Jesus: A Servant of God

By Imam Shabir Ally

It will be quickly obvious that they often referred to him as a servant of God, but never Son of God. Peter, for example, said:

“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus” (Acts 3:13).

Peter further said: “God raised up his servant” (Acts 3:26), where the title servant refers to Jesus.

Not only Peter, but the entire group of believers viewed Jesus as God’s servant. When they raised their voices together in prayer to God, in the course of their speaking to God they called Jesus “your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed” (Acts 4:27). They repeated this title also in verse 30. Consistently, Jesus was being called servant of God by the original followers of Jesus.

Some people mistakenly thought that the disciples called Jesus Son of God. An inconsistency of translation actually helped to give this wrong impression. In the King James Bible, the translators call Jesus “Son of God” in Acts 3:13, 26, and “child of God” in Acts 4:27. They simply translated the Greek word paida as “son” or “child”. But the word paida also means “servant”, and the present context demands this translation since the author of Acts is trying in this passage to establish that Jesus is indeed the servant of God.

The translators knew that the Greek word paida means servant. When the same word was used for David in chapter 4, verse 25, they translated it “servant”. Why not call Jesus also by the same title? Or, if they feel that “son” is the correct translation, why not also call David “Son of God”? Jesus and David are both called by the same title in Greek. Why not call them by a same title in English also?

Other translators recognised this inconsistency and corrected it in the modern translations of the Bible. Therefore the New International Version of the Bible and many others call Jesus Servant of God in the verses already quoted above. Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus was God’s servant was so well known that even the King James Bible called him by this title in Matthew 12:18. Referring back to Isaiah 42:1, Matthew identified Jesus as the servant of the one true God Yahweh.

In the next part, we will see how the eagerness in some people to call Jesus “Son of God” led them to invent explanations that indirectly insult God.

15 Comments

  1. Steve Young says:

    While paida can mean either child or servant, huios definitely means a son or descendant, not a servant, and the disciples DID call Jesus the huios (Son) of God in Matthew 14:33 and Matthew 16:16. The centurion called Him the huios (Son) of God in Matthew 27:54/Mark 15:39. Mark opens his gospel (1:1) referring to Him as the huios (Son) of God. The angel declared Him to be huios (Son) of God in Luke 1:35. God Himself calls Jesus His huios (Son) in Luke 3:22 and Luke 9:35. Jesus called Himself the huios (Son) of God in Luke 22:70 and John 3:36. John the Baptist called Him the huios (Son) of God in John 1:34. There are other references, including the much-quoted John 3:16, where Jesus is God’s only-begotten huios (Son). So this “servant” theory is NOT backed by the original Greek at all.

  2. Abu Hudhayfa says:

    Jesus Christ – Son of God? Part 1 of 2

    “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is
    that a cat has only nine lives.”

