ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS MUSLIMS ASK
– A FOUR PART SERIES –
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE
(CONTENTS, CHANGES, etc.)
THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS that Muslims ask Christians are related to the following four general areas:
- The Person of Jesus (God incarnate, Son of God, Trinity, etc.)
- The Crucifixion of Jesus
- The Bible (contents, changes, etc.)
- The Nature and Character of God
THIS IS PART THREE, DEALING WITH THE THIRD AREA.
LIST OF QUESTIONS IN PART THREE:
#1. “WHAT IS THE BIBLE? IS IT THE SAME AS OR DIFFERENT FROM THE INJIL OR THE TORAH?”
#2. “DOES THE BIBLE PREDICT THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD, THE FINAL PROPHET?”
#3. “HASN’T THE BIBLE BEEN CHANGED?” (or) “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIFFERENT BIBLES?”
#4. “HASN’T THE BIBLE BEEN CANCELLED AND REPLACED BY THE QUR’AN, WHICH IS GOD’S FINAL REVELATION?”
#5. “BUT HOW CAN YOU TRANSLATE GOD’S WORD INTO OTHER LANGUAGES WITHOUT CHANGING IT? That is why the holy Qur’an is only in Arabic.”
#6. “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY IMMORAL THINGS IN THE BIBLE?”
#7. “THE BIBLE SOUNDS LIKE THE WORDS OF MEN (LIKE THE HADITH) AND NOT LIKE THE WORDS OF GOD.”
#8. “THE REAL GOSPEL (INJIL) CAME TO JESUS, NOT TO PAUL.”
With each question we will first try to understand why Muslims ask the question. Then we will look at both short and longer answers, and then finally, in some cases, we will look at answers from the Qur’an. (All Qur’an quotations are from the Yusuf Ali translation.)
QUESTION #1: “WHAT IS THE BIBLE? IS IT THE SAME AS OR DIFFERENT FROM THE INJIL OR THE TORAH?”
WHY DO MUSLIMS WONDER ABOUT THIS?: The Qur’an mentions the “Taurat” (Torah or Law) and the “Injil” (Gospel) as separate books given to the prophets Moses and Jesus respectively. It also mentions the “Zabur” (Psalms) given to the Prophet David. In addition the Qur’an refers to Jews and Christians as “the people of the book,” but the word, “Bible” (which comes from “biblia” meaning “books”) is not mentioned. Many Muslim teachers say that the “Taurat,” the “Zabur” and the “Injil” were corrupted by Jews and Christians, and then cancelled and replaced by the Qur’an, which they believe is the final revelation given to Muhammad the final prophet. They are not quite sure what our present day Bible is (and they are warned not to read it), but many Muslims seem to assume it is a creation of Christians and/or Jews, containing some corrupted remnants of those previous revelations. Surprisingly many Muslims also seem to think that the term, “Old Testament” refers to the original uncorrupted Bible and “New Testament” to what they believe to be the corrupted book we Christians now have. My purpose in responding to these common misunderstandings is to clarify some basic facts about the Bible for Muslims who sincerely want to know.
ANSWER: Here Are A Few Basic Facts About the Contents of The Holy Bible:
1. The Bible is Approximately Three Times Bigger Than The Qur’an. This is a rough estimate.
2. There Are Two Major Divisions of The Bible. They are called “The Old Testament” and “The New Testament.” The word, “Testament” means a written covenant or agreement. God made a number of covenants with his people that are mentioned in the Bible, but the two main divisions of the Bible are named after what are considered to be the two main covenants. The first one is the covenant God made with his people Israel through the Prophet Moses. The second one is the covenant God made with believers from all nations through His Son Jesus the Messiah. All of the parts of the Bible given to the people of Israel before Jesus the Messiah came are included in the Old Testament. All the parts of the Bible which were given to believers in Jesus the Messiah after His coming are included in the New Testament. The Old Testament is more than three times as big as the New Testament.
