The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian faith. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the divine vindication of the truth that Jesus died in place of sinners needing redemption and justification before an infinitely holy and just God. Thus, the death of Jesus is the only possible approach for mankind to gain salvation. While accepting Jesus as the Messiah, Islam which came almost 600 years later denies the death of Jesus. Muslims believe that God rescued Jesus from undergoing death and raised him to heaven. Therefore, if it can be proven beyond doubt that Jesus actually died before his ascension to heaven, then not only will Christianity stand vindicated but Islam will be proven false. This article will do just. What is more, we will use the Qur’an to prove that Jesus died with absolute certainty.
The Bible attaches great importance to the death of Jesus. One reference work says that the death of Jesus is mentioned some 175 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament). The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. During the last year of his life, Jesus several times warned his disciples about the suffering and death that awaited him. On the way to Jerusalem to observe his final Passover, he told his twelve apostles:
Mark 10:34-35: “The Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to men of the nations, and they will make fun of him and will spit upon him and scourge him and kill him.”
Jesus died in order to redeem mankind from sin and death. Centuries before Jesus was sent to the earth, the prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah’s suffering and death would provide atonement for the sins of the human race. Regarding the death of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied:
Isaiah 53:5: But he was being pierced for our transgression; he was being crushed for our errors. The chastisement meant for our peace was upon him, and because of his wounds there has been a healing for us.
Jesus clearly understood this, and he willingly gave “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” In harmony with Isaiah’s prophecy, Gospel writer Mark recorded the following:
Mark 10:45: For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”
His sacrificial death opened the way for imperfect humans to become reconciled with their Creator and to be rescued from sin and death. Jesus’ death opens up to us the opportunity to regain what Adam and Eve lost—the prospect of living forever in perfect conditions on earth. The prospect for living forever on earth is clearly outlined in the following Biblical verse:
Psalms 37:11: But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.
Psalms 37:29: The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.
And the Qur’an acknowledges that the above inspired promise by God is indeed recorded in the Book of Psalms:
Surah 21:105: “Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth.” (Yusuf Ali)
In spite of the Qur’an’s agreement with God’s promise for righteous mankind, Islam totally disagrees with Christianity on the Doctrine of Redemption. It also strongly denies that Jesus (Isa) was put to death on the torture stake. It teaches that Jesus was neither impaled on the torture stake nor was he killed. Muslims are taught to believe that Jesus did not die but was bodily raised directly to heaven. The general Islamic view is that someone else was executed in the place of Jesus, with most Muslims believing that it was Judas Iscariot. According to Islam, Judas Iscariot was made to look like Jesus on the night before Christ was executed. The unbelieving Jews supposedly thought that they had impaled Christ when in reality it was Judas that they had killed. The idea that Jesus did not die stems from the following Qur’anic verse:
Surah 4:157: And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. (Shakir)
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. (Pickthall)
Muslims denial of the execution and death of Jesus by impalement is based entirely on this one single verse in the Qur’an. And Muslims strongly believe in this Qur’anic verse which contradicts the Bible’s clear testimony despite the fact that Muhammad came hundreds of years after the event, lived hundreds of miles away, and did not provide any evidence. The Qur’an is clearly in error for the following reasons:
Since the Qur’an contradicts this essential teaching of the Bible regarding the death of Jesus while, at the same instant, it affirms the preservation and authority of the Bible, the Qur’an is clearly in error. How is it possible for Allah to deny the death of Jesus Christ and at the same instant validate the authority of the Bible? If the Bible, which was completed almost six-hundred before the Qur’an was mistaken about the death of Jesus, then it means that it has become an unreliable guidance for mankind. Since Islam believes that Christians, on account of the allegedly erroneous teachings of the Bible, believe that Jesus died, is it not ironical for Allah to give the following commandments in the Qur’an:
Surah 5:68: Say: “O followers of the Bible! You have no valid ground for your beliefs – unless you truly observe the Torah and the Gospel, and all that has been bestowed from on high upon you by your Sustainer!” (Asad)
And Allah commands Muhammad:
Surah 10:94: If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt. (Yusuf Ali)
“And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee.” (Pickthall)
Surah 21:7: ”Also before you, the messengers we sent were only men, to whom We granted the Revelation: If you do not know this, ask those, the people of the Remainder (of the Scripture, the Torah and the Gospel).” (S. V. Ahamed)
How is it that Allah is telling Christians to observe the Torah and the Gospel when these very Scriptures both prophesy and teach that Jesus was put to death at the instigation of the Jews? And how is it that Allah is telling Muhammad to consult the very people who believe in the death of Jesus, when he is overcome by doubts? By denying the death of Jesus Christ and yet at the same time affirming the Bible as God’s authoritative Word, Allah exposes his ignorance. He wrongly assumed that his denial of the death of Jesus did not conflict with his views that the Holy Bible was God’s preserved Word. This proves that the author of the Qur’an is an imposter. Therefore, the Qur’an cannot be inspired by the true God. The Qur’an is clearly in error since it affirms the preservation and authority of the Holy Bible while denying one of its essential teachings.
