The Meaning of Peace. In English, the word "peace" conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means "to be complete" or "to be sound." The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning"to be complete or whole" or "to live well." The noun had many nuances, but can be grouped into four categories: (1) salom [l'v] as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health); (2) salom [l'v] as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant (see "covenant of peace" in Num 25:12-13 ; Isa 54:10 ; Ezek 34:25-26 ) and, when related to Yahweh, the covenant was renewed or maintained with a "peace offering"; (3) salom [l'v] as prosperity, success, or fulfillment (see Lev 26:3-9 ); and (4) salom [l'v] as victory over one's enemies or absence of war. Salom [l'v] was used in both greetings and farewells. It was meant to act as a blessing on the one to whom it was spoken: "May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory." As an adjective, it expressed completeness and safety. In the New Testament, the Greek word eirene [eijrhvnh] is the word most often translated by the word "peace." Although there is some overlap in their meanings, the Hebrew word salom [l'v] is broader in its usage, and, in fact, has greatly influenced the New Testament's use of eirene [eijrhvnh].
God as the Source of Peace. God alone is the source of peace, for he is "Yahweh Shalom" (see Judges 6:24 ). The Lord came to sinful humankind, historically first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, desiring to enter into a relationship with them. He established with them a covenant of peace, which was sealed with his presence (see Num 6:24-26 ). Participants were given perfect peace (salom salom [l'vl'v]) so long as they maintained a right relationship with the Lord (see Isa 26:3; 2 Thess 3:16).
The Old Testament anticipated, and the New Testament confirmed, that God's peace would be mediated through a messiah (see Isa 9:6-7; Micah 5:4-5). Peace with God came through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:14-17; Col 1:19-20; see Heb 13:20). Peter declared to Cornelius: "You now the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36).
The Relationship of Righteousness to Peace. The Lord established a covenant, which resulted in the participants receiving his salom [l'v] in abundance, "like a river" (see Isa 48:18). However, peace could be disturbed if one did not live before the Lord and others in righteousness; in fact, peace is one of the fruits of righteousness (Isa 32:17-18). The psalmist poetically describes the relationship between the two as righteousness and peace kissing each other (Psalm 85:10). The God of peace and the peace of God sanctify the child of God (see 1 Thess 5:23). On the other hand, Scripture specifically states that there can be no peace for the wicked (Isa 48:22; 57:21). Paul described the difference as follows: "There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Rom 2:9-10).
One of the key issues among the prophets was the doctrine of "peace." The false prophets proclaimed "peace, peace" and in that announcement hoped to create peace for their constituency. The true prophets argued that peace could never be achieved apart from righteousness and justice. In this light, one can better understand what Jesus meant when he declared, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34). And Paul wrote, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Rom 16:20). Judgment on sin, historically and eschatologically, must come prior to peace.
Peace in the Age to Come. In the age to come the animal kingdom will be restored to its paradisiacal tranquility. The image in Isaiah 11:6-11 is among the most picturesque in Scripture. Animals are paired off in a strange and wonderful way: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the calf with the lion, the cow with the bear, the lion with the ox. They shall be led by a little child. The emphasis is on the harmony, the salom [l'v] between the animals and the animal kingdom with man. Children shall, in that day, be able to play with snakes and they will not be hurt.
In addition, the curse of the ground will be removed and the land will again be characterized by salom [l'v], which includes both harmony and productivity (see Amos 9:13-15). The desert will become a fertile field (Isa 32:15), while the cultivated lands will drip with "new wine" and the "ravines of Judah will run with water" (Joel 3:18).
The nations of the world will come under the dominion of the "Prince of Peace" and in so doing, "will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks" (Isa 2:4; Micah 4:3). Isaiah poetically characterizes it as a time when "You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands" (Isa 55:12).
One cannot overlook the fact that this harmony will never happen until man has a right relationship (salom [l'v]) with Yahweh; it will be the result of the righteous rule of the "shoot from the stump of Jesse" who has upon him the Spirit of Yahweh; he is the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6; see Jer 33:8-9).
Glenn E. Schaefer
See also Fruit of the Spirit url="/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/fruit-of-the-spirit.html"
Bibliography. H. Beck and C. Brown, DNTT, 2:776-83; J. I. Durham, Proclamation and Presence: Old Testament Essays in Honor of Gwynne Henton Davies; W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament; W. Foerster, TDNT, 2:400-420; D. J. Harris, Shalom!: The Biblical Concept of Peace; P. B. Yoder, Shalom: The Bible's Word for Salvation, Justice, and Peace.
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pes (shalom; eirene):
1. In the Old Testament:
Is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies, or inwardly, within the soul. The Hebrew word is shalom (both adjective and substantive), meaning, primarily, "soundness," "health," but coming also to signify "prosperity," well-being in general, all good in relation to both man and God. In early times, to a people harassed by foes, peace was the primary blessing. In Psalms 122:7, we have "peace" and "prosperity," and in 35:27; 73:3, shalom is translated "prosperity." In 2 Samuel 11:7 the King James Version, David asked of Uriah "how Joab did" (margin "of the peace of Joab"), "and how the people did (the Revised Version (British and American) "fared," literally, "of the peace of the people"), and how the war prospered" (literally, "and of the peace (welfare) of the war").
