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Thank you for your reply, I did hear a few times how much moses is important in the Islam. Will you say he is the second most important prophet?
I would say the third most important prophet. Following his holiness Muhammad, his holiness Jesus (Isa) and finally there he comes his holiness Moses. They are pretty special for muslim world.
 

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Believe in Christ or you're in hell
 

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@bilentsob read Nigeria is pretty much divided between Christian and Muslim communities, how would you describe the situation in your city? Is there any sign of sectarianism within state and public sectors?
 

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China and Hong Kong.

Much better than in Japan, actually where a lot of missionaries from my church have gone.
Cambodia's Christian population great vastly after the end of the Vietnam War. Part of it is actively seeking change and community. Remember the words of Paul from Galatians 3.



These are trulyremarkable words. In Sunday school, I recall singing that song, "Father Abraham had many sons...many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let's just praise the Lord". At the time I was wondering how I could be related to Abraham, for I was not a Jew by heritage (remember Nicodemus, "you must be born again"). This is answered in this passage, you become a child of Abraham and heir of the promise by sharing in the same faith Abraham had in God's promises fulfilled in Christ.

The other aspect is community (see end of Acts 2) where people support each other's needs.
Didn't know it was legal to evangelise or proselytise in places like Japan.
Many countries it is illegal to try convert the local population to Christianity.
 

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Yeah
@bilentsob read Nigeria is pretty much divided between Christian and Muslim communities, how would you describe the situation in your city? Is there any sign of sectarianism within state and public sectors?
Yeah, Nigeria is basically 48-50% Muslim and about 47% Christian. So due to our population, we are top 10 in the world for both Muslims and Christian populations.
For the most part, the relationship between the two used to be civil until Boko Haram happened. It changed everything for the worse. So most of the casualties of Boko Haram are indeed Muslim because they operate in the north, which is predominantly Muslim. The problem is that they have gone into churches and carried out attacks. It's hard for people to not see that as a war against Christians (they themselves have said so). It's also made people take their anger on innocent Muslims and you can see how that cycle of hostility between the two begins.

There's also a tribal element. Most Muslims are from the North and are of Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups, and most Christians are from the south and are mostly of the Igbo, efik, ijaw and other southern tribes. Both groups have been in constant conflict with each other which led to the 1967-1970 civil war. So It's now a religious/tribal tension between the two.

But that's not to say that people don't get along. It's just that Nigeria is fragmented and anything could happen. Where I live, there's no tension between the two religions. We let each other be.

But in a few states, there are issues. Some states have a Sharia law system in place, and it is imposed on non Muslims as well. That has led to some controversial cases and even led to some foreign human rights groups coming to intervene. According to the Constitution, Nigeria is a secular state but it's really far from it in application.
 

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Thank you for your reply, I did hear a few times how much moses is important in the Islam. Will you say he is the second most important prophet?
Interesting question.
I can't give an answer though, it's not my area, I can only give my opinion.
I believe the second most important would be Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic), his "nickname" is friend of God, literally. He is mentioned in many verses as a man whose monotheistic practice is right and an example for everyone, also during every prayer blessing upon him is sent alongside Mohammad.
Moses ranks somewhere with Jesus (in what I had read), both being Prophets sent to Israelites, and both are being held in high regard in islamic teachings. There is a verse in Qur'an stating that believers are those who believe in all the prophets and not make any difference between them (treat all of them equally).
Jesus is considered to be one of the greatest Prophets, but still only a man. In our teachings he was never crucified or killed, but God had ascended him upon Heaven. He will come for the second time at the end of days.
 

