One of the names of Jesus is Prince of Peace as per Isa 9:6 -

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I have read in the Gospel of Matthew that

Matthew 10:34

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

What is the meaning of "sword" here?

  • I tried to tag your question with gospel-of-matthew, but that won't come up - only matthew.
    – Anne
    May 10, 2022 at 16:09

5 Answers 5


In Matthew 10:34 the Greek word machaira is used, and that word refers to a fighting weapon. There is another word for a sabre, which is a brandishing weapon, and that is used seven times in the New Testament, once in Luke, the rest in Revelation.

Matthew's gospel shows early on that the arrival of the Messiah, as a helpless baby, caused wicked Herod the Great to send his soldiers forth into one region to kill all babies up to two years of age, and that may well have been done by thrusting swords into them. We are spared the details, but the sword was the weapon of choice for the armies of Rome, and for Herod's henchmen. There was no peace in that land, and all because the Messiah had been born. Not that any blame could be attached to the baby. Herod was a puppet of Satan.

Five times in Matthew's gospel the word 'sword' is used, Jesus using it once in 10:34. The other times relate to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, for "All who live by the sword shall die by the sword." Jesus did not approve of the use of literal swords. (Although Luke 22:36 implies Jesus recommending his disciples buy swords, verse 38 and the Gethsemane incident show they had totally misunderstood.) Jesus also mocked those who had come with swords and staves, as if he was a thief. So, Jesus used that word machaira five times in Matthew's gospel. Only once did he connect the sword with himself. In that text you quote, he stated a fact, that he came to send a sword, as opposed to sending peace.

The Greek word ballo is used twice in 10:34, and it means 'to cast', and is translated 'to send'. He did not come to send peace on earth, but to send a sword.

The meaning of that is to contrast peace with fighting, killing, and strife. What he said next shows that, for it is not necessarily a literal sword that would be used. Jesus is speaking of the sword as a symbol of antagonistic strife because of him: between sons and fathers, daughters against mothers, and daughter's in law against mother's in law. "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (vs.36). He went on to say that those who would follow him had to love him more than their fleshly family, to be prepared to lose their lives for Jesus' sake. All that amounted to picking up their cross daily, the cross being a symbol for shame and suffering, just as the sword was a symbol for strife and even death. Yet a literal sword would not necessarily be involved every time. Sometimes it was, but it stands for the hateful persecution of Christ's followers who are never to retaliate in like manner.

Once Christ has broken the rebellious nations with his rod of iron (Psalm 2) total peace will be ushered in by the Prince of Peace. Until then, all those who belong to Jesus by faith know his peace, which passes all understanding, and remains despite all the antagonistic hatred of this world against them (Philippians 4:7).

  • Beautiful answer! +1
    – Rajesh
    May 10, 2022 at 16:16
  • How does this answer the question in view of John 14:27?
    – Dottard
    May 10, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Dottard My last sentence links in perfectly with Jesus' promise of peace to his disciples. Thanks for mentioning John 14:27 - it could well have been added after the Phil.4:7 ref. I made.
    – Anne
    May 11, 2022 at 8:54

It is true that the prophecy of Isa 9:6 calls the (then future) Messiah the "Prince of Peace". The NT appears to frequently acknowledge this title in Jesus:

  • 2 Thess 3:16 - Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
  • John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.
  • Luke 10:6 - If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.
  • Eph 2:14-17 - For He [Christ] Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has torn down the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments and decrees. He did this to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and reconciling both of them to God in one body through the cross, by which He extinguished their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
  • Col 3:15 - Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful.
  • Phil 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • 2 John 3 - Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, will be with us in truth and love.
  • Eph 6:23 - Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Cor 7:15 - But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to live in peace.
  • Rom 14:17 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Peter 3:4 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Cor 1:3 - Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Eph 1:2, 2 Thess 1:2, Phil 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2, Philm 1:3, Gal 1:3, etc, etc.

Let there be no doubt that the NT portrays Jesus as the "Prince of Peace". Therefore, why does the NT also say of Jesus -

  • Matt 10:34 - Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
  • Luke 12:51 - Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division.

The answer is rather simple - the "peace" that Jesus offers is offered in three ways:

  • inner peace - the removal of the sinful nature that fights with the new spiritual nature- see Paul's discussion (quoted above) in Eph 2:14-17 and his discussion in Rom 7. See also Ps 119:165, "Great peace have they that love your law and nothing shall offend them".
  • peace in the [earthly] kingdom of God, that is, among the fellow believers. Note what Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:35 - "By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
  • peace in the New earth, that is an eschatological peace; Ps 37:11, "But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace."

So, what is the sword that Jesus sends? The sword is the promised persecution of Jesus disciples by others such as in John 15:20, 21 -

Remember the word that I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’a If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. But they will treat you like this because of My name, since they do not know the One who sent Me.

The distinction Jesus makes is explicit in John 16:33 -

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!”

History has witnessed the truth of this teaching: many millions of devout Christians have been tortured and executed but remained calm and peaceful. Thus, the sword sent by Jesus is the antagonism that the Gospel preaching engenders among non-believers and the associated persecution. However, according to the above texts, not even this can disturb the peace that those in Christ enjoy.


In general terms, the peace that Jesus will usher in requires submission to the king of Heaven. Those who do not submit will face the sword of God's wrath. In Revelation, at his return Jesus rides a white horse and carries a drawn sword.

According to Solomon, individual human lives as well as the history of nations pass through well defined stages. These stages are the twenty-eight times of Ecclesiastes 3.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

As you can see from verse 8, the time for peace follows the time for war.

