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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Abstract

VAN HOUWELINGEN, Rob. 'The God of peace' in the New Testament. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2015, vol.71, n.1, pp.01-07. ISSN 2072-8050.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/HTS.V71I1.2904.

Why does the New Testament use the expression 'the God of peace' and what is the meaning of this phrase? In the Old Testament, the God of Israel is often connected with peace, but he is never called 'the God of peace'. Not until the Hellenistic period is this expression sporadically found in Judaism (once in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and once in Philo). As for the biblical Umwelt, the gods of the ancient Near East were not very peace-loving, and in the perception of Greco-Roman culture the god of war, Arès/Mars, as one of the twelve Olympians was much more prominent than Eirènè/Pax. However, the expression 'the God of peace' is found several times in the Corpus Paulinum and once in the letter to the Hebrews. This article investigates all New Testament texts that have this formula, suggesting that the apostle Paul could be responsible for the wording. In conclusion, Paul states that the God of Israel desires to establish a definitive peace in his creation through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and by finally defeating all powers of evil. This apostolic message further indicates that Christians are supposed to be bearers of peace, promoting a peaceful atmosphere in their environment and in the world.

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