Translation Chapter 3

The work of the Prophet Yahyā (pbuh)

3In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar[1], when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea[2], Herod[3]was ruler of Galilee, his brother Philip was ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was ruler of Abilene – 2 while Annas and Caiaphas were chief imāms[4], the word of Allah came to Yahyā son of Zakarīyā in the wilderness. 3He came to the entire region around the Jordan, preaching a ritual washing[5]of tauba[6]for the forgiveness of sins. 4As it is written in the Book of the words of the Prophet Isaiah,

“A voice calling out in the wilderness,

            ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

Make straight his paths,

                   5Every valley will be filled in,

And every mountain and hill made low,

            The twisted paths will become straight,

And the rough place a level road,

                   6And all mankind will see Allah’s salvation.’[7]

7 Yahyā said to the crowds coming out to receive ritual washing from him, ‘You offspring of snakes, who warned you to flee from the coming anger of Allah? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have repented, and do not begin to say among yourselves, “We have Ibrāhīm as our father.” For I say to you that Allah is able from these stones to raise up children for Ibrāhīm. 9 Already, the axe is lying at the root of the trees. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown in the fire.’

10 The crowd asked him, ‘What should we do?’

11Yahyā answered them, ‘Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do the same.’

12 Tax collectors came to receive ritual washing and said to him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’

13He said to them, ‘Don’t take more than you are ordered to.’

14 Some soldiers asked him, ‘What about us? What should we do?’

Yahyā said to them, ‘Don’t take money from people using violence or blackmail. And be content with your wages.’

15The people were waiting with hope and longing, and everyone was wondering in their hearts about Yahyā, whether he might perhaps be al-Masīh. 16Yahyā answered them all, ‘I am the one who gives ritual washing to you with water. But one is coming who is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to loosen the straps of his sandals[8]. He is the one who will give ritual washing to you with the Holy Spirit[9]and fire[10]. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out[11].’

18 Yahyā urged the people with many more words and he proclaimed the good news to them. 19 (But later, when Yahyā reprimanded Herod the ruler concerning Herodias, his brother’s wife[12], and all the evil things which Herod had done, 20 Herod added this to them all - he locked up Yahyā in prison.)

‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu)receives ritual washing

21While all the people were receiving the ritual washing, ‘Īsā also received it[13]. As he was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in a bodily form like a dove[14]. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my spiritual Son[15]whom I love! In you I take delight!’[16]

The genealogy[17]of al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu)

23 When ‘Īsā began his work[18], he was about thirty years old. He was the son, so people thought, of Yūsuf[19],

the son of Heli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Yūsuf, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,

the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Yahyā, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,

28 the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Kosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of ‘Īsā, the son of Eliezer, the son of Yorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,

the son of Yahuda, the son of Yūsuf, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of Dāwūd, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed,

the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Yahuda, 34 the son of Ya’qūb, the son of Ishāq,

the son of Ibrāhīm, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,

the son of Nūh, the son of Lamek, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Idris, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the spiritual son of Allah[20].


[1]Tiberius was Roman Emperor from 14 to 37 AD. His fifteenth year was AD 26-28 (depending on whether a two-year period of joint rule with his predecessor Augustus is counted).

[2]Pontius Pilate was governor of the Roman province of Judea from AD 26 to 36.

[3]This Herod was the son of the Herod mentioned in Injil, Luke 1:5.

[4]Often translated, ‘chief priest’ – this type of imām was descended from Prophet Hārūn (pbuh)and served in al-Bayt ul-Muqaddas. Their role is summarised in 1stBook of Chronicles 23:13:

Hārūn was set apart, he and his descendants for ever, to dedicate the most holy things, to offer qurbānī in the presence of the Lord, to serve him and to give blessings in his name for ever.

[5]When someone from a non-Jewish background wanted to become a Jew, they had to be circumcised (if they were male), and also receive a ritual washing, which symbolised the washing away of uncleanness. What was new about Prophet Yahyā’s ritual washing was that it was Jews he was giving it to. It expressed their need, even as Jews, for tauba and forgiveness.

[6]Or ‘repentance’. Tauba or repentance is a turning of a person’s whole life from sin to the path of Allah. See also v8.

[7]Book of the ProphetIsaiah 40:3-5, 52:10.

