Thursday, September 8, 2011

Matthew 10:34-37 - What does Christ mean when He says, "I came not to send peace, but a sword"?

Matthew 10:34-37 reads: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword..." Interpreted the wrong way, one can take from this verse that Christ advocates war. This "ambiguous English translation confuses a result-clause (the plain statement of fact that the preaching of the gospel divides families) with a purpose-clause (that Christ came with the express wish and purpose to destroy families); and so a determined exegesis can twist this one verse into making the Prince of Peace an author of contention. Such an act is a clear demonstration not of logic or philology but of the spirit" ("If There Must Needs Be Offense," Hugh Nibley, Ensign, July 1971).

Christ "is not pleased, nor was it his purpose or design or intent to foreordain the condition [of war] that the world is in today," since wars come "not to fulfil the purposes of God, but the purposes of the nations of the earth in consequence of their wickedness" (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine [course of study for the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, 1970–71], vol. 1, p. 131.) Joseph Smith said, "When you find a spirit that wants bloodshed—murder, the same is not of God but of the devil" (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 358; King Follett Discourse.)

It is easy to justify bloodshed when looking at all the examples in the scriptures. But the reality is that the acts of warfare and bloodshed that are so prevalent in the scriptures and in the latter days are acts that are inevitable in order to fulfill prophecies and God's plan. It is the nature of men on the earth to fall into warfare, yet it is not God's will.

The "sword" can be defined as a dividing line between the righteous and the wicked. The gospel may divide families, but that is not Christ's purpose. His purpose is to spread the gospel in order to unite families, but it is inevitable that some will choose to be divided. Let us choose the right side and stick with God. If we are ableto maintain His spirit by keeping His commandments, we will be saved.


  1. Thank you for that clarification that I didn't even know was in the scriptures. This honestly makes me feel like I need to study the life of Christ better. Thanks again. :)

  2. If you read more of the scriptures he also says if you loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: now that being said I personally believe he meant there would be a time where your own family would turn on each other and those who kept faith will be accepted in the kingdom of heaven. The Lord will test our faith in many ways.