“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
What is “peace”? Webster provides the following definitions: “1. A state of tranquility or quiet: as a. freedom from civil disturbance; b. a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom; 2. freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; 3. harmony in personal relations; 4.a. a state or period of mutual concord between governments; b. a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity; 5. – used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell.” (www.marriam-webster.com). Rush Limbaugh concisely says, “Peace is the absence of threat and the presence of justice” (www.rushlimbaugh.com/2015/03/18/what_is_your_definition_of_peace).
Most people primarily think of peace as harmony in the world. They think of peace between men. They think of peace between governments.
The Bible uses the word “peace” in a variety of ways. The original word in the New Testament is, the Greek word, eirene. It is from the root word eiro, meaning “to join.” The word is used of: (1) harmonious relations between men – Matthew 10:34, Romans 14:19; (2) friendliness – 1 Corinthians 16:11; (3) harmonious relations between nations -Luke 14:2, Acts 12:20; (4) a state of national tranquility – Acts 24:2; (5) Freedom from molestation – Acts 9:31; (6) a sense of rest – Mark 5:34; (7) Order in the state – Acts 24:2; or in the church – 1 Corinthians 14:33; (8) harmonious relations between God and man – Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:17; (9) the tranquil state of the soul assured of its salvation through Christ – John 16:33; (10) the blessed state of the devout and upright men after death – Romans 2:10 (see Vine’s; Thayer).
Jesus did not offer His followers peace on earth. He acknowledged “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).
Jesus did not offer peace as the world offers it (John 14:27). What does this mean? It may mean that He did not offer the kind of peace to them that earthly governments provide. He, by force, would not directly regulate man’s behavior. Though, He does authorize government to do so (cf. Romans 13:1-ff). Many think that this means that He did not offer them empty words. Israelites at meetings and departures wished each other “shalom.” Matthew Henry comments, “I do not compliment you with ‘Peace be unto you’; no, it is not a mere formality, but a real blessing” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 904). Adam Clarke comments, “Not as the Jews in empty wishes: not as the people of the world, in empty compliments. Their salutations and benedictions are generally matters of custom and polite ceremony without desire or design; but I mean what I say; what I wish you, that I give you” (Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 625).
Jesus offers an inward peace which is not based upon external circumstances of this physical life. Guy Woods comments, “It is significant that the Lord did not say, ‘Ye have overcome the world; therefore, peace is yours’, this blessed promise was theirs because He did it. It is true that Christians must overcome the world in resisting its allurements and avoiding its temptations, but there must have been this initial triumph over it by our Saviour and Lord; Otherwise, salvation would not have been possible, regardless of any resistance to evil influences. Thus, the triumph of the Lord was also that of His disciples’. The verb ‘I have overcome the world,’ is in the perfect tense, completed action with continuing effects. The Lord’s mission into the world was now nearly over and so certain was it of completion that He could speak of it as already having been accomplished” (Woods, A Commentary on The Gospel According to John, p. 351). Jesus’ disciples can have an inward peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), because He has overcome the world!
“Peace, perfect peace, in this dark work of sin: The blood of Jesus whispers peace within/ Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed: To do the will of Jesus – this is rest/ Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round: On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found/ Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away: In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they/ Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown: Jesus we know, and He is on the throne/ It is enough; earth’s struggles soon shall cease, and Jesus call us to heav’n’s peace. (song: Peace, Perfect Peace by Edward H. Bickersteth)