Even more troubling for Muslims is the fact that when the Qur’an denies that the death of Jesus, it not only contradicts the Bible’s clear testimony, but it also contradicts its very own teachings. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the Qur’an. Let us now consider the evidences. The following Qur’anic verse records Jesus as saying:
Surah 19:33: Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive! (Pickthall)
“There was peace on me the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead.” (A. Ali)
Muslim scholars, who believe that Jesus did not die, find themselves in a dilemma at verses like the one provided above. Knowing that the above testimony of Jesus in Surah 19:33 clearly proves that he died before his ascension to heaven, many Muslim apologists attempt to respond by saying that this is a future event. They try to explain away this Qur’anic verse by saying that Jesus will die when he comes back the second time and then be raised back to life. They say this with no rhyme or reason except to evade an obvious contradiction in the Qur’an. Well, what evidence do they provide to make such an outrageous claim? None! But, this interpretation poses a problem for Muslim scholars because the very same phrase is also expressed just a few verses earlier in the Qur’an regarding John the Baptist (Yahya). We can read an almost identical passage about John the Baptist in Surah 19:15. Note the similarity in the wordings:
Surah 19:15: And peace on him on the day he was born, and on the day he dies, and on the day he is raised to life. (Shakir)
However, in the case of John the Baptist, Muslims scholars have no trouble recognizing the fact that this verse is speaking about his immediate death. And they also have no problem in understanding that it is only after his death that he will be raised to life in Paradise on the Day of Resurrection. The chronological sequence of event is clearly understood and correctly applied here. Yet, in the case of Jesus, we find Muslims having Jesus ascending to God before dying. They deliberately distort and destroy the chronological sequence of the event, even though the chronological sequence is identical in both cases. Muslim scholars would rather make completely unsupportable arguments than admit that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is taught in this Qur’anic verse. Of course, their unwillingness to come in terms with the truth is because they are aware that a correct interpretation of Surah 19:33 will lead to a contradiction of Surah 4:157. Either Jesus died or he did not. It cannot be both. Since the Qur’an teaches both, Allah has left Muslims with little choice other than to deceive and manipulate a verse that really needs no explanation.
If the interpretation of these Muslim scholars is correct, then Surah 19:33 should have Jesus saying: “Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I shall be raised alive and the day I shall die” in harmony with their claimed chronological sequence of events. But it does not.
We must ask these scholars, since Surah 19:33 and Surah 19:15 are identical in the sequence of events, why don’t they also shift the death of John the Baptist to the future – after his resurrection – as they did in the case of Jesus? Why the discrepancy?
In fact, there is not a single passage in the entire Qur’an that shows that Jesus will return to die. Since the parallel statement in the case of John shows that he died, clearly then, Jesus must also have died accordingly. There is an interesting remark by the renowned Qur’an translator, Yusuf Ali, in his footnote of Surah 19:33:
“…Christ was not crucified (S. IV. 157). But those who believe that he never died should ponder over this verse.” (Ali, “The Holy Qur’an”, p.774, f. 2485.)
We will now expose the lies of these Muslim scholars even more. We will look at two separate Qur’anic verses to prove that Jesus died before his ascension to heaven. The first is Surah 3:55. This Qur’anic verse specifically mentions the death of Jesus before his ascension to heaven:
Surah 3:55: Lo! God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me, and cleanse thee of the presence of those who are bent on denying the truth; and I shall place those who follow thee far above those who are bent on denying the truth, unto the Day of Resurrection.” (Asad)
God said, “O Jesus, I shall cause you to die and will raise you up to Me and shall clear you [of the calumnies] of the disbelievers, and shall place those who follow you above those who deny the truth, until the Day of Judgement.” (W. Khan)
This verse emphasizes that Allah caused Jesus to die before he was raised to heaven. But more importantly, this verse shows that the death and ascension of Jesus occurred before the “Day of Judgement.” In other words, before the second coming of Jesus. This is verified by the fact that after mentioning the death and ascension of Jesus, the Qur’an states that the disciples of Jesus will be placed above the disbelievers until the “Day of Judgement” – clearly a future event that is yet to occur. This means that that the statement by Muslims that Jesus will die only after his second coming is a lie. Now, let’s look at the second Qur’anic verse that strongly supports the fact that Jesus actually died before his ascension to heaven. This verse is important because it gives us a time-frame. According to this verse, after his ascension to heaven, Jesus spoke the following words to Allah:
Surah 5:117: Nothing did I tell them beyond what Thou didst bid me to say: `Worship God, who is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer.’ And I bore witness to what they did as long as I dwelt in their midst; but since Thou hast caused me to die, Thou alone hast been their keeper: for Thou art witness unto everything. (Asad)
I was a witness to what they did as long as I remained among them, and when You did cause me to die, You were the watcher over them. You are the witness of all things. (W. Khan)
Study the wordings of this Qur’anic passage very carefully. This Qur’anic verse clearly shows that now in presence of Allah after his ascension to heaven, Jesus spoke of his death as already having occurred. Thus, his ascension to heaven took place only after Allah caused him to die. Thus, the claim that he will die only after his ascension and during his second coming is a deceitful attempt by Muslim scholars to cover a contradiction in the Qur’an. Jesus clearly died before his ascension. The words of Jesus in this Qur’anic verse clearly show:
(One) When Jesus was with his disciples on earth, he bore witness to them.
(Two) But then Allah caused him to die.
(Three) And now in heaven, Jesus says that Allah alone watches over them at present.
In the above Qur’anic verse, the term “die” is translated from the Arabic word, “mutawaffika.” The term “mutawaffika” occurs over 25 times in the Qur’an, and in each case it refers to the death of someone. Especially enlightening is its usage in Surah 39:42:
“It is Allah that takes (mutawaffika) the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) (mutawaffika) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death.” (Yusuf Ali)
Thus, it is important to note that if Qur’an translators (like Yusuf Ali) prefer to use another phrase such as, “Thou didst take me up” (mutawaffika) instead of “Thou didst cause me to die” (mutawaffika) in their translations, it means the same thing in the Arabic Qur’an. It means death.
We will now consider two Surahs that use the same pattern of words to state categorically that all messengers of God will die:
Surah 5:75: The Messiah, son of Marium is but a messenger; messengers before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food. See how We make the communications clear to them, then behold, how they are turned away. (Shakir)
Surah 3:144: And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? (Shakir)
The first Surah clearly states that all messengers before Jesus had died. A fact that Muslims will not deny. And the second Surah states that all messengers before Muhammad have also passed away in death. Islam teaches that no prophet arose between Jesus and Muhammad. Thus, the immediate messenger before Muhammad was Jesus. As such, the second Surah seems to specifically point to the fact that Jesus too had died. In Arabic, the term for messengers in the above two Surahs is “al-rasul” which literally means “the messengers.” According to grammatical rules of classic Arabic, owing to the prefix “al” (the), the word messengers in the above two verses really means all messengers. (See Bahr al-Muhit, Volume 3, p. 68).
