Responding to one Muslims Appeal to NT Greek Grammar
This resumes our analysis of Badawis points which he raised against the Lord Jesus in his debate with Jon Rittenhouse, specifically his attempt to deny that Jesus personally existed with his Father even before creation.
It is apparent that Badawi is getting his information concerning Jesus ideal preexistence in the foreknowledge of God, as opposed to actual personal preexistence, from Wierwille as well.
Be that as it may Badawi faces a few problems with the claim that Jesus only preexisted in Gods foreknowledge. First, if all the NT is saying is that Christ merely existed in Gods mind or that God had foreordained for him the glory which he was going to receive after his resurrection then there was a way for Jesus and the NT writers to indicate this. They could have communicated this point by using the very words which Badawi and Wierwille themselves appeal to in denying Jesus actual prehuman existence, namely the terms foreknew or foreknowledge.
In other words, Christ and the authors of Holy Scripture could have used either the verb foreknew or the noun foreknowledge if all they meant to say was that Jesus existed in Gods mind or that Christs mission was preordained before creation. After all, these are the very words which the NT writers employ when they speak of God foreordaining peoples and events:
"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Acts 2:23
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:29-30
"God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Dont you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijahhow he appealed to God against Israel:" Romans 11:2
"who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." 1 Peter 1:2
"For He [Christ] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you." 1 Peter 1:20 NASB
This last verse is quite interesting since the context is speaking of Christs sacrifice being something already chosen or foreordained before the world.
The inspired authors could have also used the following language if all they wanted to say was that God had chosen or foreordained Christ for his mission long before he was created in his mothers womb:
"The word of the LORD came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:4-5
"I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man," Galatians 1:11-16
Yet, unfortunately for both Badawi and Wierwille, neither Jesus nor the NT ever use such language, but speak quite plainly and unambiguously about his prehuman existence with the Father, just as the following verses amply testify:
"No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." John 3:13
"Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' ... Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst... FOR I HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.' So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, "I have come down from heaven"?'" John 6:32-33, 35, 38, 41-42
Notice here that even Jesus contemporaries understood that Christ was claiming to have actually existed in heaven from whence he came down.
"This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh... As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:50-51, 57-58
"Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?" John 6:62
"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came FROM/OUT OF God (ego gar EK tou theou) and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me... Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into being (prin Abraam genesthai), I am.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." John 8:42, 56-59
Here, Jesus says that he came out of (ek) God and was existing even before Abraham's creation!
"do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" John 10:36
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come FROM God and was going back to God (kai pros ton theon)," John 13:3
"for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came FROM God. I came FROM the Father and have come INTO THE WORLD, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father (kai poreuomai pros ton theon)." John 16:27-28
The foregoing examples conclusively demonstrate that Jesus was emphatically affirming that he actually and personally existed in heaven even before he became a man. John himself makes the very same point in his prologue:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (kai ho logos een pros ton theon), and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (houtos een en arche pros ton theon); all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen HIS GLORY, glory as of the only Son FROM THE FATHER (para patros), full of grace and truth." John 1:1-4, 10, 14
The Word, John says, was there even before the beginning of creation with God and as God! He even states that the Word created everything that has been made!
John uses the preposition pros which, when it is used with the accusative or direct object (as is the case here), refers to face to face relationship, to intimate discourse and fellowship. The late renowned Greek NT scholar A.T. Robertson wrote:
Though existing eternally with God the Logos was in perfect fellowship with God. Proß with the accusative presents a plane of equality and intimacy, face to face with each other. In 1 John 2:1 we have a like use of proß: "We have a Paraclete with the Father" (paraklhton ecomen proß ton patera). See proswpon proß proswpon (face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12), a triple use of proß. There is a papyrus example of proß in this sense to gnwston thß proß allhlouß sunhqeiaß, "the knowledge of our intimacy with one another" (M.&M., Vocabulary) which answers the claim of Rendel Harris, Origin of Prologue, p. 8) that the use of proß here and in Mark 6:3 is a mere Aramaism. It is not a classic idiom, but this is Koin, not old Attic. In John 17:5 John has para soi the more common idiom. (Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament; source)
The translators of the NET Bible concur with Robertson:
The preposition p??? (pros) implies not just proximity, but intimate personal relationship. M. Dods stated, "???? means more than µet? or pa??, and is regularly employed in expressing the presence of one person with another" ("The Gospel of St. John," The Expositors Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12. (Source)
This is not the only time where John spoke of Christ being with (pros) or coming from the Father:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you THE ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father (ten zoeen ten aionion een pros ton patera) and was made manifest to us -- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3
The readers should take note of the fact that John here identifies Jesus as the very Eternal Life which was with the Father and who had manifested himself to the disciples! And:
"My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father (parakleeton echomen pros ton patera), Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2
Furthermore, in verse 2 of John 1 the Evangelist uses the masculine pronoun houtos in reference to the Word being with God:
"HE (houtos) was in the beginning with God."
