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Matthew 10:34 New International Version (NIV)

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

How do we understand Jesus use of the word Sword in this verse?

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"Sword" is obviously a contrast to "peace" in the same verse. While "peace" indicates harmony/tranquility/unity, "sword", the opposite, refers to war/strife/division. Is this what you're asking, or are you asking how we see in practice that Jesus' doctrine divides people against each other? – Niobius Nov 30 '13 at 17:01
Yes your right, but are these not one and the same thing, I mean the sword representing the opposite of peace and that Jesus's doctrine divides people! yes I see something there a possible correlation here to where we read that the word of God is like a two edged sword dividing between bone and marrow? – John Unsworth Dec 1 '13 at 12:17
Check out 2 Cor 10:3-6, where Paul says his weapons are not of the flesh. Note that ideas can do battle, and ideas can take on lives of their own. Richard Dawkins was wise to coin the word meme, despite his general philosophical naïveté. :-) – Luke Breuer Dec 4 '13 at 0:05
up vote 10 down vote accepted

In Matt. 10:34, it is written,

34 Do not think that I came to send peace on the earth. I did not come to send peace, but rather, a sword!

ΛΔʹ μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν TR, 1550

The “sword” (μάχαιρα) represents “division” (διαμερισμός), and this is evident when we examine the synoptic parallel in Luke 12:51, in which it is written,

51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? No, I tell you! But rather, division!

ΝΑʹ δοκεῖτε ὅτι εἰρήνην παρεγενόμην δοῦναι ἐν τῇ γῇ οὐχί λέγω ὑμῖν ἀλλ᾽ ἢ διαμερισμόν TR, 1550

What does this division involve? If we read the next verses following either verse, the Lord Jesus Christ explains that it involves division of families.

In Matt. 10:35-36, it is written,

35 For I came to sever a man from his father, and the daughter from her mother, and the daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law. 36 And a man’s enemies shall be of his house.

ΛΕʹ ἦλθον γὰρ διχάσαι ἄνθρωπον κατὰ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ θυγατέρα κατὰ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφην κατὰ τῆς πενθερᾶς αὐτῆς ΛϚʹ καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ TR, 1550

In Luke 12:52-53, it is written,

52 For from now on, there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

ΝΒʹ ἔσονται γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν πέντε ἐν οἴκῳ ἑνὶ διαμεμερισμένοι τρεῖς ἐπὶ δυσὶν καὶ δύο ἐπὶ τρισίν ΝΓʹ διαμερισθήσεται πατὴρ ἐφ᾽ υἱῷ καὶ υἱὸς ἐπὶ πατρί μήτηρ ἐπὶ θυγατρί καὶ θυγάτηρ ἐπὶ μητρί πενθερὰ ἐπὶ τὴν νύμφην αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφη ἐπὶ τὴν πενθεράν αὐτῆς TR, 1550

This may not be well understood in America, in which the religious majority is Christianity (however, it does happen on occasion). However, in the Middle East, particularly Judea, which is the setting of the Gospel, the religious majority was Judaism. Not too long after Christianity was born, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin became hostile to any Jews who converted to Christianity. Those Jews who confessed Christ were excommunicated from the people of Israel and placed under cherem. Even their own family members disowned them.1


1 See John Gill’s commentary on John 9:22.

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@user2479 your deeper question is a theological question, not a textual question. It would be better asked on C.SE. Remember that here we stop short of applying the text, and we are not a Christian (or any other religious) site. – Dan Dec 3 '13 at 18:31

The word "sword " means division, meaning Jesus came to divide light from darkness as it was done in Genesis 1.Anyone who takes Jesus Christ as His Lord and personal Saviour will not be accepted by those who are in darkness,in the family,community and even the love once. And when that happen it bring division,that is when a son will turn against his father and daughter in law against mother in law.The sword is a weapon for every believer to separate himself from darkness

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Welcome to BH. The question has a more obvious answer, and that is that Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword - ie war or destruction., which is confirmed by the verses that follow. You need to show, through hermeneutic process, why your understanding of the passage is a better explanation. – Dick Harfield Apr 8 '15 at 5:45

He meant these swords:

Luke 22:38 The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That's enough!" he replied.

These two swords are two prophets of the Lord:

Rev 11:3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

These two swords will cause a lot of pain to the body of Christ:

Rev 11:10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

These two swords are then united into ONE to become Word:

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. Please connect the dots between these texts more. – Dan Jun 29 '14 at 17:56
@Daи, if you don't see connection between the dots that I pointed out, how is it my problem? Other people might find this information useful. As to your question of "how I know it", I'll answer: all information in this world comes from two springs - lower springs and higher springs. It is for you to decide from which spring I've gotten the above information. – Habakook Jun 30 '14 at 6:16
be sure to read what we're looking for in answers and about what makes us different from other sites that study the Bible. Our community has different standards for participation than you may be used to. – Dan Jun 30 '14 at 15:09
Habakook you are off on the wrong foot here. Please slow down a second and actually read some of the posts @Daи linked you to. This isn't a place to answer Bible questions, it's a place specifically to study hermeneutics and the process of HOW interpretations are arrived at. As such this answer does not currently meet those expectations. Worse, the tone of your comment suggests you aren't interested in figuring out what this site is about. It is incumbent on you as an answerer to show why you think these pieces go together, not on readers to divine whether your source is "higher" or "lower". – Caleb Jun 30 '14 at 15:29
Ok, gents, if you don't like what you've read, you can link this answer as a bad answer example for other users. You can also downvote my answer all the way to the bottom if you don't like the trail of thought. But I want to remind you that from your links (and I quote): "Having several diverse answers to each question should be something we prize." – Habakook Jun 30 '14 at 16:37

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