What is a Peacemaker?
5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, because they shall be called sons of Yahweh.
This term is only encountered twice in Scripture – once in Matthew and once in Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint. The word being translated is εἰρηνοποιός, and it is most often interpreted through a modern lens without using any Biblical insight at all. Because of this mistake, most readers assume Christ to be saying the exact opposite of what He is actually teaching.
This presentation will elaborate that this is not a call for a pacific placation. Whatever a peacemaker is cannot be justly removed from its context and must be in harmony with the Scriptures. It cannot be forced into the trapdoor of what society’s shortsighted idea of “peace” is, which being wicked (1 John 5:19) has developed to be far removed from the Scriptures.
In Proverbs we read:
Proverbs 10:10 (LXX) “He that winks with his eyes deceitfully, procures griefs for men; but he that reproves boldly is a peacemaker.”
This is from Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint, which was the chief translation used by the writers of the New Testament. Here in Proverbs, Solomon uses a form of the same word εἰρηνοποιός.
Students of the Bible should know that the two Testaments are one book and that Christ did not teach anything new: even if the majority of what he taught was generally unknown to the populace at the time due to the failures of their so-called religious leaders. When in doubt, Christ urged for men to search the scriptures, and that is exactly why this verse from Proverbs is a chief resource for scriptural understanding as to what a peacemaker is. What Solomon is effectively teaching us here in proverbs, is that a man who rebukes his fellow for sin is a peacemaker.
In order to understand how this could be, we should further search the Scriptures in order to understand how men can attain peace in this life. In Leviticus we read:
Lev 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; […] 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
We see that peace is a blessing from God for obedience, and this same idea is also expressed in the Blessings of Obedience found in Deuteronomy. There are many other observations of this truth throughout the Psalms and Prophets:
Psa 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”
Pro 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. (speaking of a personified Wisdom – which as a literary device represents the fear of Yahweh and the keeping of the Law)
Now because the Israelites had failed to keep the Law, they were not given this peace as it was promised in the Blessings of Obedience. They instead suffered the Curses of Disobedience, and Yahweh laments in Isaiah:
Isa 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea
And then shortly later Yahweh states:
Isa_48:22 There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
Therefore both a man and nation are only ever at peace when they are in obedience towards their Creator. Through such obedience do we hope to (Yahweh willing) escape both the fiery trials of our own failure (Heb 12:6, Rev 3:19) and also to escape the judgement which comes upon the society (Ezekiel 9).
An effective illustration concerning judgement: there is no doubt that the society of Noah’s time would have known peace if they had not fornicated with the fallen angels. Furthermore, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the others of the plain would have known peace also if it weren’t for their abominations. When we are not obedient towards our God, we invite judgement to ourselves and communities. God does not delight in the slaying of the wicked but wishes for Israel to learn from the consequences of sin and to repent and serve Him (Eze 18:23).
To be at peace with God is to walk with Him (Amos 3:3), and to walk with Him is to agree with Him, and keep His commandments. This invitation is readily accessible and more comfortable than bondage to sin, for as Christ said that His yoke is easy (Matt 11:30), and John reiterated that His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:13). Life is certainly harder without the firm anchor God – and often distraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Through obedience to God, we hope to retain our temporal salvation. When all men are obedient towards God, then in causation the Kingdom of God naturally manifests itself upon the Earth. Indeed the Psalms tell us that there will be peace in that day, for certainly every knee will bow.
Therefore a “peacemaker” is one who rebukes his brethren, seeking to bring them back towards obedience with their Creator so that they can attain there is peace. There is no other path towards establishing peace in our societies. This is a consistent theme throughout the Bible, as we see in the judgement of Noah’s society, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, the divorce and dispersion of Ancient Israel, the judgement of the assemblies in Revelation, and even the judgement of Byzantium and Mystery Babylon (Rev 9 & 18 respectively)
The reason that Creation has been for such a long time subjected to vanity and suffering is so that we as a collective all learn the consequences of sin (Ecc 3:10, Rom 8:22). In the end when all of the dead are raised and the parable is completed, there will be no argument as to the fact that Yahweh God is perfect in His Law.
James 3:18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those making peace.
Christians are to be a light on a hill for their fellows: the responsibility for Christians to be peacemakers are readily evident and there are several exhortations to rebuke brethren made throughout the New Testament.
Paul said in Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, even if a man should already be caught up in some transgression, you, those of the Spirit, restore such a man in a spirit of meekness, watching yourself lest also you may be tested.” (CNT)
And at Eph 5:11 ”And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
If one does not listen to such a peacemaker when being rebuked, then the unrepentant sinner is to be put of the community. If such an unrepentant sinner is allowed to remain in a community then they very well may remove God’s peace from it.
As Paul advises in 1 Corinthians 5 to “deliver such a wretch to the Adversary, for destruction of the flesh, in order that the Spirit may be preserved in the day of the Prince.”
Putting such a man out of the community subjects them to the society, to non-Christians and aliens, and these elements will be used to chastise the sinner towards repentance. This is what Paul means when he references a deliverance to the Adversary for destruction of the flesh. If someone wrongs us or sins in our community, we may forgive them if they repent (Luke 17:3-4), but if they are unrepentant then they have no right to fellowship.
So Paul continued in that chapter “What is it to me to judge those outside? Not at all should you judge those within you [or among you]. 13 But those outside Yahweh judges; ‘you will expel the wicked from amongst yourselves.”
