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Peace

PEACE (שָׁלﯴם, H8934, soundness, completeness, security, welfare, peace; εἰρήνη, G1645, harmony, concord, security, safety, assurance). Human situations in the Bible that are commonly described by the word “peace” range from the cessation of hostilities between nations, the absence of civil or ecclesiastical disorder, and the freedom from dissension between individuals, through positive situations in which an individual has prospered materially, or is healthy, or possesses a tranquil freedom from mental or spiritual perturbation, to conditions where there is a minimum of noise or activity. But no situation in the Bible is simply human. In the total range of human activity, the divine influence is evident. In this way the Biblical notion of peace must be understood. For the NT writers, a more comprehensive spiritual element is added to the OT concept of peace by the awareness that the true ground of reconciliation between God and man, between man and man, and within the individual is exhibited in the total work of Christ; and through the enabling power brought by the gracious visitation of the Holy Spirit, this peace is made a joyous possession of a man.

1. OT usage. Frequently, the OT writers used the word “shalom” without explicit, but never without implicit, religious content. These amazing writers often used the term to describe prosperity of a material sort, which for them was associated with God’s covenantal promises or with projections of His presence. The root meaning of “soundness,” “completeness,” and “well-being” is obvious in over two dozen passages where only general health and prosperity are described or discussed. Joseph, e.g., inquired after the welfare (peace) of his brothers (Gen 43:27), and Moses asked about the welfare (peace) of his father-in-law when they were exchanging greetings (Exod 18:7). In some places, the reference is limited clearly to the physical safety of the individual (Job 5:23), or to his health (Isa 38:17). A passage in Psalm 38:3 is particularly clear in this respect when it says, “There is no soundness (peace) in my flesh....no health (peace) in my bones.” As this v. continues, that this lack of soundness is “because of my sin,” the characteristic in the OT of relating even the most mundane aspects of life to the judgments of God is readily seen (cf. Ps 38:1).

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