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Peace (Heb. שָׁלוֹם shalom) is completeness, soundness, and well-being of a whole person. Relationships are to be at peace with others[1], metaphorically, and physically affecting one's health[2]. From the days of Abraham on the condition of peace was sought both personally and nationally[3]. To have peace was to be free from controversy and contention[4]. It was first used as a blessing by Joseph when he wished his brothers well[5]. Voluntary offerings to the LORD were instituted when the Law was given to His people[6] to repair "broken" relationships between men and God[7]. These offerings were to become meals eaten in the presence of God[8].

When the Israelites were approaching potential threats to their peace, they were to seek peace with the leadership if at all possible[9]. If war was inevitable, God would have his people fight until the threat was eliminated. As the Psalmist would one day proclaim, peace was a time of safety, when one could lay down to sleep with no fear of danger[10]. True peace, as God's people sometimes forget, comes when they listen to God[11] and learn to love His law[12]. Contrariwise, the wicked cannot know this peace[13].

The Prophet Isaiah announced to his earthly king that a greater king, the Messiah, would come as a child who would grow to be "the Prince of Peace"[14]. That Prince assures that trust the Father will have true peace[15]. The peace would surely come after much hardship (the exile to Babylon), but when it came it would come upon a repentant people in a Spirit-blessed land[16]. The message of salvation is a message of the peace of God to those who accept his rule[17]. The LORD likened this peace to a glorious river and to a mother's lap[18].

New Testament usage

The Greek word used to translate shalom is εἰρήνη (eirēnē), which is probably from a word meaning "to join". From this came the idea to be reconciled to a friend, neighbor or even a foreigner. A state of tranquility and harmony is assumed when peace prevails.

Jesus told his disciples that peace was a private thing to be shared only with friends[19], though the common belief of the day was that the Messiah would come to bring security to the world[20]. The peace declared at Jesus' birth was to be to those in good standing with God[21]. Near the end of his life, Christ promised that his disciples would be at peace even in a hostile world[22] because on the spiritual level, He had already conquered the world[23]. In speaking the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared in the Beatitudes that those who strive for peace are "blessed" and would be called sons of God.

The apostle Paul wrote that peace with God comes because Jesus Christ had satisfied the debt to God which His errant people had incurred[24]. The believer's salvation brings him or her into a new kingdom--the Kingdom of God--in which the inner righteousness, peace and joy is the norm[25]. In a troubled church like that of Corinth Paul made it a point to admonish them to seek for restoration and reconciliation[26]. The peace brought by the Gospel provides a firm "footing" in the battle against Satan and his demonic forces[27]. Back in "friendly territory" observers can know God's people by the Fruit of the Spirit--including peace[28].

God's people are to live at peace not with just anyone they want, but with everyone to the best of their ability and whenever possible[29]. Peace among God's people was made possible because Jesus' death had torn down the boundaries between Jews and Gentiles[30]. This peace that comes from God is impossible to understand fully[31].

God's "children" even experience a feeling of peace when they are disciplined, for their behavior after chastening is in align with the righteousness of the Father[32]. For this reason those who seek and pursue peace through righteousness[33] will find it, just as Jesus said[34].


Verses

  1. Mark 9:50 (Link)
  2. Proverbs 14:30 (Link)
  3. Gen 15:12-16 (Link)
  4. Gen 26:29-31 (Link)
  5. Gen 43:23 (Link)
  6. Exo 20:24 (Link)
  7. Lev 4:35 (Link)
  8. Lev 7:11-21 (Link)
  9. Deut 20:10-12 (Link)
  10. Psa 4:8; Psa 122:6 (Link)
  11. Ps. 85:8 (Link)
  12. Psalm 119:165 (Link)
  13. Isa. 48:22 (Link)
  14. Isa. 9:6-7 (Link)
  15. Isa. 26:3,12 (Link)
  16. Isaiah 32:17 (Link)
  17. Isa. 52:7 (Link)
  18. Isa. 66:12 (Link)
  19. Mat 10:13; Luke 10:5-6 (Link)
  20. Mat 10:34; Luke 12:51 (Link)
  21. Luke 2:14 (Link)
  22. John 14:27 (Link)
  23. John 16:33 (Link)
  24. Rom. 5:1 (Link)
  25. Rom. 14:17 (Link)
  26. 2 Cor. 3:11 (Link)
  27. Eph. 6:5 (Link)
  28. Galatians 5:21 (Link)
  29. Romans 12:18, 14:19 (Link)
  30. Eph. 2:14-17 (Link)
  31. Philippians 4:7 (Link)
  32. Hebrews 12:11 (Link)
  33. Psalm 34:14 (Link)
  34. Matthew 7:7 (Link)
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