Was Jesus Really Almighty God?

Was Jesus ever thought of as God by the earliest strata of evidence or traditions that we have of him? A brief treatise.

by Ibn Anwar BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The most eminent theologian and New Testament scholar Father Raymond Brown writes: “The slow development of the usage of the title “God” for Jesus requires explanation. Not only is there the factor that Jesus is not called God in the earlier strata of NT material; but also there are passages, cited under A above, that by implication reserve the title “God” for the Father (even in the Pastorals and the Johannine literature). The most plausible explanation is that in the earliest stage of Christianity, the OT heritage dominated the use of “God”; hence “God” was a title too narrow to be applied to Jesus. It referred strictly to the One in heaven whom Jesus addressed as Father and to whom he prayed.” [1]

And even if Jesus is seen to be called “God” in some rare instances in the New Testament, this has to be understood within the milieu of Jewish thought. He was “god” insofar that he represented or mirrored the divine reality. He was the manifestation of God’s power on earth. He was God’s agent, His ‘shaliach.’ This good point is well noted by Prof. Raymond Brown as he writes, “The liturgical ambiance of the NT usage of “God” for Jesus also answers the objection that this title is too much of a metaphysical definition that objectifies Jesus and is untrue to the soteriological interest of the NT. As far as I can see, none of the eight instances we have discussed attempts to define Jesus metaphysically. The acclamation of Jesus as God is a response of prayer and worship to the God revealed in Jesus.” [2]

Dismantling the Trinitarian perception of John 1:1

A fresh new look at John 1:1 from a fresh new translation of the whole New Testament by the eminent scholar, Prof. Sir (Dr.) Anthony F. Buzzard.

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The following traditional rendering of the beginning of the Johannine Prologue comes from the New King James Version.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

These words are most probably regarded as the most profound words ever spoken by the anonymous New Testament author of the fourth gospel (that we conveniently dub “John”) that Trinitarians are most excited by, because they see in this verse the full revelation of Jesus’ divinity and his second personhood in the Trinity.

The most obvious stumbling block for the Trinitarian interpretation is that the verse, as any ordinary person can see, does not actually say that the “word” is Jesus Christ. This good point is emphatically noted by Trinitarian systematic theologian at Fuller Theological Seminary Dr. Colin Brown. Commenting on John 1:1, he writes:
“It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John’s Gospel to read it as if it said: “In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God” (John 1:1).” [1]

Over 50 translations of the Bible as noted by Buzzard do not presume that John 1:1 speaks of a second person in a Triune Godhead. [2] So he is clearly not a lone wolf in his view that the ‘logos’ in John 1:1 is the mind or the plan of God rather than a being or an entity existing pre-eternally with the Father as Jesus, the Son.

“For 50 translations which did not assume that logos was a second Person, see Focus on the Kingdom of July, 2004, at restorationfellowship.org. These translations give us the pronoun “it”, not “he” for word.”

The ordained Anglican priest and Cambridge theologian, Prof. Cupitt writes:
“John’s words ought to be retranslated: “The Word was with God the Father and the Word was the Father’s own Word,” to stress that the Word is not an independent divine being, but is the only God’s own self-expression. If all this is correct, then even John’s language about Jesus still falls within the scope of the King-ambassador model.” [3]

Did Jacob wrestle with God, Jesus, or an angel?

Did Jacob have a cosmic wrestling match with God?

By Ibn anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

So He said to him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Jacob.”

And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”

And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

(Genesis 32:24-30; NKJV)

To the Trinitarian Christian, the above excerpt from Genesis 32 is proof that Jacob met Jesus and struggled with him in a wrestling match. At a glance, it does seem to be the case that Jacob was truly and physically caught in a wrestling match with God, but upon further inspection many questions arise that would put doubt in the Christian Trinitarian interpretation and finally show that other alternative interpretations that do exist have a stronger case against the Trinitarian view.

