Iran in the Bible

Did you know that the Bible has a lot to say about Iran? In Bible times, present day Iran was called Persia. While today, Iran is ruled by an Islamic government that persecutes Christianity, in Bible times the rulers of Persia came to respect the God of the Israelites. 

The Old Testament

In the Old Testament, we read about the Babylonians overthrowing the Jewish empire and taking the Israelites into captivity in Babylon. The Israelites remained in exile in Babylon until Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered the Babylonians. When Cyrus came to power, he actually gave the Israelites his blessing to return to Jerusalem, even asking them to rebuild the temple there. 

It is truly remarkable that this Persian king allowed freedom of religion for the people groups he ruled over thousands of years ago. Sadly, there is no such religious tolerance in Iran today. 

The Old Testament also tells the story of Daniel and the Persian King Darius. Darius made a law that everyone was to pray only to him. The prophet Daniel refused to comply with this law, and continued to pray to the Lord as before. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den for his disobedience, but when Darius recognized Daniel’s miraculous deliverance from the lions, he himself came to believe in the greatness of the Lord. 

The New Testament

In the New Testament, Persian people are mentioned again in the story of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they began to preach in different languages to an assembled crowd. The first three languages the Bible mentions—Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, all came from Iran. 

Early church history tells us that following Pentecost, Iranians who returned to their home country brought Christianity back with them. Hundreds of churches existed in Iran. In fact, people in China referred to Christianity as the “Persian religion” because they first heard it from Persian traders on the Silk Road. 


Sadly, the religion of Islam has risen to levels of government power in Iran, and the previous tolerance that Persian governments showed is no longer the case. While the government outlaws Christian fellowship now, we know that the Spirit is still at work, and the church is actually still growing. In fact, the church in Iran is growing in secret faster in Iran than almost anywhere else on earth. 

We believe that God is drawing the Persian people to himself. Let’s continue to pray for the day that they can worship in freedom once again.