The times may be grouped in quartets. Some are parables, while others are on the nose. Here is one way to understand them:

  • Security of the infant (born, die, plant, uproot) where planting and uprooting are about shelter and belonging as much as food
  • Ability of the child being trained in body and mind (kill, heal, tear down, build)
  • Stability of teenage emotions, verbal and physical (weep, laugh, mourn, dance)
  • Amity of forming romantic relationships, with intimacy and cooperation (scatter, gather, embrace, refrain)
  • Opportunity, both tangible goods and intangible possibilities (search, give up, keep, throw away)
  • Community, where forgiveness, listening and other communication skills are vital (tear, mend, silent, speak)
  • Loyalty in attitude and action (love & hate are attitudes, war & peace are actions)

Since God "was and is and is to come", that makes Him the master of time. Jesus may seem to be contradictory in his attributes, but they are expressed carefully according the Father's plan for time. Thus Jesus is both the commander of the host of heaven and a Prince of Peace, depending on the times.

In my just published book Peace, like Solomon never Knew, I devote a chapter to the imagery of the sword in Biblical prophecy. Since the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), I associated seven swords with the seven spirits of God from Isaiah 11:2. Revelation 5:6 says that the seven spirits were sent out into all the earth. By studying the whole of scripture, it appears that one sword was sent to each millennium of history, in the order given in Isaiah.

  1. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
  2. the Spirit of wisdom
  3. and of understanding,
  4. the Spirit of counsel
  5. and of might,
  6. the Spirit of the knowledge
  7. and fear of the Lord

First millennium. The sword of Lordship was wielded by the angels guarding the gates to Eden to keep Adam and Eve from returning.

Second millennium. The sword of wisdom was the flood of Noah. (Methusaleh's name may mean sword.) God saved the world by nearly destroying it, a strange wisdom.

Third millennium. The sword of understanding relates to worship. It was prophesied by Moses in a worship song in Deuteronomy 32:42, and Joshua was conspicuously mentioned as being present. Joshua understood that prophecy as being fulfilled when the man - or angel - with a drawn sword appeared to him near Jericho in Joshua 5, and so Joshua bowed in worship, meabning that the angel may have been the preincarnate Christ. Then Joshua won the victory at Jericho by marching about the city seven times in worship.

Fourth millennium. The sword of counsel was the word of the prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets of this era spoke hundreds of times about swords. They were warnings - God's counsel - to the people to turn back from wickedness or face exile and other horrors. The people did not listen and the sword of counsel became a sword of judgment.

Fifth millennium. The sword of might is the specific sword that Jesus was speaking of when he said that he came not to bring peace but a sword. This is the answer to your question. This sword was delivered to the church first at Pentecost, when God's spiritual power entered the young church. Then the fulness of the sword was delivered to the church via the Empereor Constantine and later in the fourth century through the Edict of Thessalonica. The Roman empire - a great sword and the world's longest lasting empiure - was given to the church to enable it to spread the gospel.

Sixth millennium. The sword of knowledge was the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution and all other developments of human intellect given first to the European Christian nations to enable the rapid spread of the gospel to the whole world. Specifically, the sword was the sword of the second horseman of the Apocalypse, given to take peace from the earth (i.e. cause civil war). (I do not believe that the horsemen will only be sent out once in history, but several times, with the final and worst dispatch being the one spoken of in Revelation.) The Reformation was followed by the General Crisis of the 17th century, the wars of religion and schism within the church. This is also the double-edged sword spoken of in Revelation 2, in the letter to Pergamum. Knowledge cuts both ways, solving some problems and unleashing others.

Seventh millennium. The sword of the fear of the Lord is the final sword. It has not yet been drawn. It is the sword of the final plagues, bowls, and judgments spoken of in Revelation. Once that sword is drawn, all people will finally fear the Lord.

Short answer: The sword Jesus spoke of was the sword of might, embodied by the Roman Empire. Jesus said that if you want to plunder the rich man's house (Satan's house), you must first bind his strong man (Rome). Jesus did bind Rome and his possessions - the souls of many people in Europe, North Africa and Asia - were plundered.


This question is reminiscent of Paul's "Armor of God" metaphor:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. …
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,
having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith
And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
— Ephesians 6:11–17

Matthew 10:32's "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." could be a (forward) reference to the sword of the Sprit, which is the word of God".

I.e. the "gospel of peace" would be the sword that initially causes discord, not peace.


There is a bit of a contradiction, has Jesus come to bring peace or violence. There are some examples of Peace but more passages that relate to violence.

It is likely that phrases such as “Love your enemies” etc… are related more to general local social-economic relations, largely within the village / community.


Matthew 5:38–39 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9)

Matt. 26:52-53: “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Jesus says he has not come to change but continue

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practic-es and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." [Matthew 5:17-20]

Violence many more passages in the old testament relating to violence.

Exodus 21:22-25 - 22 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Judges 21: 10-11 : 10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.”

Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’"

Matt 10:34 34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10: 34-36)

Mark 9:49 - Everyone will be salted with fire.

John 2:15 So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle. He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

“Let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

“If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (a sword).” (Luke 22:36)

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:1-6)

“But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

“the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30)

1 Corinthians 15:24 [Jesus] will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 15:25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.

Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Micah 15:5 I will execute vengeance in anger and fury on the heathen, such as they have not heard.

Psalm 137:8-9 8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. 9 Blessed is the one who grabs your babies and smashes them against a rock.

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

Luke 12:51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.


Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

“every tribe on earth will mourn because of him” (Rev. 1:7)

Rev 12:5 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

“judge and wage war” (Rev. 19:11)

his robe will be “dipped in blood” (19:13)

Jesus Peace image appears to be more of a fallacy