B. PROPHECIES TO MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE.
1. The Prophet Like Unto Moses.
It will come as something of a surprise to any Christian the first time he hears suggested by a Muslim that Muhammad is foretold in the Bible. It will not be long before he hears it, however, once he begins to witness to Muslims of God's saving grace in Jesus Christ. All Muslims have been taught from childhood that the Bible is replete with prophecies of the coming of Muhammad. The Prophet of Islam was obviously himself persuaded that such predictions existed and the claim that he was foretold in the former scriptures appears in this verse in the Qur'an:
Although Muhammad himself could not read the Tawraat (Law) and Injil (Gospel), his early followers soon sought for such prophecies once they obtained ready access to the relevant scriptures among the Jews and the Christians.
In this short section we shall only be able to give attention to the two most prominent passages, one in each of the testaments, which Muslims rely on to substantiate their claims. The first prophecy was made by Moses, the second by Jesus, and it takes little imagination to appreciate why Muslims would like to pin prophecies to Muhammad on these great founders of the world's original monotheistic religions. The prophecy of Moses is found in the following words where God addressed the great leader of the Israelites:
The claim that this prophecy relates to Muhammad is based on three arguments: firstly, that Muhammad was like Moses in a way that no other prophet was; secondly, that he came from the "brethren" of the Israelites, that is, the Ishmaelites; and thirdly, that the words "I will put my words in his mouth" were fulfilled when the Angel Gabriel delivered the Qur'an to Muhammad and made him recite it. We shall consider these claims in order and offer a refutation of each to show that there can be no reasonable doubt that it was actually Jesus Christ of whom God spoke when he made the promise of a coming prophet who would be like Moses.
Ignoring obvious likenesses between Jesus and Moses, Muslim writers seek to find whatever differences they can between them to make it appear that it was not Jesus who was duly foretold. At the same time they produce likenesses between Moses and Muhammad, such as we find in the following quotations from their writings on the subject:
Moses and Muhammad (S.A.W.) married but Jesus remained a bachelor due to certain circumstances. (Durrani, Muhammad: The Biblical Prophet, p. 23).
Both Moses and Muhammad were not only prophets and spiritual teachers in the usual sense, but they were also "heads of states" whose mission included the establishment of a "state" founded on the teachings of their faith. No such opportunity presented itself to Prophet Jesus. (Badawi, Muhammad in the Bible, p. 41).
Yet other likenesses are put forward, namely that successors to Moses and Muhammad (Joshua and Umar respectively) invaded and conquered the promised land whereas Jesus commanded his followers to be prepared to leave it after he had gone. Another typical comparison centres on the acceptance Moses and Muhammad eventually obtained from their own people in contrast with Jesus whose rejection by his own nation reached a pitch at his crucifixion.
These arguments may sound impressive to the unlearned but it takes little effort to show that they are principally superficial. God said that he would raise up a prophet like unto Moses and as there were many prophets who succeeded him (one of them, Joshua, being his lifetime companion), it must be presumed that there was something unique about his prophethood that would be emulated in the prophet to come. All men have normal fathers and mothers and most of them get married. David and Solomon were also rulers of a state based on j the teaching of their faith and David in particular likewise ~ also eventually obtained the allegiance of his whole nation. In what way was Muhammad uniquely like Moses? Furthermore we can also draw likenesses between Moses and Jesus where Muhammad can be made to contrast with them. A typical selection of such likenesses would be:
2. Moses and Jesus forsook great wealth to share the poverty of their people which Muhammad did not. Of Moses we read: "He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11.25-26) and of Jesus we read: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8.9).