3. There Are 66 “Books” in The Holy Bible. The Old Testament contains 39 books, and The New Testament containing 27 books. They are called “books,” but some of them are as short as one page while others are as long as 100 pages. Included among these 39 books of the Old Testament are the Torah (“Taurat”), the Psalms (“Zabur”) and many other books (“Sahifah”) of the prophets. The New Testament is the “Injil” (meaning “Good News” about Jesus).
4. God Gave us The Bible Through More Than 32 Prophets And Apostles in at Least Three Languages. He gave his prophets and apostles special guidance and inspiration, enabling them to write the books of the Bible in their own mother tongues. Some were written in the form of historical accounts, some are a listing of laws, some are poetry, some are laments, and some are prophetic proclamations. Most of the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, with some parts in ancient Aramaic. The New Testament (“Injil”) was written in the common Greek spoken at the time of Jesus’ life on this earth. The names of some of the prophets are known, through whom God gave us many of the books of the Bible. Some of the books give little or no information about the prophet through whom God spoke to us.
5. The Bible Was Written Over a Period of More Than 1500 Years. The oldest books of the Bible are the books of the Prophet Moses, who lived about 1500 BC. The book of Job (“Ayub” in Arabic) is also very old, and the exact date is not known. The last book of the Bible is the book of Revelation, which was written through the Apostle John about 90 AD.
6. Jesus the Messiah, Himself Did Not Write Any Part of The Bible. He is Himself the Word of God. By the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, 8 or 9 of Jesus’ followers recorded the things He said and did in the 27 books of the Holy Injil (New Testament). They also explained the meaning of the Messiah’s teaching and actions in the light of the Old Testament prophecies about Him. That is the reason they are called the Apostles of Jesus the Messiah.
7. Prophets And Apostles in The Bible. The Bible mentions by name at least 134 different prophets and apostles, plus at least 96 others mentioned but not named. That makes a total of at least 230 prophets of various kinds mentioned in the Bible. The Bible mentions miracles performed by only 24 of these prophets, of whom Moses and Jesus performed the greatest number of miracles.
[For more details, see Appendix C: “Prophets in the Bible”.]
8. Genealogies in The Bible. By God’s inspiration, Jesus the Messiah’s complete genealogy of ancestors all the way back to Adam is found in the Bible. The relationships and stories of many of God’s servants are recorded, such as Moses, Adam, David, Jacob, Abraham, Noah, Job, Solomon, Jesus, Jonah, etc. Also God’s dealings with the people of Israel and God’s purposes for all nations are explained.
9. Book Titles, Chapters, Verses of the Bible. The names given to the books of the Bible, as well as the chapter and verse divisions were added later by scholars. They did this to make it easier to locate any particular statement or word in the Bible. It is important to realize, for example, that “The Gospel According to Matthew” is a title not given by God, but by human scholars, who believed that the Apostle Matthew was the human author of this part of the Holy Injil, and that it contains the Gospel (“good news”) of Jesus the Messiah. While it is fairly certain that the Apostle Matthew was the person God used to write this “book,” we should not assume from the titles of the first four books of the New Testament that there are four “Injils” or that the Holy Injil is only the first four parts of the New Testament instead of all of it.
QUESTION #2: “DOES THE BIBLE PREDICT THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD, THE FINAL PROPHET?”
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS?: The Qur’an says that the coming of Muhammad was predicted both in the “law” (the Torah given to the Prophet Moses) and in the “Gospel” (the “Injil” given to the Prophet Jesus):
(Sura 7:157) “Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), - in the Law and the Gospel …”
(Sura 61:6) “And remember Jesus, the son of Mary, said, ‘O children of Israel! I am the apostle of God (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.’”
[Yusuf Ali’s note 416: “… In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in Deut. 18:18 … In the New Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John 14:16, 15:26 and 16:7. The future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present, helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated ‘Comforter’ is ‘Paracletos,’ which is an easy corruption from ‘Periclytos,’ which is almost a literal translation of ‘Muhammad’ or ‘Ahmad’. ... Further, there were other Gospels that have perished, but of which traces still remain, which were even more specific in their reference to Muhammad …”]
ANSWER #1: Deuteronomy 18:18 Cannot Be A Prophecy of Muhammad: This is the primary passage Muslims quote as a prophecy of Muhammad in the “Law” (Torah). Christians believe this prophecy given by God through the Prophet Moses is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus the Messiah, but Muslims claim it is a prophecy of the coming of Muhammad. Let's look at it:
"The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers - it is to him you shall listen - Just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)
Muslims emphasize three points about this:
a) “from among their brothers” - The Muslim claim is that Ishmael is the brother of Israel and Muhammad is descended from Ishmael, so this must be a prophecy of Muhammad.
Answer for (a): First of all, Ishmael was the brother of Isaac, who is the father of Jacob (later called, “Israel”). Therefore Ishmael could be called Israel’s uncle, but not his brother. Jacob had twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel.
More importantly, the same expression (“brothers”) is used in a number of verses in Deuteronomy, clearly speaking of their brother Israelites, not Ishmaelites:
“These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel … ‘So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and set them as heads over you, commanders … and officers, throughout your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him.”’” (Deuteronomy 1:1,15,16)
“And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel …’” (Deuteronomy 3:18)
“At that time, the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi [one of the twelve tribes of Israel] to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said to him… The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with [the rest of] Israel. They shall eat the Lord’s food offerings as their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.” (Deuteronomy 10:8,9; 18:1,2)
“you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” (Deuteronomy 17:15)
b) “Like me” - The Muslim claim is that Muhammad is like Moses in his birth, marriage and death, but not like Jesus, who is different from Moses. Jesus’ was born without a father, but Muhammad and Moses were born of a father and mother. Jesus never got married, but Moses and Muhammad did. And Jesus was taken up to heaven alive while Moses and Muhammad died and were buried.
Answer for (b): The prophecy says God “will raise up for you a “prophet like me,” not a “man like me.” Every man that was ever born had a birth and death like Moses and Muhammad, and almost all of them had a marriage like Moses and Muhammad. So almost any man could be like Moses in his birth, marriage and death. That doesn’t prove anything.
In Deuteronomy 34:10-12 and Numbers 12:3-8 (also Exodus 33:11) we see the two ways in which Moses was unique among the prophets:
“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt …” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
“And he said, ‘Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord …’” (Numbers 12:6-8)
So we see that the two things unique about Moses among the prophets are that: 1) God spoke to Moses “face to face,” and: 2) God did many miracles through him.
The Bible teaches that Jesus was more than close to God. He is the very Word of God (Kalamatullah), revealed to mankind:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:1-3,14)
With regard to miracles, according to the Bible Moses performed 27 miracles by the power of God – more than any other prophet except Jesus the Messiah, who performed at least 106 [See the appendix, “Prophets in the Bible”].
In addition to these two things unique about Moses among the prophets, there is a third thing that is unique about him among people in general:
“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus humbled Himself to become a man in human flesh, that He repeatedly avoided the praises and popularity of men, and that He refused to defend himself against the false accusations of the Jewish religious leaders.
“… Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
"'But what about you? Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!’ ... Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:15,16,20)
“And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.” (Mark 15:3-5)
“… Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)
c) “I will put my words in his mouth” - The Muslim claim is that the angel Gabriel put the words of God, the Qur’an, into Muhammad’s mouth by causing him to memorize and recite them.
Answer for c): Jesus repeatedly said He did not speak His own words, but he spoke the words God the Father gave him:
“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:49,50)
“… that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28b)
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:24)
Clearly Jesus is the prophet like Moses, as is mentioned in the Holy Injil:
“… and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you…” (Acts 3:20-22)
[For a fuller explanation of the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy 18 see David Wood’s article, Deuteronomy Deductions. Dawud Jabal presents a detailed list in which ways Jesus is like Moses in The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18.]
