Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958
NUMBER 43, PAGE 3a,13b-14a


W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

After enumerating a number of the works of the flesh and then telling what the results would be to those who follow such, Paul, in Gal. 5:22,23, gives a list of some things that he calls the "fruit of the Spirit." In that list one of the "fruits" mentioned is "peace." Such is to be the subject of this article.

Significance Of Fruit

The word "fruit" in this passage comes from the Greek word karpos and is often used to refer to fruit that grows on literal trees. But it is also used in a figurative sense to mean action, conduct, as well as effect, result or product. Uses of the word with these meanings are found in such statements as the following: (1) "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance." (Matt. 3:8.) (2) "Ye have your fruit unto holiness." (Rom. 6:22.) (3) "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness." (Phil. 1:11.) This figurative meaning is that which the word has in the passage for our consideration. The "fruit of the Spirit" is simply an effect or a result that is produced by the Spirit. And "peace" is said to be a part of "the fruit of the Spirit."

The Word "Peace"

The word "peace" in our English translations does not always come from the same original word. Consequently, its meaning is somewhat varied. The word is sometimes used to mean to be quiet, to be silent, to cease speaking and to muzzle or gag. Such meanings are found in such expressions as "they held their peace" (Acts 15:13); "Hold thy peace" (Mark 1:25); and other such references. But in such passages the original word differs from that with which we are concerned.

In Gal. 5:22 the word translated "peace" is the original word eirene. As it relates to our study, it might be defined in the following ways: 1. The blessed state of the righteous after death. 2. The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ. 3. Unity, harmony and concord between individuals. Each of these is worthy of our consideration. Let us take them one at a time.

In the second chapter of Romans Paul discusses the reward of the righteous and the unrighteous. He shows that "God will render to every man according to his deeds." (Rom. 2:6.) He declares that there will be a reward of "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish" for "every soul of man that doeth evil." (Rom. 6:8,9.) But "to every man that worketh good" the reward will be one of "glory, honor and peace." (Rom. 2:10.) The peace here contemplated must be that blessed state of eternal happiness that will come to faithful souls at last. The turmoil, strife and hardships of life will be over, the toil, labor and pain will be ended, and souls redeemed by the blood of the Lord will he received into a rest and peace that have never been known in this world and that baffle our fondest imagination. That everlasting "peace" will certainly be a "fruit of the Spirit," for those who reach it at last will be those who, by the teaching of the Spirit, have been led "by patient continuance in well doing" to "seek for glory and honor and immortality." (Rom. 2:7.) But receiving that eternal peace in the city of our God will depend on another peace that we must receive and maintain while we are on our earthly journey.

The Present Tranquil State Of Souls Redeemed

When Jesus came to the earth he "came to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10.) The angel of the Lord announced to the Shepherds in the field: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10,11.) And suddenly the angelic host, praising God, declared: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14.) Yes, the Lord came to be the Savior of the world, to bring peace to the troubled and benighted men of earth. We often speak of him as the "Prince of Peace." It was a wonderful day for the inhabitants of the world when Jesus came to bring peace.

The Blessed State After Death

Downtrodden and ruined though men have ever been, multitudes have not been willing to accept the proffered peace that could be theirs. It has never been forced upon man. God has a plan or a way through which he offers this peace "that passeth understanding" but man must be willing to accept the plan. Even Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, in his prophecy declared that the work of John would be "to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:79.) So there is a "way of peace" that must be followed if men would obtain the blessing offered. With so many it is true that "the way of peace have they not known." (Rom. 3:17.) Multitudes could know it if they wished, but they are not interested in the offered mercy. It is offered to men through the gospel of Christ which Paul called the "gospel of peace" when he said: "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things." (Rom. 10:15.) It can be obtained no other way. The gospel must be heard and it must be accepted. At the house of Cornelius Peter referred to it as "the word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:36.) Christ shed his blood to make possible this peace for us, and in connection with his death Paul said: "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." (Eph. 2:14-17.)

