No Muslim can deal with Mark 10:23-27

Muslims cannot deal with Mark 10:23-27, nor the parallel in the Gospel according to Matthew 19, nor Mark 7 or Matthew 15.

Muslims such as Paul Bilal Williams and Shabir Ally love to quote Mark 10:17-22, but they always leave out verses 23-27; and they cannot deal with the context of the passage and verses 23-27, since those verses provide the solution of the argument that they are trying to make, when they are arguing that Jesus taught salvation by keeping the commandments and giving to the poor.

Muslims like Mark 10:17-22 for two reasons:

1.  They think that Jesus is denying His Deity by asking the rich young ruler, “Why do you call Me good?  Only God is good.”  Jesus is not denying that He is God, rather Jesus is saying, “If you recognize Me as good, and only God is good; then you should recognize Me as God.”  See also here, where Richard Bauckham, a scholar that Muslims love to use, and cherry pick quotes from, actually agrees that Jesus is using a “wonderful double entendre” argument and actually affirming His Deity.  

2.  Muslims think Jesus is teaching that one can be saved by keeping the commandments or giving money to the poor.  Verses 23-27 show that Jesus did not intend the man nor us to understand Him as saying that a person can actually keep the commandments and earn salvation.  Jesus is rather using the law to expose the man’s hypocrisy and idolatry in his heart.  The man boasts that he kept the second table of the law, and Jesus does not say, “excellent, you are perfectly righteous and have kept the commands”, no.  Jesus humors the man and says, “one thing you lack, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor”.  Jesus knows the man is worshiping his money and possessions in his heart, and so He asks him to do this in order to expose his idolatry in his heart.  So, the man did not keep the first and second commandment, because his god was his money.    John McArthur has 2 excellent sermons the first one on Mark 10:17-22 here on this passage; and the second one here on verses 23-31.

The rich young ruler was also a liar, deceiving himself that he could actually keep the commandments, so he had broken the 9th commandment.  And every man has violated the 7th commandment in their heart by lusting after someone else – Matthew 5:27-30 and every man has violated the 6th commandment in their heart by anger, hatred, and calling people names.  Jesus probes and gets to the root of sins.  (see also Mark 7:20-23, where Jesus says that it is the evil thoughts in the heart, on the inside, that cause external sins to take place.)  Islam focuses on external sins and does not deal with the root sins.  To be fair, there are some verses in the Qur’an and Hadith that talk about internal sins, but it is not an over-riding emphasis in Islam to deal with evil thoughts and pride, sinful anger, sexual lusts, vengence, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, greed, etc.  The emphasis in Islam is the external Sharia law in society, obeying the authorities and one’s parents and doing the rituals of Islam, and being a good moral moral for society.

Recently I asked Paul Bilal Williams several times, over several days, and at several posts, at his blog ( no longer there) about Mark 10:23-27, but he refused to even try to answer those verses, and then soon afterward, put his blog into “private” mode.   It could be that Paul Williams had other reasons for going into private mode, but it sure looks like it was because he could not answer my questions, nor deal with Mark 10:23-27.  What is he afraid of?  I wonder.  I wonder if he will re-arrange posts and delete some of our conversations in the comboxes.

Mark 10:17-27

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “ Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Jesus, in Mark 10:27,  teaches that men/man-kind/people (ανθρωποις – plural –  men, people.  Anthropois = where we get “Anthropology” from – “the study of mankind” ) cannot save themselves by good works or by their efforts or giving to the poor.  Jesus says it is “impossible” (αδυνατον).  This is consistent with the writings of the apostle Paul (Galatians 2:16; 2:21; the whole book and argument of Galatians; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16; 5:1-11; Philippians 3:9; Ephesians 2:8-9), and the apostle John (John 1:12; 3:15-16; 5:24; 6:29; 8:24; 11:25; 20:30-31)   “with men it is impossible” – no one can saved themselves by their own efforts or good works, “but not with God, for all things are possible with God.”  The whole NT message is that God saves people by His grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Romans 4:1-16), in Christ alone.  (John 3:18; 3:36; 14:6, Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13-15).

The New Testament is vindicated as one unity by teaching the same basic message.  Mark and Matthew agree with Paul and John and all the other NT books/writers.  It is wrong for Muslims to use liberal redaction criticism and cherry pick from scholars like Richard Bauckham to try and create layers of editing of the NT books.  Muslims cannot deal with Mark 10:23-27.

Muslims also cannot refute Jesus’ own teachings in Matthew 5:21-26, where He says that the root of murder is in the heart, the hatred, anger, and calling people names; and that internal sin is enough to make a person guilty and condemned to hell.

