We can see peace in the larger society and inner peace for each individual. We must receive it by faith in Christ.
From our point of view, peace is one of God’s great attributes or perfections. Without it, the world would be more chaotic than it is. With more peace in the world, which God shines forth for those who see and receive it, society becomes orderly and safe and prosperous. Each individual can enjoy well-being, prosperity, tranquility and euphoria.
So it is now clear that peace is a communicable or “transferrable” or “shareable” attribute to us because we are made in God’s image and because he gives us the capacity to receive it.
Now let’s define.
What do scholars say?
The language of the Old Testament is Hebrew, and the main word for peace is shalom (237 times), which means “prosperity, well-being, health, completeness, safety” (Mounce, p. 502).
The New Testament, written in Greek, uses the word eirēnē (92 times, we get the name Irene from it). In classical Greek, used long before the New Testament was written, it means a cessation of hostilities or war and a state of law and order that “makes the fruits of prosperity possible” (Mounce, p. 503). That is, when a society is in peace, life can proceed in order and prosperity and well-being and safety.
“In other words, ‘peace’ is a state of being that lacks nothing and has no fear of being troubled in its tranquility; it is euphoria coupled with security. … This peace is God’s favor bestowed on his people. Not all people receive this peace—only those who have been reconciled to God” (ibid.). When we say peace as a greeting, it communicates blessing (ibid.). Peace “is the opposite of disorder” (ibid.).
What do those great definitions mean to God’s being? He offers those virtues and qualities to us. If he offers them, then he must have them; he must be them. He is peace and order.
After looking at many passages on peace and its opposite (disorder), Wayne Grudem defines this attribute as follows:
God’s peace means that in God’s being and in his actions he is separate from all confusion and disorder, yet he is continually active in innumerable well-ordered, fully controlled, simultaneous actions. (p. 203, emphasis original)
Quick definition: This attribute or perfection of God means that he is calm, in control, and orderly.
Those definitions are built on Scripture. Here is a small sample in the next section.
What do Scriptures say?
I use the NIV here. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations or in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
God looks with compassion on people who are in disorder and chaos and promises them a golden age of peace for them and their children:
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace. (Is. 54:11-13)
In a chapter of great promises and acceptance by the Lord, he leads his people in peace:
You will go out in 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. (Is. 55:12)
God is the “God of peace”:
The God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Rom. 15:13)
These verses also have the phrase: Rom 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20
In the church God is orderly:
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all congregations of the Lord’s people (1 Cor. 14:33)
Gentiles (non-Jews) were once outside of God’s covenant care, but now they are accepted because Christ is their peace:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph. 2:14)
A great promise here:
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thess. 3:16)
This verse promises peace:
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Ps. 29:11)
This verse promises peace for anyone who finds wisdom, personified as a woman:
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace. (Prov. 3:17)
The next verse is a prophecy about Jesus the Messiah:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:7)
Israel sinned, and God judged some of them, but now he promises healing and peace:
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
19 creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” (Is. 57:18-19)
Jesus said he had peace, and he will give it to his followers:
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Let your mind be governed by the Spirit, and you will enjoy eternal life on earth and peace:
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6)
One of the virtues within the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is peace:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22)
God is active even in peace:
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Ps. 121:4)
Peace in the kingdom through the Spirit:
17 For the kingdom of God is … a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)
How can I know God more intimately?
God sees better than you that the world is in turmoil. He wants to give you peace through it all. Reread John 14:27, above. Jesus gives us his peace. Meditate on that verse and on his willingness to give his peace to you.
One of the greatest promises in the entire Old Testament is the next one:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Is. 26:3)
It teaches us to keep our minds steadfast—how? Meditate on the verses of peace. Meditate on Is. 26:3. Think about it night and day. Repeat it under your breath when people are around and out loud when you’re alone.
God’s peace, which he is very eager to give you, will descend on you and fill you.
And then you’ll know God better because you tuned into his nature. He is the God of peace, not turmoil or disorder.
Written by James Malcolm
ARTICLES IN THE SERIES “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?”
Do I Really Know God? He Is the God of Peace