Does the Bible Speak of Muhammad? (Part 1 – the Injeel)

According to the Qur’an, Jesus announced that another messenger would come after him. This other messenger would be called Ahmad, which means “Praised One.”

“And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Children of Israel, surely I am the messenger of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of a Messenger who will come after me, his name being Ahmad. But when he came to them with clear arguments, they said: This is clear enchantment.” (Surah 61:6 – As-Saff)

According to the hadiths (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, No. 5810), Muhammad said that his name was also Ahmad.

In another passage of the Qur’an, Allah promises His mercy to those who would follow “the illiterate Prophet” (Muhammad) who had been mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel:

“But My mercy encompasses all things. I shall prescribe it for those who do their duty, pay the zakat and who believe in Our signs. Also for those who follow the Messenger—the unlettered prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel.” (Surah 7:16,157 – Al A’raf)

Considering these facts, Muslims expect to find references to Muhammad in the Bible.

The Injeel

Regarding the New Testament, many Muslims think that the passages where Jesus speaks of the Comforter who was to come are predictions of their prophet, Muhammad (John 14:16,17; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-13).

The most common argument is based on the Greek word, paraklétos, which has been translated Comforter (but which many recent translations render Helper). Muslim teachers claim that the Bible texts have been changed and that originally they did not contain the word parakletos, but rather the word periklutos, which means, as it happens, “praised one,” just like Ahmad in Arabic. Thus, when Jesus says in John 14:6, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (paraklet), that He may abide with you forever” (NKJV), and in John 16:13, “But when he comes, he will guide you into all the truth,” he would be speaking of Muhammad, the last of the prophets.

Let us examine these passages to determine if this explanation is correct. It should be emphasized out that those who claim that the word parakletos is a corruption of the word periklutos do not point out any problems concerning the nature and the functions of the Comforter as Jesus describes them in the Gospel. Here are the texts in their entirety:

John 14:16,17: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

John 15:26,27: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

John 16:7-15: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

All these passages have the same historical context. These are things Jesus said to his apostles the night before his death, after Judas had gone out to betray him. He was preparing his apostles for the ordeal which was coming (his arrest and execution) and was encouraging them in regard to the work which they would have to accomplish when he was no longer there. The promise of the Comforter’s help surely gave them confidence. After his resurrection, Jesus repeated his promise concerning the Holy Spirit (the Comforter):

“He also presented Himself alive [to his apostles] after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:3-5)

The coming of the Comforter was thus to take place within a few days. Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. and proclaimed himself to be a prophet forty years later. After nearly 600 years, all the disciples to whom Jesus spoke and whom he commanded not to depart from Jerusalem had been dead for a long time when Muhammad came. If Muhammad were the promised Comforter, the promise was not fulfilled in the time frame that Jesus specified and the apostles were not able to benefit from any help he brought.

In addition, Jesus said to his apostles concerning the Comforter, “But you know Him” (John 14:17). The apostles of Jesus could not know Muhammad. Plus, it is clear from the words of Jesus that the Comforter would not be a man. Not only does he call him “Spirit,” but he says that the world cannot see him. He says to the apostles, “He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Muhammad, as a mortal man, could not “abide with [the apostles, or even with men in general] forever” (John 14:16). Someone might answer that the words of the Comforter remain with us as they are contained in the Qur’an. But Jesus did not say that the words of the Comforter would abide—he referred to the Comforter himself. Besides, the words of the Qur’an are not presented as being those of Muhammad, but rather those of Allah. The words of Muhammad are found in the hadiths.

The Comforter was to “teach all things” (John 14:26); he was to “guide into all the truth”; obviously, the Comforter is the one who has knowledge of all things. The Qur’an presents Muhammad, however, as being a messenger whose knowledge was limited. For example, Allah says to Muhammad in Surah 17:86 – Al-Isra, “And they ask you (O Muhammad) concerning the Rooh (The Spirit); Say: ‘The Rooh: it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you have been given only a little.’” Some of those who listened to Muhammad wanted to know their destiny in the hereafter, and they questioned him about it. In Surah 46:9 – Al-Ahqaf, Allah tells Muhammad to answer them in this way: “Say: I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” His knowledge concerning the things to come was thus limited. In another passage (10:94 – Yunus) Allah says to him, “If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down to you, then question those who have read the Book before you: the Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not be one of the doubters.” So Allah told Muhammad to question the Jews and the Christians concerning the points on which he might have doubts, because they had read the Book (the Bible) and could instruct him. It would be very surprising if “the Comforter” needed to be taught instead of teaching us all things, but that would have been the case if Muhammad were the Comforter of which Jesus had spoken.

