Responses to "Islamic Information"

This Is Our God, the Servant King

Shabir Ally has written two articles attempting to show that the book of Acts denies the perfect Deity of the Lord Jesus. Instead of dealing with both papers we will address two specific points from one paper, while fully addressing the other, since they basically repeat the same thing.

All biblical quotations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV), unless noted otherwise.

In his paper, Evidence From Acts of the Apostles, Shabir writes:

... Throughout this period they never refer to Jesus as God. They continually and consistently use the title God to refer to someone other than Jesus.


"God has raised this Jesus ..." (Acts 2:32).
"God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).

In both passages, the title God is turned away from Jesus. Why? — if Jesus is God.


Shabir erroneously assumes that since the title God is consistently used for someone other than Jesus this therefore proves that the Apostles did not believe in Christ’s Deity. Shabir’s non-sequitor only demonstrates that he is not interested in trying to understand what the Holy Bible teaches on this subject. Shabir seems to falsely assume that the only way for either the Apostles or the NT writers to affirm the Deity of the Lord Jesus is by applying the title God to him. Shabir fails to realize that the title God is primarily (but not always) applied to the Father not so much to deny the Deity of either the Son or the Holy Spirit, but because the term was treated almost as a proper name for the Father. Hence, to call Jesus God without any qualification may have led to some confusion and caused some to think that Jesus is the same Person as the Father.

To show why Shabir’s point here is rather weak consider that the NT consistently and primarily applies the title Lord to Jesus in much the same way that God is used for the Father. Can we therefore infer from this that since Lord is most often used of Christ that the Father is therefore somehow not Lord? Obviously not, which shows that Shabir really has nothing substantive to say against the Deity of Christ.

Besides, if Shabir is truly serious about the non-use of God in reference to Jesus then why does he fail to mention that there are places where Jesus is called God? Why does he not believe the Deity of Christ when there are passages which do apply the term to him? For instance, the following passages all use the noun God in connection with Jesus:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." Isaiah 9:6-7

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." John 1:1, 18

"Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’" John 20:28-29

"To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen." Romans 9:5

"waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," Titus 2:13

"Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" 2 Peter 1:1

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

Now does this mean that Shabir will accept the fact that Jesus is God solely because the preceding passages call Christ God? We highly doubt it which only shows that Shabir’s argument is nothing more than a smokescreen, and he is only trying to twist the Holy Bible in order to confuse uninformed Christians about what the Holy Scriptures truly teach in regards to Jesus.[1]

Thirdly, the NT writers call Jesus Lord in the sense of one who is universally sovereign over all creation, thereby implying his Deity. In fact, we will see that when the NT authors apply the word Lord to Jesus they intended to convey the idea that Jesus is Yahweh God since the Greek word for Lord (Kurios) was used throughout the Greek Old Testament translation (the Septuagint, LXX) in place of God’s Divine Name YHWH (known as the Tetragrammaton).

Thus, the NT authors found other ways to convey the idea that Jesus was God without having to necessarily use the word God.

Shabir also focuses on Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost:

Peter stood up with the eleven disciples and addressed the crowd saying:

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited to you by God with miracles, wonders and signs which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know" (Acts 2:22).

It was God, therefore, who did the miracles through Jesus to convince people that Jesus was backed by God. Peter did not see the miracles as proof that Jesus is God.

Shabir selectively quotes from Peter’s sermons recorded throughout the book of Acts and gives the impression that Peter believed that Jesus was only a man. Trinitarians affirm that Jesus was truly, fully human, yet without sin, man as God intended man to be. Trinitarians also believe that God (the Father) performed his works in and through Jesus, as Christ himself said:

"Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?’... ‘If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’" John 10:32, 37-38

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves." John 14:10-11

Peter’s statements and the above passages affirm what Trinitarians believe on the basis of the Holy Bible. The three Persons of the Godhead always work in perfect union, never acting independently. Christ’s human body became the physical vehicle through which all three Persons of the Godhead performed the very works of God:

"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Matthew 12:28

"But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Luke 11:20

Lest the readers misunderstand, we are not saying that the Father or the Spirit became man since they did not. It was the Son who became a true human being. What we are saying is that all three Persons were working (and always work) in perfect union in accomplishing God’s purpose during the earthly ministry of Christ.

That Peter is simply affirming Christ’s humanity, without denying his full Deity, will become more evident a little later on.

