Do you really understand what the Bible means when it talks about peace? The Bible Project breaks down the Hebrew and Greek meanings of the word and gives commentary on their implications to our understanding of Jesus—the Prince of Peace.
Shalom in Hebrew
In Hebrew, the word for peace is shalom. Its basic meaning is “whole,” as in a stone that doesn’t have a single crack in it. It refers to “something that’s complex with lots of pieces that’s in a state of completeness.”
Shalom can also refer to a person’s well-being. For instance, when David visited his brothers on the battlefield (the same fated trip when he would slay Goliath), he asked about their shalom.
Life is complex with all our relationships and challenges, the narrator of the video states. In the book of Proverbs, “to reconcile and heal a relationship is to bring shalom.”
When rival kingdoms come to shalom, they not only stop fighting one another but they also work toward each other’s prosperity.
The kings of Israel were commissioned to work toward shalom, yet they rarely did this. The prophet Isaiah addressed the kings’ negligence and spoke about a ruler who would bring shalom that would never end. “He will be called Prince of Shalom…and there will be no end of Shalom.” Isaiah 9:5-6
Eirene in Greek
Jesus’s birth was called the arrival of “eirene,” which is the Greek word for peace. When Jesus taught, he said, “My peace I give to you all.”
Jesus’s ultimate act of peace occurred when he “restored to wholeness the broken relationship between humans and their creator.” This is why Paul says Jesus “himself is our peace” in Ephesians 2:14.
True peace is not just the absence of conflict. Rather it is going a step further and restoring something that has been broken to wholeness. To be a person of peace is to follow in the example of Jesus, who reached out to his enemies, cared for the poor and the sick, and called people up to a higher standard.