“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
True peace exists only where truth reigns.
People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional disaster.
James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” Godly wisdom, purity, and peace go hand in hand. Peace is wisdom in action and is never established at the expense of righteousness. Peace brings righteousness to bear on the situation, seeking to eliminate the source of conflict and to create right relationships. Feuding parties will know true peace only when they are willing to admit that their bitterness and hatred are wrong and humbly seek God’s grace to make things right.
Some people equate peacemaking with evading issues, but true peace can be very confrontational. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That may seem to contradict Matthew 5:9, but it doesn’t. Jesus knew that sinful people have to be confronted with the truth before they can experience peace. That can be a painful and difficult process because people usually have a hostile reaction to the gospel before they finally embrace it. Even believers will sometimes react negatively when confronted with God’s truth.
Being a Biblical peacemaker has its price. You can expect to upset unbelievers who openly oppose God’s Word, as well as believers who compromise its truth for the sake of maintaining “peace” among people of differing doctrinal persuasions. Some will call you narrow-minded and divisive for dealing with controversial issues. Some will misunderstand your motives or even attack you personally. But that’s been the path of every true peacemaker—including our Lord Himself. Take heart, and be faithful. Your efforts to bring peace show that you are a child of God.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God for the boldness never to compromise His truth. ✧ Pray for those you know who are suffering for the sake of the gospel.
For Further Study: Read Luke 12:51–53, noting how the gospel can bring division even among families.
Happy Are the Peacemakers
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (5:9)
The God of peace (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9) has emphasized that cherished but elusive reality by making peace one of the dominant ideas of His Word. Scripture contains four hundred direct references to peace, and many more indirect ones. The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity. The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace. Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality again, and He becomes the peace of all who place their faith in Him. Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His. Someday He will come as Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace, which will eventuate in ultimate peace, the eternal age of peace.
But one of the most obvious facts of history and of human experience is that peace does not characterize man’s earthly existence. There is no peace now for two reasons: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of man. The fall of the angels and the fall of man established a world without peace. Satan and man are engaged with the God of peace in a battle for sovereignty.
The scarcity of peace has prompted someone to suggest that “peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” In 1968 a major newspaper reported that there had been to that date 14,553 known wars since thirty-six years before Christ. Since 1945 there have been some seventy or so wars and nearly two hundred internationally significant outbreaks of violence. Since 1958 nearly one hundred nations have been involved in some form of armed conflict.
Some historians have claimed that the United States has had two generations of peace-one from 1815 to 1846 and the other from 1865 to 1898. But that claim can only be made if you exclude the Indian wars, during which our land was bathed in Indian blood.
With all the avowed and well-intentioned efforts for peace in modern times, few people would claim that the world or any significant part of it is more peaceful now than a hundred years ago. We do not have economic peace, religious peace, racial peace, social peace, family peace, or personal peace. There seems to be no end of marches, sit-ins, rallies, protests, demonstrations, riots, and wars. Disagreement and conflict are the order of the day. No day has had more need of peace than our own.
Nor does the world honor peace as much by its standards and actions as it does by its words. In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors. The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive. The model man is not meek but macho. The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek but proud.
The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first. But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.
The seventh beatitude calls God’s people to be peacemakers. He has called us to a special mission to help restore the peace lost at the Fall.
The peace of which Christ speaks in this beatitude, and about which the rest of Scripture speaks, is unlike that which the world knows and strives for. God’s peace has nothing to do with politics, armies and navies, forums of nations, or even councils of churches. It has nothing to do with statesmanship, no matter how great, or with arbitration, compromise, negotiated truces, or treaties. God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues; it knows nothing of peace at any price. It does not gloss or hide, rationalize or excuse. It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems. It often brings its own struggle, pain, hardship, and anguish, because such are often the price of healing. It is not a peace that will be brought by kings, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, or international humanitarians. It is the inner personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man and that only His children can exemplify.