One of the subtle excuses that Muslims employ in denying the execution of Jesus is by the use of misleading reasoning that God would not allow his prophets or messengers to die in such a violent manner at the hands of their enemies. But, in interpreting the above two Qur’anic verses about all messengers before Jesus and Muhammad having passed away, Muslim scholars in their Tafsirs (Commentary) have generally adopted the understanding that it includes death by murder or execution:
“The Holy Prophet would leave the world as had done previous prophets, by natural death or murder.” (See Qanwa ‘ala Baidawi, Volume 3, p.124)
It is vital to note that the Arabic word “khala” in the above two Qur’anic verses, which is translated as “passed away” in the past tense without a particle, always refers to the death of the human beings it is used in connection with. (See Lisan al-‘Arab and Aqrab al-Mawarad). Thus, the above Qur’anic verse about Muhammad in Surah 3:144 further clarifies the meaning of this Arabic term “khala” (the passing away of all previous prophets) by qualifying it with the words “if he dies or is killed” with regard to Muhammad. Therefore the “passing away” of all previous prophets must also be one or other, that is, “dying a natural death” or “being killed.” As such, it is inexcusable for Muslims to deny the violent execution of Jesus at the hands of his enemies.
Additionally, if Surah 3:144 intends to exclude Jesus as one of the messengers who passed away before Muhammad, then it would have read, “All the Apostles before Muhammad died except Isa son of Maryam.” But we find no such thing. Hence Surah 3:144 proves that Jesus must have died as the Gospels clearly and honestly testify. Moreover, in disproving the Muslim claim, the Qur’an itself teaches that evil men in the past have “killed the prophets” of God. We will just cite one example out of the many to prove our point:
Surah 2:91: When it is said to them, “Believe in what Allah Hath sent down,” they say, “We believe in what was sent down to us:” yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: “Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?” (Yusuf Ali)
The Muslim assertion that Jesus did not die physically prior to his ascension contradicts yet again the following Qur’anic verse. According to the Qur’an, every soul must experience death:
Surah 21:35: Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned. (Pickthall)
Every human being is bound to taste death; and We test you (all) through the bad and the good (things of life) by way of trial: and unto Us you all must return. (Asad)
Every Soul -no exception- shall taste death. (Al-Muntakhab)
And the Qur’an punctuates the above verse by emphasizing that all messengers of God who came before Muhammad, which includes Jesus, were human beings:
Surah 21:7-8: Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death. (Yusuf Ali)
And the Qur’an makes it clear that it includes Jesus:
Surah 5:75: The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. Pickthall)
“The Messiah, the son of Mary, is only a Messenger: Messengers like him have passed away before him.” (H. S. Aziz)
As we can see, the denial of the death of Jesus leads to many theological problems for Muslims. The only way out of this difficult situation is for Muslims to deny that Jesus is a human being. But then, they will run into more serious problems with the Qur’an. Because of the contradictory statement in Surah 4:157, Muslims have to torture themselves to re-interpret the verses that point to the death of Christ Jesus. Muslim scholars are torn between making Jesus exempt from death on account of Allah’s clear testimony that Jesus did not die in Surah 4:157 and all these other verses that subject Jesus to death.
Unlike the Qur’an, which creates much confusion regarding the death of Jesus, the Bible is quite consistent with itself in the narratives of the execution of Jesus in the Gospels. What Muslims failed to understand is that the death of Jesus on the torture stake was not something which caught him unawares and destroyed his plans. On the contrary, the very purpose for which he came into the world was to die a sacrificial death so that he might bring about the salvation of God to mankind. The death of Jesus on the torture stake was not an afterthought, neither was it a sudden unexpected tragedy. It was God’s purpose. In harmony with his Father’s will, it was the conscious choice of Christ to lay down his life. Thus, the death of Jesus is a certainty in Christianity.
HEBREW (JEWISH) SCRIPTURES: Daniel 9:26: “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah will be cut off, with nothing for himself.”
CHRISTIAN GREEK SCRIPTURES: Acts 3:18: “But in this way God has fulfilled the things he announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.”
If Muslims were to follow the Qur’an’s command to inquire from those who read the Bible (Surah 10:94), they will come to understand not only the fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also the reason why he had to die. They will then understand why it was God’s divine purpose for Jesus to die on the torture stake. And why Jesus willingly laid down his life.
