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

Matthew 10:34 (NIV)

How should the word of God be used? Jesus says here in Matthew 10:34 that he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. How are we to receive this in light of everything else that is said about our Lord? Let’s examine this verse and see how it fits in with other Scripture to see if we might better understand it and how we are to use God’s word.

We are given this intelligence about the word of God in Hebrews:

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.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

And again, in Ephesians, we are told about God’s word.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Therefore, we can understand that the sword Jesus is referring to in Matthew 10:34 isn’t a physical sword intended for physical conflict. It is the Holy Spirit intended, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4, to wage war against spiritual enemies.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)

Now that we know Jesus isn’t talking about confrontations with flesh and blood, let’s examine his role and how he fits into the notion of peace.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

We see in Isaiah’s prophecy that one of Jesus’ titles is the “Prince of Peace.” If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then how could he claim to be otherwise? That is if we understand Matthew 10:34 to mean that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. Let’s continue and see what Jesus has to say about peace.

12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.

Matthew 10:12-13 (NIV)

Earlier in Matthew 10, we see that Jesus is talking to his disciples about their mission and their role. Matthew 10:34 is still part of that conversation, so it would seem odd to be talking about peace in Matthew 10:12-13 with one meaning and then change that meaning in Matthew 10:34. Verse 12 tells the disciples they are to enter into a home and greet those within. This friendly gesture coincides with Jesus’ instruction in verse 13: let your peace rest on the home: if it is deserving. If the home isn’t deserving, then “let your peace return to you.” Jesus is not telling them to be kind and peaceful only if they are well received. He’s also not telling them to “attack” those within the home. Is that all they are to do? Let their peace return to them? What does the text say?

14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Matthew 10:L14-15 (NIV)

Does it say to berate them with the word of God? To use it as a weapon against them? To convict them of their sinful ways, that they might repent and turn away from sin? No, Jesus tells them to leave the home or town, shake the dust off of their feet, and let them be judged by God at the final judgment. Indeed, not only will they be judged, but they will be punished more severely than the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah! This also informs us that there will be degrees of punishment, but let’s not stray from our point.

It appears that Jesus is sending the disciples out as peacemakers. Now, what does Jesus say about peacemakers?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

The peacemakers are two things: they are blessed, and they are the children of God. As Christians today, we are the children of God. Scripture confirms this.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:12 (NIV)

Again, in 1 John 3:1 we read:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Therefore, we can identify with the mission that Jesus sent his disciples on in Matthew 10 as peacemakers.

We can conclude thus far that Jesus wasn’t saying in Matthew 10:34 that he wasn’t the Prince of Peace and he wasn’t bringing a sword to attack people (Spiritual or otherwise). Why does he use the word “sword” then? What is he saying? Fortunately, he gives examples of how the sword (the word of God) could affect others. Referring to Micah 7:6, he states:

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.”

Matthew 10:35 (NIV)

Again, Jesus says that he is the impetus behind people turning against one another. However, what he is talking about is not his personage as Jesus, but as the word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 1:1-4 (NIV)

Therefore, it’s the word of God that people respond to that causes division. Here we get a glimpse into the triune God. Again, Jesus is telling us in Matthew 10:34 that some people will respond well to the Gospel and be saved while others will not. It’s not telling us that, as ambassadors of Christ, we are to use the word of God as a Spiritual sword against people. Instead, we are to be peacemakers. Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t tell people what Scripture says because that wouldn’t be Biblical. When we take into consideration Jesus’ entire sermon in Matthew 10, we can also understand how we are to respond if the God’s word isn’t accepted: we turn away from delivering the Gospel of Peace, shake the dust off of our feet, and leave the judgment up to God. Who knows? While someone might not have appeared to have accepted the seed we planted, it may be watered later on so that God can make it grow.

Thanks for stopping by! I pray this day the Lord has made finds you well.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.