[8]There was a Jewish Rabbinic saying from around this time that, ‘Every service which a slave performs for his master shall a disciple do for his teacher except the loosing of his sandal thong.’ Such service was considered too menial. Prophet Yahyā pbuh)claims he is not worthy even to perform this most menial of tasks for al-Masīh (hpbuu).

[9]Rūh ul-Quddus or Allah’s Spirit, in this instance not to be confused with the Angel Jibrīl (pbuh) or another angel. Also in v22.

[10]This prophecy is fulfilled very soon after al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu) was taken up to heaven. See Injīl, Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-4, 32-33. It also relates to much earlier prophecies, in which Allah says,

                  ‘And afterwards,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.(Book of the Prophet Joel 2:28).

‘I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my laws and be careful to obey what I judge to be right.’(Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 36:27).

[11]After the wheat had been harvested it was taken to the threshing floor. The grain was thrown into the air with a winnowing fork or shovel. The heavier wheat fell to the ground while the chaff (the husks and straw) was blown away.

[12]Herod had married his brother Philip’s wife, after persuading her to leave Philip. See Injīl, Mark 6:17-18.

[13]For ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu) this ritual washing was not a ‘ritual washing of tauba for the forgiveness of sins’ (see v3) because he did not sin and had no need for tauba or to be forgiven (see, for example, Injīl, Hebrews 4:15 which says al-Masīh ‘Īsā hpbuu) ‘has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet he was without sin’,also Qur’an, Maryam 19:19 where Maryam (pbuh) is told she will be given‘a pure boy’). However, ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu) is identifying with those who receive Prophet Yahyā’s ritual washing as his people.

[14]See Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:87, ‘We... strengthened him (‘Īsā son of Maryam) with the Holy Spirit’. See also al-Baqarah 2:253, al-Mā’idah 5:110.

[15]We have translated ‘ho huios mou’ from the original Greek as ‘my spiritual Son’ to show that this is not a physical or biological son-ship, but a spiritual son-ship that is spoken of. For more discussion on this see Appendix B, ‘The Translation: “spiritual Son of Allah”‘.

[16]This event would likely have called to mind the following Scriptures,

I will announce the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my spiritual son; today I have become your heavenly father.”’ (Zabūr, Psalm 2:7)

And in the Book of the ProphetIsaiah 42:1 where Allah says,

‘Here is my servant, whom I support,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I have put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.’

[17]This genealogy is different in a number of places from the genealogy of al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu) in Injīl, Matthew 1:1-16. These differences may be explained by

  1. Generations have been missed out in both genealogies: ‘son of’ can mean ‘descendant of’ missing out a number of generations. In this genealogy, there are 77 generations from Prophet Adam (pbuh) to ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu). The number 77 signified completeness.
  2. Hazrat Luke (pbuh) records much material about Hazrat Maryam (pbuh). It is possible this is the genealogy of Maryam’s side of the family even though Yūsuf (pbuh) is mentioned. In this case Yūsuf would be son-in-law of Heli (pbuh).
  3. Sometimes people were known by more than one name.
  4. The Jews practiced levirate marriage where, if a married man died childless, his brother would then marry his deceased brother’s widow. The first son born to them would carry the name of the deceased brother (the child’s uncle), see Taurāt, Deuteronomy 25:5-6. One genealogy might record the ‘adoptive’ father by this method, another, the biological father.

[18]His public work or ministry as a prophet.

[19]The husband of Maryam (pbuh), the mother of al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu).

[20]Prophet Adam (pbuh) is here called, ‘son of Allah’. We have translated this, ‘spiritual son of Allah’ to make clear that this is not teaching that Allah physically or biologically has sons (see Appendix B, ‘The Translation: “spiritual Son of Allah”‘). It is significant that both Prophet Adam (pbuh) and Prophet ‘Īsā (hpbuu) (v22) are called ‘Son of Allah’ in this chapter. Both were created without a human father, and in the case of Prophet Adam (pbuh), without a human mother. Al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu) is in some sense a second, or new Adam (see Injīl, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 45-49. Compare also Qur’an, Āl-'Imrān 3:59, ‘Truly the likeness of Jesus in the sight of God is that of Adam’). In the immediately following passage ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu), like Prophet Adam (pbuh), is tempted by Iblīs, although the outcome is very different (Injīl, Luke 4:1-13).