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What Does Messiah Mean?

What the Quran Says about Jesus (Isa)[1]

"O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and his messengers and say not "Three" - Cease! it is better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from his transcendent majesty that He should have a son". (Surah 4:171)

From this Surah, the Quran mistakenly identified the Triune nature of God as “three” meaning Allah, Jesus, son of Mary, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Bible, the triune God is “Father, Son and the Holy Spirit”. Therefore, the Quran erroneously identifies “son” as the biological son coming from a relationship between Allah and Mary like humans.

The unique titles given to Jesus are (1) the Messiah (2) Allah’s word and (3) Allah’s Spirit. These titles are given only to Jesus and not to any other persons and prophets showing the high standing and exaltation Jesus has in Islam. However, Muslims do not have the knowledge and understanding of what these titles mean as the Quran and the Sunnah do not give adequate explanations for them. Allah states in the Quran that when in doubt seek the people of the book (Christians).

Surah 10:94: 'So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters.

This article seeks to explain what it means that “Jesus Christ is the Messiah” from the Bible.

Messiah comes from the Hebrew word, Mashiach, meaning “the anointed one,” or “the chosen one.”

In Old Testament times, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by oil when they were set apart for these positions of responsibility. The anointing was a sign that God had chosen them and consecrated them for the work He had given them to do.

Christos (Christ) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term, Messiah (John 1:41). When Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, became acquainted with Jesus, the first thing he did was to find his brother, Simon Peter, and tell him about his exciting discovery. He told his brother, “‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he [Andrew] brought him [Peter] to Jesus” (John 1:41).

Overlooking the Messiah

What did Andrew mean when he said, “We have found the Messiah?” When Jesus came to earth to live with us and be our Saviour, the Jewish people were looking for God to send a Messiah—an anointed, chosen one. They had read the Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 42:1; 61:1-3; Psalm 16, 22, Daniel 9, etc.) that promised God would send a deliverer to save His people. Unfortunately, they misunderstood what this Messiah would do.

They read the prophecies of how the Messiah would overcome God’s enemies—and they understood this to mean that he would deliver them from their Roman masters. They expected him to set up a kingdom on earth—a kingdom in which they would be the rulers, not the ruled.

They overlooked the Messiah’s spiritual role as a deliverer from sin and Satan. They didn’t understand that His kingdom was spiritual, not political. As a result, few were prepared to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah. He didn’t fit their ideas of what the Messiah would do.

Some, however, saw beneath the surface and recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah—God’s anointed, chosen One to save them from sin. It became their purpose to share this wonderful insight with others. As he closed his Gospel, the apostle John summarized the message he had been trying to get across. He wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30, 31).

Jesus the Messiah

The Gospels repeatedly declare that Jesus is the Messiah—the One chosen by God and anointed by Him to save His people from their sins (Matthew 16:16; Luke 4:17-21; John 1:40-49; 4:25, 26). After Jesus’ resurrection, the apostle Peter reminded those listening to him “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we,” Peter said, “are witnesses of all things which He did” (Acts 10:38, 39).

Jesus Himself claimed to be the promised Messiah. When He talked with a woman at a well in Samaria, she said, “ ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’ ” (John 4:25, 26).

Today, Jesus is still the Messiah—God’s chosen, anointed One who came to deliver us from sin and Satan. As the Messiah, He offers you forgiveness for your sins. He promises you salvation and a place in His coming kingdom. “Come to Me,” He urges, “. . . and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).

Further reading:

Is Jesus the Messiah?


[1]In the Quran, the name “Isa” is referred to by Muslims as the same as “Jesus” of the Bible as such that most English translation of the Quran uses “Jesus” instead of “Isa”. We do not agree that Isa is the same as Jesus. However, as this article sought to explain to Muslims the titles given to Isa in the Quran, a cross-reference to Jesus of the Bible is necessary for “identification purposes” to explain what these titles mean from the biblical perspective.

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