The use of the masculine pronoun provides further corroboration that the Word is not simply an impersonal thought of God, but an actual Person. John, thus, pictures the Word as a living, dynamic Being who was existing in eternal fellowship with God and then became man.
The Evangelist provides additional evidence that the Word is an actual Being who came into the world as Jesus the Christ:
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” John 1:6-13
The first point to notice is that John says that the true Light that gives light to very man was coming into the world which he created. The writer has already told us in vv. 3-4 that this Light who created everything is the Word.
The second point to notice is that the Evangelist claims that John the Baptist came to bear witness to the Light and that all who believe in him will become children of God, all of which conclusively proves that the Word is a Person, namely Christ.
After all, didn’t the Baptist himself say that he came to bear witness to Christ?
“John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’ ... ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ ... The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:15, 26-27, 29-34
And didnt Jesus claim to be the Light who grants believers the right to become children of God?
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5
“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them… ‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’” John 12:35-36, 46
With the foregoing in mind it shouldnt surprise us that John can speak of Christ coming from above, from heaven itself:
"He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all." John 3:31
Since Jesus is the eternal Word who was with the Father before creation came into being and the true Light that came into the world in order to redeem it!
Moreover, Badawi failed to see how his appeal to texts such as Ephesians 1:4 actually backfires against him. Here is the immediate context of this particular citation in order to see how this reference undermines Badawis case against Jesus actual preexistence:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:3-14
Notice that the text does not say that believers existed with God in glory before the world was, much like Jesus stated about himself:
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:5
It simply says that God has chosen believers even before the foundation of the world. This clearly proves that Christ's words in passages such as John 17:5 cannot be misconstrued to mean that he was simply saying that God had chosen or ordained him to share in the Divine glory before his creation.
The text of Ephesians also refers to the work of the Triune God in the redemption of believers. The blessed apostle Paul says that salvation, redemption, adoption and all spiritual blessings come from God through, in and as a result of what Christ has done, and the Holy Spirit seals all believers. In other words, the Father predestines, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit seals! Paul even identifies Christ as the Beloved, meaning the One loved by God.
Moreover, Pauls statement that believers were predestined for salvation IN CHRIST before the foundation of the world actually presupposes Jesus personal existence with the Father even before creation, e.g. the Father decreed that his preexistent Son would save those whom he chooses for salvation. This is a point which Paul reiterates in his other writings:
"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;" Titus 1:1-3
Paul, here, mentions Gods promise to grant eternal life to the elect which he made even before time began. Yet a promise requires an object, someone to whom the promise is made. When we tie this in with the following text it becomes quite clear that God had made this promise to the Lord Jesus in eternity:
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE AGES BEGAN, and which now has been manifested through THE APPEARING OF OUR SAVIOR CHRIST JESUS, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher," 2 Timothy 1:8-11
Carefully pay attention to the fact that Gods promise of immortality was given in union with or relation to Christ Jesus, suggesting that it was to Christ that God promised to save the elect. If this is the case then Christ must have been with God before the ages and is therefore eternal.
Lest there be any doubt that this is what Paul believed about Jesus, all we need to do is quote the inspired Apostles own words in Colossians 1:13-18:
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us TO THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF HIS LOVE, IN WHOM we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For IN HIM all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created THROUGH HIM AND FOR HIM. AND HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, and IN HIM all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."
The glorious Lord Jesus, according to Paul, is King, the Son whom God loves, the One through, in, and for whom creation was made, who existed before all created things, and is the very Sustainer and Redeemer of creation! For Paul to say that the blessed Lord Jesus exists before all creation itself reaffirms that the holy Apostle believed that Christ is eternal.
As if this weren't enough, Paul also says in both Ephesians and Colossians that Jesus is omnipresent, the One who fills all creation with his Divine presence:
"And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him WHO FILLS ALL IN ALL." Ephesians 1:22-23
"But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, 'When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.' (In saying, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS.)" Ephesians 4:7-10
"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27
"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, AND IN ALL." Colossians 3:11
Paul writes that Christ fills all creation and dwells in all believers because he is in all. Paul ascribes to Jesus what the OT Scriptures ascribe to Yahweh God:
"Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD." Jeremiah 23:23-24
It is Yahweh who fills all creation with his presence, something which Jesus does according to the NT! This basically proves that Paul, and the other inspired NT writers, believed that Jesus is Yahweh God. And if he is Yahweh then he definitely existed before creation, long before he became a man from the blessed virgin.
In light of the foregoing, it is rather apparent that both the Lord Jesus and the NT as a whole clearly, emphatically and unambiguously affirm that Christ existed with the Father in eternity, long before creation ever came into being.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus, come. We confess that you are the eternal Son of God who was there with the Father even before creation and is coming again to be glorified by all those who love you. Amen.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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