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Matthew 10:34 (NIV)

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

Jesus is the very epitome of bringing peace. There must be some context in which these words of Jesus are applicable.

  • It’s interesting that peace and sword are used in the LXX in the context of lying prophets and they made the opposite claim Jesus was making “Then I said: "Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'"” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭14:13‬ – Nihil Sine Deo Jul 17 '19 at 14:08
  • The early Christians, including Christ, were persecuted. – Lucian Jul 27 '19 at 11:13
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The context indeed surrounds the verse, and it's about forsaking worldly happiness for the sake of the truth, the gospel, and He is preparing them to go into the world and preach it, which will be met with opposition:

Matthew 10:28-40 (DRB) And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows. 32 Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. 34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. 35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.

"The sword" as used in the dichtomous 'sword vs. peace' trope is symbolic of the opposite of shalom (peace, safety, wellbeing) (Jeremiah 4:10; 12:12; 14:13-14; cf. Revelation 6:4), not a call to violence as some have claimed ignorantly about this passage, rending it from its context.

Jesus is preparing them for a hostile world which hates the truth: He tells them the truth of the gospel will break up families ("a man's enemies shall be they of his own household"), and, I think, even martyrdom ("fear ye not them that kill the body;" "he that shall deny me;" "he that shall lose his life for my sake" etc.).

The division is a necessary evil, not one He directly intends, in bringing the truth to a world of darkness. Jesus uses hyperbole in virtually all His teaching, since it leaves the most lasting impression on its hearers (it being at that time an almost exclusively oral culture in most respects). When He says something so very obviously opposite what He really is bringing (lasting peace, "shalom"—wellbeing, safety or peace), one understands right away that He is speaking of what His teaching and mission will cause, not what He 'wants to happen' (as if Christ wanted people to be divided directly).

We see this in John 16:

John 16:1-3, 20-22, 32-33 (DRB)

These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God. 3 And these things will they do to you; because they have not known the Father, nor me. ... Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. 22 So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you. ... Behold, the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.

We see that Jesus in one sense 'comes to bring expulsion from Synagogues, martyrdoms, not peace,' and yet it is the peace that He speaks of which intrinsically involves 'birth pangs,' most especially denial of self (Matthew 16:24; 1 Peter 2:21) but the ultimate result is everlasting peace: everything really worth having is worth sacrificing for, and so is everlasting peace, and the dynamic of suffering for a greater end does not stop at the Cross, but is lived through Christ in all Christians who partake in His Passion (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:24): what is done to receive the reward of eternal life is not done to earn what is already earned, but to partake in what has been earned already by Christ.

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  • Good answer. +1. You might improve this by quoting some other references such as John 16:33, 1 Cor 7:28, 2 Tim 1:4, Heb 13:12, 13, 1 Peter 2:21. – user25930 Jul 17 '19 at 22:31
  • Agreed. Good answer. +1. – Nigel J Jul 17 '19 at 23:58
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Why did Jesus say that He has not come to bring peace in Matthew 10:34?

I love this quote from Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto. He said:

“...in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. I mean, look at the conversation we’re having right now. You’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable.”

Jordan Peterson Interview

I believe Jesus and Peterson's words principally contain the same thought. I want to be clear, I am not trying to place Dr. Peterson and Jesus on the same level of authority. Actually, I believe it is Jesus influence on Mr. Jordan's years of study that led him to make this comment. Both of them are making the same point and that is, it is impossible not to cause offences, or at the very least great tension when telling the truth about anything that is meaningful. Essentially human beings are so easily self-deceived and prideful.

Jesus is the walking, talking Truth. Everything He said and demonstrated constantly challenged the status quo of human developed systems of thinking. The institutions of Religion, Family, Education and Government were all challenged and deeply offended with Jesus new ideas and new rules to follow. These new rules where brought to light in the passages that follow:

Murder Matthew 5:21-26 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Adultery Matthew 5:27-30 "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce Matthew 5:31-32 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. This way of being, led Jesus and His disciples into great conflict with those in authority, as well as with those who followed them.

Discipline is defined as:

"the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience."

Discipline eventually brings peace. Jesus is not double minded. His intention is always to bring about peace. But He aims to bring about real, uncompromising, truthful and long lasting peace. This is not brought about by cowering to the masses or those who can destroy the body by employing short term appeasement. It is accomplished through unyielding truth telling and demonstration unto death. This principle can be found in the book of Hebrews 12:4-11.

God Disciplines His Children

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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  • As much as I disagree with putting Peterson along side Jesus, especially since he is so dangerous to Biblical Christianity you make a valid point. +1 – Nihil Sine Deo Jul 17 '19 at 14:32
  • Thank you. I understand where your coming from, ( although I don't necessarily agree with you that he's "dangerous to biblical Christianity." at least as far as what I've heard him speak so far. He's widely misunderstood. ) that being said. I'm only using his comment to illustrate the principle. – Richard Jul 17 '19 at 14:50
  • @Autodidact - I edited to make it clear that my intention is not to imply that Mr. Peterson and Jesus are on the same level authoritatively. Thanks for the feedback. – Richard Jul 17 '19 at 15:08
  • Neither your own contribution nor the author you quote are examples of the discipline of hermeneutics. Both your own and the author's statements are statements of opinion, not proper textual analysis. – Nigel J Jul 17 '19 at 23:57
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There is no peace or hope for those who do not believe in the Messiah. Sword and Fire will surely hurt,but those who believe won't be hurt,amen.Let the wise hear,for the LORD is peace towards His children,He also forgives freely,society might hate you but Jesus won't ever turn you away if you want mercy.

For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the LORD. Isaiah 66:16

Sword

His Sword isn't symbolic,it is very real and it kills those who refuse to believe and repent

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.Revelation 19:15

And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of the One seated on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Revelation 19:21

Fire

Nothing symbolic about fire.Again the Lord has unfailing love and compassion,believe in Him and He will heal your wounds,trust in Him and He will set you free,nothing is too big for Him to forgive.

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! Luke 12:49

For our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrew 12:29

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.Numbers 11:1

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