Responses to Bismikaallahuma


In his so-called "Bible Commentary on John 10:36" Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) seeks yet again to demonstrate that the Lord Jesus is not God. He tries to go about this by misinterpreting a specific passage which he claims teaches that Jesus was made holy by God. MENJ’s implication being that if Jesus had to be made holy, then he is not God. MENJ’s argument goes something like this:

  1. God is holy by nature.
  2. Jesus was made holy.
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God.

Here is the passage which MENJ thinks teaches that God made Jesus holy:

In John 10:36, we read the following words of Jesus:

"Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"

The transliteration of this verse in Greek is as follows

hon ho Pateer heegiasen kai apesteilen eis ton kosmon humeis legete hoti Blasfeemeis, hoti eipon, Huios tou Theou eimi?

The word heegiasen is a derivative of hagiazo, which the translators of the KJV Bible translated as "sanctified". We read the definition of hagiazo as follows:

Strong's Number: 37
Transliterated: hagiazo
Phonetic: hag-ee-ad'-zo

Text: from 40; to make holy, i.e. (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: --hallow, be holy, sanctify.

The word "sanctified" comes from the Latin word sanctus meaning, "holy". Hence, the word "sanctified" means, "made holy". Since God is Eternally Holy, and we see that Jesus is claiming that he was made Holy by God, how could one claim Jesus to be GOD, from the beginning? If Jesus was indeed "made holy", it would be undeniable that he is subject to "The Father" (God Almighty) and wouldn't that mean a big blow to the Divinity of Jesus?


It never ceases to amaze us how Muslims often commit the etymological fallacy, otherwise known as the root fallacy. For more on this fallacy, please consult the following article: Shibli Zaman and the Abuse of Etymology.

MENJ is operating under the mistaken assumption that "sanctified" either has one meaning, namely to make holy, or that this is the only plausible meaning of the word within the context of John 10:36.

MENJ appeals to Strong's without consulting other sources to see whether there are additional plausible meanings. Note for instance the following definitions given by the Blue Letter Bible online:

37 hagiazo {hag-ee-ad'-zo}

1) to render or acknowledge to be venerable, to hallow
2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God

a) consecrate things to God
3) to purify a) to cleanse externally
b) to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin
c) to purify internally by renewing of the soul

(Source: BlueLetter Bible, definitions adapted from Thayer's lexicon)

As can be seen, the verb hagiazo may simply mean to set something or someone apart, to dedicate someone or something. In both the Old and New Testaments, the words associated with this verb are often used in reference to setting something or someone apart for a specific divine function. Here are some examples:

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified (LXX- heegiaka) thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 KJV

"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 1:5 NIV

God "sanctified" or set Jeremiah apart as his prophet.

"Now in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honorable use, but others rather ignoble. So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, SET APART (heegiasmenon), useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 2 Timothy 2:20-22

Here, believers are set apart for the Lord’s use by keeping themselves pure. In other words, it is not the setting apart which makes them holy in this context, rather it is through their keeping themselves pure that they are then fit to be set apart for some Godly purpose.

In other instances where the context is speaking about the justification of sinners, the word refers to God setting apart individuals from sin in order to live holy lives to the Lord:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified (hegiastheete), you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

It may also mean to simply set something apart as sacred, to view or to show as holy, as in these examples:

"Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed (hagiastheto) be Your name." Matthew 6:9

Obviously, for God to sanctify his name doesn’t mean that God is going to make himself holy, since he is already holy by nature. It means to make known and reveal his holiness.

"Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread." Isaiah 8:13 KJV

The Hebrew for sanctify both here and in Jer. 1:5 above is qadesh, for which the condensed edition of the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew lexicon gives these definitions:

06942 qadash {kaw-dash'}

AV - sanctify 108, hallow 25, dedicate 10, holy 7, prepare 7, consecrate 5, appointed 1, bid 1, purified 1, misc 7; 172

1) to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate

1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be set apart, be consecrated
1a2) to be hallowed
1a3) consecrated, tabooed
1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to show oneself sacred or majestic
1b2) to be honoured, be treated as sacred
1b3) to be holy
1c) (Piel) 1c1) to set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate
1c2) to observe as holy, keep sacred
1c3) to honour as sacred, hallow
1c4) to consecrate
1d) (Pual) 1d1) to be consecrated
1d2) consecrated, dedicated
1e) (Hiphil) 1e1) to set apart, devote, consecrate
1e2) to regard or treat as sacred or hallow
1e3) to consecrate
1f) (Hithpael) 1f1) to keep oneself apart or separate
1f2) to cause Himself to be hallowed (of God)
1f3) to be observed as holy
1f4) to consecrate oneself

(Source: Blue Letter Bible)

The LXX renders the above passage as:

Sanctify (hagiasate) ye the Lord himself; and he shall be thy fear.

Again, it would be absurd to think that the believer, by sanctifying the Lord, makes God holy. The meaning is that a person must view God as completely holy and transcendent over creation, and express that conviction in obedience and reverence for God.

It should therefore be clear that the word does not necessarily mean to make a person holy. Noted Evangelical Scholar D.A. Carson, in his commentary on John 17:17, explicates the meaning of the verb for us:

The ‘holiness’ word-group from which Sanctify derives is rather rare in the Fourth Gospel. The verb occurs in 10:36; 17:17, 19; the adjective ‘holy’ is found in the expression ‘Holy Spirit’ in 1:33; 14:26; 20:22, and otherwise in 6:69; 17:11. At its most basic level of meaning, ‘holy’ is almost an adjective for God: he is transcendent, ‘other’, distinct, separate from his creation, and so the angels cry unceasingly in his presence, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy!’ (Is. 6:3; Rev. 4:8). Derivatively, then, people and things that are reserved for him are also called holy - whether a censer for an altar in the temple of the old covenant, or a man set apart to be the high priest. The prophet Jeremiah, and Aaron and his sons, were all ‘sanctified’, i.e. set apart for sacred duty, reserved for God (Je. 1:5; Ex. 28:41). The moral overtones in our English words ‘holy’ and ‘sanctification’ emerge only at this point: i.e. ideally if someone is set apart for God and God’s purposes alone, that person will do only what God wants and hate all that God hates. That is what it means to be holy, as God is holy (Lv. 11:44-45; 1 Pet. 1:16). (Carson, The Gospel According to John [William Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K.], p. 565; bold emphasis ours)

Keeping the foregoing in mind we can now turn our attention to John 10:36. It is quite evident that Jesus was referring to God setting him apart for the divine mission in which he was presently engaged. It had nothing to do with God making Christ morally pure or holy, since John clearly presents the Lord Jesus as the spotless Lamb of God:

"On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’" John 1:29

"Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!’" John 6:68-69

"The person who speaks on his own authority desires to receive honor for himself; the one who desires the honor of the one who sent him is a man of integrity, and there is no unrighteousness in him." John 7:18

"And the one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do those things that please himWho among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don't you believe me?" John 8:29, 46

It is not just in the Gospel that John affirms Jesus’ essential purity and holiness, since he also mentions it in his epistle:

"(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the RIGHTEOUS ONE, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2

"And you know that Jesus was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin." 1 John 3:5

We next turn to Dr. Carson who provides an exegesis of sanctified in John 10:36:

Second, the clause whom the Father set apart as his very own (lit. ‘sanctified’, hagiazo; cf. notes on 17:17, 19) and sent into the world points to Jesus’ entire mission as the Father’s emissary, a mission culminating in the cross, resurrection and glorification. At the same time, it probably echoes the Feast of Dedication, which commemorates the sanctification of the temple after it had been desecrated. The Jews celebrate the sanctification of the temple, but they, like the disciples, remain unaware of the ways in which the temple points to Jesus (2:19-22), so that the really critical ‘sanctification’, the crucial act of setting something or someone for God’s exclusive use, was the setting aside of the pre-incarnate Son to the work of the mission on which he was even then engaged. In this way Jesus outstrips and fulfills this Feast as he has the others. (Ibid., p. 399; bold emphasis ours)

This is not the only place where Jesus speaks of himself being sanctified or set apart:

"And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart." John 17:19

Interestingly, in this passage it is Christ who sanctifies or sets himself apart. Using MENJ’s logic, this means that Jesus makes himself holy, implying that he is holy by nature; otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to make himself holy if holiness didn’t reside within him. Obviously, such an interpretation would be stretching things quite a bit.

