Dribble From The Pen: Continual Peace

Thess. 3:16

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

“Behold! on what sure foundations his happiness is built whose soul is possessed with divine love, whose will is transformed into the will of God, and whose greatest desire is that his Maker should be pleased. O the peace, the rest, the satisfaction that attends such a temper of mind!”

By Reverend Ray

The Apostle Paul, in his contribution to the New Testament, 13 epistles, speaks of peace in some form or manner 43 times. It is most often coupled with the words joy or grace. The word, peace is found 91 times in the New Testament and only 3 times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This means that nearly half of the use of the word, peace in the whole of Scripture is used by the Apostle Paul.

The question arises; Why did Paul see this topic as being such an important element to the Christian faith and his instruction to the Early New Testament Church? The short answer to this may be due to the influence of the writings of Seneca the younger in 55 AD, who popularized the term, “Pax Romana” (i.e., Roman peace). This was a unique period of western history in which some historians record as a miraculous time of unprecedented cessation of war. Though credited with spanning 206 years from 27BC until 180 AD, the reality was that the first Roman – Jewish wars in 66AD brought an end to the peace.

Let us not be mistaken though, Paul was not trying to contend with a temporal peace produced by a world power, nor was he trying to integrate the philosophy of Seneca’s stoicism into his writing. Rather, Paul was cognizant of the real eternal conflict that existed between man and God from man’s fall from grace. The scope and gravity of the tension and breach of this relationship comes to its fullest expression at the cross of Mt. Calvary, where God, the Father poured out the cup of His eternal wrath upon the Son, Jesus Christ for the sin of mankind.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament tells us that the Greek word, “εἰρήνη”-peace, in its pure sense does not reflect the idea of tranquility between person, but a state of being. Foerster, W. (pg. 400-420) It is for this reason Paul states in Romans 8:6; “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Paul understood that Christ’s work at Calvary introduced a state of peace between God and those whom He elected to salvation. This was not a peace that was arranged by two opposing parties, it was entirely an act of the Sovereign God to act according to His will in bringing about a state of peace to the Kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ. That this peace originates with God and not as the result of some accord struck by God and man is made evident by Paul in stating; “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”(Rom. 16:20) Furthermore, he gave substance and personality to this abstract subject in Ephesians 2:14-16; “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,  and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” In laymen’s terms this means there is no peace outside of Jesus Christ.

Dribble from the pen

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