Rewardable Attributes: Peacemakers

As we have seen, the Beatitudes are primarily focused on the disciples (5:1), and ultimately it is addressing the rewards given to faithful believers (5:12). Different attributes result in different rewards or benefits. In today’s blog, we will be looking at the last attribute, found in verse 9 where the Lord addresses the peacemakers, saying: 

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God. -Matthew 5:9 NKJV

What does it mean to be a “son”?

As we have seen in the previous blogs, the Lord uses many phrases in this passage to describe different rewards for faithful believers. For example, He says that some believers will “inherit the earth” (verse 5). Others will obtain mercy (verse 7), and others will be given the privilege of seeing the Lord (verse 8). In today’s verse, we are told that peacemakers will receive the specific title of “son of God.” 

This is a tricky expression if taken out of context. The Lord does not mean that if a person is a peacemaker they will be saved. If that were the case, anyone with a Facebook page might want to rethink some of their posts over the last year. Being peaceful doesn’t save a person. We are saved by simply believing in Jesus for the gift of eternal life (John 5:24).

So what does the Lord mean when He says a peacemaker will be called a “son”? 

In the Greek, to be a “son” means to be a mature, or grown, child. This is different from being a “child” of God, which refers to a small infant. All believers are “children” of God but not all believers are mature “sons.”

For example, the Apostle John refers to all believers as “children” throughout his five books. When he comes to the end of Revelation, however, he does use the term “son” for the first and only time. In the passage he is referring to overcoming believers (Rev 21:7). In that same verse, John tells us that the overcoming believer will “inherit” all things. This concept is also found in the Beatitudes in verse 5. 

Again, it is important to keep in mind that a person is not saved by overcoming or promoting peace. Salvation is freely given to all who believe in Jesus for eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9).

However, if you want to mature and be called a grown “son” of God, you need to be someone who overcomes. In the example we have in Matthew 5:9 we see that maturity is seen in those who are peacemakers. 

So what does it mean to be a peacemaker? 

I am writing this blog on January 12, 2021. Just a few days ago, our nation watched in horror as our capital building was infiltrated by protestors, resulting in several deaths, and an unknown amount of damage, both physically and politically. In a few short days, Joe Biden will be sworn into office and who knows what the world will look like by the time you read these words. 

In many ways, peace feels like the stuff of fairy tales. 

With this modern-day context in mind, I would like to remind us all of the biblical context of the Lord, as He is saying these words to the disciples. During the time of Christ, Israel was under the pagan rule of the Roman empire. To paint the backdrop to what this meant, we can consider a few biblical accounts. 

For example: 

  • As a result of the Lord’s birth: Herod orchestrates the massacre of all the male children born among the Jews, under the age of two–a truly horrific event which ended the lives of thousands of babies (Matthew 2:16-18).
  • Jews were subjected to Roman taxation. This was a taxation to a corrupt and pagan king who was seen as a god by the Romans (Matthew 22:17-21). 
  • In Luke 13:1-5, we are told of an event in which the Roman governor, Pilate, had a group of Jews killed, and their blood mingled with the sacrifices. Not only was this a gruesome political act, but an egregious act against Judaism.

One only needs to look a few verses down in Matthew 5 to see that the Lord is not unaware of the unrest in the world. 

Notice Verse 11

 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 

The Lord speaks of persecution by the world as a guarantee. 

Notice, this is not an “if” statement, it’s a “when.” We shouldn’t be surprised when the world hates us. Ultimately, the world hated Him, and if you are abiding in Him, they will hate you too. 

 While it’s probably not what any of us want to hear, the world has never offered peace. Historically, in the States, we have experienced a certain amount of blessings and freedoms. However, when we consider the teachings of the Lord, and later the apostles, we see that peace with the world truly is the stuff of fairy tales. 

Therefore, I would like to suggest that peace with the world is not the Lord’s focus here in verse 9 (also consider Matthew 10:34). 

So, if peace with the world is not in view in Matthew 5:9, what does the Lord mean? 

The Lord is primarily thinking about the peace between believers in Matthew 5:9. Since we are in the church age, I would say for us the application would be within our churches and our families. 

Consider James 3:17-18

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

If you have been following our series, some of the terms in this passage may sound familiar. Many commentators have made the observation that James must have had the Lord’s words in Matthew 5 in mind when he wrote this passage. James mentions meekness (James 3:13 also see 1:21), purity (verse 17), and mercy (verse 17); and he warns against boasting and self-seeking attitudes (verse 14). In other words, he encourages a humble spirit. Finally, he ends the passage by talking about the fruit of righteousness that comes from those who “make peace.” I don’t think it’s too big of a leap to say these people would be called “peacemakers.” 

All five of our attributes are here and accounted for in this passage. 

So, what is James saying? 

James is speaking to believers. He refers to his readers as “brethren” throughout his epistle (e.g. 3:1 and 3:10). He is focused on their works within the church (3:1 & 13; also consider 2:1-4). Furthermore, have you noticed that each attribute implies another person’s involvement? I can’t show mercy without another person in the equation. What does it matter if I am humble with myself? Humility is only necessary when others are involved. Being a peacemaker, by its definition, requires two parties. James, and the Lord in Matthew 5, are saying that if you want to be a mature believer, you need to be someone who desires peace within the body of Christ. 

Peace is not a fluffy word, friend. A far cry from the hippy life, true peace requires discipline and self-control. This is not an easy task. Maintaining peace within the church often requires sacrifice. It often requires us to give up our own rights or desires in order to serve others. How many churches have fallen apart because of an unwillingness to put peace over privileges? Not all believers are willing to do this. Not all believers grow in maturity. Which is why those that do will be blessed with the title, “son of God.”


Whether it’s through mercy, gentleness, humility, purity or peacemaking, each attribute depicts the believer serving others. It shows a believer sacrificially serving others. In other words, these attributes reflect our Savior. May we all long to grow in these characteristics and follow our Lord’s example.

Written By Kathryn Wright

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