Analyzing Jesus’ (pbuh) deity from the judgment perspective
Many Christians, especially the Trinitarian version, claim that one of the reasons why Jesus (peace be upon him) is God because he would judge the world. However, contrary to this belief, the very reason that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a judge nullifies all Trinitarian claims that he is God (!). The very act of Jesus (peace be upon him) of judging others provides substantial grounds to establish that he is not divine – as we are going to witness in this paper.
If somebody judges under someone else’s authority then there is nothing special, let alone, divine about his/her judgment capacity.
On the contrary judging under somebody does prove that (a) The (divine) attribute of judgment is not innate in the subject candidate and (b) The subject candidate works under the servitude of some higher authority. Both the arguments establish that the subject candidate is not an absolute Deity thus any service/worship rendered towards him/her would be the sin of “shirk” (1.).
Christian Apologist, Sam Shamoun ratifies our premise when he apologizes that Christian believers are not deified because they judge under the authority of Christ (peace be upon him) and do not innately possess the divine attribute:
Fifth, the believers judge the world on behalf of the risen Lord, or as Christ’s agents and representatives. As such, they will not be judging on their own authority, but will be pronouncing Christ’s verdict upon the world.
Fourth, even though the believers are granted the privilege to reign and judge with Jesus, they are still subject to the authority of Christ.
These passages make it abundantly clear that it is Christ who gives believers the right to reign and judge with him. Yet these verses also show that Jesus will continue to reign over all of them as King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, the believers do not share parity of status with the Father or the Son, but will remain subject to them forever.
To sum up Shamoun’s comments, there is nothing divine about Christian believerseven though they judge others because: (1) They judge under the authority of superior. (2) Their judgments would not be originating innately from themselves as“they will not be judging on their own authority” but that (3) they are only“representatives” and “agents” of someone else.
With this premise in mind, let us examine the candidacy of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) divinity in judgment perspective.
New Testament Instances
We find interesting biblical verses related to the topic at hand:
For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Luk 7:8)
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Mat 8:9)
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authorityover all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luk 9:1)
The first two verses, namely, Luke 7:8 and Matthew 8:9 were supposedly said by a Roman Officer who was trying to humble himself (c.f. Luke 7: 1 – 9) in order to request Jesus (peace be upon him) to visit and cure his servant who was ill.
In the process of expressing his humbleness, the Roman Officer expresses that although he is on a seemingly high post but in reality such a position has been vested on him, he has no authority of his own but that such an authority has beengiven to him. Therefore, there is nothing high or esteemed associated with it but, contrariwise, modesty expressed. As noted Bible expositor John Gill concurs:
Of the Roman senate; “or belonging to the emperor”, as the Arabic version renders it; and under the command of a tribune, as a centurion was: so that this is not an amplification, but a diminution of his office; and his sense is, that even he who was but an inferior officer, yet had such power as after related (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Luke 7:8)
Similarly, disciples would have been able to exorcise unclean spirits and cure malignant diseases not because they had the abilities to do them innately but because such abilities were vested onto them.
In other words, there is nothing special about disciples having power and authority over devils and diseases simply because the qualities and authority was not innately present but was vested on them.
Jesus (peace be upon him) has no authority of his own
With this said and understood, we find instances in the New Testament (NT) where Jesus (peace be upon him) candidly accepts that he has no divinely innate ability to judge but that he judges under the vested authority of God – Almighty:
“And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (Joh 5:27)
“I can do nothing on my own authority. I JUDGE ONLY AS GOD TELLS ME so judgment is right, because I am not trying to do what I want, but only what he who sent me wants.” (The Gospel According to John 5:30, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version)
The following observations are perspicuous and glaring:
- Jesus (peace be upon him) – can do nothing of his own authority, Jesus (peace be upon him) is ironically and admittedly, not just divinely impotent but also subservient to a higher authority.
- Jesus (peace be upon him) candidly admits that he judges under the authorityof someone else, that is, God – Almighty.
- Jesus (peace be upon him) is confirmed about his judgments being “right”/correct, not because he knows as God but because they come from his Higher Authority, God – Almighty.
We find substantiations for the above observations in the works of major Christian scholars of the Bible.
Of mine own self – See Joh 5:19. The Messiah, the Mediator, does nothingwithout the concurrence and the authority of God. Such is the nature of the union subsisting between them, that he does nothing independently of God. Whatever he does, he does according to the will of God.