Four important realities about God’s peace are revealed: its meaning, its Maker, its messengers, and its merit.
The Meaning of Peace: Righteousness and Truth
The essential fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflict and strife; it is the presence of righteousness. Only righteousness can produce the relationship that brings two parties together. Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness. Righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.
God’s peace not only stops war but replaces it with the righteousness that brings harmony and true well-being. Peace is a creative, aggressive force for goodness. The Jewish greeting shalom wishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give. The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”
The most that man’s peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities. But whether on an international scale or an individual scale, a truce is seldom more than a cold war. Until disagreements and hatreds are resolved, the conflicts merely go underground-where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again. God’s peace, however, not only stops the hostilities but settles the issues and brings the parties together in mutual love and harmony.
James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17). God’s way to peace is through purity. Peace cannot be attained at the expense of righteousness. Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing. Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.
The writer of Hebrews links peace with purity when he instructs believers to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” is the beautiful expression of the psalmist (Ps. 85:10). Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.
Jesus’ saying “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) seems to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude. His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness-to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.
Until unrighteousness is changed to righteousness there cannot be godly peace. And the process of resolution is difficult and costly. Truth will produce anger before it produces happiness; righteousness will produce antagonism before it produces harmony. The gospel brings bad feelings before it can bring good feelings. A person who does not first mourn over his own sin will never be satisfied with God’s righteousness. The sword that Christ brings is the sword of His Word, which is the sword of truth and righteousness. Like the surgeon’s scalpel, it must cut before it heals, because peace cannot come where sin remains.
The great enemy of peace is sin. Sin separates men from God and causes disharmony and enmity with Him. And men’s lack of harmony with God causes their lack of harmony with each other. The world is filled with strife and war because it is filled with sin. Peace does not rule the world because the enemy of peace rules the world. Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick [or wicked]” (Jer. 17:9). Peace cannot reign where wickedness reigns. Wicked hearts cannot produce a peaceful society. “ ‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22).
To talk of peace without talking of repentance of sin is to talk foolishly and vainly. The corrupt religious leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” but there was no peace, because they and the rest of the people were not “ashamed of the abominations they had done” (Jer. 8:11–12).
“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23). Sinful men cannot create peace, either within themselves or among themselves. Sin can produce nothing but strife and conflict. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing,” James says. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16–18).
Regardless of what the circumstances might be, where there is conflict it is because of sin. If you separate the conflicting parties from each other but do not separate them from sin, at best you will succeed only in making a truce. Peacemaking cannot come by circumventing sin, because sin is the source of every conflict.
The bad news of the gospel comes before the good news. Until a person confronts his sin, it makes no sense to offer him a Savior. Until a person faces his false notions, it makes no sense to offer him the truth. Until a person acknowledges his enmity with God, it makes no sense to offer him peace with God.
Believers cannot avoid facing truth, or avoid facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony. If someone is in serious error about a part of God’s truth, he cannot have a right, peaceful relationship with others until the error is confronted and corrected. Jesus never evaded the issue of wrong doctrine or behavior. He treated the Samaritan woman from Sychar with great love and compassion, but He did not hesitate to confront her godless life. First He confronted her with her immoral living: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). Then He corrected her false ideas about worship: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:21–22).
The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker. To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce-which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.
The Maker of Peace: God
Men are without peace because they are without God, the source of peace. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with statements of God’s being the God of peace (Lev. 26:6; 1 Kings 2:33; Ps. 29:11; Isa. 9:6; Ezek. 34:25; Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Thess. 3:16). Since the Fall, the only peace that men have known is the peace they have received as the gift of God. Christ’s coming to earth was the peace of God coming to earth, because only Jesus Christ could remove sin, the great barrier to peace. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:13–14).
I once read the story of a couple at a divorce hearing who were arguing back and forth before the judge, accusing each other and refusing to take any blame themselves. Their little four-year-old boy was terribly distressed and confused. Not knowing what else to do, he took his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and kept tugging until he finally pulled the hands of his parents together.
In an infinitely greater way, Christ brings back together God and man, reconciling and bringing peace. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19–20).
How could the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit upon, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won. And because righteousness won, peace was won.
In his book Peace Child (Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1979), Don Richardson tells of his long struggle to bring the gospel to the cannibalistic, headhunting Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Try as he would, he could not find a way to make the people understand the gospel message, especially the significance of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.
Sawi villages were constantly fighting among themselves, and because treachery, revenge, and murder were highly honored there seemed no hope of peace. The tribe, however, had a legendary custom that if one village gave a baby boy to another village, peace would prevail between the two villages as long as the child lived. The baby was called a “peace child.”
The missionary seized on that story as an analogy of the reconciling work of Christ. Christ, he said, is God’s divine Peace Child that He has offered to man, and because Christ lives eternally His peace will never end. That analogy was the key that unlocked the gospel for the Sawis. In a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit many of them believed in Christ, and a strong, evangelistic church soon developed-and peace came to the Sawis.
If the Father is the source of peace, and the Son is the manifestation of that peace, then the Holy Spirit is the agent of that peace. One of the most beautiful fruits the Holy Spirit gives to those in whom He resides is the fruit of peace (Gal. 5:22). The God of peace sent the Prince of Peace who sends the Spirit of peace to give the fruit of peace. No wonder the Trinity is called Yahweh Shalom, “The Lord is Peace” (Judg. 6:24).
The God of peace intends peace for His world, and the world that He created in peace He will one day restore to peace. The Prince of Peace will establish His kingdom of peace, for a thousand years on earth and for all eternity in heaven. “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jer. 29:11). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.
Some of the earth’s most violent weather occurs on the seas. But the deeper one goes the more serene and tranquil the water becomes. Oceanographers report that the deepest parts of the sea are absolutely still. When those areas are dredged they produce remnants of plant and animal life that have remained undisturbed for thousands of years.
That is a picture of the Christian’s peace. The world around him, including his own circumstances, may be in great turmoil and strife, but in his deepest being he has peace that passes understanding. Those who are in the best of circumstances but without God can never find peace, but those in the worst of circumstances but with God need never lack peace.
The Messengers of Peace: Believers
The messengers of peace are believers in Jesus Christ. Only they can be peacemakers. Only those who belong to the Maker of peace can be messengers of peace. Paul tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15) and that “now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is the ministry of peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us” (2 Cor. 5:19–20).
At least four things characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who himself has made peace with God. The gospel is all about peace. Before we came to Christ we were at war with God. No matter what we may consciously have thought about God, our hearts were against Him. It was “while we were enemies” of God that “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). When we received Christ as Savior and He imputed His righteousness to us, our battle with God ended, and our peace with God began. Because he has made peace with God he can enjoy the peace of God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). And because he has been given God’s peace he is called to share God’s peace. He is to have his very feet shod with “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).
Because peace is always corrupted by sin, the peacemaking believer must be a holy believer, a believer whose life is continually cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Sin breaks our fellowship with God, and when fellowship with Him is broken, peace is broken. The disobedient, self-indulgent Christian is not suited to be an ambassador of peace.
Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are not an elite corps of those who have spiritually arrived and who look down on the rest of the world. They are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel of cleansing to the rest of the world.
The Pharisees were the embodiment of what peacemakers are not. They were smug, proud, complacent, and determined to have their own ways and defend their own rights. They had scant interest in making peace with Rome, with the Samaritans, or even with fellow Jews who did not follow their own party line. Consequently they created strife wherever they went. They cooperated with others only when it was to their own advantage, as they did with the Sadducees in opposing Jesus.
The peacemaking spirit is the opposite of that. It is built on humility, sorrow over its own sin, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. G. Campbell Morgan commented that peacemaking is the propagated character of the man who, exemplifying all the rest of the beatitudes, thereby brings peace wherever he comes.
The peacemaker is a beggar who has been fed and who is called to help feed others. Having been brought to God, he is to bring others to God. The purpose of the church is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform. It is beyond what any diplomat or statesman can accomplish.
Third, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. The moment a person comes to Christ he becomes at peace with God and with the church and becomes himself a peacemaker in the world. A peacemaker builds bridges between men and God and also between men and other men. The second kind of bridge building must begin, of course, between ourselves and others. Jesus said that if we are bringing a gift to God and a brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar and be reconciled to that brother before we offer the gift to God (Matt. 5:23–24). As far as it is possible, Paul says, “so far as it depends on [us],” we are to “be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). We are even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, “in order that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).
By definition a bridge cannot be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. Once built, it continues to need support on both sides or it will collapse. So in any relationship our first responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have a responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base well. Both sides must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand. God’s peacemakers must first be righteous themselves, and then must be active in helping others become righteous.
The first step in that bridge-building process is often to rebuke others about their sin, which is the supreme barrier to peace. “If your brother sins,” Jesus says, “go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:15–17). That is a difficult thing to do, but obeying that command is no more optional than obeying any of the Lord’s other commands. The fact that taking such action often stirs up controversy and resentment is no excuse for not doing it. If we do so in the way and in the spirit the Lord teaches, the consequences are His responsibility. Not to do so does not preserve peace but through disobedience establishes a truce with sin.
Obviously there is the possibility of a price to pay, but any sacrifice is small in order to obey God. Often confrontation will bring more turmoil instead of less-misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and resentment. But the only way to peace is the way of righteousness. Sin that is not dealt with is sin that will disrupt and destroy peace. Just as any price is worth paying to obey God, any price is worth paying to be rid of sin. “If your right eye makes you stumble,” Jesus said, “tear it out, and throw it from you; … And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:29–30). If we are unwilling to help others confront their sin, we will be unable to help them find peace.
Fourth, a peacemaker endeavors to find a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened, but there is hardly a person so ungodly, immoral, rebellious, pagan, or indifferent that we have absolutely no point of agreement with him. Wrong theology, wrong standards, wrong beliefs, and wrong attitudes must be faced and dealt with, but they are not usually the best places to start the process of witnessing or peacemaking.
God’s people are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker speaks the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). To start with love is to start toward peace. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. The peacemaker always gives others the benefit of the doubt. He never assumes they will resist the gospel or reject his testimony. When he does meet opposition, he tries to be patient with other people’s blindness and stubbornness just as he knows the Lord was, and continues to be, patient with his own blindness and stubbornness.
God’s most effective peacemakers are often the simplest and least noticed people. They do not try to attract attention to themselves. They seldom win headlines or prizes for their peacemaking, because, by its very nature, true peacemaking is unobtrusive and prefers to go unnoticed. Because they bring righteousness and truth wherever they go, peacemakers are frequently accused of being troublemakers and disturbers of the peace-as Ahab accused Elijah of being (1 Kings 18:17) and the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being (Luke 23:2, 5). But God knows their hearts, and He honors their work because they are working for His peace in His power. God’s peacemakers are never unfruitful or unrewarded. This is a mark of a true kingdom citizen: he not only hungers for righteousness and holiness in his own life but has a passionate desire to see those virtues in the lives of others.
The Merit Of Peace: Eternal Sonship In The Kingdom
The merit, or result, of peacemaking is eternal blessing as God’s children in God’s kingdom. Peacemakers shall be called sons of God.
Most of us are thankful for our heritage, our ancestors, our parents, and our family name. It is especially gratifying to have been influenced by godly grandparents and to have been raised by godly parents. But the greatest human heritage cannot match the believer’s heritage in Jesus Christ, because we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Nothing compares to being a child of God.
Both huios and teknon are used in the New Testament to speak of believers’ relationship to God. Teknon (child) is a term of tender affection and endearment as well as of relationship (see John 1:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:14; etc.). Sons, however, is from huios, which expresses the dignity and honor of the relationship of a child to his parents. As God’s peacemakers we are promised the glorious blessing of eternal sonship in His eternal kingdom.
Peacemaking is a hallmark of God’s children. A person who is not a peacemaker either is not a Christian or is a disobedient Christian. The person who is continually disruptive, divisive, and quarrelsome has good reason to doubt his relationship to God altogether. God’s sons-that is, all of His children, both male and female-are peacemakers. Only God determines who His children are, and He has determined that they are the humble, the penitent over sin, the gentle, the seekers of righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
Shall be called is in a continuous future passive tense. Throughout eternity peacemakers will go by the name “children of God.” The passive form indicates that all heaven will call peacemakers sons of God, because God Himself has declared them to be His children.
Jacob loved Benjamin so much that his whole life came to be bound up in the life of that son (Gen. 44:30). Any parent worthy of the name loves his children more than his own life, and immeasurably more than all of his possessions together. God loves His children today as He loved Israel of old, as “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8; cf. Ps. 17:8). The Hebrew expression “apple of the eye” referred to the cornea, the most exposed and sensitive part of the eye, the part we are the most careful to protect. That is what God’s children are to Him: those whom He is most sensitive about and most desires to protect. To attack God’s children is to poke a finger in God’s eye. Offense against Christians is offense against God, because they are His very own children.
God puts the tears of His children in a bottle (Ps. 56:8), a figure reflecting the Hebrew custom of placing into a bottle the tears shed over a loved one. God cares for us so much that He stores up His remembrances of our sorrows and afflictions. God’s children matter greatly to Him, and it is no little thing that we can call Him Father.
God’s peacemakers will not always have peace in the world. As Jesus makes clear by the last beatitude, persecution follows peacemaking. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we often will not have peace with the world. But as God’s children we may always have peace even while we are in the world-the peace of God, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.
5:9 A blessing is pronounced on the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Notice that the Lord is not speaking about people with a peaceful disposition or those who love peace. He is referring to those who actively intervene to make peace. The natural approach is to watch strife from the sidelines. The divine approach is to take positive action toward creating peace, even if it means taking abuse and invective.
Peacemakers are called sons of God. This is not how they become sons of God—that can only happen by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). By making peace, believers manifest themselves as sons of God, and God will one day acknowledge them as people who bear the family likeness.
9 Jesus’ concern in this beatitude is not with the peaceful but with the peacemakers. Peace is of constant concern in both Testaments (e.g., Pr 15:1; Isa 52:7; Lk 24:36; Ro 10:15; 12:18; 1 Co 7:15; Eph 2:11–22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pe 3:11). But as some of these and other passages show, the making of peace can itself have messianic overtones. The Promised Son is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6); and Isaiah 52:7—“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ”—linking as it does peace, salvation, and God’s reign, was interpreted messianically in the Judaism of Jesus’ day.
Jesus does not limit the peacemaking to only one kind, and neither will his disciples. In the light of the gospel, Jesus himself is the supreme peacemaker, making peace between God and man, and man and man. Our peacemaking will include the promulgation of that gospel. It must also extend to seeking all kinds of reconciliation. Instead of delighting in division, bitterness, strife, or some petty “divide and conquer” mentality, disciples of Jesus delight to make peace wherever possible. Making peace is not appeasement. The true model is God’s costly peacemaking (Eph 2:15–17; Col 1:20). Those who undertake this work are acknowledged as God’s sons. In the OT, Israel has the title “sons” (Dt 14:1; Hos 1:10; cf. Pss. Sol. 17:30; Wis 2:13–18). Now it belongs to the heirs of the kingdom, who, meek and poor in spirit, loving righteousness yet merciful, are especially equipped for peacemaking and so reflect something of their heavenly Father’s character. “There is no more godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking” (Broadus). This beatitude must have been shocking to Zealots when Jesus preached it, when political passions were inflamed (Morison).
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 125). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 209–218). Chicago: Moody Press.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.