(5-minute read) From both Messianic expectations, we can now look at the affirmations and differences between the Bible and the Quran. For the sake of time, I will look at the revelatory purpose and the redemptive purpose of Jesus in the Bible and the Quran.

  • The purpose of the Messiah is to reveal the relationship of Father and Son to us.

Without the emphatic self-revelation of God, we cannot know Him! The Apostle John writes;

“We love him because he first loved us… how can he love God whom [w]he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:19-21 (KJV) 

Dr. Samuel Zwemer writes;

“Mohammed teaches a God above us; Moses teaches a God above us and yet with us; Jesus Christ teaches God above us, God with us and God in us.” God above us, not as an Oriental despot, but as a Heavenly Father. God with us, Emmanuel, in the mystery of His Incarnation, which is the stumbling block to the Moslem. God in us through His Spirit renewing the heart and controlling the will into a true Islam, or obedient subjection by a living faith”.[1]

Matthew 11:27 says;

All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him”.

Sura 5:18 affirm that both the Jews and Christians held to the Fatherhood of God.

“And (both) the Jews and the Christians say: “We are the children of Allah and His loved ones.” Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins?” Nay, you are but human beings, of those He has created, He forgives whom He wills and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the return (of all).”

John 14:7-9 affirms that;

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father”.

Theologian Thomas F. Torrance writes;

“The Christian Doctrine of God is to be understood from within the unique, definitive and final self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ his only begotten Son, that is, from within the self-revelation of God as God become man for us and our Salvation, … It is in the Lord Jesus, the very Word and Mind of God incarnate in our humanity, that the eternal God ‘defines’ and identifies Himself for us as He really is. Only in Christ is God’s self-revelation identical with Himself, and only in Christ, God for us, does He communicate His self-revelation to us in such a way that authentic knowledge of God is embodied in our humanity, and thus in such a way that it may be communicated to us and understood by us”.[2]

The Apostle John writes in John 1:18:

“No one has seen God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten God who is [ho ōn] in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” [3]

  • The purpose of the Messiah in the Quran is to deny the Fatherhood of God and the divine Sonship of the Messiah.

Surah Al-Ma’idah (5) 116 says

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted, are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, you would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.”

Surah Al-Baqarah (2) 116 says

They say, ” Allah has taken a son.” Exalted is He! Rather, to Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are devoutly obedient to Him.”

In the Quran, the Messiah has no relation to Allah’s self-disclosure neither can he be in any way ontologically identified with Him.  His sole purpose was to point to Allah and declare “exalted, are You!” Other than the Christian perspective, Jesus of the Quran does not add anything to the revelation of Allah (Surah Al-Zukhruf 43.63). He only announces obedience to Allah, but the perpetual understanding of Allah is not explicated at all. Prolific Islamic Scholar Isma’il R. Al Faruqi (1921-1986) affirms that;

“This is God’s will and that is all we have – and we have it in perfection in the Qur’an. But Islam does not equate the Qur’an with the nature or essence of God. It is the “Word of God, the commandment of God, the Will of God.” But God does not reveal Himself to anyone. Christians talk about the revelation of God Himself – by God of God – but this is the great difference between Christianity and Islam. God is transcendent, and once you talk about hierophancy and immanence, then the transcendence of God is compromised. You may not complete transcendence and self-revelation at the same time.”

Allah in Islam is transcendent. This means three things: Allah is even above His perceived attributes, He is not quintessentially known by any revealed attributes and ultimately unknown. Allah is ultimately above creation (Al-Muta’aallee).[4] I mentioned that there is a revelatory purpose to the Messiah but there is also a redemptive purpose to the Messiah.

  • The redemptive purpose of the Messiah in the Bible.

From the Fall of Man in Genesis (3), we note that man was destined for redemption, and God endeavors without hesitation to ransom man from His Sin. In biblical Christianity, forgiveness is based upon the death of Christ on the cross as a past action. Christ died for our sins so that once a person receives Christ as his or her Savior, all of his sins are forgiven and each one is guaranteed a place in heaven (John 5:24; 6:47; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 5:13).[5]

In Genesis 12:1-3 God speaks to Abraham and says;

And so, you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Jesus mentioned in John 8:56 that;

“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

Galatians 4:4-7

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”.

John the Beloved (1 Joh.2:2) writes;

“Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.”

John Stott writes,

So, the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and the righteousness of Christ uniquely qualify him to be man’s redeemer. If He had not been man, He could not have redeemed man. If he had not been a righteous man, he could not have redeemed unrighteous men. And if he had not been God’s Son, he could not have redeemed men for God or made them sons of God”.

(a) Jesus was our perfect substitute sacrificially for us.

Hebrews 10:5-7;

for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ enters into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but [instead] You have prepared a body for Me [to offer]; In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no delight. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God”.

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Full salvation comes by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins (Ephesians 2:8,9; 1 John 2:2). The Bible emphasizes that salvation does not come by good works or anything else we can do to please God on our own efforts.

