As I read through the Bible, I will come across a verse that I've ready many times before, but never really thought about. This recently happened when a close friend pointed out a Bible verse from a book that we are reading together: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword," (Matt. 10:34).
But didn't Christ come to bring peace?
- "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).
- "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword," (Matt. 26:52).
- "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," (John 14:27).
- "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," (John 16:33).
- "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).
Or did He come to bring a sword?
- "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law," (Matt. 10:35).
- "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division," (Luke 12:51).
- "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one," (Luke 22:36).
- "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God," (Rev. 19:15).
Of course, these lists are not exhaustive; but the question remains, did Jesus Christ come to earth to bring peace or a sword? Let's read what Matthew Henry says about Matthew 10:34-35 (see the verses referenced above):
"These sufferings are here represented by a sword and a division. Think not that I am come to send peace, temporal peace and outward prosperity; they thought Christ came to give all his followers wealth and power in the world; "no," [sic] says Christ, "I did not come with a view to give them peace; peace in heaven they may be sure of, but not peace on earth," Christ came to give us peace with God, peace with conscience, peace with our brethren, but in the world ye shall have tribulation. Note, They [sic] mistake the design of the gospel, who think their profession of it will secure them from, for it will certainly expose them to, [sic] trouble in this world. If all the world would receive Christ, there would then follow universal peace, but while there are and will be so many that reject him (and those not only the children of this world, but the seed of the serpent), the children of God, that are called out of the world, must expect to feel the fruits of their enmity."
So the answer is both. Believers will have the spiritual peace of being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, but we will also face the sword of hardships in our life as we continue to live here on earth.
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen," (Rev. 22:19-21, emphasis mine).