The Blessing of PeaceRev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., July 2, 2017
Part of the 2nd John series.
There is a joke from seminary that goes like this: Back in the days of the Old Testament, how did the Israelites from the southern kingdom of Judah greet one another? Answer: ‘Shalom y’all!’
Perhaps by now we all recognize that wonderful Old Testament word shalom as our word ‘peace.’ It is still in use among the Jews today, and is one of the richest words in all of the Hebrew vocabulary. As you would suspect, shalom appears frequently in the Old Testament and is rendered by the word “peace” in the English translations of the Bible.
The Greek word used in the New Testament to express this same blessing is eirene. We discover it in the passage we have been studying together over the last few weeks, 2 John 1:3. There, “peace” is listed along with “grace” and “mercy” as one of the three primary blessings associated with the gift of salvation. When its Old Testament roots are properly considered, the “peace” of which John has written takes on a much deeper and wider significance than one might imagine. It means far more than the absence of distress or conflict—as is typically the case when we use it in casual conversation—but communicates the presence of something, namely wholeness and well-being, even in situations of conflict and pain. This is illustrated most notably in the familiar and comforting words of our Lord Jesus in John 14:27––“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”––and again in John 16:33––“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This coming Lord’s Day we will explore the wonder and rich treasures inherent in this word “peace.” We will try to comprehend what John actually had in mind when he used it, and how he would have understood this gift in light of its Old Testament foundation in the redemptive mercies of our Father. And, more importantly, our study will eventually take us to our Lord Himself who, as the prophet Isaiah said, is the very “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).