Jesus said more than once that the Comforter would come in his name (the name of Jesus), that he would come as an answer to the prayer of Jesus, that he would take what belonged to Jesus and declare it to men, and that his role would be to glorify Jesus. Although Muhammad may have said some good things about Jesus as a prophet, Muhammad never said that he came in Jesus’ name or that he had been sent by Jesus or at the request of Jesus. Muhammad did not glorify Jesus—he did not elevate him above himself or the other prophets. The description that Jesus gives of what the Comforter would do does not correspond to what Muhammad did in his ministry.

According to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is the Comforter promised by Jesus to his apostles. In the hadiths Muhammad never identifies himself as being Spirit. Nor does he use the title “Comforter” to speak of himself. The Qur’an does, however, recognize the existence of the Holy Spirit. Allah says in Surah 2:253 – Al-Baqarah, “And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit which had, according to Allah, confirmed Jesus would come to help the apostles of Jesus.

It is important to point out that thousands of manuscripts (handwritten copies) of the texts of the New Testament are available, manuscripts which date from before the lifetime of Muhammad. None of these manuscripts contain the word periklutos in any verse at all.

Muhammad himself did not say that this word in the Bible had been changed. To the contrary, the Qur’an affirms several times that the word of Allah cannot be altered:

Surah 6:34 – Al-Anam: “And there is none to change the words of Allah.”

Surah 10:64 – Yunus: “There is no changing the words of Allah.”

Surah 18:27 – Al-Kahf: “And recite that which has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord. There is none who can alter His words.”

In the Gospel, Jesus makes a similar declaration: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Allah told Muhammad to strongly recommend to Christians and to Jews that they trust the Book which had been given to them and that they obey it:

“Say: O People of the Book, you follow no good till you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which is revealed to you from your Lord.” (Surah 5:68 – Al-Ma’idah)

Or again:

“Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which has been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit.” (Surah 2:136 – Al-Baqarah)

It seems clear that Allah would not have allowed men to change the words which he had given to Jesus. Muhammad never suggested that such a thing had taken place. The real reason we find so many problems in the idea that Muhammad is the person of whom Jesus was speaking in John 14:16 is simply that Jesus was not talking about Muhammad, and the New Testament texts have not been changed, after all.

The Gospel of Barnabas

Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Barnabas? Some people say it is the only true Gospel, the one that has been hidden by the Christians. These people claim that the Gospels contained in the Bible are corrupted versions of what God gave to Jesus. Unlike the four books that Christians recognize, the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this book, which claims to have been written by Barnabas, explicitly cites the name of Muhammad. In speaking of the first man, it says in chapter 39, “Adam, having sprung up upon his feet, saw in the air a writing that shone like the sun, which said: ‘There is only one God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God.’” According to Barnabas, Jesus reproached the apostle Peter for having attributed to him the title of Son of God, and he wept because of this expression. He said in chapter 112:

“Know, O Barnabas, that for this I must have great persecution, and shall be sold by one of my disciples for thirty pieces of money. Whereupon I am sure that he who shall sell me shall be slain in my name, for that God shall take me up from the earth, and shall change the appearance of the traitor so that every one shall believe him to be me; nevertheless, when he dieth an evil death, I shall abide in that dishonour for a long time in the world. But when Mohammed shall come, the sacred messenger of God, that infamy shall be taken away.”

These are ideas that are in complete harmony with the beliefs of a good many Muslims. Before accepting this document as authentic, however, it would be best to examine it more closely.

