In New Testament it says:
[math. 10:34] “do not think that I have come to make peace on earth? I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. “for I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother.”[said Jesus]! [luk. 12:49] ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled.. Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for from henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother. [said Jesus]! [Luk. 19:27] for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me. [luk. 14:26] if any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters yes and even his own life: he cannot be my disciple.
Q- (1) why did Jesus (pbuh) use such rash words for destroying the peace in [Math. 10:34] [Luk. 12:49] [Luk. 19:27] [Luk. 14:26] (Gospel, Chapter and verse numbers of bible required where applicable and also detail explanation of the above question)
Q- (2) Did Jesus (pbuh) had the gift of prophecy ONLY and DID NOT had the power of enforcing his directives? If he had the power of enforce laws that JESUS is like Moses too in the sense that he is a KING!! E.g. read the following passage:
Moses and Muhammad were prophets as well as kings. A prophet means a man who receives Divine Revelation for the Guidance of Man and this Guidance he conveys to God’s creatures as received without any addition or deletion. A king is a person who has the power of life and death over his people. It is immaterial whether the person wears a crown or not, or whether he was ever addressed as king or monarch: if the man has the prerogative of inflicting capital punishment – HE IS A KING. Moses possessed such a power. Do you remember the Israelite who was found picking up firewood on Sabbath Day and Moses had him stoned to death? (Numbers- 15:13). There are other crimes also mentioned in the Bible for which capital punishment was inflicted on the Jews at the behest of Moses. Muhammad too, had the power of life and death over his people. There are instances in the Bible of persons who were given gift of prophecy only, but they were not in a position to implement their directives. Some of these holy men of God who were helpless in the face of stubborn rejection of their message, were the prophets lot, Jonah, Daniel, Ezra, and John the Baptist. They could only deliver the message, but could not enforce the Law. The Holy Prophet Jesus (Peace b.u.h) also belonged to this category. The Christian Gospel clearly confirms this: when Jesus was dragged before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, Charged for sedition, Jesus made a convincing point in his defense to refute the false charge: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world’: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence”(John 18:36) This convinced Pilate (A Pagan) that though Jesus might not be in full possession of his mental faculty, he did not strike him as being a danger to his rule. Jesus claimed a spiritual Kingdom only; in other words he only claimed to be a Prophet. Is this true?” Therefore Jesus is not like Moses but Muhammad is like Moses.”
If the above statement is true then it’s contradicting with Q-1
Q- (3) I have read that Jesus(PBUH) came only for the people of Israel but why in [Luk. 12:49] the word “EARTH” is used
I CAME TO CAST FIRE UPON THE EARTH, AND WOULD THAT IT WERE ALREADY KINDLED.. [Luk. 12:49]
Q-(4) Where else did Jesus(PBUH) used these harsh words?
Q-(5) Did someone in the Old Testament PROPHESIZED that Jesus(PBUH) will come to disturb the peace?
Q-(6) To what extent does ISLAM agree what Jesus said in [Math. 10:34] [Luk. 12:49] [Luk. 19:27] [Luk. 14:26]?
Before I begin to answer your questions, I would like to say that since your queries largely concern issues of Christianity Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” specifically, Biblical exegesis Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” you should bear in mind that our understanding of the Bible may not necessarily correspond with Jewish and Christian interpretations. Therefore, I would encourage and request you to investigate the various possibilities of scriptural analysis by communicating with scholars and experts of the Christian and Jewish religion as well. In answering your questions, I shall develop the basic Islamic view of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) to clarify the actual meaning of the referred verses.
Referring to Mt. 10:34, Lk 12:49. Lk. 14:26, and Lk. 19:27, you ask:
Why did Jesus (pbuh) use such rash words for destroying the peace … ?
First of all, we must remember that Jesus’ (pbuh) referred statements were made in the context of his mission as a Rasu’l, a messenger, to the people of Israel. These statements ought therefore to be interpreted in the light of the divine law relating to the messengers of God. Essentially, this law maintains that when a messenger is sent to a nation, the direct addressees of the message are presented with God’s Truth completely and clearly, such that they are left with absolutely no excuse to reject the Truth. Thus, whereas a nabi, a prophet, is responsible only for delivering God’s message, a prophet appointed as a messenger of God acts as a symbol, a reminder, and an evidence of God’s Absolute Justice on the Day of Judgment, a judgment executed in history and not deferred until that Day.1
The statements that Jesus (pbuh) is reported to have made concerning untainted allegiance to God in the case of the first three Gospel passages and concerning the severity of God’s judgment in the last passage refer to the indispensable conflict between the accepters and rejecters of God’s message, in which, ultimately, the accepters are bound to dominate. In the first three passages, Jesus (pbuh) explains a quality and attitude requisite to genuine acceptance of the message and in the last passage, he warns of the ultimate, disastrous consequences of knowingly rejecting the Truth.