ANSWER #2: The Paraclete Passages of John 14, 15 and 16 Cannot be Prophecies of the Coming of Muhammad: These passages are the second most quoted by Muslims as being prophecies about Muhammad. Christians believe these passages are Jesus’ promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in their hearts.
Muslims claim that Christians have changed the Greek word from periclytos, which means “illustrious one” (almost the exact meaning of “Ahmed,” another name for Muhammad), to paracletos, which means advocate or helper. Muslims interpret Jesus’ words as follows:
“He will abide with you forever … he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17) – They say Muhammad is the last prophet, so his message (Qur’an) and life (Hadith) abide with us and in us.
“The Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17; 15:26) – They say this refers to Muhammad, who was called Al Ameen (the honest one) from his childhood.
“He shall not speak of himself, but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13) – They say the angel Gabriel dictated every word of the Qur’an to Muhammad, and not one word was from himself.
“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14) – They say the Qur’an gives more respect to Jesus than Christians do! “Their changed Bible curses Him with crucifixion and says he addressed his mother disrespectfully as, ‘Woman’!”
I have three responses to Muslims’ arguments on this subject:
RESPONSE A: It is pure conjecture to say that Christians have changed the Greek word, periclytos to paracletos. There is no historical or any other proof of this. Where is there any ancient copy of John’s Gospel with the word periclytos?
RESPONSE B: By tracing the teaching of the Injil (New Testament) on this subject from the beginning, we will see how obvious it is that the Lord Jesus is speaking about God’s Holy Spirit:
1) John the Baptist’s (Yahyah’s) testimony about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit:
“John answered them, ‘I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie’ … The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘… I myself did not know him, but, he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”’” (John 1:26-34)
2) Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17);
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26);
“But now I am going to him who sent me…I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment … When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:5-14)
3) Jesus connects his promise with John’s testimony:
“And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” (Acts 1:4,5,8)
4) The actual coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of the feast of Pentecost and Peter’s teaching about it. (The Jewish feast of Pentecost took place 50 days after Jesus crucifixion and resurrection.)
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance … And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’ But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be,’ God declares, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.’” … And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’” (Acts 2:1-4,12-18,38,39)
RESPONSE C: Yusuf Ali argues that, “The future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present, helping and guiding Jesus.” The Messiah Jesus, however, clearly taught that at the time He said this to His disciples, the Holy Spirit was present in Himself (and therefore with His disciples) but not yet present in the lives of His disciples. Ten days after Jesus Ascended to heaven, on the Jewish Feast Day called Pentecost, they received the Holy Spirit, who came to live in them forever:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth … he lives with you [in Jesus] and will be in you.” (John 14:16,17)
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4,5)
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)
ANSWER #3: The Bible Teaches that the Lord Jesus is the Completion of the Prophets:
1) He is the First and the Last:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end … I, Jesus, have ...” (Revelation 22:13,16)
2) Prophecies given through all the prophets are fulfilled in Jesus:
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled …” (Luke 24:44)
So we believe that everything is complete in Jesus and there is no need for anyone else after Jesus. You might say that Jesus is the final prophet (“Khatimu N-Nabiyin”)
QUESTION #3: “HASN’T THE BIBLE BEEN CHANGED?” (or) “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIFFERENT BIBLES?”
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS?: They have been taught all their lives that the Jews and Christians have changed and corrupted the written Bible. They are told that the following Qur’an verses teach this. (But do these verses really teach that the Jews changed the written words in the book of God, or merely that they deceptively spoke different words without changing the written words?):
(Sura 3:78) “There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues (as they read). You would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, ‘That is from God,’ but it is not from God. It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it!”