(1) Shalom was the common friendly greeting, used in asking after the health of anyone; also in farewells (Genesis 29:6, "Is it well with him?" ("Is there peace to him?"); 43:23, "Peace be to you"; 43:27, "He asked them of their welfare (of their peace)"; Judges 6:23, "Yahweh said unto him, Peace be unto thee"; 18:15 (the King James Version "saluted him," margin "Hebrew asked him of peace," the Revised Version (British and American) "of his welfare"); Judges 19:20, etc.). See also GREETING.
(2) Peace from enemies (implying prosperity) was the great desire of the nation and was the gift of God to the people if they walked in His ways (Leviticus 26:6; Numbers 6:26, "Yahweh lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace"; Psalms 29:11; Isaiah 26:12, etc.). To "die in peace" was greatly to be desired (Genesis 15:15; 1 Kings 2:6; 2 Chronicles 34:28, etc.).
(3) Inward peace was the portion of the righteous who trusted in God (Job 22:21, "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace (shalam)"; Psalms 4:8; 85:8, "He will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints"; 119:165; Proverbs 3:2,17; Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace (Hebrew "peace, peace"), whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee"; Malachi 2:5); also outward peace (Job 5:23,24; Proverbs 16:7, etc.).
In the New Testament, where eirene has much the same meaning and usage as shalom (for which it is employed in the Septuagint; compare Luke 19:42, the Revised Version (British and American) "If thou hadst known .... the things which belong unto peace"), we have still the expectation of "peace" through the coming of the Christ (Luke 1:74,79; 12:51) and also its fulfillment in the higher spiritual sense.
2. In the New Testament:
(1) The gospel in Christ is a message of peace from God to men (Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36, "preaching .... peace by Jesus Christ"). It is "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," in Romans 5:1; the King James Version 10:15; peace between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14,15); an essential element in the spiritual kingdom of God (Romans 14:17).
(2) It is to be cherished and followed by Christians. Jesus exhorted His disciples, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another" (Mark 9:50); Paul exhorts, "Live in peace:
(3) God is therefore "the God of peace," the Author and Giver of all good ("peace" including every blessing) very frequently (e.g. Romans 15:33; 16:20; 2 Thessalonians 3:16, etc., "the Lord of peace"). "Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" is a common apostolic wish or salutation (compare 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2, etc.).
(4) We have also "peace" as a greeting (Matthew 10:13; Luke 10:5); "a son of peace" (Luke 10:6) is one worthy of it, in sympathy with it; the Lord's own greeting to His disciples was "Peace be unto you" (Luke 24:36; John 20:19,21,26), and ere He left them He gave them specially His blessing of "Peace" (John 14:27); we have also frequently "Go in peace" (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50). In Luke 19:38, we have "peace in heaven" (in the acclamation of Jesus on His Messianic entry of Jerusalem).
(5) The peace that Christ brought is primarily spiritual peace from and with God, peace in the heart, peace as the disposition or spirit. He said that He did not come "to send peace on the earth, but a sword," referring to the searching nature of His call and the divisions and clearances it would create. But, of course, the spirit of the gospel and of the Christian is one of peace, and it is a Christian duty to seek to bring war and strife everywhere to an end. This is represented as the ultimate result of the gospel and Spirit of Christ; universal and permanent peace can come only as that Spirit rules in men's hearts.
"Peace" in the sense of silence, to hold one's peace, etc., is in the Old Testament generally the translation of charash, "to be still, or silent" (Genesis 24:21; 34:5; Job 11:3); also of chashah, "to hush," "to be silent" (2 Kings 2:3,5; Psalms 39:2), and of other words. In Job 29:10 ("The nobles held their peace," the King James Version), it is qol, "voice."
In the New Testament we have siopao, "to be silent," "to cease speaking" (Matthew 20:31; 26:63; Acts 18:9, etc.); sigao, "to be silent," "not to speak" (Luke 20:26; Acts 12:17); hesuchazo, "to be quiet" (Luke 14:4; Acts 11:18); phimoo, "to muzzle or gag" (Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35).
In Apocrypha eirene is frequent, mostly in the sense of peace from war or strife (Tobit 13:14; Judith 3:1; Ecclesiasticus 13:18; 1 Macc 5:54; 6:49; 2 Macc 14:6, eustatheia equals "tranquillity").
The Revised Version (British and American) has "peace" for "tongue" (Esther 7:4; Job 6:24; Amos 6:10; Habakkuk 1:13); "at peace with me" for "perfect" (Isaiah 42:19, margin "made perfect" or "recompensed"); "security" instead of "peaceably" and "peace" (Daniel 8:25; 11:21,24); "came in peace to the city," for "came to Shalem, a city" (Genesis 33:18); "it was for my peace" instead of "for peace" (Isaiah 38:17); "when they are in peace," for "and that which should have been for their welfare" (Psalms 69:22).
W. L. Walker
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