We have to discover something unique and exceptional in the whole character of Moses' prophethood which marked him out from the other prophets and which would be fulfilled in the prophet to come. In fact we find it in the context of the very prophecy we are analysing for we find it said by Moses just a few verses earlier:
On the day of the assembly referred to God had made a covenant with the people of Israel and raised up Moses as the mediator of this covenant. The first thing we have to find, therefore, is the mediator of a new covenant between God and his people Israel. Secondly we read that a very special relationship existed between God and Moses which we do not find in the case of the other prophets who succeeded him:
The Qur'an confirms this unique feature in Moses' relationship with God, saying of him "And to Moses God spoke directly" (Surah 4.164). A Christian writer observes the unusual character of this face-to-face communication between God and Moses in the light of the teaching in Surah 42.51 that "it is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger" (that is, an angel, more specifically the Angel Gabriel - Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1321):
We must therefore also look for a prophet who knew God face-to-face. Finally we also need to consider the great signs and wonders Moses performed over a period of forty years in Egypt, the Red Sea, and in the wilderness (Acts 7. 36). No prophet could be the prophet like unto Moses if he could not emulate the miracles he performed. We must, therefore, look for a prophet who performed great signs and wonders to confirm his mediatorial work just as Moses had done before him. That these are the real distinguishing features that we need to discover in the prophet foretold we find proved by the following comment in the very book that contains the prophecy we are considering:
The three distinguishing features are all clearly mentioned: a mediator between God and the people of Israel, who knew God face-to-face, and who did great signs and wonders. Did Muhammad possess any of these unique characteristics?
Firstly, Muhammad at no time claimed that he had been sent to mediate a new covenant with the people of Israel. Secondly, he himself declared that the Qur'an came to him at all times through the medium of an angel and that God at no time communicated it to him face-to-face. Finally, Muhammad performed no miracles as we have shown in the companion volume to this book (Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, pp. 260-263). A very significant charge by Muhammad's adversaries is recorded in the Qur'an in these words:
As we have seen the power to perform signs and wonders was one of the key, exceptional characteristics of Moses' prophetic/office and Muhammad's inability to discount the charge by duly emulating these signs tells against him as the prophet: foretold by Moses. A Muslim writer argues:
Far from being "spurious" as the author would wish, the power to perform miracles is clearly set out in Deuteronomy 34.10 as one of the key features in Moses' ministry that was to be looked for in the prophet to come. The conclusion is well stated in this quotation:
As for a likeness to Moses, we learn from Deut. xxxiv.10-12, that the two points in which the Israelites expected the coming prophet to resemble Moses were: (1) personal knowledge of God, and (2) mighty works. (Pfander, The Mizanu'l Haqq (Balance of Truth), p. 231).
The inability of the Muslims to relate any of the three really important features we have considered to their prophet and their reliance on a host of irrelevant likenesses rules out the possibility that Muhammad was the prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.18.
2. Jesus the Prophet Like Unto Moses.
It is very interesting to find that the very Bible that contains the prophecy of a prophet to come like Moses quite clearly confirms that it was Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter, claiming that God had foretold the coming of Jesus Christ through all the prophets, appealed specifically to Deuteronomy 18.18 as proof that Moses had done so (Acts 3.22). Likewise the great early Christian martyr Stephen appealed to the same text as proof that Moses was one of those who had "announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One", Jesus, whom the Jews had now betrayed and crucified (Acts 7.37).
Let us briefly reconsider the three conspicuous features of Moses' prophethood and see to what extent Jesus emulated them and proved to be the prophet whose coming was foretold. We begin with the covenant God mediated through Moses and, as the coming prophet was to be like him, we must look for the mediation of a new covenant. This very thing was promised by God through the prophet Jeremiah:
The promised new covenant was directly compared with the covenant God had made with Moses. The covenant would be different to that given through Moses but the prophet who would mediate it would be like him. It is therefore quite obvious that the prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.18 would be the one to mediate this new covenant between God and his people. And we read: "Therefore Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant" (Hebrews 9.15). To ratify the first covenant we read that:
Just as the first covenant had therefore been ratified with blood through a sacrificial offering, so the prophet to follow Moses would be like him and would also ratify God's new covenant with blood. Jesus therefore said:
Jesus is therefore the promised prophet like Moses for he mediated the new covenant between God and his people. Like Moses (and in a way in which no other prophet could compare), he also knew God face-to-face and became a direct mediator between God and men. "I know him, I come from him, and he sent me", Jesus said (John 7.29). Again he proclaimed: "No one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11.27). And yet again Jesus said: "Not that anyone has ever seen the Father except him who is from God - he has seen the Father" (John 6.46).