When one of Jesus’ disciples tried to prevent him from facing his approaching death, Jesus rebuked him and said:
Matthew 26:53: “Do you not think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more that twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Given below are some examples of the different prophecies dealing with the arrest, trial and death of Jesus Christ. They are all taken from written Biblical records of the Jewish prophets who were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These prophetic accounts were written between 500 to 1000 years before the birth of Jesus.
(1) PROPHECY: Psalms 41:9: Betrayed by a close companion.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 10:4.
(2) PPROPHECY: Zechariah 11:12: Sold for 30 pieces of silver.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 26:14-16.
(3) PROPHECY: Zechariah 13:7: Forsaken by his Disciples.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 26:31, 56.
(4) PROPHECY: Psalms 35:11: Accused by false witnesses.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 26:59-61.
(5) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:8: Would be tried and condemned.
FULFILLMENT: Mark 15:1-15.
(6) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:7: Silent before his accusers.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 27:11-14.
(7) PROPHECY: Isaiah 50:6: Accusers struck and spat on him.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:26, 30.
(8) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:5: Pierced for our transgression.
FULFILLMENT: John 19:34.
(9) PROPHECY: Psalm 22:7-8: Reviled while on the stake.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 27:39-43.
(10) PROPHECY: Psalm 22:18: Lots cast for his garments.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 27:35.
(11) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:12: He poured out his soul to the very death.
FULFILLMENT: Luke 23:46.
(12) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:12: Executed with transgressors.
FULFILLMENT: Luke 23:32.
(13) PROPHECY: Psalm 34:20: Executed without having any of his bones broken.
FULFILLMENT: John 19:33, 36.
(14) PROPHECY: Isaiah 53:9: Buried with the rich.
FULFILLMENT: Matthew 27:57-60.
(15) PROPHECY: Psalm 16:10: Will not be allowed to remain in death.
FULFILLMENT: Acts 2:24, 27.
(16) PROPHECY: Psalm 110:1: Exalted to the right hand of God.
FULFILLMENT: Acts 7:56.
Jesus himself prophesied his impending death beforehand when he said:
John 10:17-18: “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, in order that I may receive it again. No man has taken it away from me, but I surrender it of my own initiative. I have authority to surrender it, and I have authority to receive it again. The commandment on this I received from my Father.”
The above prophecies and their fulfillments show the unity and cohesiveness between the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures, where all the prophecies that were written by many of God’s ancient prophets over the centuries, point harmoniously to the birth, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The fundamental Christian belief is that Jesus died on the torture stake and rose from the dead. In contrast, Muhammad claimed that Jesus never died. Can we then put away all these evidences away and place our trust in the judgment of one man who denies the death of Jesus when he lived some hundreds of miles away from the place of the event and some 600 years after the event, and who by his own admission is an illiterate?
In contrast to the clear teachings of the Holy Bible, the Qur’an gives contradictory statements.
Muhammad’s claim about the impalement of Jesus is confusing – even to Muslims. Islam does not give clarity to who was nailed on the torture stake. Some Muslims believe Jesus was impaled but did not die on the torture stake. Others believe Jesus was not put on the torture stake at all, but was taken up to heaven while somebody else was impaled in Jesus’ place. And Muslims have differences of opinion about who this other somebody was. Whether it was Judas Iscariot, Simon of Cyrene, one of Jesus’ disciples or one of the Roman soldiers, no Muslims seem to know conclusively. And all these have been suggested in different Muslim writings as possible replacement of Jesus Christ. Some Muslims even believe Jesus was impaled on the torture stake and later was placed in a tomb, yet he somehow revived and died in India at the age of 120.
The idea that someone was executed instead of Christ is so outrageous that even those secularists who reject the resurrection and the ransom of Christ consider Muhammad’s story as contrary to the facts of history. While secularist may not accept the Christian doctrine of salvation through the death of Jesus, they still recognize the death of Jesus as an historical fact. Disagreeing with the doctrine would not change what happened in history. They are two different issues. One can reject a doctrine but not history. Muslims confuse doctrine with history. Even if they choose to reject the Christian doctrine of salvation through the death of Jesus, they cannot reject history.
THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE TORTURE STAKE IS AN HISTORICAL FACT
Jesus’ death on the execution stake is described in all four Gospel accounts of the Bible. And it is also firmly established as an historical event by non-Christian sources. Modern scholars consider the Baptism of Jesus and his Death by Impalement to be two historically certain facts about him. James Dunn who is a leading British New Testament scholar states that these “two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent” and “rank so high on the ‘almost impossible to doubt or deny’ scale of historical facts” that they are often the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus. (“Jesus Remembered” by James D. G. Dunn 2003, page 339)
TESTIMONY OF JEWISH HISTORIAN
But more important are the historical accounts of ancient non-Christian historians. The writings of the 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (born around 37 C.E. and died in 100 C.E.) include references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity. Josephus refers to Jesus’ death in his esteemed work, Antiquities of the Jews, (Book 18, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3).
TESTIMONY OF ROMAN HISTORIAN
The Roman historian and Senator,Cornelius Tacitus, born about 55 C.E. and considered one of the world’s greatest historians, referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (Book 15, Chapter 44).
We would not expect Roman historians to say much about an apparently small religious movement in faraway Palestine. However, the foremost Roman historian, Tacitus, tells of Emperor Nero fastening the blame for the burning of Rome upon those “called Christians by the populace. Cristus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.” (The Complete Works of Tacitus, translated by A. Church and W. Brodribb, p. 380)
The “extreme penalty” that the Romans administered on a person is death by execution. Thus, this Roman historian not only testified that Jesus was put to death but he also named “Pontius Pilatus” as the person who sent Jesus to his death. The Annals is Tacitus’s finest work and is acknowledged by modern historians as our best source of information about this period of time in history. Now compare how accurately the historical account of Tacitus agrees with the account recorded earlier in the Holy Bible:
Mark 15:15: “At that Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them, and, after having Jesus whipped, he handed him over to be impaled.”
Matthew 27:26: “Then he released Barabbas to them, but he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be impaled.”
Luke 23:24-25: “So Pilate gave sentence for their demand to be met: he released the man that had been thrown into prison for sedition and murder and whom they were demanding, but he surrendered Jesus to their will.”
There is substantial evidence for the historic event of Jesus’ death on the torture stake:
The Old Testament prophets by means of prophecies testified to Jesus’ death.
The New Testament testified by recording the actual fulfillments of these prophecies.
Jesus himself testified to his death on multiple occasions.
Eyewitnesses testified to the death of Jesus on the torture stake.
Non-Christian historians also testified that Jesus died.
And the Qur’an, too, while contradicting itself, testified that Jesus died.
As stated earlier, Muslims denial of the execution and death of Jesus by impalement is based entirely on a single verse in the Qur’an. If it were not for Surah 4:157, other texts, such as Surah 3:55 and Surah 19:33, would be plainly understood as referring to the death of Jesus. Let us look at Surah 4:157 once again and analyze it further. However, our purpose for reconsidering this verse is to draw the reader’s attention to several other obvious errors in this Qur’anic passage:
Surah 4:157: And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. (Shakir)
If you read this account in its entirety from Surah 4:153 to Surah 4:162, you will understand who they are that are saying, “Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah.” According to the Qur’an, it is the Jews saying this. Think! Would the hostile Jews call Jesus the “Messiah” when they have rejected him as the Messiah? It must be remembered that the Jewish religious leaders even objected when Pilate wrote a title saying, “King of the Jews.” (John 19:19-22). It is, therefore, illogical for the Jews to boastfully say that “we have killed the Messiah” when they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah in the first place. And if they did recognize him as the Messiah – as this verse implies – would they have killed him? Whether they accept Jesus or not, the Jews will never make such a statement, sarcastically or otherwise, regarding the Messiah because the Messiah is a reverential figure for whom they waiting for deliverance. No Jews will boast that they have killed the Messiah. And the Jews are still devotedly waiting for the Messiah.
