Kato Mivule | August 9, 2011
What did Jesus Christ teach about peace, what did He actually mean when He taught about being a peacemaker? Is there a contradiction between Matthew 5:9 and Matthew 10:34-35? Did Jesus Christ advocate Christian militant-ism and violence as some claim?
Did Jesus Christ advocate surrender of one's convictions as others claim? A look at the New Testament will help us get the proper context. Unfortunately, the English language has fewer words for Peace than say the Greek language and it is here that confusion has come. At some point 'peace' is used to mean silence, at other times, 'peace' is used to mean peace, or quietness of spirit.
However, does this mean that Jesus Christ wanted His disciples to become sycophants and folks without any convictions? Did Jesus Christ desire His followers to use the sword and violence to achieve their goals? In Matthew 5:9, we see Jesus Christ call on His disciples to be peace makers...
Matthew 5:9 KJV Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
What did Jesus Christ mean when He said, blessed are the peacemakers? Of course, Jesus Christ desired that His disciples make it a goal to advocate for peace at all time. Was Jesus Christ then oblivious to the fact that ideal peace was not attainable in this age? Was Jesus Christ advocating for a utopian peace in this troublesome world?
I believe the answer is no. Jesus Christ was issuing a command to His followers to be people of peace in a world full of wars, hate, and turmoil. As peacemakers, we bare the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of peace. In other words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a Gospel of violence, threats, and war but one of peace, first with God of Heaven through Jesus Christ, and peace with each other.
The Greek word used for 'peacemaker' is 'eirenopoios', meaning peaceable, peacemaker, pacificatory...
G1518, eirēnopoios, i-ray-nop-oy-os', From G1518 and G4160; pacificatory, that is, (subjectively) peaceable: - peacemaker.
So, was Jesus Christ a pacifist? The term pacifist today seems to point to individuals who have no convictions and are complete sycophants. However, this was not the case with Jesus Christ. One thing for sure is that Jesus Christ was none violent and did not advocate at anytime hate, retribution, and revenge. This did not mean that Jesus Christ never offered His opinion on divisive issues. As a matter of fact Jesus Christ did not shy away in offering His very strong opinion to the religious leaders of His day, and in doing so, He clearly stated, as if to contradict Himself, that He came not to “bring peace but a sword”.
Matthew 10:34-35 KJV Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Some Christians in history mistook this verse to mean that Jesus Christ advocated for violence. The context is that even while we are called to be peacemakers and peaceable people, we are not to be sycophants and a people without conviction, views, or opinions. In other words, the message of Jesus Christ was going to go against the convictions, views, opinions that were held in high esteem by the religious leaders during that time, even to this day. Father and son would have differing opinions, on the subject, separated in belief, views, opinion, and conviction by what Jesus Christ taught.
However, this was not a call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the sword. This was not a call to hate your family members just because you are a Christian. This was not a call to hate those who differ in views, opinion, and convictions just because they are not Christian or they are Christians with differing views. Jesus Christ was acknowledging that His message would bring about dissent to the traditional held views. Yet even with dissent, let peace prevail, in other words, dissent peacefully.
The point is that you can be peaceable without letting go of your convictions. In other words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of peace and not hate, threats, and violence. Jesus Christ was not advocating for getting into agreement with everyone but agreeing to disagree peacefully without threats and violence.
Therefore, there is no contradiction between Matthew 5.9 in whereby Jesus Christ calls us to be peacemakers and Matthew 10:34-35 with Jesus Christ stating that He did not come to bring peace but a sword.
We are called to have peace with one another, this is one of the teachings of Jesus Christ, however, this is not a call for 'Christian sycophancy' and lack of reason, just to “keep the peace”.
Mark 9:50 KJV Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
We are reminded that the peace the Jesus Christ gives to us in not the temporal peace of this world that varies according to happenings but The Lord's eternal peace. In this world we shall always encounter many troubles but The Lord's peace should reign in our hearts.
John 14:27 KJV Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 16:33 KJV These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Therefore, even with those that we disagree, let us be instruments of peace towards them. Those that abuse and mistreat us, let us not repay evil with evil but rather good works and peace. This does not mean we agree or concur with their evil actions, at times we might require justice but let peace prevail and not revenge. Yes, in this troublesome world, we shall have enemies but even then, let us wish peace to them, feed them when hungry, and not revenge and retribution, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21 KJV Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Peter 3:9 KJV Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.