Question 1 (20 Marks)
Explain how the understanding of peace is expressed through the New Testament in Christianity
Referring to quote?
Christianity’s sacred text is the New Testament, peace is a central theme of the New Testament, defined broadly as more than just the antithesis of war, but as inner harmony, peaceful relations with others and the creation of a world that is characterized by justice, equality, freedom and compassion
What leads to peace – equality, compassion, freedom from abuse etc.
The adherent’s relationship with Christ is central to the attainment of peace within and without and once one is in right relationship to God, peace in one’s relationships with others should naturally follow
The link between peace and Christ’s death and resurrection gives repentance and forgiveness, putting us in a right relationship with God, thus reconciled to God through God’s grace. The NT teaches that being reconciled to God brings inner peace. Through the forgiveness of sin and the washing away, triumph over sin, we are attain eternal life. This, then, is the ultimate peace.
“God made peace through the Son’s death on the cross” – Colossians 1:20
A threefold experience of peace: between God and humankind, between people through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and inner peace through direct relationship with Christ and indwelling of Holy Spirit
“we were reconciled to God by the death of his son” – Romans 5:10
Thus, Christ’s death and resurrection gives to the adherent, eternal life "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16
Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has also meant a new covenant that is open to Jews and Gentiles, all people now God’s people, universal peace
Beatitudes: “blessed are the peacemakers… blessed are those who show mercy…blessed are the pure in heart”
Our relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit brings continued inner peace.
The Holy Spirit remains with one eternally, Baptism, e.g., one is blessed with Holy Spirit to guide an adherent in attaining inner peace
“Peace I leave with you, it is my own peace I give to you” John 14:27
“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then, God’s peace which is beyond all understanding will stand guard over your hearts and minds in Christ and Jesus” – Philippians 4:7
“The kingdom of God is of justice, peace and the joy given by the Holy Spirit” – Romans 14:17
Our relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit, then, brings inner peace. “therefore being justified by faith we are at peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ” – Romans 5:1
Thus, through personal and communal prayer, meditation and following God’s word, the adherent can have inner peace
“but the spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control” – Galatians 5:22-23. Peace thus considered as one of the fruits of the holy Spirit
The NT teaches that we live in peace with others; it is no longer, says Jesus “an eye for an eye”, but rather, “when a person strikes you on the right cheek turn and offer him the other”, thus returning violence with peace. New Testament thus recording guidelines for peace in a global context, making peace with others as part of making peace with God.
Do not be vengeful or bitter towards those who have wronged you
However, peace in the New Testament is defined as much more than non-violent action. Jesus and Paul exhort the Christian to refrain from negative attitudes and actions towards others.
One is not to judge. When the adulteress is brought to Jesus for condemnation, “Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her” – John 8:7
Jesus recognizes that judging others creates division and discord among people and can lead to distress for the accused;