(From Forerunner Commentary)
Matthew 5:9 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)
At first glance, there seems to be a number of contradictions regarding peace, peacemaking, and the Christian. Most commentators write only narrowly on peacemaking, approaching it almost entirely in regard to mediating between disputing people. Good as far as it goes, this is inadequate in describing what the beatitude means.
Jesus was a peacemaker; in Isaiah 9:6, He is titled "Prince of Peace." Here, however, an apparent contradiction appears. We might think that, if anyone could successfully mediate between warring parties, He could. If anyone could bring peace, perhaps even impose it, He could. But He did not. In fact, He says in Matthew 10:34-36, quoting Micah 7:6:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to "set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." And "a man's foes will be those of his own household."
Nonetheless, Jesus is still our model; His life is the pattern ours should follow. Paul writes in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Undoubtedly, Jesus did this, but it did not produce peace at that time. Some perceived His life, popularity, and words as so threatening that they put Him to death. Some were moved to jealousy while others, enraged, incited the populace against Him to sway Pilate's judgment. His life, death, and resurrection, however, enabled Him to be the instrument of our peace with God and each other by qualifying Him as the payment for sin and High Priest to mediate for us before the Father.
The following verses add several necessary elements:
» I John 2:2: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
» Romans 3:25-26: [Jesus,] whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
» Hebrews 5:9-10: And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek."
» Ephesians 2:14-18: For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
As a human, Jesus of Nazareth certainly had more success mediating between disputing parties than we ever will under similar circumstances. Even though His life created conflict and hostility in others, it did not stop Him from living the life of a peacemaker so that He could become a real Peacemaker upon His resurrection as Savior and High Priest. The life He lived as a man cannot be separated from what He became. It is the model of the kind of peacemaking Jesus intends in the Beatitude.
Peacemaking involves not only mediating but also everything the person is, his attitude and character as well as what he intends to accomplish. Peacemaking is a package dominated by the godliness of the person. Thus, Paul says in Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Romans 5:1 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)
Here, peace undoubtedly means a cessation of hostilities, a tranquillity of mind, where formerly a state of almost continual agitation had existed because of the carnal mind's innate hostility toward God and His law. These last several verses take note of the horrible contention and enmity that sin causes, for where there is no strife, there is no need for a peacemaker. All of us, however, were at war with God; Titus 3:3 catches all of us within its scope: "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." Before conversion, we each needed a peacemaker to mediate and make reconciliation for us.
What is missing from verses like Titus 3:3 is that they do not show how tenaciously human nature clings to our attitudes and behavior, providing a constant challenge to maintaining peace with God and others. Paul vividly describes his battle with it in Roman 7, and numerous other exhortations encourage us to employ self-control and love for God and the brethren. This leads us to understand that peacemaking involves more than mediating between disputing parties. Peacemaking is a constant responsibility. Its achievement is possible but more difficult than it first seems because many factors - both from within and without - challenge us in maintaining it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Galatians 3:19 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)
Throughout his writings, Paul uses the terms "law" and "covenant" interchangeably. One has to use the context to determine whether he is talking about a single statute, a body of laws, a covenant/agreement, or the Penteteuch. Notice how Paul uses the term "law" later in the book of Galatians:
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:21-23)
The births of Isaac and Ishmael are recorded in Genesis chapters 16 and 21, hundreds of years before the Old Covenant was given. Yet Paul refers to that portion of scripture as "the law"! Obviously, in this example Paul uses "law" to mean the entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), not just the commandments.
The end of Galatians 3:19, as well as verse 20, show that the "law" here was not just instruction to a group of people by a superior—the reference to a mediator shows that there was an agreement being discussed rather than a decree or a body of laws. If a king makes a law, there is no need for a process of mediation because the matter it is not open for discussion with the people. A mediator is only necessary when both parties have to agree to something, which clearly indicates a covenant rather than just a decree or law.
The Old Covenant was in addition to the one that God made with Abraham ("it was added"). It was not the first time that God's law had been taught, though; the Bible says specifically that Abraham kept God's commandments (Genesis 26:5). It shows Abraham and Jacob both tithing. It shows Abel and Noah already having an understanding of clean and unclean animals. The Sabbath harkens back to Creation (Genesis 2:1-3), and was given to Israel again after they left Egypt but before the Old Covenant was proposed (Exodus 16). Reading through Genesis and Exodus, it is very clear that there was a codified set of rules—laws—long before they were officially recorded at Mt. Sinai.
