When we think of peace in the west, we're often thinking about an absence of conflict or feelings of serenity. The biblical words for peace (usually shalom in Hebrew and eirēnē in Greek) cover a number of ideas. They encompass living in harmony with others, the satisfaction of achieving our highest goals, and enjoying wholeness, restfulness, and tranquility.
Whether we realize it or not, peace is something that everyone throughout history has longed to experience. The Bible addresses the topic quite a bit, and it's no surprise that it draws a distinct line between our relationship with God and our ability to truly enter into peacefulness.
Let's take a look at what Scripture has to say about experiencing peace for ourselves.
1. Peace in the land (Leviticus 26:6)
I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.
God had a very cause-and-effect relationship with Israel in the Old Testament. If they followed God's decrees, things would go well for them. This promise was very practical. When they were obedient, God would protect them from their neighbors and the dangers of their environment.
2. The Lord give you peace (Numbers 6:24–26)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
This passage from Numbers is often used as a benediction. The Bible frequently associates God's posture toward His people with their immediate experience. If His face was toward them, their lives would be marked by success and tranquility, but if they caused Him to turn His face away, the result would be catastrophic.
3. I will lie down in peace (Psalm 4:8)
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
It's no surprise that the Psalms address peace a lot. The poets' temperament longs for serenity and the psalmists understood that worship was the best posture for someone hungry for peace. In Psalm 4, David tells us that knowing God as his security means that he can sleep peacefully.
4. The Lord blesses His people with peace (Psalm 29:11)
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29 discusses the power and might of Israel's God. His mighty voice breaks cedars, shakes the desert, and strips the forests bare. And it's this mighty God who strengthens His people and blesses them with peace.
5. Seek peace and pursue it (Psalms 34:12–14)
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
In case Israel got the wrong impression and assumed that peace was something they simply received from God, David set them straight. Peace was something they needed to actively pursue. There are behaviors and attitudes that make peace impossible, and unless you turn from them, peace will be rare and fleeting.
In his first Epistle, Peter quotes this section of Psalm 34 during his encouragement for how the church should live in harmony (1 Peter 3:8–12).
6. The meek will enjoy peace and prosperity (Psalm 37:10–11)
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Jesus alludes to Psalm 37 in the Sermon on the Mount when He tells His listeners that the meek will inherit the earth. These words from Psalm 37 help drive home the fact that peace isn't something you take by force. On the contrary, it's a byproduct of living a certain kind of life. In the world's eyes, the idea that the meek will be the ultimate winners seems preposterous—but not in God's economy.
7. Righteousness and peace (Psalm 85:10)
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Using beautiful imagery, the psalmist tells us that there is a relationship between righteousness and peace—they kiss each other. It's important to note that these words are spoken in a culture without a lot of casual displays of affection. If righteousness and peace kiss, it's symbolic of a true connection. If we want to know lasting peace, we will be concerned about our virtue. The two are inseparable.
8. Peace for those who love God's law (Psalm 119:165)
Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
Psalm 119 is a love song for God's law (and the longest chapter in Scripture). One of the most famous verses from Psalm 119 is: "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path" (v. 105). Because of this light, they don't worry about stumbling—and they experience peace.
9. Those who promote peace have joy (Proverbs 12:20)
Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
Anyone who grew up reading Highlights magazine remembers a feature called "Goofus and Gallant." This one-page comic contrasted Gallant's good behavior against Goofus's bad behavior:
"Goofus throws his pop can on the grass."
"Gallant says, 'We’d better clean up our litter.'"
A lot of Proverbs reads like an ancient segment of "Goofus and Gallant." The writers contrast the behaviors of the wicked and foolish against those of the wise and godly. Unlike the wicked who have deceit in their heart, Proverbs 12:20 tells us that the hearts of those who promote peace are full of joy. Want to know whether you are wise or foolish? Look at what your heart produces.
10. The Lord causes peace (Proverbs 16:7)
When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
Another common theme throughout the Old Testament is how God used Israel's enemies to discipline them. The prophets regularly pleaded with Israel to amend their sinful ways so they wouldn't be overcome by their enemies. Here the writer reiterates this idea by telling the readers that when God is pleased with them, He will encourage their enemies to make peace.
11. Keep yourself in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3–4)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
When Isaiah calls God the eternal rock, He's talking about God's never-ending, never-changing attributes. He isn't subject to whims and mood swings; he's consistent and true. And when God's people are also steady and dependable, they experience perfect peace.
12. No peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22)
"There is no peace," says the Lord, "for the wicked."
You've probably heard the phrase, "There’s no rest for the wicked." Isaiah's words are the origin of that idiom. Unlike the righteous who experience peace, the wicked are in constant turmoil. They're always looking over their shoulder for enemies and worry about maintaining their deceptions. The lives of the wise don't require a lot of concern about what lies they've told or what enemies they've made, and that's why they enjoy peace.
13. Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
People tend to mistake peacemaking with peacekeeping. Peacekeepers do whatever they can to avoid conflict at all costs, often damaging themselves in order to maintain peace. The end result of avoiding conflict is that we often just make matters worse.
On the other hand, peacemakers will wade through friction and opposition to create peace. Peacemakers are called children of God because like their Father, they're not content with false peace.
14. Peace I leave with you (John 14:27)
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.
The peace that the world offers is conditional. If everything is going well and you're able to maintain a certain standard of living, you can enjoy a fragile peace. The peace that Jesus offers isn't circumstantial and external. It springs up within those who follow Him and it's accessible no matter what life throws at you.
