Did Jesus encourage strife and armed conflicts?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:34-39 NASB “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household. 37 “The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.  

Jesus instructs his apostles in Matthew 10:34-39 as they head out on a mission. He tells them, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I think this is a good example of scripture that needs context. If read without context it sounds like Jesus wants strife and conflict. Is that really what Jesus says? Let’s look at the text and why it needs context to prevent misunderstanding.

The 10th Chapter of Matthew is Jesus’ instructions to his Apostles as they prepare to go on a mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus gave them instructions and told them what to expect on this mission. Verses 34-39 take place within the context of Jesus reminding his disciples just what it means to be an apostle.

When Jesus tells them in verse thirty-four, “… I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…” is he not warning them that people may not act peacefully when they hear the Gospel the apostles preach? I don’t think Jesus is telling them to pick up a literal sword. If this were the case, why did Jesus tell Peter in  Matthew 25:52, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword…”  Jesus here says he is not bringing peace, but a sward. Is it not clear he is using the same metaphor we find in Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

There is no compromise when it comes to preaching the Gospel. God’s message supersedes even family members who may get upset. Being an apostle means nothing is more important than the Gospel, and in verse 39 Jesus tells his apostles, “…the one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on my account will find it”

I think it’s clear that Jesus is not saying he want’s strife, but that the apostles should expect it if they preach the Gospel without compromise. Memorizing verses from the Bible is good.  But without context, verses like these could sound as if they are advocating something vastly different from what the author intended.

Also on the web:

Did God blind a man just to teach a lesson?

John 9:2-3 2 NASB And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  

John 9:2-3 tells us Jesus’ disciples asked him who’s sin caused a man to be blind, his or his parents.  They were convinced that sin from one or the other caused the blindness.  Jesus said neither, but the man’s blindness, “was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Does this mean that God blinded the man at birth so that years later Jesus could work a miracle? How would this be fair? I propose that this encounter may not be as it seems if a reader does a fast reading with a Western mindset.

Children who are born blind suffer as a result of a world that became corrupt because of sin; something that happened before their birth or their parent’s birth. Sin corrupted the world before either one arrived on Earth. The apostles didn’t ask if the child’s blindness was caused by sin.  They asked if the cause was his or his parent’s sin. Jesus spoke directly to their question; that is, if it was his or his parent’s sin that cause the blindness. But then he went a little further. He told them a purpose the man’s blindness served: So that God might be displayed in him.  Does this mean God blinded the man at birth so Jesus could work a miracle?  That is one way this sentence could be understood. But if I look at this without a Western cause-and-effect mindset, it could also be understood that Jesus answered their question and went on to answer a more important question than the one they asked.  They seemed to be more interested in knowing why the man was blind rather than helping him.  But as for Jesus, he told them what good could come out of this, then he healed the man. I am not saying my understanding of these verses are Gospel.  I am not a prophet, and I might be wrong. God may have allowed this man to be blind so that good could be worked through his healing. He may have given a purpose to this man’s blindness before he was born.  All we can do is speculate. But no matter why he was blind, is this fair?   

Life is very short, and it not fair. The Bible never claims that life is fair. But this life is not our destination. Life certainly was not fair to the blind man who did nothing to cause his own blindness. Life was also very unfair to Jesus who did nothing to deserve a life of persecution and death by crucifixion. The Bible’s message is not fairness in this life, it’s Salvation for eternity.  And salvation is not a matter of fairness; it’s a matter of Grace and open to all who will accept it.

What are your thoughts?

Also on the web:

Does Matthew 7:1-2 tell me I should not judge the actions of others?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 7, 1-2 Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  

It could easily be argued that Matthew 7:12 is one of the most often misquoted New Testament verses. Judge not, so that you will not be judged. Doesn’t this mean we are never to judge? I can’t answer that question without knowing what you mean by judge. And the answer requires us to understand what Jesus meant by “judge.” I think the answer lies in the context in which Jesus made this statement.

Immediately after Jesus told us not to judge, he used a metaphor of removing a log from your own eye before looking at a spec in your neighbor’s eye. It seems to me he’s saying you are to judge, but you need to clean your own act up first. And there’s more. In Verse 15 & 16 he went on to say, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” Isn’t Jesus directly telling us to judge to judge the actions of the prophet. So, how do you reconcile this with the verses telling us not to judge?

I think it’s clear we are to judge the actions of others with one notable restriction. Notice I said judge the actions, not the individual. Only God knows a person’s heart. We can judge a person’s actions when they are contrary to God’s Word. We can see the chaos that surrounds a false prophet that signals they are not teaching God’s Word. Too be clear, when we tell a person they are doing something contrary to what we are told in scripture, they are judged by God’s Word, not by us. As for that notable restriction I mentioned earlier. We are not even to judge the actions of others when we have obvious sin in our lives. I say this because we are told to get rid of the log in our eye before looking for specs in the eyes of others.  

To wrap this all up, you can judge if you mean judging what a person’s actions by what God’s word says. But you are not the judge of them, that’s God’s place only. The scripture says, “for in the way you judge, you will be judged.” I’d rather be judged by God than by a human like me who cannot see a person’s heart. Is it not also true that you open yourself to judgement by others if you walk around with open sin in your own life while pointing fingers. What do you think that would do to your witness?

What are your thoughts about Judgement?