(Sura 5:13,14,44) “God did aforetime take a covenant from the children of Israel… But because of their breach of their covenant, we cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard. They change the words from their (right) places [*] and forget a good part of the message that was sent them … the Jews – men who will listen to any lie, - will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places …”
*[Muhammad Akbar translates this as, “They twist the words of Allah’s book out of their context.”; Pickthall translates this as, “They change words from their context.”; Arberry translates this as: “They pervert words from their meanings”.]
(Sura 3:187) “And remember God took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it. But they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!”
(Sura 2:101) “And when there came to them an apostle from God, confirming what was with them, a part of the people of the Book threw away the Book of God behind their backs, as if (it had been something) they did not know.”
Muslims are also taught that there are many contradictions (which they got from reading “Higher Criticism” literature) and mistakes in the Bible because of the deletions and changes the Jews and Christians are supposed to have made, and they believe this has resulted in the publishing of many different Bibles.
ANSWER #1: There Are Many Different Translations: Some people are confused by the different translations in English, which they assume are altered or changed Bibles because they use different English words. Yes, there are different words used in different translations, but the meaning is the same because these translations are all translated from the same original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek. As an example, here are seven different translations of the same phrase from Romans chapter 8 and verse 1:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – NIV
“There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – ESV
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” – KJV
“Thus there is no doom now for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Moffatt
“There is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus.” – NEB
Likewise, there are many different English translations of the Qur’an commonly available, using different English words, but translated from the same Arabic original. For example here are four different English translations of Sura 3:72:
“There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues (as they read).” – Yusuf Ali
“And there is a sect of them twist their tongues with the Book …” – Arberry
“And verily, amongst them is a sect who twist their tongues concerning the Book …” – E.H. Palmer
“And surely, there is among them a section who change the book with their tongues (as they read)…” – Sayed Vickar Ahamed
“And some truly are there among them who torture the Scriptures with their tongues …” – Rodwell
“And lo! There is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues …” – Pickthall
ANSWER #2: How is it Possible for God’s Word to be Changed?: God is eternal and so His Word is eternal and unchangeable! God says His Word cannot be changed! How can man change what God protects?:
“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens...Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.” (Psalm 119:89,152)
“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass form the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17,18)
The original manuscripts of the books of the Bible have long since been lost, and Christians freely admit that there are a number of variant readings in the earliest available copies of those manuscripts. Instead of trying to destroy or suppress the different variant readings, Christian scholars have sought to preserve them. The rich manuscript tradition today allows us to reconstruct the original text with the highest probability. It is also important to realize that the sum total of all such variant readings is very small compared to the whole Bible, and even if all those words and sentences were removed, there would be no affect on the teaching of the Bible.
[It is not our purpose here to examine and explain each individual variant reading. To get a fuller explanation of this vital subject consult a good book on “Biblical Introduction” such as: Norman Geisler & William Nix’s book, A General Introduction to the Bible (Moody Press, Chicago, revised and expanded 1986) or a more popular book such as Josh McDowell’s, Evidence That Demands A Verdict; (T. Nelson, revised 1999), or see these articles (1, 2).]
ANSWER #3: The Apocryphal Books Are Not The Same as God’s Word: There are a number of extra books which have been added by the Roman Catholics at the end of the Old Testament and before the New Testament, which are called “The Apocrypha.” The Jews accept only the Old Testament, which includes the Torah (Taurat), the Psalms (Zabur) and other books of the prophets, but they do not accept the New Testament (Injil) as a book from God. In the same way the Jews and the Protestant Christians believe the Apocryphal books are legitimate books written by scholarly men, but are not books inspired by God. The word “Apocrypha” comes from a Greek word meaning “obscure” or “hidden.” Even the Roman Catholics have separated them from the books of the Old and New Testaments, clearly indicating their distinct nature and lesser authority. Because we do not believe the Apocryphal books are inspired of God, we do not believe that any part of God’s Word has been deleted.