When we obey God in our personal lives we find peace, and when we expel the wicked from among ourselves we pray also that our assemblies find peace. When the nation is obedient towards God, it too will find peace as it is promised in the Blessings of Obedience. Hypocritical judgement is condemned by Christ and neither are we to condemn men to judgement for only Christ sees all ends and give the proper and fair trial; but recognizing sin is an entirely separate and signal responsibility for Christians. Christ consistently upbraided men, and we are to follow in His footsteps. Therefore, “peace” in the Bible is certainly not conformity, apathy or tolerance – and it certainly isn’t keeping your mouth shut when wickedness spreads itself in your communities.
This is why in the Law, if one does not rebuke their brother for a transgression then they themselves become liable for it (Lev 5:1)- as their silence is effectively saying that the transgression isn’t so bad as to warrant sticking their head out! Paul also recognizes this fact in his epistle to the Romans (Rom 1:32). Christians who fail to speak out against sin fail to heed these admonishments. This type of so-called “tolerance” is itself a virtue of a dying society, and it is a poison which many would label as “don’t judge”. This poison is the reason for the fall of many civilizations such as Egypt and Rome – and even ancient Israel. This is why it is written into the Law that men take on sin when they refuse to rebuke it – because silence is a destroyer of nations.
It certainly destroyed Israel, for during that time the leaders of ancient Israel cried “peace” when there was certainly none. Because we now follow in their failure, we invite similar judgement onto our nations today – which would be prosperous and peaceful if we had only kept the commandments. The experiment of Israel’s humanist arrogance is a failed one! (Rev 18:7)
Even worse, and this bears mentioning, is that the Israelites had sought peace with their enemies, whom they were commanded to be separate from, and had even admixed themselves and had begotten strange children (Jer 2:13, Eze 16:3, Hos 5:7). This apathetic ideal towards the enemies of God is explicitly forbidden in the Scriptures, and leads to another facet of the topic regarding peacemakers. While we have a responsibility to upbraid other members of the flock – we are also given a different type of commandment concerning those who are outside.
In the Law we read thusly, speaking of the enemies of God:
Deuteronomy 23:6 “Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.”
This Law was of course still expected post-captivity, as in Ezra we see a recapitulation of the commandment:
Ezra 9:12 “Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.”
And it is of course still a commandment today, for anything which isn’t a Work of the Law (that being any rite tied to Levitical sacrifices and rituals) still applies. Christ has replaced the need for the Levitical priesthood and for the daily sacrifices, having sacrificed Himself once and inheriting the Melchizedek priesthood, so we have our propitiation and the rituals have been done away with. However, the moral laws of God are unchanging as the truth of what is right and what is wrong is not something which can ever evolve nor change.
Therefore we can read a recapitulation from Christ:
Mat 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
This hearkens back to the commandment in Deuteronomy, that “thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever”. Dogs in Scripture are identified as the same aliens that the people were encouraged to not wish peace upon in the days of Moses, and to separate themselves from in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. These dogs are prophetically held culpable for the death of Christ in the Psalms, and this was fulfilled when Christ was crucified by the Idumean Pharisees who were not His sheep. (Ps 22:16-20, Matt 27:25, 1 Thess 2:15)
Paul also warns concerning dogs in his epistle to the Philippians. His epistles always being exclusively contextual towards the descendants of Abraham, outsiders are scarcely mentioned and when mentioned it is never positively. Paul made note that such dogs and outsiders cannot be forced into the Covenant (Galatians 3:15-16), and he writes concerning such outsiders in his epistle to the Colossians:
Colossians 4:5 In reference to those outside, you walk in wisdom, buying the time,
2 Thessalonians 3:2 and that we should be protected from those disgusting and wicked men, since the faith is not for all. (οὐ γὰρ πάντων ἡ πίστις)
These are the enemies of God, as Yahweh calls them in the Scriptures – not merely Israelite sinners whom Christ came to give propitiation – but plants which God did not plant – and Christians are not to seek their peace forever. Rather, we are to be a holy and separate people, as Peter echoes from Exodus in his first epistle (1 Peter 2:9); and to come out from among the unclean, as Paul exclaims in 2 Corinthians 6:17 through quoting Isaiah. Therefore the action of peacemaking does not stretch out to such parties, and rebuking these outsiders would be further mute, as they never had the Law. This is much the reason why Christ never openly preached to the Sadducees or uttered a word from His mouth to Herod (Luke 23:9). But concerning other sheep, Christians should certainly seek to bring them to repentance and this is indeed peacemaking.
In summary we have learned that:
l All things are under the Will of Yahweh and only He Himself can choose to grant a man or society peace.
l And we have seen it demonstrated in Scripture that men experience peace through obedience to God.
l Christians are expected to rebuke their brethren to bring them back in obedience with God, and doing so they make themselves peacemakers.
l Concerning those who are outside the scope of the Covenants – Christians are not to rebuke them nor wish their peace but rather separate themselves from them to the best of their ability.
It should one last time be emphasized that peace only comes from God, as we read in the exclamation of the messengers upon the Advent of the Christ:
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there were with the messenger a multitude of the heavenly army praising Yahweh and saying: “Honor to Yahweh in the heights, and peace upon the earth among approved men.”
“Peace upon the earth among approved men”: through our fruits we may show that we are approved, this being something which Paul taught throughout his epistles. That approval is chief signaled through an obedience and keeping of the commandments through which men know peace.
The Creator knows the blueprints for peace better than any man who is lawless ever would. Now there is no doubt that Israel will again learn what true peace is apart from the deceptive and poisonous “kumbayah” of the adversaries of God (Rev 20:8). As our multi-generational chastisement continues to worsen, there is no alternative for Israel except awakening and repentance. Israel will learn what true peace is once they remove the shackles and blindfolds from their eyes and begin to lift up their brethren towards obedience once again. Indeed, the prophecies assure us that the Kingdom will know an abundance of peace.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14