Muhammad in the Bible: Galatians 1:1-9

Paul writing a letter

If you don’t know that Allah orders Christians to judge the Quran by their own scriptures, please check out my main page on Muhammad in the Bible.

In this article, I’m going to address just place where Muhammad is referenced in the Bible, written in an epistle of the New Testament by one of the apostles (messengers) of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Galatians 1:1-9, the apostle writes,

[From] Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

If that isn’t a clear enough statement of the gospel that Paul delivered, there is this, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Here we have a flat statement of the gospel, or injil, of Jesus Christ: Jesus, the Son of God, gave himself to be crucified for our sins to deliver us from evil, according to the will of God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead after three days. And if anyone preaches a “gospel” contrary to this, let him be accursed.

That could apply to any number of people, but there’s a piece here that applies quite directly to Muhammad, and that is the phrase, “even if…an angel from heaven.” Everyone knows that this is exactly what Muhammad claimed–that he received the Quran from the angel Jibril, who was purportedly conveying a message from God himself. And what does the message say?

That was Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the word of truth about which they dispute. It is not for Allah that he should take a son. Glory be to him! When he decrees a matter, then he only says to it, “Be!” and it is. “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship him. This is a straight path.” But the factions differed among them, so woe to those who disbelieve from the witnessing of the Great Day

Quran 19:35-37

This is one of many denials of the divinity of Jesus. In surah 4, there is a long passage talking about the iniquities of the Jews, and listed among their supposed transgressions is a punishment…

…[for] their saying, “Indeed, we killed the Messiah Isa (Jesus Christ), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem [so] to them. And indeed, those who differ in it are surely in doubt about it. They have no knowledge about it, only (the) following of a surmise. And certainly they did not kill him. Nay, Allah raised him (up) to himself. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

Quran 5:157-158

No not only is the divinity of Jesus denied repeatedly (and even in this passage, a “messenger” is not the Son of God), but Jesus’ death and resurrection are also denied, with an Elijah-like bodily translation to heaven.

Is Muhammad teaching a message contrary to the gospel (injil) that had been sent from the apostles to the churches? Most definitely so. Where does he claim that the message comes from? From Jibril, an angel from heaven. This is precisely the kind of preaching that Paul was warning about, more precisely than Paul could have imagined.

But there is another layer to the Greek of the Bible passage above. In the original Greek, as in Hebrew, the word for “angel” is the same as the word for “messenger.” In contrast, Arabic borrows the foreign Hebrew word for messenger and applies it only to angels, while using the native Arabic word “rasul” for human messengers. So the passage could also be translated, “But even if we or a messenger from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

The phrase “from heaven” cues the translator to choose the translation as “angel.” But what if there was a messenger who claimed to be from heaven? Muhammad claimed to have received the prophethood “when Adam was yet between soul and body.” If that might sound like something other than heavenly origins, Muhammad also declared that he was “the first of mankind in creation and the last of (Prophets) to be raised” (both in Ibn Sa’d), so he was definitely claiming a kind of pre-existent soul that other people don’t have, sheltered by Allah until the right moment. So not only do we have a warning against a false gospel brought by an angel from heaven, we also have a perfectly functional warning against a false gospel brought by a messenger from heaven.

Now, are these passages of certainty speaking with prophetic intent about Muhammad? No, we cannot say that they are. In fact, this is not the only time that a prophet has claimed a heretical message via an angel from heaven. The similarities between the founding of Islam and Mormonism are enough to make the back of your neck prickle, especially since Joseph Smith was entirely ignorant of Islam’s teachings. But if we are following the command of Allah and scouring the Christian Scriptures for references to Muhammad, it would be very hard to miss this warning against an angel/messenger who teaches a gospel contrary to that which was already received.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Author: Marya Harb