ANSWER #4: ANSWERS FROM THE QUR’AN:
a) The Qur’an Says that at the Time of Muhammad, “the Law” (Torah) and “the Gospel” (Injil or New Testament) were books from God, and should be read (Notice the present tense of the verbs in these verses):
(Sura 5:43,44,68) “But why do they come to thee for decision, when they have (their own) Law before them? Therein is the (plain) command of God; yet even after that, they would turn away, for they are not (really) people of faith. It was We who revealed the Law (to Moses). Therein was [some other translators say “is”!] guidance and light… Say: ‘O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.’” [see also 5:48-50; 4:47,136]
(Sura 10:94) “If thou were in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee …”
The copies of the Bible in existence at the time of Muhammad, to which the Qur’an is referring, are available today and are exactly the same as ancient copies of the Bible dating back long before Muhammad. They are also the same as today’s copies of the Bible. The Bible was translated into various ancient languages before Muhammad, such as:
Greek Septuagint in the 2nd century B.C.,
Latin Vulgate 382-390 A.D.,
Armenian 400 A.D. and
Syrian 500 A.D.
Ancient copies of these translations are still available and when we compare them with modern copies of the Bible, we find the message is unchanged.
b) The Qur’an also says the words of God cannot be changed. So, how is it possible for the “Taurat” (Torah), the “Zabur” (Psalms) and “Injil” (“Gospel”/ New Testament) to be changed?:
(Sura 6:34) “… There is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of God …”
(Sura 6:115) “The Word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice; None can change His words ...”
(Sura 10:64) “No change can there be in the words of God …”
QUESTION #4: “HASN’T THE BIBLE BEEN CANCELLED AND REPLACED BY THE QUR’AN, WHICH IS GOD’S FINAL REVELATION?”
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS?: Muslims are taught that each prophet replaced the previous prophet, and that the revelations given to previous prophets are cancelled and replaced by the revelation given to a succeeding prophet. They believe Muhammad was the final prophet, and so that means the Bible (including the Torah, Psalms and Gospel) has been cancelled and replaced by the Qur’an.
The following verse of the Qur’an is interpreted to mean that the Bible was only a “portion of the book,” that the Qur’an is the complete book of God which has been sent to replace the Bible, and that the Qur’an was sent to “guard” and “confirm” the message of the Bible by restoring and repeating it’s original message in the Qur’an:
(Sura 3:23) “… those who have been given a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of God to settle their dispute …”
[Yusuf Ali’s note #366: “I conceive that God’s revelation as a whole throughout the ages is ‘The Book’, The Law of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus were portions of the Book. The Qur’an completes the revelation and is par excellence the Book of God.”]
(Sura 5:51) “To thee We sent the Scripture [Qur’an] in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety …”
[Yusuf Ali’s note #759: “After the corruption of the older revelations, the Qur’an comes with a twofold purpose: (1) to confirm the true and original message, and (2) to guard it, or act as a check to it interpretation.”]
ANSWER #1: If the Qur’an completed the books of the Bible, it would agree with the Bible which came before it, but it violently disagrees with the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross to conquer death for us sinners.
ANSWER #2: How Could God’s Word be Cancelled And Replaced by Another Book When God Says His Word Will Last Forever and Never Pass Away? It is not only impossible for God’s Word to be changed, but it is also impossible for it to be lost, or altered to the point of needing to be cancelled and replaced by another revelation! (I am repeating some of the verses quoted above in Question #1):
Jesus himself said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens... Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.” (Psalm 119:89,152)
“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
“... born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God... ” (1 Peter 1:23-25)
QUESTION #5: “BUT HOW CAN YOU TRANSLATE GOD’S WORD INTO OTHER LANGUAGES WITHOUT CHANGING IT? THAT IS WHY THE HOLY QUR’AN IS ONLY IN ARABIC AND EVERY BELIEVER MUST LEARN TO READ IT IN ARABIC.”
