Aramaic Taught by Mark Siljander
Did Jesus Really Say, “I Come to Bring a Sword”?
“Do not suppose I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). At first blush, this verse seems to contradict to all of Jesus’s teachings. How could the man who taught us to “turn the other cheek” and “love our enemies” claim that he came to bring a sword? In fact, this verse has even been used by some to justify violence against “nonbelievers.”
The truer meaning here is not sword, but division. This is more accurately rendered in the common English translations of the corresponding passage in Luke: “Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? I say to you, No, but divisions” (Luke 13:51).
The teachings of Jesus were so revolutionary and contrary to the political, social, and religious order of the day that when people followed them, divisions among families, friends, and institutions inevitably ensued. Dr. Lamsa comments that the Greeks did not understand the Eastern idiomatic aspect of these verses. Jesus never suggested that his followers ought to “take up the sword,” but meant rather that following him would inevitably cause “divisions” and persecutions—as history has in fact shown to be the case.