The Bible talks about peace a lot in both the Old Testament and the New. Most often in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for peace is shalom which denotes not only peace, but also a sense of well-being, prosperity, and wholeness. In the New Testament, the Greek word most often used for peace is eirene which also denotes prosperity and rest, but includes the idea of joining together as one. The primary need for peace in human existence is to find peace with God. Because of our sinful nature, humanity’s relationship to God has been fractured. Blessedly for us, Jesus reconciled us to God “making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). Paul explains that because “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). So Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and our acceptance of it through faith restores our relationship to God and sets us at peace with Him. Only then can a believer experience God’s peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Paul calls Jesus “the Lord of peace” in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. This title fits Jesus well. Isaiah 9:6 prophetically refers to Him as “Prince of Peace.” Jesus knew that His disciples would be dismayed upon His departing, so after lovingly explaining how He would send the Holy Spirit as a helper to them, He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus gifted peace to His followers not only while He walked the earth, but He continues to do so through the Holy Spirit even today. Peace is a natural outflow of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives; it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23. Interestingly enough, the Holy Spirit is mentioned as a source of peace even in the Old Testament (Isaiah 32:15–18). Our triune God is a God of peace and He gifts His peace to His people.
However, there are ways the Bible encourages us to experience a greater extent of peace, or in other words, to “let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Psalm 119:165 provides one practice to increase our experience of peace. It says, “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” The word for “your law” in Hebrew in this verse is Torah, which are the first five books in our Bible and would have been the Scriptures available to the psalmist who wrote this verse. Studying Scripture brings peace to those who love God’s Word. As we study His Word, we learn who God is and our trust in Him can increase. We learn that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). We hear Jesus say, “… in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Scripture is filled with reassuring verses that remind us of the truth about the God we serve.
A second way the Bible encourages us to experience more peace by increasing our trust in God is by controlling our minds. Isaiah 26:3 says, speaking of God, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Likewise, Romans 8:6 says, “… to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Focusing our mind on God and who He is increases our trust in Him and gives us peace. We are told to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Our thought patterns need to focus on knowing the truth about how big, capable, and loving our God is.
A third way the Bible encourages us to find peace is through conversing with God in prayer. While we can “stop telling God how big our problems are and start telling our problems how big our God is,” as the saying goes, we should still bring our problems to God. Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Bringing our anxieties and requests to God will bring peace. However, this verse also highlights that our praying should happen “in everything” “with thanksgiving.” Even in our anxieties, we are called to approach God with thanksgiving—to be on the lookout for His hand of blessing in our lives.
We serve “the Lord of peace himself [who can] give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). We can experience more of His peace as we pay attention to what God has done and is doing for us, as we bring our anxieties to Him in prayer, as we focus our minds on the truth of who He is, and as we love and study His Word.