When he spoke to God face-to-face, "Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him" (Exodus 34.29-30). When the image of the invisible God was directly revealed through the transfigured face of Jesus Christ, "his face did shine as the sun" (Matthew 17.2). No other prophet could claim such a distinction - no one else knew God face-to-face in such a way that his face shone while he communed with him.
Not only was the new covenant mediated through Jesus who knew God face-to-face as Moses had done, but he too performed great signs and wonders to confirm his mediatorial work. One of the greatest signs that Moses did was to control the sea: "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind" (Exodus 14.21). Although other prophets had power over rivers (Joshua 3.13, 2 Kings 2.14), no other prophet emulated him in controlling the sea until Jesus came and we read that his disciples exclaimed "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (Matthew 8.27). He caused a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee to cease with just three words: "Peace - be still" (Mark 4.39).
Another of the great signs that Moses did was to feed the Israelites with bread from heaven. When the Israelites at the time of Jesus saw him perform a similar miracle by feeding no less than five thousand people with just a few loaves of bread they were convinced he was the promised prophet.
When they saw the sign, they said "This is the prophet". They knew well enough that the promised prophet would be recognised among other things by the performance of signs similar to those which Moses had done. When Jesus gave no indication of repeating the sign, the Israelites recalled that Moses had performed his feat for forty years unabated. So they said to Jesus, "What sign do you do so that we may see and believe you?" (John 6.30), appealing to Moses' act of sustaining the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus replied:
In every way he gave proof that he was the prophet who was to come - one to mediate a covenant like that mediated through Moses at Horeb, one who would know God face-to-face, and one who would perform signs just as Moses had done.
We thus see that Jesus was the prophet whose coming was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.18. The only likenesses which can properly be considered are those which relate to the unique character of Moses' prophetic office and it is only in these that we can truly find the identity of the coming mediator of a new covenant whose coming was announced by God at the end of Moses' life. There can be no doubt that ir was the advent of Jesus Christ that was intended in Deuteronomy 18.18. Christians only need to keep on the track of the truly relevant likenesses to discount Muslim attempts to make the prophecy apply to Muhammad.
3. A Prophet From Among Their Brethren.
The promise to Moses that God would raise up a prophet "from among their brethren" has led Muslims quickly to conclude that they have a definite proof that it was Muhammad who was foretold because, so they argue, the "brethren" of the Israelites were the Ishmaelites, their forefathers Isaac and Ishmael respectively being the two prominent sons of Abraham. The argument is typically presented in this quote:
A consideration of the expression "from their brethren" in its context, however, completely negates the possibility that Muhammad could be the prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18.18. God said "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren". Of whom is God speaking when he speaks of "them" and "their"? When we go back to the first two verses of Deuteronomy 18 we find the answer:
It is abundantly clear from these two verses that "they" refers to the tribe of Levi and that "their brethren" refers to the remaining eleven tribes of Israel. This is an inescapable fact. No honest method of interpretation or consistent method of exposition can possibly allow that Deuteronomy 18.18 refers to anyone else than the tribe of Levi and the remaining eleven tribes of Israel. Let us briefly examine the only possible exposition of the prophecy that can lead to a correct interpretation and identification of "their brethren". We need only to accentuate in italics the relevant words from Deuteronomy 18.1-2 to discover the only possible conclusion that can be drawn. The text reads:
Therefore the only logical interpretation of Deuteronomy 18.18 can be: "I will raise up for them (that is, the tribe of Levi) a prophet like you from among their brethren (that is, one of the other tribes of Israel)". Indeed throughout the Old Testament one often finds the expression "their brethren" meaning the remaining tribes of Israel as distinct from the tribe specifically referred to. Let us consider this verse as an example:
Here "their brethren" is specifically stated to be the other tribes of Israel as distinct from the tribe of Benjamin. In Deuteronomy 18.18, therefore, "their brethren" clearly means the brethren in Israel of the tribe of Levi.
