Matthew 10:34–36—Did Jesus come to bring peace or war?
Problem: Here Jesus affirms, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” However, elsewhere He is called “the prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6) who said, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27) and told His disciples to put away the sword, “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). So, which are we to believe? Did Jesus come to bring peace or the sword?
Solution: We must distinguish between the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth and the result of it. His design was to bring peace—peace with God for unbelievers (Rom. 5:1) and eventually, the peace of God for believers (Phil. 4:7). However, the immediate consequence of Christ’s coming was to divide those who were for Him and those who were against Him—the children of God from the children of this world. But, just as the goal of an amputation is to relieve pain, so the immediate effect is to inflict pain. Likewise, Christ’s ultimate mission is to bring peace, both to the human heart and to earth. Nonetheless, the immediate effect of His message was to divide those in the kingdom of God from those in the kingdom of Satan.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.