CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson C)

5:22dOur oneness with the Anointed in the Spirit bears the fruit of . . . Peace . .

Sometimes words, when spoken, can produce an astounding effect. Nothing illustrates this more than when Jesus spoke to the howling winds and lashing waves during a storm and said, “Be at peace!  Quiet down!” Later, when He appeared in the upper room and found His disciples in a state of panic and despair over His death, He greeted them with, “Be at peace.” Since the beginning of time, there are few things humanity has sought after more than peace. The search is universal and, for the most part, indefinable.

Efforts to produce a world at peace will always be futile until everyone has peace in their hearts. Such peace cannot be simply proclaimed by one person or some world power, but only by the power of God’s transforming love. Therefore, we can see how secure Love in God is transformed into peace. Peace brings us a sense of blessed assurance, the dispelling of fear, and a feeling of contentment. We see it in fellowship, hear it in harmony, and observe it in unity. Peace is freedom from worry, disturbance, and oppressive thoughts.[1]

But peace, transformed-love in our spiritual oneness with the Anointed, takes on a different form. We must acknowledge that there is a difference between living in peace under certain conditions and having peace about our circumstances. It’s more than just being free from care and having a sense of well-being; peace, as a form of transformedlove, is anchored in an unchangeable, unmovable, unconquerable God and His promises. It comes from knowing we possess security that cannot be misplaced, cheated out of, borrowed, stolen, hijacked, embezzled, or pawned. Such blessed assurance is found in the Anointed Jesus alone and is only a foretaste of things to come.

Theologian Adam Clarke describes peace as a calm, quiet, and orderly condition which occurs in the justified soul. Every unrepentant sinner feels and continues to feel doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful warnings until the assurance of forgiveness brings peace and satisfaction of the mind. Peaceis the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin.”[2] [3]

Gregory the Great (540-604 AD), who served as Pope (September 590 AD to March 604 AD), wrote about how we reprimand those differently that cause division in the Church and those who are peacemakers. Those sowing discord are informed that they cannot grow spiritually by neglecting to become united in harmony with their fellow believers. This way, they will know for sure that no matter what other fruit of the reborn spirit they may claim to have, it will not keep them in peace. For it is written in verse twenty-two, that the fruit of the reborn spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. The person, says Gregory, that shows no interest in maintaining peace, is refusing to bear any spiritual fruit. That’s why Paul says; you are still not following the Spirit’s leading. You are jealous of each other, and you are always arguing with each other.[4] And in another place, he also says, try to live in peace with everyone. And try to keep your lives free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.[5] [6]

British theologian John Gill says that Love and Joy together design peace. This is peace with God in a person’s conscience, produced by the Spirit. The blood of the Anointed brings pardon and achieves this peace. And His work on the cross offers justification to the forgiven sinner. It results in the blessed Holy Spirit, bringing peace, quietness, and tranquility of mind to a soul that was horrified by the coming Day of Judgment. This peace also extends to neighbors, to the saints, and with all others. These are all part of the work of the Spirit of God and are influenced and directed by Him. So, every believer should seek after the things which make for peace and improvement in the congregation, and be desirous of living peaceably with all humanity.[7] Such peace is not only possible with God but potentially with others.

Expositor Andrew Maclaren is convinced that peace will be built upon love and joy if our hearts are always looking to God, and we daily maintain our unique relationship with Him. Is there anything that can disrupt the peace that fills the soul without coming from outward circumstances? No matter how close and constant the siege may be, the well of living water will never run dry. True peace does not come from the absence of trouble, but the indwelling presence of God and will be sincere and passing all understanding in the exact measure in which we live in and partake of, the love of God.[8]

We find this concept of peace coming from the promises and presence of God in the First Covenant. Moses offered a benediction used by Christians to this day: “May the LORD bless you and keep you safe. May the LORD smile on you and be kind to you. May the LORD show you His favor and give you His peace.[9] After Israel entered the Promised Land, the people feared the Canaanites might turn on them. So, a young Levite priest told the worried people, “Travel in peace, for the LORD will guard you on your journey.”[10] Again, we see that God’s guidance and presence give believers a sense of security, knowing they are being watched over by a God who loves them and cares for them.

Isaiah ties peace and the Messiah together in this prophecy: “For a child will be born in our midst, a son will live among us. He will be responsible for governing us. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. His reign and the peace it brings will never end.”[11] Not only does God bring peace of mind through His promises and care, but Isaiah says God will go even further by sending a Son to be born as the ruler of His kingdom, and it will be a kingdom of peace. Not just peace in the sense of no wars, but by having an everlasting covenant with Him, thus removing the fear of abandonment and being left defenseless.

