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The Legacy of Peace
The Meaning of Shalom.
pp. 42 - 44
The inner portion of the Gospel according to John (chapters 13: - 18:) has always
been exceedingly precious to all Christians, quite irrespective of their dispensational
position. In these chapters we have our Lord's last words to His disciples before He went
forth to betrayal and death; and among them what we may describe as His "legacy of
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you" (John 14: 27).
Bloomfield states that both the words used here--"leave" (aphiemi) and "give"
(didomi)--are "usually conjoined in the wording of a will". This, therefore, we may
regard as our Lord's bequest to His disciples before He left this world to go to the Father.
The subject of peace is always a "word in season", and without it no other blessing can be
There is not much agreement among lexicographers and etymologists as to the
derivation of the Greek word eirene, but this is unimportant as we have already learned
that the true significance of any doctrinal term is best discovered from the Hebrew
Scriptures, for the meaning of most doctrinal terms was fixed centuries before the N.T.
was written. We therefore turn to the O.T. to learn what we can of this legacy of peace
bequeathed by the Lord to His own.
Shalom, the Hebrew word "peace", is derived from shalam, "to make whole,
complete, perfect". There is a depth of meaning in the Hebrew word that is not expressed
in the English translation. The modern meaning of the word "peace" is largely concerned
with "tranquility" or "quietness", without paying much attention to whether or not the
grounds of this tranquility are sound and just. Consequently much that passes for
"peace" is unworthy of the name, and vanishes when most needed, because it has no solid
basis. To gain some idea of the Scriptural meaning of the word, let us look at the way
shalam is used, so that we may be able to appreciate more fully the Lord's legacy of love.
In Exod. 21: and 22:, we have a number of judgments which Moses sets before the
people in connection with the settling of disputes. In chapter 21: we have the case of a
man who opens a pit, and fails to cover it, and so causes the loss of an ox or an ass. The
judgment is that "the owner of the pit shall make it good (shalam)" (Exod. 21: 34).
Another case is that of an ox, hurt so badly by another man's ox that it dies. If it was
known that the ox was dangerous and the owner had neglected to keep it in, the judgment
is that "he shall surely pay (shalam) ox for ox" (Exod. 21: 36). So also in Exod. 22: 1,
"He shall restore"; 22: 3, "He shall make full restitution"; and, further on in the
chapter: "restore", "pay", "make good" (Exod. 22: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).