Two hundred and fifty times in the Bible. That’s twice as frequent as “faith” and “hope.” More often than “grace” and “mercy” combined. Appearing in 54 of the 66 books of the Bible, it’s hard to miss the importance of “peace” in the Scriptures.

But I fear we do miss it. We miss the biblical idea of “peace” because we have embraced the lowest common denominator—the idea that peace means the absence of conflict or hostility. If peace is just the opposite of war, then peace is a nice idea, but hardly one to carry all the weight the Bible puts on it. Hear a small selection of the 250:

  • “The Lord will grant peace in the land, and you will not be afraid.”
  • “May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
  • “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss one another.”
  • “Though the mountains be shaken and the hill be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
  • “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In God’s design, “peace” means so much more than the opposite of war. God’s peace is a condition or state of being which gives rise to the blessings of prosperity. It is, not just a sense of well-being, but well-being itself, given to the believer from God himself. Being at peace brings with it a contentment, harmony, order, fulfillment. Peace is the restoration of wholeness and completeness, the blessings of the new creation.

Peace is a Relational Term. Peace cannot happen in a vacuum. It cannot happen apart from a relationship with God. The harmony peace brings, is not essentially a harmony between the believer and his surroundings, his community, or even with himself. Primarily, peace brings a relationship of joy with God.

Peace is a Communal Term. Peace is not something that happens between “me and Jesus.” Inherent in the very concept is the idea that peace encompasses the entire body of Christ. Is there friction in the body? Then the peace of God has not yet come to it fruition.

Peace is a Redemptive Term. Peace without Christ is impossible, for sin is the ultimate disruption of the peace of God. The problems of sin is not simply that it displeases our Father, but that it is contrary to our very creation, the purposes for which we were formed and called into existence. Peace is absent where sin reigns; and Christ is the only solution to sin.

Peace is Divine. Christ is the mediator of peace—that is, he brings peace to us. But peace is not just something, some substance, that is brought to us. Christ is the Author of peace—that is, peace originates with him. But peace is not something that he creates just to give to us. More than just the mediator or author of peace, Christ IS peace. He is the quality. To have peace is to have Christ. To be at peace is to be in Christ. To experience the joy of peace, is to experience the presence of Christ himself.

In a time of difficulty, sorrow, confusion, doubt—may the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts!

Henry Knapp
Henry Knapp is the associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Beaver, PA. He lives with his wife Kelly in Beaver, PA. They two children.