In Deuteronomy 17.5 we read that Moses on one occasion said to the Israelites "One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother". Only an Israelite could be appointed king of Israel - "one from among your brethren" - no foreigner could become king, whether Ishmaelite or Edomite or of any other nation, because he was not one of "their brethren", that is, a member of one of the tribes of Israel. A Muslim writer on this subject has the grace to admit that the prophet to come could well have arisen from the Israelites "which", he says, "is a possible interpretation in view of Biblical usage" (Shafaat, Islam and its Prophet: A Fulfilment of Biblical Prophecies, p. 79). A Christian writer defines the issue clearly when he says:
It is quite clear from a study of the prophecy in its context that the prophet was to arise from one of the tribes of Israel other than the tribe of Levi. "Now it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah", the Christian Scripture declares (Hebrews 7.14), and Jesus Christ is therefore ably qualified to be the prophet foretold. If Muhammad was indeed a descendant of Ishmael as claimed by the Muslims, however, this very lineage will rule out the possibility that he was the coming prophet.
4. The Word of God in the Prophet's Mouth.
We have already considered the Muslim claim that the Word of God was put in Muhammad's mouth when the Qur'an was revealed to him. We do not believe that the Qur'an is the Word of God but, supposing for argument's sake that it is, this still would not help to identify Muhammad as the promised prophet. For it can be said of every true prophet that God has put his words in his mouth. God said to Jeremiah:
Furthermore we also read in Deuteronomy 18.18 that the prophet to follow Moses "shall speak to them all that I command him". Now we read that Jesus once said to his disciples
In no way, therefore, can the identity of the prophet in the text of Deuteronomy 18.18 be established from the fact that God would put his words in his mouth.
Let us close our consideration of Deuteronomy 18.18 by analysing another general Muslim argument that Jesus could not be the coming prophet. It is based on the questions put by the Jews to John the Baptist as recorded in John 1.19-21, namely whether he was Elijah, the prophet, or the Christ. A Muslim writer many years ago in a Cairo newspaper presented the typical Muslim standpoint, his reasoning being recorded in the following quotation:
So John the Baptist was Elijah, Jesus was the Messiah, and Muhammad was the prophet. Once again the argument appears to be very plausible at first sight but yet again it falls to the ground on closer analysis. It is based purely on a speculation of the Jews and when we consider their musings on this very subject as set out elsewhere in the Gospels we see that nothing conclusive can be construed from these speculations. They once said of Jesus: "This is indeed the prophet" (John 7.40). On another occasion they said he was "one of the prophets" (Matthew 16.14), on another "a prophet" (Mark 6.15) and worse still thought of him as both Elijah (Mark 6.15) and John the Baptist himself (Matthew 16.14).
It needs to be pointed out that the Bible does not teach that Elijah, the Christ, and the prophet were to come in that order. The questions put by the Jews to John, whether he was Elijah, the Christ, or the prophet, merely expressed their own hopes and expectations of figureheads to come. In the light of their confusion, however, we can see that no serious consideration can be given to the distinctions they made between Christ and the prophet to come. It is also important to note that the predictions of the prophet, etc., were made in the reverse order in the Old Testament (the prophet was promised by Moses, most of the prophecies of the coming Christ were set out in the writings of the later prophets, and the promise of the coming of Elijah only appears at the end of the book in Malachi 4.5). Furthermore no deliberate distinction between the prophet and the Christ was ever drawn in these prophecies and it is not surprising to find the Jews in one breath proclaiming that Jesus was indeed both the prophet and the Christ (John 7.40-41).
The one very significant factor that we discover in all the speculations of the Jews about the coming prophet was their expectation that he would arise in Israel. They would never have asked John if he was "the prophet" or declared that Jesus must be the one foretold if they had understood the expression "from among their brethren" to mean that the prophet would arise from among the Ishmaelites. It was within the nation of Israel and from among the descendants of Isaac that the prophet was expected - a final proof that the prophet could not possibly have been Muhammad.
