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The Gospel According to Islam

Copyright 1979 by Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

Chapter 1 Chapter 4 Chapter 7 Chapter 10 Chapter 13 Chapter 16 Chapter 19 Chapter 22 Chapter 25
Chapter 2 Chapter 5 Chapter 8 Chapter 11 Chapter 14 Chapter 17 Chapter 20 Chapter 23 Chapter 26
Chapter 3 Chapter 6 Chapter 9 Chapter 12 Chapter 15 Chapter 18 Chapter 21 Chapter 24 Chapter 27

CHAPTER 16

  1. And hunger and fear made some of the disciples doubt, and they said to Jesus, Can your Lord send down to us food from heaven? (Note 1)

  2. He said, Fear God if you have faith.

  3. They said, We only wish to eat thereof, and satisfy our hearts, and to know that you have indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle.

  4. And Jesus prayed, O God our Lord! send us food from heaven that there may be for us -- for the first and the last of us -- a solemn festival and a sign from Thee. And provide for our sustenance, for You are the best Sustainer.

  5. God said, I will send it down to you. But if any of you after that resist faith, I will punish him with a penalty such as I have not inflicted on anyone among all the people.

  6. Then Jesus said to his disciples, Bring all the food that you have; and there were two fish and five loaves.

  7. And he took the two fish and five loaves, and he looked up to heaven, and brake the five loaves.

  8. And he set them before his disciples; and the two fish he likewise divided among them all.

  9. And they did eat, all of them, and were filled. (Note 2)

  10. And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi: and he was praying by the way; and he asked some of his disciples, whom do the people say that I am? (Note 3)

  11. And they answered, John the Baptist (Note 4) and others say Elias, but some say, Jeremiah or one of the prophets of old.

  12. And he said to them, But whom say you that I am? And Peter answered and said, You are the Messiah of Israel. (Note 5)

  13. And he charged them that they should tell no man of who he was. (Note 6)

  14. And his brethren one day said to him, Depart hence and go into Judea, that the people there also may see the works that you do.

  15. For there is no man that does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the people. (Note 7)

  16. And after six days Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John, and leads them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. (Note 8)

  17. And there appeared before them the figure of a Man who looked liked Moses. His face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels.

  18. And behind him they saw a great multitude of people from all nations of the world.

  19. And Jesus was on his right side, walking in front of him.

  20. And next to Jesus they saw walking closely a very dark man, and his one eye was blind.

  21. And a great multitude of people was also behind Jesus and the one-eyed man was trying to hide Jesus from the eyes of the multitude.

  22. And right in front of Jesus they saw walking a priest who looked like Elias.

  23. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, There are three that I have chosen, and there is one that I have condemned.

  24. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man anymore, save Jesus only with themselves.

Go to Chapter 17


 

Notes (Chapter 16)

1The first five verses of this chapter follow mostly Qur'an 5:115-118. The demand for a feeding miracle is also voiced by the disciples in John 6:30-31. [return]

2Mark 6:38-44. [return]

3Verses 10-13, which point to the beginning of a new and very important stage in the ministry of Jesus, are in accordance with Mark 8:27-30, Matt. 16:13-16, 20; Luke 9:18. [return]

After the return of the disciples from their missionary trips, things went from bad to worse for Jesus' mission. Some of the Pharisees had become annoyed with him and were plotting against him. Herod was suspicious of him (see Note 4, Chapter 15), and above all, he had discovered through his own experience and through reports of the unenthusiastic reception given to the apostles (see Note 3, Chapter 14) that people did not really listen to his message. He performed some miraculous healings, and this won him same fame, but the spiritual renewal he and John wanted in their people did not follow. He delivered some forceful sermons and uttered meaningful sayings, but the Jews were used to such inspired speeches and found them too familiar to see a message in them. They expressed their reaction to his miracles and speeches by saying that he was "one of the prophets of old," which, no doubt, they meant to be a big complement, but which also meant that they found nothing new in his mission and works. Jesus must have seen that if he continued preaching repentance in preparation for the imminent day of the Lord, nothing would come out of it. John had been doing this and was dead, and when he, too, died, they both would become mere tales to be seen forgotten. People needed something more definite and new. But what could it be?

In the days of Essenism, when messianic hopes were alive, one answer to this question was around: Jesus should speak as the Messiah of Israel. This would offer the people something definite here and now. The thought may have crossed Jesus' mind before, but during his travels through the villages of Caesarea Philippi, it suddenly assumed a very special significance. In it, he began to see a hope for making his mission more lasting and effective.

