Jesus says that the Father is greater than he is, proving that he is not God.

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Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun’s article

A Series of Answers to Common Questions

By

Sami Zaatri

 

http://www.answeringislam.net/Shamoun/q_father_greater.htm


Question:

Jesus says that the Father is greater than he is, proving that he is not God. There is no one who is greater than God.

Once again I shall be refuting yet another argument by Shamoun. The verse is crystal clear in itself, the Father is greater than Jesus, who can be greater than Jesus if he is God? A Trinitarian twist too cant help out in this case, which is exactly what Shamoun tried to do, add a bit of trinity to solve this mess.

 

He wrote:

Here is the passage in question:

"You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you ' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater (meizon) than I." John 14:28

Since the questioner (a Muslim) assumes Unitarianism (that God is one in being and in Person), it obviously doesn't make sense for God to speak of someone being greater than himself. Yet, if God is a Trinity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons), then it is quite possible for one member or Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members. It would be true that nothing outside of the Holy Trinity's own existence could ever be greater, but this doesn't necessarily imply that there cannot be some type of authority structure or ranking within the internal life and relationships of the Trinity itself. Lord Jesus permitting, we will develop this point more in a future article.

 

My response:

Well this argument is over before it even started, Shamoun’s idea of a Trinitarian God is illogical. I find it very incomprehensible that Shamoun’s God has 3 persons in it, and if that isn’t bad enough, they also have ranks! One member is higher in rank than the other, strange to say the least! The fact of the matter is Jesus claimed the Father (God) is greater than him, and as we saw in my last rebuttal to Shamoun’s article on Jesus and his miracles, that Jesus was a prophet, not a God, nor a person who is a member of the God-head. For those who wish to read that rebuttal please click here (*).  Mr. Shamoun sorry to say, but his trinity argument does not work for me, nor does it work for a lot of Muslims who seek these important answers to very important questions, to say that God is made up of three DIFFERENT people, each having a rank with one having a rank above the other is by far not an answer. It just makes us doubt your beliefs even more! Forget, not working for Muslims, it can work for any objective thinker.

He wrote:

For now, let us deal with what Jesus intended to convey to his disciples that the Father was greater than he. In the first place, the term for "greater" (Greek - meizon) does not necessarily imply one who is greater in nature or essence. It can refer to someone or something being greater in position and/or authority, just as the following passages show:

"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater (meizon) than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:11

John being greater than all those born of women does not imply that the rest were less human than John, or that they were inferior to John in nature. Here, the term must mean that John was greater in position and rank.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater (meizon) than his master, nor is one who is sent greater (meizon) than the one who sent him." John 13:16

Both the slave and the one sent are just as human as the master and the sender, having the same human essence and nature that the master and sender have. Thus, greater here must mean in position and authority, not in essence and nature.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater (meizona) things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

Jesus' disciples did not perform better works, but performed a greater number of works than Christ since they reached far more people than Jesus did while he was on earth. Hence, the term "greater" refers to quantity, the amount of works, as opposed to quality since the disciples performed the same type of works but in far greater number.

 

My response:

Sure we can take your argument that greater or great can mean or refer to quantity, but we don’t know for sure if it is a fact is Jesus implied this, As you said:

 the term for "greater" (Greek - meizon) does not necessarily imply one who is greater in nature or essence.

True, but as we can see, it also could necessarily imply greater in nature and essence, as you are just assuming it could refer to meaning greater in quantity. However so, the argument you are trying to put forward does not work either, because we as Muslims and several Unitarian Christians sure don’t believe that God is made of 3 persons, each communicating and praying to one another, and having ranks among each other, that is just plainly bizarre! God is one, God is not made up of 3 or 4 or 16 persons, God is one being, there is non besides him, God isn’t made up of persons who pray to each other, or talk to each other, that is just the way it is.

