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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Peace

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In the original languages of the Bible, the word ‘peace’ had a meaning far wider and richer than that which people commonly associate with the word today. In the Old Testament, peace (Heb. shalom) included a range of ideas, such as completeness, wholeness and well-being. The New Testament, though using the Greek word for ‘peace’, retained the breadth of ideas found in the Old Testament and so gave the word a richer meaning.

Wide-ranging blessings

According to the Hebrews’ understanding, peace was a state of well-being that included good health, prosperity, contentment, security and harmonious relationships (Psalms 29:11; Psalms 37:37; Psalms 85:8-9; Isaiah 26:1-4; Isaiah 32:17-18; Isaiah 60:17; Lamentations 3:17; Zechariah 6:13; Zechariah 8:12; Luke 11:21; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Ephesians 4:3). A prayer for God’s peace upon a person, nation or church was a prayer for the wide-ranging blessing of God (Numbers 6:26; Psalms 122:6; Luke 2:14; Romans 15:33). The greeting of ‘Peace!’ with which people greeted each other was both an enquiry after and a wish for a person’s well-being (Judges 6:23; Judges 18:6; Judges 19:20; 1 Samuel 25:6; 1 Samuel 25:35; Matthew 10:13; John 20:21; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 6:23; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 5:14).

Since peace was often linked with the blessing of God, it became linked also with God’s salvation (Isaiah 26:11-13; Luke 1:79; Luke 19:42; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Romans 16:20). When God’s prophets warned the Old Testament Israelites of certain judgment if they continued in their sin, false prophets comforted the rebellious people with false assurances of salvation (Jeremiah 8:10-11; Jeremiah 8:15; Jeremiah 14:19; Ezekiel 13:10). But there could be no salvation, no peace, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). After the years of exile in Babylon, however, the good news of peace would prepare a repentant people for salvation from captivity and return to their homeland (Isaiah 52:7-10; cf. Ephesians 6:15).

Peace with God through Jesus Christ

No matter what expressions of salvation people of Old Testament times experienced, the fulness of salvation awaited the coming of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:79). The peace he brought is an everlasting peace (Luke 2:14John 14:27 16:33Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1-5; Revelation 21:22-24).

This complete restoration to peace, fulness, wholeness and well-being is possible only because Jesus, by his death, dealt with the cause of the world’s trouble, sin. He bore God’s judgment on sin, so that the divine hostility against sin might be removed and repentant sinners might have peace with God (Isaiah 53:5-6; Romans 5:1-2; Colossians 1:20-22; see PROPITIATION).

When people, through God’s grace, have peace with God, they also have peace with one another. They become members of the kingdom of God, where all disharmony and injustice are removed, whether in matters of race, age, sex or status (Romans 14:17; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 2:14-17; Ephesians 4:3; see RECONCILIATION).

Christians preach this gospel of peace to others (Matthew 10:13; John 20:21; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 6:15), though they realize that at times it may cause division; for while some will gladly accept it, others will violently oppose it (Matthew 10:34-36). In spite of this, Christians must do all they can to help people in general to live together peacefully (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14).

Not only do Christians have peace with God through Christ, they also have the peace of God through Christ. That peace does not mean that they will have a trouble-free life. Rather it means that they now enjoy a state of spiritual wholeness and well-being that gives them strength and calmness even in the midst of suffering and trials (John 14:27; John 16:33; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Peace'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/p/peace.html. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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