Translation Chapter 20

‘Īsā al-Masīh’s authority is challenged

20One day ‘Īsā was teaching the people in al-Bayt ul-Muqaddas and preaching the good news.[1]The Jewish high priests and ulemā were standing there along with the elders, 2and they said to him, ‘Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority?’

3 ‘Īsā answered them, ‘I too will ask you a question. Tell me, 4 was (the authority for) Yahyā’s ritual washing[2]from heaven or from human beings?’

5 They discussed this among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he’ll say, “Why didn’t you believe him?” 6 But if we say, “From human beings,” all the people will stone us to death, because they are convinced that Yahyā was a prophet.’ 7 So they answered, ‘We don’t know where it came from.’

8 ‘Īsā said to them, ‘And I won’t tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’        

The parable of the vineyard owner and the rebellious tenant farmers[3]

9 ‘Īsā went on to tell the people this parable. ‘There was a man who planted a vineyard and let it out to tenant farmers. Then he went away for a long time. 10At the time of the grape harvest, he sent a servant to the tenant farmers to receive from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenant farmers beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He then sent another servant, but the tenant farmers beat and insulted him as well, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 Again, he sent a third servant, but they injured him and drove him out.

13 ‘The master of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my son whom I love. Perhaps they’ll have some respect for him.”

14 ‘But when they saw the son, the tenant farmers discussed together and said, “This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and then the inheritance will be ours.” 15 So they drove him out of the vineyard and killed him.

‘What then, will the master of the vineyard do to those tenant farmers? 16 He will come and put those tenant farmers to death and give the vineyard to others.’

Those who were listening said, ‘May it never happen!’

17 ‘Īsā looked at them and said, ‘Why, then, is it written,

            “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”[4]?

18 ‘Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and if it falls on anyone, they will be crushed.’

19 The ulemā and the Jewish high priests wanted to arrest ‘Īsā right away, but they were afraid of the people, because they knew that ‘Īsā had told this parable against them.         

Paying taxes to Caesar

20 So they kept a close watch on ‘Īsā. They sent men they had hired, who pretended to be sincere. They wanted to trap ‘Īsā in something he said, so that they could hand him over to the official power and authority of the Roman governor.[5]21 The men asked ‘Īsā, ‘Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and that you do not show favouritism, but teach the path of Allah according to the truth. 22 Is it permitted for us to pay tax to Caesar, or not?’

23 Seeing through their cunning, ‘Īsā said to them, 24 ‘Show me a denarius.[6]Whose image and inscription does it have on it?’

‘Caesar’s,’ they answered.

25 ‘Īsā said to them, ‘So then, give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to Allah what is Allah’s.’

26 They were not able to trap him in anything he said in public. Amazed at his answer, they had nothing to say.           

The qiyāmat[7]and marriage

27 Some of the Sadducees,[8]who say there is no qiyāmat, approached ‘Īsā. They asked him, 28 ‘Teacher, Mūsā wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no children, the man must marry his brother’s widow and father offspring for his brother.[9]29 Now there were seven brothers. The first brother had a wife, but died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way, all seven married her, and died without leaving any children. 32 Afterwards, the woman also died. 33 So whose wife will she be at the qiyāmat? For all seven brothers were married to her.’

34 ‘Īsā replied, ‘The children of this age get married and have marriages arranged.35 But those considered worthy of experiencing the age to come and the qiyāmat from the dead will not get married or have marriages arranged. 36Indeed, they cannot die for they are like the angels. They are spiritualchildren of God[10]since they are children of the qiyāmat.[11]37 Even Mūsā[12]revealed that the dead are raised. In the account of the burning bush,[13]it refers to the Lord as the God of Ibrāhīm and the God of Ishāq and the God of Ya’qūb.[14]38 Allah is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For to him all of them are alive.’

39 Some of the ulemā spoke up, ‘Well said, teacher!’ 40 For they no longer dared to ask him anything.    

Why is al-Masīh (hpbuu)called the son of Dāwūd (pbuh)?