The NET Bible translators’ note explains the meaning of set apart in this particular context:

... In what sense does Jesus refer to his own 'sanctification' with the phrase I set myself apart? In 10:36 Jesus referred to himself as "the one whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world," which seems to look at something already accomplished. Here, however, it is something he does on behalf of the disciples (on their behalf) and this suggests a reference to his impending death on the cross. There is in fact a Johannine wordplay here based on slightly different meanings for the Greek verb translated set apart (αγιζω, hagiazo). In the sense it was used in 10:36 of Jesus and in 17:17 and here to refer to the disciples, it means to set apart in the sense that prophets (cf. Jer 1:5) and priests (Exod 40:13, Lev 8:30, and 2 Chr 5:11) were consecrated (or set apart) to perform their tasks. But when Jesus speaks of setting himself apart (consecrating or dedicating himself) on behalf of the disciples here in 17:19 the meaning is closer to the consecration of a sacrificial animal (Deut 15:19). Jesus is "setting himself apart," i.e., dedicating himself, to do the will of the Father, that is, to go to the cross on the disciples' behalf (and of course on behalf of their successors as well). (Source: NET Bible)

Carson expounds on this:

(1) Jesus is the one whom the Father ‘set apart [i.e. "sanctified"; the verb is hagiazo] as his very own and sent into the world’ (cf. notes on 10:36). That is, the Father reserved the Son for his own purposes in this mission into the world. Otherwise put, the Son sanctified himself (cf. v. 19, below) – i.e. he set himself apart to be and do exactly what the Father assigned him. Now he prays that God will sanctify (hagiazo) the disciples. In John’s Gospel, such ‘sanctification’ IS ALWAYS FOR MISSION ...

The sweep of the Fourth Gospel demonstrates that the central purpose of the mission of the Son is his death, resurrection and return to glory. If Jesus consecrates himself to perform the Father’s will, he consecrates himself to the sacrifice of the cross – a theme he registers elsewhere (cf. notes on 10:17-18; 18:11; 19:30; cf. 1:29, 34; 11:49-52). The point is intimated in this verse by the fact that Jesus sanctifies himself for them (hyper auton): the language is evocative of atonement passages elsewhere (e.g. Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:19; Jn. 6:51; 1 Cor. 11:24). It is also evocative of Old Testament passages where the sacrificial animal was ‘consecrated’ or ‘set apart’ for death – indeed, of language where consecration becomes synonymous with the sacrificial (e.g. Dt. 15:19, 21).

(2) At the same time, the second part of the verse, that they too may be truly sanctified, suggests that the sanctification of the believers consecrated upon Jesus’ sanctification of himself must be something akin to what he undergoes. Here it seems best to find a parallel in the notion of the consecration of prophet or priest to particular service (cf. references in the notes on v. 17). Jesus dedicates himself to the task of bringing in God’s saving reign, as God’s priest (i.e. his mediator) and prophet (i.e. revealer); but the purpose of this dedication is that his followers may dedicate themselves to the same saving reign, the same mission to the world (v. 18).

Thus in language that applies equally well to the consecration of a sacrifice and the consecration of a priest, Jesus is said to consecrate (‘sanctify’) himself. His sacrifice cannot be other than acceptable to his Father and efficacious in its effect, since as both victim and priest he who is one with the Father (1:1; 14:9-10) voluntarily sets himself apart to perform his Father’s will (c.f. Heb. 9:14; 10:9-10). (Ibid., pp. 565-566, 567; bold emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding, it is quite evident that MENJ’s exegesis is rather stretched and clearly untenable in light of both the immediate context of the passage in question, as well as the overall context of John’s inspired writings.

This concludes our response. By God’s perfect grace, we remain in the service of the eternally and intrinsically holy Son of God, Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and risen Savior, forever and ever. Amen. We love you Jesus.

Sam Shamoun

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