We now display Shabir's second article, Jesus is a Servant of God, in its entirety and will then seek to address it fully by God’s grace:

Jesus is a Servant of God

It will be quickly obvious that they often referred to him as a servant of God, but never Son of God. Peter, for example, said:

"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus" (Acts 3:13).

Peter further said:

"God raised up his servant" (Acts 3:26), where the title servant refers to Jesus.

Not only Peter, but the entire group of believers viewed Jesus as God’s servant. When they raised their voices together in prayer to God, in the course of their speaking to God they called Jesus "your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed" (Acts 4:27). They repeated this title also in verse 30. Consistently, Jesus was being called servant of God by the original followers of Jesus.

Some people mistakenly thought that the disciples called Jesus Son of God. An inconsistency of translation actually helped to give this wrong impression. In the King James Bible, the translators call Jesus ‘Son of God’ in Acts 3:13, 26, and ‘child of God’ in Acts 4:27. They simply translated the Greek word paida as ‘son’ or ‘child’. But the word paida also means ‘servant’, and the present context demands this translation since the author of Acts is trying in this passage to establish that Jesus is indeed the servant of God.

The translators knew that the Greek word paida means servant. When the same word was used for David in chapter 4, verse 25, they translated it ‘servant’. Why not call Jesus also by the same title? Or, if they feel that ‘son’ is the correct translation, why not also call David ‘Son of God’? Jesus and David are both called by the same title in Greek. Why not call them by a same title in English also?

Other translators recognised this inconsistency and corrected it in the modern translations of the Bible. Therefore the New International Version of the Bible and many others call Jesus Servant of God in the verses already quoted above. Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus was God’s servant was so well known that even the King James Bible called him by this title in Matthew 12:18. Referring back to Isaiah 42:1, Matthew identified Jesus as the servant of the one true God Yahweh.

In the next part, we will see how the eagerness in some people to call Jesus ‘Son of God’ led them to invent explanations that indirectly insult God.


Shabir is giving his readers the misleading impression that the disciples do not ever call Jesus the Son of God on the basis that the few passages that he cites use a word which can mean servant. He conveniently ignores tons of other citations which refute his claim.

For instance, Shabir is correct that the word used in the above passages is paida, which can mean servant or child just as Shabir himself realizes. Shabir, by mentioning David, seems to want to prove that the use of the title paida in reference to Jesus shows that Christ wasn’t anything more than a prophet.

First, it doesn’t follow that just because the same word is used for both David and Jesus that it therefore must have the same meaning in both instances or that David and Jesus are necessarily equals. The word can have a different and/or fuller meaning depending on the context and the referent. For example, even though David was God’s servant he still wasn’t on the same level with Christ since he isn’t the same kind of servant that Jesus was. For instance, Jesus is the only perfect servant of God who perfectly obeyed whatever God commanded. Cf. John 4:32-34; 5:19; 8:29.

David, on the other hand, often failed God and even committed gross sins against him (cf. 2 Samuel 11-12, 24; Psalm 51). Thus, Jesus was a different kind of servant than David, he being the only perfect and sinless servant of God to ever walk this earth.

In fact, according to the Lord Jesus, David glorified the Christ as his sovereign:

"But he said to them, ‘How can they say that the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?’" Luke 20:41-44

Thus, Jesus as the Messiah is vastly superior to David in both nature and position.

Second, David was a foreshadowing of Jesus in that he too was a son of God and anointed King:

"I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth." Psalm 89:20, 26-27 NIV

It is quite plausible that David is called paida in the sense of child or son, much like the Lord Jesus. Again, David’s sonship isn’t exactly identical to Christ’s sonship, since the latter is the eternal, divine Son of God, as we will be showing shortly.

We even find the word paida used in the OT Apocryphal literature where we clearly see from the context that the meaning is son or child. It even directly relates to the crucifixion scene of the Lord Jesus:

"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord (paida Kuriou). He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God's son (huios Theou), he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected." Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20

With that said, we do agree with Shabir that the context points in the direction of understanding the word paida to mean servant as opposed to the KJV’s child. But Shabir fails to inform his readers that Acts uses another term to affirm Christ’s sonship, namely huios:

"And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God (houtos ho huios tou theou).’" Acts 9:20

"And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son (Huios mou ei su), today I have begotten you.’" Acts 13:32-33

Third, God is called Father several times throughout Acts, twice by Jesus himself:

"And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’" Acts 1:4-7

This presupposes the sonship of Christ and of believers.