As I hear I judge – To “hear” expresses the condition of one who is commissioned or instructed. Thus Joh 8:26, “I speak to the world those things which I have “heard” of him;” Joh 8:28, “As the Father hath TAUGHT me, I speak those things.” Jesus here represents himself as commissioned, taught, or sent of God. When he says, “as I ‘hear,’” he refers to those things which the Father had “showed” him Joh 5:20 – that is, he came to communicate the will of God; to show to man what God wished man to know.
I judge – I determine or decide. This was true respecting the institutions and doctrines of religion, and it will be true respecting the sentence which he will pass on mankind at the day of judgment. He will decide their destiny according to what the Father wills and wishes – that is, according to justice. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John 5:30)
Observe Albert Barnes states that Jesus (peace be upon him) judges (1.) under the “authority of God”, (2.) he derives his judgments from God – Almighty, (3.) Jesus (peace be upon him) is “commissioned, instructed, send by God (to) communicate the will of God.”
Very importantly Barnes also asserts that (4.) Jesus (peace be upon him) even “at the day of Judgment would judge according to what the Father wills”; in other words Jesus (peace be upon him) even on Judgment day would not judge on his own absolute authority.
We are intrigued to think which absolute Deity and an absolutely divine Judge would not judge on His own authority even on Judgment day?!
On the forgoing it would not be wrong if we say that,
Jesus (peace be upon him) is God’s agent, his ambassador so to speak, through whom God accomplishes his will and proclaims his message. This is precisely why the exalted God permits Jesus (peace be upon him) to judge the world on His behalf, since as God’s representatives he will pronounce God’s verdict upon the disbelievers for rejecting Him.
Now compare this with the standards which Shamoun sets to reject the divinity of mere Christian believers:
Moreover, our spiritual union with Christ also implies that we act as Christ’s agents,his ambassadors so to speak, through whom the risen Lord accomplishes his will and proclaims his message. This is precisely why the exalted Lord permits us to judge the world on his behalf, since as Christ’s representatives we will pronounce Christ’s verdict upon the disbelievers for rejecting him and his free offer of salvation(Source)
Therefore, if Shamoun is consistent with his arguments to reject the divinity of mere Christian believers since they do not judge on their own authority then on the same arguments he should out right reject divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) as well (!) since even on Judgment day Jesus (peace be upon him) is not going to judge on his own authority!
Another Christian scholar Robertson further puts Shamoun’s argument in to perils. According to Robertson, Jesus’ (peace be upon him) decisions would be sacrosanct and dependable, not because they are originating from him, but because God would be guiding it super-naturally:
As all judgments should be. The reason is plain (hoti, because), the guiding principle with the Son being the will of the Father who sent him and made him judge. Judges often have difficulty in knowing what is law and what is right, but the Son’s task as Judge is simple enough, the will of the Father which he knows (Joh 5:20). (Robertson’s Word Pictures, Joh 5:30)
Not merely does, Robertson claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) judges under the subservience of somebody else but he also claims that higher authority has madeJesus (peace be upon him) a judge. Therefore, firstly, Jesus (peace be upon him) is not a judge by himself or innately but has been conferred the duty and post of judgment from some higher authority. The very reason that Jesus (peace be upon him) “WAS MADE” a judge establishes that he is not a absolutely divine judge innately; as it is absurd to think that an absolutely divine Judge would be made so by some other authority!
And, subsequently, as we saw in our premise, such an act of conferring someone a post “is not an amplification, but a diminution of office”. Therefore, it is just too stark and ironical to claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) is “amplified”, in other words deified, since he judges. On the contrary, according to Bible experts, itdiminishes his status to a “mere messenger” (c.f. Qur’an 4:171, 5:75).
Also notice the rationale why Robertson feels that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) task of judging would be easy or in other words “simple enough”. Because he will merely have to follow the wills of the Father! Therefore, all Jesus (peace be upon him) would be doing is blindly following the judgments of God and passing it on to others, subsequently, we ask, is it justified enough to worship him because of his judgments when all he does is merely communicate someone else’s authority?
There is more to be deducted from Robertson’s commentary. While providing the rationale for Jesus’ (peace be upon him) task of judging to be “simple enough”, Robertson informs that generally it is difficult for other judges to come to correct judgments, thus implying that things would/could have been no different for Jesus (peace be upon him) if he would not have had the divine “guiding principle” of God!
