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Matthew 10:34

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Think not that I am come to send peace, etc. - The meaning of this difficult passage will be plain, when we consider the import of the word peace, and the expectation of the Jews. I have already had occasion to remark, ( Matthew 10:12;), that the word שלום shalom, rendered by the Greeks ειρηνη, was used among the Hebrews to express all possible blessings, temporal and spiritual; but especially the former. The expectation of the Jews was, that, when the Messiah should come, all temporal prosperity should be accumulated on the land of Judea; therefore την γην, in this verse, should not be translated the earth, but this land. The import of our Lord's teaching here is this, Do not imagine, as the Jews in general vainly do, that I am come to send forth, (βαλλειν ), by forcing out the Roman power, that temporal prosperity which they long for; I am not come for this purpose, but to send forth (βαλλειν ) the Roman sword, to cut off a disobedient and rebellious nation, the cup of whose iniquity is already full, and whose crimes cry aloud for speedy vengeance. See also on Luke 12:49; (note). From the time they rejected the Messiah, they were a prey to the most cruel and destructive factions; they employed their time in butchering one another, till the Roman sword was unsheathed against them, and desolated the land.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 34-36

Think not that I am come … - This is taken from Micah 7:6. Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention, for he was the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:6; Luke 2:14; but he means to say that such would be one of the effects of his coming. One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments. Then his religion will produce universal peace. Compare the notes at Matthew 10:21.

But a sword - The sword is an instrument of death, and to send a sword is the same as to produce hostility and war.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 496

Do not flatter yourselves that if you should yield the truth all obstacles to your acquiring property would be removed. Satan tells you this; it is his sophistry. If God's blessing rests upon you because you surrender all to Him, you will prosper. If you turn from God, He will turn from you. His hand can scatter faster than you can gather. “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” 2T 496.1

You, my dear sister, need a thorough conversion to the truth, which shall slay self. Cannot you trust in God? Please read Matthew 10:25-40. Please read also, with a prayerful heart, Matthew 6:24-34. Let these words impress your heart: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” The better life is here referred to. By the body is meant the inward adorning, which makes sinful mortals, possessing the meekness and righteousness of Christ, valuable in His sight, as was Enoch, and entitles them to receive the finishing touch of immortality. Our Saviour refers us to the fowls of the air, which sow not, neither reap, nor gather into barns, yet their heavenly Father feedeth them. Then He says: “Are ye not much better than they? ... And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” These lilies, in their simplicity and innocence, meet the mind of God better than Solomon in his costly decorations yet destitute of the heavenly adorning. “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Can you not trust in your heavenly Father? Can you not rest upon His gracious promise? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Precious promise! Can we not rely upon it? Can we not have implicit trust, knowing that He is faithful who hath promised? I entreat you to let your trembling faith again grasp the promises of God. Bear your whole weight upon them with unwavering faith; for they will not, they cannot, fail. 2T 496.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 84

Shortly before His crucifixion Christ had bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. “Peace I leave with you,” He said, “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. This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity to the world. Christ never purchased peace by compromise with evil. The peace that Christ left His disciples is internal rather than external and was ever to remain with His witnesses through strife and contention. AA 84.1

Christ said of Himself, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. The Prince of Peace, He was yet the cause of division. He who came to proclaim glad tidings and to create hope and joy in the hearts of the children of men, opened a controversy that burns deep and arouses intense passion in the human heart. And He warns His followers, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” “They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake.” “Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” John 16:33; Luke 21:12, 16. AA 84.2

This prophecy has been fulfilled in a marked manner. Every indignity, reproach, and cruelty that Satan could instigate human hearts to devise, has been visited upon the followers of Jesus. And it will be again fulfilled in a marked manner; for the carnal heart is still at enmity with the law of God, and will not be subject to its commands. The world is no more in harmony with the principles of Christ today than it was in the days of the apostles. The same hatred that prompted the cry, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” the same hatred that led to the persecution of the disciples, still works in the children of disobedience. The same spirit which in the Dark Ages consigned men and women to prison, to exile, and to death, which conceived the exquisite torture of the Inquisition, which planned and executed the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and which kindled the fires of Smithfield, is still at work with malignant energy in unregenerate hearts. The history of truth has ever been the record of a struggle between right and wrong. The proclamation of the gospel has ever been carried forward in this world in the face of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering. AA 84.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 357

Jesus continues: As you confess Me before men, so I will confess you before God and the holy angels. You are to be My witnesses upon earth, channels through which My grace can flow for the healing of the world. So I will be your representative in heaven. The Father beholds not your faulty character, but He sees you as clothed in My perfection. I am the medium through which Heaven's blessings shall come to you. And everyone who confesses Me by sharing My sacrifice for the lost shall be confessed as a sharer in the glory and joy of the redeemed. DA 357.1

