Meaning of verse for I have come to turn a man against his father...?

In the Bible passages Matthew 10:34 Jesus states:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For 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.
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

What is Jesus referring to in an everyday practical sense because this is confusing to me as I thought we were supposed to honour and mother and father and that Gods doesn’t like conflict and divisions between family members.
Isn’t this the very point of Christianity -to be loving and good to your family and even to “enemies”?

The church recognizes four senses of scripture, basically the literal sense and then the spiritual sense of which there are three types: allegory, moral, and eschatological (future sense).

Jesus’s words clearly seem to be spiritually oriented, and they fly in the face of the all-too-common tendency that people have of just following their parents, right or wrong. As you say, sometimes your family can be your enemy.

When called by Jesus, the apostles dropped their nets and followed him. Sometimes we have to do that, too. I had a tough time trying to talk my mother out of astrology, card reading, etc. She would say it was just for fun. Well, I had to work with that.


Haydock Commentary on Matthew 10:

Ver. 34. I came not to send, &c. That is, dissension and war, in order that the false peace of sinners may be destroyed, and that those who follow me, may differ in morals and affections from the followers of this world. The sword, therefore, is the gospel, which separates those parents who remain in infidelity, &c. &c. &c. M.

— It must be observed, that the gospel does not necessarily of itself produce dissensions amongst men, but that Christ foresaw, from the depravity of man’s heart, that dissensions would follow the propagation of the gospel. The blame of this, however, does not attach to the gospel itself, since those who embrace it, after their conversion sought more than ever to keep peace with all men, even with their most bitter persecutors; whilst those who rejected the gospel, forgetting even the ties of kindred, persecuted even to death the followers of Christ. A.

Send peace, &c. Indeed before Christ became man, there was no sword upon the earth; that is, the spirit had not to fight with so much violence against the flesh; but when he became man, he shewed us what things were of the flesh, and what of the spirit, and taught us to set these two at variance, by renouncing always those of the flesh, which constantly endeavour to get master over us, and follow the dictates of the spirit. Origen.

Ver. 35. I am come to set a man at variance, &c. Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming, and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him. Ch.

— Not that Christ came for this end, to cause divisions between father and son, &c. On the contrary, the Scriptures teach us to love every one without exception, and especially our kindred; but this is to shew, and foretell what would happen in the same families, when some of them were Christians. We have divers instances of the truth of this in the Lives of the Saints. Wi.

– No one can be connected with the earth and joined to heaven. Those who wish to enjoy the peace of heaven, must not be united to the lovers of this world by any connection. Baradius.

Ver. 36. And a man’s enemies, &c. He here alludes to our own passions of love, hatred, anger, envy, &c. which are our greatest enemies; and it is against these that we must make use of the sword our Saviour came to send amongst men. Baradius.

Wi. Witham.
Ch. Challoner,
M. Menochius

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Not really. The point of Christianity is to work your Salvation at all cost. Being nice is not one of the primary concerns. Watch the 10-minute video at the top this recent thread if you’d like to hear Father Mike (I think?) explain it:

As for Jesus’ words, it is quite common for severe conflict to arise within a family if one of the family members wishes to follow Him more whole-heartedly than the others. This problem is obvious when the rest of the family are atheists. It is perhaps more surprising that this also happens in Christian families, but it really does. When the majority in the family are entrenched in the feeling that Sunday worship and mealtime prayers are quite enough, and then one family member gets a strong call from the Holy Spirit and decides to throw their life around and make actual sacrifices, other family members tend to get quite displeased, some to the point of becoming hateful. The underlying problem is that Christians who limit their religious practice to relatively routine practices get uncomfortable when they are reminded by the actual conduct of a close relative that there is actually much more to the Christian Walk. They realize that they too could do, and could have done, much more, and that their lives too can be, and could have been, much more deeply Christian – and that tends to sting. The most hostile are probably lapsed Catholics, who once practiced but threw it away, and are then confronted with a family member who returns to the faith: that tends to cause of lot of anger.


Obeying God comes before family or friends to an infinite degree. In obeying the Gospel a person puts themselves at risk of disapproval from relatives. Jesus experienced this with this own relatives.


What is the much more that you are referring to please?

Also,regarding lapsed Catholics isn’t it more usually a case that they have become disillusioned due to scandals within the Catholic Church or bad experiences they had with the Catholic Church/a priest rather than rejecting it just for the sake of it?

Ie:Jesus spoke of the lukewarm (myself included in that catagory) being worse that the ‘fully disinterested’.

Isn’t it the reality though that most people will always follow the religion of their parents and culture?
Eg:most Muslims will always stay Muslim and wouldn’t even be open to hearing about Jesus/the bible.
Maybe some Muslims would think Jesus was the ‘truer way’ if they heard it,but realistically most won’t hear it because they aren’t open to hearing it.
I’d say the same goes for Christians and Hindus.Most people just stay the religion of their parents and some people wouldn’t even internally know why they believe what they they ‘believe’.