    —Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

    Son of God, son of David, or son of Man? Jesus is identified as “son of David” fourteen times in the New Testament, starting with the very first verse (Matthew 1:1). The Gospel of Luke documents forty-one generations between Jesus and David, while Matthew lists twenty-six. Jesus, a distant descendant, can only wear the “son of David” title metaphorically. But how then should we understand the title, “son of God?”
    The “Trilemma,” a common proposal of Christian missionaries, states that “Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, or the Son of God, as he claimed to be.” For the sake of argument, let’s agree that Jesus was neither a lunatic nor a liar. Let’s also agree he was precisely what he claimed to be. But what, exactly, was that? Jesus called himself “Son of Man” frequently, consistently, perhaps even emphatically, but where did he call himself “Son of God?”
    Let’s back up. What does “Son of God” mean in the first place? No legitimate Christian sect suggests that God took a wife and had a child, and most certainly none conceive that God fathered a child through a human mother outside of marriage. Furthermore, to suggest that God physically mated with an element of His creation is so far beyond the limits of religious tolerance as to plummet down the sheer cliff of blasphemy, chasing the mythology of the Greeks.
    With no rational explanation available within the tenets of Christian doctrine, the only avenue for closure is to claim yet one more doctrinal mystery. Here is where the Muslim recalls the question posed in the Quran:
    “…How can He have a son when He has no consort?…” (Quran 6:101)
    …while others shout, “But God can do anything!” The Islamic position, however, is that God doesn’t do inappropriate things, only Godly things. In the Islamic viewpoint, God’s character is integral with His being and consistent with His majesty.
    So again, what does “Son of God” mean? And if Jesus Christ has exclusive rights to the term, why does the Bible record, “…for I (God) am a father to Israel, and Ephraim (i.e. Israel) is my firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9) and, “…Israel is My son, even my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22)? Taken in the context of Romans 8:14, which reads, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” many scholars conclude that “Son of God” is metaphorical and, as with christos, doesn’t imply exclusivity. After all, The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion confirms that in Jewish idiom “Son of God” is clearly metaphorical. To quote, “Son of God, term occasionally found in Jewish literature, biblical and post-biblical, but nowhere implying physical descent from the Godhead.”[1] Hasting’s Bible Dictionary comments:
    In Semitic usage “sonship” is a conception somewhat loosely employed to denote moral rather than physical or metaphysical relationship. Thus “sons of Belial” (Jg 19:22 etc.) are wicked men, not descendants of Belial; and in the NT the “children of the bridechamber” are wedding guests. So a “son of God” is a man, or even a people, who reflect the character of God. There is little evidence that the title was used in Jewish circles of the Messiah, and a sonship which implied more than a moral relationship would be contrary to Jewish monotheism.[2]
    And in any case, the list of candidates for “son of God” begins with Adam, as per Luke 3:38: “…Adam, which was the son of God.”
    Those who rebut by quoting Matthew 3:17 (“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased’”) have overlooked the point that the Bible describes many people, Israel and Adam included, as “sons of God.” Both II Samuel 7:13-14 and I Chronicles 22:10 read, “He (Solomon) shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.”
    Entire nations are referred to as sons, or children of God. Examples include:
    Genesis 6:2, “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men…”
    Genesis 6:4, “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men…”
    Deuteronomy 14:1, “Ye are the children of the Lord your God.”
    Job 1:6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD…”
    Job 2:1, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD…”
    Job 38:7, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
    Philippians 2:15, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”
    1 John 3:1-2, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! … Beloved, now we are children of God…”
    In Matthew 5:9 Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Later in Matthew 5:45, Jesus prescribed to his followers the attainment of noble attributes, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Not exclusively his Father, but their Father …

    Copyright © 2007 Laurence B. Brown

  3. Abu Hudhayfa says:

    Jesus Christ – Son of God? Part 2 of 2

    Christian clergy openly acknowledge that Jesus never called himself “son of God,” however they claim that others did. This too has an answer.
    Investigating the manuscripts that make up the New Testament, one finds that the alleged “sonship” of Jesus is based upon the mistranslation of two Greek words—pais and huios, both of which are translated as “son.” However, this translation appears disingenuous. The Greek word pais derives from the Hebrew ebed, which bears the primary meaning of servant, or slave. Hence, the primary translation of pais theou is “servant of God,” with “child” or “son of God” being an extravagant embellishment. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, “The Hebrew original of pais in the phrase pais theou, i.e., ebed, carries a stress on personal relationship and has first the sense of ‘slave.’”[1] This is all the more interesting because it dovetails perfectly with the prophecy of Isaiah 42:1, upheld in Matthew 12:18: “Behold, My servant [i.e., from the Greek pais] whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom my soul is well pleased …” Whether a person reads the King James Version, New King James Version, New Revised Standard Version, or New International Version, the word is “servant” in all cases. Considering that the purpose of revelation is to make the truth of God clear, one might think this passage an unsightly mole on the face of the doctrine of divine sonship. After all, what better place for God to have declared Jesus His son? What better place to have said, “Behold, My son whom I have begotten …”? But He didn’t say that. For that matter, the doctrine lacks biblical support in the recorded words of both Jesus and God, and there is good reason to wonder why. Unless, that is, Jesus was nothing more than the servant of God this passage describes.
    Regarding the religious use of the word ebed, “The term serves as an expression of humility used by the righteous before God.”[2] Furthermore, “After 100 B.C. pais theou more often means “servant of God,” as when applied to Moses, the prophets, or the three children (Bar. 1:20; 2:20; Dan. 9:35).”[3] A person can easily get into doctrinal quicksand: “Of eight instances of this phrase, one refers to Israel (Lk. 1:54), two refer to David (Lk 1:69; Acts 4:25), and the other five to Jesus (Mt. 12:18; Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30)…. In the few instances in which Jesus is called pais theou we obviously have early tradition.”[4] So Jesus did not have exclusive rights to this term, and where it was employed the term “obviously” stemmed from “early tradition.” Furthermore, the translation, if impartial, should identify all individuals to whom the phrase was applied in similar manner. Such, however, has not been the case. Whereas pais has been translated “servant” in reference to David (Acts 4:25 and Luke 1:69) and Israel (Luke 1:54), it is translated “Son” or “holy child” in reference to Jesus (Acts 3:13; 3:26; 4:27; 4:30). Such preferential treatment is canonically consistent, but logically flawed.
    Lastly an interesting, if not key, religious parallel is uncovered: “Thus the Greek phrase pais tou theou, ‘servant of God,’ has exactly the same connotation as the Muslim name Abdallah—the ‘servant of Allah.’”[5]
    The symmetry is all the more shocking, for the Holy Qur’an relates Jesus as having identified himself as just this—Abdallah (abd being Arabic for slave or servant, Abd-Allah [also spelled “Abdullah”] meaning slave or servant of Allah). According to the story, when Mary returned to her family with the newborn Jesus, they accused her of being unchaste. Speaking from the cradle in a miracle that gave credence to his claims, baby Jesus defended his mother’s virtue with the words, “Inni Abdullah …” which means, “I am indeed a servant of Allah …” (TMQ 19:30)
    Translation of the New Testament Greek huios to “son” (in the literal meaning of the word) is similarly flawed. On page 1210 of Kittel and Friedrich’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the meaning of huios journeys from the literal (Jesus the son of Mary), to mildly metaphorical (believers as sons of the king [Matt. 17:25-26]), to politely metaphorical (God’s elect being sons of Abraham [Luke 19:9]), to colloquially metaphorical (believers as God’s sons [Matt. 7:9 and Heb 12:5]), to spiritually metaphorical (students as sons of the Pharisees [Matt. 12:27, Acts 23:6]), to biologically metaphorical (as in John 19:26, where Jesus describes his favorite disciple to Mary as “her son”), to blindingly metaphorical as “sons of the kingdom” (Matt. 8:12), “sons of peace” (Luke. 10:6), “sons of light” (Luke. 16:8), and of everything from “sons of this world” (Luke 16:8) to “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). It is as if this misunderstood word for “son” is waving a big sign on which is painted in bold letters: METAPHOR! Or, as Stanton eloquently puts it, “Most scholars agree that the Aramaic or Hebrew word behind ‘son’ is ‘servant.’ So as the Spirit descends on Jesus at his baptism, Jesus is addressed by the voice from heaven in terms of Isaiah 42:1: ‘Behold my servant … my chosen … I have put my Spirit upon him.’ So although Mark 1:11 and 9:7 affirm that Jesus is called by God to a special messianic task, the emphasis is on Jesus’ role as the anointed servant, rather than as Son of God.”[6]