Fourth, Acts is a companion volume to the book of Luke, being written by the same author. Luke, throughout his Gospel, emphatically affirms Jesus’ Divine Sonship as the following examples show:

"‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (huios huphistou). And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end’... And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -- the Son of God (huios theou)." Luke 1:31-33, 35

"Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son (Su ei ho huios mou ho agapeetos); with you I am well pleased.’" Luke 3:21-22

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son (ho huios) is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son (ho huios) and anyone to whom the Son (ho huios) chooses to reveal him." Luke 10:22

"Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son (ton huion mou ton agapeeton); perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?" Luke 20:13-15

Therefore, Shabir’s attempt of trying to undermine the Divine Sonship of Christ on the basis that the Apostles used the word paida in some passages ignores the simple fact that both Luke and Acts use other terms to convey the truth of Jesus being God’s beloved and unique Son.

Fifth, Shabir conveniently doesn’t quote the passages in context since he obviously realizes that a different picture completely emerges from the one he is trying to present. For instance, notice what happens when we quote the entire context of Acts 3:

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name -- by faith in his name -- has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, "The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people." And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, "And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed." God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.’" Acts 3:1-26

This look at the early life and preaching of the Apostles establishes the following points:

  1. The Apostles performed supernatural feats and wonders in Jesus' name.
  2. God glorified his servant Jesus.
  3. Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One, titles implying Christ’s Deity and essential purity:

    "Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered," Acts 7:52

    "And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth;’" Acts 22:14

    Compare the above with the following passages regarding Yahweh’s Holiness and Righteousness:

    "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." Proverbs 9:10

    "The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he throws the wicked down to ruin." Proverbs 21:12

    "I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One." Proverbs 30:3

    "The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. Isaiah 10:17

    "From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, ‘I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.’" Isaiah 24:16

    "The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level." Isaiah 26:7 NASB

    "To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One." Isaiah 40:25

  4. Jesus is the Author of Life, another title implying Deity since God is the author or source of life.
  5. Jesus was killed.
  6. Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
  7. Jesus is currently in heaven from whence he shall return.
  8. All the prophets prophesied about Jesus.
  9. Jesus grants healing, faith and turns people away from wickedness.

Finally, Shabir is partially correct that the Apostles, by calling Jesus God’s Servant, were identifying Christ as the Servant of Isaiah 42. There are four Servant passages in Isaiah, also known as the Suffering Servant passages: 42:1-7, 49:1-10, 50:4-11 and 52:13-53:12. The Apostles were actually alluding to all these passages. Note for instance the words of the Lord Jesus:

"For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment." Luke 22:37

Also notice the following conversation between Philip the evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch:

"Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.’ And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him." Acts 8:26-38

The Lord Jesus appeals to Isaiah 53:12, with Philip specifically identifying Jesus as the Servant of Isaiah 53:7-8, demonstrating that the early Christians believed that these Suffering Servant passages all referred to Jesus. And this is the reason why they chose to identify him as the Servant of God, as Shabir rightly noted. But the problem for Shabir is that these Suffering Servant passages identify Yahweh’s Servant as an exalted divine Being who comes to atone for the sins of God’s people!

"Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you -- his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind -- so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand." Isaiah 52:13-15

The Servant is exalted to the very position of Yahweh!

"The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD ALONE will be exalted in that day." Isaiah 2:11, 17

"The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness... ‘Now I will arise,’ says the LORD, ‘now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted. " Isaiah 33:5, 10

"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15

Here Yahweh says he is exalted and also dwells with the lowly in spirit. Jesus as the Servant is the perfect expression of God’s humbleness and willingness to associate with the lowly and broken hearted!

The fact that the Servant is exalted to a status that belongs to Yahweh alone implies that he is Yahweh God:

  1. Yahweh alone is exalted and lifted on high.
  2. The Servant is exalted and lifted on high.
  3. Therefore, the Servant is Yahweh God.

Furthermore, the Servant is identified as the very Arm of Yahweh, implying his full Deity:

"The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." Isaiah 52:10

"Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has THE ARM OF THE LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-13

The above passages demonstrate that Yahweh’s Servant is the visible manifestation of God's own power sent to redeem God's people by his death on their behalf. By calling the Servant the Arm of Yahweh, Isaiah indicates that the Servant isn’t only a human being but is also an intrinsic part of God's very own eternal Being!

Thus, what Shabir thought was an argument in his favor actually backfires badly against him and affirms historic Christian beliefs about Jesus!

With this all behind us, we now turn to the book of Acts in order to present a defense of Christ’s full and perfect Deity.