Also on the web:

John MacArthur: Judging Others: The Verse Pagans Love to Quote

Does Matthew 10:24-23 apply to me or is it talking about someone else?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:24-32

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Matthew records Jesus giving his apostles instructions as they get ready to preach to the lost children of the House of Israel.  Part of those instructions are recorded in Matthew 10:24-32.  Here we see Jesus telling his Apostles it will not be an easy road for them. Let’s take a close look at what else he said, and how we know his words have meaning for us today.

In verse 24, Jesus tells the apostles a, “…student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.” (Matt. 10:24 NIV) I believe Jesus is letting them know just how bad it’s going to get for them because in the next verse he says, “It is enough for the disciple that he may become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they insult the members of his household!”  It seems clear to me He’s telling them, if people accused Jesus of this, then the apostles can expect to be called the same, or even worse. This is what Jesus told his apostles, but how do we know these verses have meaning for us?

Jesus gave these instructions to his apostles as they were heading out to preach specifically to Jewish people. Our directive today is quite different; we are to preach to all. It is also true we are disciples, not apostles. A disciple is anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. An apostle is someone Jesus directly sent to preach. Jesus’ instructions here are clearly for his chosen apostles for a specific task. I think it’s reasonable to infer from these verses that we may face persecution, but we need to recognize that an inference from scripture is not scripture itself. I am not saying that no one today is persecuted; far from it.  My point is these verses are Jesus’ instructions to his apostles and they are told they WILL be persecuted. While we may experience persecution, we are not always going into places comparable to the places the apostles went. Today we do not always meet the kind of danger they faced. I would argue that it depends on where one goes to preach. In most countries today we are not likely to be handed over to the government for prosecution.

I think it’s important at this point to mention that the above text is from the New International Version, and it says a “student” is not above the teacher.  The NASB uses the word “disciple.” I think the word disciple, used in this context, tells us that the warning of persecution applies to us as disciples when we are in a similar situation; that is, when we present the Gospel to those who’s doctrine and authority are questioned by God’s Word. I hope my reasoning here shows just how much care we should use before saying “the Bible says” to assure we do not unknowingly add to it. This requires a close reading.

Jesus ended his set of instructions in verses 32-33 saying, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” I hope I don’t sound like I’m splitting hairs with this next question.   In this context, when Jesus says “Whoever,” does this mean to whoever the apostles spoke, or does this include anyone, including those to whom the apostles have not spoken? I think it is most likely talking about anyone who acknowledges, not just to whoever the apostles spoke, because of what we see in other scriptures. God demands acknowledgement. It doesn’t matter if we are speaking of Old or New Testament.  Proverbs tells us, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” In New Testament books like Luke we see Jesus telling people, “…everyone who confesses Me before people, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God; 9 but the one who denies Me before people will be denied before the angels of God.” Is it not clear that God demands confession before others?

Do his words apply to us?  I believe so. I also believe they should not be presented without context or we risk changing their meaning.  What are your thoughts?

The danger of out-of-context Bible verses

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:16-23 NASB

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves. 17 But be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.

“Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 10:16-23 tells us Jesus gave instructions to his disciples as he sent them to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He warned them they will face persecution and opposition; that they will be as sheep among wolves. I want to use these verses today to illustrate some important things about scripture reading.  Scripture must be understood within context, sometimes we have questions that require us to look at other books of the Bible, and it’s important to know the difference between inferring something inferred from the Bible and the Bible itself.

Let’s start with Context. It is important any time we read the Bible. It’s one of the reasons we should be careful accepting someone’s message based on a Bible verse without understanding the context of that verse.

Matthew tells us of Jesus giving instructions to the 12 apostles. Some of what he says in Matthew is clearly specific to the apostles only for the job they are about to do. I say this because Jesus told them when they preach, “Do not go on a road to Gentiles, and do not enter a city of Samaritans.” But after the apostles finished their mission, and after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus told them, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” The first instruction that the apostles not to preach to the Gentiles and Samaritans was meant for them, not me. It was also meant for them at a specific time for a specific purpose. Consider that the order not to preach to the Gentiles will contradict the second instruction to preach to everyone if the reader ignores context. There are well-meaning Christians who hear a scripture and make dogmatic statements based on it without taking time to understand its context. Some things, like Jesus’ telling the Apostles not to preach to the Gentiles, do not apply to you. What I’m saying is you must consider who is speaking to whom and for what reason or you can inadvertently add or subtract to God’s word. We are fortunate that there is more than one account because more than one apostle recorded what he saw. Sometimes the context of another apostle’s book sheds light on how a verse should be understood.

Consider Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ promise to his disciples that the Spirit of the Father will give them the words to say when they are called before rulers and authorities. Is this an instruction to the apostles only? Does this instruction apply to me? Matthew is speaking directly to the Apostles about the journey they are about to take, so I understand this to mean his words apply to them only. So, let’s look at what another apostle had to say and consider inferring from it.

One could say Luke cleared this up when he told a crowd, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” But again, he was speaking to a group at a specific time for a specific purpose.  I could infer from this that it applies to me because he was speaking to a crowd, but I can’t say the Bible tells me so because my inference could be mistaken. I see nothing wrong with inferring things from scripture as a guide as long as it is not presented as being scripture.

The message in Matthew’s writings is very relevant. It is important enough that we should use care to understand it beyond a superficial reading, and certainly not through snippets removed from context.  That’s a sure way to misunderstand any important writing.

What are your thoughts?

On the web:

CROSSWALK: What Should Pastors Know about Matthew 10?