Let us explore each passage from the Muslim perspective.
Matthew 10:34-35 and Luke 14:26
What did Jesus (pbuh) mean when he said that he did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword? What did he mean when he said he came to set members of a family against one another? What did he mean when he condemned those who loved their family more than they loved him?
Jesus (pbuh) meant that humans have to accept ¬” or re-familiarize themselves with Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” the “proper order:” the proper ordering of love for God in relation to love for family, relatives, friends, and so forth. Our love for God and our commitment to live a life in obedience to Him are superior to our love or commitment to any of our worldly relations. In his article, “The Relationship of Muslims with their Rejecting Parents & Siblings – Al-Taubah 9:23,” Moiz Amjad emphasizes this very point:
All worldly relations are subordinate to and effected by our relationship with God. Enemies of God, whether they are our brothers, sisters, or parents, are our enemies. Our natural love for these relations is subordinate to our conscious ideological attachment with the Truth and all other values that God wants us to develop within ourselves.
One must willingly pay the price for eternal success with a conscious ideological commitment to the Truth at the expense of natural, worldly tendency. The Holy Qur’an illustrates this difficult conflict in the story of Noah (pbuh) and his son:
And Noah called out to his Lord, and said: “O my Lord! Truly, my son was of my family; and, truly, Your promise always comes true, and You are the most just of all judges!” [God] answered: “O Noah, behold, he was not of your family, for, truly, he was unrighteous in his conduct [by rejecting My Truth]. And you shall not ask of Me anything whereof you cannot have any knowledge: thus, behold, I do admonish you lest you become one of those who are unaware [of what is right]” (Hud 11:45-47).
The narrative to which this passage belongs depicts God informing Noah (pbuh) that even though he was commanded to take his family with him on the Ark, his son would not qualify as a “family member” Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” that is, as a true believer who accepted the message Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” because he knowingly rejected the Truth. Noah (pbuh) loved his son dearly, but he turned into an enemy because he chose to become an enemy of God. Noah (pbuh) was therefore tested: he had to repress his natural love for a worldly relation when this love impinged upon and interfered with his commitment to the Truth.
What kind of fire did Jesus (pbuh) intend to cast upon the earth? Since the passage goes on to illustrate familial division, in language similar to that of Matthew 10, it is not unreasonable to interpret this fire as the sword of Matthew 10:34 Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” that is, the “proper order.” The fire might also be interpreted as the fire of the Day of Judgment. Jesus (pbuh) employed powerful imagery to express the meaning of his position as the messenger of God. Possessing this God-given title and authority, Jesus (pbuh) acted as the manifestation of God’s Justice to the people receiving the message, the people of Israel. Again, it should be borne in mind that one of the chief differences between a prophet and a messenger is that a prophet’s commission is limited to reminding his addressees and illuminating the path of eternal success. However, a messenger serves as a sign and practical reminder of God’s Justice as implemented upon the addressed nation. As a messenger, Jesus (pbuh) acted as a symbol and evidence Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” as “fire” Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” of God’s final justice on the Day of Judgment, expressed immediately upon full manifestation of the Truth instead of delayed until Judgment Day. Nonetheless, if we maintain the original reading, which equates “fire” with Matthew’s “sword,” we observe that the meaning of Luke 12:49 remains almost identical to that of Matthew 10:34.
This passage has perhaps what appears to be the most violent language of all the passages you have cited for examination. However, it is quite possible that the “slaying” of Jesus’ (pbuh) enemies is a reference to future judgment, at the time when God judges mankind, couched in the framework of a parable. The slaying of his enemies, then, is not the implementation of capital punishment, or evidence of politico-legal authority for that matter, but rather the expression of God’s Justice, the damnation of evildoers who reject the Truth.
The violent activity depicted in Luke 19:27 does not stem from any special kind of political or legal authority on Jesus’ (pbuh) part and, more importantly, does not demonstrate that he came to destroy the peace. It merely illustrates, in graphic words, the severity of punishment that the wrongdoers will incur at the time of the Final Judgment. In the framework of the divine law relating to messengers, the verse alerts Jesus’ (pbuh) direct addressees about the fact that, even if the monotheists who reject the message are not subjected to the most painful penalty in the life of this world, they shall face inevitable, overwhelming doom in the Hereafter.2
Did Jesus (pbuh) have the gift of prophecy ONLY and DID NOT had the power of enforcing his directives?
