Fruit of the Spirit: Peace (Part 2)
Romans: In the beginning of his Epistle to the Romans, where it was customary in posted letters to declare the writer’s best wishes to the intended reader (or readers), Paul’s benediction is as follows: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1.7).
Grace and peace to you. This is the grace of God with which he freely forgives the sins of those whom are “the called of Jesus Christ” (v.6) and the “beloved of God” (v.7); and this is the peace of God that proceeds from it: the tranquility of conscience—the rest of soul—possessed by those who know they have this saving grace.
We must understand that gospel grace and gospel peace both come “from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a Christian. Only Christians have grace and peace with God. Grace and peace with God come only by the the Saviour.
I Corinthians: In the opening benediction of Paul’s first epistle to the church in Corinth, he addresses people whom he knows to be the “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints”. The apostle intends that this epistle should be received by a broader audience that this one congregation: he writes to believers “all, in every place”—everyone who exercises his or her faith when they “call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord”. This includes gospel believers in every place even today—all of us whose Lord Jesus Christ is the very same One as Paul and his company worshipped: “both theirs and ours”. We too are in the “fellowship of [God’s] Son” (1 Corinthians 1.9). So, Paul’s pastoral instruction and benediction is for us also: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1.2-3).
Paul thanked God on the behalf of his first readers, for the grace and peace that God was bestowing upon them (v.4). We continue to thank God for this same grace and peace that he is bestowing upon us.
The grace of God, which we sometimes refer to as his ongoing work of grace in us enriches everything in our spiritual life in Christ, and it is manifest in everything that we speak of and know concerning him: “That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you” (vv.5-6). All that God gives to his people in the Christian life, both faith and holiness and fruit and testimony, is theirs: “So that ye come behind in no gift;1 waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv.7-8)—and all this is given to Christians today, who have the same grace and peace from God.
With this grace of God in his first readers’ hearts, and ours too, Paul immediately moves the Corinthians to consider the peace of God that is also in out hearts, and which we should manifest in the church: “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (vv.9-10 ff.).
Where God’s saving grace is, there is his peace; and this peace should change our lives so that we live in peace together in the fellowship of Christ, as his people. This peace should be in us and in our Christian fellowships today.
2 Corinthians: Again, in his second epistle to the churches of the city of Corinth and the province of Achaia, Paul gives them this good word (benediction): “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1.2). They had peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ because they were God’s “saints” (v.1), i.e. Christians.
This good word Paul intended for their comfort, for at this time these Christian believers and those with Paul himself were going thorugh some terrible persecitions for their faith. He reminded them that God “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” was with them, and that he was their “Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (vv.3-4).
God had already strengthened Paul and his companions, so that they held fast though an intense wave of Christian persecution. And God would do so again and again: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death [i.e. that persecution], and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (vv.8-10).
This same peace of God that he gave to the apostle, he also gives to all the Lord’s people: “But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (vv.18-20).
Galatians: To the churches of Galatia Paul wrote, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 3-5).
God’s grace through Christ brings us peace with God, from God. The Galatian saints were in danger of forgetting this and failing to preach it in their churches, and were turning aside to “another gospel: which is not another” (vv.6-7). Paul, the warring persecutor (Acts 9.1) turned preacher of the gospel of peace, certified to them that “the gospel which was preached of me [Paul] is not after man” but of God, by “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (vv.11-12).
This gospel brings peace to those who receive it, both Jews and Gentiles—peace with God and a new life of peace on earth: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (3.26-28).
This is the peace of those set free from the penulty of the broken law of God, whose new nature is to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (5.13-14).
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (5.19-23). Walk together in the Christian’s peace with God, in the fellowship of Christ, bearing this Spirit-grown fruit in your life.
Ephesians: Paul’s benediction “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” is the same: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1.1-2). The grace of God that brings peace with God blesses us with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (v.3).
Our faith and trust in “the gospel of [our] salvation”, and our peace with God that works out in peace in our churches, as with all the fruit of the Spirit, assures us that we “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (vv.13-14).
This grace and peace from God to us is bestowed upon us through our Lord Jesus Christ—by “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” (v.19).
Philippians: Paul’s benediction to the “to all the saints in Christ Jesus” among the Philippians also pronounces: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1.1-2). He thanks God for this peace being lived out at Philippi: “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (v.5). From the peace that is in Paul’s own heart even in the ordeal of persecution and imprisonment for Christ that he was then going through (v.7), he wanted them to know that this only furthered the gospel and kingdom of Christ (vv.12-14).
Meanwhile, Paul knew that in the church at Philippi’s peaceful, loving fellowship in the gospel, they themselves would mature and flourish as Christians: “that he [the Holy Spirit] which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (v.6).
Paul was confident in their Christianity, because he saw in the peace that they had in their fellowship, that “ye all are partakers of my grace” (v.7)—the same grace that Paul had from God through Christ, and which his own evangelism had been instrumental in bringing to them (Acts 16.12 ff.)
Colossians: Again, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1.2). Paul and Timothy (v.1) gave thanks to God for the grace the Colossians had recieved, which was evident in their “faith in Christ Jesus”, and for the peace they had received, which was evident in “the love which ye have to all the saints” (v.4).
That grace and peace from God to these Christians was an early installment of the “hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (v.5). This same gospel hope, which is increasingly preached and shared around all the world today, “bringeth forth fruit” (v.6) in all those who “[know] the grace of God in truth”—all who consequently manifest their peace with God in their church’s “love in the Spirit” (v.8).
Where God’s grace has come, his peace will come, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Yes, peace will come—but we must put it on and let it rule in our hearts; and from there we must let it rule in our churches. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (3.12-15).
The love that keeps our Lord’s second greatest commandment establishes this peace in the body of Christ (Matthew 22.35-40; 1 Corinthians 12.12-13, 27; Ephesians 1.21-22).
1 Thessalonians: The apostle begins his First Epistle to the Thessalonians by bringing them this benediction, this good word from God: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1.2). And he thanks God for how this grace and peace is manifected by them in their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (v.3).
Paul knew that all this was evidence of the Thessalonian Christians’ “election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (vv.4-5).
Paul saw that their Christian life followed his own example—“having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost” (v.6), and now their exemplary life shone before the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, who also testified of how the Thessalonians’ lived out the grace and peace that they had received (vv.7-8).
2 Thessalonians: This Christian life in the Thessalonians remained with them down the years, as Paul would later begin his second epistle to them in the same way, but intensified: “Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity2 of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth” (2 Thessalonians 1.2-3).
God’s grace was evidenced in their faith, and God’s peace was evidenced in the abundant charity (i.e. love) throughout their church fellowship.
This is not a reference to the sign and revelatory gifts that some of the Corinthian Christians had, which Paul will discuss later in this epistle. But here he is speaking about those gifts that “confirm” and make “blameless” all Christians: namely, the maturing and sanctifying work of grace by the Spirit our souls. ↩
This word “charity” translates the New Testament Greek word ἀγάπη (agape), meaning love (Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, word #26). ↩