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Discussion Starter #329
Didn't know it was legal to evangelise or proselytise in places like Japan.
Many countries it is illegal to try convert the local population to Christianity.
That is allowed. Part of the reason is the support Christians have given for welfare and disaster recovery. Japan actually has one of the lowest proportions of Christians in the world, very few churches and most Japanese have very little exposure to Christianity. Most Japanese have far-east Buddhist or Shinto (spirit) beliefs. My church has sent quite a number of missionaries over to Japan. They learn the language and speak to the locals. The way that Japanese people think about beliefs is quite different to the west. Family, tradition and honour play a really big part. The spirits supposed to give them luck are fickle and they have no guarantee of a response. Understanding love independent of their service to these spirits/luck charms is pretty huge to them. At the same time, Japanese, particularly youth understand the challenges of their own environment, such as workaholic culture. Often, missionaries will talk about to their neighbours and invite them for small gatherings, or tell them Bible stories to pique their interest.

354928
 

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In our teachings he was never crucified or killed, but God had ascended him upon Heaven. He will come for the second time at the end of days.
I do have one really important question for you. How does Islam reconcile this discrepancy presented in the account of Jesus's crucifixion?

What I mean is this:
Jews: Jesus wasn't the Messiah and was crucified as a criminal.
Christians: Jesus was the Messiah and was crucified as a criminal, but he was actually innocent and vindicated by being raised to life three days later.

Just based on these two sources, conflicting in their viewpoint of who Jesus was, they still both assert the crucifixion occurred. It's like a murderer confessing he did the crime, then the victim's family who saw it happen also point the finger at the murderer.

But there are others. Roman sources like Tacitus also attested to the crucifixion, as did the Jewish historian Josephus.

That's not all. Secular historians like Bart Ehrman almost universally agree that two aspects of Jesus's life were real events: the baptism by John the Baptist and the crucifixion of Jesus under Pontius Pilate.


So Jewish, Christian, and non Christian sources, and contemporary secular historians all agree that the crucifixion was very likely a real event.

Only 600 years after the event, Muhammad pops up and says that it didn't happen with a revisionist theory.
 

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In my country they mix Christianity with traditional beliefs such as in Holy Fire and forefathers as an intermediary to God. Apparently the country is 90% Christians with other minor beliefs. I am more of a sceptic, neither here, nor there. During this time, some people have been advocating for churches to be closed as they are of no use and to be turned into community centres and vegetable gardens. Pastors are there for enrichment schemes, they have not donated anything, and crying that they have lost tithe.
 

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I do have one really important question for you. How does Islam reconcile this discrepancy presented in the account of Jesus's crucifixion?

What I mean is this:
Jews: Jesus wasn't the Messiah and was crucified as a criminal.
Christians: Jesus was the Messiah and was crucified as a criminal, but he was actually innocent and vindicated by being raised to life three days later.

Just based on these two sources, conflicting in their viewpoint of who Jesus was, they still both assert the crucifixion occurred. It's like a murderer confessing he did the crime, then the victim's family who saw it happen also point the finger at the murderer.

But there are others. Roman sources like Tacitus also attested to the crucifixion, as did the Jewish historian Josephus.

That's not all. Secular historians like Bart Ehrman almost universally agree that two aspects of Jesus's life were real events: the baptism by John the Baptist and the crucifixion of Jesus under Pontius Pilate.


So Jewish, Christian, and non Christian sources, and contemporary secular historians all agree that the crucifixion was very likely a real event.

Only 600 years after the event, Muhammad pops up and says that it didn't happen with a revisionist theory.
I will have to find out more about this to address yout question. I didn't delve deep into this matter.
 

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I just looked at the numbers. I didn't know Uruguay and Chile had such relatively high numbers. Is that an effect of economic development or are they totally unrelated?
I'm shocked my answer didn't get posted once I took a look at this thread again.

As for Chile it is quite simple. Because the catholic church always supported the military dictatorship unlike in other countries, so Pinochet was quite popular in clerical circles and among archcatholic groups. A very vocal rather lefty fraction in the church which ended then in the culmination of Liberation Theology (very prominent in South America) opposed Pinochet just like a big part of Chilean society too. Until now there is a very vocal Allendeism as many saw Salvador Allende as more or less the political messiah for Chile which would have led the country into glory as promised.

