Peacemaking — A Misnomer?
"Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Matt. 5:9
"And the seed, whose fruit is righteousness, is sown in peace by those who make peace." Jas. 3:18
These are the only two passages in the entire New Testament in which man is likened unto a peacemaker. There are many verses in which we are encouraged to live at peace with one another, but only these two where it is suggested that we can make peace. The question is:
Is it the role of a Christian to make peace?
Starting in 1982, I began to minister reconciliation to people and organizations in conflict using biblical principles. But I was haunted by the load of the words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
I was haunted because I so seldom saw reconciliation or peace of people in conflict.
This haunting caused me to do a word study of the Greek word which is translated "make" in these two verses — poieo — a word used 84 different ways, for a total of 566 times, in the New American Standard version of the Bible. "Make", "Made", "Makes", and "Making" constitute 105 of those times.
In all 566 usages, there are only three times where man can apparently “make” another free and willful person to voluntarily do or become something — the two verses set forth and Matt. 5:32:
"But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes (poieo) her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
Other than these three verses, if a completed act effecting an internal change in another person is what is being addressed, then the actor in the matter is either God or Christ! Some examples are:
"You (the master in the parable of the workers) have made us equal with them." Matt. 20:12
"Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this *** as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?" Acts 3:12
"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Mt. 4:19
"Blessed be the Lord God if Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people." Lk. 1:69
In fact, relative to peace, the Bible says this:
"For He Himself is our peace, Who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall by abolishing in His flesh the enmity which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." Eph. 2:14 15
"If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." Lk. 19:42
Even the ability to perform (poieo) miracles is "by His name". Matt. 7:22; Mk. 9:39.
Only God can provide (poieo) an escape. I Cor. 10:13.
On the other hand, Pilate could only wish to satisfy (poieo) the multitude. Mk. 15:15
Life is in His control, for "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?" Jn. 11:37
From this study, I have a suggestion. Based upon other usages of poieo, the following would all be correct interpretations of Matt. 5:9 (in parenthesis I have placed the number of times poieo is used in that sense in the NT):
Peace acting or Act in peace (10)
Peace bearer (6)
Peace bringer (8)
Peace commiter (8)
Peace doer (304) (did; does; done: doing)
Peace giver (10)
Peace offeror (2)
Peace performer (8)
Peace practicer (17)
Peace shower (4)
Peace treater (7)
Personally, I like these concepts better. I never did think that I could "make" others live at peace. Jesus Christ can, and might use me in the process to "act", or "do" peace.
William D. Bontrager,
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