This is the seventh beatitude. It says that a characteristic of the child of God is peacemaking. The characteristic shows a “family resemblance” to the Father, for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) I don’t want to get too far into an etymological fallacy, but the Greek word, εἰρηνοποιοί, combines the words for peace (εἰρήνη – source for our word “irenic” it means peace and like the Hebrew word shalom also implies prosperity) with the word make (ποιέω – source of our word “poem” it means to do, make or craft). The combined word is always used of causing war or strife to cease, not giving prosperity. It is an active word that means personal involvement to bring peace rather than the passive not wanting to get involved.
The world holds forth a form of peace which is a false peace. In Psalm 73 such an apparent peace was the cause of doubt within the psalmist. For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. For they suffer no pain; their bodies are strong and well-fed. They are immune to the trouble common to men; they do not suffer as other men do. (Psalms 73:3-5) In the end, he saw that whatever peace or prosperity they are allowed it is false and temporary. There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:21) The Bible warns against falling for “peaceful” overtures from the wicked, Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
Turning now to the obvious question as to why there is no peace, the Epistle of James, which I said in my introduction has many passages which bear on the Sermon on the Mount, has this to say: Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy. (James 4:1-4) The source of it comes from our flesh acting out its selfishness. What we want, we want and nothing will stand in our way. Similarly, 1 John talks about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) which is not in sync with the Love of God. Ultimately, the rebellion against God installs ourselves as our god and moves in quite the opposite direction from peace.
James also speaks to the nature and source of peace. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace. (James 3:17-18) First to notice is that peace is a characteristic of the wisdom God gives. Further, it says that if one wishes to raise a crop of righteousness, it is through peaceful sowing that will result. No wonder that Paul instructs Timothy to approach his pastoral work with gentleness. And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
Our example of peacemaking is Jesus. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross — through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him — (Colossians 1:19-22) Jesus’ work was an active peacemaking between God and his sworn enemy – mankind. His commitment led him to humiliation and self-sacrifice. And we who are God’s children have been given the ministry of reconciliation And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
The starting point for peacemaking is to recognize the peace God offers to us. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 as well as the reconciliation verses quoted above) Then we are given the opportunity to urge others to be reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We also will see ourselves as channels of peace – between ourselves and others If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. (Romans 12:18) and we can be used to bring peace between others I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2; See also the Epistle to Philemon; Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-15)
My father-in-law, who died a couple of years before I met Mary, was a man who was known for respecting others. He was always kind and respectful and he had no enemies. (He was Catholic and at his funeral, Mary found out that his coworkers used to call him “The Pope’s last hope”.) When he was diagnosed with cancer, he looked around at his family (he and his seven siblings) and saw that they were divided with animosities. Some had not talked to others in decades. So he devoted himself to visit all his siblings and to reconcile them. He worked for years and traveled the country spending time with each one. His funeral was the first time they all got together and they all got along and talked and missed each other. Now, seven years later, they have annual family reunions. Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the Children of God. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)