However so it can be said the Father is greater in nature and essence to Jesus. As we can see in the Bible every single thing Jesus had was from the father, from miracles to words he said. So yes the father is greater than Jesus in every aspect, once again just go back to my previous rebuttal [3] in which I go into further details to prove that Jesus is no more than a prophet. Anyway the term greater could also refer to being greater in essence and nature, being better and so on.

Exd 18:11 Now I know that the LORD [is] greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly [he was] above them.

 

Job 33:12 Behold, [in] this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. 

 

Jhn 4:12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

 

He wrote:

The preceding data shows that the word meizon can either mean, depending upon the context, greater in nature, position, or even both. Thus, the only way we can know for certain what Jesus meant by saying that the Father was greater than him is by reading his statement in its immediate context. A careful look at the entire chapter of 14 shows the Lord Jesus claiming to have all of God's omni-attributes:

"And I WILL DO whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask ME for anything in my name, AND I WILL DO IT." John 14:13-14

Christ is capable of personally answering all prayers that are directed to him or are addressed in his name. The only way that Christ can both hear and answer all these prayers is if he is both omniscient and omnipotent!

 

My response:

I disagree with Shamoun there, Christ does not have to be omniscient nor omnipotent for those things to occur. Shamoun has forgotten one very other important verse which throws away this claim by Shamoun that Jesus was omniscient and omnipotent for him to do anything for people who call on him or as Shamoun said pray to him. However let us show that important verse that shows otherwise. 

 

Jhn 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

 

Jesus himself says that he does NOTHING of himself, but as his father taught him, basically everything Jesus does it not by himself but with the help of the father, so the fact that Jesus could answer people’s call on him for something does not prove he is God, because he has God has helping him. Who better to help you than God? If God is helping you do things and has given you power, then no doubt you would be able to do extraordinary things, and this is a fact. However so let me ask Shamoun this, do you pray to Jesus and ask him for something? I take it you are a good believer in Christ, so I want you to go and pray in Jesus’ name and ask him for a mansion and millions upon millions of dollars, and lets see if it happens, as a matter of fact, I challenge all Christians to do it and see if Jesus will do it as he said would. However if what you ask for does not materialize then you are your own witnesses to the fact that Jesus is not God, or he didn’t mean what you thought he meant when he made that statement. However let us take a closer look at the verse to show that the verse doesn’t prove Jesus is God. Lets start from verse 12.

 

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 

It is no coincidence Jesus makes such a statement AFTER he says he is going to the Father(God). If Jesus indeed went to God, which he did, then this would make it very possible for him to hear the prayers of people to him because he is with God! God will defiantly help him, if you are with God I believe you would be very capable of doing several things with his help. As Jesus also himself said, he speaks what he hears, so it was the Father who would tell him to say such a thing. The Father would tell Jesus to make such a statement because he knew he would help Jesus and further prove that there is a God! As we all know Jesus always wanted to make people believe in the one that sent him, and claimed everything he does is from the father, so that the people would believe in the one who sent him (God). So if Jesus was able to do such a great thing, it would defiantly make people believe that there is a God, that there is someone who sent Jesus! However looking at the context it can also be said that Jesus was just merely addressing his disciples. Let us start a bit earlier.

Let us start from verse 4. 

 

4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

 

From those verses we see some of the disciples getting a bit worried. Namely Thomas as he says that they don’t where Jesus is going and how can they find the way, a few verses later we then say Phillip asking Jesus to show him the father. Jesus obviously gets a bit frustrated by that comment, because there is still some doubt in Phillips heart that he asks Jesus to show him the father, so Jesus basically says if you see me you see the Father, followed all the way to verse 11. Now we move on to the main verses and we see Jesus saying  12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my  Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 

 

So it is quite clear that Jesus was basically addressing his disciples and telling them that if they asked anything in his name he would do it. Since his disciples were basically 11 people only, and since they were close with Jesus, it would be no surprise of Jesus up there in heaven with the help of God to hear them, and give them what they ask for to help them out. God will always help is servants and workers. 

