Lord’s Library contributor Bill Furioso offers commentary on the Prince of Peace Scripture found in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7. Check out his ministry At Christ’s Table for additional Bible studies and resources.
The passage Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, is the foundational Scripture for this message. This passage is actually a messianic prophecy about the coming of a child, a son, one from the lineage of David, who would reign as a King; but One Who would reign over, not only the entire earth, but also the heavens; One Who would reign forever, and One Who would reign, O, so very different than any other king in human history.
Now we come to the fourth and final name which Isaiah has attributed to Christ in this particular passage of messianic prophecy, and that is: “Prince of Peace”. We will be discussing the nature of this “Peace” in the context of human history and experience, but first, we need to understand the nature of the word “Prince” and how this Prince administers His Peace.
I put quite a bit of thought into the fact that Isaiah used the word “Prince” rather than “King.” In other places in Scripture (Editor’s note: Acts 17:7, 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 15:3, 17:14, 19:16), Jesus is certainly identified as “King.” But here, Isaiah refers to Him as “Prince.” The Hebrew word for “king” is melek, but Isaiah uses the word rX (Sar). While it seems that this Hebrew word rX maybe the origin of the Latin word rex, which means “king,” the actual root of the Latin rex is the verb, regere, which means “to make a straight, to make right, to guide, to lead, to rule.”
Prince of Peace Scripture in Isaiah 9
This word has more to do with “making things right” than “reigning as king.” A prince is a male in the royal family who is to inherit the throne in the future. While the king is seated on the throne reigning in victory, the prince is active in the field gaining victory. Peace is something for which the Prince has to fight to gain – or better, regain – for the kingdom. Jesus, God’s “Prince and Savior” (Acts 5:31), the “Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15) came to earth to defeat the temporary “god of this world” (1 Corinthians 4:4) – Satan, “the prince of the kingdom over the earth” (Ephesians 2:2).
This is an ongoing work of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace – it was announced when He first came to earth and will be completed when He comes again.
The evening of the birth of the Messiah, angels announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This anthem has two phrases – one God-ward and one man-ward. “Glory” – “to God (in the highest heavens).” And “peace” – to people. But, this is added: “those who have His good will.” The Greek word is, eudokia, meaning “good will, kindly intent, or benevolence.” The word appears in the genitive case – that is – to people who are of, or to people who are the subjects of His goodwill, or kindly intent, or benevolence. Peace – not to all people, but to certain people. Who are these people? Those who believe on the Prince of Prince and receive the benefits of His work of peace-making.
This subject of “peace” is profound. In fact, the Scripture says that it actually “passeth all understanding” in Philippians 4:7. But to understand this “peace” is to understand Jesus because the Scripture says that “he is our peace” in Ephesians 2:14. But while this “Prince of Peace” is “the same yesterday, and to day and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8) – He “was, and which is to come” (Revelation 1:4, 8, 4:8) – the experience of His peace throughout human history and experience varies.
One aspect of the Hebrew concept of “peace” is the idea of the wholeness that comes with completion. There was peace at the completion of the creation. Genesis 1:12 says, “and God saw that it was good.” In contrast, after the fall of Man (Genesis 6:5-7): “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”
As Scripture progresses, Isaiah and others prophesy the coming of the Prince of Peace to restore what was lost at the fall. But then it is most shocking to hear Jesus say after He arrived on the earth (Matthew 10:34-36, Luke 12:51-53): “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
It is also disconcerting to hear that when Christ’s followers preach His gospel, they are described as men who “exceedingly trouble our city” in Acts 16:20 and Acts 17:8. How is this to be reconciled with the title “Prince of Peace”? As I said earlier, to understand “peace” is to understand Jesus, because the Scripture says that “He is our peace” in Ephesians 2:14. And this is the reality of things: people do not have peace until they believe and receive the one who is peace. If people refuse to believe and receive Him, the effect upon them is the opposite of peace, for they have rejected Peace.
But those who believe on the Prince of Prince receive the benefits of His work of peace-making. Peace has begun with those who are subjects of God’s good will, kindly intent, and benevolence, but Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” So this is a cosmic, eternal work. Again, this is an ongoing work of peace-making which began when Jesus first came to the earth, and will be completed when Jesus returns to earth.
Let’s look at the Hebrew word translated “peace”. The word is ~wIX (shalom). It means “completeness, well-being, harmony, peace.” It is a word that has to do with relationship – with God and with others. We usually apply the word to meaning merely an absence of conflict or some type of tranquility. But, the way Jesus used the word should give us some indication that there is much more to the idea than the way we usually apply the word.
He said in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” He said there was such a thing as “His peace”, and that it was different than “the world’s peace”. For starters, this tells us that the only source of true peace is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, for as we have seen, peace comes to those who are the subjects of God’s good will, kindly interest, and benevolence, which are all summed up in Christ.
The Scripture tells us that peace and harmony with God come through faith in Christ. And that when we have received this “peace with God”, we can have peace within ourselves, because the peace that comes from God, even though it “surpasses our comprehension,” it never-the-less “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
The Scriptures also instruct us to extend that peace beyond ourselves into the world by being “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). We are told in Psalm 34:14 to “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” and “the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19), to “Follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14), and “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). But the Scriptures also tell us that this may not be possible – it is all dependent upon one’s faith and relationship with Christ.
Christians are commanded to be “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). While it is often not our testimony, God has most certainly given the Christian community the resources to live in peace with one another, as a witness to the world (John 13:35)/
But we will not see peace on earth until Christ returns, when “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
The Biblical concept of peace, in fact, goes beyond human beings to the whole of the created order. The creation groans for the peace – the wholeness and harmony – that was lost at the fall. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
When He returns, the Prince of Peace will come to “reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). Isaiah prophesied this promise in Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Jesus Himself promised these things while He was still on the earth when He said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
As we have seen, the longing – even groaning – for peace is in the very fabric of creation. It is certainly one of the deepest desires in every human heart. The promise of peace is available to whoever will believe and receive God’s goodwill, kindly intention, and benevolence. Because Jesus Himself is our peace, it is as certain as He is. It’s coming in fullness is as certain as His coming again. Between now and then we have “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7) – because that’s where the battle is – in our minds.
The prophet Isaiah said this regarding peace of mind: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
The apostle Paul gives us some helpful instruction about having a mind controlled by the Spirit:
- Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
- Romans 8:6: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
- 2 Corinthians 10:5: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The key is to surrender every area of life, and every thought under the control of the word and Spirit of Christ.
The psalmist David gives us some encouraging thoughts about trusting in and keeping our “thoughts fixed on” the Lord Jesus:
- Psalm 4:8: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”
- Psalm 29:11: “The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”
- Psalm 85:8: “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.”
- Psalm 119:165: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
And finally the words of the Prince of Peace Himself: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
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