The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6,7). The word “peace” means “a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies, or inwardly, within the soul.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “peace” is “shalom,” meaning, primarily, “soundness,” “health,” but came also to signify “prosperity.” In the New Testament the word translated “peace” is “eirene,” from which we get our word “irenic” and the name Irene. Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, came to bring peace (Luke 2:1-14).
Christianity is a religion of peace. Islam claims to be a religion of peace. But when you compare the teaching of Christ with the teaching of Mohammad, when you compare their practices, it is easy to see which one really promotes peace. For instance, Christ taught us to turn the other cheek; Mohammad says kill the infidels. Of course, there are always abuses, but Jesus, the Author of Christianity, teaches us in word and in deed to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38-42). Furthermore, Jesus left us an example that we should follow in His steps of peace (I Pet. 2:21-24).
God is a God of peace (Rom. 15:33; 16:20). The Bible tells us that God is not the Author of confusion, but of peace (I Cor. 14:33). God blesses His people with peace (Ps. 29:11) and gives the peace of sleep to His people (Ps. 4:8). Those who focus their thoughts on God, He will give them perfect peace (Is. 26:3).
But just what exactly is the nature of this peace which Christ brings? Many in the religious world view this peace as political or international or social. The world seeks first the cessation of violence and war and hostilities. Those who profess to be Christians join numerous organizations, both religious and secular, to seek to wipe out poverty or some social injustice. But poverty will always be with us (Matt. 26:11). Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). While we should help those who are less fortunate (Gal. 6:10), to seek to wipe out poverty and injustice is a futile task. As we look around the world we see famine, pestilence, strife and conflict. If political or international or social peace was Jesus’ goal, then Jesus failed divinely! But Jesus, Himself, said, “In the world, ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Furthermore, He said His peace was not as the world gives (John 14:27; Rom. 8:6).
Notice that this peace and good will was to be “toward” men not necessarily “between” men (Luke 2:14). What good would it be to have peace among men but not with God? We must not forget that Jesus brought not only peace but also the sword (Matt. 10:34). However, the warfare we fight is not like the world’s, but it is a spiritual war with spiritual weapons (II Cor. 10:3-5) and spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-16). Just as the battle we fight is a spiritual one, the peace obtained by this battle is a spiritual one, too.
Jesus came and preached peace to them that were a far off and those that were nigh (Eph. 2:11-19; Col. 1:20). How do we access this peace? When we are justified by faith, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). To be justified by faith is to obey the Gospel (Rom. 16:25,26). Jesus made peace between Jew and Gentile by first making it possible for them to have peace with God (Eph. 2:14-17). God was in Christ reconciling–making peace–the world unto Himself (II Cor. 5:17-21). We are called to this peace in one body (Col. 3:15), the church (Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18).
Isaiah said in Christ there would be an increase of peace (Is. 9:7). Surely, this cannot mean material, physical, worldly peace. The peace of the world seems to grow more unstable every day. The “government” spoken of here is the rule of Christ in the hearts of men. The “kingdom” spoken of here is the church (Matt. 16:18). Because His peace is not of this world, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The good news which brings peace is the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1:14). This gospel of the kingdom is an everlasting covenant of peace (Eze. 37:26; cf. Is. 11:1-9).
As Christians we are dedicated to the spread of peace with God through the spread of the gospel (Matt. 28:20). As we go into all the world teaching, our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15; Rom 10:15), more people are reconciled back to God. The more people who apply the teachings of Christ in their lives, the more the peace of Christ will spread. As Christians we follow after things which make for peace (Rom. 14:19). We endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). We throw away carnality, for to be carnally minded is death; to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom. 8:6). The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace (Rom. 14:17).
We most definitely are to seek peace. We should follow after those things in life which make for peace (Rom. 14:19). Understanding and applying the teaching of Christ will produce real, spiritual peace in our life (Gal. 5:22). Not only should we seek personal, spiritual peace but we should seek to be at peace, when possible, amongst ourselves (I Thess. 5:13; Rom 12:18). A healthy fear of judgement will keep us found of Him in peace (II Pet. 3:11-14).
Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means – II Thess. 3:16
Eric L. Padgett