Evidence from Acts for the Deity of Christ

The following citations from Acts will show that the inspired author, as well as the first Christians, clearly believed and affirmed that the Lord Jesus is God Incarnate.

1. Object of Worship and Prayer.

"In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen... So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord (Kurie), will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority... So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus (ho Kurios ’Iesous) went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.’ And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord (Kurie), who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles." Acts 1:1-2, 6-7, 21-26

The context is clear that the Lord to whom the Apostles prayed and confessed was omniscient, the Lord who had chosen the twelve and Judas’ replacement, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ ... And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus (Kurie ’Iesou), receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord (Kurie), do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:55-56, 59-60

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, sees Christ as the glorified Son of Man who is enthroned at God’s right hand. The image of Christ as the Son of Man is intended to invoke the vision of the prophet Daniel:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

Stephen’s vision implies that Jesus is the One whom Daniel saw coming on the clouds of heaven to receive an eternal kingdom, and whom all nations must serve!

Stephen also prays to Jesus in the same exact way that the Psalmist prayed to Yahweh:

"Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God." Psalm 31:5

In fact, the first Jewish Christians became known for their habit of calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind ALL WHO CALL ON YOUR NAME.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized... And all who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those WHO CALLED ON THIS NAME? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?’" Acts 9:10-18, 21

"And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ And he said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’" Acts 22:12-21

In these passages the Lord Jesus, while in heaven, is able to appear to his servants in dreams and visions!

The calling on the name of the Lord Jesus finds its roots in the OT practice of calling on the name of Yahweh:

"From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD." Genesis 12:8

"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God." Genesis 21:33

"Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them." Psalm 99:3

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls." Joel 2:32

This means that the first Christians addressed their prayers to Jesus, taking him as the object of their worship, in the same exact way that the OT saints addressed Yahweh in worship. In other words, the first Christians worshiped Jesus as Yahweh!

2. Performs Divine Functions.

Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit upon believers:

"Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." Acts 2:33

According to the OT, it is Yahweh who pours out the Spirit just as the very context of Acts 2 shows:

"But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘"And in the last days it shall be," God declares, "that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."’" Acts 2:16-21

Interestingly, God’s Spirit is also called Jesus’ Spirit in Acts:

"And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them." Acts 16:6-7

Thus, Jesus does what Yahweh alone can do since he is Yahweh God!

3. His Death and Bodily Resurrection.

As we saw earlier, the Book of Acts affirms the death, physical resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, something denied in Islam:

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know -- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it... Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’" Acts 2:22-24, 29-36

"you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." Acts 10:37-41

"For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people... And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption." Acts 13:27-31, 34-37

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women." Acts 17:1-4

"So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection... ‘The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’" Acts 17:17-18, 30-32

"To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles." Acts 26:22-23

4. Source of Salvation and Healing.

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders,if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead -- by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’" Acts 4:8-12

"And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’" Acts 5:27-32

"Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner." Acts 9:32-43

"To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:43

"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" Acts 11:15-17

"And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’" Acts 13:22-25

"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." Acts 13:38-39

"Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household" Acts 16:30-31

"But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." Acts 15:11

"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Acts 26:18

These passages establish that the Lord Jesus grants salvation, repentance and forgiveness of sins. The Lord Jesus is called Leader and Savior and from his grace sinners are declared righteous. The Apostles performed healings in the name of the Lord Jesus. Clearly, the Apostles truly believed that Jesus was Savior in the same exact sense that Yahweh is called Savior throughout the OT:

"For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great." Psalm 25:11

"O God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might." Psalm 54:1

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy," Psalm 103:2-4

"If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared... O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8

"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25

5. Sovereign Authority.

The Lord has sovereign control over the elements, spirits and peoples:

"As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)... And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead." Acts 10:36, 42

"When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord." Acts 13:6-12

"As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’ And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour." Acts 16:16-18

"And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, FOR I AM WITH YOU, AND NO ONE WILL ATTACK YOU TO HARM YOU, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." Acts 18:9-11

"And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily." Acts 19:11-20

"In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, DELIVERING YOU FROM YOUR PEOPLE AND FROM THE GENTILES -- to whom I am sending you." Acts 26:12-17

These passages presume that Christ has sovereign authority over all creation and has the power to protect his followers from all things, implying his omnipotence. In other words, the Lord’s ability to control the masses of people and demons, preventing them from harming his servants, implies that Christ is Almighty!

Furthermore, Christ telling his Apostles that he will be with them and his ability to forewarn them of possible dangers implies his omnipresence and omniscience as well. Hence, the book of Acts establishes that the Lord Jesus has all the omni-attributes of God!

