Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:33
In verse 15:13, Paul used the term “God of hope.” This followed directly after a citation from Isaiah about Jesus, the Hope of the Gentiles. Thus He is the hope of both Jew and Gentile. Now in this final verse of chapter 15, which closes out the major portion of his doctrinal statements and his future intentions, he calls on the “God of peace.” He has just asked for prayers and deliverance from possible trials ahead and in hopes of coming to Rome that they “may be refreshed together.”
The concept of peace to the Hebrew is more than quietness. Rather it is a state of wholeness. It includes contentment, health, and even prosperity. This is what he was looking for their prayers to accomplish for him. In anticipation of that, he offers his own for them, “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
The God of peace is also the one to grant us His peace. He is the one who fashioned us and the one who knows our every need. Only in Him can true peace be found. Paul understood this and reflected it in his requests from those in Rome and has stated it in this short prayer for them as well. But another aspect of this petition must be considered based on the content of the epistle.
Throughout this letter, Paul has spoken about the various ways the gospel is directed toward Jew and Gentile. He has also shown how Jew and Gentile come to the gospel with their own backgrounds and so they will apply it to their lives based on that. Rather than this being a point of disharmony between the two, he has shown that God has accepted both and therefore there should be peace between them, not conflict or strife.
This state is explained very clearly in Ephesians 2:11-22 and it is well worth the time to read those verses in the light of Romans 15:33. In that portion of Ephesians, he will say this –
“And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:17, 18
As you can see, Paul is very consistent in his use of wording, terminology, and doctrine. The same “God of peace” mentioned in Romans 15:33 is the one that is both explained and exalted in Ephesians 2.
Life application: Paul’s comments are consistently directed to both Jew and Gentile and he never mixes the two, nor does he indicate that one would somehow “replace” the other. He never teaches that the church has replaced Israel nor that Jew and Gentile are now the same. It is true that there is no distinction between the two in Christ, but there is a difference between the two as members of Christ, just as there is a difference between male and female.
Lord God, I am so thankful that I can come to You just as I am. You didn’t ask me to change my language, my national identity, my hair style, or the food I eat. But the things You did ask me to leave behind are the things which only harmed me as a person and separated me from You. I have gained heaven, forsaken my wicked ways, and yet am still a unique individual in Your church. Thank You for this wonderful life in Christ! Amen.