But as long as men reject the preaching of that gospel they must remain in a state of enmity — they cannot have peace with God. Obedience to the gospel will bring the satisfaction and tranquility for which sin-laden souls are striving. Paul said: "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1.) When this state is reached the troubled soul is no longer at enmity with God, but he has become a friend of God through reconciliation. He is no longer bowed beneath the weight of sin but finds rest to his soul. Faith in Christ is absolutely required. But this does not mean that such peace is reached by "faith alone." There are too many statements to the contrary, but the faith that justifies and brings peace unto men is a faith that leads the man to do all that God has required him to do is becoming a child of God. When such obedience has been rendered by faith a person becomes an heir of God and is blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26,27; Eph. 1:3.) The happiness, the rest, the tranquility produced in the soul of the obedient, as his sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, is certainly an effect produced by the teaching of the Spirit — it 5s a "fruit of the Spirit."

Unity And Harmony Between Men

The word "peace" also indicates unity, harmony and concord between individuals. This meaning is found in both the English and the Greek use of the term in Gal. 5:22. This, very likely, is the particular significance that Paul had in mind, as it pertains to the conduct of individuals in contrast with the works of the flesh. In this case, when we so conduct ourselves as to produce harmony and maintain unity between God's children, we are bearing a "fruit of the Spirit." In harmony with this idea we have a number of statements in the Bible. Solomon said: "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Prov. 16:7.) This does not mean, of course, that no man would ever become your enemy because you stand for the truth, but in the ordinary relationships of life, when a man conducts himself as he should before God, he will be able, in most cases, to live at peace with his neighbors. Recognizing that, under all circumstances, this will not always be so, the apostle Paul declared: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. 12:18.)

Even though we may not be able to live peaceably with all men at all times, yet we should do our very best to do so. In view of this, many admonitions are given us in the New Testament to strive toward that end. Some of these are shown in the following passages. "Let us therefore follow after the things which makes for peace." (Rom. 14:19.) "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.) "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Tim. 2:22.) The importance of this is shown in the sermon on the mount when the Lord said: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matt. 5:9.) Our conduct, therefore, should not be such that promotes enmity, strife and confusion, but bearing the "fruit of the Sprit," we should encourage men to live in concord, harmony and unity.

Not Peace At Any Price

While the gospel is a "gospel of peace," nothing is taught in it that would permit a man to compromise the gospel for the sake of peace. When the early churches were disturbed over the matter of circumcision of the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas engaged in great disputation with the false teachers who would bind such a requirement on the Gentile churches. (Acts. 15:2.) And later referring to the matter, Paul said: "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." (Gal. 2:5.) To have surrendered the field to the invasion of false teachers would have meant the removal of the gospel from the people. Therefore, they stood their ground and "gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour." The peace that God would have between brethren is a peace based upon the "gospel of peace," but not upon compromise. If truth must be sacrificed for the sake of unity and harmony, then let the battle be waged. It still remains true that unity in error is worse than division. If peace cannot be maintained upon the basis of divine truth, then let no armistice be declared, but continue to fight for that which is right.

Although we think of Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," and although at his birth the announcement was made, "Peace on earth; good will toward man," he never intended to promote peace by the sacrifice of the truth. The Lord himself said: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (Luke 12:51-53.) Jesus knew that some people would accept the truth, and others would reject it. He came to send peace upon the basis of the truth, but if it could not be obtained and maintained that way, then he came to send division. Even in the same family there would be discord and division. Some would obey the truth, but others would reject it. This inevitably leads to division unless the truth is to be sacrificed. Peace that is bought by the sacrifice of the truth is not a "fruit of the Spirit." It is the fruit of instability, of compromise, of a lack of conviction. That kind of peace has no endorsement in the divine record. The turmoil, the strife, the discord, the division, that exist in the churches today is brought about by a departure from the truth. Some seem to have the idea that we should accept anything in religion for the sake of peace. Such has never been required by the Lord. The battle for truth must go on. We are concerned about peace and unity. We shall fight that it be maintained upon the divine basis, but we will not give up the truth of God Almighty for the mere sake of peace. Let peace be sought; let unity be strived for; let concord be our aim; but until an honorable peace can be secured on the basis of divine truth, let the battle for truth and righteousness be pushed with enthusiasm and conviction.