Published by DonDavidson on

In my Webster’s dictionary, the first four definitions of “peace” all concern the absence of war or conflict. But in the New Testament, peace means so much more than this, because Jesus and his disciples had at least three additional meanings in mind.

One was the peace with other people that leads to unity. This is more than merely the absence of conflict, but instead the affirmative bonding with others through mutual respect, understanding, and kindness.

This is what Paul has in mind when he says in Romans 12:16-18:

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.

Similarly, he says in Ephesians 4:1-3:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We can’t achieve this kind of peace merely by avoiding conflict. We get there by resolving conflict. When we have a disagreement with someone, we do not simply avoid that person—although that is much better than seeking revenge upon them—but we reach out to them with kindness and respect. We seek to understand each other, and if necessary, we tolerate our differences. As Paul says, so far as it depends on us, we must seek to live in peace with everyone—and especially other Christians.

A second meaning of “peace” in the New Testament is what Paul means when he says in Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

This is the “peace” Jesus refers to in John 14:27: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.”

This is the peace that results when we are free of guilt, free of worry, freed from the fear of death. This is the peace that comes with knowing that God will provide what we need, just as he provides for the birds and the flowers. This is the peace of knowing that we can rely on God’s promises, like Matthew 28:20: “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” and John 3:16: “everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

This kind of peace is possible only because of a third kind of peace—peace with God.

Isaiah 59:2 says: “But your wrongdoings have caused a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

When Adam and Eve fell, they were banished from God’s presence. And from that point forward, there was a separation between us and God, because he cannot tolerate the evil that lives in us. This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 8:7-8: “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

But that is no longer true for Christians. In ways I don’t even pretend to fully understand, Christ’s death on the cross has ended this hostility, and reconciled us to God. That is what Paul is saying in Romans 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the tabernacle, and later in the Temple, the Holy of Holies—the most holy place, where the Ark of the Covenant sat—was separated from the rest of the tabernacle or Temple by a veil. Only the High Priest could pass beyond that veil to enter the Holy of Holies, and he could do so only once a year—on the Day of Atonement. But when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that the veil was torn in two—symbolizing that our separation from God had ended. (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45)

Because of what Jesus suffered, we now have peace with God. And because we have peace with God, we can also have peace within ourselves and live in peace with others.

Peace be to you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *