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Refer to John 1:21:

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who art thou?”

20 And he confessed and denied not, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

21 And they asked him, “What then? Art thou Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Art thou that (the) Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

22 Then said they unto him, “Who art thou, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?”

23 He said, “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as said the prophet Isaiah.”

Now, who is “that Prophet”? Clearly it cannot be Jesus Christ, because John the Baptist has already denied that he is the Christ.

Islam teaches that “that prophet” refers to Muhammad. But who exactly is “that prophet”?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

As others have said, "The Prophet" is Jesus.

The prophet being Jesus is better than Mohammed because Moses' prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:15) says that he will arise "from your midst, of your brethren." The NET renders the idiom "your brethren" this way:

18:15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him.

Their translation is spot on.

As Moses addressed this to the Hebrews, the Prophet will arise from the Hebrews. I have known Muslims who say that the phrase "from your brethren" refers to coming from the children of Ishmael, the brother of Isaac. However, brother in this time meant "fellow member of the covenant community."

In the Old Testament, this phrase referred to those related by blood. As time progressed, this changed. The term "brethren" referred to more than just blood but those who share beliefs. Tobit (3rd century BC), Jubilees (3rd to 2nd century BC), and Ben Sirach (late third to early second century BC) all refer to people who do not share a blood line but share a bond in the covenant as "brothers." This nuance was noted by R.H. Charles in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1931, 1:321 note 3 to Ben Sira 10:20).

This interpretation became so prevalent that it was even read back into texts with religious significance. Philo (On the Virtues 82) explains, "Moses means by the term 'brother' not only one who is born of the same parents as oneself, but everyone who is a fellow citizen or fellow countryman."

Moreover, looking at the phrase in the rest of Deuteronomy, shows that "brethren" does often mean "fellow Israelite." For example:

Deuteronomy 15:2 This is the nature of the cancellation: Every creditor must remit what he has loaned to another person; he must not force payment from his fellow Israelite, for it is to be recognized as “the Lord’s cancellation of debts.”

Deuteronomy 15:3 You may exact payment from a foreigner, but whatever your fellow Israelite owes you, you must remit.

Deuteronomy 15:7 If a fellow Israelite from one of your villages in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart or be insensitive to his impoverished condition.

Deuteronomy 23:19 You must not charge interest on a loan to your fellow Israelite, whether on money, food, or anything else that has been loaned with interest.

This is so from the very beginning of the book:

Deuteronomy 1:16 I furthermore admonished your judges at that time that they should pay attention to issues among your fellow citizens and judge fairly, whether between one citizen and another or a citizen and a resident foreigner.

In that use, Moses points out that a foreigner cannot be a "brother." (Once proselytism became practiced, it was possible for a foreigner to be a brother, however, he was no longer considered a foreigner.

In the nail in the coffin response to the children-of-Ishmael-are-brothers-to-the-children-of-Isaac argument, please see Deuteronomy 17:15:

Deuteronomy 17:15 you must select without fail a king whom the Lord your God chooses. From among your fellow citizens you must appoint a king – you may not designate a foreigner who is not one of your fellow Israelites.

This is the same phrase as used in chapter 18 and it points out that the king must be a native born Israelite. The king could not be a foreigner of any kind. Likewise, the prophet would have to be a native born Israelite.

locked by Jack Douglas Apr 23 '14 at 8:42

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+1 Because you answered fearless on the first line. Then the arguments. –  Paul Vargas Feb 25 '14 at 19:46
There is also Deaut 18:18 where its hard to find similarities between Jesus and Moses : biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+18:18 But one issue is Frank, if there are so many instances of text being changed/altered, to me it is highly probably these verses would have been tampered with don't you think? It is a scary idea I know, but it has a high probability considering the ramifications :) –  user1361315 Mar 28 '14 at 14:58
@user1361315 That's where textual criticism comes in. By examining the differences we can determine the likely original. Even Ehrman admits this (when he forgets he's trying to sell books about how we can't trust the NT). But enough about probability. Do you have any evidence that these verses have been altered regarding readings of the prophet and brethren? Specifically readings that would allow more than non-Israelites to be considered brethren? You've set yourself up quite a challenge. –  Frank Luke Mar 28 '14 at 16:16

With John 1:21 those asking the questions still consider that Prophet to be one person and the Christ another. They therefore ask John about the Prophet after John tells them he's not the Christ.