Jesus was too mature a leader to get up at this thought and proclaim himself the Messiah. He was perceptive enough to see that people expected a great deal from the Messiah, and if he fell short of these expectations, his coming forward as the premised Savior, instead of ensuring the life of his mission, would become a guarantee for its death. And in the political situation of the time, to fulfill peoples' messianic expectations, which included their freedom from the Romans, was next to impossible even for a miracle worker like Jesus. Consequently, Jesus would not openly come forward as the Messiah, in any case, not yet. For the moment, he would explore how his own disciples would react to the idea. He found the response enthusiastic and after same more deliberations decided to assume the identity of the Messiah. (See Notes 5-8 below.) However, he never openly declared that identity but quite wisely used suggestive, ambiguous language and actions (cf. Note 4, Chapter 17, Note 3, Chapter 19, Notes 1, 4, Chapter 20, etc.) to generate belief in his messiahship among sympathetic people in such a way that their belief would not be shattered should he fail to live up to the messianic expectations. The approach worked: even though (according to the Gospel) he died soon after he assumed the Messiah's identity, he did not appear totally discredited as a false Messiah, and the curiosity and attention that he had managed to excite survived his death to ensure continued interest in him and his mission. In this, he was also helped a great deal by the lucky events that surround his death. (See Note 5, Chapter 27.) [return]

4That people could identify Jesus with John even though the two were contemporaries, shows that such identifications were not meant to be absolute but rather to emphasize the affinity of functions. See Note 8, Chapter 1 in the light of this comment. [return]

5In Mark, Peter says only, "You are the Christ ( = Messiah)." In Matthew, he says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," and in Luke the same sentence becomes, "You are the Christ of God." Clearly, Matthew's addition is secondary, and Luke is attempting a synthesis.

The conversation between Jesus and the disciples in the villages of Caesarea Philippi suggests that the disciples had for some time wanted to see their master as the Messiah. Now they found Jesus himself inclined toward the idea. (See Note 3 above.) Peter sensed this inclination in the question "But whom say you that I am?" and took the opportunity to encourage the master. [return]

6Jesus was still exploring things, and Peter's encouragement was not sufficient to prepare him to make a public declaration of his Messiahship, a step which, in any case, he did not see advisable. He, therefore, bid his disciples to keep their belief in his Messiahship to themselves, at least for the time being. [return]

7John 7:3-4. The belief that Jesus was the Messiah grew in a close circle around him. One day his brothers advised him to abandon his silence about the matter. They pointed out to him that unless one declared oneself what he was, people did not recognize him as such, Since, in Galilee, Jesus' mission had failed, they suggested that he go to Judea and start his career as the Messiah there. [return]

8Cf. Mark 9:2-13; Matt. 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36. Jesus' brothers had made their point well (See Note 7 above), and it impressed him. A few days later, he finally resolved that he was the Messiah. This resolution seems to have taken place through a dream in which he appeared to his close disciples in the company of Moses and Elias. These two prophets of the past are prototypes of the two future figures, the messianic prophet and the messianic priest (cf. Note 8, Chapter 1), and their appearance in the company of Jesus meant that he himself was the third figure, the messianic king. He probably came to we the messianic priest in John the Baptist while expecting the messianic prophet as someone who would appear soon after him to complete the work of messianic renewal (cf. John 16:12-13; Note 5, Chapter 23; Note 3, Chapter 24). [return]

 


CHAPTER 17

  1. And as they went down the mountain, Jesus told to the disciples the meaning of all things they had seen,

  2. Saying, The priest like Elias who was walking before me was John the Baptist:

  3. For as the scribes say, Elias must come before the Messiah of Israel. (Note 1)

  4. And as for the dark man with one blind eye who was walking with me, he was the Antichrist.

  5. People from many nations will follow him whilst they will believe that they follow me.

  6. And the Man like Moses whom you saw walking behind us is that prophet who will come after me as light and mercy for all the nations.

  7. He will come with great power and glory and will put down the kings from their thrones and kingdoms because they do not praise the Lord nor thankfully acknowledge whence the kingdom was bestowed upon them.

  8. And he will destroy all those who set themselves up as gods besides the One True God, our Lord.

  9. Then Jesus told them a parable concerning the three messengers the disciples saw on the mountain,

  10. Saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Note 2)

  11. And concerning his own coming and the Antichrist, he spoke another parable and said,

  12. A man sowed good seed in his field; but when men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

  13. And when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also, so much so that the wheat was hard to see.

  14. So the servants of the householder came and said to him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares?

  15. He said to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Will you then that we go and gather them up?

  16. But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them.

  17. Let both grow together until the harvest: then I will say to the reapers, Gather you together the tares and bind them in bundles and burn them. (Note 3)

  18. After these things Jesus had made up his mind that he should go to Judea and resume his preaching.

  19. And when he had called unto him the people who believed in him, he said to them, Whosoever will come after me let him forsake all that he has and follow me.

  20. Verily I say to you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom come with power. (Note 4)

  21. When you see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway you say, There comes a shower; and so it is.

  22. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, there will be heat; and it comes to pass.

