Scriptures are taken from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.
This scripture may seem to contradict the angels’ proclamation at the time of Jesus’s birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14, KJV) The result of God’s great plan of salvation will ultimately bring peace to all. In God's due time, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares… Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3)
Now, before Christ fully sets up His Kingdom on earth, His church is being prepared to reign with Him (Revelation 5:10; 20:6). They are to be developed in character, and their loyalty and faith are to be fully tested through trials. It is to our Lord’s sanctified disciples that the words in Matthew 10:34 are directed.
The Israelites in Jesus’s day were in expectation of the Messiah and a kingdom on earth. But they ignored the prophecies about Christ’s suffering (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22). Early in His ministry, our Lord taught His disciples that it would not be easy to follow Him. The verses following Matthew 10:34 reveal that the disciples should expect rejection and harsh treatment even from those closest to them; and He said (verse 38), “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Those who follow God’s word are warned, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). When we review history, we see God’s children were tortured, martyred, and attacked for believing and obeying the Bible. God’s word is “sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) and the truths therein have caused wars, hatred, and persecution for two thousand years.
Yet, as much as we should expect to “share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17), Jesus also offers the Christian a different kind of peace – “…My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, KJV) He promises His followers, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV) and “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5, KJV)
As the trouble in the world increases, in preparation for the setting up of His Kingdom, may we trust in His promises of peace – first to the church and, in due time, to the whole world.