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John 14:27 New International Version says:

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

what does peace mean? what is the definition in the biblical context?

by the way, is there references that discuss in the biblical context the definitions of peace? glory? justice, saint? etc.? People use these words without awareness of their definitions ...

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  • In a nutshell, the word shalom is connected with the verb leshalem which means to pay/repay. Jesus paid something that we could not, so we can have peace. Commented May 15, 2023 at 22:10

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Summary:
The peace that Jesus is talking about is given only by Jesus and it comes from the assurance, the comfort, of a right relationship with God through Jesus. It is not based on emotions or circumstances like the peace the world offers. It is based upon complete trust in God's mercy and grace toward God's people.

Looking at the context.

Jesus and his apostles are in the upper room at the last supper and Jesus is giving them his final instructions and encouragement before his trial and crucifixion.

  • Jesus demonstrates how they should serve each other by washing their feet - John 13:1-17
  • Jesus tells them he will be betrayed - John 13:18-30
  • Jesus tells them that he will only be with them a little longer and that they should love one another as he has loved them - John 13:31-34

The fact that the Rabbi will soon leave is troubling to the people in the room who have dedicated their lives to him. Jesus says:

John 14

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip does not understand what Jesus is saying and responds:

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Skipping ahead in the story...

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Looking at the context we can see that the peace Jesus gives his followers:

  1. Comes from belief in God (verse 1) - that is made possible through Jesus (verse 6).
  2. In verse 6 we see the seventh "I am" statement in the book of John driving home the point that Jesus is divine and that only through him does anyone know the way, or know truth, or know life.
  3. In verse 27 the peace that is promised is not a future peace "my peace I give you" is right then, they don't have to wait for the Holy Spirit. Jesus repeats "do not let your hearts be troubled" from verse 1. At a future time the Holy Spirit will teach and remind but the peace is based on their relationship with Jesus.

The peace that Jesus is talking about is given only by Jesus and it comes from the assurance, the comfort, of a right relationship with God through Jesus. It is not based on emotions or circumstances like the peace the world offers. It is based upon complete trust in God's mercy and grace toward God's people.

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In the NT, the word εἰρήνη (eiréné) = peace, is used as an equivalent to the Hebrew "Shalom". The latter is used as a blessing and greeting.

The meaning of the Greek word, as given by BDAG has two main meanings and some sub-meanings as follows

  1. a state of concord, peace, harmony
  • (a) between governments, eg, Luke 14:32, 11:21, etc
  • (b) harmony in personal relationships, eg, Matt 10:34, Luke 12:51, Acts 7:26, etc
  • (c) good order, eg, 1 Cor 14:33, 7:15
  1. a state of well-being, peace
  • (a) corresponding to Hebrew שָׁלוֹם, welfare, health, eg, James 2:16, Acts 16:36, Mark 5:34, Luke 7:50, 8:48, etc
  • (b) Since according to the prophets, peace will be the essential characteristic of the messianic kingdom, Christian thought also frequently regards εἰρήνη as nearly synonymous with messianic salvation εὐαγγελιζόμενος εἰρήνην proclaim peace, Acts 10:36, Rom 10:15, Eph 2:17, 6:15, John 16:33, Rom 5:1. See also John 14:27, 2 Thess 3:16, Phil 4:7, 9, Col 3:15, Rom 15:33, 16:20, 2 Cor 13:11, 1 Thess 5:23, Heb 13:20, Eph 2:14, etc.

I agree - the peace that Jesus wanted to leave the disciples, and by extension all believers, is the peace that can only come from the peace imparted by Christ's gospel of peace. This is because those who have faith in Christ, and His salvation, have complete freedom from fear because such believers do not come into judgement:

John 5:24 - Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life.

By contrast, the wicked have great fear and no peace:

John 5:28, 29 - Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Thus, Jesus correctly told the disciples:

John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it fear.

David appears to understand the same idea when he wrote:

Ps 37:11 - But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Isaiah had a similar idea:

Isa 54:13 - All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

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It is a traditional Jewish greeting and blessing. In Hebrew it would be "shalom." Here, it is given as a word of comfort or "freedom from disturbance. The disciples are about to face a great trial as their messiah will soon be put to death. Knowing they will face confusion and disillusionment, Jesus promises the the Holy Spirit will come as a comforter, to lead them into the fullness of the Truth.

26 The Advocate (Comforter/Couselor), the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. 30 I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, 31 but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.

So, literally, "peace" is simply Jesus' farewell blessing. But in a deeper sense, it is meant in the sense of "comfort." The disciples are not to let their souls be troubled, for Jesus is going to the Father, and "the Comforter will come."

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The definition of peace is in the Bible, but it is not a dictionary-type-definition. Jesus spoke of giving his disciples that unique peace, which is not the type of peace offered by the world. This is a deep, spiritual peace that comes from the God of peace, and from Christ as the one through whom such peace is given. Here are relevant Bible texts that enlarge on what Jesus said in John 14:27 -

"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2 A.V.

That is the way this heavenly peace comes - through faith in Jesus Christ, which gives us peace with God. This unbreakable bond between God and Christ regarding this peace is shown in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, identifying "the very God of peace" with the Father (Colossians 3:15) and with Jesus Christ - see 2 Thessalonians 3:12-18.

This peace is given as a gift of grace. Maintaining this peace means maintaining our faith in Christ and God, despite contrary circumstances or feelings.

To get the definition, it would be necessary to collate all the statements about God's peace in the Bible, to study it as a subject. However, receiving it does not require an intellectual understanding of what this unique peace is. It has to be experienced, and then it can be known and understood. That is why knowing the source of that peace is the essential first step. That is why a person has to turn in faith to Jesus Christ - for to come to know Christ is peace - not knowing about him, but knowing him personally as one's Lord and Saviour. That is why writers like Paul, who had that deep peace, wrote of it as surpassing knowledge. After telling Christians to keep rejoicing in the Lord, being moderate in all things, not being anxious about anything and praying about everything, with thanksgiving, he assured them:

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7 A.V.

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Peace is, in Aristotelian terms, the causa finalis of war. Now, what sort of peace does the Lord give to His followers, a peace that is the causa finalis of which sort of war?

And it is clear of which sort of war: the war against our sinfulness and inclinations towards evil, that beset the fallen human nature, and the war against those enemies can be waged only through the salvific grace of the Lord, which grace we receive through faith in baptism and then in eucharistic life, because as the Lord says Himself: "who does not eat my body and drink my blood, he does not have a portion with Me" (Cf. John 6:56).

A victor over sins through grace of the Lord has His peace that is higher than any human understanding (Philippians 4:7). Yes, we are not given this Peace automatically, without our own working, but only if we through faith receive divine grace in us and freely co-work, co-operate with God's working, operating in us and become victors through this synergy. Indeed only the victors will inherit this Peace (cf. Rev. 3:12).

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