God being omnipotent would know this was the case that people would be like this so with this ‘in mind’ I don’t think he would set someone up (to be born) a Muslim knowing that realistically they have little chance to ‘go’ to heaven (according to Christianity) as most people stay the religion of the parents/upbringing long into adulthood (regardless whether truly religious/spiritual or just culturally).

Also,what I don’t understand is that Christians believe in sin and Muslims (and Jews) believe in sin but the difference being that Christians believe Christ atoned for humans sins.
Surely though,it couldn’t just be Jesus dying that is all Christianity is?
I mean doesn’t it involve more like becoming Christlike and not “just” Jesus dying for us?

Also,I don’t understand,why did God ‘send’ Jesus -a part of himself -to die for humans?
It is because God loves us or it is because to model humility (ie:if a guiltless God can self sacrifice for others than what more humans with sins and flaws should).
If it’s partly the second one,then I don’t quite get it as as far as I’m aware,in the muslims religion there is also focus on humility, charity and service to the lesser off.

There is so much. One could feel called to attend Mass every day, to say the Divine Liturgy, to attend novenas, to become active in church as a lector or altar server or something else, to attend bible studies, to become a lay evangelist, etc. etc. Or, going further, one could feel called to turn away from secular life and join an order, perhaps a cloistered one in a monastery. Or one could feel called by God to give away all their possessions. See Matthew 19:21: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Generally speaking there is no limit to the possible breadth, depth, and intensity of the Christian Path, and that’s something that those who limit their worship to Sunday service tend to lose sight of.

No. Typically the most stubborn lapsed Catholics are from the baby-boom generation, who lapsed before the scandals erupted. And typically they didn’t have any bad experiences with priests at all. (Fortunately they do admit that. Their problem with the Church is entirely different.)

Hardened atheists aren’t “fully disinterested”. Disinterested people ignore religion and go about their business. But hardened atheists don’t ignore the Faith, they attack it. They’re a category all by themselves, and aren’t exonerated by Christ’s observation about the “disinterested”.

As for you self-designating as “lukewarm”, that’s honest but I can tell you right now that luke-warmness won’t get fixed by answers you get on CAF. It requires a fresh influx of the Holy Spirit. So pray if you want that, and if you don’t, well, then you may continue asking around, but ultimately all answers will fizzle out in the luke-warmness that you admit is yours. Hope you find your way back to a more passionate engagement with the Faith.

Generally this is true in homogenous cultures where there is little exposure to other belief and value systems, but less so in cases where you have a melting pot of people. This is why Christianity immediately spread with young churches along the coastal cities of the Roman Empire in southern Europe and north Africa, but penetrating the faith into the heartland of Europe or Asia took centuries longer. It took over a thousand years to fully evangelize Europe. You see the same pattern occurring in missionary territories today, where Christianity is most active in the cosmopolitan areas. Because large percentages of Muslim and Hindus and even atheists (outside of North America/Europe) are born into poverty or a low economic class with minimal social mobility, there is little opportunity for them to be exposed to other belief systems, and they are conditioned into what their parents taught them.

It isn’t our place to say who goes to Heaven. God doesn’t love a child with non-Christian parents a single atom less than he loves a Christian child. Nor is there any guarantee that it won’t be the Christian who is condemned to hell, since being raised in the truth and accepting the truth are entirely different. We just need to have the courage to do what we are able to do and leave the rest to God.

Receiving God’s grace means being conformed into Christ.

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Personally I come from a Bosnian Croatian background living in Australia and the culture,family and religion in Balkan region is strongly intertwined and even government sometimes entwined with religion.
Eg:Apart from the rare exception,Serbs will usually stay Christian Orthodox,Bosnian Catholics will stay catholic,Bosnian Muslims will stay Muslim and Croatians will stay catholic.
A lot of younger people in Balkan are sometimes more becoming indifferent to religion altogether (like everywhere) or attend primarily for weddings etc but not often do people change from one religion to the other even though they are in a region exposed to catholic,orthodox,and islam religion and may have friends of the different religion.
I could see how what you mentioned may happen in the Middle East, but even living in multicultural Australia,Ive noticed that even here where there are numerous Church etc ‘options’ (sorry for poor description) the migrants from Muslim background (usually middle eastern but also some African and some Bosnian) usually stay their same religion.

I agree that no one knows who ‘goes’ to heaven and it could be the Christian one that doesn’t go to heaven and the other religion one does but what I don’t understand is the reality of a God making a Christianity religion that for the most part says a person needs to believe in Christ to go to heaven with full knowledge that many won’t be open to Christianity.
‘Evangelising’ isn’t really acceptable in Australian culture so if non believers are meant to be drawn to Christianity through Christians works of charity,humility and forgiveness-how does thus work when the Muslims do those things too so are they really a ‘witness’ to Christianity exclusively?

