Matthew 10:30, Jesus Came To Bring Division?

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but 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.

//Yesterday, I brought up this verse in a discussion of whether Jesus came to bring peace or tribulation. I lean toward peace, and promised to present my own interpretation of this verse.

To me, the awkward reference to “a sword” can only refer to this Old Testament passage:

And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. –Ezekiel 38:21

Jesus’ message is therefore eschatological, referring to the expected time of severe tribulation that was to precede an era of God’s rule. Citizens would turn on their own family in the chaos of those times. Then, God’s Messiah would step in and make things right. Thus, it is not Jesus wielding the sword, but one’s own family.

Indeed, when the Jews came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus against his “brother,” his fellow Jew. But Jesus told Peter to put his sword away. “Those who take the sword shall perish with the sword,” Jesus said. His way was a way of peace.

Futurists might interpret this eschatological claim differently than I do. In my understanding, Jesus’ arrival signaled a period of unrest, a climaxing turning point in history, but his ultimate purpose was the inauguration of God’s age of peace. A dozen or more verses in the New Testament affirm this understanding, and when Jesus appeared to the Twelve after his resurrection, his message–twice repeated in the Gospel of John–was “Peace be unto you.” The age of peace had arrived with the resurrection, when Jesus triumphed over violence to rise from the dead.

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