By George Mitrakos| Being someone who spends most of his time debating Muslims, I can tell you right off the bat that the twisting of biblical verses is rampant among Muhammadans, especially when they engage in theological discussions pertaining to the biblical account.
And although the list may be too long to cite, here are just 10 verses that, from my experience, are the most abused passages utilized by those within the Islamic community.
1. God is not a son of man. (Numbers 23:19)
In the book of numbers, we read that God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent. Muslims who oppose the deity of Christ love to bring up this verse in an attempt to disprove the divinity doctrine of Jesus Christ, seeing as he was also the son of man and a human. However, here are 2 reasons why coming to such a conclusion is erroneous.
1) You can only become something that you were not. For example. If I become sick, it’s because there was a time when I wasn’t sick. If I become blind, it’s because I wasn’t blind in the past. And if God became a man, it’s because he wasn’t so in the past. In other words, during the time this was written, the incarnation still hadn’t taken place. Hence God WAS NOT a man or a son of man during that time.
2) The verse says that God is not a man THAT HE SHOULD LIE, nor a son of man THAT HE SHOULD REPENT. In other words, it seems as if the verse is emphasizing the fact that God does not repent or lie, rather than the idea that he is not/can’t be a man.
2. Jesus came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:24)
Another passage which has served as a victim of abuse is Matthew 15:24, which reads that Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The reasons why Muslims love to twist the relevant passage is because their Quran makes it clear that Jesus was a prophet who was ONLY sent to the Jews. However, before jumping to conclusion, please take note that:
- Jesus healed a Canaanite woman and a centurion’s servant, both of them being gentiles. ( Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 7:1-10)
- The great commission commands us to go into ALL nations to preach and baptize. (Matthew 28:19)
- Jesus said that he has other sheep which are not of the tribe of Israel and that HE MUST BRING THEM IN as well. (John 10:16)
So how do we reconcile the above mentioned points with Christ’s statement that he was sent ONLY to the Jews? Well, the answer can actually be found in the account of the healing of a gentile woman:
“Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” – Mark 7:26-27
Now the term I want you to take note of is “first”. Jesus did not say that the children of Israel will ONLY be fed. He said that the children of Israel will be fed FIRST. So when we take into account this, along with the above mentioned points, we see that Jesus’ initial focus while on earth was the Jews. However, initial focus is not synonymous with exclusion.
3. I can of my own self do nothing. (John 5:30)
Jesus says in John 5:30: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
Now, at first glance, this passage insinuates that Christ is not all powerful, in that he is limited apart from the Father. Hence why so many of those within the Islamic camp are quick in utilizing the relevant passage against us.
But what did Jesus really mean by this? Here are 2 possible answers.
- According to the biblical narrative, God is a three-person deity which is inclusive unto the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. God is tripersonal, and all three persons who always works together in a congruent purpose. When in view of this fact, we can come to further comprehend what Jesus really meant in the relevant passage of scripture: The trinity works TOGETHER in an INSEPARABLE fashion. Jesus could do NOTHING without the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Father can do NOTHING without Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit can do NOTHING without Christ and the Father.
“Throughout this passage it seems as if Jesus went back and forth between claiming He was equal to God and saying He was subordinate to His Father. Actually, both were true. There was essential equality with functional subordination. All three persons of the Trinity are fully divine and united as one God in three persons, but they have distinct as well as overlapping roles. The Son never commands the Father; He only obeys Him.” – The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1580). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Jesus said he can do nothing of his own accord, AS HE HEARS, HE JUDGES. Jesus took on the pursuance of a perfect life, and indeed his sacrifice required it to be as such. Hence, he COULDN’T do ANYTHING without the Father, because perfection lies in completely obeying the father. If he wanted to be perfect, then doing anything which lay in accordance with his own will were things he COULD NOT DO. He lacked PERMISSION, not ABILITY. In other words, Jesus was accentuating the fact that his works and words laid in complete correspondence to the will of the father.
This truth is further reiterated when Jesus claims to seek the will of NOT his own, but of the FATHER who sent him.
