Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Christians Will Have Enemies - No Doubt . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 26 January 2010

o not suppose that I have come
to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace,
but a sword."
~ Matthew 10:34

Taken all by itself
and completely out of context, Matthew 10:34 surely implies that Jesus' mission on earth was one of violence -- that He was most certainly not a peacekeeper as so much theology likes to underscore.

In fact most of Matthew Chapter 10, finds Jesus proclaiming something seemingly and directly contrary to the message the angels proclaimed at His birth:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”
~ Luke 2:14

So were those angels misinformed? And what about Jesus' own words elsewhere in Scripture where He seems to agree with the angels and contradict Himself?

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubl
ed, neither let it be afraid"
~ John 14:27

. . . No sword here.

Remember the Book of Matthew was written to all of us, but in terms of a specific audience, the Book is addressed to the Jewish people of Jesus' day. The Jewish people were expecting a Messiah who would wage war. The use of the word sword certainly fits with the image of war.
Context is everything.

But it goes further than the context of speaking to a Jewish audience. Look at the verses immediately following this idea of "a sword" where Jesus quotes a passage from Micah 7:6 having to do with mistrust and betrayal within families:

"For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'"
~ Matthew 10:35-36

Sounds very much like a passage earlier in the same Chapter:

"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child;
children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death."
~ Matthew 10:21

It seems then that the "sword" that Jesus came to bring is symbolic of the division that will occur within families and friends (and even bodies of apparent believers) as a result of His ministry. So the use of the word "sword" is typical of Jesus' figurative way of speaking. He used a sharply definitive word to convey a very disturbing reality.
The reality being: Christians will have enemies.

Look at the parallel verse in the Gospel of Luke:

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
~ Luke 12:51
See how Luke changes the metaphor into a factual statement?

Throughout Scripture we are confronted with the reality that Christians will have enemies. There will be division. Jesus Himself caused much division and had many enemies.

(There's an understatement!)

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be despised and rejected by men some 700 years before His birth. Clearly the division was foreseen. (Isaiah 53:3)

While blessing Jesus as a very small child, Simeon prophesied that His life would indeed act as a "sword" and bring division in Israel. Clearly the division was forseen. (Luke 2:33-35)

Judas -- one of the Twelve Disciples -- betrayed Jesus. Clearly there was division between Jesus and one of His own followers.
(Mark 14:10-11)

The Apostle Paul instructed believers that if an unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, that we should "let them leave." Clearly being a believer can cause division in a marriage. (I Corinthians 7:15)

In the Apostle Paul's closing words to Timothy, he warns about a man named Demas who deserted him. Paul also mentions Alexander the copper-smith, a man who opposed the message of the Gospel and did great harm to Paul. Clearly there was division between Paul and those who knew him.
(II Timothy 4:9-18)

In Acts Chapter 5, Peter exposes the lies and piousness of Ananias and Sapphira. Clearly there was even great division in the body of Christians known as the Church. (Acts 5)

It becomes clear as we read the New Testament that Jesus considered it a given that the world would despise Him and his Church. He says, "The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7).

In other words, the world's contempt for Jesus, His Church and His followers stems not from simple differences, but from a huge chasm -- a chasm created by a refusal to accept that human ways (human thought, human behavior, human philosophies. . . ) are evil.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead
of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will
not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."
~ John 3:19-20

Christian Truth will never be popular with the world. It will always divide.

Yes. . . Jesus brought peace to earth. But that peace comes as an inner peace that is available only to those who put their full faith in Him as their Savior.

Otherwise. . . His presence and His message only bring conflict. No accurate reading of Scripture can conclude anything different.

The coming of Christ did not bring the peace the Jews had hoped for. Instead it brought even greater conflict because the presence of Truth causes those who deny it to become even more enraged and evil.

Wishing and hoping for world peace is a ridiculous, hopeless and pointless task. Sin is the dominant force on this earth. The Bible tells us so. Scripturally speaking, "Peace on Earth" is reserved only for those who surrender to Him and live according to His will.

The Christian will make enemies. No doubt.

". . . but if to do the right, and to believe the true,
should cause him to lose every earthly friend,
he will count it but a small loss,
since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly,
and reveal Himself to him more graciously than ever. . . .

"Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment."
~Charles H. Spurgeon

~ Esthermay V. Bentley-Goossen
© 2010 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife



Debbie said...

