Matthew 10:34
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(34) Think not that I am come to send peace.—Truth appears again in the form of seeming paradox. Christ is “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), and came to be the one great Peacemaker; and yet the foreseen consequences of His work involved strife and division, and such a consequence, freely accepted for the sake of the greater good that lies beyond it, involves, in fact, a purpose. The words are the natural expression of such a thought; and yet we can hardly fail to connect them with those which, in the earliest dawn of His infancy, revealed to the mother of the Christ that “a sword should pass through her own soul also” (Luke 2:35).

Matthew 10:34-36. Think not that I am come, &c. — As if he had said, Because the prophets have spoken glorious things of the peace and happiness of the world under the reign of the Messiah, whom they have named, for that reason, the Prince of peace, you may imagine that I am come to put the world into that happy state forthwith; and that universal peace will be the immediate consequence of my coming. But this is far from being the case; for, though the nature of my government be such as might produce abundant felicity, inasmuch as my religion breathes nothing but love, men will not lay aside their animosity, nor will they exercise a mutual friendship among themselves as soon as the gospel is preached to them. No; such is their wickedness, that they will make the gospel itself an occasion of such bitter dissensions that it will look as if I had not come to send peace, but a sword among men. For, as I told you before, the nearest relations shall quarrel among themselves, and both public and private divisions will follow wheresoever my gospel comes with power. Yet, observe well, reader, this is not the design, though it be the event of his coming, through the opposition of devils and men to his truth and the blessed effects of it. And a man’s foes — The foes of a man that is converted to my religion, and loves and follows me, shall be they of his own household — Persons of his own family, or such as are nearly related to him.10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.Think not that I am come ... - This is taken from Micah 7:6. Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention, for he was the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:6; Luke 2:14; but he means to say that such would be one of the effects of his coming. One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments. Then his religion will produce universal peace. Compare the notes at Matthew 10:21.

But a sword - The sword is an instrument of death, and to send a sword is the same as to produce hostility and war.

34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword—strife, discord, conflict; deadly opposition between eternally hostile principles, penetrating into and rending asunder the dearest ties. See Poole on "Matthew 10:35". Think not ye that I am come to send peace on earth,.... The Jews had a notion of great outward peace and prosperity in the days of the Messiah; which was grounded on several prophecies of the Old Testament, not rightly understood by them; and the disciples of Christ had imbibed the same notion: wherefore our Lord thought fit to let them know the contrary; and that they must not expect outward ease and quiet, and worldly tranquillity would attend their ministry; for though he came to be a peace maker between God and sinners, by the blood of his cross; and was both the author and donor of spiritual peace to his people; and the Gospel he brought with him, and sent them to preach, was the Gospel of peace; which, accompanied with his power, would produce peace in the consciences of men, and be the means of cultivating and maintaining peace among the saints; yet "peace on earth" in a temporal sense, whether in the world in general, or in Judea in particular, must not be expected as the consequence of his coming; so far from it, that he subjoins,

I came, not to send peace, but a sword. By the "sword" may be meant the Gospel, which is the means of dividing and separating the people of Christ from the men of the world, and from their principles and practices, and one relation from another; as also of divisions, discords, and persecutions arising from it: not that it was the intention and design of Christ, in coming into the world, to foment and encourage such things; but this, through the malice and wickedness of men, was eventually the effect and consequence of his coming; see Luke 12:51 where, instead of a "sword", it is "division"; because the sword divides asunder, as does the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

{8} Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

(8) Civil dissentions follow the preaching of the gospel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 10:34. Ἦλθον βαλεῖν] The telic style of expression is not only rhetorical, indicating that the result is unavoidable, but what Jesus expresses is a purpose,—not the final design of His coming, but an intermediate purpose,—in seeing clearly presented to His view the reciprocally hostile excitement as a necessary transition, which He therefore, in keeping with His destiny as Messiah, must be sent first of all to bring forth.

βαλεῖν] an instance of zeugma, in which the thought of a sword is the predominant one, after which the verb also spontaneously suggested itself for εἰρήνην, and all the more naturally the more sudden and powerful was to be the excitement of men’s minds, which He, instead of a comfortable peace, was to bring about.Matthew 10:34-39. The whole foregoing discourse, by its announcements and consolations, implies that dread experiences are in store for the apostles of the faith. To the inexperienced the question might naturally suggest itself, why? Can the new religion not propagate itself quietly and peaceably? Jesus meets the question of the surprised disciple with a decided negative.34. not to send peace, but a sword] The contrast is rather between union and division than between peace and war. The “sifting” of Christ causes division or perplexity, and conflict of opinion, both in the thoughts of the individual and between man and man. The same idea is illustrated by the husbandman’s fan, the refiner’s fire, and the shepherd’s separation of his flocks. History shews that religion has been the great separating influence in the world.Matthew 10:34. Εἰρήνην, peace) sc. of the righteous with the wicked.—μάχαιραν, a sword) i.e., violent division (called διαμερισμὸν in Luke 12:51; Luke 22:36), proceeding from the discord of families, mentioned in Matthew 10:35, to wars and murders.Verses 34-39. - Fellowship with me will involve separation from the dearest upon earth, yet the reward is great. (Cf. ver. 5, note.) The progress of thought in these verses seems to be as follows: Do not be surprised at the contradiction that appears between my teaching and the immediate result; I allowed for this when I began my work (ver. 34). There will, indeed, be separation in the closest earthly ties (vers. 35, 36). But my claims are paramount (vers. 37, 38). And on your relation to them depends everything hereafter (ver. 39). Verse 34. - Parallel passage: Luke 12:51. Think not. Christ here removes another mistaken opinion (Matthew 5:17, note). There the mistake was about his relation to the Law; here about the immediate result of his coming. The Prince of Peace did not come to cast in peace as something from outside. It would show itself eventually, but from within outwards. That which he cast from without was fire (Luke 12:49), a sword (infra). Chrysostom ('Hem.,' 35.) points out, among other illustrations, that the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel was better than the peace which preceded it, and itself produced a better peace. That I am come; that I came (Revised Version); cf. further, Matthew 5:17, note. To send peace (βαλεῖν εἰρήνην). The verb was probably chosen because in the other form of the utterance Christ had already said πῦρ βαλεῖν, where the figure is of throwing a firebrand (Luke 12:49). By a natural transition, that phrase led to the thought of "throwing" peace or a sword. St. Luke, on the contrary, softened the metaphor to δοῦναι. On (the, Revised Version) earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. To send (βαλεῖν)

Lit., to throw or cast. By this word the expectancy of the disciples is dramatically pictured, as if he represented them as eagerly looking up for peace as something to be flung down upon the earth from heaven. Dr. Morison gives the picture thus: "All are on tiptoe of expectation. What is it that is about to happen? Is it the reign of peace that is just about to be inaugurated and consummated? Is there henceforth to be only unity and amity? As they muse and debate, lo! a sword is flung into the midst."

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