  23. If you can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, likewise discern you this time. (Note 5)

Go to Chapter 18


 

Notes (Chapter 17)

1Mark 9:11. [return]

2Matt. 13:33. [return]

3Matt. 13:24-30. "Good seed" represents the true teachings of Jesus and "tares" the confused doctrines others invented in his name under instigation from the devil, the "enemy." The separation of the two would take place at the coming of the Antichrist and the return of Jesus. Indeed, the two latter events may be understood in terms of this separation of the "wheat" from the "tares." The coming of the Antichrist may be understood as the manifestation of the falsehood, sown by the devil within the Christian tradition, in a completely naked form, without any cover from the Christian truth. This falsehood would be destroyed, or, using the language of the parable, the tares would be burnt. The reemergence of the pure truth revealed by Jesus after the destruction of the falsehood later mixed with it may then be understood as the Second Coming of Jesus. It seems that a process that will lead to these developments has already been set in motion by the modern critical studies of the New Testament. [return]

4Mark 8:34; 9:1; Matt. 16:28. This saying has had a great influence on the Christian tradition. After the death of Jesus, his disciples justified the saying by teaching that Jesus would return with power and glory within the lifetime of the first generation of Christians to establish the messianic kingdom. The belief in the imminent "parousia" of Jesus as the royal Messiah came to be held widely and became the center of Christian hopes and thinking not only became the saying of Jesus seemed to imply it, but also because it was the only way to keep up faith in the Messiahship of Jesus and, therefore, interest in his mission. When, however, the parousia of Jesus did not take place, the Christian thinking had to undergo a great deal of change (of course, at a considerable loss of its already meager level of integrity). What Jesus meant by the saying, however, was simply that the messianic kingdom would be established before he died and, therefore, would be seen by same of his contemporaries. Such a statement implied that the Messiah had already come (or, at least, had been born), and Jesus expected his hearers to think that it was he himself. The statement was, therefore, one of Jesus' indirect ways of hinting that he was the Messiah (cf. Note 3, Chapter 16). Those who wanted would take the hint, while others could understand the statement as yet another repetition of the message "The kingdom of God is at hand" (with a more precise definition of "at hand"). That Jesus was capable of such subtlety is shown by his answers to the chief priests and the scribes (Mark 11:27-33; 12:13-17). [return]

5Luke 12;54-56. [return]

 


CHAPTER 18

  1. And Jesus and his disciples and his mother and his brethren came to Capernaum and stayed there not many days. (Note 1)

  2. And there he asked the twelve, what was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way?

  3. But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

  4. And he sat down, and said to them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

  5. And he took a little child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said to them, Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom. (Note 2)

  6. Then Jesus departed thence, and sent his messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

  7. But they received him not; and Jesus said, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but this messenger of God hath not where to lay his head.

  8. And when James and John saw this, They said, Pray to the Lord that He sendeth down fire from heaven to consume them, as Elias did.

  9. But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and nicknamed the two brothers Boanerges, meaning, sons of thunder.

  10. And they went to another village; and there one man said to him, I will follow thee, allow me to bury my father.

  11. But Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury the dead: but go you and preach about the kingdom of God. (Note 3)

  12. Then Jesus and those with him came to the coasts of Judea: and, as he was wont, he taught again.

  13. And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife, testing him?

  14. And he answered and said to him, What did Moses command you?

  15. And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

  16. And Jesus answered and said to them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

  17. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.

  18. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

  19. What therefore God both joined together, let not man put asunder. (Note 4)

  20. And one day people brought young children to him: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

  21. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the children to come to me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.

  22. Verily I say to you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

  23. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Note 5)

Go to Chapter 19


 

Notes (Chapter 18)

1Mark 9:33, John 2:12, According to Mark 9:30, the journey through Galilee, the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, was undertaken in some secrecy, presumably because of Herod's threat (cf. Note 4, Chapter 15). [return]

2Mark 9:36-37; Matt. 18:1-5; 10:40-42; Luke 9:47-48; Thomas 4b, 27a, 6c. The disciples and the brothers encouraged Jesus to take up the role of the Messiah partly in the hope that they would have a share in his power. Such selfish concerns soon began to give rise to rivalries among them. They began to compete for the highest positions in the messianic kingdom (cf. Mark 10:35-37). [return]

3Luke 9:51-60. [return]

4Mark 10:2-9. [return]

5Mark 10:13-16. [return]

 


Chapter 1 Chapter 4 Chapter 7 Chapter 10 Chapter 13 Chapter 16 Chapter 19 Chapter 22 Chapter 25
Chapter 2 Chapter 5 Chapter 8 Chapter 11 Chapter 14 Chapter 17 Chapter 20 Chapter 23 Chapter 26
Chapter 3 Chapter 6 Chapter 9 Chapter 12 Chapter 15 Chapter 18 Chapter 21 Chapter 24 Chapter 27

 

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