Surah 4:157 is an excellent example of how the Qur’an contradicts the teaching of the Bible while suffering from the problem that the Qur’an as a whole upholds the Bible as authoritative and having been faithfully transmitted. Thus, any contradiction that the Qur’an has with the Bible poses a problem for the Qur’an. It poses a problem that is internal to the Islamic religion. If Muslims affirm what the Qur’an teaches, that the Bible is authoritative and has not been lost nor forgotten, then they ought to reject what the Qur’an teaches in Surah 4:157. However, if the Muslim instead affirm Surah 4:157 as true while rejecting the New Testament teachings, they still end up rejecting what the Qur’an teaches concerning the Bible’s authority and faithful transmission. Either way, it is a dilemma for Muslims. They will have to deny the Qur’an themselves sooner or later. We will now consider another absurdity in this Qur’anic verse:
Surah 4:157: And (for) their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but (another) was made to resemble him to them. (Sahih International)
And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa). (Shakir)
Because of this Qur’anic verse, Muslims believe that Allah took Jesus to heaven while someone else was nailed to the torture stake. Most Muslims believe that it was Judas Iscariot. Thus, according to the Qur’an, the person on the torture stake was made to appear as Jesus. This means Judas, died in the place of Christ. This is a massive theological problem because Surah 4:157 presents Allah as a deceiver who misleads people into believing a lie for no valid reason at all. Allah deceived people into believing that Jesus had died on the torture stake. If Allah was able to lift Jesus up instantly, what was the advantage of this whole deception? Thus, the entirety of Islam is but a travesty of the truth.
If Islam is correct, then Allah started this whole idea that Jesus died on the torture stake when he decided to trick Jesus’ enemies into thinking that they had killed Jesus. So who is responsible for the Christian belief that Jesus died on the torture stake? And this now leads to even more problems for Islam. If the deception of the Disciples of Christ was unintentional, then it must be concluded that Allah did not realize that he was about to start the largest false religion in the world. However, if it was intentional, then Allah, like Satan, is in the business of starting false religions. Ironically, millions of people from around the world now refuse to accept Islam because they believe that Jesus died on the torture stake for their sins, a teaching that goes back to the deceiver – Allah. Therefore, the Allah of Islam is either dreadfully ignorant or maliciously deceptive. Either way, Allah, Muhammad, Islam and the Qur’an should be rejected.
THE QUR’AN ADMITS THAT ALLAH IS A DECEIVER
Surah 3:54: Then they schemed (against the Messiah), and Allah countered their schemes by schemes of His own. Allah is the best of schemers. (Maududi)
“And they cheated/deceived and God cheated/deceived, and God (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.” (M. A. Samira)
How sure are Muslims that Allah is not deceiving them also? It would be in their best interest for Muslims to search for the God of truth who by his very nature cannot lie or deceive. (Hebrews 6:18). Muslims should turn to the true Word of God – the Holy Bible.
THE BIBLE IS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE
Over the years, skeptics have challenged—and continue to challenge—the Bible’s accuracy regarding the names of people and places it mentions. Time and again, though, evidence has proved the skepticism to be unfounded and the Bible record to be trustworthy.
For example, at one time scholars doubted the existence of Assyrian King Sargon, mentioned at Isaiah 20:1. However, in the 1840’s, archaeologists began unearthing the palace of this king. Now, Sargon is one of the best-known Assyrian kings.
Critics questioned the existence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus’ death. (Matthew 27:1, 22-24) But in 1961 a stone bearing Pilate’s name and rank was discovered near the city of Caesarea in Israel.
Regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible, the October 25, 1999, issue of U.S.News & World Report said:
“In extraordinary ways, modern archaeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments—corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel’s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, and the life and times of Jesus.”
Regarding the references made by first- and second-century historians to Jesus and the early Christians, the Encyclopædia Britannica, 2002 Edition, says:
“These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.”
While our faith in the Bible does not hinge on archaeological discoveries, such historical accuracy is what one can expect of a book inspired by God. The ignominious execution of Jesus as a contemptible criminal provides us with the most convincing argument against those who deny his death on the torture stake.
1 Corinthians 1:22-23: For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; but we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness.
If the execution of Jesus the Messiah was such an insolence to both Jews and Gentiles, it hardly would have been an invention of the apostles! Furthermore, Jesus’ death is attested to as an historical event not only by the four Gospels but also by the Roman writer Tacitus and by Jewish historian Josephus. Therefore, to deny the death of Jesus is to deny accurate history. Thus, the Qur’an cannot be the Word of God.
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