Isn’t that like the Holy Qur’an coming in Chinese though the Prophet (PBUH) spoke Arabic?
This is a great question. And probably there is another one along with it. Perhaps we also wonder if this in some way also negates or contradicts the idea that Allah inspired the Injil. Because after all, this is different from how the Holy Qur’an was revealed. So let`s discuss this in several steps.
First, the analogy to Chinese-Arabic is not really accurate. There is no real historical relationship between Chinese and Arabic. Thus, revealing a Book in Chinese to an Arabic society would result only in nonsense. No doubt Allah does have the power to do such a thing miraculously. But it would result in a book that no one could understand – even the Prophet (PBUH) himself. Then the message of the Book would be useless. People would ignore it (because they did not understand it) and people would then soon forget it. No, a prophetic message, if it is to have an impact on society (and this is the reason a prophet receives the message in the first place) must be understood by that society.
Why the Qur’an in Arabic
The intent behind the revelation of the Holy Quran was to give a warning in Arabic. The following ayat tells us that:
We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an, in order that ye may learn wisdom.Surah 12:2 Joseph
Thus We have revealed it (Qur’an) to be a judgment of authority in Arabic…Surah 13:37 (the Thunder)
Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur’an: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her,- and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing FireSurah 42:7 (Consultation)
We have made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom).Surah 43:3 (Luxury)
Yusuf Ali’s commentary on Ayah 7 of Surat 42 (Consultation) says that the ‘Mother of Cities’ is the City of Mecca and that “The point of the Qur’an being in Arabic is that it is plain and intelligible to the people through whom and among whom it was promulgated” (#4533). So the purpose was to give a warning so that Arabs, especially those in Mecca could be warned. And for that to happen it had to be in Arabic.
Why the Injil in Greek
The Injil was a message not only to the Jews but to all people. In the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih (Jesus – PBUH), the world was basically Greek-speaking. Because of the conquests of Alexander the Great some three hundred years before, most of the world spoke Greek. A rough analogy exists today with English. Because of the past colonial power of Great Britain, the international language of the world today is English. The major power in the world today (the USA) adopted the English language because of Great Britain. So English is almost universal.
Jews of that day eagerly adopted the Greek language so most were bi-lingual. In fact, the Jews spoke Greek so much that they translated the Holy Books into Greek about 200 years before Isa al Masih (PBUH). This translation is the Septuagint (read about this here). The Septuagint became widely read by Jews and even by non-Jews of that day. Therefore, people read the Holy Books more in Greek than in Hebrew by the time of Isa al Masih (PBUH).
Isa al Masih (PBUH) may have spoken Greek because we find in the Injil several times when non-Jewish Greeks and Romans spoke with him. However, he would have spoken in Aramaic to his disciples (companions) because that was the natural language of Galilean Jews of that day.
Widespread Greek Influence
But the writers of the Injil were definitely bi-lingual and thus fluent in Greek. Matthew was a tax collector by profession and thus was working with Greek-speaking Romans regularly. Luke was Greek and thus Greek was his first language. John Mark was from Jerusalem (Al Quds) and thus was a Greek-speaking Jew. John was from a wealthy family (thus educated) thus spoke Greek fluently.
They were transmitting the message of the Injil to the world. Therefore, to make sure that the world of that day would understand it they wrote in Greek. Because the Taurat and Zabur make the Injil clear (see signs of Injil in the Qur’an) the writers of the Injil frequently quote from Taurat/Zabur. When they do so they quote from the Septuagint (the Greek Taurat/Zabur). We know from history that this message did indeed explode across the Greek-speaking Middle Eastern world. This shows that people almost expected to have scripture read in Greek in that time.
Guidance Promised for the writing of the Injil
So this answers ‘why’ it was in Greek. But could Allah still inspire these writers when they write in Greek from what Isa al Masih (PBUH) had said earlier in Aramaic? Isa al Masih (PBUH) himself had promised that Allah would send guidance to them. Read these excerpts from a private discussion he had with his disciples recorded in the Gospel of John. You can read the entire discussion by clicking here.
15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth….25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you… “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning….I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. … and he will tell you what is yet to come.John 14
So the promise was that the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth, would guide them in their writing. He would testify to them so that what they wrote would be true. The Injil explains this further:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16
The point here is that Allah Himself promised guidance and inspiration for what they wrote. Thus, God would breathe out the very words they wrote. Thus the message would be safe and trustworthy – inspired by Allah.
Sovereign God Chooses His Ways
So the way Allah revealed the Injil and made it known was indeed different from how the Holy Qur’an was revealed. But does that make it wrong, worse or obsolete? We need to recognize that Allah has the right and the power to do different things in different ways. The Prophet Musa (PBUH) received the Commands on Mount Sinai when Allah wrote on tablets of stone. Does that mean that all later prophets must also receive their message from Him on stone tablets? And only on Mount Sinai? Since the first prophets were Jewish does that mean all prophets must be Jewish? Because the Prophet Noah (PBUH) warned of a coming Judgment by water does that mean all Allah’s judgments use water?
I think we would have to answer ‘no’ for all these.
Allah has the power and the right, according to his sovereignty, to choose different prophets, methods and means to do His will. Our part is to decide whether the message is really from Him or not. Since the Holy Qur’an itself declares that Allah inspired the Injil, and Isa (PBUH) promised this same inspiration and guidance it would be foolish to argue otherwise.
In summary, Isa’s disciples wrote in Greek so that the world would understand their message. Allah promised guidance and inspiration to the disciples when they wrote the Injil. The Qur’an confirms this by declaring it was inspired. This method of revelation is different from that of the Holy Qur’an. But it is not up to us to tell Allah what His limits are. Throughout human history He has used different methods, prophets and means to communicate His message.