But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
So, then we can interpret this passage as we start with this truth…
The peacemaker that Jesus blesses always makes peace first with his or her Heavenly Father through Christ Jesus. There must be peace made with heaven before there can ever be peace made on earth. God the Father first. Man the creation second. We cannot make peace with one another until we first have made peace with God.
Have we made peace with ourselves by reconciling who we are to who God has made and purposed us to be. We cannot be in conflict with ourselves and be a peace-maker – no one can serve two masters. We end up loving one and hating the other and the next day we hate the one we loved and love the one we hated. Jesus offers the remedy in the following conclusions from His Word.
Eliminate Character Contradictions – we must be true to God in order to be true to ourselves. Good character makes peace possible – Bad character makes the contradictions of our character inevitable. (Galatians 5:16-24) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Practice Godly Habits and Behaviors – our external habits and behaviors reflect our internal motives and processes – heart (emotion and desire) mind (truth or deception) spirit (will and attitude). (Philippians 4:8-9) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Offer our Time, Talent, Treasure – where do we distribute and invest our most valuable and powerful assets? ( 2 Corinthians 9:6-11) The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Along with those inductive conclusions. There are three interpretive conclusions that must guide us in search of the true meaning and correct interpretation of this passage:
(1) The character of those to whom Jesus was and is now speaking. Our character is who we are when there is no one there to hear, see, or walk with us. Do we have the right and righteous character to be a peacemaker? Are we contentious, argumentative, prideful, hot-tempered, sharp-tongued, harsh, arrogant, overly competitive, leading a double life? These are all character obstacles to peace-making.
(2) The order that is occupied by our text in the series of the nine Beatitudes. Was the “peace-maker” beatitude being spoken by Jesus last in the order of His teaching meant to be a reveal of importance or priority? The answer is no. Certainly, peacemaker is not intended to be a lesser or greater beatitude based on its order in the teaching of Jesus. In fact, peace-making is inextricably united to the character and heart of God – it is not an add-on, it is essential, and central to His relationship and purpose with His people through His son Christ Jesus.
So, significance to the order of peace-making is more related to the fulfillment and completion of the Kingdom of Heaven’s new and living way which He was introducing (unveiling) to the Galilean audience that day.
(3) The connection that verse nine has with the Beatitude that follows. Persecution is coming to people of faith in God and those who would recognize Jesus as the biblical and divine Messiah. It was then, as it is now – inevitable. Jesus is promising to bless all those who are poor in spirit, who mourn for their sinful ways, who are meek yet not weak, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful and pure in heart, and all those who will allow their character to be shaped into becoming peacemakers. He is preparing all those – all of us for what is coming. The evil and oppressive forces of resistance and the difficulty of ungodly opposition came to those first Christians in the form of very real and tangible persecution and trial – it is now coming to us. How does the peacemaker respond to all that?
The number one answer to that question is – with Godly character. The Jews, in general, regarded the Gentile nations with bitter contempt and hatred, and they expected that, under the Messiah, there should be a continuous series of retribution attacks made on these nations, until they were completely destroyed or subjugated to the chosen people of God. This of course was an idea made popular and propagated by what the Rabbi’s taught for centuries from the Book of Joshua concerning the demeaning and shameful experiences of their forefathers. Clearly, the influencers of the Hebrew people were embittered by their past. In their estimation, they deserved better, that they were entitled as the chosen of God to be happy. They needed the Messiah a Savior and Redeemer – but they wanted revenge – not peace. They were waiting to exact that revenge on every heathen nation who had been unjust and or done them wrong in their past. Their character had become a moral contradiction to the character of God. By covenant, God had always been just towards them. And, in spite of certain times of judgement, God had always forgiven them and moved them forward to fulfillment of their covenant promise. but religious, prideful, arrogant, and narcissistic people always want what they want and are never humble enough to receive what they need.
In the final conclusions of the Peace-maker Beatitude we can clearly see that becoming a peacemaker in the meaning and context of which Jesus used has to do more with conduct of godly-character – not being in conflict or contradiction with who God has called us be. However, there must first be a peaceable spirit residing in the heart, mind, and spirit of a man or woman before there can be active and effective efforts towards making peace. Important to remember that in this first section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is defining the character for those who to become the family of God, and children of His Kingdom.
Jesus blesses and describes each Beatitude in terms of the initial experiences of those who were believing in Him and coming into the Kingdom of God. The first four Beatitudes, as we have previously stated, may be grouped together as setting forth the negative graces of their hearts. Christ’s subjects are not self-sufficient, but consciously poor in spirit. They are not self-satisfied but mourning because of their un-satisfied and sinful spiritual state. They are not self-important, but lowly or meek. They are not self-righteous but hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of the only one who is righteous. However, in the next three Beatitudes, the Lord names their positive graces. Having tasted of the mercy of God, they are merciful in their relationships and responses with others. Having received from the Spirit a spiritual nature, their eye is single purposed to behold the glory of God. Having entered into the peace that Christ made by the blood of His cross, they are now ready and willing to be used by Him in bringing others to the same such peace.
Finally, what helps our understanding perhaps as much as anything else, is to connect the meaning of the peacemaker and meaning of the persecuted that immediately follows in verse ten. The pattern we have discovered our study is found in the fact that the Beatitudes are grouped together in pairs.
· Poor in spirit is always accompanied with Mourning
· Meekness or Humility with Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness
· Mercifulness with the Pure in Heart
· Peacemaking with being Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake
The correct interpretation is that verses 10-12 provide us with the key to fully understanding verse 9.
“I can fully understand being a peace-maker when I embrace the godly-character needed in response to evil and hostile persecution for the sake of the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”
By contextualizing the peace-maker Beatitude from each of the three separate viewpoints mentioned above, we arrive at the same conclusion.
The Character – The Order – The Connection
This beatitude of peacemaking supports the six mentioned in the previous verses. Perhaps the fact that this is the seventh Beatitude indicates that it was Yeshua’s intent to teach that it is peace-making that gives completeness or wholeness to Christian character.
We must also conclude that it is an unthinkable privilege to be sent as ambassadors of peace – peacemakers. Isn’t it obvious that we would not be sent to make peace if we were not fully at peace with God and ourselves? Furthermore, those who perceive themselves to be Christians, yet have no interest in the redemption and salvation of fellow sinners, are self-deceived. They possess a defective Christianity and have no right to expect to share in the blessed inheritance of the children of God. Third, there is a definite link between this matter of our being peacemakers and the persecution to which our Master alludes in verses 10-12. By mentioning these two aspects of Christian character and experience side by side in His discourse, Christ is teaching that the opposition encountered by His disciples in the path of duty is the result of their faithfulness in the service to which they have been called. Thus, we may be certain that the peacemaking of our text refers primarily to our becoming who God has called us to be – and ready instruments in His hands for the purpose of reconciling to Him those who are actively engaged in warfare against Him.
These things I command you, so that you will love one another. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
We are a Bible teaching Christian church in Peoria, AZ. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.
We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and watch our live streaming service on YouTube.