Ezekiel links the Messiah and peace when he receives a word from the LORD to proclaim to the shepherds of Israel, saying, “And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the LORD, have spoken! ‘I am pledging to bring peace to my people.’[12] Out of this prophecy, we see the traits of Jesus’ story about the shepherd that left the ninety and nine in search of that one lost sheep, as well as His claim, “I am a good shepherd. A good shepherd sacrifices his life for his sheep.”[13] What more evidence does one need about the Anointed’s love for them being secure than this?

In the Final Covenant, the peace and security in the presence, ministry, and promises of the Anointed become even more apparent. In John’s Gospel, Jesus gave a farewell address.[14] No doubt, the disciples felt anxious that the LORD said He would be going away for a while. However, Jesus calms their fears with two specific promises about the peace they will experience. Our LORD told them, “I am leaving you with gifts – peace of mind and peace of heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.[15] Of what might they be troubled or afraid?  Perhaps He wouldn’t come back? That they may be left to fend for themselves in a hostile world? In other words, “Don’t worry,” Jesus says, “your love for Me and My love for you is secure; I won’t let you down; I won’t abandon you.”[16]

Then Jesus again offers a promise of peace, “I have told you all this so that My words will give you peace of mind. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But keep a positive outlook, because I have everything under full control.”[17] What did He just say? Did He tell them they would undergo persecution, hardships, suffering, and ridicule for their faith in Him? That they shouldn’t worry; they shouldn’t let that destroy their faith; they shouldn’t allow that to discourage them because everything was under His control? Yes! That’s what He told them, and His love for them and their love for Him would help them accept it by faith for them to have peace of mind.

There is an illustration I’ve used in preaching on peace. It’s about a father who tiptoes past his son’s room, thinking he’s asleep, only to hear his son laughing and saying, “You’re not gonna win!” Upon opening the door, he saw his son reading a book and inquired why his son was laughing and making such comments? The boy answered, “Dad, this is a story about some bad guys trying to beat the good guys and think they are winning. But you see, I’ve read the end of the book already, and guess what?  They lose!” Jesus is saying something similar: trials and tribulations may be coming, but don’t worry, I already know the ending, and we win! How can that not make one’s love for the Anointed feel more confident, and transform their passion into peace of heart, mind, and soul?

In his writings, Paul emphasizes the importance of the virtue of peace as we live and toil in an uncertain world during turbulent times. He told the believers in Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds our understanding. His peace will keep your hearts and minds secure as you live for the Anointed Jesus.”[18] For the Apostle Paul, knowing that one’s love is secure in the Anointed, brings about a peace that will endure even during the hardest of times.

Along this same line, Paul tells the Roman believers that the peace they feel is because their love in the Anointed remains anchored by faith. Also, it provides a sense of peace when they face ridicule or persecution from other believers over the way they live: “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of enjoying what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”[19]  When we are at peace with God, because we know His love for us is secure, it affords us the privilege of being at peace with others; by understanding and having compassion for them when they struggle over things, we may not even understand. He tells the Romans toward the end of his letter, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”[20]

[1] Rose Publishing: The Fruit of the Spirit (Kindle Locations 65-66)

[2] See Romans 5:1 – Clarke offers this note: “Before, while sinners, we were hostile with God, which was sufficiently proved by our rebellion against his authority, and our transgression of his laws; but now, being reconciled, we have peace with God. Before, while under a sense of the guilt of sin, we had nothing but terror and dismay in our own consciences; now, having our sin forgiven, we have peace in our hearts, feeling that all our guilt is taken away. Peace is generally the first-fruits of our justification.

[3] Clarke, Adam: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] 1 Corinthians 3:3; See James 3:16

[5] Hebrews 12:14

[6] Gregory the Great: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12, op. cit., The Book of Pastoral Rule, Part 3, Ch. 22, p. 580

[7] Gill, John: Exposition of the Whole Bible, op. cit., loc. cit.

[8] Maclaren, Alexander: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[9] Numbers 6:26

[10] Judges 18:6

[11] Isaiah 9:6-7a

[12] Ezekiel 34:24-25a

[13] John 10:14

[14] Ibid. 14-16

[15] Ibid. 14:27

[16] John 14:18, cf. Hebrews 13:5

[17] Ibid. 16:33

[18] Philippians 4:6-7

[19] Romans 14:13-17

[20] Ibid. 15:13

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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