Muslims also cannot refute Jesus’ own teachings in Matthew 5:27-30, which reveals the root sin of adultery is sexual lusts and fanatasies and evil thoughts, and that those internal thought sins make one guilty enough to go to hell.

Muslims cannot deal with Jesus’ own teachings, in Mark 7:20-23, that it is the sin within the heart of man, the evil thoughts, that are the root of all external sins.  Islam cannot deal with pride and lust and anger and greed and jealousy and selfishness.  Islam has no power of the cross (Romans 6:6), nor does Islam have the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13; Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:13-26).  Islam is mostly a system of external laws and rules; in order to control society.  It cannot deal with sin in the hearts of people.

Mark 7:20-23

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride andfoolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Muslims love to criticize the writings of the apostle Paul and the apostle John, and claim that they are not the true teachings of Jesus, but that Mark and Matthew have the true original teachings of Jesus.  Well, here we have several passages that the Muslim cannot dismiss, because they are all early teachings of Jesus Himself from the earliest gospels.

Jesus also taught that no person can clean himself up by external washings (which in the wudu/vuzu وضو before the ritual prayers, is a major emphasis in Islam), because the ritual washings cannot cleanse the heart. (Mark 7:1-23; Matthew 15:1-20)


About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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9 Responses to No Muslim can deal with Mark 10:23-27

  1. Dan says:

    That is true Ken. Our salvation is not subject to our own wills but to God’s will alone, which is just as well, given our weaknesses.

    “…as for myself, I frankly confess, that I should not want free will to be given to me, even if it could be, nor anything else be left in my own hands to enable me to strive after my salvation. And that, not merely, because in the face of so many dangers, adversities and onslaughts of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my free will – for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved – but because, even if there were no dangers, adversities or devils, I should be forced to labour with no guarantee of success and beat the air only. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work it had done, there would still remain a scrupling as to whether or not it had pleased God, or whether he required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that. I learned it by bitter experience over a period of many years. But now that God has put salvation out of the control of my own will and put it under the control of his, and has promised to save me, not according to my effort or running, but according to his own grace and mercy, I rest fully assured that he is faithful and will not lie to me, and that moreover he is great and powerful, so that no devils and no adversities can destroy him or pluck me out of his hand [“…neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28]. I am certain that I please God, not by the merit of my works, but by reason of his merciful favour promised to me. So that if I work too little or badly, he does not impute it to me, but like a father, pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying which the saints have in their God.”

    From Luther’s: Bondage of the Will.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Thanks Dan. Yes, Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” was probably his best work, as even said toward the end of his life.

      In Luther’s closing remarks to Erasmus in his monumental work, The Bondage of the Will, Luther states:

      “I praise and commend you highly for this also, that unlike all the rest you alone have attacked the real issue, the essence of the matter in dispute, and have not wearied me with irrelevancies about the papacy, purgatory, indulgences, and such like trifles (for trifles they are rather than basic issues), with which almost everyone hitherto has gone hunting for me without success. You and you alone have seen the question on which everything hinges, and have aimed at the vital spot; for which I sincerely thank you, since I am only too glad to give as much attention to this subject as time and leisure permit.”

      Source: Luther’s Works, 33:294.

      Luther was very insightful. He wrote that the issue of the bondage of the will in sin, man’s inability to choose good over evil, without the grace of God, was the main root issue of the Reformation and he thanked Erasmus for focusing in on that.

      Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, he who commits sin is the slave of sin.” John 8:34

      Romans 6:22 – “but now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God . . . ”

      We do not have free will ability to choose or do good without the grace of God. We do have natural human freedom of choice in that we are free to choose as we want to choose; but the question that gets to the root of that issue even deeper is “what does man naturally want, without the grace of God in regeneration (being born-again – John 3:1-8; Titus 3:3-5; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Acts 16:14; John 6:44; 6:65) ?

      • Dan says:

        Ken, you say,

        “We do not have free will ability to choose or do good without the grace of God.”

        I agree. As any creature can only act according to what it is, so a sinner can only sin.

        As God’s gentle sarcasm in Jeremiah 13:23 points out,

        “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

        Without saving grace we can only remain as we are; sinful creatures acting according to our nature with our wills conforming to this nature.

        “The [human] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.

        There is no real choice but to act according to our nature.

