Excursus – Is Peace an Attribute of God?
God is the God of peace because he gives peace. This is seen in Philippians 4. In verses 6-7 Paul exhorts the Philippians to not be anxious and then promises that the peace of God will guard their hearts. Just two verses later he promises “the God of peace will be with you” (4:9). We see this same idea in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
This name, “God of peace,” has its roots in the Old Testament. When the Lord called Gideon, he appeared to him as “the angel of the Lord” (Judg 6:11ff). Gideon presented a young goat and unleavened cakes and gave them to him, placing them on a rock. Then fire came from the rock and consumed them. This was when Gideon knew that this was the angel of the Lord and he was frightened, “‘Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.’ Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord is Peace” (Judg 6:22-24).
Gideon understood who was before him. Like Isaiah (see Isa 6:1-8) he knew that this was the Holy One and that he was a sinner. But God did not consume him. Instead, he spoke peace to him. Extending peace was a gift of mercy. So Gideon built an altar to commemorate this and rightly called it The Lord is Peace. The Lord showed mercy by giving peace, but Gideon did not merely say that YHWH is a God of peace; he said that YHWH is peace.
In Isaiah we read that the messiah will be the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus brings peace, but it teaches more as well. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far of have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace…”
God is not the God of peace simply because he is the giver of peace. He is the God of peace because he is peace. He is always peaceful. Because he is God he is all wise and all knowing. Therefore he has no anxiety about whether he is doing the right thing. He is all powerful and therefore there is no fear of what another might do to him. There is no internal conflict in him. He is at peace with every decision and every action.
Even more, as a trinity—Father, Son and Spirit—each person is at peace with the others. Jesus is always in complete and willing submission to the Father. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). So also the Spirit is always in complete and willing submission, “When the Spirt of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in harmonious agreement with the plan of redemption. Each is overjoyed to play his part and to bring honor to others. The Father sent the Son and seeks to exalt him (John 8:50, 54). The Son dwelt among us, died for us and and in all he does he glorifies the Father (John 14:13). The Spirit works in the hearts of God’s people to fill them with faith, he discloses to us the person of the Son and brings him glory (John 16:14).
Peace in the Godhead is certainly much more than just absence of conflict. It is a total and complete state of well-being. It is a blessedness of relationship, a wholeness of fellowship and a delight in one another.
God is love (1 John 4:8). He is not dependent on creation in order to show love, for there is perfect love between each person of the Godhead. God is peace (Judg 6:24). Again he is not dependent on creation in order to be at peace, for peace reigns between each person of the Godhead.
Like all blessings of salvation and Christian virtues, peace among men is a reflection of God’s own nature; it is a divine attribute. God is completely at peace with himself. We often experience struggles between contradictory impulses within us. God, on the contrary, is completely in harmony with himself. His three persons glorify and serve one another willingly and cheerfully. He is whole, well, and prosperous-blessed and happy.1
1. John Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002), 444.
Posts in this Series:
Peace (shalom) in the Old Testament
Created in Peace and the Consequence of Sin
The Gospel of Peace and the Death of Jesus Christ
Peace with God
Peace with Others
Peace in Creation and the Cosmos
Excursus – Is Peace an Attribute of God?
Called to Be Peacemakers