Matthew 10:1-42 has become a controversial chapter of the New Testament solely on account of Matthew 10:34, which I’ll be tackling today. Though my want to discuss the chapter wouldn’t have been sparked if not for an informal chat with another online user here. Therefore they’re owed gratitude and respect due having helped perfect in part so imperfect and uncouth an opponent as me.
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Jesus choosing twelve apostles isn’t unintentional herein this passage, and although many are unaware the number twelve possessed (and yet possesses) great importance according to Jewish culture, for this Jesus’ choice of twelve apostles makes eminently more sense than some other choice, even being shown in ancient Jewish texts like the book of Numbers (Numbers 1:44). Additionally, when Christ offers authority so to expel impure spirits he doesn’t do so through calling upon the Father, rather Jesus believed men capable of casting out demonic forces in his name! (Luke 9:49-50).
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Christ Jesus remains steadfast with regards to his preaching ministry throughout Matthew 10:2-8, doing so not because he didn’t have want for to rescue the Gentiles, rather he’d been instructed by the Father to deliver first the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That can be found through the narrative of Matthew 15:21-28.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Perverting Matthew 10:34 can’t be plainly done after having read Matthew 10:16-20, unfortunately there’s an overabundance of people who’re well-content ignoring that which Christian scripture promotes so to save themselves from having to jettison their bogus notions of Jesus. What’s more Matthew 10:17-18 appears too prophetic to be of anything other than authentic Christian martyrdom, owing to the fact that they mention of Jesus’ followers being by their countrymen stoned (Acts 7:59), and judicially murdered (2 Timothy 4 6-8).
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
God’s anointed had long been anticipated, however when Daniel 9:24-27 predicted an actual date in which to herald their Saviour’s arrival the Jewish people had become more expectant than ever before, with most believing the Messiah an unstoppable champion who catering to their fantasy would throw off their oppressors in whatever fashion they’d appear as. Yet picture how great the scandal, and how unconscionable the crime when on this so-called Messiah is charged with criminal conduct, blasphemy even! He’s next killed as a common criminal, and due being hung upon a tree this Messiah above all other Messianic pretenders was most certainly under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23). This man had suffered an unmatched disgrace according to Jewish culture, meaning whosoever yet dared to follow this Jesus would be set against his father, suchlike how Matthew 10:21 rightly depicts. Although so un-Jewish an outcome wasn’t possible after Christ’s ignominious death, nor would it have happened without Jesus’ radical claims being vindicated by an authority over that of the Jewish high court. That vindicating authority was God almighty (Matthew 28:1-10).
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.34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Owing to an accurate reading we can now see how anyone who’s hoping to retain their credibility can’t so badly misinterpret Matthew 10:34 as to insert an alien, violent meaning therein. Additionally, Matthew 10:35-36, which follows directly after Matthew 10:34, are both in reference to Micah 7:5-6, Micah 7:5-6 reads: “Do not trust a neighbour; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips. 6 For a son dishonours his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.” Due having read Micah we’re privileged with an in-depth understanding of Matthew 10:34, an understanding which does not facilitate an interpretation of violence.
Even greater an understanding can be retrieved through John 21:18-19. Which when read reads like so: 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” Rereading you’ll notice how Jesus’ words of follow me are present both amidst Matthew 10:38 and John 21:19, which means both are alluding not to death and violence, but life won through self sacrifice. Can I get an amen to that?
― T. C. M