6. Jesus is the Human Manifestation of Yahweh

According to the Old Testament, Yahweh will appear with his hosts and will descend on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem:

"Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day HIS FEET shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him." Zechariah 14:1-5

Zechariah, in his vision, sees Yahweh’s feet touch the Mount and split it in half! Yet according to Acts, Jesus will return to the place from which he ascended, which just so happens to be the Mount of Olives:

"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.Then they returned to Jerusalem FROM THE MOUNT CALLED OLIVET, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away." Acts 1:9-12

Thus, Jesus is Yahweh God whom Zechariah saw descending upon the Mount of Olives and whose feet split it in half!

The preceding evidence from the inspired book of Acts should leave no doubts that the first Apostles believed and preached that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the very God who became man for our redemption.

Come Lord Jesus, come! You truly are the eternal Sovereign Lord and King of all things. We love you forever and will always profess that you are God to the glory of your eternal Father. Amen.

Sam Shamoun

P.S.: Shabir tried to convince his readership that because Jesus is called "servant", therefore he cannot be God. However, the real question is not "Is he Servant OR is he God?", but "What kind of God are we talking about?" What is the true character of God? The Biblical God is a Servant God, a humble God, not the proud and lofty God of Islam.

Posing this as an "either ... or ..." question, i.e. "either servant or God", may make sense in an Islamic framework of thought, in which it is unimaginable that God is humble and could (even voluntarily) serve anyone. The fact that Shabir is posing this as an exclusive alternative only shows that he has not understood anything about Biblical theology, and subjects the Bible to Islamic prejudices instead of reading the Bible on its own terms.

Even though this is found throughout the Bible, three passages from the Gospel of John and one from Mark should be sufficient to illustrate the servant character of God as displayed most clearly in Jesus himself:

... Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. ... Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. ... When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:1, 3-10, 12-14)

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:8-9)

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45)

God measures greatness differently, and applies the rule to himself as well. The divine ‘Son of Man’ showed his greatness in his humility and servant heart. He is a true servant, i.e. one who serves others out of genuine love, not because he is forced to. It may sound like a paradox, but it is part of God's greatness that he has the attribute of humility, an attribute that the God of Islam is completely lacking.

Further reading: The Character of God


[1] There may, in fact, be a passage from Acts where the Lord Jesus is explicitly called God:

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

The problem with stating that Jesus is definitely being called God here is that there are several variant readings in the extant MSS. Some MSS read "the church of the Lord" as opposed to "the church of God." Other, later MSS combine both readings together, "the church of the Lord and God." There is also a debate whether to translate dia tou haimatos tou idiou as "which he obtained with his own blood" or "which he obtained with the blood of his own." The translation "the blood of his own" implies that it wasn’t the blood of God that purchased the Church, but the blood of one dear to God, a child, i.e. the blood of his Son. The expression is used elsewhere to refer to persons intimately connected to someone, a term of endearment to near relations:

"He [Jesus] came to his own (ta idia), and his own people (hoi idioi) did not receive him." John 1:11

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own (tous idious) who were in the world, he loved them to the end." John 13:1

"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people (tous idious) and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them." Acts 4:23 NIV

"Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends (ton idion) should be prevented from attending to his needs." Acts 24:23

Thus, the text may actually be saying that God purchased the Church with the blood of Jesus, his dearly beloved, the one belonging to God in an intimate way.

More importantly, the variants may actually provide support for the original reading being "the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood." The variant readings may have arisen due to the difficulty of speaking of the blood of God, since this may have implied that it was God the Father who died on the cross. Hence, a scribe may have sought to change the reading in order to avoid any misunderstanding. Noted NT textual critic Bruce M. Metzger writes:

The external evidence is singularly balanced between "church of God" and "church of the Lord" (the reading "church of the Lord and God" is obviously conflate, and is therefore secondary- as are also other variant readings). Paleographically, the difference concerns only a single letter... In deciding between the two readings one must take into account the internal probabilities.

The expression ekkleesia kuriou occurs seven times in the Septuagint but nowhere in the New Testament. On the other hand, ekkleesia tou theou appears with moderate frequency (eleven times) in the Epistles traditionally ascribed to Paul, but nowhere else in the New Testament. (The phrase hai ekkleesiai pasai tou Christou occurs once in Ro. 16:16.) It is possible, therefore, that a scribe, finding theou in his exemplar, was influenced by Old Testament passages and altered it to kuriou. On the other hand, it is also possible that a scribe, influenced by Pauline usage, changed his exemplar to theou.

