Regardless of when this passage is studied, strangers will be killing strangers, neighbors will be killing neighbors, brothers will be killing brothers, religious factions will be trying to destroy each other, and nations will be trying to eradicate other nations.
In the midst of hatred and strife, this beatitude comes as a refreshing breeze: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
It has not always been readily apparent how some of the Beatitudes relate to happiness, but we have little trouble with this one. It is difficult to be happy in an atmosphere of animosity and turmoil, but happy are those who work at promoting peace.
Think about it. Are happy people irritable, always ready to take offense, or eager to stir up strife? People such as these are miserable, and the only “enjoyment” they get is in making others miserable also.
What about the gentle, the kindly, the affectionate, those who love peace, and those who do all they can to promote peace in their homes, in the church, and among their neighbors and friends? You know which group is happier. In the fruit of the Spirit, joy and peace are joined together—and both are preceded by love (Galatians 5:22).
5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”NRSV Jesus came as “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7) and gave the ultimate sacrifice to bring peace between God and humanity (Ephesians 2:14-18; Colossians 1:20). God calls his children to be peacemakers. This involves action, not just passive compliance.
Peacemakers do more than just live peaceful lives; they actively seek to “make peace,” to cause reconciliation, to end bitterness and strife. This peace is not appeasement but dealing with and solving problems to maintain peace.
Arrogant, selfish people do not concern themselves with peacemaking. Peacemakers will be called children of God because they reflect their Father’s character. This has a royal sense—they will share the glories of the Messiah’s kingdom.
|How do you resolve conflict? Most people use different means for different settings.|
|· Making peace with your children includes defining the boundaries between right and wrong, enforcing discipline, and affirming each child with love and affection.|
|· Making peace with friends includes broadening your mind to include the possibility that someone else’s ideas make sense. It means accepting your friend’s explanation at face value and applying the least hurtful meaning to the offensive words you heard. It means taking a step toward trust, away from anger, and onto an unmarked playing field called vulnerability. That’s the risky price of friendship.|
|· Making peace with your spouse can be the most difficult of all. Sometimes it requires outside help, often a lot of listening, mutual confession, and rebuilding of love that’s been burned. Too often today, the alternative is to quit.|
We must investigate certain matters of meaning in it.
(i) First, there is the word peace. In Greek, the word is eirene), and in Hebrew it is shalom). In Hebrew peace is never only a negative state; it never means only the absence of trouble; in Hebrew peace always means everything which makes for a man’s highest good. In the east when one man says to another, Salaam—which is the same word—he does not mean that he wishes for the other man only the absence of evil things; he wishes for him tile presence of all good things. In the Bible peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good.
(ii) Second, it must carefully be noted what the beatitude is saying. The blessing is on the peace-makers, not necessarily on the peace-lovers. The peace calls blessed does not come from the evasion of issues; it comes from facing them, dealing with them, and conquering them. What this beatitude demands is not the passive acceptance of things because we are afraid of the trouble of doing anything about them, but the active facing of things, and the making of peace, even when the way to peace is through struggle.
(iii) The King James Version says that the peace-makers shall be called the children of God; the Greek more literally is that the peace-makers will be called the sons (huioi, of God. This is a typical Hebrew way of expression. Hebrew is not rich in adjectives, and often when Hebrew wishes to describe something, it uses, not an adjective, but the phrase son of… plus an abstract noun. Hence a man may be called a son of peace instead of a peaceful man. Barnabas is called a son of consolation instead of a consoling and comforting man. This beatitude says: Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the sons of God; what it means is: Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be doing a God-like work. The man who makes peace is engaged on the very work which the God of peace is doing (Rom 15:33; 2 Cor 13:11; 1 Th 5:23; Heb 13:20).
The meaning of this beatitude has been sought along three main lines.
(i) It has been suggested that, since shalom means everything which makes for a man’s highest good, this beatitude means: Blessed are those who make this world a better place for all men to live in. Abraham Lincoln once said: “Die when I may, I would like it to be said of me, that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” This then would be the beatitude of those who have lifted the world a little further on.
ch took this beatitude in a purely spiritual sense, and held that it meant: Blessed is the man who makes peace in his own heart and in his own soul. In every one of us there is an inner conflict between good and evil; we are always tugged in two directions at once; every man is at least to some extent a walking civil war. Happy indeed is the man who has won through to inner peace, in which the inner warfare is over, and his whole heart is given to God.
(iii) But there is another meaning for this word peace. It is a meaning on which the Jewish Rabbis loved to dwell, and it is almost certainly the meaning which Jesus had in his mind. The Jewish Rabbis held that the highest task which a man can perform is to establish right relationships between man and man. That is what Jesus means.
