Chapter 6 : The bible verse of the sword

Jesus spreading the swords (based on: Oath of the Horatii, Jacques-Louis David)

(Matthew 10:34-36)

Do not think that I came to spread peace on the earth. I came not to spread peace, but the sword. For I came to divide a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s enemies are those of his own household. He who loves his father or mother above me is not worthy of me.

And there was much confusion among his followers.

And Peter the disciple said: “But Lord, are you saying we have to raise our swords to fight the unbelievers, even if they are our beloved-ones? Are you not speaking in metaphors again, like you so often do?”

And Jesus answered: “You are a fool, surely, to doubt the words of your teacher. When I say I come to spread the sword, I mean this literally. Cut down the unbelievers, even if it are members of your family. Murder is better than to allow faithlessness. 107

“I came not to spread peace, but the sword!”. This verse is often used to “prove” that Jesus too called for violence. It’s clear to every honest reader of the original chapter in the Gospel that “sword” is used as a metaphor for “strife”. It would be very strange indeed for Jesus to prohibit all sorts of violence in his defense (see: the last supper), and even to literally say “do not kill” in Matthew 19:17 – 19 , and then ask his followers to “spread the sword”. (Jesus talks about why he uses illustrations and metaphors in Matthew 13:10-13).

The Quran, on the other hand, literally states that disbelief is worse than murder . 107 There is no reason to think that all the calls for violence and murder in the Quran and Hadiths are “metaphors” taken out of context, although islamist apologists will try to convince you of it. The first Caliphs certainly did not interpret the religious texts as “metaphors” while they were conquering Persia and North Africa during the first Islamic expansion. Neither did Muhammad in his many raids and wars.

The word “Jihad’ is sometimes translated as “non violent strife”, but this was not the interpretation of the oldest and most respected Islamic scholars.