Some readers have pointed out that, with the brevity of the introductions to the Bible Books, many of the really well known Bible passages don't even get a mention. The following is a taster of the type of additional pages that might follow.
Page numbers in the following new sections refer to pages in
the paperback edition of The Writing on the Wall (Buy now)
Key Passages from the King James Bible
The Beatitudes in the Gospel according to Matthew
Blessed are the peacemakers
Those who make peace between others are to be revered
The nine verses known as 'The Beatitudes' come near the beginning of Matthew's Gospel (5:3-11) and have been described as Jesus' manifesto for God's Kingdom. Christians believe this is the realm where Jesus rules as Saviour of humankind and for which he teaches his disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In John's Gospel (see page 66) Jesus declares “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and the nature of 'righteousness' described in the Beatitudes is clearly in stark contrast to worldly values of riches, satisfaction and success. In Luke's Gospel (6:20-26) there is a passage where four of the beatitudes are contrasted with these worldly values. 'Beatitude' carries the notion of being blessed with God's favour and can be understood as the peace of God's loving presence among followers of Jesus both in the trials and tribulations of this world and in the expectation of heavenly salvation (see pages 70, 75). A mourner (5:4) experiences as blessings the sense of God's deep compassion and a sure hope, founded on the resurrection of Jesus. In Christianity 'The Kingdom' of Christ the Messiah is in the process of being established (see page 61). It grows wider as people accept Jesus into their lives and, in the power of God's indwelling Spirit, heaven and earth come together in worship, in prayer and in doing his will. Thus: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 6:9).
About the phrase
Of the nine beatitudes, three are too long even to count as phrases. This phrase about peacemakers is the only one that seems to feature in collections of everyday phrases from the Bible. Several of the beatitudes are used as book titles and Blessed are the Peacemakers is the most frequent. The phrase was the personal motto of King James I of England who commissioned the Bible translation that bears his name. This verse from Matthew's Gospel, which had already been written when the occupying Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 CE, may well explain why the Christian community in Judea did not participate in the Jewish revolt. But the word 'peacemaker' denotes those who bring conflict to an end as opposed to 'pacifist', meaning someone who refuses to fight. This beatitude is at the heart of St Augustine of Hippo's concept of a 'just war' (jus bellum iustum) in which Christians under national authority should not be ashamed to protect peace and punish wickedness. This has two distinct parts: jus ad bellum, the right to go to war and jus in bello, right conduct while waging war. The Charter of the United Nations (UN) requires that, except in self-defence, peaceful means are used to resolve disputes and that military force may not be used without UN authorization. There is a current proposal for a third component, jus post bellum, covering the ethics of post-war settlement and reconstruction. This would include the principle that 'truth and reconciliation' can be more important than punishing war crimes. In such ways it becomes possible to make peace that lasts.
Last updated 1 November 2016
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