The Sword That Jesus Brought


Larry Ray Hafley

In Matthew 10:34, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not think I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Recently, I heard the question asked, “What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘I did not come to bring peace but a sword’?” Immediately, my mind flashed to Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Initially, however, I doubted that it fit the context of Matthew 10:34. After all, the word of God is not a literal sword.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the sword of Hebrews 4:12 was parallel to the sword of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 10:34. Also, I thought about John 17:14 where Jesus, as he prayed for his disciples, the apostles, said, “I have given them your word.” Then, I remembered Ephesians 6:17 which says, “the sword of the Spirit is the word of God.”

With these passages in mind, I connected the text of Matthew 10:34-36. “And do not think I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Though the Spirit’s sharp sword is designed to bring peace and harmony between men and nations, and between Jews and Gentiles, because of unbelief and disobedience, it has often brought division (Jn. 3:19-21; Eph. 2:1116; 4:17-19; 5:11; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 4:3, 4).

Becoming a Christian has set father against son, mother against daughter, mothers-in-law against their daughters-in-law, and husbands against their wives. Indeed, the word of God often has made a man the enemy of his own household. As long as people are able to read the word of God, and not only learn the truth, but also obey it, the word will continue to act as a sword, a sword that “pierces even to the division of soul and spirit.” As long as some obey and some remain disobedient, the sword of God, the word, will divide and separate and make enemies of whole households.

Although Jesus was not referring to this is Matthew 5:44, the lesson still applies to anyone who wears the name of Christ. Jesus said, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” If, as Christians, we fail to show this love, and cease to do good to those divided against us, we fail in our duty to God. Worse still, we fail to lead the lost to God (Matt. 5:16).


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