It Contradicts the Qur’an and the Bible

Those who espouse the idea that the document known as the Gospel of Barnabas is the true Gospel have probably never read it. Just like those who accept, without verification, the idea that the Bible has been corrupted, these individuals have surely made the mistake of accepting, without verification, the idea that the Gospel of Barnabas is a true account of the life and the words of Jesus. Yes, this book is in conflict with the Bible, but it is in conflict with the Qur’an, also.

For example, it says in chapter 3, “While Joseph abode there the days were fulfilled for Mary to bring forth. The virgin was surrounded by a light exceeding bright, and brought forth her son without pain.” The Qur’an, however, clearly says about Mary in Surah 19:23 – Maryam, “The pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said, ‘Oh, if only I had died before this and passed into oblivion!’”

Another conflict concerns the title of Messiah. According to the Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 42, “Jesus confessed, and said the truth: ‘I am not the Messiah.’” He supposedly said, to the contrary, that it was Muhammad who was the Messiah. We read in chapter 43, “If the messenger of God whom ye call Messiah were son of David, how should David call him lord? Believe me, for verily I say to you, that the promise was made in Ishmael, not in Isaac.” The Qur’an says just the opposite, systematically attributing to Jesus alone the title of Messiah, al-Masih. For example, in Surah 4:171 – An-Nisa’, it speaks of “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary.” Neither the Qur’an nor the Hadiths ever call Muhammad the Messiah.

The Qur’an, in Surah 2:29 – Al-Baqarah, says that Allah “turned towards heaven and fashioned it into the seven heavens. He has knowledge of all things.” According to the Gospel of Barnabas, there are nine heavens: “Jesus answered: ‘Paradise is so great that no man can measure it. Truly I say to you that the heavens are nine… But stop you at the measuring of the first heaven, which is by so much greater than the whole earth as the whole earth is greater than a grain of sand. So also the second heaven is greater than the first, and the third than the second, and so on, up to the last heaven” (Chapter 178).

The Qur’an authorizes polygamy; the Gospel of Barnabas, in chapter 115, forbids it.

Every Christian who reads the Gospel of Barnabas immediately sees that it contradicts the Bible on numerous points. If the Bible is the Word of God, the Gospel of Barnabas cannot be. The Muslim, for his part, should understand that the so-called Gospel of Barnabas is not in harmony with the Qur’an. If it contradicts both the Bible and the Qur’an, it is clearly not inspired by God. Muhammad said that God gave the Injeel to Jesus. The book we are talking about here could not possibly be the Injeel of which Muhammad spoke.

It Comes from Neither the First Century Nor from Palestine

The real Barnabas was a first century Jew. The disciples of Jesus followed their teacher throughout the Palestinian provinces such as Galilee and Judea. It is obvious that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas did not know the geography of Palestine. In chapter 20 he says that Jesus got in a boat and sailed to Nazareth. Having arrived in Nazareth, the seamen spread through the city, telling about a miracle that Jesus had done. Nazareth, however, is not located near the Sea of Galilee. It is in the hills a good distance from the sea. According to Barnabas, Jesus left Nazareth and “went up” to Capernaum. There again he is mistaken, for Capernaum actually is located on the Galilee seashore and one cannot “go up” to get there, certainly not from Nazareth.

In chapter 3 “Barnabas” says that Jesus was born while Pontius Pilate was governor. In fact, Herod the Great was the king over all of Palestine at the time of Christ’s birth. Pontius Pilate was not sent to govern Judea until 26 A.D.

The author of Barnabas does not know that “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing, for he always speaks of “Jesus Christ” but has Jesus say: “I am not the Messiah.” In reality, Christ comes from the Greek word, christos, and Messiah comes from the Hebrew, mashiach. Both words mean exactly the same thing: the one who is anointed.

The Gospel of Barnabas is filled with what are called anachronisms. An anachronism is when a speaker or writer places a fact, a custom, a person, etc. in a time other than the one to which it really belongs. It is usually done by mistake or out of ignorance. Here are a few examples.

In chapter 92 it is said that “at this time we with Jesus, by the word of the holy angel, were gone to Mount Sinai. And there Jesus with his disciples kept the Forty day (Lent).” The problem is that at that time, Judaism had no forty-day period set aside for fasting or any other purpose; neither the Law nor the Jewish traditions speak of such an observance. The practice of abstinence for a period of forty days is unknown prior to the 4th century. It is a Catholic tradition that did not exist in the time of Jesus and his disciples.