He who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in him. He cannot communicate that which he has not received. The disciples might speak fluently on doctrines, they might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless they possessed Christlike meekness and love, they were not confessing Him. A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ would deny Him, whatever the profession. Men may deny Christ by evilspeaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind. They may deny Him by shunning life's burdens, by the pursuit of sinful pleasure. They may deny Him by conforming to the world, by uncourteous behavior, by the love of their own opinions, by justifying self, by cherishing doubt, borrowing trouble, and dwelling in darkness. In all these ways they declare that Christ is not in them. And “whosoever shall deny Me before men,” He says, “him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” DA 357.2

The Saviour bade His disciples not to hope that the world's enmity to the gospel would be overcome, and that after a time its opposition would cease. He said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” This creating of strife is not the effect of the gospel, but the result of opposition to it. Of all persecution the hardest to bear is variance in the home, the estrangement of dearest earthly friends. But Jesus declares, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.” DA 357.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 46

Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God's professed people. There is an alarming indifference in regard to the doctrines which are the pillars of the Christian faith. The opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, these are not of vital importance. This degeneracy is strengthening the hands of the agents of Satan, so that false theories and fatal delusions which the faithful in ages past imperiled their lives to resist and expose, are now regarded with favor by thousands who claim to be followers of Christ. GC 46.1

The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people. Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a continual reproof that disturbed the sinner's peace. Though few in numbers, without wealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evildoers wherever their character and doctrines were known. Therefore they were hated by the wicked, even as Abel was hated by the ungodly Cain. For the same reason that Cain slew Abel, did those who sought to throw off the restraint of the Holy Spirit, put to death God's people. It was for the same reason that the Jews rejected and crucified the Saviour—because the purity and holiness of His character was a constant rebuke to their selfishness and corruption. From the days of Christ until now His faithful disciples have excited the hatred and opposition of those who love and follow the ways of sin. GC 46.2

How, then, can the gospel be called a message of peace? When Isaiah foretold the birth of the Messiah, he ascribed to Him the title, “Prince of Peace.” When angels announced to the shepherds that Christ was born, they sang above the plains of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. There is a seeming contradiction between these prophetic declarations and the words of Christ: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. But, rightly understood, the two are in perfect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is a system which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony, and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ's bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns their sins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge upon them its just and holy claims. It is in this sense—because the exalted truths it brings occasion hatred and strife—that the gospel is called a sword. GC 46.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 126

Luther saw the danger of exalting human theories above the word of God. He fearlessly attacked the speculative infidelity of the schoolmen and opposed the philosophy and theology which had so long held a controlling influence upon the people. He denounced such studies as not only worthless but pernicious, and sought to turn the minds of his hearers from the sophistries of philosophers and theologians to the eternal truths set forth by prophets and apostles. GC 126.1

Precious was the message which he bore to the eager crowds that hung upon his words. Never before had such teachings fallen upon their ears. The glad tidings of a Saviour's love, the assurance of pardon and peace through His atoning blood, rejoiced their hearts and inspired within them an immortal hope. At Wittenberg a light was kindled whose rays should extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, and which was to increase in brightness to the close of time. GC 126.2

But light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth and error there is an irrepressible conflict. To uphold and defend the one is to attack and overthrow the other. Our Saviour Himself declared: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. Said Luther, a few years after the opening of the Reformation: “God does not guide me, He pushes me forward. He carries me away. I am not master of myself. I desire to live in repose; but I am thrown into the midst of tumults and revolutions.”—D'Aubigne, b. 5, ch. 2. He was now about to be urged into the contest. GC 126.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 159

“Yet I am but a mere man, and not God,” he continued; “I shall therefore defend myself as Christ did: ‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.’ ... By the mercy of God, I conjure you, most serene emperor, and you, most illustrious princes, and all men of every degree, to prove from the writings of the prophets and apostles that I have erred. As soon as I am convinced of this, I will retract every error, and be the first to lay hold of my books and throw them into the fire. GC 159.1

“What I have just said plainly shows, I hope, that I have carefully weighed and considered the dangers to which I expose myself; but far from being dismayed, I rejoice to see that the gospel is now, as in former times, a cause of trouble and dissension. This is the character, this is the destiny, of the word of God. ‘I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword,’ said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and terrible in His counsels; beware lest, by presuming to quench dissensions, you should persecute the holy word of God, and draw down upon yourselves a frightful deluge of insurmountable dangers, of present disasters, and eternal desolation.... I might quote many examples from the oracles of God. I might speak of the Pharaohs, the kings of Babylon, and those of Israel, whose labors never more effectually contributed to their own destruction than when they sought by counsels, to all appearance most wise, to strengthen their dominion. ‘God removeth mountains, and they know it not.’”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8. GC 159.2

