34. THE PEACE OF GOD

IF ACTS is the book of conversions, or Romans of faith, or Hebrews of steadfastness, Ephesians might well be called the epistle of peace.

Several fine lessons are to be found in Ephesians. Perhaps it is above all a view of the church in the eternal purpose of God. But running like a silver thread throughout the epistle is the theme of the peace of God. Seven times in these six chapters Paul speaks of peace. The book is sandwiched between an invocation of peace (1:2) and a benediction of the same (6:23). Paul early speaks of Christ Jesus, who preached the “good news of peace” (2:17, Greek). He ends the epistle with mention of the “gospel of peace” (6:15).

Peace is said to be a gift of God (1:2). In fact, God is often called the “God of peace” in Paul’s other writings (see Romans 15:33; 16:20; II Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20). Yet peace with God comes only through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7).

Those who are at peace with God are made to be at peace with one another, in Christ (Ephesians 2:14-17). Christ is so basic in this reconciliation that He is called their peace (2:14). The Holy Spirit is also involved in peace. Whether we think of the source (Romans 8:6) or its manifestations (Galatians 5:22), God’s peace is “in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

As do most of God’s gifts, peace carries an obligation for those to whom it is given. Christians are urged to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15). The original wording indicates that peace is to be the umpire in settling quarrels or disputes within the Christian community. Christians are to follow after peace (Romans 14:19; II Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:14).

Peace is God’s gift, through Christ. It was created at the cross. It comes to man by the calling of God in the Holy Spirit through the gospel. Primarily it is peace with God, then of man with man. Those who enjoy peace in Christ are to be diligent to preserve it. This is part of God’s eternal purpose for them.

How can we fulfill these goals every day?