The Old Covenant was added because of the sins of the people. It was added, not to provide a means of justification, but to demonstrate to Israel what was right and wrong, because their "moral compass" had been badly damaged through their experiences in Egypt. The children of Israel sojourned in Egypt for 400 years, and during that time they lost the knowledge of God's way. They forgot His instructions to such a degree that God had to teach them all over again the way of life that was pleasing to Him. They had been so immersed in the pagan Egyptian culture that all of these laws, statutes, judgments, instructions, etc., were completely new to them. God added the Old Covenant to the one He made with Abraham as a sort of "booster shot"—Israel was so off track that God had to realign them with His ways by means of this temporary covenant, which would be in effect until Christ came. After Christ came, the Holy Spirit of God was available to those whom God called and made this New Covenant available to, and thus God was able to write His laws—still in existence and effect!—into the hearts of His chosen people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).
It is evident that the Old Covenant has served its purpose, and now it is obsolete, replaced by an infinitely better covenant (Hebrews 8:6-10, 13). But it is also evident that even though the covenant—the agreement between God and man—is no longer in effect, that does not mean God's law has become obsolete. The law and the covenant, in practice, describe two different things. The law is the codified standard of conduct God gave to His people; the covenant was the agreement in which Israel agreed to abide by God's laws. The abolition of the agreement, though, does not abolish the standard of conduct! The New Testament abounds with examples of God's law still being in effect (Matthew 19:17; 23:23; John 14:15,21; 15:10; Acts 21:24; 24:14; 26:19-20; 28:23; Romans 3:31; 6:1-2,15; 7:12,22,25; 8:7; I Corinthians 7:19; Ephesians 5:5; I Timothy 1:8-11; II Timothy 2:5; Titus 1:16; 2:11-14; Hebrews 8:10; James 1:22-25; 2:8-12; 2:14-26; I John 2:3-6; 3:22-24; 5:2-3; II John 1:6; Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14).
Christ Himself stated clearly that He did not come to destroy the law, but to show how to fulfill it—keep it in its entirety (Matthew 5:17-20). He then goes on to demonstrate the intent, or spirit, behind some of the laws. James admonishes each to "fulfill the royal law of liberty"—and there is no hint that he means we should individually "do away" with it!
The Old Covenant was "ordained" by angels (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:38; Psalm 68:17; I Corinthians 10:4). "Ordained," diatageis (NT:1299), usually means "to arrange", "to dispose in order", and is commonly used with reference to the marshalling of an army. A similar word, diatagas (NT:1296), is used in Acts 7:53, where it is translated "disposition." It properly means the "constituting" or "arranging" of an army; disposing it into ranks and proper divisions. Hence, it has been supposed to mean that the Covenant was given "amidst" the various ranks of angels being present to witness its transmission.
Deuteronomy 33:2 also shows God with His "holy myriads"—literally "ten thousands of holiness." God was attended by a vast army of intelligent beings, witnessing the ratifying of the Old Covenant with Israel and helping with prescribing, ordering, and arranging the covenant.
The covenant was "in the hand" or "under the control" of a Mediator, one who intervenes between two parties, either as an interpreter, intercessor, or reconciler. In the New Testament, in all the places where it occurs, it is applied to Jesus Christ, the great Mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).
David C. Grabbe
1 Timothy 2:5 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)
There is one mediator, Christ. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the parakletos, the Comforter. It is the guide, leading us into all truth. Comforter means "one who goes alongside." If this were a personality, then one would begin to think that it is in a position somewhere between us and the Father. But the Bible makes o mention of anything of the kind. There is only one between us and God, and that One is the Son.
This is similar in form to I Corinthians 11:3, which shows that, of the Deities above us, only One stands between us and God the Father, that is, God the Son. This means that not even the Holy Spirit, sent to us as a Comforter, is a mediator.
If the Holy Spirit were God (equal to the Father and the Son), it would be an affront of the highest order to exclude "Him" from an intermediary role between us and the Father—especially when we consider that the Bible assigns us, mere human beings, an intercessory role between others and the Father. By prayer we are to intercede before the Father for one another, which is a form of mediation. We go to the Father in behalf of our brothers and sisters who are undergoing trial, difficulty, sickness, or whatever. The Holy Spirit is excluded from this role because it is not a personality, yet we are given it because we are personalities.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit
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