Since he got killed by the military junta instructed by Pinochet lots of Chileans still remember that and they still haven't forgotten that the church picked the powerful side which was even responsible for many kills and 'desaparecidos'. Until now many people don't know what happened to their relatives during that time and the Chilean governments (mostly the socialist) were limited in their actions. Apparently lots of bishops know much more as they want to admit too.

Since the catholic church was very deep in the mud during these years and never was kind of an opposition like in Argentina or Brazil or at least a subtle critical voice like in Peru, even officially supported all these measures to stop the violent demonstrators by any means many Chilean until now haven't forgiven the church for being that politically active. Clerics who opposed the dictatorship like Fernando Castillo (even with violence) got muted by the church itself in Chile, hence this is the reason why there is no genuine Chilean Liberation Theology like in other parts of South America.

Until today the Chilean church hasn't tried anything to ask for forgiveness. Most of these circles try to openly forget what they did during these almost 20 years and brush it under the carpet. A very similar story can be told on Uruguay who had a national church which openly supported the very short dictatorship (compared to Chile and others) too, although economic wealth plays a bigger part there. Hence our country is still very departed and lots of Chilean don't have any believe in the catholic church at all.

Many young people from my generation (1995 and later) haven't gone through the classic catholic education even, so the irreligiosity in Chile is very high and quite uncommon for a Hispanic country mostly because of history.
 

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excellent presentation on the origin of life problem by one of the world’s preeminent chemists, james tour..

 

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excellent presentation on the origin of life problem by one of the world’s preeminent chemists, james tour..

Disingenuous tactic. Tries to convince people they should believe God because Cell origin is not technically understood by today's knowledge, then tries to safeguard belief in God at minute 47 by saying that one day we might understand it but that if that happens it won't lessen God. Lessening God among the population is precisely one of the consequences of scientific progress. It is true that it does not disprove the existence of God, just like not knowing things does not prove it either.

He does make good make good points on how Science and teaching should be done more rigorously, those points are however more pertinent to Science itself than to the question of God.
 

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I'm not confusing anything. All Christians are guilty of cognitive dissonance. There are two contradictory Stories of Creation in the Bible for crying out loud! White evangelicals are definitely the most delusional (and dangerous) group of Christians I have seen however.
I only know the "God created the Earth in 6 days", Adam/Eve Éden story. What is the other one?


Everything I said about Christianity is backed up by historical sources (both written and unwritten) and psychological studies.

Honestly, it's astonishing how an obscure Jewish Sect transformed into the largest religion in the world. It's the most baffling subject in history for me (and completely different to how Islam came into existence).
The way I see it is that the God in the Old Testament, i.e. the Jewish God, is a ruthless mofo while the version embodied in Jesus Christ is compassionate towards the common man, maybe that's the appeal.
 

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Yeah, maybe you misunderstood me. Christianity is definitely about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but Paulus transformed what was a Jewish sect into a universal religion and added elements of his own to it.

Christianity might not have existed without Jesus, but it would certainly not have survived without Paulus.

Hopefully some day we can find an even earlier Christian source, but until then we have to conclude that there is a lot of distortion as to what comes from Jesus and what comes from others.

The only things we can say with some certainty are:
  • Jesus was a real historical figure.
  • He was a Millenarianist that believed the end of the world was near.
  • His preaching caused a commotion in the Temple and he was crucified by the Romans (not Jews as the Bible claims) as punishment.
Everything else is just speculation.

Anyway, let's indeed not derail this thread even further. Thanks for the discussion!
You are making a lot of assertions here: we must include; it would certainly not; everything else is speculation, etc., etc.