There are people who are always storm-centers of trouble and bitterness and strife. Wherever they are they are either involved in quarrels themselves or the cause of quarrels between others. They are trouble-makers. There are people like that in almost every society and every Church, and such people are doing the devil’s own work. On the other hand—thank God—there are people in whose presence bitterness cannot live, people who bridge the gulfs, and heal the breaches, and sweeten the bitternesses. Such people are doing a godlike work, for it is the great purpose of God to bring peace between men and himself, and between man and man. The man who divides men is doing the devil’s work; the man who unites men is doing God’s work.
So, then, this beatitude might read: O the bliss of those who produce right relationships between man and man, for they are doing a godlike work!
The Meaning. God is the God of peace; His whole plan of redemption is to provide peace with God for those who were formerly alienated from God, and ultimately bring peace to the whole world (Isa. 9:6,7). This is the goal of the work of the Messiah.
But in the human race, however, there is strife and conflict with little hope for peace and unity. The peace that God brings is not a cessation of hostilities, tolerance, or the readiness to give way. True peace that the world needs calls for a complete change of nature. And only God can give this kind of peace. It is a peace that the world does not understand (John 14:27). It begins with reconciliation with God and extends to reconciliation with other people.
Those who are peacemakers are then first and foremost people who understand what true peace is. Their effort is to strive to establish a peace that embraces God’s provision of peace, so that people will be in harmony with one another because they are at peace with God. In other words, the true peacemakers are they who promote the kingdom of God. Their lives are given to working for promoting the kingdom of God, reconciling adversaries, quenching hatred, uniting those who are divided, promoting true understanding and spiritual love. And they do this because they know what true peace is. So the quality described here is one that is spiritual and not simply a political seeking of peace.
And the promise is that they shall be called the sons of God. That means they will be true children of God. This adds to what life will be like in the kingdom–possession of land, stilling of hunger, vision of God, and now sonship. And all these begin when people enter the kingdom by faith, but will be fulfilled completely when the kingdom finally comes.
In the New Testament sonship is a powerful expression for salvation. It means that believers have been born into the family of God by the Holy Spirit, and that those so designated have a personal relationship with the Father through Christ the Son, that they are joint heirs with Him, that they have a place in their heavenly home by birthright. Not yet in the full sense, but truly in the certainty of the promise can believers say, “We are called the children of God” (see John 1:12,13 and 1 John 3:1).
The Application. So the disciples of Jesus should be promoting peace. They do this by spreading the Gospel of peace to the world, and by promoting reconciliation within the household of faith as well. In short, they should be doing the work of the Messiah.
Several questions about our text need to be answered. What is involved in being a peacemaker, and what does the term “sons of God” imply? In our study of the seventh beatitude, we will approach the text a little differently than we did with the previous beatitudes. We will first talk about the end of the verse (the promise): “They shall be called sons of God.” Then we will discuss the beginning of the verse (the requirement): “Blessed are the peacemakers.” This will allow us to conclude with an application of Matthew 5:9 to our day.
“. . . FO THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD.”
As has been the case in all the Beatitudes, the primary source of the blessedness or happiness of peacemakers is found in the promise: “For they shall be called sons of God.” The KJV has “for they shall be called the children of God,” but the word translated “children” is the plural of the Greek word for “son” (ui˚o/ß, huios). The term is used here in a generic sense to refer to both males and females, both sons and daughters of God.3 What a wonderful promise this is: to be called sons and daughters of God, to be sons and daughters of the King, to be sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe!
The phrases “daughter of God” and “daughters of God” are not found in the Bible. Perhaps the emphasis is on “sons” because, in ancient times, usually only sons were heirs.
derstand the implications in the phrase “sons of God.” “Son of ” was a Hebrew expression mean- ing “partaking of the nature of.” Barnabas was called the “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36) because it was his nature to encourage others. “Sons of God” implies those who partake of the nature of God. We have an expression: “Like father, like son.” That is our challenge as children of God (see Matthew 5:48). In our text the phrase “sons of God” specifically refers to those who partake of God’s nature to be a peacemaker.
The Divine Peacemaker
According to Proverbs 6:16–19, “there are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him.” The seventh is “one who spreads strife among brothers.” God hates strife and loves peace. He is called “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33).
He created a world which was filled with peace until sin brought disharmony and death. To restore peace, He sent His Son, “His only begotten Son,” into this sin-sick, turbulent world (see John 3:16).
To appreciate how much God loves peace, we need only look at His Son, Jesus (see John 14:9). It was prophesied that Christ would be the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His birth was heralded with the phrase “on earth peace among men” (Luke 2:14). Shortly before He died, He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27a). Through His death He brought peace both to Jews (those near) and to Gentiles (those far away) (Ephesians 2:16, 17;see Colossians 1:20).
Imitating Our Father
You and I are challenged to be like God and Jesus. “Pursue peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14; see 2 Timothy 2:22); “. . . pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19).