The most obvious problem with the Trinitarian view that posits Jesus as Jacob’s wrestling opponent is that Jesus Christ is nowhere mentioned in the passage. In fact, we know for a fact that Jesus is not mentioned anywhere in the entire Old Testament. Of course, there are “prophecies” that supposedly point to the arrival of a messiah that may seem to fit Jesus, the Son of Mary as depicted in the New Testament, but those have little to do with the passage above and even in those “prophecies”, there are various views that suggest different interpretations than the one commonly forwarded by Trinitarians in their excitement to prove the messiahship of Jesus from the Old Testament. Be that as it may, we may all concur that Jesus is nowhere to be found in the passage. A second obstacle that the Trinitarian has to traverse is the fact that the verse clearly identifies the assailant as “a man.” The verse says, “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (v. 24) The Trinitarian’s lenses tend to focus on verses 28 and 30, but they conveniently forget or ignore verse 24 that when considered, immediately weakens their Jesus interpretation.The verse in the Hebrew is rather clear:
ויותר יעקב לבדו ויאבק איש עמו עד עלות השחר

The key word here is איש (aleph yod shin) which is synonymous to ‘Adam meaning ‘man.’ To understand the struggle as being between Jacob and a man makes the story more sensible than one where Jacob struggles with God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and thereafter overpowers Him and comes to equal bargaining terms with Him.

Is John 3:16 really from Jesus?

And Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son*, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Or did he?

Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

    The above quotation is from the infamous John 3:16, which is a fundamental text for evangelists in their missionary activities. The translation is from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which puts it within quotation marks to indicate that they are Jesus’ words and a continuation of his discourse with Nicodemus that begins in John 3:1. But interestingly, even though the committee of editors who translated the NRSV believe that John 3:16 belongs to the lips of Jesus, they nevertheless recognise the fact that other equally able interpreters see the verse as the beginning of a pericope or commentary by the author of John about Jesus. They submit to the fact that these interpreters see the dialogue between Nicodemus and Jesus as ending at verse 15:


“Some interpreters hold that the quotation concludes with verse 15” [1]


*At this point it is important to note, in order to avoid any confusion as we go along, that there are two ways in which translators have rendered the Greek τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ (ton huion ton monogenen, “the Only Son”). The NKJV (New King James Version) retains the classic rendering of its predecessor the KJV, “the only begotten Son” which may seem undesirable to modern readers, especially Muslims as the word “begotten” has a rather strong anthropomorphic overtones in language. On the other hand, other authoritative versions have opted to translate the phrase as “Only Son” as the NRSV does above. It does not have too great of a significance on our current discussion, but we would suggest to the NKJV users that ‘monogenes’ does not actually convey the idea of being “begotten”. It rather conveys the idea of being “unique”, or the “one and only.” (See Boring, M. E. & Craddock, F. B. (2009). The People’s New Testament Commentary. p. 298) In the following treatise, we will use the NRSV translation of the phrase (except in quotations where the scholars have chosen the NKJV rendering instead), but those who prefer their NKJV rendering may keep in mind that the same text is being discussed.

What the above footnote by the NRSV committee of translators show is that there are biblical interpreters and Bible versions that view verses 16 to 21 of John 3 as additional notes by the author of John and that they are not actually the words of Jesus. Many Christians, especially those of the fundamentalist flavour, will not be pleased with that because they need to believe that John 3:16 is a proclamation by their Lord and Saviour. That this verse points to the belief that in him lies the only way to salvation through his death on the cross, is foundational to Christian faith and it is the bedrock of Christian soteriological conception. To prove their claim, the conservative Christians will direct us to their red letter Bible and show us that John 3:16 is highlighted in red which is an indication that they were spoken by Jesus. To be fair, their insistence on others to refer to the words in red as Jesus’own words is not entirely misplaced. It is true that these are the words of Jesus but only insofar as the translators’ interpretation is concerned. Unbeknownst to many of these red letter Bible adherents, is the fact that the red lettering system that highlights the words of Jesus in red is a rather modern invention. The first red letter New Testament was first published exactly 117 years ago and the complete Bible just two years later in New York by Louis Klopsch after he received the go-ahead from his teacher, Reverend T. De Witt Talmage and not from God. So unless the red letter devotees identify Klopsch as some sort of a prophet who was given divine inspiration from God to correctly paint the words of Jesus in red, then they must concede that this system of identifying Jesus’ speech in the New Testament is a modern human invention.

