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Question and Answer

The Quran and the Crucifixion

Question:

Why does the Quran say that Jesus was not crucified?

Answer:

The Quran calls Jesus by the name Isa. Islam claims to venerate Isa as one of the great prophets (2:253), but the Quran frequently speaks of him in a way that takes away from that greatness and casts aspersions on his followers (4:171, 5:575, 43:57-59). Most significantly, Isa in the Quran is made small compared to Muhammad (7:157).

Islam denies that Isa (Jesus) is truly the Son of God (6:100, 23:91). He is called (3:45) the “son of Miriam” (Mary), and is (according to the Quran) only a created being, strictly a human prophet. The Quran (9:30) goes so far as to say that only an infidel would call Isa God’s son. Nevertheless, Allah was so pleased with Isa’s prophetic ministry that he took him directly to heaven at some point (3:55).

As regards the crucifixion of Isa, the Quran denies it ever happened:

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (4:157–58, cited here)

The idea is that Allah would never allow Isa, a blessed prophet, to suffer a cruel death. Somebody may have been crucified, but it wasn’t Isa: “… it was made to appear to them …” This is in keeping with their basic underlying theology of works; evil people suffer, and good ones do not. If you are good, you earn Allah’s blessings.

The most critical issue in our rejection of Islam is the substitutionary atonement of Christ. If Jesus did not die on the cross in the place of sinners, there is no payment for sins, no satisfaction of the justice of God. In Islam salvation is only achieved through obedience, good works and religious activity, but the Bible says salvation is by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ alone, and not by works (Eph. 2:8–9).

Hope this helps.


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"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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