PEACE, and at such a time
We have taken an harmless liberty with the salutation found in Ezra 4:17 with which Artaxerxes opened his letter to his chancellor, for there, the frase ‘at such a time’ was equivalent to our indicating 2/6/63 at the opening of a letter to-day.
- ‘Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, “Peace, and at such a time … ” (Ezra 4:17-22).
To us ‘Peace and at such a time’ reminds us that though the signs of the times are ominous and the great Dictator with the United nations, churches, army, police and government seem well on the way, and the hearts of many be very disquieted by looking after the things that are coming on the each, and in the air. There can nevertheless be enjoyed a peace, which the world cannot give nor blessed be God, take away.
Let us open our meditation by becoming acquainted with the words we use, for if we invest them with meanings foreign to the intention of the Holy Spirit Who inspired this use and insertion, we shall be misled and misguided at the outset. Peace, the English word is derived from the Latin Pax, and means mainly ‘Absence of war and strife’, as Byron puts it:
- ‘Mark! Where his carnage and his conquest cease! He makes a SOLITUDE, and calls it – PEACE!‘
There has come into our vocabulary the terrible words ‘Peace at any price’, which we shall presently see is diametrically opposed to the Scriptural grounds of peace. To ‘hold one’s peace’ is just to say nothing — this too is a belittling of the Scriptural concept of peace. We even use the expression ‘Peace establisment’ to refer to the number of the armed forces that are enlisted when actual war is not being threatened or engaged. In 1 Timothy 2:2 quiet and peaceable are the translations of the Greek words eremos and hesuchios.
- ‘For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet (eremos) and peaceable (hesuchios) life in all godliness and honesty’
Let us consider the testimony of Romans Five, which opens with the words:
- ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1).
When our Saviour appeared in the midst of His disciples, after the resurrection He not only SAID ‘Peace be unto you, but He SHOWED them His hands and His side (John 20:10). It is easy for any of us to say ‘Peace’ but it will be a mockery unless it is grounded in the finished work of Christ, that not only ‘justifies’ us freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus but ‘Justifies’ God in so doing. ‘That He may be JUST and the JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus’ (Rom. 3:24-26). So we come back to our earlier reference, namely Rom. 5:1:
- ‘Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’.
–The Rock foundation– ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusted in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is the ROCK OF AGES‘ (Isa. 26:3,4; Deut. 32:4, 18&30 see: Companion Bible – http://www.levendwater.org
- ‘Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin, The blood of Jesus whispers, Peace, within’, (lines of a hymn). ‘Righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps. 85:10) – which is a poetic way of bringing ‘Righteousness and Peace’ together in the word ‘reconciliation’ as we find in Romans 5:1-11.
Aspects of Peace
Peace has a doctrinal aspect, a dispensational aspect, a personal aspect, a prophetic aspect, and it also has, as nearly all the good things of God, a false travesty against which we must be warned. We have looked at the doctrinal basis of peace, let us now consider the way it is employed in Ephesians, where we shall find that the dispensational change associated with the prison ministry of Paul is closely related to ‘peace’ of a special nature.
eirene ‘Peace’ in Ephesians — We are not surprised to find that this word occurs eight times in this epistle, and by the way in which it is distributed gives evidence of Divine disposition of its occurrences:
A Eph. 1:2 The Salutation – B a 2:14 Enmity abolished – b 2:15 The twain — one – c 2:17 To the afar off / c 2:17 To those made nigh – b 4:3 The Bond — Unity – B a 6:15 Enemies withstood – A Eph. 6:23 The Benediction
Romans lays the foundation. This is doctrinal truth, Ephesians builds the superstructure, the Temple, this is dispensational. Doctrine does not change. Dispensational do, they have regard to spheres, earth, heaven, new Jerusalem, callings, Kingdom, Church [ecclesia], Bride, Body, and the peace of Ephesians 2:14,15 is the peace brought about by the constitution of the Church [ecclesia], the Body of Christ, were distinctions such as were typified by the middle wall of partition abolished. ‘The both one’ almost expresses what some Lexicographers believe the origin of the Greek word Eirene to be, i.e.:
One by means of Two — and so we are not surprised to observe that where we read in Ephesians 2:14,15 peace is associated with ‘one new man’ [Jew and Gentile], in Ephesians 2:16 reconciliation is associated with ‘One Body’ [Jew and Gentile]. Ephesians 2:13 declares this company to be ‘made nigh’ ‘by the BLOOD of Christ’ while verse 16 shows that reconciliation is by the ‘cross’. The unity thus formed necessitated the ‘breaking down’ of the middle wall of partition, the abolishing of the law concerning ordinances and the slaying of the enmity such had engendered. Further, those ‘made nigh’ in verse 13 by ‘the blood of Christ’ have ‘access by one spirit’ (17). ‘Far off’ are made nigh (13) and Far off and nigh have had this special aspect of peach preached to them. Some, i.e. Gentiles were once ‘aliens and strangers’ (12), but they are ‘no more strangers and foreigners’ (19). It may be of service if we demonstrated a little more graphically what this ‘middle wall of partition’ was to which the apostle refers. What is this middle wall? (This middle wall was part of the temple at Jerusalem. An area exclusive to the Jew within the Court of the Gentiles. A barrier marked its boundaries and was marked by signs (which remained known but undiscovered until 1871). The apostle Paul was thought to have taken Greeks across the barrier, which (Acts 21:28,29) began, as a result, Paul’s protracted journey to ‘see Rome’ (Acts 19:21) This Middle Wall therefore took on immense significance as dividing Jew from Gentile).