Esthermay, how well written your post was today and so true! I'm glad you chose this Scripture as our quote for "In Other Words". It's all about context!

I hear so many people speak of peace in this world but I so agree with you. The only peace we can truly seek is peace with God and that is offered only to us through Jesus. Yes, Jesus came to bring peace but peace between God and man. And oh how thankful I am for that peace that passes all understanding.

I loved writing on this Scripture verse today. I've walked this path of strife and conflict with loved ones when I began to truly walk with Jesus. It made such a difference in my life choices when I opened my heart and gave Him my all. People couldn't help but notice the difference in me. And that at times brings conflict.

But God ...is so good and faithful. My theme for 2010 is trust and obey and my verses are Philippians 4:6-7. So I pray about everything, including loved ones who don't yet know Him. And I do have a peace within. And I praise Him and give all the glory to Him.

Thank you for hosting us today Esthermay.

Blessings and love,

MiPa said...

So thankful that as I put on the armor of God I am able to experience his peace. Even more thankful that there will be a day when I live in the presence of his total peace.

Beautiful, well-thought post. Bless you for sharing and for hosting us this week!

Tami Boesiger said...

I praise God He gives us a weapon to fight evil and pray we learn to use it to defend the Truth, not tear each other down.

Karen said...

That was really good. It makes you think doesn't it. Thanks for hosting today.

shopannies said...

what a great post I joined in for the first time as well

vegaia said...

Peace on Earth???

Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then call for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

Check out this informative and inspiring video on why people choose vegan: http://veganvideo.org/

Also see Gary Yourofsky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bagt5L9wXGo

Betsy Markman said...

Woo hoo, preach it again, sister! I love your boldness and commitment to the truth here.

Barbara said...

Well written and AMEN!

Kate said...

Yes.well written. I read an article with a similar premise a few days ago but the author used so little Scripture that it really made you want to argue his whole idea. I so love the way you always bring in the rock solid back-up of God's Word on any issue.
I am so thankful that my life's path has taken me running to His Word for all the answers. Thankful that I understand what "peace on earth" really means.

Rachel M. said...

I love posts that explain the trickier concepts of Scripture--especially those often taken out of context. This is a great post that many people need to read.
Christians will have trouble, but the trouble is directed at their Savior, not at them personally. If more people understood that, they would be better equipped to handle the trouble when it comes. And it always does.
Thanks again!

Nic said...

You write so well! This week's was quote, admittedly a little more difficult to come up with a coherent post, but really drove some truths home once I got into it. It's so important to make the distinction between what everyone else hears and what Jesus actually said.

Thanks for hosting!

kalopoieo said...

Richer upon second reading :-)
& I agree with others who comment: this is exceptionally well-written.

The commitment to holding the authority of ALL Scripture as the ultimate source of our understanding gives us 20/20 vision. The difficult passages make clear sense when put in the context of the full authority of HIS WORD.

Excellent post, ESthermay.

micey said...

you are such a great teacher Esthermay!

Denise Hughes said...

I really appreciate the way you approach this verse in its context. That is so important to understanding its meaning! I love it when the quote for IOW is from Scripture. Thank you so much for hosting today, and for sharing the truth of God's Word.

Blessings to you,
Denise Hughes :)

Kathy S. said...

It all began with Cain and Able. For we are the fragrance of Christ to those who are perishing and those who are being saved. To one we are the kiss of death, the other the fragrance of life...

I love when Jesus dropped Paul and said "why do you persecute ME?" We are He, and all He endured we are a continuation of.

Another great post!

LittleWomen21 said...

Hmmm, I think commenter Vegaia missed the entire point of your post. Vegaia is upset about the effects of sin in the world, but hasn't found the one true solution yet, in Christ.

I really liked how you pointed out the different wording in the parallel passage of Luke where "division" is used instead of sword. I didn't catch that in my study.

Warren Baldwin said...

I like your application of this verse and how, like Denise said, you discuss it in context. The Gospel will cause division. And I think you are right, too, about the prospect for world peace. It will never be achieved through some of our political means. Only by addressing sin with the Gospel can we hope for any peace.

Barbara said...

Amen Esthermay, I love your writting and love the scripture you give, wonderful in all ways.

Carrie Cooper said...

Carrie @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

You've provided a biblically sound exposition on a verse that can easily be a stumbling stone for an unbeliever. Thank you for taking time to carefully study corresponding passages so we get the big picture. Great job!

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