Muslims feel the Word of God can only be without error in the original language, so when they see different translations of the Bible using different words, they quickly explain that the Qur’an is unchangeable because it is kept in the original Arabic language, where every vowel sign can be clearly seen to be the same in every copy. Translations are referred to as only “explanations” and not really translations. They insist we need to make the effort necessary to read it in “Allah’s language.”
ANSWER #1: God has Clearly Demonstrated His Desire for Every Human Being to Hear and Understand God’s Message in His/Her Own Language.
First of all, God enabled every prophet, through whom He gave us a portion of the Bible, to write in his own native language. As a result, the original copies of the 66 “books” of the Bible were not written in one language, but were written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek
Secondly, God Himself miraculously translated His message separately for each one of the people present on the day of Pentecost. This is recorded in the book of Acts in the Holy Injil (New Testament). It says all the believers “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). Visiting Jews who had come from different provinces of the Roman Empire were amazed because “each one heard them speaking in his own language” (Acts 2:6). They said, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11) This was God’s initiative, not theirs!
ANSWER #2: God tells us in the New Testament (Injil) that he wants each believer, not just a few professional scholars, to study God’s Word for him/herself, even to the extent that he/she should become able to teach and admonish others:
“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom …” (Colossians 3:16);
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17);
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:12)
Therefore Christian scholars spend their lives accurately translating the Bible into as many languages as possible, so that each believer can fully understand it in his/her own language.
ANSWER #3: Muslims, Like Christians, Are Actually Continuously Translating Their Scripture Into Their Individual Languages, Only in a Less Accurate Way.
Suppose, like in Islam, the Bible was never translated, and copies were made only in the original languages (different parts in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek), and suppose all Christians were strongly urged to study those original languages in order to understand what God is saying to us. Most of us would not be able to learn those languages accurately. We would need scholars, who devote their lives to studying and explaining it, in order for us to really understand the meaning of the Bible. This is what happened in early Christianity when religious leaders refused to allow translations of the Bible into modern languages, and it is what is happening to too many professing Christians, who are too lazy to study the Bible themselves and depend on the pastor or priest to teach them on Sundays.
It is also what is happening to almost all Muslims today. Less than 20% of the world’s Muslims are native Arabic speakers, and although many Muslims have memorized all or large portions of the Qur’an in Arabic, few of them understand the meaning of those Arabic words. The majority of Muslims, including native Arabic speakers, do not understand the full meaning of the Qur’an in Arabic and are dependent on Imams and scholars to explain the meaning to them.
So in essence Muslims are constantly translating the Qur’an through their teachers and scholars, who explain in their own languages the meaning of various Qur’anic verses during Friday sermons. This kind of translation, however, is very inferior because it is dependent on the knowledge and ability of the local imam, who in most cases is not nearly as knowledgeable or capable as the science of Bible translation has become over the centuries.
QUESTION #6: “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY IMMORAL THINGS IN THE BIBLE?” Muslims are offended by the Bible’s mention of the sins of the prophets, especially some graphic descriptions of immorality.
ANSWER #1: The Bible Never Says That the Prophets are Sinless. In fact, it emphasizes the fact that, except for Jesus the Messiah, all human beings are sinful and in need of salvation:
“… for there is no one who does not sin.” (1 Kings 8:46)
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“… we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks (non Jews) are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no not one’ … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:9,10,23)
“… for no one living is righteous before you.” (Psalm 143:2b)
[ Messiah Jesus was the only human being without any faults or sins. Otherwise he could never have been an atoning sacrifice for us sinners, but would have had to be punished for his own sins.