What all of them seem to easily recall is what Moses had said;

Deut 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (KJV)

Later in Acts though, what Moses said is repeated because Peter is very upset with the people. That’s partially because, since then, Jesus had let them observe so much, as with his miracles; some people had even been sure and said Jesus was that Prophet.
E.G. Jesus had fed 5,000 people with the use of only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish; they needed to observe a miracle, but then they said:

John 6:14 This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. (KJV)

In Acts, Peter repeats what Moses said, but he does so wondering why they can’t or won’t consider Jesus to have been that very Prophet Moses had spoken of:

Acts 3:17-23 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers,

"A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

In John 1:21 they are incorrectly thinking of the Christ as one person and "that Prophet" as another, so they ask about the latter accordingly. (Actually, they will still be thinking like that years later, so Peter will become very upset).

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While I agree with Frank Luke's defense of Jesus as that Prophet, I believe you have the key here that the Jews did not entirely identify the two as the same person yet (Messiah and the Prophet Moses foretold in one). Even later John the Baptist was not certain if there was to be a second person to be looking for or not (Mt 11:3; Lk 7:19-20). This was because of the difficulty in reconciling the suffering servant of Isaiah with that of a triumphal king. –  ScottS Apr 10 '14 at 19:20

The NET bible footnotes address this:

The Prophet is a reference to the “prophet like Moses” of Deut 18:15, by this time an eschatological figure in popular belief. Acts 3:22 identifies Jesus as this prophet.

The fact that the questioners did not recognize that this referent would later be identified as Christ (whom you point out that John just denied that he was) does not make it untrue.

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For the sake of argument, how is this explanation better than Muslim's, in which "that Prophet" is deemed to be Muhammad? –  Graviton Feb 25 '14 at 8:32

Who is “that Prophet” in John 1:21?

It seems fairly obvious from the text that John was reluctant to talk about himself since his purpose was to point to Yeshua. John's ministry was similar to that of Elijah. He appears suddenly and even comes clad like Elijah. John wanted to turn people back to God as Elijah had done in his day.

the prophet Malachi had predicted that one day Elijah would return prior to Messiah’s coming (Malachi 4:5). Not surprising, then, that many people supposed that John was Elijah.

Most other translations render the germane portion of this text as, "the prophet" rather than the KJV's "that prophet." "The Prophet" was expected on the scene because of Deuteronomy 18:15 (referring to Messiah; see also John 1:45).

Some people misunderstood the coming of “the prophet,” failing to grasp he "the prophet" was going to be distinctly separate from the Messiah (John 1:24; 7:40–41).

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Good question, and to be fair the Bible does have the below verses:

Deuteronomy 23:7 "Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country."


And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.


Any offspring of Jacob like Isaac and Eusa is referred to as a Brother, so it would follow that is brother Ismael would also be termed as a brother.

And how does one contend with the verse in Genesis 17:20 when it says "..and I will make him into a great nation". Who might this great nation be?

And ask yourself who is more like Moses:

  1. Born and died a normal death
  2. Was given a Book
  3. Was given a new legislation (Jesus didn't come to change the law) In reality Jesus's early followers were looked as Jews but with a slightly different understanding (more spiritual in nature), after all he was a Rabbi and king of the Jews.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished


  1. Mass execudus Mohammed and his followers left Mecca for Medina. Moses
  2. Huge following

I have seen comparison charts between Moses and Jesus and most of the points are very contrived. If you believe Jesus is God in the flesh, you can't compare that to a Prophet like Moses. Jesus is said to have died for your sins, resurrected from death, died on a cross, born a virgin birth, one of which is remotely close to Moses. Moses was given a Law.

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Welcome to BH! I am going to have to vigorously object that Ishmael, a son of Abraham who was circumcised and buried his father with Isaac, had anything to do with Mohammed. The only thing the 2 had in common was that they were Arabs-Ishmael being the father of them. Ishmael had a revelation of God; Mohammed-had a revelation of....whatever. Since Mohammed sought to unify disparaging clans of Arabs, he chose the "moon god" as his god-hence the crescent. A False Prophet is known by his fruit; if the world's descent into chaos is any measure, then Mohammed fits the description. –  Tau Nov 1 '14 at 10:04

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