We can confirm that the original King James Version prior to Klopsch is free of red ink by looking at the scanned images below of the original 1611 King James Version that was Authorised by His Majesty King James.

Front cover of the original KJV of 1611

Front cover of the original KJV of 1611

KJV John 3.16

John 3:16, original Authorised KJV 1611, page 1307, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Sonne: that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

As you can see, the original 1611 King James Version is free of any red colour in its text. And so, the NKJV/KJV red letter fundamentalists must now seriously reconsider their outdated position in light of what they have seen above which show that their original 1611 KJV has no markers at all to indicate where the words of Jesus begin and where they end,  and think of a different way to substantiate their view, if they still wish to continue with it, that the pericope that extends from John 3:16 till John 3:21 does indeed contain the words of Christ. So refusing to raise the white flag, some others will jump to those versions that use quotation marks instead of red letters to highlight the speech of Jesus. Unfortunately, this excuse does not suffice either. Essentially, modern editors and translators, in their attempt to help ordinary readers of the Bible to see where Jesus spoke what, have used two prevailing methods to highlight what they perceive to be the words of Jesus:

1. Use the red colour to highlight Jesus’ speech.

2. Use quotation marks to indicate Jesus’ words being quoted.

Did Jesus really die on the cross?

The Apparent Death Hypothesis according to Dr. William Lane Craig

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT


This article is a response to a section of a debate that took place on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus between the Islamic scholar Dr. Shabir Ally and the Christian scholar Dr. William Lane Craig which can be viewed here. The following is a transcript of the section that this article aims at addressing:

“The first one, the crucifixion is universally agreed upon by all historians and here Shabir says that he doesn’t deny that Jesus was crucified but what he suggests is that he was taken down alive from the cross and God raised him out of the tomb into heaven. This is a fantastic hypothesis and an incredible concession on the part of an Islamic theologian to Christian claims about Jesus. Basically it is an attempt to resurrect the old Apparent Death theory which was popular among German rationalists during the late 17th hundreds and I’ve got to say no historian or New Testament scholar would defend this Apparent Death theory today. It’s sort of the theological equivalent of the flat earth theory. Why is this hypothesis abandoned? Well, one thing is that there is simply no doubt that the crucifixion was fatal. The Romans were professional executioners and they ensured the deaths of their victims by a spear thrust into the heart of the victim so that even if the victim had simply lapsed into a comatose state on the cross he would certainly be killed by the thrust of the spear into his heart and this is exactly what happened in Jesus’ case.”

