I need help harmonizing a few passages. People use them to claim contradictions. I know the problem is not in the Bible but rather in the person’s approach.
Please help me learn to soundly harmonize Matthew 10:34 and Matthew 26:52. Matthew 10:34 says Jesus came to bring the sword. This passage seems to bother a lot of skeptics in general. They attempt to use it to portray the Lord in a bad light like he has come to go to war on us or something.
That one and one more. And no man hath ascended up to heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.- John 3:13 and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. - II Kings 2:11. Please help me with these.
I wish I could single-handedly destroy every alleged contradiction people use to turn the Bible against itself, but unfortunately, I am not that studied and learned. I have a long way to go. This site among some others helps a lot though. Thank you. Maybe you can post contradictions refuted section at some point.
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household'" (Matthew 10:34-36).
"And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"" (Matthew 26:52-54).
Whenever dealing with alleged contradictions the first thing you must do is read the larger context. It is very easy to pull a phrase or statement out of a larger context and make it appear to contradict another statement pulled from its context.
In Matthew 10:34-36, it should be clear that Jesus is not talking about a physical sword. He is using "sword" as a figurative representation of disagreements, shown by his further statements. Jesus is saying he is not here to appease everyone. He knows that the truth he brings is going to set those who accept the truth in opposition to those who reject it. Even though the words come from God, everyone will not accept the message (I Corinthians 2:14-15). Households will be violently divided against each other because of the message; a warning that is repeated several times (Matthew 10:35-36; Luke 21:16-17).
In Matthew 26:52-54 we are talking about a physical sword. Jesus' statement is that if people use physical violence to solve their problems then it will come back at them.
"The three disciples asked Jesus if they should strike in defense. Peter, however, didn’t wait for an answer but took the sword that he had – one of the two mentioned earlier – and managed to cut off the right ear of the High Priest’s slave, Malchus. Jesus scolded him and told him to put away his sword. Peter’s attack was imprudent. He was just one man against an armed mob. Trying to solve this problem with violence would only lead to his death. Besides, Jesus reminded him, that if Jesus wasn’t willing to be arrested he could call upon a greater defense. He could ask the Father and receive more than twelve legions of angels. In the Roman world, a legion consisted of 6,000 men. Jesus is stating that at a moments notice he could have more than 72,000 angels available to defend him. The number alone would overwhelm the number who came to arrest him. That they were angels and not mere men just emphasized the point. Power was on Jesus’ side, but he is choosing not to use it. He already had proven this when the mere mention of his name caused all to fall before him. If he did prevent the arrest, how could the prophecies be fulfilled? This is what the Father wanted done" [The Gospel Accounts: A Chronological Harmony].
So there isn't a conflict between the two uses of "sword."
"If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:12-13).
"Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (II Kings 2:11).
Jesus' point is not that no one has left for heaven. Every person who dies departs for the spiritual realm. "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). If you read the passage more carefully, Jesus is stating that no one has gone to heaven and returned to tell us about it. In contrast, Jesus has come from heaven and can give mankind a first-hand account of what is there and what God wants of men.
In the larger context, Jesus is discussing spiritual rebirth or conversion with Nicodemus.
"Though the conversion of believers originates in heaven, it takes place in this world. If Nicodemus cannot understand things of this world, Jesus states he certainly would not understand Jesus talking about heavenly matters. Only someone with the proper background, someone who is from heaven, can understand and explain heavenly concepts – that someone is Jesus himself. A visitor to heaven could not explain the realm as well as a native of heaven. Implicit in this statement is that Jesus existed prior to his coming to earth and that his true home is in heaven (Philippians 2:6-7). Though he is physically on earth, Jesus states that he is presently in heaven or, in other words, he is in communications with heaven even at this time (John 8:29)" [The Gospel Accounts: A Chronological Harmony].
Therefore, once again, the conflict comes from not understanding what a passage says. There is a conflict only between misunderstandings.
Wow! Thank the Lord. You were right on time with the quick, apologetic response. Again, I appreciate it. This will help me in my studies. God bless!