        “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” Mathew 7:18

        And in the big picture of life,

        “Since God moves and works all in all, he necessarily moves and works even in Satan and wicked man. But he works according to what they are and what he finds them to be, i.e., since they are perverted and evil, being carried along by that motion of divine Omnipotence, they cannot but do what is perverse and evil. Just as it is with a man riding a horse lame on one foot or on two feet. His riding corresponds to what the horse is. That is, the horse moves badly. But what can the man do? He is riding this horse together with sound horses. This one goes badly, though the rest go well. But it cannot be otherwise, unless the horse be made sound.
        Here you see then that when God works in and by evil man, evil deeds result. Yet God cannot do evil himself, for he is good. He uses evil instruments, which cannot escape the sway and motion of his Omnipotence. The fault which accounts for evil being done when God moves to action lies in the instruments which he does not allow to lie idle. Hence it is that the wicked man cannot but always ere and sin, because under the divine power he is not permitted to remain motionless, but must will, desire and act according to his nature. We are subject to God’s working by mere passive necessity… he is incessantly active in all his creatures, allowing none of them to keep holiday… he cannot but do evil by our evil instrumentality, although he makes good use of this evil for his own glory and for our salvation.”*

        And we know all things work together for good to those who love God. Romans 8:28.

        If we reject Christ’s patient offer of salvation/healing/renewing grace and remain unchanged instruments of evil under the motion of God’s Omnipotence; the fault is not God’s but ours alone.

        And this is the judgement, that the light [the Word, Christ] has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

        But overall, our salvation is by God’s will, because the pot cannot remodel itself; only the Potter has this power. The patient cannot operate on their own heart; that work belongs to the Surgeon, and so everything happens at God’s pace and timing, since he alone knows what is specifically going on with each individual…

        “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind.” Jeremiah 17:10.

        …and how to affect repairs and change in them. We just need to be the quiet patient and let the Physician do his work.

        “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Mark 2:17

        As you would know, this is what is meant by ‘born again,’ that is, becoming a new and changed person:

        Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2Corinthians 5:17

        The tree has now been made good so that it can bear good fruit.

        *Erasmus and Luther: Discourse on Free Will, Continuum, New York, 2005, pages 112, 113

  2. Sam Shamoun says:

    Ken, here is a nugget for you from Keener’s commentary on John. Use it in your debates with Muhammadans like Williams:

    “Although Wisdom Christology by itself could portray Jesus’ divinity in a merely Arian sense (to borrow the later description), various NT writers modified such Christology by portraying Jesus as the divine Lord, often applying to him OT and Jewish language and imagery for YHWH (cf., e.g., 8:58; Mark 1:3; Acts 2:21, 38; Rom 9:5; 10:9-13; 1 Cor 8:6; Phil 2:6, 9-11; Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:12-13).

    “Neither John nor other first-century Christians felt constrained to distinguish Wisdom and divine Christologies; they adapted both by adding them together, coming to understand Israel’s one God as a composite unity. Interestingly, however, they did avoid the later Jewish-Christian compromise of an angel Christology. Neither Gal 4:14 nor 1 Thess 4:16 actually teaches it, though Michael is the most likely guess, if any, for the ‘archangel’ of the latter text, being the most common archangel in early Jewish texts (Dan 10:13, 21; 12:1). Further, Col 1:16; 2:8-11, 18; and Heb 2:5-16 may effectively polemicize against the temptation of an angel Christology.

    “That a first-century Palestinian Jewish movement would within ITS EARLIEST DECADES already hold A CONSENSUS that their founder ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND WAS DIVINE WISDOM IS REMARKABLE, considering that we have no comparable evidence for the deification of other first-century Jewish messianic figures. It seems something distinctive within the movement, rather than merely following a common first-century Jewish social pattern, produced this consensus. It is difficult to comprehend how, WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS’ TEACHING, so many monotheistic Jews in the early church would have simultaneously come to emphasize Jesus’ divine character, and, while debating circumcision, food laws, Jerusalem’s authority, and other points, fail to have deeply divided over this aspect of Christology. That Jesus’ disciples waited so long to grasp his messianic identity and even then misunderstood it, according to the Markan scheme, does not make it likely that they understood his deity before the resurrection. But if Jesus’ teachings after the resurrection (cf. Acts 1:3) made many points clearer, among these may have been the basis for what came to be the common postresurrection view of the early church. In the light of the resurrection (cf. John 20:28), the disciples could reinterpret Jesus’ earlier sayings (cf. John 2:16-22); sayings that they had supposed were enigmatic could retroactively be taken more literally (e.g., Mark 9:10; cf. Ezek 20:49).” (Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary [Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MS 2003], Volume 1, pp. 307-308; bold and capital emphasis ours)

  3. Sam Shamoun says:

    Hey bro, here is my thorough reply to William’s posting of Ally’s video concerning Isaiah 53 where I show that his arguments ends up proving and condemning Muhammad as a false prophet. This Williams seems to never learn, which is fine by me since he is continually giving me opportunities to expose him and his false prophet for being the antichrist that he truly was. So enjoy!

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