I often find that English translations of Greek and Hebrew words fall short of the original meaning. We have the same thing in English if you think about it. If I say “have you drunk the cool-aid?” and you are 40-something, you have depth of understanding that would be lost on someone who is 20-something. The word “peace” in English, for example, is very different from the Hebrew and Greek equivalent. Check out these definitions:
Peace: a state in which there is no war or fighting; an agreement to end a war; a period of time when there is no war or fighting
Shalom: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace (NAS, Strong’s).
Eirene: peace, peace of mind; invocation of peace a common Jewish farewell, in the Hebraistic sense of the health (welfare) of an individual (Strong’s). According to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is”: (Thayer’s).
Sometimes it is important to see where the word came from like in this definition of the Greek peace.
eirḗnē (from eirō, “to join, tie together into a whole”) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God’s gift of wholeness) (HELPS).
Another way to look at it is through antonyms. For the English word peace the opposite would be war. For the Greek and Hebrew words I would say the opposite is brokenness, sickness or maybe unrest. The ancient languages have a depth of understanding for this concept that we don’t really understand today. Our “peace” today is the absence of something. The ancient form of “peace” was the presence of something. How about in a beauty pageant when the contestant says “I want world peace.” They are saying that all people should get along and there should be no more wars. In the ancient language they would be saying that they want all people to be well, whole, complete and content.
I believe we could learn a lot from the old language and these older concepts. I believe that they knew something that maybe we have forgotten. They knew that “world peace” came from “individual peace” which came from “wholeness.” Here is the best part…God makes us whole. His habitation is our completeness. His Spirit is our missing part. His design is our surrendered vessel. His intent is our living temple. His plan was oneness with His children. Our peace is His presence!!! Check this out in various translations:
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (GNT) 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. 7 And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG) 6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
I think the MSG really captures the heart of these verses. “Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” That is pretty cool. When we are one with Him we have His peace. When we are hosting the Holy Spirit we have his peace. Check this out:
Romans 14:17 (GNT) 17 For God’s Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of the righteousness, peace, and joy which the Holy Spirit gives.
Romans 14:17 (EXB) 17 •In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important [For the kingdom of God is not (about) eating and drinking]. The important things are living right with God [righteousness], peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
And of course these verses go with it:
Romans 3:21-26 (GNT) 21 But now God’s way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it. 22 God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ,
Romans 8:10 (AMP) 10 But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].
1 Corinthians 1:30 (EXB) 30 Because of God you are in [united with; in relationship with] Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God. In Christ we are put right with God, and have been made holy, and have been set free from sin [and became for us righteousness, holiness, and redemption].
2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP) 21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].
On top of all that is the idea that His presence (peace) is in us, precedes us and is on us. God is Spirit, He works from the Spirit and the Spirit precedes the natural. When we go places we carry His peace. Others are affected by the peace that we carry. Jesus said to His disciples that they were to release His peace wherever they went. If it was received then stay there. If it was rejected then it was time to move on. We are the light of the world. The light invades and removes darkness. The darkness cannot invade the light. Lastly, Jesus has conquered all our enemies. He is on the throne and we are taking back territory. The enemy has no chance.
Just the other day I was wearing a T-shirt that a dear friend gave to me that has the words “Yay God” on the front. I was telling my wife that I sometimes am afraid to wear it in public since I might attract “the wrong kind of attention.” The funny thing is I have worn it many times and never had a confrontation, not even one. Then it dawned on me, that I have been believing a lie. If I am carrying His peace and my heart is to share the love of God, who could come against me? If I was out and about promoting religion, behavior modification, moral obligation, conditional salvation and all that other religious spirit stuff, of course I will encounter the enemy. Why? I am not representing the Kingdom. I am not carrying His presence for others. I am not sharing the heart of God. I am living for self. When I am surrendered to His presence, it will look like, feel like and actually be peace, His peace. Who wouldn’t want to do that? So come on and let’s wear our “Yay God” shirts to bring His Shalom to the world!