Stephan Lochner, Cologne Cathedral, 1440-1450
Prophet Jesus (pbuh), the prophet of God described in the New Testament
Christianity is divided into various denominations, which, over time, became divided into different branches. Each of these different branches interprets the New Testament in its own way and has developed its own practices. However, the great majority of them consider the trinity to be the essence of their belief.
A few of these groups rejected this belief and, as a result, were fought and persecuted as heretics by the proponents of the trinity, who were always in the majority and gradually converted the Christian world, forcibly or otherwise, to this belief. Apart from certain minority groups we shall be seeing in the sections that follow, the belief in the trinity was generally accepted in, or imposed on, the Christian world.
As has been made clear from the start of this book, belief in the trinity is in complete contradiction to the Qur'an. Statements in the New Testament clearly reveal that at no time did Prophet Jesus (pbuh) ever make such a claim, or even implied that he was part of a triune God. Personally, he always praised and glorified God. In any case, this is one area on which present-day opponents of belief in the trinity concentrate the most—on the fully human nature of Prophet Jesus (pbuh).
The life of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) refutes the Trinity
For centuries, the information in the New Testament about Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) life, message, and wise advice has been ignored, because belief in the trinity confuses people to such an extent that they accord him divine status and hope that he will help them.
According to the Qur'an, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is a messenger sent by God to warn people and to perform the miracles that He willed until his ascension to God's presence. Although born in a miraculous fashion, he lived like all other people. Like them, he came into existence by God saying Be! and, as a human being, realized his complete dependency upon God. His human characteristics are described, with various examples, in the Qur'an and the New Testament. For example, our Lord states in Surat al-Ma'ida:75 that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and Mary ate food, meaning that they were not angels, but human beings just like everyone else.
There are many examples of references to Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) human characteristics in the New Testament. Some of these are as follows:
The birth of Prophet Jesus, his lineage, and family
The New Testament contains several statements about Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) lineage and birth: He (pbuh) is descended from the line of Prophet David (pbuh), and was born and raised (in other words, known) among his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us … (Luke 1:69-71)
A record of the genealogy of Jesus the son of David, the son of Abraham … (Matthew 1:1-2)
Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. (Mark 3:31)
The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked: "Who is this?" The crowds answered: "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." (Matthew 21:9-11)
… Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" (Mark 6:3)
Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) human characteristics
A mentality that ignores Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) human characteristics lies at the heart of trinitarianism. The fact is, however, the New Testament makes it clear that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is not the Son of God, but rather His messenger who lived a regular human life. He was born and lived as an infant, a child, and an adult. When he felt hungry, he ate with his disciples and thanked God for the food. After a long day of activity, he felt tired and needed to sleep. In addition, the people around him saw him wash and cleanse himself. All of these are natural needs that a person has to meet. Moreover, meeting such needs completely contradicts his supposed divinity.
These passages reveal that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was a human being who stood in need of God's mercy, just like every other person. He was a servant of God with very superior moral values, and was made superior to the worlds by Him, honored with the rank of prophet, and blessed with miracles. He was a man with select characteristics, and yet at the same time a helpless servant in need of His mercy. But God, the Creator of all that exists, whether living or not, is eternal, controls all things, knows everything, has the power to do anything, and never sleeps. Unsullied by any helplessness, He gave various forms of helplessness to all members of creation and told them to be aware of these inadequacies, serve only Him, and seek everything from Him.
Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was a servant in need of God's mercy
Both the Qur'an and the New Testament relate Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) miracles, which were performed with God's infinite blessing. After every miracle, however, he made it clear to everyone that these miracles occurred because God willed them to occur. He frequently stated that God was speaking, not him, and that He caused everything to happen, for He is the Only Lord over all living things. He emphasized that he was no more than a servant who had been sent to tell his people of God's message, that what he did he did by the will of God, and that all of his actions were under God's control. For example:
The above extracts from the Gospels are of the greatest importance in terms of the belief in the trinity, for they were all spoken by Prophet Jesus (pbuh) to let the people know that he was not a deity (Surely God is beyond that!), but rather a servant who needed God, acted in the way desired by God, decided in the manner commanded by God, spoke with the inspiration of God, and performed deeds of which God will approve. Moreover, all of these wise and sincere statements deny trinitarianism, whose followers seek to portray Prophet Jesus (pbuh) as a superior being who has no need of anything in order to exist. Not only does such a mistaken assertion not reflect the truth, but it also reflects a disrespectful attitude toward the glorious essence of our Lord and toward Prophet Jesus (pbuh), His great messenger. Our Lord is unsullied by such comparisons, for He is God, Who needs nothing, is without any flaw or deficiency, and is the eternal and only power. No thing or person can be equivalent to Him.
From this statement, it can be seen that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) meets only those stipulations regarding serving God. You can see, then, how truly superstitious the belief in the trinity is, since it regards Prophet Jesus (pbuh), who merely serves God, as being equivalent to God himself. (Surely God is beyond that!)
Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) prayers to God
Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) prayers also refute the belief in the trinity. People who pray is assumed to have accepted God's existence and Oneness, their helplessness before Him, and that only He can help them and is worthy of their worship. Prayer is one of the most pleasing forms of submission to God and of awareness of one's helplessness. Our Lord is unsullied by any imperfection, for He is the Lord of infinite might, Who possesses all power and therefore has no needs. Aid and forgiveness can be sought only from God. Everyone stands in need of Him, but He Himself stands in need of no one. The prayers of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) are the most devout indications of his submission to God and his powerful fear [and respect] of Him. According to the Gospels, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) prayed both to thank our Lord and to seek His help, for he knew that only God could grant his requests:
One of his prayers, as recorded in the Qur'an, recalled the most beautiful titles of God:
Jesus son of Mary said: "God, our Lord, send down a table to us out of heaven to be a feast for us, for the first and last of us, and as a Sign from You. Provide for us! You are the Best of Providers!" (Surat al-Ma'ida: 114)
And God replied:
God said: "I will send it down to you. But if anyone among you does not believe after that, I will punish him with a punishment the like of which I will not inflict on anyone else in all the worlds." (Surat al-Ma'ida: 115)
Prophet Jesus (pbuh) called upon God to perform this miracle, for he knew that he had no personal or independent power to perform it. He was only a servant charged with showing the people God's infinite art of creation.
The New Testament calls him the prophet of God
Trinitarianism's core belief consists of asserting that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is not just a messenger sent to his people, but that he is the actual physical son of God. (Surely God is beyond that!) The fact is, however, that the New Testament describes him as a messenger who calls people to believe and submit to God. In his message, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) always insists that he is a sent messenger. The way that he tells God, I have given them Your word… (John, 17:14) is particularly striking. He is a prophet, just as Solomon, Moses, David (peace be upon them all), and Muhammad (may God bless him and grant him peace) were, a messenger who only communicates the message of God. Indeed, the New Testament records that Moses (pbuh) said: God will send you a prophet like me from your own people (Acts, 7:37). Some of the statements in the New Testament verifying Prophet Jesus' status as a prophet are as follows:
The essence of Prophet Jesus' message: believe in and serve God
According to trinitarian belief, faith in Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is the precondition of Christianity, and whoever rejects this doctrine is not a true Christian. Yet there are clear statements in the New Testament that undermine these claims. In particular, Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) message is built on calling people to have faith in God alone, for he resolves the people's questions and doubts by calling on them to submit to God. For example:
These statements clearly state that Prophet Jesus (pbuh), like all the other prophets, was no more than God's chosen servant and that he submitted to Him completely. He related the message of God to his people and called on them to have faith in God, the One and Only. Throughout his life, he encountered very difficult circumstances. But despite the large numbers of opponents who sought to impede his message, he continued to expound it, exhibiting a very superior patience. With his powerful fear and respect of God, he continued to call people to believe in God, the Creator of the universe, and to be His servant until he was raised to His presence. All this makes it quite clear that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was not the actual physical son of God (Surely God is beyond that!), but only a prophet who brought glad tidings from God to his people, who warned them about the Day of Judgment, invited them to acquire and then live according to the proper moral values, and called on them to free themselves from all sorts of misguided beliefs. Not only the Prophet himself, but also those Jews who heeded his message, adopted his recommendations, and followed his path are all muwahhidun (Unitarians). The oppression they suffered never wore them down, and as true monotheists, they never departed from the path of Prophet Jesus (pbuh). They are known to us as the Nazareans.
Sincere Christians who adhered to the message of Prophet Jesus (pbuh): The Nazareans
Prophet Jesus (pbuh) left behind a small community of loyal believers. According to the New Testament, the members of this community, which consisted of his 12 disciples, his family, and those Jews who believed in him, were called Nazareans by other Jews.11This term is believed to have come from the expression Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament, or from the source of this expression.
The Nazareans continued to abide by the Mosaic Law and other commandments and prohibitions that the Jewish rabbis had developed over time. One important difference between the Nazareans and the other Jews is that the former adopted the new religion brought by Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and regarded him as a Messiah. They believed that he was the prophet foretold by Prophet Moses (pbuh)12 a man sent by God to turn the Jews to the true path and purify their religion from its deviant beliefs. Following his ascension to God's presence, the Nazareans made great effort to spread his message. The Book of Acts, the most important text in the New Testament after the four Gospels, provides important information on this subject.