41 Then ‘Īsā asked them, ‘Why do they say that al-Masīh is the son of Dāwūd?42 For Dāwūd himself says in the Zabūr,

            “The Lord said to my Lord:

‘Sit at my right hand

43 until I put your enemies

as a footstool under your feet.’”[15]

44 ‘Dāwūd calls al-Masīh, “Lord”. How then can he be his son?’                  

‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu)warns about the ulemā

45 While all the people were listening, ‘Īsā said to his disciples, 46‘Beware of the ulemā, who like to walk about in long flowing robes, and love to be greeted respectfully in the market places. They love the most distinguished seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts. 47 They take advantage of widows’ households and for appearance’s sake they make long du’ās. These men will receive the more severe punishment.


[1]The ‘good news’ is about the kingdom of Allah, see Injīl, Luke 4:43, 8:1 and Appendix D, The Kingdom of Allah.

[2]See Injīl, Luke 3:1-22.

[3]For more explanation of this parable, see Appendix B, The Translation: ‘spiritualSon of God‘.

[4]Zabūr, Psalm 118:22.

[5]The Roman Empire ruled over Palestine at that time. Under Roman rule, the Jewish leaders did not have authority to put anyone to death; only the Roman governor had that authority.

[6]A roman coin.

[7]Or ‘resurrection’.  Also v27, 33, 35, 36.

[8]The Sadducees were a Jewish religious party. In Sayyidnā ‘Īsā’s day they held great power within Judaism and included most of the leading families of Jewish priests (or ‘priests’ descended from Prophet Hārūn [pbuh]). The Sadducees accepted only the Taurāt as permanently valid and not the Books of the Prophets or the Zabūr. They did not believe in the qiyāmat (resurrection).

[9]Taurāt, Deuteronomy 25:5-6.

[10]When al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu)speaks of people as ‘children of God’ he does not mean a physical or biological relationship. This is made clear in the very next phrase, ‘children of the qiyāmat’. Obviously, the qiyāmat cannot have children in a literal, biological way. So when the Qur’an says of Allah, ‘He begets not, nor was he begotten’ (al-Ikhlās 112:3) there is no need to see a contradiction with the Injīl because the Injīl does not teach that Allah physically begets or was begotten. For more detail, see Appendix B, The Translation: “spiritualSon of God‘.

[11]‘children of the qiyāmat/ resurrection’ means those who will take part in the resurrection to eternal life.

[12]The Sadducees only accepted the Taurāt as having permament validity. ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu)is here arguing for belief in the qiyāmat from the part of the Holy Books that the Sadducees accept.

[13]The account of the burning bush is in Taurāt, Exodus 3:1-15.  See also Qur’an, Ta-Ha 20:9-14, an-Naml 27:7-9, al-Qasas 28:29-30.

[14]Taurāt, Exodus 3:6.

[15]Zabūr, Psalm 110:1. In the Hebrew language of the original Zabūr, this Psalm begins literally, ‘Yahweh said to my Lord...’

‘Yahweh’ was the Hebrew personal name for Allah, which is frequently used in the Taurāt, the Zabūr and theBooks of the Prophets. However, long before ‘Īsā al-Masīh’s day the Jews had stopped using the name Yahweh in their speech for fear of pagan nations abusing the divine Name. Although ‘Yahweh’ remained in the text of their Holy Books, when they read or spoke they substituted ‘adonay’ (which means, ‘my Master/Lord’) for Yahweh. ‘Adonay’ can be used of Allah or of humans.

When the Taurāt, Zabūr and Books of the Prophets were translated into Greek in the Second Century BC, the translators followed this practice and rendered Yahweh ‘kurios’ (Lord/Master in Greek, and can be used of Allah or of humans). The Injīl was written down in the First Century AD in Greek. When it quoted from the Taurāt, Zabūr or Books of the Prophets, it followed the practice of the Greek translations of these Holy Books.

Thus, when we read in v42, ‘The Lord said to my Lord...’ – ‘The Lord’ refers to Yahweh or Allah. ‘My (Prophet Dāwūd’s) Lord’ refers to al-Masīh.