On the forgoing, why would Jesus (peace be upon him) at all bother for his judgmental tasks to be made easy if he is an absolutely divine Judge? Why would he rely on some other entity to “guide” his judgments and make them “simple enough” if he is an absolute deity because of his judgmental capacities?! It is expected that no judgment would be complex enough for an absolutely divine Judge. Or, why would any other source at all volunteer to guide Jesus’ (peace be upon him) judgments? Does not this other source know that Jesus (peace be upon him) is an absolutely divine judge!
Not merely Robertson, but even renowned Bible expositor, Dr. Lightfoot allude that Jesus (peace be upon him) enjoyed special privilege of God’s divine guidance for his decisions and therefore his tasks (of judgments) were easy otherwise he would have also faced similar problems like other earthily judges:
[As I hear, I judge.] He seems to allude to a custom amongst them. The judge of an inferior court, if he doubts in any matter, goes up to Jerusalem and takes the determination of the Sanhedrim; and according to that he judgeth. (John Lightfoot Commentary, John 5:30)
Note the comparison which Dr. Lightfoot is making – he is stating that just like any worldly judge, when in doubt refers to some higher authority (Sanhedrim in this case) for correct and consistent judgments and decides likewise, similarly, Jesus (peace be upon him) derives correct and consistent judgments from God – Almighty.
This candidly alludes that Jesus (peace be upon him), the supposed deity, could fall into doubts just like other worldly judges and very unlike True Deity would refer to some higher authority for correct and consistent judgments which is readily available to him.
Think about it, which absolute Deity and a divinely absolute Judge would need to refer to other sources for correct and consistent judgments?
In fact we find Jesus (peace be upon him) exhorting others not to believe him if he solely judges/testifies:
“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31)
“If I testify on my own behalf, what I say is not to be accepted as real proof.” (Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version, John 5:31)
Ponder, which divinely absolute Judge or an absolute Deity would claim that if I judge or testify on my own then “it is not to be accepted as real proof”? (Let alone an absolute Deity, even a bona fide prophet of God would not claim so!)
However, if Jesus (peace be upon him) had the back up of God then his judgments and testimonials are to be accepted:
“But there is someone else who testifies on my behalf, and I know that what hesays about me is true.” (Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version, John 5:32)
And, from the context it can be verified that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a judge with God’s authority on him and therefore a bona fide judge.
The problems with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity does not end here. According to Trinitarian celebrated commentators of the Bible, Matthew Henry, Jesus (peace be upon him) was exculpated from charges of blasphemy on the grounds that God would be, not he himself, divinely guiding his decisions and he would be merely following them:
He has given him authority to execute judgment also, Joh_5:27. Observe, 1. What the authority is which our Redeemer is invested with: An authority to execute judgment; he has not only a legislative and judicial power, but an executive power too. The phrase here is used particularly for the judgment of condemnation,Jud_1:15. poiēsai krisin – to execute judgment upon all; the same with his taking vengeance, 2Th_1:8. The ruin of impenitent sinners comes from the hand of Christ; he that executes judgment upon them is the same that would have wrought salvationfor them, which makes the sentence unexceptionable; and there is no relief against the sentence of the Redeemer; salvation itself cannot save those whom the Saviourcondemns, which makes the ruin remediless. 2. Whence he has that authority: theFather gave it to him. Christ’s authority as Mediator is delegated and derived; he acts as the Father’s Viceregent, as the Lord’s Anointed, the Lord’s Christ. Now all this redounds very much to the honour of Christ, acquitting him from the guilt of blasphemy, in making himself equal with God; and very much to the comfort of all believers, who may with the greatest assurance venture their all in such hands. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)
If Jesus (peace be upon him) is really deified through his judgmental capacities then why is Matthew Henry – Trinitarian Commentators, who do believe Jesus (peace be upon him) is God, defending that Jesus is “ACQUITTED IN MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD” because of the very judgmental capacities which Trinitarians like Shamoun use to prove his divinity?
In fact, much like Muslims, Matthew Henry apologizes that because Jesus (peace be upon him) would be merely acting as “Father’s Viceregent” therefore, there would be nothing divine about his judgments and thus, there would be no guilt or blasphemy on Jesus (peace be upon him) for equating himself at par with God – Almighty for judging others.
In simpler terms, Jesus (peace be upon him) is not God – Almighty or cannot be equated with God – Almighty because of his judgment capacities since they are not his own.
Old Testament Instance
Till now we have seen in New Testament that there is nothing special, let alone, divine about the judgment abilities of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Nevertheless, we have instance in the Old Testament as well which states that Christ’s (peace be upon him) judgmental abilities is just another common place capacity enjoyed by others as well.
