From their earliest days, the city-states that eventually became Greece were constantly ravaged by war. Their myth, legend, religion, education, philosophy, and science created and perpetuated the idea that conflict was essential for existence. This idea passed to Rome as well so that by the first century, the Greco-Roman world consistently viewed peace as brief periods of tranquility in an existence where war and conflict were the norm.
Paul, however, insists that peace must be the norm within the churches. Peace originates in God and is graciously given to those who are justified and reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. God removes the enmity caused by sin and provides the indwelling Spirit to empower believers to think and behave in ways that promote and maintain peace.
Three social dynamics (shame-honor, patron-client, and friendship-enmity) are at work in Paul’s approach to conflict resolution and peacemaking within the churches. Rather than giving specific procedures for resolving conflict, Paul reinforces the believers’ new identity in Christ and the implications of God’s grace, love, and peace for their thoughts, words, and behavior toward one another. Paul uses these three social dynamics to encourage believers in the right direction, but their ultimate motivation and empowerment must arise from their common relationship with God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Part II Pauline Conceptions of Peace 83
PART II PAULINE CONCEPTIONS OF PEACE Though Paul uses the term ei∆rhvnh (“peace”) in the salutation of all his letters, none of them contains a succinct definition of peace. Nevertheless, from his usage of the term in various contexts and his handling of relationships among believers, a distinctive Pauline conception of peace can be ascertained. While Paul’s understanding of peace as the experience of security, contentment, tranquility, and felicity with respect to God, nature, self, and others did not differ substantially from other conceptions of peace in the Greco-Roman world, Paul’s ideas on the origin of peace, the basis for it, and the means of procuring and preserving it stood in sharp contrast to the common perspec- tives of his own day. Part II will examine the direct references to peace in the Pauline letters, as well as numerous indirect references that are implied by associated words and ideas without actually mentioning peace. The intent is to set forth as full a statement as possible of Paul’s conception of peace, focusing particular attention on his tendency to link peace to the themes of justification (God’s gift of righteousness to all who will receive it by faith), reconciliation (God’s resolution of human enmity toward God and the establishment of an amica- ble relationship in its place), and glorification (Christ’s ultimate triumph and the resurrection of all believers). The main focus of Part II is Paul’s view of peace. The first of the two chapters in this part will consider Paul’s...
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