By John MacArthur
Any anxious Christian would love to have this prayer offered on his
behalf: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in
every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
Those powerful, encouraging words come from the apostle Paul at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18). They serve as a potent reminder of where we can and should turn when anxiety threatens—to “the Lord of peace Himself.”
Peace is commonly defined as the sense of calm, tranquility,
quietness, bliss, contentment, and well-being that we feel when
everything is going the way we’d like it to go. That definition,
however, is incomplete because those feelings can also be produced by a
pill—or by alcohol, biofeedback, a nap, a generous inheritance, or even
deliberate deception. The reassurance of a friend or someone you love
can also produce that kind of temporary peace.
That’s not the kind of peace Paul had in mind. Godly peace has
nothing to do with human beings or human circumstances. In fact, it
cannot be produced on a human level at all. Any manufactured or
manipulated peace is very fragile. It can be destroyed instantly by
failure, doubt, fear, difficulty, guilt, shame, distress, regret,
sorrow, the anxiety of making a wrong choice, the anticipation of being
mistreated or victimized by someone, the uncertainty of the future, and
any challenge to our position or possessions. And we experience those
The peace that God gives is not subject to fluctuations and
uncertainties of life. It is spiritual peace; it’s an attitude of the
heart and mind when we believe and therefore know deep down that all is
well between ourselves and God. Along with it is the assurance that He
is lovingly in control of everything. We as Christians should know for
certain that our sins are forgiven, that God is concerned with our
well-being, and that heaven is our destiny. God’s peace is our
possession and privilege by divine right.
Paul defines this peace for us in several ways in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. To begin with, it is divine: “May the Lord of peace Himself . . . grant you peace” (emphasis added). The Lord of peace is the One who gives it. The pronoun Himself
is emphatic in the Greek text and underscores God’s personal
involvement. Christian peace, the peace unique to believers, comes
personally from Him. It is the very essence of His nature.
To put it simply, peace is an attribute of God. If I asked you to
list the attributes of God, these are ones that would probably come most
readily to mind: His love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, wisdom,
truth, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, and immortality. But do
you ever think of God as being characterized by peace?
In fact, He is peace. Whatever it is that He gives us, He has
and He is. There is no lack of perfect peace in His being. God is never
stressed. He is never anxious. He never worries. He never doubts. He
never fears. God is never at cross purposes with Himself. He never has
problems making up His mind.
God lives in perfect calm and contentment. Why? Because He’s in
charge of everything and can operate everything perfectly according to
His own will. Since He is omniscient, He is never surprised. There are
not threats to His omnipotence. There is no possible sin that can stain
His holiness. Even His wrath is clear, controlled, and confident. There
is no regret in His mind for He has never done, said, or thought
anything that He would change in any way.
God enjoys perfect harmony within Himself. Our Bibles call Him “the
Lord of peace,” but in the Greek text a definite article appears before
the word translated “peace,” meaning He literally is “the Lord of the peace.”
This is real peace—the divine kind, not the kind the world has. Paul’s
prayer is that we might experience that kind of peace. Its source is God
and God alone.
Tomorrow, we’ll look further at the nature of that peace.