Peace and Peacemaking in Paul Against the Backdrop of Greco-Roman Conceptions of Peace
Keazirian, Edward M.
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Peace in the ancient world has been studied primarily from the perspective of pacifism and questions related to war and peace. This study employs a socio-historical method to determine how peace was understood in itself, not just with respect to war. It demonstrates that the Greco-Roman world viewed peace as brief periods of tranquility in an existence where conflict was the norm, while Paul regarded peace as the norm and conflict as an intrusive aberration. Through a historical and literary survey of Greco-Roman thought and culture, this study shows that myth, legend, religion, education, philosophy, and science created and perpetuated the idea that conflict was necessary for existence. Wars were fought to attain peace, which meant periods of calm, quiet, and security with respect to the gods, one's inner self, nature, others who are insiders, and others who are outsiders. Despite the desirability of peace, genuine peace was seldom experienced, and even then, only briefly, as underlying enmity persisted without resolution. While Paul supports the prevailing conception of peace as tranquility and felicity in relation to God, self, nature, and others, he differs as to the origin, attainment, and maintenance of peace. In Paul, peace originates in God and is graciously given to those who are justified and reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. God removes the enmity caused by sin and provides the indwelling Spirit to empower believers to think and behave in ways that promote and maintain peace. This study also examines how three social dynamics (honor-shame, patron-client, friendship-enmity) affect Paul's approach to conflict resolution with Philemon and Onesimus, Euodia and Syntyche, believers who are prosecuting one another in civil courts, and Peter. Rather than giving specific procedures for resolving conflict, Paul reinforces the believer's new identity in Christ and the implications of God's grace, love, and peace upon their thoughts, words, and behavior toward one another. Paul uses these three social dynamics to encourage believers in the right direction, but their ultimate accountability is to God. The study concludes with four strategic principles for educating the church and developing an atmosphere and attitude within the church for peacemaking.