The word ‘peace’ in the New Testament is from Strong’s 1515 and means ‘quietness, rest, to set at one’ again’. In the Old Testament it is from Strong’s 7965 and has the meaning of ‘safe, well, happy, to be at peace’ and from 7999 ‘to be safe in mind, body and state, to make complete, make restitution, restore’.
Peace is here then defined as a state of quiet and tranquility, freedom from disturbance or agitation, calmness, repose. Such a state of mind in the text quoted is affirmed of God, it is a mind tranquil, calm, undisturbed, never agitated nor even wearied or perplexed by any of the cares of His vast dominions. As the Creator of all things and the Originator of all law, our Heavenly Father comprehends all causes and concerns with precision and all effects, and consequently knows the end from the beginning.
As it says in Deut.32:3-4: ‘ I will proclaim the name of the Lord, and praise the greatness of our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; and all his ways are just; a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.’ God’s peace is based upon man obeying His commandments. We go back to when He created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. The tranquility and beauty in perfect surroundings would have filled their hearts with awe towards their Creator. Our Heavenly Father had provided for Adam and Eve everything they would ever need. God as a father shows that he has a father’s love for all his intelligent creatures, the whole family in heaven and in earth, and that for His pleasure they were and are created. He created them in His own likeness, with the same mental and moral aptitudes, that they might have communion and fellowship with Him as children and they with Him as a father. Thus, in mutual fellowship and communion the Creator and the creature might find pleasure, happiness and delight.
God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that the first parents also needed to be tested if they would be worthy of this paradise and peace that He had provided for them. In Gen.2:16,17 we read: ‘And the Lord God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When you eat of this you will surely die.’ Then came the temptation of Satan through the serpent and Eve ate of the fruit, and then Adam did. They had disobeyed God’s commandment, and therefore the penalty was given for their disobedience.
In Gen.3:9 we read: ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and were estranged from God. If we could for a moment put ourselves in their place and imagine the heart-wrench they must have felt and the longing to be back in the garden to be once again in harmony with God, enjoying His peace. From this standpoint we can realize that man has desired peace but because of sin has not been able to obtain it. We see Satan as the foe against mankind. Our Heavenly Father gives us in Gen.3:15 the key to his destruction. We read: ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.’
Since Adam, God has overruled lives of righteous men. Because of Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience to God, he was given this promise in Gen.22:17: ‘I will surely bless you and make your descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore; your seed will possess the gate of his enemy, and through your seed all the nations of the world will be blessed because you have obeyed me.’
From Abraham came the nation of Israel and they were also to be given blessings if they would observe and do all of God’s commandments when coming into the promised possession of the land of Israel. In Deut.28:12 we read ‘The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and bless all the works of your hand’ and in Psalms 29:11: ‘The Lord will give strength to his people; God will bless his people with peace’. But because of their sin, the desired peace was not given to the nation of Israel. We remember our Lord’s words in Luke 19:42 when He wept over Jerusalem, saying: ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes.’
“Peace with God”
So we can see that there can be no peace to man except in the re-establishment of the relationship between himself and God. Since this relationship of sons can only be re-established through Christ, there is no peace to anyone out of Christ. ‘There is no peace, says the Lord, to the wicked’ (Isa.48:25) and ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one’ (1 John 5:19). To have the peace of God then, we need to be at peace with God through justification. Rom.5:8-11 reads: ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. ‘Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him; for if when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life. Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.’ And in Rom.5:1: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
To these justified children of God, sons and heirs of this Age, God has not only granted His recognition but also His special favor in offering to them exceeding great and precious promises. Our Heavenly Father has drawn us with a heavenly calling and invited us to be part of the body of Christ, His Bride, and to be joint heirs with Jesus in His Kingdom, and all the gracious work of that Kingdom. It is to these new creatures begotten and led by the Spirit of God that are promised peace and mercy. Mercy because our best efforts to walk after the leading of the Holy Spirit will be imperfect but God, who judges our hearts, desires and efforts, is merciful and will not expect from us more than we are able to perform. He gives His blessed peace to these begotten ones who are led by His spirit.
Rom.8:6 declares: ‘For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.’ Our Lord, on the last night of His earthly life, bestowed on His beloved disciples His parting blessing, His legacy of peace. ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14:27) The promise was for that rest and peace of mind which Jesus himself possessed, the peace of God. It was the same peace which the Father has always had. Jehovah’s peace comes from within Himself because He has all power and wisdom, and knows the end from the beginning. The peace of Christ came through His faith in God, faith in His wisdom and power and grace. So, also, if we would have the peace of God, the peace of Christ, it must be centered in God by faith.
Peace that endures
The peace promised is not the short-lived peace of the world, which is sometimes enjoyed for a little while, but it is the peace of God which Christ by faith enjoyed. Although He was rich, for our sakes He became poor. He lost friend after friend, and in His last hour was forsaken by all the friends who remained. His was the peace that endured through loss, persecution, scorn and contempt, and even amidst the agonies of the Cross. If we would know the foundation and security of this abiding peace which is able to survive the heaviest storms of life, we can see it in the teaching and example of the life of our Lord and the Apostles.
We have many instances recorded in the Book of Acts of the sufferings of the Apostles and followers of Christ. Because of the jealousy of the priests and Sadducees they were put in jail and beaten but when released they rejoiced because they had been accounted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name of Jesus.
And we have the account of Stephen, who although falsely accused, gave a courageous witness to his faith, and when being stoned fell on his knees and prayed, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’. Herod had the Apostle James put to death by the sword, and the Apostle Peter arrested and put in prison, but the people of the church prayed earnestly for him and the Lord sent an angel to rescue him. The Apostle Paul, in defending his ministry, in 2 Cor.11 speaks of his experience saying: ‘Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move; I have been in danger from rivers, dangers from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst, and often gone without food. I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressures of my concern for the churches.’ What was it that held them so firmly and gave them such rest of mind while they suffered? It was their faith, their faith in the love, power and wisdom of God. They believed that what God had promised he was able also to do, that His righteous and benevolent plan would know no failure. Isa.46:9-11 says: ‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure: …. Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.’
In Jehovah their faith was anchored and on His assurances they rested. So the Apostle Paul was able to say in Rom.8:’If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or dangers? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers from the height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ It is only through steady, unwavering faith that the peace of God, the peace of Christ, will abide with His people.
1 John 5:4 says: ‘This is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith’. The blessed peace that comes from the knowledge of the fact that God accepts us as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ if we continue to faithfully follow in His footsteps is the basis of our peace. No matter how heavily the storms of life may assail us, we must never let go our anchor. Always remember that the foundation of God stands sure. His truth is our shield and buckler, that what He has promised he is able to perform, and covering our human imperfections we have the imputed righteousness of Christ. Jesus’ peace is in true reconciliation with God, purchased with His death. It is the supreme remedy for all fears and the legacy left for his heirs. Even as we see the sad state of affairs in the world today, we can have peace knowing that He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
We look forward to and pray for the establishment of the Kingdom when the beautiful Old Testament promises of Psalms 37:11 have their fulfillment: ‘The meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ and in Isa.32: ‘Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment…. and the fruit of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in thee in peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.’ So, in conclusion, ‘When He gives quietness who then can make trouble?’ and ‘You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.’ Who but He, the God of all comfort, can give quietness in the midst of trouble when we can come to our loving Heavenly Father in prayer, not asking for all disturbances to be removed, because it is not always the divine will to bring peace in that way, but asking for a loving, trustful submission to the will of God.