THE PEACE OF GOD

PHILIPPIANS 4:7-9

A–And the peace of God (he eirene tou Theou), which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

B–Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever t, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent and if anything is praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

B–Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me and seen in me, put these things into practice.  (Philippians 4:9a)

A–And the God of peace (ho Theos tes eirenes) will be with you. (Philippians 4:9b)

 

Several years ago, I read a book, Touching Heaven, by Dr. Chauncey Crandall. It documents a physician’s journey toward realizing the reality of a world outside of this one, a world beyond this one, to answer the question: “Is this (world) all there is?” There are many who have testified to “out of body experiences” or to “transiting to heaven and back.” Dr. Crandall’s testimony, as a practicing cardiologist who has presided over the deaths of many people, is that the eternal, what in Hebrew is known as the olam haba–the world to come–and in Greek as zoe aionios, eternal life, has already entered this world. Here’s a short quote from the book’s prologue:  “That injection of eternity into the here-and-now can produce life-altering hope despite sometimes-agonizing circumstances. It’s what the Bible calls ‘the peace. . .that transcends all understanding.’ (Phil. 4:7) This is another evidence of heaven that I can’t ignore.” (Touching Heaven, Prologue, page 5)

Dr. Crandall quoted Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 7, which more completely reads: “And the peace of God (he eirene tou Theou), which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”[1] Is Paul talking about a window into the eternal, as Dr. Crandall suggests?

Let’s pursue this by asking the question, “what is the peace of God?” The chiasm at the top of the article–that which includes the term “peace of God”–may shed some light. There is a parallelism between verse 4:7 that we just read and line 9b which reads: “And the God of peace (ho Theos tes eirenes) will be with you.” Verse 7 and line 9b point to the center of the chiasm, revealing what Paul means by the peace of God. In verse 8, Paul instructs his readers to dwell or take into account what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute and worthy of praise. This “accounting” is the Greek logizomai–the root of the English word, logic, and it derives from the Greek word, logos, which Paul uses in the letter to the Philippians not only as a reference to accounting (Phil. 4:15, 17) but also to its meaning as the word of God. (Phil. 1:14, 2:16) In verse 8, we are told to dwell on, or take into account, the word–truth, honor, righteousness (dikaios), purity (from hagios meaning also holiness), and in line 9a, to put these things into practice (prasso–what is done as a regular practice, a habit or routine) as taught and exemplified by Paul, who described himself as the bond servant of Jesus (Phil. 1:1). And when one does this, then “the God of peace will be with you–the same God who in verse 7, “will guard the hearts of you and the minds of you in Christ Jesus.” This “dwelling/accounting” and its “practice” (prasso) produces the peace of God within us.

In verse 4:6, Paul instructed the Philippians to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And when we do that, the peace of God guards our hearts and minds. We experience the peace of God. Further, when we take account of God’s words–His logos–and put those words into practice, routinely observing them, then God is with us. (v. 9b) This is how we experience the “eternal” in the “here and now,” for God is eternal, along the lines that Dr. Crandall suggests. When, in the name of Christ Jesus, we adopt the ways of Jesus–taking truth, honor, righteousness, purity and the like into account, and walk in it, we experience eternity–an eternity that does not just manifest itself in the world to come, but in the here and now.

END NOTES

[1] Eirene, pronounced i-ray-nay, derives from the word, eiro, meaning “to tie together into a whole, “wholeness,” corresponding to the Hebrew, shalom, connoting a sense of well-being to one’s “whole” person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *