Shalom: Understanding Peace

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:19-21

Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). When Jesus meets his disciples after the resurrection, he continually says to them, “Peace” (John 20:19,21,26). Under these circumstances it is obvious that the term “peace” is extraordinarily full of meaning. What is this peace Jesus gives us? In order to understand Jesus’ words, we must reflect on the many facets of the crucial Hebrew term shalom, which lies behind the English word “peace.”

Shalom is one of the key words and images for salvation in the Bible. The Hebrew word refers most commonly to a person being uninjured and safe, whole and sound. In the NT, shalom is revealed as the reconciliation of all things to God through the work of Christ: “God was pleased . . . through [Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through [Christ’s] blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:19-20). Shalom experienced is multidimensional, complete well-being — physical, psychological, social, and spiritual; it flows from all of one’s relationships being put right — with God, with(in) oneself, and with others.

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