5. The Promise of a Comforter in the New Testament.
We come to Muslim attempts to find prophecies to Muhammad in the New Testament, in particular in the words of Jesus Christ where he predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit and spoke of him as "the Comforter". (Whereas the Revised Standard Version uses the word "Counsellor" rather than "Comforter", we shall use the word "Comforter" throughout this section because it is more familiar to the Muslims). Two of the texts where the Comforter was promised by Jesus are:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you". John 16.7
The only other two texts containing the promise of the coming Comforter by this title are John 14.16 and John 15.26. Whenever Muslims seek for prophecies to Muhammad in the New Testament they immediately appeal to these texts. They argue that Muhammad brought the final revelation of God and reminded the world of all that Jesus had actually taught while he was on earth. Thus John 15.26 is said to have been fulfilled in the Prophet of Islam. When Jesus said of the Comforter "He will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16.13), Muslims claim that Muhammad did precisely this. One says:
Yet another typical argument centres on the constant use by Jesus of the masculine gender for the Holy Spirit. By constantly speaking in such terms, viz. "He will glorify me", "he will not speak on his own authority", "he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16.13-14), it is argued that Jesus was not speaking of a spirit but of a man, namely Muhammad. The argument usually follows this line:
It hardly seems to cross the author's mind that, whereas Allah himself, like the Holy Spirit in the Bible, is neither male nor female, yet the Qur'an always speaks of him in the masculine gender, viz. Huwallaahullathtii la ilaha illahuwa - "He is Allah and there is no God besides Him" (Surah 59.23). Twice in this text we find the masculine huwa in place of the neutral hiya, and if it is appropriate to speak of God in the Qur'an in masculine terms we do not see why the author deems it fit to object to the use of the same gender for the Spirit of God in the Bible. In fact there is no suggestion in the prophecies of Jesus that the Comforter would be a man and not the Holy Spirit. At the end of this section adequate proof will be given that his prophecies can only be taken to refer to the Holy Spirit.
Another typical argument is based on Jesus' words "If I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you" (John 16. 7). It is claimed that this could not refer to the Holy Spirit as the Bible shows that the Spirit was already present among men (Psalm 51.11, Luke 1.15). On the contrary the New Testament clearly shows what Jesus meant, namely that he had to depart and return to heaven before the Holy Spirit could be poured out upon all believers indiscriminately, from the least to the greatest, in a way in which he had never come before (Acts 2.17).
6. "His Name Shall be Ahmad".
The Muslim tendency to concentrate on Jesus' promise of a coming Comforter arises from an apparently similar promise in the Qur'an where Jesus is recorded as predicting the coming of a prophet after him to be named Ahmad:
An immediate difficulty presents itself here to the Muslims. The prophet to come is named Ahmad, not Muhammad, and although the two names come from the same root letters (hmd) and therefore have the same basic meaning ("one who is praised"), they are not ultimately the same. The actual difficulty is well defined in this quote:
Another writer makes the same point, stating that Surah 61.6 appears to be a faint allusion to the promise of a Comforter in John's Gospel:
Before returning to John's Gospel let us briefly consider this issue. Muslim writers on this subject customarily gloss over the distinction (e.g. Durrani, Muhammad the Biblical Prophet, p. 39), but it has led to some analysis in Western writings. Much of this has centred on the following three traditions attributed to different Muslim sources:
A well-known scholar suggests that the very nature of these traditions leads to the possibility that the prophecy in Surah 61.6 was not originally taken to be a direct prophecy to Muhammad by name:
It is highly questionable whether Muhammad was ever called Ahmad. The tradition that his mother was actually commanded to give him this name has a forced element about it, for traditions about annunciations of his birth and manifestations on the occasion are generally regarded as spurious and as inventions by later traditionists who sought to create a nativity narrative around Muhammad similar to those about Jesus in the New Testament. There is a very good reason to doubt whether Muhammad was ever given the name Ahmad:
This anomaly has led some writers to suggest that the name Ahmad, or indeed the whole prophecy in Surah 61.6, is a later interpolation, though this is unlikely for the reason given in the following quotation:
Another Christian writer, however, states that there is some reason to believe it may have been an interpolation: "This appears plausible in view of Ubayy b. Kab's different version of 61.6 and the silence of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham as to the word 'Ahmad'" (Abdul Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim, p. 51). Instead of a prophecy to Ahmad by name Ubayy b. Kab's variant reading of Surah 61.6 makes Jesus announce a prophet who would be the seal from among the prophets and messengers of Allah (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 170). It seems likely, however, that the word ahmadu in Surah 61.6 "could perhaps be secured by a simpler supposition, namely, that for the first century or so of Islam the word ahmadu was regarded not as a proper name but as a simple adjective" (Watt, "His Name Shall be Ahmad, The Muslim World, Vol. 43, p. 113).