In support of the originality of kuriou is the argument (urged by a number of scholars) that copyists were likely to substitute the more common phrase hee ekkleesia tou theou for the more rare phrase hee ekkleesia tou kuriou.

On the other hand, it is undeniable that theou is the more difficult reading. The following clause speaks of the church "which he obtained dia tou haimatos tou idiou." If this is taken in its usual sense ("with his blood"), a copyist might well raise the question, Does God have blood?, and thus be led to change theou to kuriou. If, however, kuriou were the original reading, there is nothing unusual in the phrase to catch the mind of the scribe and throw it off its balance. This and other considerations led the Committee (as well as a variety of scholars) to regard theou as the original reading.

Instead of the usual meaning of dia tou haimatos tou idiou, it is possible that the writer of Acts intended his readers to understand the expression to mean "with the blood of his Own." (It is not necessary to suppose, with Hort, that huiou may have dropped out after tou idiou, though Paleographically such an omission would have been easy.) This absolute use of ho idios is found in Greek papyri as a term of endearment referring to near relatives. It is possible, therefore, that "his Own" (ho idios) was a title that early Christians gave to Jesus, comparable to "the Beloved" (ho agapeetos); compare Ro 8.32, where Paul refers to God "who did not spare tou idiou huiou" in a context that clearly alludes to Gn 22:16, where the Septuagint has tou agapeetou huiou.

Without committing itself concerning what some have thought to be a slight probability that tou idiou is used here as the equivalent of tou idiou huiou, the Committee judged that the reading theou was more likely to have been altered to kuriou than vice versa. (Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Second Edition) A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament Fourth Revised Edition [Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; ISBN: 3438060108], pp. 425-427)

The NET Bible translators state:

112tc The reading “of God” (tou' qeou', tou qeou) is found in Í B 614 1175 1505 al vg sy; other witnesses have “of the Lord” (tou' kurivou, tou kuriou) here (so Ì74 A C* D E Y 33 1739 al co), while the majority of the later minuscule mss conflate these two into “of the Lord and God” (tou' kurivou kaiV [tou'] qeou', tou kuriou kai [tou] qeou). Although the evidence is evenly balanced between the first two readings, tou' qeou' is decidedly superior on internal grounds. The final prepositional phrase of this verse, diaV tou' ai{mato" tou' ijdivou (dia tou {aimato" tou idiou), could be rendered “through his own blood” or “through the blood of his own.” In the latter translation, the object that “own” modifies must be supplied (see tn below for discussion). But this would not be entirely clear to scribes; those who supposed that ijdivou modified ai{mato" would be prone to alter “God” to “Lord” to avoid the inference that God had blood. In a similar way, later scribes would be prone to conflate the two titles, thereby affirming the deity (with the construction tou' kurivou kaiV qeou' following the Granville Sharp rule and referring to a single person [see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290]) and substitutionary atonement of Christ. For these reasons, tou' qeou' best explains the rise of the other readings and should be considered authentic. (Source)

Christian Apologist, Robert Bowman Jr., states:

5. Acts 20:28: "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." The variant readings (e.g. "the church of the Lord") show that the original was understood to mean "His own blood," not "the blood of His own [Son]" (since otherwise no one would have thought to change it). Thus all other renderings are attempts to evade the startling clarity and meaning of this passage. (Source)

A.T. Robertson, one of the greatest NT Greek scholars that ever lived, wrote:

... The church of God (thn ekklhsian tou qeou). The correct text, not "the church of the Lord" or "the church of the Lord and God" (Robertson, Introduction to Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 189). He purchased (periepoihsato). First aorist middle of peripoiew, old verb to reserve, to preserve (for or by oneself, in the middle). In the N.T. only in Luke John 17:33; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:13. The substantive peripoihsin (preservation, possession) occurs in 1 Peter 2:9 ("a peculiar people" = a people for a possession) and in Ephesians 1:14. With his own blood (dia tou aimatoß tou idiou). Through the agency of (dia) his own blood. Whose blood? If tou qeou (Aleph B Vulg.) is correct, as it is, then Jesus is here called "God" who shed his own blood for the flock. It will not do to say that Paul did not call Jesus God, for we have Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13 where he does that very thing, besides Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11. (Source)

But even assuming that the translation, "the blood of his own," is correct this would provide further evidence that Shabir is in error since this is another way of affirming that Jesus is God’s beloved Son!

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