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This topic is adapted from the Bible Project YouTube channel. This is part 6 in the Hebrew Word Studies series.

“Peace” is a common word in many languages, and it can mean different things, though we often think of it as “absence of war.” In Hebrew, the word for peace, “shalom” (שָׁלוֹם), refers not just to the absence of conflict, but to something better replacing it. Shalom is all about things being as they should be.

[Related: Shema – “Listen” | Hebrew Word Studies #1]

Video Highlights:

  • The most basic meaning of shalom is “complete” or “whole,” and the word is used to refer to perfect stones (Joshua 8:31) or to Job’s “complete” flocks and herds (Job 5:24) or to the “well-being” of David’s brothers (1 Samuel 17:18).
  • Life is complex, and when one part of your life is out of alignment because of sickness, loss, a broken relationship, or something else, your “shalom,” or “completeness,” breaks down. Something needs to be restored.
  • “Shalom” as a verb means “making complete” or “restoring.” When Solomon completed David’s temple, that was shalom, or when one Israelite repaid another for damages, that too was shalom. Israel’s leaders were supposed to foster this shalom, but most were evil and failed to do so.
  • The Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:5-6) looked forward to a time when a prince of shalom would come to bring endless shalom – not just the absence of conflict, but a restoration of all brokenness into wholeness. This is why Jesus’s birth in the New Testament (NT) was called the arrival of “eirene” (εἰρήνη), the Greek for “peace” and why Jesus said to his followers that he came to give his peace to all of them (John 14:27).
  • The Apostles claimed that Jesus “made peace” between God and people when he died and rose from the dead (Romans 5:1). Jesus has restored right relationship between God and those who fully place their faith and trust in him alone for salvation. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote that “Jesus himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15). Jesus is the complete human we all were made to be, and he gives us his life as a gift that will allow us to become complete people, too.
  • Jesus’s followers are called to create shalom like he did, which requires patience, humility, and bearing with one another in love. Becoming people of peace meanings participating in the life of Jesus, who reconciled all things on heaven and earth through is blood on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).

True peace takes work – finding what’s broken in our lives, relationships, or world, and doing our best to make it whole.

Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What is the difference between “absence of conflict” and real “restoration?” What are some real-life situations you’ve seen in which this distinction is very important?
  4. Talk about how your life has lost “shalom” when one part of it has fallen out of place. How did you restore completeness? Or what needs to change for your to restore completeness?
  5. Why is it important that Jesus isn’t just about stopping conflict, but about restoring what is broken?
  6. “Jesus is the complete human we all were made to be, and he gives us his life as a gift that will allow us to become complete people, too.” What does this mean?
  7. What does it looks like to participate in the life of Jesus?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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