The Nazarean Message
According to the Book of Acts, the Nazareans began coming under pressure after God raised Prophet Jesus (pbuh) to His presence. Orthodox Jews regarded them a heretical sect and sought to silence and intimidate them. The Nazareans were also in a difficult position with regard to the Roman occupiers. However, oppression and intimidation failed to silence them, for such policies could not defeat their belief in God and the ensuing firm solidarity, brotherhood, and sisterhood. As we read in the Book of Acts:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he [she] had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
In another section the solidarity and loyalty among the Nazareans is described in these terms:
All of the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his [her] possessions was his [her] own, but they shared everything they had … much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time, those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles' feet. It was distributed to anyone, as he [she] had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and put it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:32-37)
With such great discipline the Nazareans continued to tell other Jews about Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) message, saying that he was the last prophet sent by God to the Jews. The words of Apostle Peter to a group of Jews at the Temple of Solomon are reported as follows:
"Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders… Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His chosen prophets. For Moses said: 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.
' Indeed, all of the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers. He [God] said to Abraham: 'Through your offspring, all peoples on Earth will be blessed.' When God raised up His servant, He sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:17-26)
In these expressions, Peter refers to Prophet Jesus (pbuh) as a servant of God and stresses that he is a prophet. People are told that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is a prophet foretold by Prophet Moses (pbuh). And furthermore, there is no mention of a "son" of God. There is no reference to the trinity or of Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) alleged divine status. (Surely God is beyond that!)
Oppressing the Nazareans
According to the Book of Acts, the Nazareans made Jewish religious figures uneasy. This unease grew as their message continued to spread. Both the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman occupation administration incited by them came to regard the Nazareans as a political threat and began targeting them. According to historical records, the policy of oppressing the Nazareans grew apace. They were subjected to arrest and flogging, and were warned not to talk about Prophet Jesus (pbuh). This oppression increased considerably in 48-49. Finally, around 62-65, the Nazarean leader was arrested and executed. According to the New Testament, the Nazareans were unable to reach an understanding with the other Jews, particularly the religious establishment (the Sadducees and Pharisees), because the latter group consisted of those who nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. (Mark 7:13)
According to the New Testament, the distinguishing feature of this community, led by Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) family and the apostles, was their belief in God as the One and Only. For the Nazareans, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was a chosen messenger of God. Belief in the trinity meant nothing to them, for what mattered to them was his message. Indeed, Nazarean texts – such as the Epistle of James – all call on belief in God and concentrate on matters of faith.
Between 48 and 49, the Roman governor crucified many Nazareans, for it was thought that they played a role in every uprising against Rome. This oppression continued during the 50s. In 65, the Nazarean community left Jerusalem and migrated to Mesopotamia.
Heretics and Ebionites
From the second century on, the Church Fathers began to call the Nazareans a heretical sect. One of these, Justin Martyr, in a text written in 150, referred to a sect that recognized Prophet Jesus (pbuh) as a Messiah but nevertheless regarded him as a man; in other words, not as the son of God. (Surely God is beyond that!) Justin Martyr further stressed another matter. These people were criticized by those who believed in the trinity, and relations between the two sides were irretrievably damaged.13
Approximately fifty years later, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, published a text called Adversus Haereses (Against the Heretics). Heading the list of the heretics condemned by Irenaeus was a community described as the Ebionites.
The word Ebionites, or Ebionæans (Ebionaioi), is a transliteration of an Aramean word meaning poor men.14According to Irenaeus, the Ebionites were heretics because they believed that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was a normal human being. Moreover, according to Irenaeus, they still adhered scrupulously to the Mosaic law and accepted only one of the four gospels: the Gospel of Matthew.15 It appears from the written sources that the Ebionite community was actually the Nazareans. Church leaders used the words Ebionite and Nazarean as synonyms for each other. According to Epiphanius, the heresy of this group lay in their rejecting the so-called divinity of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and describing him as a normal human being. Epiphanius stressed that these people did not use the New Testament books approved by the Church, but used other versions of these books.15
The fact that the Ebionites believed that Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was human and possessed no divine nature was emphasized in an article, "The Lost Gospels," published in the 22 December 2003 edition of Time magazine:
They believed in Christ but saw him, as Ehrman puts it, "as the Jewish Messiah sent … to the Jewish people in fulfillment of Jewish Scripture." The Ebionites' Jesus was not a member of an eternal Trinity. They claimed he was a man whose original distinction was that he kept the entire Jewish law – with its hundred of commandments handed down from God through Moses – to perfection…16
Over the following centuries, the Nazareans who left Jerusalem migrated to Syria and lived in Mesopotamia. Although they lived in this region as a community, Nazarean teachings rapidly spread far and wide. At least during the first four centuries of Christianity, Christian sects adhering to Nazarean beliefs developed in those regions not reached by the Catholic Church in Rome. The best known "heretical" group to emerge from the Nazarean teachings, or at least to be influenced by it, was the Arianist movement, named after Bishop Arius of Alexandria.
11. Nasrani terimi, Yeni Ahit'in Elçilerin İşleri kitabında geçer. Burada gelenekçi Yahudiler, Hz. İsa (as)'ın öğrencilerini tanımlamak için "Nasrani tarikatı" deyimini kullanırlar. (24:5) Terim, döneme ait Yahudi ve Hıristiyan kaynaklarında da geçmektedir.