 

He wrote:

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, AND I AM IN YOU. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:20-21

Christ says that he is IN all the disciples, an impossible claim if he was only a man, or even an angel. But since Jesus is God, and since God is omnipresent, it therefore makes perfect sense for Christ to say he is able to dwell in all the believers at the same time.

 

My response:

 

Well Shamoun has made a big deal of the fact that Jesus says that he is in the disciples. He claims Jesus has to be God because he is able to dwell in the believers, but however what is funny is Jesus also says: "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me. So are his disciples God too?! Are his disciples God because he claimed they are in him too?! I don’t think Shamoun would say that, so it is funny that he tried to trick the readers by trying to show Jesus is God by saying he is in the disciples, one must ask Shamoun, why do such tactics? 

 

He wrote:

Finally:

"Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.’" John 14:23

Both the Father and the Son make their home with all true believers! Christ is clearly claiming co-equality with the Father since he is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is!

In light of the foregoing, it is quite clear what the Lord Jesus meant that the Father was greater than him. The Scriptures teach that when Christ became a man, he assumed the role and position of a slave/servant:

"For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves." Luke 22:27

"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, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, do you wash my feet?' Jesus answered him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.' For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, 'Not all of you are clean.' When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.'" John 13:3-15

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8

Thus, as long as Christ remained on earth in the form and position of a humble slave, enduring persecution, insults, injury, and subsequently the shame of the cross, the Father would be greater in position and honor. Once Christ returns to heaven to be seated alongside his Father, he would no longer be in that state of humiliation. He would share, once again, that same divine glory and sovereign authority that he had with the Father before he had come to the earth as a man:

"Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was... Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:5, 24

Thus, the Father was greater in position and rank, not in essence and nature. The questioner is, therefore, committing a categorical fallacy. He/she is confusing the category of position and rank with the category of essence and nature, erroneously assuming that if one is greater in one way, i.e. position and authority, than he/she must be greater in every way, i.e. essence and nature. In light of these clear biblical truths, such is not the case at all.

 

My response:

Shamoun posts verse John 14:23 to show that both him and the Father are co-equal to once again try and prove Jesus is God, let us quote the verse:

"Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.’" John 14:23

Nowhere in that verse does it prove Jesus is co-equal with the father, just because Jesus says he will come with the Father does not make him co-equal! We already know Jesus went to the Father so it would make sense for Jesus and the Father to come together to the one who believes and loves Jesus. However it is more interesting to read on to the end of the verse in which Jesus says that he and the Father will make their home with the believer. Shamoun also takes this as Jesus being co-equal because Jesus says our implying him and the Father, but what is more interesting is that they will make their home with the believer! So is that the believer is co-equal with the Father to, and does that make the believer God?! Using Shamoun’s logic, yes that believer is God as well, because Jesus and the Father will make their home with the believer, and that believer will be with Jesus and the Father, all being together.

 

However let us quote one verse that I find very interesting if we were to use Shamoun’s argument.

 

Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

 

So using Shamoun’s logic does that make the angels God too?! Since Jesus is God and he is coming down WITH the angels together, hence making them co-equal hence making the angels are God too?! So either Shamoun takes back his argument that Jesus is co-equal with the Father just because they came together to the believer, or he accepts the fact that those angels who came with Jesus are God too, his choice. 

John 13:3-15 doesn’t mean anything. As for Philippians, I could care less to what Paul said, he maybe thought that Jesus was God and became obedient and lowered himself when he became a man, but I could care less. However so we are still left with the fact that angels are God according to Shamoun since they came with Jesus, making them co-equal, and making things worse they come with Jesus when he is supposed to be in divine form when he comes to judge men and reward them for their works! So angels are co-equal with the supposed divine form of Jesus, and according to Shamoun, that makes them God!  However if we take Philippians as if it were to be true, then this would lead to further problems, lets quote the verse:

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8

It is interesting, we see Paul make the claim that Jesus made himself nothing, and just became a servant. If we take that for a fact, then I would like to ask Shamoun why does he take Jesus’ miracles and several of his statements of him being God? Paul said himself that Jesus made himself NOTHING meaning he could not do a single thing by himself, meaning he made himself un-divine and becoming a servant, however in several of Shamoun’s articles and amongst millions of Christians, they always make the argument that Jesus performed several miracles that proved he was God. However if that were true then that would contradict the statement of Paul claiming that Jesus made himself nothing, for if Jesus made himself nothing then those miracles he did do were not of himself, since he was just a servant. So it makes no sense for Christians to make a claim and say that Jesus was just a servant and that’s why we would see him acting like a man, and then turn around and say this miracle proves Jesus is God! How could a man do such a miracle!

 

So Christians must make their mind up, if Jesus made himself nothing and to become a servant, then there is nothing unique and special in the miracles he did, and the statements he made, however if there is something unique and special in the miracles and statements he said that prove he is God, then Jesus defiantly didn’t make himself just to be a servant and to make himself nothing. Often Christians such as Shamoun, always try to show that Jesus was more than a man, more than a mere prophet, however then that contradicts Paul when he states Jesus made himself nothing, meaning Jesus was no more than a man, so Christians cant make the argument and say NO NO JESUS WAS MORE THAN A MAN! I will let Christians decide for themselves, was Jesus just a servant? Who made himself nothing and un-divine? Or is Jesus more than a man? More than a mere servant? To pick both as answers leaves a contradiction, however to answer one of them still leaves you with a problem. If you say Jesus was a mere man and a prophet, then you can no longer use the statements and miracles he did as proving he is God. If you go for option 2, and say Jesus was more than a man, and his miracles and statements he did prove so, then Paul was wrong when he said Jesus made himself nothing, and to become a mere servant, because if Jesus was nothing then the miracles he performed were not his own, nor were the statements he made.

 

Other problems that will arise for choosing option 2 is that many other passages in the Bible state the same thing, in which Jesus is just a mere servant, he made himself a man. So either way you’re left with major problems.

 

However me as a Muslim, I have no problems. I know Jesus is a prophet, the messiah, born of a miraculous birth, and he was sent to the children of Israel to bring them back to God, and that he didn’t die but was saved by God. Please visit my last rebuttal (*) to Sam Shamoun in which I also prove that Jesus was a prophet from the Bible, and not God. Well having said that, I also once again proved that Jesus was not God in this rebuttal too.

Finally Shamoun uses John 17:5 and 24. Lets quote the verses: 

"Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was... Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:5, 24

That in no way proves that Jesus is God to, what is wrong with loving Jesus before the foundation of the world? God has knowledge of all those he will create before they are even created, so yes God loved Jesus even before the world was made, so the fact that Jesus makes the statement before the world was is not very special. God loves all of his true believers before the world was, because he has foreknowledge of everything. Very interesting we see something similar to the case of Jeremiah.

 

Jeremiah 1: 4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations

 

So as we see God already knew Jeremiah before he even created him, and of course God loved him to, so God knew and loved Jeremiah before he even created him, and not only that, he already had a plan for him, to become a Prophet. So does that make Jeremiah God? No it doesn’t. 

 

So Shamoun failed to answer the question yet again, he tried to show greater than did not mean that Jesus meant the father was better than him, which he never really did even with those verses he provided. Shamoun however showed us that he believes some angels are Gods too, and Shamoun’s arguments to prove Jesus is God were easily refuted and countered, his usage of Philippians hurts his cause even more. So basically no answer to the question, but we all know the answer anyway. Jesus said the Father is greater than him because the fact is, the Father is greater than him. Jesus was a Prophet, not a God, for some further prove of this please click here (*)(*)(*), so the question still remains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebuttals, and exposing the lies of the Answering Islam team section.

Rebuttals to Sam Shamoun's Articles section.

Sami Zaatari's Rebuttals section.


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