Paul did not transform a 'Jewish sect' into a universal religion. Most Jews rejected Jesus because he was teaching a Gospel of repentance that would ultimately be realized with his death and resurrection. That is why all the Jewish religious teachers and leaders wanted him out of the picture. Jesus was saving and healing people based on his mercy and their faith - a theme that is picked up in Hebrews 11 which shows the faith of Old testament patriarchs. The tax collectors, blind, demon possessed, prostitutes, desperate etc., were the ones that found saving grace in Jesus. His disciples in fact were very slow to believe (their Jewish roots and expectation of a political Messiah), and didn't fully transform, and be willing to die for their faith, until they saw the resurrected Jesus.

This was no obscure Jewish sect - Jesus gave power and authority to his Apostles to 'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations' - that is not just the Jews. God later choose Paul to take the Gospel message particularly to the gentiles - his conversion was dramatic when God intervened on his route to Damascus. You have to remember that Paul was a political/ religious up and comer (a Pharisee) who was bent on the destruction of the early church. His conversion was such a surprise (totally unbelievable) that believers were very wary of him at first, with good reason. He was teaching the same Gospel as Jesus:

Jesus: "Whoever believes in him (Jesus, the Son) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.

Paul: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


Jesus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Paul: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is passed away; behold, the new has come."

The same gospel! If you read carefully you see amazing consistency throughout the entire New Testament. Secondly, what would be Paul's motivation to go from an up and comer to being an outcast who was imprisoned and suffered a great deal culminating in execution. The answer; he met Jesus and his life was never the same.

As for some of your other claims, you seem to be relying on commentaries and liberal scholars who are postulating theories and 'possible' sources, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the actual historical record (the Bible) which is the best record we have of any historical documents at the time.

Jesus was the Son of God, God himself - that was his claim; that is why they crucified him. I am not sure where you get the idea that the Bible doesn't say the Romans didn't crucify Jesus - it does. It was Pilate who gave him his sentence, and Roman soldiers who executed the crucifixion and guarded the tomb - the record is very detailed. It was the Jews however, who first seized him and tried him in their own religious courts. They were the ones who screamed for his death and ultimately pressured Pilate to release Barabas and crucify Jesus. Ultimately it was the Jews who wanted him crucified: "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." Of course his disciples, and earliest Christians were Jews, so this is not an anti-semitic; just the historical record.

When studied closely, the Bible is incredibly consistent with a thread of redemption throughout beginning at the fall in Eden and culminating in Christ. And it will resolve ultimately with the prophecies of Revelation - pretty relevant with what is happening in the world today.
 

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Yeah, maybe you misunderstood me. Christianity is definitely about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but Paulus transformed what was a Jewish sect into a universal religion and added elements of his own to it.

Christianity might not have existed without Jesus, but it would certainly not have survived without Paulus.

Hopefully some day we can find an even earlier Christian source, but until then we have to conclude that there is a lot of distortion as to what comes from Jesus and what comes from others.

The only things we can say with some certainty are:
  • Jesus was a real historical figure.
  • He was a Millenarianist that believed the end of the world was near.
  • His preaching caused a commotion in the Temple and he was crucified by the Romans (not Jews as the Bible claims) as punishment.
Everything else is just speculation.

Anyway, let's indeed not derail this thread even further. Thanks for the discussion!
The influence of Paul is often cited by Muslims for example as an example of distortion of Jesus's teachings. However, you'd have to give a very good reason for Paul going against the Pharisaical sect, considering that he had been persecuting Christians prior.

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Philippians 3:4-9
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16
It is a really big change for Paul to go from persecuting Christians as a student of Gamaliel to being an active preacher of Christ and his resurrection.
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
There is really no justification for Paul to endure such trials - imprisonment, corporal punishment, and numerous dangers, considering how comfortable he would have been otherwise. At one point, some disciples literally tell Paul to avoid going back into Jerusalem knowing full well what would await him (there Paul is arrested after riots break forth in the city and he is taken for trial in Rome). If it was a bedrock of lies, it would fail. No sane man would die for what they know to be a lie. And just about all of Jesus's disciples died willingly. Another argument against Paul going off track himself is that the disciples welcomed him and he stayed with them in Jerusalem early on to be sure, and Ananias was there to corroborate Paul's account.