To prove my point, the phrase CANT or COULD NOT doesn’t always insinuate that one lacks the capacity to perform a certain task. For example: lets say there is a no trespassing sign, your friend might tell you “ Ah, we certainly CANT go there”. Obviously, if you wanted to, you can just walk right passed it like there was nothing to it. The reason why you are told you can’t is not because you lack the ABILITY to do so, but because you sometimes lack the PERMISSION.
As a matter of fact, according to the Strong’s Greek concordance, the term CAN, within the Greek language can also denote a type of authorisation as well. It means: to be powerful, able Of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible — be able, can (do, + -not), could, MAY, might, be possible, be of power.
Now, as we see, one definition that has been attached to the Greek word is MAY. And according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, may means: Have ability to, have permission to.
4. Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. (Galatians 3:13)
When it comes to Paul, the Muslim community has much to say about him. And one of such things includes Paul calling Jesus “cursed”. However, when we read the full passage in Galatians, it actually says” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”. Now in regards to this passage, insulting Christ rests far beyond Paul’s intentions. So the question is, what does it mean that Jesus was cursed?
When we read the passage as it is found in Deuteronomy, which is where Paul is quoting from, we see that it is referring to capital punishment for sinners. In other words, the man who was to be put to death was “cursed” with a humiliating death. Jesus, on the other hand, took the curse and punishment of sin upon himself, so that those who believe in him don’t have to. Paul wasn’t’ speaking to insult Jesus, but to highlight his mercy on taking upon himself the punishment for our sin.
5. Jesus did not bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
When first glancing upon this passage, I must admit that it does seem to be implying that Jesus’ intention was that of a violent nature. However, the key to comprehending this verse is to look at the surrounding context. In Matthew 10, Jesus is sending his disciples out to preach and perform miracles. However, he does provide some admonitions.
- He reveals to his disciples that they shall be betrayed, v 21,
- He reveals to his disciples that they shall be persecuted, v 17-22
- He reveals to his disciples that all men will hate them BECAUSE of him, v 22
- He reveals to his disciples that he has come to divide families v, 35
Hence, when we view the above mentioned points, we can see that these are not “peace”. They are division, violence and betrayal. So when Jesus tells us that he has not come to bring peace, but a sword, it is not because he is on some sort of killing spree. Rather, it is due to the inevitable fact that people will hate the truth and us along with it. And as a result, such things will occur against us. Think of it like this:
Imagine that one day you decide to become best mates with one of the most rejected and bullied kids at school. As a result of this new relationship, your old friends may begin to mock you, people may begin to reject you and many will treat you in the same manner as how they treated him, ( happens every single day.) Now in a sense, this new friend of yours did in fact bring a sword into your life, just like Jesus did.
This passage does not speak about us or Jesus violently harming others, but about others, as a result of our faith, harming us and causing us to be divided from others.
6. God encourages incest. (Genesis 19:30-38)
Now another passage which the Muslims love to bring up is the story of Lot sleeping with both his daughters. But before we get into this, it is important to note that just because the bible mentions a certain event or story, that it does not mean that God endorses it. It’s like accusing the newspaper of encouraging rape because it released a narrative about a man who raped a woman. Such a conclusion is complete and utter nonsense. But back to the story.
When we read the account in Genesis, we automatically realize that:
- Lot was drunk, hence he did not know what he was doing.
- His daughters believed that no one else was alive, hence they had intentions to preserve their family line.
At most, this story can serve as a great reason NOT to get drunk. Furthermore, historically and biblically speaking, everything following this event of incest has gone horribly wrong. The ammonites (which sprang from this event) became a pagan people who worshiped the gods Milcom and Molech whilst the Moabites (which sprang from this event) practiced child sacrifice.
Moreover, these two children are the fathers of two nations that have been at odds with and the source of much suffering to Israel down through history. So to say that God condoned it rests beyond my comprehension.
7. Jesus did not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 24:36)
If God is all knowing and omniscient, then it follows that Jesus, if he is divine, should hold to these very same preternatural faculties.