The bond of peace
It is important that we know that the article ‘the’ is employed here. Paul, is not referring to peace in general, but to some aspect already known to these Ephesians, he speaks of ‘The bond of the peace’ (Eph. 4:3). The introduction of the covenants, whether old or new, any distinction between ‘far off and nigh’ [Jew or Gentile], the continuance or attempt to perpetuate ‘ordinances’ or ‘the decrees’ same word of Acts 16:4, are antagonistic to the concept of the Church [eclessia] which is ‘one body’, the unity of which can only be kept ‘in the bond of the peace’ already revealed. Finally, just as there was ‘enmity’ which had to be ‘slain’ so the corresponding reference is to the enmity of the heavenly principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12-15). At first sight there does not seem to be any valid connection between ‘ordinances’ observed down here and ‘principalities and powers’ up there, but a consultation of Colossians chapter 2 will reveal that such is the truth. This church [ecclesia] is told that there is a true circumcision ‘made without hands’ which is linked with a corresponding ‘baptism’, for if baptism be in water, then circumcision here will be literal also. All such ‘handwriting of ordinances’ that was against us’ and ‘contrary to us’, Christ has taken away ‘nailing’ all such to His cross. This evidently ‘spoiled principalities and powers’ and triumphed over them. As a consequence, the apostle says:
‘Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day (Notice the ‘y’ not ‘i’, it has nothing to do with Bank holidays or the seaside), or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, which are a SHADOW of things to come, but the body is of Christ … if ye be dead with Christ (see vs: 13) from the rudiments of the world, why are ye subject to ORDINANCES? (Col. 2:16-22). Zie ook artikel: THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE FEAST OF THE LORD etc. / http://www.vriendenvanisrael.nl
To us, the controversy regarding whether ‘Infant Baptism’, ‘Adult Baptism’. ‘Believers’ Baptism’, ‘Sprinkling’ or ‘Immersion’ has no personal concern, the only ‘Baptism’ in which we are interested is that ‘one baptism‘ of Ephesians 4:5.
Peace, in Colossians
There are but two occurrences of eirene ‘Peace’, in Colossians one in the opening salutation (Col. 1:2), and one in Colossians 3:15. As it is most probable that the two epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, were exchanged as suggested in Colossians 4:16, so we give all our attention here in Colossians 3:15:
- ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts’
This is a new aspects of ‘peace’ and its meaning is made clearer by comparing with Philippians 4:7. There are many words used both in the Hebrew and the Greek which are translated ‘rule’ but there is only one occurrence of Brabeuo. The word so translated in Colossians 3:15. It means the ‘rule’ of an Umpire adjudging the prize winners or disqualifying those engaged in the Greek sports, and so is allied with Brabeion, I Corinthian 9:24 and in Philippians 3:14 where it is translated ‘Prize’. Bloomfield gives the following free translation of Col. 3:15:
- ‘Let that peaceable disposition enjoined by God to all true believers be, as it were, an UMPIRE to compose all differences between you, so as to be the director of your feelings, the ruling principle of your hearts’.
Some commentators advise us to avoid any idea of a combat or a prize here, but Colossians 2:18 uses the compound katabrabeuo ‘Beguile you of your reward’, and the words of 1 Corinthians 9:34 ‘One receiveth the prize’ where brabeion renders all such objections valueless. ‘To act the Umpire’ is borrowed from the Greek sports, and Colossians 3:15 with its use of brabeuo and the earlier reference to ‘the prize’ or ‘reward’ in Colossians 2:18 make all such objections, however learned, void. Let us turn to a reference to ‘the peace of God’ in the epistle of ‘The Prize’. The apostle enjoined upon these Philippians ‘moderation’ or ‘yieldingness’ if such a word is permissible. The quality must not of course be shown in stewardship, in which capacity we may yield ‘no, not for an hour’. But in the matter of our own rights and liberties we can afford to let much go for the sake of Christ and His people, even as did Paul. The apostle told the Philippians to be ‘careful’ for nothing in 4:6, yet he commended their ‘care’ and their ‘carefulness’ in verse 10, but in verse 6 the word means ‘over anxiety’ as in Luke 10:41. He did not want them to be a group of ‘Marthas’ ‘careful and troubled about many things’, but said after committing our cause to the Lord in prayer, leave it there, and then uses a military figure, which he drew from his own experiences: in 2 Corinthians concerning his escape from Damascus, he said that ‘the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison’. The word he uses which is translated ‘kept with a garrison’ is the same used in Philippians 4:7 where instead of an army soldiers, it is the peace of God that acts like a garrison. This like the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, may pass our understanding but it is possible to simple faith.
The God of Peace (Phil. 4)
These things lead us on to the God of Peace. It is one great blessing to know that we are ‘at peace with God’ but it is almost overwhelming to think that ‘The God of Peace’ may be with us’. The apostle refers back first to a list of virtues, then to his own manner of life. Things honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report:
- ‘If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8).
If the mind is occupied with such things, many that disturb and cause anxiety will retire into the background, but there is more in it than that. Logizomai ‘think’ is the word uses in Philippians 3:13 where it does not, and cannot mean meditation, but ‘reckon’ or ‘count’. Logizomai occurs in Romans 19 times, translated ‘Think’ in Romans 2:3 in the sense of reckoning, and in Romans 4 it is translated ‘count’, ‘reckon’, ‘impute’, and what the apostle seems to say in Philippians 4 is that whilst we shall find no difficulty in discovering the faults and failings of others, I enjoin you, use a magnifying glass if need be to see IF there be any virtue, and IF there be any cause for praise, and then RECKON THESE THINGS, and turns to his own example saying:
- ‘Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me DO, and not only will the ‘peace of God’ act as a garrison of soldiers to your hearts and minds, but ‘The God of peace’ shall be ‘with you’ (Phil. 4:7-9).
The God of Peace (Rom. 16:20)
We do not associate in our mind, Peace and War at the same time and by the same agency, but in Romans 16:20 we read:
- ‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly’
We have already learned that ‘Peace’ (Heb. shalom) means ‘settlement’ and not until Satan is destroyed and the seed of the serpent eradicated will ‘Peace’ be fully realized. Rom. 16:20 looks back to the primeval promise of Genesis 3:15, and it must be observed that both seeds, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman are ‘bruised’ the difference being that in the case of the Serpent, the head was to be bruised, and in that of the seed of the woman, His heel was to be bruised in the conflict. In the one case that of the Serpent, no possibility of life after the struggle was possible, but in the case of the Seed of the woman, the bruising of the heel, left room for recovery. It is not at all clear in Genesis 3:15 that the ‘seed’ would include the followers or progeny of both the Serpent and the Saviour, but Romans 16:20, while not allowing the true seed to take any part in the sacrifice of Christ for sin, ‘He was bruised for OUR iniquities’ (Isa. 53:5) we yet refer to the revelation of Romans 16:20 to discover that the closing verse of Isaiah 53 where we read ‘He shall divide the spoil’ includes the redeemed. At the future destruction of the Serpent, Satan shall be bruised under their feet also.
A word of warning:-
Satan does not originate, he travesties, copies, distorts to his own ends the words and ways of God, consequently we must be on our guard against being deceived by a false peace. Speaking of the coming Day of the Lord, the apostle warned the Thessalonians that:
- ‘When they shall say PEACE and SAFETY: then sudden destruction shall come upon them’ (1 Thess. 5:3) for those who thus speak are called ‘children of darkness’ and are unwatchful, and asleep in their false confidence (1 Thess. 5:4-7).
Joshua was tricked into making peace with certain Canaanites, into making ‘peace’ and a ‘league’ with them, and such have their counterpart to-day (Josh. 5). Jeremiah 6:14 warns against those who healed the hurt of the people ‘slightly’ saying ‘Peace’ when there is no peace’ (Jer. 6:14; 8:11); Ezekiel 13:10 speaks of the people being ‘seduced’ by the false prophets. The world in which we live, terrified as it well may be with the growth of weapons of wholesale destruction are seeking ‘Peace’ almost at any price, seeking some ground of peace for the Nations, the Churches, the labour movements and other bodies of men, only to prepare, if they did but know it for the Advent and the grip of: ‘The Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition’. There will be no peace, no Millennium while the true ‘Prince of Peace’ Christ Jesus [Jesjoea Masjiach] is absent, neglected or denied.
By C.H. Welch / The Berean Expositor / OCTOBER 2019 VOL. 70 No. 4
Legacy – A bequest, a gift of personal property, by will. We ask the question, what is our legacy as members of the Body of Christ? How do we begin to understand what the Mystery is about? Let us look at three references to start with, by the Apostle Paul.
- ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure with he hath purposed in himself’ (Ephesians 1:9).
- ‘How that by revelation (unveiling) he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)’ (Ephesians 3:3-4) .
- ‘Wherefore I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill (complete) the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints’ (Colossians 1:25-26).
The mystery of Christ as seen in Romans 16:25, cannot possibly be the mystery given to Paul in the Ephesian epistle, as the mystery of the prison ministry had not been made known to Paul at this time. Secondly, the epistle to the Romans speaks of that mystery here being given ‘since the world began’ and not before ‘the foundation of the world’, when we were chosen in Christ, see Ephesians 1:4.
We cannot separate the mystery from the body of Christ as revealed in Paul’s ministry after Acts 28:28. There is only one way that we can get this understanding, it is not by maturity, scholarship or experience as many teach. If that was the case many of the great teachers and preachers down the ages, would have both written and preached about it, alas, the absence of such writings dispel this theory. There is only one way to gain an appreciation of these wonderful truths and that is by revelation.
- ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints’ (Ephesians 1:17-18).
Without this enlightenment, understanding will not happen. So the argument that all believers from Acts 28 are in the Body of Christ, whether they appreciate it or not, is not valid. Let us examine this in more detail.
Assuming that all believers are members of the Body of Christ, why was it necessary for Paul to pray the prayer of Ephesians 1:16-18. Surely if all believers are automatically in the Body of Christ no enlightenment was needed.
Then there is the question of our walk.
- ‘I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy (worthily) of the vocation wherewith ye are called’ (Ephesians 4:1).
- ‘There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling’ (Ephesians 4:4).
The question will then be asked, ‘Can more than one calling, dispensation or stewardship run together?’ The answer is most definitely YES.
The land was promised to Abram and his seed, this was their legacy.
- ‘Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 12:1-3).
- ‘And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land; and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him’ (Genesis 12:7).
When we come to the Hebrew epistle we read:-
- ‘By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrew 11:8-10).
- ‘But now they desire a better country, that is, and heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city’ (Hebrew 11:16).
Evidence here that there were those who would happily inherit the land which had been promised to them, then there were those like Abraham who were looking for another inheritance (heavenly city). This is not an isolated example. Although this nation of Israel were given the law and were under the dispensation (stewardship) of the law, there were those, who knew nothing of such things and were under the dispensation of conscience and creation. See Romans 1 and Acts 14:16-17. This demonstrates to us, the holiness and fairness of our Heavenly Father, to those who have never know the law, or heard of Christ.
The following shows two different stewardships of Peter and Paul running together:
- ‘But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles)’ (Galatians 2:7-8).
These are two dispensations, of Peter and Paul running together.
Coming to John’s gospel, here we find much controversy in the dating of this book. The majority of scholars give it a late dating. If that is the case it must have been written after Acts 28 and the Ephesian epistle, although John never writes about the Truth of the Mystery, the message must have been known. John is writing to the world.
- ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).
- ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’ (John 1:11).
This verse suggests that it was written after Acts 28, certainty after the Jews had rejected Christ. Of course it is convenient for those who teach that all believers from Acts 28 are in the Body of Christ, to give John an early dating. The gospel of John is for the world, presenting Christ as God and claiming that there is only one way to the Father and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. See the following verses: – John. 1:1-4; John 5:24-26, 40; John 6:35, 40, 47; John 10:27-28, ‘my sheep’; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 20:30-31, all in Christ. This message from John’s gospel is for the world at large.
We read something similar in Paul’s ministry, see Ephesians 1:7 and Ephesians 2:8-9. There the similarity ends. In the church (ecclesia) of the One Body, we are never referred to as sheep, here we stand complete in Christ in the Heavenlies.
- ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6).
- ‘And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power’ (Colossians 2:10).
Ephesians 1:4 tells us that we were ‘chosen before the foundation of the world’.
Colossians 2:14-23. Here there is an absence of ordinances. Our legacy has to be closely guarded, this calling within a calling has to be zealously watched, Paul recognized the dangers of those who would spoil these glorious Truths that have been entrusted to us. Paul writes: ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ‘ (Colossians 2:8).
May our Heavenly Father give us the knowledge, courage and wisdom to combat those who would try and confuse this calling to which we have been called.
Alan Schofield / The Berean Expositor / OCTOBER 2019 VOL. 70 No. 4
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