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15–16

There were some disagreements (Galatians with Peter) but overall the disciples support Paul and vice versa, and the writer of Luke makes that clear (and in fact Luke makes an important point in Acts 1 that the disciple chosen to replace Judas had to have been an eyewitness and with Jesus throughout his ministry. Over and over again in Acts the disciples and Paul indicate the importance of eyewitness testimony or Jesus being seen resurrected by hundreds of witnesses - "you are witnesses of these things")

And you said it best when you said that you cannot fathom how Christianity thrived against all odds, without resorting to forceful oppression. It just doesn't make sense to conventional human standards. I recommend looking at passages like Acts 5:17-42 and 1 Corinthians 1:18 - 2:16. In Acts 5:17-42, the apostles perform signs which drives the high priests to jealous rage, and many have in mind to put them to death for teaching in Jesus's name. That's when Gamaliel speaks up of their behalf with a very good argument. He basically recounts previous revolts and the followings which were shortlived, since the leaders were killed and the followers scattered. And that very much should have happened with Jesus, where the disciples indeed ran into hiding. That is until the resurrection. Now Gamaliel argues that if what is happening is of human origin, it will fail, but it comes from God, then they will only find themselves fighting against God by stopping the apostles. So the disciples are flogged before being released, rejoicing for their sufferings and continuing to preach Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 really puts into perspective improbability of the gospel being spread. It was against conventional (but not biblical) understanding that God's Messiah would not be one to liberate from political bondage, but from bondage to sin. It was also through the humiliating events of the cross, one of the most brutal execution methods in Roman times that salvation would come. The King of the Jews would be coronated with a crown of thorns and raised on a staff to die. And Christians would have to proclaim that is their Saviour and their God.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.


What the apostles had to preach was foolishness to human eyes and understanding. They could not rely on their own strength or intelligence to sell this message, but on God's power.

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Let's hear it again. "God came down in human form born of a virgin and was brutally killed on a cross and rejected by his own people. Still he is the Messiah. God raised him to life and believing in him grants forgiveness of sins and home in his kingdom. He will come again on a white horse to judge the world." Okay...Why should anyone follow and worship one who had been killed in one of the most shocking ways possible? How could him dying possibly save me? Why must I trust in him to be saved? How is it possible for any dead man to come out of the grave? Why am I considered a sinner by a God? These are natural barriers to such a foolish message being taken up. Indeed when Paul speaks of the gospel to Agrippa (Acts 26), in Acts 26:23–24 he is accused of being out of his mind by Festus. Christians could surely have come up with a better story, something that is easy to rally up on, but that's not the case, probably because that was the truth they had to work with.

I finish off with Psalm 22 of David, which serves to sum up the impossible rise of the foolish gospel.


The first half of psalm 22 is bleak. The person cries out to God and seemingly gets no help. He is surrounded by his enemies who look on and gloat at his demise:

Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.


But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help...

All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!


I don't know about you, but the end of Psalm 22 seems to have predicted just how far reaching the gospel would be. There are many kings and queens of history. Most of them dead and we sometimes remember them in history. There are also many great teachers, leaders and sages in history, like Buddha and Muhammad. But here we have a man who did not lavish royalty physically, was killed in a contemptuous way nearly two millenia ago, and yet he is proclaimed by people all over the globe throughout history as being their Saviour, King and God, and is still alive! That's truly remarkable. In fact so remarkable that even should you not believe the disciples, you have to admit it would have to be the spread of Christianity and continued relevance is the greatest ploy and feat in all of history to pull off (as if to say the disciples looked ahead into the future).

Also see Isaiah 49:6
he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."
 
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