It indeed appears probable that Muhammad heard, perhaps only from secondary sources, that Jesus had foretold the coming of someone else after him to complete his message and took this to be a reference to himself. Guarding against the unlikelihood that Jesus had predicted his coming by name, he chose a title as close to his name as possible to fix the prophecy on himself.
A Muslim writer significantly discounts the Gospel of Barnabas (which we shall analyse in the next section) precisely because it contains a prophecy by Jesus to Muhammad by name, "an all too obvious and tactless allusion to the Prophet by name" (Shafaet, Islam and its Prophet: A Fulfilment of Biblical Prophecies, p. 73). Muhammad himself, more wisely and discreetly, resisted the temptation.
Let us press on to see how Muslim writers, faced with a name meaning "one who is praised" in the Qur'an (Ahmad), attempt to relate it to the promise Jesus made of the coming Comforter as recorded in the Gospel of John.
7. Paracletos or Periklutos - The Muslim Dilemma.
The word for Comforter in the original Greek texts of John's Gospel is paracletos. The word can yield many similar meanings (Counsellor, Advocate, for example) but nothing remotely near "one who is praised". There is a similar Greek word, however, found nowhere in the New Testament, periklutos, which does have this very meaning. Muslims, accordingly, jump to the conclusion that this was the original word and that it was changed by the early Christians to paracletos. One writer argues:
There is no evidence whatsoever in all the manuscripts of John's Gospel coming down to us in the original Greek text to suggest that the original word may have been periklutos and not paracletos. Once again Muslims accuse Christians of tampering with the Bible and changing its teaching yet, as so often occurs, it is plain that it is really the Muslims who are changing it without warrant, and that purely to further their own presuppositions. That this is their aim is clear from the following quote:
The Muslims have to resort to strange distortions to make the prophecies of Jesus of a coming Comforter fit Muhammad. The original Biblical title has to be replaced by another and then only to bring a relationship in meaning to the name Ahmad in the Qur'an which, as we have seen, was not Muhammad's name anyway. Did Muhammad himself perhaps hear of the likenesses between the Greek and Arabic words meaning "praised" and thus insert the name Ahmad in the Qur'an as a direct allusion to himself? One writer suggests this possibility:
It seems highly unlikely that Muhammad ever had knowledge of the differences in meaning in the Greek words - such knowledge would have been too technical for a man who sincerely declared that he was "unlettered". Whether the Muslim charge that the Christians altered the original word dates back to Muhammad's time or not does not really concern us - what is of importance is that it has no factual basis.
There is, however, no textual evidence in any way sustaining such variant reading, and the manuscript texts of St. John go back to the second century. Moreover, the two Greek words are themselves compounds and the prefixes and root verbs are both different. Suspicions of textual corruption here would be completely unfounded, on documentary, grammatical and exegetical grounds. (Cragg, Jesus and the Muslim, p. 266).