(Hope that makes sense)

I always understood it as the truth of Christ - Who He is & salvation through Him - would be such that it caused division even in families. I’ve seen this within my own family. We see it also in the culture with people looking at Christians as being arrogant & intolerant in believing that their beliefs would be absolute as opposed to anyone else’s beliefs,


I see how that’s perceived by some in society but why would it cause division in the persons family itself if they were all of the same religion?

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My parents married long ago & divorced when I was about 10. Religion was divisive in our household.

Dad was Baptist while living, & Mom remains Catholic. Usually there was very overt hostility towards her faith - even mistreatment for it on Dad’s part because he believed her beliefs to be wrong & tried to make her convert. She wouldn’t.

His view of truth did not mesh with hers. We have family members who’re Baptists, Pentacostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, AOG, LDS, etc…These all have their own understanding of truth, & disagreements have arisen over it. As far as they’re concerned, everybody else is wrong - but Catholics moreso.

I have a cousin who’s a Baptist minister who’d refused to conduct his sister’s wedding ceremony because she was at the time engaged to a non-Baptist Christian, & he wouldn’t marry her to a non- Baptist.

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I lived this reality.

For various reasons, as my family members fell away one by one (please understand that our family had been through a horribly painful season, and I am NOT assigning hero’s and villains here), I got subjected to more and more hateful remarks, spite emails and un-favoritism along with isolation.

The whole situation wound up pushing me into the arms of Jesus and to look very hard at my own sins and ways I may have contributed to everything, my own self-righteousness, and to learn to forgive …

And it’s an ongoing process


My family had a hard time with my entering the Church. We were all Nondenominational, & we all worshipped together. I was told that I was now disrupting that aspect of faith & family unity.

I was told that my conversion made my husband question his own beliefs & salvation. He told me that he’d converted to the Nondenominational church because of my testimony & sharing of beliefs, & now he didn’t know what to believe. I was angry hearing this because he talked as if his beliefs all hinged on me. It made me wonder if he’d ever actually thought his beliefs through & really made the faith his own. I felt like his faith rested all on me, & I was being attacked for it at times.


That may have been true, at least partially.

We all hope to grow into our own relationship with the Lord, but there are different levels of that relationship, and in some places we are relying more on the people around us, and less on our own knowledge and resources.

That all being said, it’s your husbands responsibility to own his faith formation .
And the story isn’t done until the day we die :slightly_smiling_face:


I do get that.

Thank you for understanding. :slight_smile:


I think that when we form a relationship, there are some unspoken agreements and assumptions we make, such as “the other person must never change”.
And this is rarely happening on a conscious level.
And you rock along for a while and things are reasonably comfortable, so if the other person makes a major change, like in their religion, it can feel like betrayal.
The person might not even be aware why they feel betrayed, you haven’t actually done anything wrong.

I think it’s in our wiring as people.


It means that faith does not necessarily unite people when some simply prefer to stay in a conflict with God. Jesus words are prophetic about what was going to happen to Christian followers in face of the Pagan world. If you read the lives of the Early Martyrs you will see that indeed while the Christians were respectful with their parents but not obedient to their beliefs the parents went as far as torture and death even against their own children to bring them back to idolatry. Read the life of St. Barbara for example.
Jesus here warns that faith is stronger than family ties and Christians will be up against a lot of hostility. The peace He brought was spiritual, peace with God, reconciling with God through Him, not visible peace here on Earth. This may be why Jesus lets those who wish to not follow him just leave and never admonishes them for doing so. (Luke chapter 6). He even asks if the 12 remaining Apostles wish to leave also and when they don’t he insists one of them is a traitor and yet they stay.
So I take the Mathew text as a warning, fair and square, that the way of the Cross is very hard. And it is not based on ancestral kinship within families like the old religions were. As you noticed the Holy Parents in the Church are the Saints with whom we share the same beliefs but not DNA.
On the uplifting side this passage also probably refers to the fact that the promises made to Abraham are now spiritualy inheritted and available to all not just to Abraham’s descendants.

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Sorry to hear that.It sounds awful and makes me understand the mentality that some people have that religion is just divisive.
Why though,would Jesus himself want this though as isn’t the “spirit” of Christianity to always make peace and harmony with people who are having discord/bickering?
Tbh,sometimes it does seem that religious belief can cause more fighting rather than peace whether catholic vs Orthodox,Christian vs other Christian denom,Sunni Muslim vs Shiite etc…

It could be my wrong interpretation/lack of understanding but it can sort of seem like mixed messages are given -make peace with people but at the same time don’t have peace because Jesus said he didn’t come to bring peace.

Isn’t this how religious extremism begins (whether on a small scale in Christians or a large scale in Muslims)?
People become so focused and passionate in their religion and that their belief is the truth that they then lose themselves and how they relate with/treat others and then “kill others” (whether with their words or literally).

To have a strong religious belief but lose all harmony with love ones to me seems a bit extremist mindset.

I don’t mean in all cases though,as sometimes the person is just the recepient of the negative feelings instead of back and forth discord like if a Muslim girl in Iran become Christian and her dad was angry and expressed it.

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