We read in Genesis the following intriguing verse:
“Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” (Genesis 41:40)
Matthew Henry makes the following candid comment:
“Secondly, He has committed all judgment to the Son, has constituted him Lord of all (Act_10:36; Rom_14:9), as Joseph in Egypt, Gen_41:40.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)
Notice how bluntly and much more embarrassingly to the Trinitarian theology, Matthew Henry states that Jesus (peace be upon him) is Judge and “Lord of all” just AS (same degree) Joseph (peace be upon him) was. These sincere Christian commentators have candidly brought, not just the judgmental capacities of Jesus (peace be upon him) to that of Joseph (peace be upon him) but also Jesus’ (peace be upon him) lordship (“Lord of all”) at Joseph’s (peace be upon him) level.
Therefore, again, there is nothing special, let alone, divine about Jesus (peace be upon him) being judge (and’0’0 “Lord of all”) otherwise Joseph (peace be upon him) would also have to be a divine judge and “Lord of all”.
Furthermore, Joseph (peace be upon him) is given a very exclusive and special title which is a divine title in Trinitarian theology:
Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, “a revealer of secrets.” This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translateJoseph’s new name, “the saviour of the world.” The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Genesis 41:33-45)
Ironically, we find New Testament authors giving the same title to Jesus (peace be upon him) as well:
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (Joh 4:42)
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 Jn 4:14)
Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (Act 13:23)
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (Eph 5:23)
As if sharing divine functionality and celebrated title were not enough, we find Christian believers occupying the very throne of Jesus (peace be upon him) with him to judge:
“…as Dr. Lightfoot observes, out of Dan 7:18, but the difficulty is, in what sense the apostle means the saints shall judge the world; not merely in a comparative sense, for so even will the Heathens, the men of Nineveh, and the queen of Sheba, judge and condemn the Jews; nor as assessors on the throne with Christ, for though they shall sit on the same throne with him as reigning, yet not as judging with him…”(John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:2)
If Jesus (peace be upon him) is divine because he is also a judge then his throne has to be special and no one could use it lest Jesus’ (peace be upon him) mistaken deity would be breached, however, very idolatrously we find that Christian saints (plural) would “SIT ON THE SAME THRONE WITH HIM” and exercise divine judgments of condemning mortals and even higher beings – Angels!
What is even more ironical is that John Gill quotes Dr. Lightfoot and both are famous figures in Bible Exegesis; they are not Muslims but sincere Trinitarian Christians who do believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is God yet they candidly admit that various saints would sit on the SAME THRONE WITH JESUS (peace be upon him) –, this gives more weight that two of the great biblical scholars concur that mere Christians would be using Christ’s so ordinary throne – alluding that there is nothing divine about Jesus (peace be upon him) when he judges.
If John Gill and Dr. Lightfoot were not enough, we have yet more scholars echoing them:
“you…will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. When the Son of Man returns the Twelve will SHARE His throne (cf. Dan 7:9-10, 13-14, 27) and reign over the tribes of Israel.” (drs Gijs van den Brink on Matthew 19:28)
Another Bible Scholar concurs that “believers” would sit WITH Jesus (peace be upon him, at par WITHhim for judging others:
“Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? Shall sit sit with Christ, after they have been judged, while the world is judged (Mat_25:41; Mat_19:29). If so high a trust is to be given, it is a little thing that saints should judge differences between church members. These ought all to be submitted to arbitrators, or to the officers. (The People’s New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:3, e-Sword Version.)
Notice that it is Christian scholars, who do accept Jesus (peace be upon him) to be God – Almighty, felt no embarrassment in candidly admitting that mere Christians would share Christ’s (peace be upon him) throne, sit on it WITH him! It can be therefore inferred that these scholars recognize no divinity at least when Jesus (peace be upon him) is judging.
After going through the issues one is baffled to ponder as to how can the so touted absolute Deity and a divinely absolute Judge (1.) judges under someone else’s authority so much so that he candidly admits (2.) “I can do nothing of my own authority. I judge only as God tells me…” (C.f. John 5:30).
Think about it for a moment that an absolute Deity and a divinely absolute Judge claiming that he can do nothing of his own self! Or, “he cannot judge on his own”. It sounds absurd to claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) is God.
Furthermore, (3.) judging under subsequently proves that the judgmental capacities are not innately present in him but are vested on him and such a bestowment of authority does not elicit divine glorification but a “diminution of the office”.
Will a True God’s sovereign office be ever diminished if He judges his creation?
(4.) Moreover, Christ (peace be upon him) presents himself as a representative,ambassador or an agent “commissioned, taught or sent by God”. And, we saw that according to Sam Shamoun’s criterion a candidate cannot be God – Almighty, if s/he judges under some other authority as His representatives, ambassadors or agents.
Why would a divinely absolute Judge and a God, present himself as a mere representative of higher God when judging fates of His creation?
(5.) In fact according to Trinitarian Scholars, not “Salafi” (as some Islamophobes say), they utterly misunderstand who claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) is God – Almighty through his judgmental feats since he was acquitted of this blasphemy when God stated that he judges under His authority.
Why would a veritable candidate (for deity) be “acquitted” for claiming himself divine if he is a True God?
(6.) On the forgoing, we found support to this “acquittal” when Jesus (peace be upon him) alluded that he will have no difficulty or confusions like other worldly judges because he has the divine backup and divine guidance of God Himself.
On the same corollary, if this divine guidance and intervention would not have been there Jesus (peace be upon him) – the mistaken God – would have faced difficulty and doubts while judging like any other earthily judge. In fact, he even admitted that his sole testimonies are not to be believed (C.f. John 5:31).
Why would a true omniscience God need to refer to some other source for consistently correct judgments? And claim that his sole testimonies, unless backed by Higher God, is not to be accepted as “real proof”!
(7.) Moreover, we found that even on Judgment Day, Jesus (peace be upon him) would not judge of his own authority but under the command of someone else. If we reflect, which absolute Deity and divinely absolute Judge would judge under the authority of someone else even on Judgment Day? Yet we found, Trinitarian Scholars, who do consider Christ (peace be upon him) to be God, candidly admit Jesus’ (peace be upon him) dependency even on Judgment Day (!)
(8.) Because the judgmental capacities of Jesus (peace be upon him) is just too common place we had Joseph (peace be upon him) also judging at par – “AS” – with Jesus (peace be upon him).
How can anyone ever judge like, (“as”) True God?
(10.) Because Joseph (peace be upon him) shares the “divine” functionalities with Jesus (peace be upon him), no wonder he also shares the same title given to Jesus (peace be upon him) – the assumed god, namely, “The Savior of the World”. Is the title not divine enough or Joseph (peace be upon him) too divine; this is a rigmarole which Trinitarians needs to solve.
(11.) It did not end there, as we saw that mere Christian believers would sit on the same throne of Jesus (peace be upon him), with him, to judge the destinies of others.
Once again either the throne of Jesus (peace be upon him) is not special enough to accommodate a divinely absolute Judge and a True God or mere Christian believers are also divine enough to use this throne.
Think about it, which divinely absolute Judge and God would allow mere mortals tosit with Him on His Throne? This begs a lot of explanation or far – fetched reconciliations.
Jesus (peace be upon him) himself gave the solution to the above puzzling problems when he said:
They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O children of Israel! worship Allah my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah Allah will forbid him the garden and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (Qur’an 5:72,Yusuf Ali Quran Translation, Al – Alim, CD – ROM version.)
Therefore, desist from joining Jesus (peace be upon him) with God – Almighty.
When Jesus came with Clear Signs he said: “Now have I come to you with Wisdom and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me. “For Allah; He is my Lord and your Lord: so worship ye Him: this is a Straight Way.” (Qur’an 43:63-64, Yusuf Ali Quran Translation, Al – Alim, CD – ROM version.)
“(I have come to you) to attest the Law which was before me and to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. “It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight.” (Qur’an 3:50-51, Yusuf Ali Quran Translation, Al – Alim, CD – ROM version.)
And behold! Allah will say “O Jesus the son of Mary! didst thou say unto men `worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah”? He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. (Qur’an 5:116,Yusuf Ali Quran Translation, Al – Alim, CD – ROM version.)
Thus, based on the words of Jesus (peace be upon him) himself we call all to follow him and walk on the “straight path” by worshipping Allah (SWT) alone – He is the only Deity and only Divine Judge. However, if any turns back on their heels then we testify that “There is no God but Allah”.
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Allah knows Best
- All biblical quotations taken from King James Version, e – Sword Version.
- Sam Shamoun’s excerpts are taken from one of his “responses”. However, this paper is not to be confused as a response to his paper. Inshallah, we would be soon responding to him.
- Emphasize wherever not matching with the original, is ours.
- The sin of associating partners with Allah (SWT) in any way is called Shirk.