Is the crucifixion universally agreed upon by all historians? No, it isn’t. Bruno Bauer, J.M. Robertson, Paul-Louis Couchoud, Earl Doherty, Tom Harpur and G.A. Wells have all argued against the existence of Jesus although Wells have actually revised his original position. It goes without saying that if Jesus did not exist then his alleged crucifixion did not happen. This means that there are those from among non-Muslim historians and Biblical scholars who do in fact disagree that Jesus was historically crucified, hence demolishing Dr. Craig’s confident declaration that it is “universally agreed upon by all historians”. Dr. Craig describes Shabir Ally’s proposition as fantastic without actually specifically qualifying what he meant by this. In any case, is the idea that Jesus survived the crucifixion and was later assumed to heaven any more stupendous than the Christian claim that Jesus came back alive after being dead for three days and then went up into heaven? Both are remarkable theological claims and for a Christian to suggest that Shabir’s proposition is fantastic to the point of unbelief is unwarranted. To compare the so called Apparent Death theory to the flat earth theory is simply absurd. Whilst there is possibility for the former in the realm of logic and reason there is no possibility for the latter. Dr. Craig said that the Apparent Death theory has been successfully refuted and buried because “there is simply no doubt that the crucifixion was fatal”. At this point it is clear that Dr. Craig forgot Mark 15:44. Here we have Pilate himself who was responsible for condemning Jesus to death doubting that Jesus had died. The verse says, “Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.” If as Dr. Craig would have it that there is no doubt that the crucifixion was fatal then why was Pilate surprised at hearing Jesus’ alleged death? The answer is quite simple, that is, the crucifixion is only truly fatal if the victim is left on the cross for a sufficiently long enough period which was not at all the case with Jesus. In fact, we know that there are those who were fixed on the cross for three days and yet they were still alive. A particularly pertinent account is recorded by Josephus. The New Testament expert, Geza Vermes mentions the story:

Yahweh was the Golden Calf as Aaron, God’s spokesperson, declares in Exodus 32

Was the Golden Calf worshipped as Yahweh?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

  Once in a while, one might hear some misinformed non-Muslim questioning the origin of Allah’s identity. Certain critics, in their ignoble efforts to blemish and besmirch Allah’s name, may even boldly propose, as many have, that Allah was a false idol worshipped by polytheists and pagans before the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Some critics, such as Robert Morey, have been more direct and specific in their attacks and have propelled such ideas as Allah being a moon god in pre-Islamic Arab communities. Such claims that are bereft of any evidence of any kind continue to plague non-Muslim sites and apologetics material against Islam. It seems, those who simply despise Islam, for reasons best known to them, would cling to any idea at all, however far fetched or untrue, so long as they can use it to confuse others and paint an ugly picture of Islam. In any case, this article shall turn the tables on those conniving detractors, who try to use this in their game to demonise and discredit Islam, and ultimately show that their point, which says that when Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. came to the scene, he simply adopted one of the many idols worshipped by polytheists in their idolatry (so the Muslim God in this faulty argument as we shall demonstrate is contended to be just an idol of ancient times deserving of rejection by claimants of monotheism), is absolutely devoid of proof and without any historical or archaeological evidence.

  The answer that we can offer to clarify the confusion that these critics have concerning Allah is quite easy and simple: there is absolutely no historical documentary evidence, not even a scintilla of proof anywhere or archaeological artifact that has ever been discovered that shows that there was ever an image or an idol that was fashioned by the hands of men to represent Allah or that was labelled as such. There are no statues, no manuscripts, no references anywhere, no inscription. There is absolutely zilch amount of data to support this baseless assumption and this cannot be stressed enough.

Allah tells us in the Qur’an unequivocally, “They worship besides Allah, that which can neither profit them nor harm them, and the disbeliever is ever a helper against the Lord.” (25:55)

 ويعبدون من دون الله مالا ينفعهم ولايضرهم وكانالكفرعلى ربه ظهيرا

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

“Allah tells us how ignorant the idolaters are: instead of worshipping Allah, they worship idols which do not possess the power either to harm or benefit… So, they take these idols as protectors and fight for their sake, and they oppose Allah and His Messenger and the believers for their sake.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir [Abridged], page 179)