Luther had spoken in German; he was now requested to repeat the same words in Latin. Though exhausted by the previous effort, he complied, and again delivered his speech, with the same clearness and energy as at the first. God's providence directed in this matter. The minds of many of the princes were so blinded by error and superstition that at the first delivery they did not see the force of Luther's reasoning; but the repetition enabled them to perceive clearly the points presented. GC 159.3

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 328.3

Though he bore the title of Prince of Peace, Christ said of Himself, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34.... The Prince of Peace, He was yet the cause of division. OHC 328.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1089

Jesus knew that He could do the scribes and Pharisees no good, unless they would empty themselves of self-importance. He chose new bottles for His new wine of doctrine, and made fishermen and unlearned believers the heralds of His truth to the world. And yet, though His doctrine seemed new to the people, it was in fact not a new doctrine, but the revelation of the significance of that which had been taught from the beginning. It was His design that His disciples should take the plain, unadulterated truth for the guide of their life. They were not to add to His words, or give a forced meaning to His utterances. They were not to put a mystical interpretation upon the plain teaching of the Scriptures, and draw from theological stores to build up some man-made theory. It was through putting a mystical meaning upon the plain words of God, that sacred and vital truths were made of little significance, while the theories of men were made prominent. It was in this way that men were led to teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and that they rejected the commandment of God, that they might keep their own tradition (The Review and Herald, June 2, 1896). 5BC 1089.1

34. See EGW on ch. 12:24-32. 5BC 1089.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 261

In order to be a truly successful minister, one must wholly consecrate himself to the work of saving souls. It is highly essential that he should be closely united with Christ, seeking continual counsel from Him and depending upon His aid. Some fail of success because they trust to the strength of argument alone and do not cry earnestly to God for His wisdom to direct them and His grace to sanctify their efforts. Long discourses and tedious prayers are positively injurious to a religious interest and fail to carry conviction to the consciences of the people. This propensity for speechmaking frequently dampens a religious interest that might have produced great results. 4T 261.1

The true ambassador of Christ is in perfect union with Him whom he represents, and his engrossing object is the salvation of souls. The wealth of earth dwindles into insignificance when compared with the worth of a single soul for whom our Lord and Master died. He who weigheth the hills in scales and the mountains in a balance regards a human soul as of infinite value. 4T 261.2

In the work of the ministry there are battles to fight and victories to gain. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth,” said Christ, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” The opening labors of the Christian church were attended with hardships and bitter griefs, and the successors of the early apostles find that they must meet with trials similar to theirs; privations, calumny, and every species of opposition meet them in their labors. They must be men of stanch moral courage, and of spiritual muscle. 4T 261.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 251.5

There are no compromises in the Word of God for those who conform to the world. The Son of God has manifested that He might draw all men unto Him, but He came not to lull the world to sleep, not to send peace, but a sword. The followers of Christ must walk in the light of His glorious example, and at whatever sacrifice of ease or selfish indulgence, at whatever cost of labor or sufferings, we must maintain the constant battle with self and exalt the gospel standard.—Letter 49a, August 30, 1878. TDG 251.5

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 220.1

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34. UL 220.1

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 328.2

Shortly before His crucifixion Christ bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace.... This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity with the world. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without will be wars and fightings, through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those who claim to be friends. The peace of Christ is not to banish division, but it is to remain amid strife and division. OHC 328.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 83

He “that forsaketh not all that he hath,” says Jesus, “cannot be My disciple.” Whatever shall divert the affections from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. Its golden chain binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. These are Satan's snares, set for unwary feet. But these slavish bands must be broken; the flesh must be crucified with the affections and lusts. We cannot be half the Lord's and half the world's. We are not God's people unless we are such entirely. Every weight, every besetting sin, must be laid aside. God's watchmen will not cry, “Peace, peace,” when God has not spoken peace. The voice of the faithful watchmen will be heard: “Go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” 5T 83.1

The church cannot measure herself by the world nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward. The church will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. If her moral character and spiritual state do not correspond with the benefits and blessings God has conferred upon her, she will be found wanting. The light has been shining clear and definite upon her pathway, and the light of 1882 calls her to an account. If her talents are unimproved, if her fruit is not perfect before God, if her light has become darkness, she is indeed found wanting. The knowledge of our state as God views it, seems to be hidden from us. We see, but perceive not; we hear, but do not understand; and we rest as unconcerned as if the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, rested upon our sanctuary. We profess to know God, and to believe the truth, but in works deny Him. Our deeds are directly adverse to the principles of truth and righteousness, by which we profess to be governed. 5T 83.2

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