There is quite simply no factual evidence to support the Muslim claim that Muhammad is foretold in the prophecies of Jesus of a coming Comforter in the New Testament. The very fact that Muslim writers have to distort the actual words of Jesus and replace them with others to suit their purpose proves that the point cannot be made from an objective analysis of the texts themselves. Let us conclude by analysing a few proofs that it was definitely the Holy Spirit of whom Jesus spoke and not Muhammad.
8. The Promise of the Coming of the Holy Spirit.
We only need to briefly analyse just one of Jesus' prophecies of the coming Comforter to see that he spoke clearly of the Holy Spirit whom his disciples received just ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 2.1-4). The text reads:
The first thing that strikes us is the promise of another Comforter. He obviously meant that he had himself been their first paracletos and, just as he had been close to his disciples as an assuring proof of God's comforting presence and favour upon them, so he would send another divine Comforter to give them the same assurance. It is quite clear that he spoke of the divine Holy Spirit.
Just as Jesus had come from heaven as the divine Son of God to become God's saving presence among men, so he now promised that the Holy Spirit would come after his departure as a permanent assurance of that abiding presence.
The second thing that cannot, surely, be overlooked in the passage under consideration is the promise of Jesus that the Comforter would come to his immediate disciples. " You know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you". We find this emphasis in the other texts as well, for example: "I will send him to you" (John 16.7). These are the promises Jesus made and the object of these promises of the Comforter is quite obvious - the immediate disciples of Jesus. It is also clear that Jesus actually identified the Comforter as the Holy Spirit (John 14.26) and his command to his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1.4-5, Luke 24.49) must be taken into serious consideration at this point.
The Muslim argument is exposed to absurdity when compared with the actual words of Jesus and the imminent advent of the Comforter whom he promised. His sayings were clearly directed to his disciples sitting with him at that very last supper and to all his own disciples in the age to follow.
The third thing that must impress anyone who reads the relevant prophecies objectively is the fact that Jesus clearly spoke of a spirit who was to follow him whom he called both the Holy Spirit (John 14.26) and the Spirit of Truth (John 15 26). In the text we are analysing we find Jesus saying of the Comforter, "he will be in you". How could a prophet be in his disciples if he was no more than a mere man? These words are clearly spoken of a spirit who would be right inside (the actual meaning of the Greek word en) his followers.
A typical Muslim objection at this point is aimed at the humanity of Jesus and the promise of another Comforter like himself. If Jesus was a man then, it is argued, the Comforter too must be a man and an apostle like himself. The argument i' presented in the following quotation from a Christian writer' paraphrase of a Muslim's points on this very theme where he argues that the Comforter could not have been purely a spirit if Jesus was a human being:
The Christian answer must be that Jesus came himself as a spirit from heaven into the world and became a man, so likewise the Spirit comes into the world and enters the hearts of men. We have at this point clear support from the Qur'an itself in refutation of the Muslim argument. As we have seen already (p. 206), the Qur'an calls Jesus a ruhun minhu, "a spirit from him (God)" (Surah 4.171) and, as we have also seen, the only other occasion where the Qur'an speaks of a ruhun minhu is in the following text:
We must refer once again to the statement of a Muslim commentator that the words "a spirit from him" (ruhun minhu) refer to "the divine spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature and attributes of God" (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1518). A finer definition of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit can hardly be found! In the Qur'an, thus, we read of only two spirits from God in the words ruhun minhu, namely Jesus himself and another spirit who fortifies believers. We have here a significant parallel to the promise of Jesus to send "another Comforter", that is, another spirit from God like himself, namely the Holy Spirit who enters the hearts of all the true believers in him.
In the two prophecies we have considered in this chapter and section, one from Moses in the Old Testament and one from Jesus in the New, we find no reference to Muhammad. The Muslim attempts to apply them to their own prophet arise not from a sincere or objective study of their contents but from their determination to father the Qur'anic predictions of the coming of Muhammad on the Christian Bible. We have a wealth of evidences to discount these attempts completely and Christians should be willing to patiently refute them so that Muslims may be made more aware of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to whom these prophecies ultimately refer.
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