    Copyright © 2007 Laurence B. Brown

  4. Eric Christopherson says:

    Have been impressed for several years since first considering Islam that it has many honest scholarly people who thoroughly understand the Bible as well and can get to roots of many incorrect doctrines enforced early on by the Roman empire.

    Islam has brought me full-circle to where I once was as a small child who started out simply believing in One God, before becoming very confused when taught the Trinty doctrines.

    And even worse later as a teenager being told that “if you don’t believe Jesus is God, you’re going to Hell.”

    It is wonderful that Isa and Muhammad (pbut) both simply brought the same basic message from God that all prophets have always brought, that there is One God whom we should love with all that we are, and to love and help others.

  5. marcia says:

    may you please explain why jesus(pbuh) refers to god as father e.g the model prayer he instucted us to pray this way ” our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. let your will take place as in heaven, also upon the earth…” (matthew 6:9,10) it is clear jesus(pbuh) refered to God as Father at times, it is understood and clear that god is not human, he is tho father of all creation. This is how jesus (pbuh) spoke of god being the father of all creation. was jesus(pbuh) wrong to do this, according to Islam this is wrong. if the translations known today using the term father as they do son are inccorect how do you prove this? is the Greek, Hebrew and armaic word for father sometimes mistaken for god? or is this a metamorphosis that Jesus(pbuh) decided it was ok and appropriate to use, if so why is it not anymore according to Islam?

    • Perseveranze says:

      Hello Marcia,

      You have to look at context in which Jesus(pbuh) says “Father”. At the time of Jesus(pbuh), all the Jews would call God “Father”. As wiki states -

      “God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector.”

      Also, in the Torah we find much evidences of this, for example, Abraham(pbuh)calling God, “Father” -

      “Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name.” – Isaiah 63:16

      We even know that the bible refers Jews as “Sons of God”, which was never had a literal meaning -

      Ye are the children of the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 14:1

      All of you are children of the most High. Psalm 82:6

      Ye are the sons of the living God. Hosea 1:10

      Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

      Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Matthew 6:9

      Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17

      We are the offspring of God. Acts 17:29

      If in context, Muslims called God, “Father”, the actual meaning would be fine. However, the reason Islamic theology rejects/refrains from using this term is because;

      1. “Allah” is a far more accurate description of God. (Due to His Oneness)

      2. Although “Father” in Judaism means “God”, in Christianity it has a more literal meaning, which refers to Jesus(pbuh)’s relationship with God.

