Did Christianity copy from pagan or other religions?

No, Christianity did not copy ideas from other religions. Generally, the criticism is that there were religions that were older than Christianity that had similar concepts such as the Virgin birth, God becoming flesh, resurrection from the dead, etc. But, similarities don't mean that Christianity was copied from other religions any more than similarities in two different paintings mean that one was copied from another.

Christianity is derived largely out of the Old Testament Scriptures which contain the themes that are found in the New Testament. If one religion is older than another and, as the critics maintain, that which is new was borrowed from that which is older, then we would have to conclude that many religions borrowed from Judaism because the Old Testament, which was written between 400 and 1600 BC, was before them. Take a look at the following chart.

ThemeOld Testament
New Testament
fulfilled in Jesus
Ascension of Jesus to the right hand of GodPs. 110:1Matt 26:64; Acts 7:55-60; Eph. 1:20
Atonement by bloodLev. 17:11Heb. 9:22
BaptismExodus 40:12-15; Lev. 16:4; Gen. 17:10; Ezek. 36:25Matt. 3:16; 28:19; Col. 2:11-12; Heb. 10:22
Begotten Son, Jesus isPsalm 2:7Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5
Creative workGen. 1:26John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17
CrucifixionPsalm 22:11-18; Zech. 12:10Luke 23:33-38
Damnation and SalvationDan. 12:2Matt. 25:46
Eternal SonMicah 5:1-2; Psalm 2:7Heb. 1:5; 5:5
First and LastIsaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12Rev. 1:8, 17; 22:13
God among His peopleIsaiah 9:6; 40:3John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Matt. 3:3
Incarnation of GodEx 3:14; Ps. 45:6 Isaiah 9:6; Zech. 12:10John 8:58; 1:1, 14; Heb. 1:8; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:1-3
MonotheismIsaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5John 10:30; Eph. 4:5
Only Begotten SonGen. 22:2. See TypologyJohn 3:16; Heb. 11:7
Priesthood of JesusPsalm 110:4Heb. 6:20; 7:25
Resurrection of ChristPsalm 16:9-10; 49:15; Is. 26:19John 2:19-21
Return of ChristZech. 14:1-5; Mic. 1:3-4Matt. 16:27-28; Acts 1:11; 3:20
Sacrifice of the SonGen. 22. See TypologyHeb. 9:27
Salvation by graceGen. 12:3; Gen. 15:6; Hab. 2:4Gal. 3:8-11; Rom. 4:9
Sin offeringEx. 30:10; Lev. 4:3Rom. 8:3; Heb. 10:18; 13:11
Sin offering made outside the campEx. 29:14Heb. 13:12-13
Sin offering without defectEx. 12:5; Lev. 22:20; Deut. 17:1Heb. 9:14
Son of GodPsalm 2:7John 5:18
Substitutionary AtonementIsaiah 53:6-12; Lev. 6:4-10,21Matt. 20:28; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18;
TrinityGen. 1:1,26; Job 33:4; Gen. 17:1; 18:1; Ex. 6:2-3; 24:9-11; 33:20; Num. 12:6-8; Psalm 104:30; Gen. 19:24 with Amos 4:10-11; Is.48:16John 1:1-3; John 1:18; 6:46; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14
Virgin BirthIsaiah 7:14Matt. 1:25
Worship of JesusPsalm 97:7Matt. 2:2, 11; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6

As you can see from the above chart, Christianity is in agreement with the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. Many of the books of the Old Testament were written hundreds and hundreds of years before such religions as Mithraism. So, can we conclude that Mithraism borrowed from the Old Testament?

Furthermore, if the critics want to accuse Christianity of borrowing from pagan religions, then they need to establish their case. Simply making an assertion doesn't prove it is true. But since the Old Testament clearly shows New Testament themes, we can conclude that Christianity did not copy from other religions. It fulfilled the Old Testament.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.