Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Before Adam Was, Jesus Is! Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We continue from where we left off.

Now to answer the question concerning why Jesus said he is before Abraham, as opposed to saying that he is before Adam, it is because his opponents mentioned Abraham, just as the context itself shows:

“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he (ego eimi), and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” John 8:28-41

Here the Lord Jesus identifies himself as the Son of man who always pleases the Father since he can only do what the Father commands, thereby showing their perfect union and fellowship. He further states that salvation is dependent on recognizing that he is the “I Am” (ego eimi), otherwise a person shall die in his/her sins.

Christ then claims to be the Son who has the power to set people free from bondage to sin. This in itself is an astonishing statement since the Scriptures are emphatically clear that all humans are sinners who are incapable of overcoming the power of sin that has taken them captive:

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Proverbs 20:9 – cf. Genesis 6:5; 8:21; 1 Kings 8:39; Psalm 51:5; 58:3; 130:3; 143:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; 9:3; Matthew 7:11; 12:33-34; Luke 11:13; John 7:7, 19

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-25

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:3-8 – cf. 3:9-20

Therefore, in order for Christ to be able to set all those who come to him free from sin’s captivity and oppression he himself cannot be under the power of sin, and must therefore be absolutely sinless, as well as all-powerful.

It is in this context that Jesus’ opponents mention Abraham, claiming him as their father, an assertion which Christ denies. According to the Lord, if they were truly Abraham’s seed then they would act like him and do as he did. However, these Jews were trying to kill Christ, something that Abraham did not try to do.

This last statement is rather baffling since for Christ to say that Abraham didn’t try to do to him what his Jewish opponents were intending to do, namely kill him, implies that he and Abraham actually saw and met each other. This fact is brought out more clearly a little later in the context:

“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour MY Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is MY Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham REJOICED to see my day: and he saw it, AND WAS GLAD. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am (ego eimi). Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:48-59

Here Jesus explains that he is not only greater than all the prophets including Abraham, but that the patriarch eagerly desired to see Christ and did so. And, unlike Jesus’ Jewish opponents, Abraham was glad to see the Lord. This baffled the Jews since they understood from Jesus’ statements that he was claiming to have personally seen Abraham, which is why Christ knew that their ancestor had rejoiced to see the Lord’s day, even though Jesus wasn’t yet fifty years old. How then, they wondered, could Jesus have seen Abraham who had been dead for approximately two thousands years?

This is where we can clearly perceive how Jesus’ answer points to his divine identity. The reason Christ could have seen Abraham is that, unlike the patriarch who came into being, the Lord has always been in existence! Jesus, in other words, was telling the Jews that he was actually considerably older than fifty since he is timeless, and therefore eternal by nature, which is why he could have seen Abraham. This also explains why the Jews picked up stones to stone him, thereby fulfilling what Jesus had told them earlier that they were trying to kill him even though he had told them the things which he heard from his Father. These Jews clearly realized that by claiming to be timeless Jesus was basically making himself out to be Yahweh God in the flesh, since only Yahweh has eternally existed:

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psalm 90:1-2

“Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.” Psalm 93:2

Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” Habakkuk 1:12

Hence, the reason why Jesus contrasts his eternal prehuman existence with Abraham’s creation is because his Jewish opponents brought up Abraham in their discussion.


The Muslims’ Dilemma

Here is where these Muslim dawagandists run into a bit of a problem. The Quran asserts that Allah is the owner of glory, meaning that he is the one who is to be glorified:

They said: Wonderest thou at the commandment of Allah? The mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, O people of the house! Lo! He is Owner of Praise, Owner of Glory (majeedun)! S. 11:73 Pickthall

In fact, one of the names of the Islamic deity is al-Majid, meaning “the glorious.” He is also called an-Nur, meaning “the light,” since Allah is supposed to be the light of the heavens and the earth:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything. S. 24:35 Hilali-Khan


Al-Mâjid, Al-Majîd: The Noble, The Glorious

He who possesses superiority or abundance of good (the root of majd is a field full of pasturage), richness, and superabundance; the Glorious, Great, Great in Dignity, He who gives liberally or bountifully. He who is glorified for His deeds and nobleness and is vast in nobility and generosity. Al-Majîd indicates honour in respect of the Essence, and Al-Mâjid points to honour in respect of the attributes.

Al-Mâjid and Al-Majîd are two of the Ninety-Nine Names…

An-Nûr: The Light

The light, guide, the One who illuminates; the One who is manifest, clear.

An-Nur is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Aisha Bewley, Divine Names)

Moreover, the Quran denies that Allah has a son who shares in his glory or attributes, even going so far as to curse and threaten Christians with death for believing that Christ is the Son of Allah:

And they (Jews, Christians and pagans) say: Allah has begotten a son (children or offspring). Glory be to Him (Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth, and all surrender with obedience (in worship) to Him. S. 2:116 Hilali-Khan

And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! S. 9:30 Hilali-Khan – cf. Q. 5:18; 6:101; 17:111; 19:88-93; 21:26; 25:2; 39:4; 72:3

As such, Muhammad and/or the author(s) of the Quran stand condemned by the teachings of the Lord Jesus and his blessed disciples, who all taught that Christ is the divine Son of God who existed alongside the Father in the same divine glory even before the world came into existence.  This makes Muhammad one of the false prophets and antichrists that the Holy Bible warned would be coming into the world:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:15-20

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time… Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” 1 John 2:18, 22-25

So much for the argument of these dawagandists.

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible.