Ephesians: A Handbook for Peace Warriors
What pops into your mind when you think of the apostle Paul? Words like zealous, apostle to the nations, team leader, or gospel planter usually come to mind. How many people think of Paul as the theologian of peace? Yes, I said theologian of peace! The title, “God of Peace” (or its equivalent) is mentioned 10 times in the Bible. Paul uses this title for God 7 of these times. Paul relates peace to virtually every major doctrine in the Bible.
New Testament scholars describe Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in superlatives: the quintessence of Paul’s theology, the crown of Paulinism and such. It is famous for its teaching on grace, the church and spiritual warfare. But few evangelicals realize that Ephesians is also a handbook for peace warriors. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians outlines God’s magnificent peace program. The breadth and depth of Paul’s teaching on peace is stunning. He mentions peace 8 times in this short letter. Check out this overview of just four of these texts.
First, he describes the big picture of God’s peacemaking purposes. He doesn’t use the word peace in the following verses but instead shows how Christ’s ultimate purpose is to bring together all things under his leadership. In other words, the original harmony of the universe, which has been ruptured by sin, will be restored. When Christ reigns, peace reigns!
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).
Second, he outlines the social implications of Christ’s peacemaking work. As evangelicals we love the gospel of grace outlined in the first section of Ephesians 2, but we too often downplay the gospel of peace described in the second section of Ephesians 2. Because of this, the traditional evangelical proclamation of the gospel has often lacked social impact.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near (Ephesians 2:13-17).
The gospel of peace breaks down barriers and brings concord. Paul shows that sin results in a double alienation (between God and humanity and between people) and that Christ’s work on the cross provides a double reconciliation. Also, please note how it describes our Lord: Jesus is our peace. Jesus makes peace. Jesus proclaims peace.
Third, Paul points out the priority of peacemaking among Christ’s followers. He exhorts the church to live out this peace:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
Every effort? Wow! Peacemaking is serious stuff. Warm fuzzies and sentimental feelings won’t cut it. Peacemaking demands vigorous effort. We have to work at it continually. Harmonious relationships must be promoted, preserved and protected – thus the work of peacemaking.
The fourth and final text is found in Ephesians 6 where Paul describes the spiritual warfare aspects of peacemaking. In Ephesians 6 Paul exhorts us to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. One of the devil’s greatest schemes is division. The devil works 24/7 causing conflict. He loves broken relationships.
So Paul paradoxically speaks about peace in the midst of war. Our spiritual armor includes gospel boots:
…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).
This metaphor speaks of both stability and mobility. Gospel boots enable us to stand firm against satanic attack. We experience God’s peace in the midst of satan’s assaults. We also go on the offense, sharing the gospel of peace, stamping out the divisive work of the powers of darkness.
Ephesians is a handbook for peace warriors. It describes God’s comprehensive peace plan (not to be confused with Rick Warren’s peace plan – as good as that is!) and reminds us of the multidimensional nature of His peace purposes:
- Christ’s peace is our future hope (Eph 1:9-10)
- Christ’s peace breaks down every social barrier (Eph 2:13-17)
- Christ’s peace must be modeled among His people(Eph 4:3)
- Christ’s peace empowers us to resist satanic attacks and overcome satanic division through the good news (Eph 6:15)