|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:41-53 All are to take to themselves what Christ says in his word, and to inquire concerning it. No one is left so ignorant as not to know many things to be wrong which he does, and many things to be right which he neglects; therefore all are without excuse in their sin. The bringing in the gospel dispensation would occasion desolations. Not that this would be the tendency of Christ's religion, which is pure, peaceable, and loving; but the effect of its being contrary to men's pride and lusts. There was to be a wide publication of the gospel. But before that took place, Christ had a baptism to be baptized with, far different from that of water and the Holy Spirit. He must endure sufferings and death. It agreed not with his plan to preach the gospel more widely, till this baptism was completed. We should be zealous in making known the truth, for though divisions will be stirred up, and a man's own household may be his foes, yet sinners will be converted, and God will be glorified.
Verse 51. - Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division. But the Master quickly leaves himself and his own sad forebodings. He puts by for a season his own holy impatience and continues his warnings. "I have been dwelling on the troublous times quickly coming on. Do not deceive yourselves, my disciples; the great change about to be inaugurated will only be carried out in war and by divisions in the individual house as in the nation. I bring not peace, but a sword, remember." And then follows a curious picture of a home torn asunder by the conflict of thought which would spring up as the result of the cross and of the preaching of the cross.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?.... To set up a temporal kingdom, in great pomp, and outward peace and tranquility? Christ came to make peace with God for men, and to give the Gospel of peace, and spiritual and eternal peace to men; but not external peace, especially that, which is not consistent with the preservation of truth:
I tell you, nay; whatever suppositions you have made, or whatever notions you have entertained, I solemnly affirm, and you may depend upon it, I am not come into the world on any such account, as to establish outward peace among men;
but rather division; so he calls the Gospel, which in Matthew is styled a "sword"; and the Ethiopic version seems to have read both here, since it renders it, "but a sword that I may divide": the Gospel is the sword of the Spirit, which divides asunder soul and Spirit, and separates a man from his former principles and practices; and sets men apart from one another, even the nearest relations, at the greatest distance; and is, through the sin of man, the occasion of great contention, discord, and division.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
51. peace … ? Nay, &c.—the reverse of peace, in the first instance. (See on Mt 10:34-36.) The connection of all this with the foregoing warnings about hypocrisy, covetousness, and watchfulness, is deeply solemn: "My conflict hasten apace; Mine over, yours begins; and then, let the servants tread in their Master's steps, uttering their testimony entire and fearless, neither loving nor dreading the world, anticipating awful wrenches of the dearest ties in life, but looking forward, as I do, to the completion of their testimony, when, reaching the haven after the tempest, they shall enter into the joy of their Lord."
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