“For our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“knowing that you were ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18,19)
“… one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14) ]
ANSWER #2: God’s Word Presents the Truth of Mankind’s Evil Nature (including the weaknesses of the prophets) for Three Reasons:
1) In Order to Warn us Against Sin:
“Now these things [referring to the sins of God’s people, Israel] took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were… We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day … Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:6-8,11,12)
2) In Order to Open Our Eyes to The Reality of Our Own Fallen Sinful Nature And God’s Certain Judgment on Our Sins. God wants us to realize we will reap what we sow, just as the prophets did:
“The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go up this mountain… and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain … because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.’” (Deuteronomy 32:48-52)
3) In order to encourage us regarding His mercy. He encourages us by showing us He will have mercy on us just as He had mercy on His prophets, who have the same sinful nature we have:
The Prophet Elijah, out of fear and cowardice, ran away and hid himself from the evil Queen Jezebel. God encourages us by reminding us of Elijah’s weakness (like ours) and promising He will hear our prayers just as He heard Elijah’s prayer:
“Elijah was a man with a (weak) nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17,18)
The Apostles Barnabas and Paul recognized their human weaknesses just like ours, and when the people of Lystra wanted to worship them as gods they protested:
“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like nature with you …” (Acts 14:15)
And the Prophet David, during a moment of lust and weakness, committed adultery with Bathsheba. Although he suffered great loss for his sin, David received God’s mercy when he openly repented and asked for God’s grace:
“‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.’” (Psalm 51:1-12)
QUESTION #7: “THE BIBLE SOUNDS LIKE THE WORDS OF MEN (LIKE THE HADITH) AND NOT LIKE THE WORDS OF GOD.” Muslims are puzzled because most of the Bible is written in the third person (“He said…”) about God instead of God speaking in the first person (“I say…”), as is true in much of the Qur’an.
ANSWER #1: God inspired his prophets, giving them understanding and ideas and guiding them as they wrote or spoke. Although their writings appear to be the words and thoughts of the prophets, they were actually the Words of God Himself, speaking through the minds and hearts of His servants. God did not normally dictate His Word to them through an angel (although He did a few times). He usually breathed His Word into their hearts and minds by His Holy Spirit, Who empowered them:
“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10,11)
It is probable that the Prophets were somewhat unaware that the words they were speaking or writing were the words of God. Instead they it can be assumed they were simply expressing what was in their hearts without realizing God had put it there. As a result, most of the Bible is written in the third person as they were speaking about God. Some of it is written as history, some as poetry, some as songs, and some as narrative. To be sure, small parts of the Bible were dictated by angels (like Matthew 1:20), by a voice from heaven (like Matthew 3:17), or seen in visions (like Daniel 2:19), etc.
ANSWER #2: ANSWER FROM THE QUR’AN: “What about the first Sura?:
(Sura 1) “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most merciful. Praise be to God, the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds; most gracious, most merciful; master of the day of judgment. Thee do we worship, and thine aid we seek.”
This is written in the third person about God with the last verse addressed to God. It is not in the first person, with God speaking. Should Muslims then say that the Qur’an also sounds like the words of men?
QUESTION #8: “THE REAL GOSPEL (INJIL) CAME TO JESUS, BUT CHRISTIANITY IS NOW BASED ON WHAT PAUL WROTE.” As one Muslim wrote, “If we wish to follow Jesus let us look at what Jesus taught, not Paul.” Some Muslims claim that Paul distorted and revised Christianity and that is why Christians today do not understand the truth of the Holy Injil that was revealed to the Prophet Jesus.
WHY DO MUSLIMS THINK LIKE THIS?: Muslims do not normally think like this, but some have picked up this idea from studying western Higher Criticism materials.
ANSWER: Jesus himself did not write any part of the Holy Injil (Gospel). Of course the Injil was authored by God, who inspired and enabled 8 or 9 men (called “Apostles” in the New Testament) to write down the things Messiah Jesus taught and the miracles he did plus the meaning and purpose of his words and life. These apostles include Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude. The Apostle Paul was one of them. The three Apostles who wrote the largest parts of the Injil are Luke, Paul and John in that order. We accept the Word of God given to the apostles, including Paul, just as much, but no more than we accept the Word of God given to the Old Testament prophets like Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, or Isaiah.