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).[6]

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews (2:9-10) writes;

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Michael Horton writes;

“The focus of the Bible is not on the question, “What would Jesus do?” but on, “What has Jesus done”. Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is an unfolding story of God’s eternal purpose to Glorify Himself in the Salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.”[7]

  • The redemptive purpose of the Messiah in the Quran.

In Muslim Soteriology Christ is not central but he essentially points to submission to Allah and his apostle Muhammad.[8] Unlike the Christian, the Muslim do not lean on the person and work of Jesus Christ for Salvation.[9] Muslims merit their own salvation by doing good works[10] and all that is required by Allah. [11] The confusion comes in when the Christian realize there are two essential elements about the Messiah Jesus mentioned in the Quran that is seemingly void of any real meaning? The virginal conception and the sinlessness of the Messiah. 

(a) The meaning of the Virgin Birth as mentioned in the Quran.

Both the Quran and the Bible teach that he was conceived of a woman only, his mother Mary, before she had known any man. The virgin birth of Jesus taught so plainly in the Bible, is no less clearly taught in the Qur’an. In his Gospel Matthew (1.18-25) states that he was conceived in Mary of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 7.14 (“a virgin shall conceive and bear a son”), while Luke also records the unusual conception, stating unambiguously that Mary was a virgin whom no man had touched when Jesus was conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1.26-35). In the Qur’an, likewise, we find much the same teaching (Surah 3.45-47 & Surah 19.17-21.)On the Muslim perspective on the Virgin birth and its meaning, John Gilchrist writes:

“Jesus’ conception was no different to the creation of Adam. Both of them simply came into being by creative fiat (accomplishment) through the Word of God alone.”[12]

A Christian can readily agree that the virgin birth, as an expression of God’s power, is indeed no more wonderful than the creation of Adam. But let’s look at the reason for the Virgin Birth that is absolutely void in the Quran. Matthew (1:20-21) in his account mentions that the reason for the Virgin Birth:

“For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”[13]

The Quran affirms Christ’s unique birth, but neglect to inform us why it was truly unique. Jesus was not just God’s spokesperson, but also God’s redeemer. The essential difference between the Quranic perspective and the Biblical context is that the essential purpose of the Virgin Birth was to depict Jesus Christ as both “Lord and Saviour,” something the rest of the New Testament affirms (2 Pet.1:11, 3:18, Titus 2:3). [14]

(b) Jesus Christ’s exclusive sinlessness.

The Quran testifies to the exclusive sinlessness of Jesus and there is no mention whatsoever of sin in connection with him. [15]

In Surah Maryam (19:19) the Angel from God announced to Mary -that she was to receive a “holy son” and Surah Ali’ Imran (3:36) indicates that Jesus at His birth was untouched by Satan.[16] What was the purpose of Christ the Messiah’s sinless perfection in Scripture:

John the Apostle writes:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world” (1 John 2:1-2. NLT).

The Apostle Peter writes:

“you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The Apostle John and Peter, therefore, writes that the purpose of Christ’s sinless perfection was to be the perfect sinless mediator between God and man, because no one sinful could have access to the presence of the Father, but also to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins! [17] Jesus was therefore our perfect mediator and eternal great High Priest.[18] Leon Morris writes

“The nature of the work Jesus came to accomplish [as high priest] demanded the incarnation”.

When we reflect so far on the Messianic expectations and purpose we recognize a double imperative. This Messiah had to be a perfect man to fulfill in the expectation of the mosaic law but also perfectly divine to be the mediator of this fulfilled promise. This then brings us to the necessary nature of the Messiah in the Bible.


Works Cited.

[1] Samuel Zwemer. The Moslem Doctrine of God. Pg.87.

[2] The Christian Doctrine from God. From the Introduction. (Pg.1).

[3] Greek Exegete Dr. Edward Dalcour writes:

“The prologue of John (vv. 1-18) contains some of the highest Christology in the NT (as does the prologues of Col. and Heb.). After having established the Word’s deity (including His role as the Creator), preexistence, distinction from the Father, and His incarnation, now in verse 18, the perpetual incarnation of the eternal Word is expressed. The phrase (“who is”) present active articular participle ho ōn (“who is,” lit., “the one being”) denoting timeless ongoing existence (as with Rom. 9:5: “Christ according to the flesh, who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the one who is/being always”] over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” Systematic theologian, Robert Reymond remarks on the significance of the articular participle: “The present participle ho ōn . . . indicates a continuing state of being: ‘who is continually in the bosom of the Father.’” In the LXX of Exodus 3:14, we find the same articular participle denoting Yahweh’s eternal existence: Egō eimi ho ōn, literally, “I am the eternal/always existing One.” Thus, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the one who is/being always”] in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [“exegeted”] Him.”

