

John 8:58 and The Sahidic Coptic Translation

The Word and The Watchtower: An Exegesis of John 1:1

John 1:1, “The word was a god”

The Real Truth of John 1:1

John 1:1

The New World Translation: What the Scholars Really Say

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