According to Islam, Jesus (pbuh) was both a prophet and a messenger of God. If by “gift of prophecy” you mean “the capacity of prophethood,” then yes, Jesus (pbuh) was appointed as a prophet. To answer your question, we should make some subtle distinctions between the roles of prophet and messenger as well as inspect the aftermath of retribution according to the divine law of messengers:
Even though a prophet is restricted to elucidating the message of Islam to his people, he can be bestowed with political power, implement God’s laws, and even undertake Jihaad. He may be conferred these powers even if he is not appointed as a messenger
Both a prophet who is not a messenger and a prophet who is a messenger can take on the above powers, if God grants such powers to him. However, God only grants these powers to some, not all, prophets and/or messengers
It is a prophet appointed as a messenger who functions as the means by which God’s Justice is manifested in the life of this world.
The manifestation of Justice entails that during the course of the messenger’s life or after it, the Almighty distinguishes between the good and the evil people among the messenger’s addressees and subsequently rewards and punishes, respectively
The punishment of God may be of two types:
Death for those rejecters who are polytheistic in belief and practice
Political subjection to the collectivity of believers for those rejecters who are not polytheistic in belief
In addition, the punishment of God unfolds in two disparate scenarios:
Natural disaster arranged by God, in which case the messenger does not experience political freedom and rule
Subjugation and/or weapons of the believers, in which case the messenger and/or his followers are given political authority over his/their subjects in a particular piece of land. This form of penalty may be implemented.
During the life of the messenger or
After his death, through the messenger’s companions and followers
Keeping the foregoing points in perspective, we may analyze Jesus’ (pbuh) role and commission according to Islam. Jesus (pbuh) was both a prophet and a messenger, but he was an agent of God who did not have the power of enforcing political, social, or legal directives and ordinances because God did not confer such authority upon him. God distinguished between the good and the evil people among the monotheistic addressees. The believers were rewarded with protection from punishment and Islamic political rule. The rejecters were punished with subjugation by the messenger’s companions and followers after Jesus’ (pbuh) death, once the believers were given political rule. In his article, “Violence & Murders Commanded by the Prophet (pbuh),” Moiz Amjad offers important insight on the comparison of certain messengers:
As for the comparison between Jesus (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbuh), it is completely misplaced because of the differing socio-legal positions of the two prophets of God in their respective communities. Prophets of God, it must be remembered, are not anarchists and, therefore, they do not implement any social laws Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” including punishments or Jihad Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” without being bestowed with the legal authority for such implementation. In other words, prophets of God implement punishments and other social laws only after they become rulers of their respective communities. Thus, after the Prophet’s migration to Medinah, when he became the first ruler of Islam, he implemented these punishments as a ruling prophet of God. Jesus (pbuh), on the other hand, was not bestowed with the legal rule of his people during his life and was, therefore, never in a position to implement any of the social laws of God. For this particular reason, only the pre-hijrah times of Muhammad (pbuh) Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” before the time that the Prophet became the ruler of the Muslims Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” can be compared with the life and teachings of the prophet Jesus (pbuh). Nevertheless, if a comparison needs to be made with a prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) can be compared with Moses (pbuh), who, like Muhammad (pbuh), was bestowed with the rule of his people and who, also like Muhammad (pbuh), ordered the implementation of various punishments Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬”including the death sentence Â¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” on his people.
Thus, Jesus (pbuh) indeed acted in the capacity of a prophet, but since he was never granted political rule over his people as well as the legal authority associated with such rule, he did not have the power to enforce social and penal statutes.
A king is a person who has the power of life and death over his people. It is immaterial whether the person wears a crown or not, or whether he was addressed as king or monarch: if the man has the prerogative of inflicting capital punishment – HE IS A KING.
As should be clear, Jesus (pbuh) was never a king in the political sense. However, it does not follow from the fact of a person’s authority to administer capital punishment that the person is automatically a monarch. Thus, Moses (pbuh), for instance, was granted the politico-legal authority to establish and enforce social laws, including capital punishment, but he was never a king. He was a messenger who, after migration with his people from Egypt, was granted political authority in the establishment of an Islamic state, which can promulgate social laws.
Jesus claimed a spiritual Kingdom only; in other words he only claimed to be a Prophet. Is this true?
Almost. Certainly, Jesus (pbuh) claimed to be a prophet, but he was also a messenger of God. However, he was a messenger who was not granted socio-political authority by God and who did not have the responsibility of establishing an Islamic state, unlike Moses (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbuh).
You state that if it is true that Jesus (pbuh) was only a prophet and not a political ruler, then this fact is inconsistent with the harsh words and behavior attributed to him in the Gospel passages you selected. I would appreciate it if you could concretely lay out what exactly the contradiction you have in mind is. Nevertheless, as far as I understand, you seem to be implicitly asking how it can be the case that Jesus (pbuh) lacked socio-legal authority yet simultaneously implemented capital punishment on his enemies. I hope I have shown that Jesus (pbuh) did not come to annihilate peace in the world and was never a king or a political ruler who could impose the death sentence. Therefore, there is no contradiction at all. If this is not the inconsistency you have in mind, then do feel free in writing back to us to clarify.
