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Peace and Peacemaking in Paul and the Greco-Roman World


Edward M. Keazirian

Peace and Peacemaking in Paul and the Greco-Roman World compares the Apostle Paul’s understanding of peace with various conceptions of peace in the Greco-Roman thought world of the first century. In contrast to similar studies that focus on the question of pacifism in the ancient world, the author seeks to clarify how the Greeks defined peace and then to show how their conception of war and peace established the ethos that ultimately defined them as a people.
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.


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Conclusion 183


Conclusion This study has examined peace and peacemaking within two frames of refer- ence: the thought-world of the Apostle Paul and the thought-world of the Greco-Roman culture around him. The study began with a survey of recent literature concerning peace and peacemaking in the ancient world. The study then discussed the history and development of Greek and Roman culture in order to explain the genesis of the ideas about peace that existed in the first- century Greco-Roman world. With this as background, the study then con- sidered Paul’s perspectives on peace and peacemaking, acknowledging vari- ous points of similarity and contrast between the two worldviews. Finally, the brief summary of the argument that follows will show that this study has confirmed its original thesis that the Greco-Roman thought-world considered conflict the norm and viewed peace as a welcome, though temporary, respite from conflict, while Paul considered peace to be the norm and saw conflict as an intrusive and unacceptable aberration. Summary of the Argument The purpose of the five chapters in Part I was to discover various conceptions of peace that became established norms in the Greco-Roman thought world and persisted into the first century of Imperial Rome. Chapter one explored in considerable detail the definition of peace, purportedly from Plato, that peace was the quiet interlude between periods of war or conflict. The ideas that one fights the war to gain peace and that the underlying hostility causing the war must be resolved before true peace could be established...

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