According to the Qur’an and the above tafsir (interpretation by Ibn Kathir), it is evidently clear that the polytheists in pre-Islamic Arabia rejected Allah and so would not have had an idol of him that they would have worshipped. Nobody worships a God that they reject or do not really believe in, unless there is some form of compulsion involved, which would render the worship disingenuous anyway, but this is a different issue that can be discussed at a later time elsewhere. The point of the matter is, the Qur’anic evidence, which is the primary source for historical information concerning the belief system and practices of the Arab idolaters during that time, shows clearly that the Arabs couldn’t have made Allah into an idol since they didn’t bother worshipping him as a valid deity to begin with. But even if for the sake of argument we were to agree and accept that there was a time when Allah was made into an idol and worshipped as such, that is by no means an argument against the validity of Allah as God’s true name. It would be an inconsequential historical hiccough to the truth and reality of Islam. That is because it is a fundamental belief and doctrine in Islam that it came, in different phases throughout time to selected men called prophets, to correct the errors and mistakes of past nations and lead those at present to true guidance, therefore, if there was in fact a nation that erroneously made Allah into an idol and worshipped Him in that form, Islam, through many of its clear cut passages and exhortations such as Surah al-Ikhlas, came to correct and perfect that which was made imperfect through years of misguidance and misunderstanding.

Abul-Fazl Ezzati captures the essence of the above in a nutshell:

“But, as the final divine message to mankind, Islam came to correct and perfect those previous messages.” [1]

Does Titus 2:13 finally prove Jesus is God?


Examining Titus 2:13 in light of biblical scholarship

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

(Titus 2:13) (emphasis added)

  The Trinitarian Christian believer that happily and gloriously believes in the divinity of Jesus will joyously cling to this verse and shout with utter elation that here is proof that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God and as such, he deserves our religious adoration and worship. The academic Trinitarian will be more scholarly in his approach, maintaining a cool air of calmness, yet affirming the above elation as expressed by the ordinary Christian Trinitarian believer, by pointing out to the so called Grandville Sharp grammar rule in Greek which says that when two items are governed by only one definite article then it may simply only refer to one person that is present. This position, which heavily relies on the use of the Grandville Sharp rule is by no means a full proof approach that one may use to understand this verse. Alternatively, there are equally able and authoritative scholars who differ with the use and application of the Grandville Sharp rule in Titus 2:13 whereby both epithets (‘Great God’ and ‘Saviour’ due to the existent of only one article) would fall on Jesus, and would instead propose that two persons rather than one are in view here in spite of the absence of two articles to indicate the presence of two individuals. They argue that there is evidence for their position in Greek literature of the past and that there is no certainty that the modern developed idea or grammatical concept of the so called Grandville Sharp rule was applicable and in vogue at the time of the writing of Titus 2:13. Scholars who favour the application of the Grandville Sharp rule which then leads to Jesus being specifically identified as “our great God” include such notable theologians and scholars of Greek such as Daniel Wallace, who is often the point of reference for Trinitarian writers and speakers today when discussions pertaining to this verse come up. We need not mention other writers who are in support of Wallace as they number in the dozens, if not hundreds including the late eminent textual critic Bruce Metzger, Bart Ehrman’s mentor and teacher at Princeton University. On the other hand, we have equally great experts of the Greek language and highly qualified biblical scholars in their own right who would champion the alternative view as stated above and they include individuals such as Dr. Nigel Turner, Henry Alford, G. B. Winer and others. In the following lines, we shall have a look at what these scholars, who oppose the mainstream Christian Trinitarian take on Titus 2:13,  say despite the fact that their own personal theology belong to that of mainstream Christianity, that is, they themselves were Trinitarians in belief and practice, yet their scholarly conclusions depart dramatically from those other Trinitarians due to the weight they give, after careful consideration and analysis, to the alternative position when inspecting Titus 2:13.

Before we proceed to cite and reference those scholars that we have just mentioned, it is noteworthy that the above quoted verse at the beginning of the article is a version that would reflect the mainstream reading of the text favouring the Grandville Sharp rule, and that agree with Wallace’s approach to the text, making the verse appear to identify the subject as Jesus who is the owner of the two descriptors “great God and “Saviour”. There are alternative translations or versions of the text that differ from the above and capture instead the essence of the alternative view which posits the existent of two persons rather than one. The following is one example of such rendering of the verse:

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13, King James Version; other versions or translations that reflect the alternative view include the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, the American Standard Version, the Douay-Rheims Bible and Webster’s Bible Translation)