Every time the Gospel of Barnabas quotes the Jewish scriptures, it uses the Latin translation of the Bible, called the Vulgate. This translation did not even exist until several centuries after the death of the real Barnabas.

In chapter 152 we find this interesting sentence: “Whereupon straightway the soldiers were rolled out of the Temple as one rolls casks of wood when they are washed to refill them with wine; insomuch that now their head and now their feet struck the ground, and that without any one touching them.” The author, who wants to pass for a first-century Jew, does not realize that wine was not kept in wooden casks, or barrels, in the first century, especially not in Palestine, where wine was kept in wineskins, sewn from the skin of animals, or else in clay jars (amphorae). Casks for wine were practically unknown in the Roman Empire before 300 A.D.

Many other examples of this kind could be given, but it is clear that the book contains numerous errors, and the kind of error one makes when speaking of a time or a country that one does not know personally. The author of this book was no associate of Jesus, nor even of one of the early disciples of Jesus. He lived centuries later and in another country.

Long passages of the Gospel of Barnabas even provide proof of plagiarism. For example, in chapter 135 we read, “Know ye, therefore, that hell is one, yet hath seven centres one below another. Hence, even as sin is of seven kinds, for as seven gates of hell hath Satan generated it.” These words and many others are taken directly from a literary work called The Divine Comedy, composed by the Italian writer, Dante Alighieri, in 1314 A.D.

The Problem of the Manuscripts

Finally, let us deal with manuscripts. There are thousands of manuscripts of the Bible, handwritten copies, many of which date back to the second and third centuries A.D. The New Testament was not written very long after the events it describes. The various Gospels contained in the New Testament, those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are frequently mentioned by Christian authors in the oldest historical documents. It is simply not possible that these books could be late inventions, especially not after the time of Muhammad.

On the other hand, we do not find, prior to 1634, any mention of the Gospel of Barnabas that could correspond to the book we are discussing. The reference in 1634 comes from a Tunisian author named Ibrahim al-Taybili. As for manuscripts, only two manuscripts of the Gospel of Barnabas are known, one in Italian and the other in Spanish; both date from the 16th century. The Spanish manuscript has been lost, but a copy of it had been made in the 18th century before its disappearance. No other manuscript of the book has ever been discovered. No proof exists to suggest that this book may have existed during the first 1300 years after the life of Jesus. Those who are best informed suggest that the Gospel of Barnabas was written by an unknown author sometime between the 14th and the 16th centuries after Christ, and that this author was not Jewish, as the real Barnabas was.

[A few years ago, rumors were spreading on the Internet: “An ancient manuscript… found with bandits… by the Turkish police… secrets… hidden for 1500 years… the Vatican is afraid…” This manuscript was reputed to be written in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. Couldn’t this be the lost Gospel, the one by Barnabas? As a matter of fact, no. The manuscript is not that old. On the one hand, it is not in Palestinian Aramaic, the language spoken in the time of Jesus, but rather in Syriac, a version of Aramaic spoken near Turkey. The way the words are written is not the classical script but a more modern script. Finally, the manuscript itself says that it was produced in Nineveh in 1500 A.D. So it was produced in the year 1500 of our era, and not 1500 years ago, as media reports mistakenly claimed. As for its contents: a man named Tatian produced in the second century a synthesis of the four Biblical Gospels to make of them a single continuous account, called the Diatessaron. The manuscript being discussed on the Internet is apparently a Syriac translation of the Diatessaron which was made from the Greek version. This translation, of which other manuscripts exist, is known by the name “Peschitta”.]


The so-called Gospel of Barnabas is obviously a counterfeit, a lie; but that should not surprise us: we have already seen that it contradicts both the Bible and the Qur’an. It is not the Word of God. It is not an eye-witness account of the life of Jesus. It cannot cast doubt on the authenticity of the New Testament. On the contrary, a comparison of the true Gospel and this false one only strengthens our confidence in the trustworthiness of the Gospel that we possess. So get yourself a copy of the Bible, and read it!