15. In Me you may have peace (John 16:33)
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus never promised that we wouldn't experience trials and difficulties. On the contrary, He encourages us to look to Him—the One who has conquered the world. By faith, we put our hope in Jesus the overcomer, and it's in that hope that we find peace.
16. Life and peace is being governed by the Spirit (Romans 8:6)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Christian transformation happens as we submit ourselves to the Spirit. When we are led by the Spirit, we experience a life characterized by joy, peace, and other fruits of the Spirit. But when we are governed by the flesh, we rely upon our own strength, perceptions, and resources. This not only makes consistent peace impossible to achieve, but it ultimately leads to destruction.
17. Live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:17–18)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
It's not very feasible that we can be at peace with everyone all the time. In fact, Jesus suggests that we’re doing something wrong if everyone speaks well of us (Luke 6:26). But when there is conflict with others, it shouldn't be because we’re holding grudges and refusing to reconcile. If we're obedient to God, there will be friction with others. But as much as it’s up to us, peace with others is a priority.
18. Do what leads to peace (Romans 14:19)
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Similar to his earlier encouragement (Romans 12:17–18), Paul encourages Christians to work hard at living in peace with others. We shouldn't leave any action undone that might build up and encourage others and promote peace.
19. May the Lord fill you with joy and peace (Romans 15:13)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As Paul prepares to wrap up his Epistle to the church at Rome, he wishes the church joy and peace. In keeping with the rest of the New Testament's teachings on peace, Paul links these virtues with one’s ability to trust in Jesus. As we trust in Him, we experience joy and peace.
20. The fruit of the Spirit is peace (Galatians 5:22–23)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In the fifth chapter of Galatians, Paul contrasts life in the flesh with life in the Spirit. The life of the flesh always leads to division, sin, and impurity. But when we allow the Spirit to guide our steps, we experience the character we truly long for, which includes peace.
21. Destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14–18)
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Jesus didn't recognize many of the divisions that first-century Jews did. He didn't immediately dismiss Gentiles—He even publicly congratulated a centurion's faith (Matthew 8:10). When it came to Samaritans, Jesus didn't display an Israelite hatred. Instead, He made a Samaritan the hero of one of His most famous parables.
The peace that Jesus demonstrated in His ministry now belongs to His followers. In Him, we no longer recognize worldly divisions of race, class, or gender (Galatians 3:28). He is our peace.
22. Keeping unity through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2–6)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Jesus said that the unity shared among His followers would convince the world that they belonged to Him (John 13:35). The Christian's commitment and willingness to love others in the body of Christ isn't just a nice idea; it's integral to what it means to be the church. And we maintain our unity through the love and reconciliation that is the bond of peace.
23. The peace of God will guard your hearts (Philippians 4:6–7)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Not only did Paul write his letter to the Philippians from prison, but throughout his ministry, he suffered through beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, and hunger. When he said that the peace of God was beyond understanding, he knew what he was talking about. Unlike the happiness of the world that is entirely dependent upon circumstances, the peace of God was always present. Paul’s sufferings—and God's faithfulness throughout them—convinced him that his worries were no match for Jesus's peace that guarded his heart and mind.
24. Let Christ's peace rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:12–15)
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
God grows the fruits of the Spirit inside of us, but that doesn't mean that we play no part. Here Paul talks about how we avail ourselves of these critical traits. We put them on like clothing. We exercise them in how we treat one another. But when he gets to peace, he uses the verb "let." If we want the peace of Christ to reign in our life, we just need to let it. We need to get out of the way.
25. Live at peace with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12–15)
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
So many of the New Testaments admonitions about peace have to do with our relationships within Christ's body. Loving other believers isn’t a secondary concern; it is a sign that Jesus's Spirit is alive in the church. If we can't live in peace with one another, why should unbelievers trust what we have to say about what Christ can accomplish in our lives?
26. May the Lord give you peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
When you really look at it, it's amazing how consistent the New Testament's teachings are. When it comes to the topic of peace, there isn't a lot of question about what Paul believed. Even in this brief sign off, he hopes that the Lord of peace would give the Thessalonians peace. This is completely compatible with everything Paul ever said about the topic. The peace Christians experience comes from the Prince of Peace. It's His to give, and we just need to lean into it.
27. Make every effort to live in peace (Hebrews 12:14)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
In keeping with Paul's encouragement in Romans, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to do everything within our power to live at peace with others. When we find ourselves in conflict with others, it shouldn't be because we didn't put in the effort.
28. The wisdom that comes from heaven is peace-loving (James 3:17–18)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James gives us a key to discerning whether something comes from God. Wisdom that comes from God is pure and peace loving. This means that if we're considering a path that will lead to a moral lapse or causes unnecessary division, it isn't from God. The wisdom from God puts others first.
29. Cast all your cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
In Philippians, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. How is that even possible?! Peter tells us to heap our anxieties at Christ's feet. He's where our hope lies and He cares so deeply for us. How do we cast our worries on Him? Through prayer we confess and unload our concerns at the cross, trusting Jesus to carry them for us.
30. Grace and peace be yours (2 Peter 1:2)
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
It's notable that Peter likened grace to peace in the sense that it was something we received through the knowledge of Christ. We all want peace, and the entire Bible is in agreement that it can be ours (and ours in abundance) through God in Christ Jesus.
If you want to experience peace, be reconciled to God!
These aren't all the Bible's verses about peace. If you don't see your favorite, leave us a comment and tell us what it is or tell us how God's peace has made a difference in your life.