[4] Islamic Scholar Ahmed Hulusi speaks of Allah as; “The limitless, infinite ONE denoted by the name Allah is free from concepts such as explicit and implicit. These concepts are only so according to our assumptions. Indeed, how can the One who is beyond conceptualized limitations, such as explicit-implicit and beginning-end, possibly end somewhere at which point a second form of existence begins? Clearly this is not possible! Therefore, every point to which thoughts or imagination can reach contains only the Essence of Allah, the Ahad, with all of His compositional qualities and attributes” “Since Allah exists absolutely in every point and instance of existence, it follows that Allah does not have a reflection! Reflection (tajalli) denotes manifestation, visualization or materialization. All of this, however, implies duality. We know that existence is ONE and everything transpires within this ONE. Hence, a reflection of this ONE cannot be conceivable” When we really look at who Allah is we find an impenetrable, incomprehensible, arcane, inscrutable, mysterious, deity that is simply unfathomable and unintelligible because he is the greatest unknown! “Allah is SAMAD… If we take an extensive look at the meaning of this word, we will see that Samad means the following: A whole without any void or emptiness, impermeable, nothing penetrates into it, nothing extends out from it, pure and only!” 

[5] Karl de Souza from Jews for Jesus mentioned to me in a private conversation:

“Isaiah 53 – the Messiah would die, be buried, and rise from the grave. Zechariah 12:10 – the LORD (God) is pierced and seen …. how do you pierce God? (cf. John 19, Jesus on the cross). The Messiah, the individual, bears the name of YHVH (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Messiah bears the same titles as God: Isaiah 9:5-7.

[6] The great Reformed Theologian B.B. Warfield (1851-1921) says;

“Our faith itself, though it be the bond of our union with Christ through which we receive all His blessings, is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord. Nothing that we are and nothing that we can do enters in the slightest measure into the ground of our acceptance with God. Jesus did it all. And by doing it all He has become in the fullest and widest and deepest sense the word can bear—our Saviour.” (The Power of God unto Salvation, pp. 47-50).

[7] “Putting Amazing back into Grace”, Pg.14-15.

[8] Surah Al-Nisa (4) 172 says: “Never would the Messiah disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor would the angels near [to Him]. And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant – He will gather them to Himself all together.”

Surah Az Zukhruf (43) 59 says: “Jesus was not but a servant upon whom We bestowed favor, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel.”

Surat-u Maryam (19) 21 says: “and (We wish) to appoint him (Jesus) as a Sign unto men (“ayat-al linnasi”), and a mercy from Us.”

[9] Reformed Missionary to Muslims in Iran, William Miller states;

“Islam has no Savior. Mohammad is rarely called Savior. He is said to have brought God’s laws to men, and they, by keeping those laws, must satisfy God’s requirements and win His approval…. the decision is made by the arbitrary will of God, and no one can predict what that decision will be…. And so, the Muslim lives and dies, not sure of his final salvation.”[9]

[10] Cambridge Declaration says;

“Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature … God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace. We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature”.

[11] Surah Al-Ma’idah (5) 9 “Allah hath promised those who believe and do good works: Theirs will be forgiveness and immense reward.”

Surah Al-A’raf (7) 42 (Pickthall) “But (as for) those who believe and do good works – We tax not any soul beyond its scope – Such are rightful owners of the Garden. They abide therein.”

Surah Hud (11) 11 (Pickthall) “Save those who persevere and do good works. Theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.”

[12] The Quran and the historical Jesus. Pg.63.

[13] 1:23 Isa 7:14; 8:8, 10 (Greek version).

[14] The Quran and the historical Jesus. Pg.66.

John Gilchrist writes; “In Luke it is the person of Jesus that explains his unique conception, in Matthew it is his redemptive mission that explains the unique purpose for which he came to earth – this is the ‘sign’ that was signified in his exceptional birth.”

[15] The Quran also seem to teach that even prophets are not free from sin. (cf. Adam and Eve (7:23); Noah (11:47); Abraham (26:80-82); Moses (28:16); Muhammad (40:55). While the quran tells us that other prophets have sinned, there is not a hint there, or anywhere else in Islamic literature, of sin in Jesus.

[16] Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No person is born but that he is pricked by Satan and he cries from the touch of Satan, except for Mary and her son.”

Abu Huraira said, “Recite the verse if you wish: Verily, I seek refuge for her and her offspring from the cursed Satan.” (3:36)

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3248, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2366

[17] It should be noted that Muslims believe that Muhammad would be an intercessor in the last day, but we need to reiterate Muhammad is not mentioned by name as an intercessor and only God appoints and approves an intercessor. Surah Al Baqarah (2:48; 2:255); Surah Maryam (19.87, 90); Surah Ta Ha (20.108-109); Surah Al Najm (53.26-27). In the Quran God is the only intercessor (6.51, 70; 32.4; 39.44) but in the Bible, Jesus is the perfect mediator and intercessor (1 Tim.2:5) approved by God (Matt. 3:17; Mk. 1:11; Luk. 3:22). This would fit in with the common interpretation of Sura al-Zukhruf (43:61) that designates that the return of Jesus will be a sign of the Last Hour.

[18] Hebrews 2:16-18 says; “For, as we all know, He (Christ) does not take hold of [the fallen] angels [to give them a helping hand], but He does take hold of [the fallen] descendants of Abraham [extending to them His hand of deliverance]. Therefore, it was essential that He had to be made like His brothers (mankind) in every respect, so that He might [by experience] become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things related to God, to make atonement (propitiation) for the people’s sins [thereby wiping away the sin, satisfying divine justice, and providing a way of reconciliation between God and mankind]. Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering”.