Many Christians think this verse contains a contradiction. There is no contradiction. It merely has the appearance of being a contradiction. Read the complete chapter of Matthew 10, not only verse 34, to see that verse in its context and the whole point explained.
- One thing is relationship between God and believers.
- Another thing is relationships between believers and non-believers.
What did he mean by “sword,” and how does this reconcile with His mission on earth? Understand this: Jesus was alerting His disciples that divisions within families and even violence will start when people decide to follow Jesus. Jewish people considered those who accepted Jesus as Savior as if they were dead, not longer loving them. That is the sword Jesus was talking about in that verse.
The reason Christ brings a sword is because He has invaded enemy territory. When Christ left His throne in heaven and came to the earth to be the Savior for mankind, Christ invaded the enemy territory of the evil one, who has so many of the world in captivity. And the fact is slave owners do not willingly give up their slaves. Think of the response of the Egyptians when Moses said, “Let my people go!” The Egyptians resisted mightily; they didn’t want to lose all that free labor. Think about the Old South. Do you think many of our forefathers were eager to let the slaves go? No! It was all about money, pride, and arrogance.
Well, it’s the same with the devil. When he has a person enslaved to sin, he fights like the dickens when someone tries to free that person from his captivity. That’s exactly why Christ came; to save those in captivity and to confront the evil one who enslaves people to sin. And that battle creates division – a division that is a natural byproduct in the war for your soul.