I have read that Jesus (PBUH) came only for the people of Israel but why in [Luk. 12:49] the word “EARTH” is used ‘I CAME TO CAST FIRE UPON THE EARTH, AND WOULD THAT IT WERE ALREADY KINDLED?
I think it would be appropriate to rephrase your question as follows: Jesus (pbuh) only came to deliver God’s message to the Israelites, but why does he imply elsewhere that he came to preach to the whole world? First, it would be important to be aware of the use of the word “earth” or “land,” which need not refer to the entire planet. It may, according to the context, imply a piece of small or large land. On this view, then, Jesus (pbuh) came to the “earth,” the specific geographic region of Israel, to fulfill his commission. Secondly, Jesus’ (pbuh) mission was to rectify the corruptions and deviations that the Israelites had produced and sunk into over the generations. But like the other prophets and messengers, Jesus (pbuh) advocated the faith of God which is meant for all humankind. In the framework of the divine law of messengers, Jesus (pbuh) delivered God’s Truth to his assigned nation, Israel, and his disciples or companions were eventually assigned the task of bringing God’s Truth to the rest of humanity.3
Where else did Jesus (PBUH) use these harsh words?
Unfortunately, since I am not a Biblical scholar or exegete, I do not consider myself qualified to direct you to other passages that contain harsh words. I would encourage you to investigate the Gospels further and then, more importantly, to study commentary and analysis provided by Christian scholars concerning the meaning of ostensibly violent, harsh, or militant statements, actions, parables, and so forth. Such research should be conducted against the background of the Muslim understanding of Jesus’ (pbuh) mission, with which you are now equipped.
Did someone in the Old Testament PROPHESIZE that Jesus (PBUH) used these harsh words?
Again, I am not technically qualified to direct you to other passages. I urge you to research Old Testament prophecy where it informs material in the Gospels. As far as our understanding is concerned, Jesus (pbuh) was like every other messenger of God. Nonetheless, there does not seem to be any specific Old Testament prophecy in this regard. Jesus (pbuh) did not come to disturb the peace; he came to bring peace and correctness of religion. Only the rejecters of Truth were disturbed.
To what extent does Islam agree [with] what Jesus said in [Mt. 10:34], [Lk. 12:49], [Lk. 19:27], and [Lk. 14:26]?
Islam argues against the idea that Jesus (pbuh) came to destroy the peace of the world. Since my answer presents the Islamic viewpoint on these passages, it naturally remains in consonance with Islam.
As we have seen, there are well-developed interpretations of the referred passages, which preserve the civility and peacefulness both of the Christ (pbuh) and of his teachings. Two chief ideas can be found in these passages when viewed through the Muslim lens:
The superiority of love for God to love for all worldly relations; love for God is best expressed by following and emulating Jesus (pbuh), the messenger of God (Mt. 10:34, Lk. 12:49, and Lk. 14:26).
The harshness of penalty upon God’s enemies as an expression of God’s Justice on the Day of Judgment. (Lk. 19:27).
Islam endorses both of these points. It clearly upholds the proper ordering of human love, such that love for God is superior to all other types of love. It also warns of the dire penalty that shall befall evildoers after God decides their fate during the Day of Judgment. An important caveat is that Islam does not accept the notion of the divinity of Jesus Christ (pbuh). It would therefore only be prudent, from a Muslim perspective, to understand Christ (pbuh) making the demands for untainted allegiance not as a deity but 1) as a representative of God delivering the message and sounding the call of Islam4 and 2) as a rasu’l serving as a symbol and reminder of God’s final justice upon the direct addressees of Israel.
I hope this helps.
June 30, 2003
- For a more detailed explanation of this law, you may refer to Moiz Amjad’s article titled, “Some Clarifications Regarding the Position & the Mission of a Rasu’l“ [↩]
- According to the divine law of messengers, polytheistic rejecters of the Truth are subjected to death, while non-polytheistic rejecters of the Truth are forced to become subservient to the messenger’s followers. Since those who knowingly rejected Jesus’ (pbuh) establishment of God’s Truth were not polytheists, they were not slain. Hence, Luke 19:27 could not possibly refer to the implementation of the death penalty in the life of this world and instead heralds the ultimate, painful punishment which awaits kaafir (rejecters) in the life to come. [↩]
- This is not dissimilar to Muhammad’s (pbuh) delivering God’s Truth to his assigned nation, the collection of polytheist and monotheist tribes of Arabia, and then the Ishmaelites’ extending God’s Truth to the rest of humanity, as per the directive entailed in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:143 and Surah Al-Hajj 22:78. [↩]
- A similar demand is also made by the Qur’an in Al-Taubah 9: 24. [↩]