      For this reason, and to not confuse (or mislead) Muslims, we instead just say “Allah” instead.

  6. oh so true and in matthew 4 we see satan tempted JESUS and said since you are the servant of GOD…everybody that was called a servant of GOD satan tempted to see if they would sin for satan was looking for the one that would crush his head[see genesis 3;15]and if he could get them to obey him[satan]then they were not the one that would come and the on that would come would be GOD himself..i have speaking engagments and if one would like to hear more about this matter and the testimony GOD has givin me, i can be contacted at jacob.suchanek@yahoo.com.

  7. Shabir ally is one of islam most deceptive scholars and this shouldn't be a surprise for anyone since he is serving a deceive god. please fallow with me , I'm going to use the same passage of the bible Shabir is using to deceive those billion of innocent muslims out there. The very chapters he uses clearly teach that Jesus though being a servant of God He is in fact God by nature at the same time. He quoted chapter 3:13 but let's look at the context by reading the verses before and after.
    ACT CHAPTER 3:6- 16 (NIV)
    6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

    Peter Speaks to the Onlookers

    11While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

    MY COMMENT: VERSE 6 PETER COMMANDS THE LAME TO WALK IN THE NAME OF JESUS. WAS ANYONE IN HISTORY EVER COMMANDED TO BE MADE WELL IN THE NAME OF A MAN OR IN THE NAME OF MUHAMMAD?
    VERSE 13 THE CONTEXT DEMANDS THAT PETER USES THE WORD SERVANT SINCE ALL THOSE PRESENT WERE AWARE OF JESUS BEING A SERVANT OF GOD BUT THE VERSE PAUSES MORE DILEMMA FOR SHABIR .. PETER CLAIMS THAT JESUS WAS KILLED BY PILATE. DOES SHABIR BELIVE THAT? HE HAS TO SINCE HE BELIEVE THE FIRST CLAUSE . SHABIR WHY ARE YOU STILL A MUSLIM SINE MUHAMMAD DENIES THAT CLEAR HISTORICAL FACT?

    VERSE 14 JESUS IS CALLED THE HOLY ONE, VERSE 15 JESUS IS CALLED THE AUTHOR OF LIFE , DOES SHABIR BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE AUTHOR OF HIS LIFE AND MUHAMMAD?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The idea that Jesus was the servant of GOD versus the Son of GOD makes no difference. He was still a servant of GOD. The bottom line is the same. The only argument that muslims have over this is over the Trinity. I myself do not agree or disagree with it. Because it is irrelevant to the teachings of CHRIST. Especially in regards to Salvation. He still died to pay for the Sin of Man. And that's more important than calling Jesus the Son of GOD. Because our "knowing Him" isn't dependent upon that. All these satanic challenges are easily disputed. Because I know Islam is a book of plagiarism. And that Catholicism is a sun religion disguised as Christianity. And the list goes on and on. But still. The same TRUTH that has found its way through time, never changing, is still the TRUTH. We are living in times when the coming out of evils are no coincidence. Islam is among the pack of liars.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You made a great point. If Jesus was only a servant to GOD, then why would He have been so "different" than the rest of the people of the world? Amazing enough. These "intelligent" Islamics are like grade school kids. They pick apart tony bits here and there without realizing how it affects the whole doctrine. They aren't educated enough to consider all the facts. Because they've been raised to know one thing. Kill for Allah. NO brains required.

  10. Even paida was also use for david buh dey translate it as servant y not son den

  11. Joyce Kumari says:

    Well if Mohammed is the light that God created as first born of all his creations then why is Mohammed in the grave – ;light never dies & Jesus who is the "Word" of God who became flesh" (Bible-John chapter 1) is in the fourth heaven according to Quran & was born of a virgin but Mohammed was NOT born of a virgin.And God so loved Jesus that He took him away & someone else died on the cross again according to Quran. Where is the deception or misunderstanding?According to the Bible Phillipines:2 – Jesus who was equal to God humbled himself as a servant & became obedient even to the point of death.Anyone calling Jesus a servant will not make much difference to Jesus because He is so full of humility but God will not be pleased if you do not accept Him as His Son who was sent into the world to save sinners through His death & resurrection that whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned but has eternal life.John 3:16 – The choice is yours – believe & be saved or don't believe & be condemned!

  12. Arbaaz Jalil says:

    Why prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is in grave? Because he was a human. A prophet but a human just like Jesus (pbuh). If you think that Jesus is God because he was born without a father then Adam (pbuh) is a bigger God as we all know he was born without father OR mother.

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