“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Harry S. Truman said in an address on December 24, 1945, “I do not believe there is one problem in this country or in the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount… Would that the world would accept that message in this time of greatest need!” (Harry S. Truman: “Address at the Lighting of the National Community Christmas Tree on the White House Grounds,” December 24, 1945).
The word “blessed” (makarios) is defined to mean, “blessed, happy” (Thayer); “blessed, fortunate, happy usually in a sense of divine favor” (BAG). True lasting happiness is found in a right relationship with God.
Blessed are the peacemakers. The word “peacemaker” (eirenopoios) is defined to mean “an adjective signifying peace making” (Vine’s); “a peace-maker… pacific, loving peace [others… dispute this secondary meaning]” (Thayer). A verbal form of this word appears in Colossians 1:20; here it concerns reconciliation. [The word was also used in the secular world of earthly rulers who maintained peace by force (Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Abridged, p. 210; Morey, When is it Right to Fight?, p. 46). However, while the government has a duty to protect its people and to maintain law and order, this usage does not fit the passages which we will consider.]
Peacemakers are not troublemakers, who stir up unnecessary and needless trouble. God’s people are instructed, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18); “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19); “Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace” (2 Timothy 2:22); “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Jesus taught that one should be long-suffering. (1) One should “turn the other cheek” instead of trading insults (Matthew 5:38-39). Robert Morey comments, “Jesus specifically referred to the right cheek being slapped instead of the left cheek because the slap of the right cheek by the back of the left hand was a personal insult and was not an act of violence done in the context of war. Slapping the right cheek was not a life-threatening attack. It was a personal insult, like spitting in someone’s face” (Morey, When is it Right to Fight?, p. 45). Oliver Greene comments, “Jesus did not say, ‘If someone shoots you in the back, turn around and let him shoot you in the heart!’ …No one will be very badly hurt by being slapped in the face” (Greene, The Gospel According to Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 413). (2) One should “give up the cloak” for peace (Matthew 5:40). If one thinks that you owe him, if one is so petty as to wish to sue you over your inner garment (tunic), then let him have the outer garment (cloak) as well if it will make things better. This is not addressing matters necessary for caring for one’s family (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). [Likely, most in Jesus’ day could lose the tunic and the cloak without serious problems. However, such might have been a great loss for some poor. The cloak might have been the only covering at night for some. The law protected the poor from losing their night coverings (Exodus 22:26-27 cf. Deuteronomy 24:12-13)]. (3) One should “go the second mile” (Matthew 5:41). Roman soldiers and officials could conscript one into helping with a task for the government (cf. Matthew 27:32). The conscription was limited to one mile, which was measured by 1,000 paces (Bible.org). One should not have the attitude this is my 1,000 step, I will go no farther. One should be willing to exceed the requirements for peace.
Peacemakers are not implacable or unforgiving (Romans 1:31). They seek to resolve conflicts between themselves and others (Genesis 13:1-9; Matthew 5:23-24 cf. 18:15-17). They seek peace with others.
Peacemakers are those who help solve problems between others (1 Samuel 19:4-6; Matthew 18:16-17). Paul seems to be appealing for such when he wrote, “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel…” (Philippians 4:2-3).
Pacemakers are also soul winners. They want man to be at peace with God. Therefore, they proclaim the Gospel of peace (cf. Romans 10:15; Ephesians 2:17; 6:15). The peacemaker “is one who, like Jesus, seeks to reconcile man to God and to bring divine peace into the lives of men” (H. Leo Boles, A Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, p. 125).
Peacemakers are needed in our homes and in the church (1) They are needed in our homes. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17). Hugo McCord writes, “Domestic tranquility springs not from household conveniences nor from college educations. It comes from within, from the deep wells of one’s soul as he eschews friction and stretches for the stillness of peace (McCord’s, Happiness Guaranteed, p. 48). John’s work included turning, “The hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6 cf. Luke 1:17). (2) They are needed in the church. Members should not be biting and devouring one another (Galatians 5:15). Malicious words, cannibalism will destroy a church. All members should be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). They should use their tongues for building up and strengthening the one another (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Sowers of discord are an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Let us caution that God desires not only peace, but purity. Hugo McCord writes, “As desirable as is peace in the church… yet there is something of more value… The scripture does not say ‘first peaceable, then pure,’ but ‘first pure, then peaceable’ (James 3:17). If a man has stolen his foster-mother and the church out of a fear of causing dissention quietly hushes the matter, that kind of peace is abominable. When a doctor injects penicillin in a two-year old child there is no peace… The result is good health. But avoidance of the immediate storm of wailing by not giving the needle could cause a funeral’ (McCord, Happiness Guaranteed, p. 50). Those who try to have peace without purity are saying, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” with God (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). True peacemakers seek not only peace with man, but also with God.
They shall be called sons of God. Question: If peacemakers are sons of God, then whose children are trouble-makers? Hugo McCord comments, “‘Woe to the troublemakers, for they shall be called the children of Satan’ would be the opposite of the seventh beatitude” (McCord, Happiness Guaranteed, p. 46).