However, Muslims love to point out the fact that Jesus did not even know the day and the hour of his coming. So their line of reasoning follows: How can Jesus be God if his knowledge was held in check, wherein the Almighty should possess the proficiency to know EVERYTHING?
Now, before delving into the topic, it is important to note that Jesus, prior to the process of the incarnation, was in complete proprietorship of divine glory and power. (John 17:5)
We also see that the disciples told Jesus that he knew ALL things. Yet, they were not met with any sort rebuke or amendment, demonstrating that Jesus found no fault in their statement. (John 20:17)
So, what we have come to see thus far is the following:
- Jesus is all knowing
- Jesus, on earth, did not have the glory which he once had in heaven
With these in mind, let us answer the question by means of the following example:
Let us say that I am a musician and you had a desire to hear me play. You then came over only to find out that I had left my instrument at a friend’s house, hence, I cannot perform for you. Does this mean that I am not a musician? Does this mean that I do not have the ability to play?“ The answer is no. In the same way, Jesus not knowing the day or the hour is due to him not possessing the glory which he held in in heaven prior to the incarnation.
This does not controvert his divinity in the same way as the cited illustration does not invalidate the fact that I am a musician. When Jesus was to be fully glorified again (Which he now is) he will know the day and the hour just like when I get my instrument back, I can go ahead and perform for whoever has the desire to hear me play
This dilemma can also be explained by comparing the likings of Jesus’ seemingly mental shortcomings to an embryo of a plant. The embryo, as we know, is already in full possession of everything. It merely needs to NOT GAIN, but DEVELOP what is ALREADY there. Similarly, Christ served as the proprietor of all knowledge, yet by taking on human form, some of what was ALREADY there did not yet come to fruition and was veiled.
8. Jesus called the Father his God. (John 20:27)
In John 20:27, we stumble upon a passage that, from the onset, appears to be nothing short of troubling in terms of substantiating the divinity of the Messiah. Muslims absolutely love to utilize the relevant verse, seeing as it unambiguously paints Christ as calling God HIS God, which, understandably, provides them with the impression that our whole theology rests in erroneous misinterpretations. But here is why they are false:
- Jesus of Nazareth was the proprietor of a twofold nature: MAN and GOD. HUMAN and DIVINE. If he was not the former, then he wouldn’t be fit to die on the cross as a PHYSICAL sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. If he wasn’t the latter, then Christ would not have the capability to meet the standards of perfection and hence not fulfill the prerequisites of an unblemished saviour.
You see, when the Messiah instructed his contemporaries, initially, he had to firmly establish the belief in both these factors. This is why when one begins to read the gospel narrative, he/she may run into seemingly contradictory statements flowing from the mouth of Christ, the reason being that they are sourced within different standpoints: Mortality and Divinity. Calling God HIS God manifested his manhood, as the LORD is God over all flesh. Whereas referring to himself as being one with the most high unveiled his claim to Godhood.
- As we know, with every word comes a meaning. And with every meaning comes a circumstantial framework. Hence, to correctly determine which definition is suitable for a specific term, we must come to view it through the lens of its scriptural context. Now many of you may be stating “ well, surely we cannot apply this rule to God”. Yet, when we come to read the gospel narrative, we see that Jesus did this very same thing.
According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the term god can mean:
- Something that people admire and try to copy.
- Something people consider important and allows it to control their lives.
- Something extremely attractive.
But is there any evidence or scriptural substantiations that display unto the reader that Christ viewed the Father in a somewhat similar fashion?
- Jesus told us that he does exactly what the Father does. He does what he SEES the Father doing. (John 5:19)
- Furthermore, as he hears he judges. (John 5:30)
So Jesus calling God HIS God does not necessarily mean that he was of a lower nature. But that his Father was someone whom he admired, submitted to the authority of, and emulated while on earth.
9. Jesus said the Father is greater than him. (John 14:28)
My response: http://reasonsforjesus.com/the-father-is-greater-than-i-does-this-disprove-trinity/
10. Jesus said no one is Good but God. ( Mark 10:18)
My response: http://reasonsforjesus.com/no-one-good-god-mean-jesus-wasnt-god/