Answering The Atheist
January 9, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 2
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Did Jesus come to bring peace? Some texts say that he did (Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Acts 10:36), while others say that he didn't (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51; Luke 22:36). Is there a contradiction?
It seems that the questioner does not acknowledge that there are different kinds of peace. There is peace between nations, peace between persons, and peace between man and God. If the principles of Christ were applied correctly throughout the world, there would be peace between nations. If the principles of Christ were applied correctly in all relationships, there would be peace between persons. When the principles of Christ are applied correctly in the life of a Christian, there is peace between man and God.
The three texts listed above which speak of the Lord coming to bring peace all deal with peace between man and God. The first pronounces peace upon "men of goodwill". The second, Jesus promises His peace to the disciples, which is not like the peace of the world. The third, Peter brought the gospel of peace to the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile converts to Christianity.
Though the gospel brings peace between man and God, it may result in trouble in other relationships. Tensions can result when one turns from the way of the world, but his family or friends do not. In the context of Luke 22:36, Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of the high priests' servant, and Jesus healed it (v 49-51). In a parallel, Matthew 26:52, Jesus taught, "...all who take the sword will perish by the sword." Did Jesus mean for His disciples to resort to violence by speaking about a sword in Luke 22:36? No, it appears to be the exact opposite, for when one of the disciples used the sword, Jesus countered his actions and rebuked him.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible