What Does Shalom Mean In The Bible?

5 min read

Biblical peace is a life-changing reality based on the concept of shalom. But what does shalom mean in the Bible? Find out how this powerful truth can change your life forever.

Inner Peace?

What comes to mind when you hear the word peace? My brain instantly takes me to a scene in one of the Kung Fu Panda movies where Po, the apprentice panda, is trying to learn some ancient meditation skills from Master Shifu. Shifu postures himself in a calm and meditative state and catches a falling water droplet before placing it, unbroken, on the leaf of a small plant. Po is in awe and asks Master Shifu how he mastered such an incredible feat.

Shifu replies, “Inner peace.”

Po exclaims, “That’s cool! Inner peace of what?”

I don’t know what you think of when you think of peace, but this always makes me laugh. Peace seems as hard to explain as it is to hold onto. But is it really an abstract and vague idea that means a thousand things to a thousand people? The truth is that biblical peace is neither mystical nor abstract.

So, what does shalom mean in the Bible?

The Hebrew word that we often translate for peace is shalom.

One of the most helpful translations for Shalom is “whole complete, with nothing broken or missing.”

Biblical peace is more than the absence of war or conflict. Its a restoration of order and righteousness, with nothing missing or broken. And one of the best-known verses about shalom peace is found in Isaiah.

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[a] Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Here, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah is speaking of the future birth of Jesus as the beginning of a new kind of peaceful kingdom. He did not come to rule as a blood thirsty tyrant looking to destroy His enemies. But to set things right, through an eternal government built on peace.

What Does Shalom Mean in the Bible? Jesus and Shalom

Jesus came to bring this kingdom of shalom peace in three powerful ways:

1. Jesus came to bring shalom between God & humanity 
  • We don’t need to look far to see the chaos and the consequences of sin and evil in our world. The greatest consequence of the fall of humanity, explained in the book of Genesis, was the broken relationship between the Lord God and the world He created.

But Jesus death and resurrection were a sacrifice for all the wrongs of humanity, satisfying God’s anger and giving us a way out of judgement and into a never-ending relationship with God the Father.

He was our atonement. He stood in place for what WE deserved and took our place. Jesus became sin so that we could have everlasting life. In this world and the one to come.

His Shalom peace is a consequence of this sacrifice, and it is available to everyone who believes in Him, whether they feel like they deserve it or not.

2. Jesus came to bring shalom in our relationships with each other

How we treat each other is a big deal to God. Heres what 1 John says:

We love each other[b] because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.[“

This verse reminds us that to love God is to love each other. They are parallel and inseparable truths.

Because our relationships with each other are so important to God, He asks us to get involved in making things right. As we receive the grace of God and allow Him to change and heal us, we will find that the instinct to reach out to others will grow. God’s love gives us the ability to love the people we wouldn’t usually be able to.

The older I get, the more I come to understand that I can’t fix the complexity of broken human relationships by myself. But I can pray for opportunity and do the part that God assigns me.

And then be at peace about the rest.

3. Jesus came to restore shalom within us, personally.

Jesus gives us a promise of peace that calls a truce to the internal conflict that often rages within us.

The Apostle Paul explains it to the Roman church like this:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

Isn’t that a great statement?! By virtue of my faith in Jesus Christ, I am now at peace with God. I can walk away from my regrets and mistakes with no shame.

Consequently, when I allow the increase of His government of peace to rule in my life—in my mental activity, my behavior, and the choices that I make—then He can begin the slow and steady work of restoring Shalom within me. I can lay in bed at night & not be a slave to scenarios that play on the screen of my mind.

The war has been fought and won. And the winner is. Peace.

And finally

Let me leave you with this final promise & instruction from Jesus.

27 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 4:27

Our prayer for you today is that you will know about and experience the shalom peace of Jesus. For today and throughout the rest of your life.

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