Thanks for joining today’s study about “Peace be with you.” But before we examine Scripture, let’s review the history of prominent peace symbols.
We begin with the circular symbol representing the mid-1960s and 70’s protest culture — most notably against the Vietnam war. This now-iconic symbol first appeared in Great Britain during an anti-nuclear war march in 1958. Interestingly, its British graphic designer Gerald Holton said he “toyed with the idea of using the Christian cross as the dominant motif.”
Next is the two-finger “V” sign synonymous with “peace” and humorously coupled with the hippie greeting, “peace, man.” The sign, also originating in Great Britain, signaled “V” for “victory” during the Second World War — made famous by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Then, decades later, the “V” morphed into peace.
I speculate that Churchill could have been inspired by centuries-old Christian art depicting Jesus holding up two fingers.
Circling back to the Bible, “Peace be with you,” often associated with Jesus, appears 32 times, with seven references in the Old Testament and 25 in the New. Continuing the tradition, today in Israel, “Peace be upon you” —“shalom aleichem” in Hebrew — is a standard greeting meaning “hello and goodbye.”
The phrase appears for the first time in Genesis, the Hebrew Bible’s first book, during the story of Joseph and his brothers:
“But he [Joseph’s steward] said, ‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them” (Genesis 43:23).
The phrase is found next in the book of Judges when the Lord spoke to Gideon:
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die’ ” (Judges 6:23).
The concept of a peace greeting to balance fear was also recorded in the book of Daniel during his prophetic vision about a man:
“And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!’ So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me’ ” (Daniel 10:19).
Turning to the New Testament, Jesus continues the Old Testament’s contrast of peace and fear. However, a significant difference appears in this verse:
“’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’” (John 14:27).
We learn that Jesus IS the peace. And soon, He will be leaving, but giving HIS peace as a gift — spiritual serenity, no matter your circumstances.
My NIV Study Bible explains: “The term [peace] speaks, in effect, of the salvation that Christ’s redemptive work will achieve for his disciples – total well-being and inner rest of spirit, in fellowship with God.”
But how do we interpret Jesus saying, “I do not give to you as the world gives”? Again, my Study Bible offers some insight: “In its greetings of peace, the world can only express a longing or wish. But Jesus’ peace is real and present.”
“‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34-36).
Unfortunately, Jesus’s fight is so intense and multi-leveled that conflict does filter down to family members, creating enemies among our flesh and blood. (I can personally attest to the family conflict Jesus described — having been born Jewish and later accepting Him as my Lord and Savior.)
The final “Peace be with you” passage is about a gathering shortly after Christ’s resurrection:
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’” (John 20:19-21).
This post-resurrection appearance is also chronicled in Luke 24:36-49.
Jesus’s traditional “Peace be with you” greeting took on greater meaning when Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” — informing His disciples that they were to bring His message to the world. And to help them succeed:
Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld’” (John 20:22-23).
From the moment the disciples were empowered to forgive sin on His behalf — continuing Jesus’s conflict with Jewish leaders who believed that only God granted forgiveness. Moreover, before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He told his apostles:
“‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). (Refer to Vol. 12.)
And so, my readers, “Peace be with you” for finishing today’s study and, most importantly, believing Jesus when He says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Amen!
Author’s Note: Readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible.” Part Two with volumes 57-113 will be published later this year.
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of the Museum of the Bible’s opening events for its high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin, open through July 31. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.