Alright! so I am a Christian. Just don’t read this, and get your panties in a wad. I serve all American’s 6 days a week, and the few remaining Christians once a week, big deal!
An Examination of John 17:5 in light of one Muslim’s Response
Saami Zaatari has recently provided a “rebuttal” to my exegesis of John 17:3. In it he cites some comments by Bassam Zawadi regarding John 17:5, which is the part that we would like to address here:
What does glory mean? It means honor, praise, reputation. The Father already knew and had preordained that Jesus Christ is going to come. Therefore Jesus’ honor and glory was there with God already because God already knew about him. The coming of the Messiah has been talked about for thousands of years before Jesus came. He had glory then, even though he wasn’t born yet. Because he already had a reputation and god has love for him already. Look at this verse….
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sght. In love
To begin with, Jesus doesn’t request that the Father grant him the glory which was ordained for him even before the world. Rather, he expressly requests the glory that he himself personally had with the Father even before the world was:
“And now, Father, glorify me IN YOUR OWN PRESENCE with the glory THAT I HAD WITH YOU before the world existed.” John 17:5
Compare this with the Amplified Bible:
And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed.
Moreover, it is the plain and consistent teaching of John’s Gospel that Jesus existed even before the creation as the Word who had intimate, personal communion with God the Father:
“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! The preposition pros, when used with the accusative or direct object (as is the case here), refers to face to face relationships, 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; online source)
As the translators of the NET Bible state:
The preposition πρός (pros) implies not just proximity, but intimate personal relationship. M. Dods stated, “Πρός …means more than μετά or παρά, and is regularly employed in expressing the presence of one person with another” (“The Gospel of St. John,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12. (Source)
Furthermore, in verse 2 John 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. Thus, John pictures the Word as a living, dynamic Being who was existing in eternal fellowship with God and then became man. In fact, John not only speaks of Christ coming down from heaven, but also returning there to resume fellowship with the Father:
“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
“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
“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 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
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
“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
Notice that John expressly says that Jesus is the very Eternal Life that was with the Father and who had manifested himself to the disciples! John also says that Jesus is currently with the Father.
What the foregoing conclusively demonstrates is that John 17:5 is not referring to a glory which God had foreordained that Christ would have. Rather, John 17:5 emphatically affirms that Jesus himself personally existed with the Father in glory even before the world was created, a fact which proves that Jesus is Yahweh God. After all, the Holy Bible says Yahweh will not give his glory to another:
“I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8
“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:11
And yet Jesus shared the same Divine glory with his Father even before creation since he, much like the Father, is Yahweh God! In fact, Yahweh is also called the King of glory:
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! [Selah]” Psalm 24:7-10
And yet Jesus is identified as the very Lord of glory!
“None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8
We now turn our attention to Ephesians 1:4 to see what Zawadi failed to quote:
“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 hm 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
Ephesians 1:4 backfires against Zawadi for several reasons. In the first place, the above text does not say that believers existed with God in glory before the world was. It states that God had chosen believers even before the foundation of the world. This proves that Christ’s words in 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 Christ was created.
Second, notice here the work of the Triune God in the redemption of believers. 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 that believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Hence, 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, the very fact that Paul says believers were predestined for salvation IN CHRIST before the foundation of the world presupposes Christ’s existence with the Father even before creation. Paul repeats this very point 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 says that God had made a promise even before time began to grant eternal life to the elect. A promise requires an object, someone to whom the promise is made. According to Paul, Christ was there before time began and then appeared to destroy death and usher in immortality:
“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
What the foregoing leads us to conclude is that God had made the promise to Christ even before the creation of the ages that he would grant eternal life to all the elect. Yet for Christ to be with God before the ages shows that he is eternal! Lest there be any doubt that this is what Paul believed about Christ, all we need to do is quote the inspired Apostle’s 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 of God’s love, the One through, in, and for whom creation was made, the One who existed before all creation, the very Sustainer and Redeemer of creation! For Paul to say that the blessed Lord Jesus is before all things reaffirms that Paul believed Jesus is eternal.
As if this weren’t enough, Paul says in both Ephesians and Colossians that Jesus is omnipresent, the One who fills all creation with his presence:
“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL RULE AND AUTHORITY AND POWER AND DOMINION, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 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 1:19-23
“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 God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him above all authority and dominion, showing that Christ is the Sovereign Lord and Ruler over everything both in this age and in the eternal age to come, 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! What this essentially means is that Paul, and the other NT writers, clearly believed that Jesus is Yahweh God.
This concludes our analysis of Zawadi’s rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, we will try to follow this up with a refutation of the rest of Zaatari’s “reply”.
In the service of God’s eternal Son, Jesus Christ, the very Lord of glory, for ever and ever. Come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.