I find this title of Jesus to be quite intriguing. Back in my days of studying A-Level Theology, I delved into the meaning of many of Jesus' titles, as used in the gospels, but Prince of Peace was not one of them.

Jesus was known as the Messiah (Christ, anointed one), the Son of God (one closest to God himself), the Son of Man (fulfilment of prophecies), the Lamb of God, the Son of David, and of course, lets not forget, by "doubting" Thomas, "My Lord and my God"!

But what are we to make of "Prince of Peace"? What does it mean? Prince, logically, confers ideas of royalty and hence divine status, reminiscent of second person of the trinity.

But what of "Peace"? On the surface it seems clear, Christianity is about love, and surely love and peace are two sides of the same coin? But it is a little more complicated than that.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" Matt 10:34-36

Because Jesus uses the indefinite article here, "a sword" rather than "the sword", one interprets it as not meaning he brings war, but rather a different sort of conflict. Nonetheless, he certainly is not presenting himself as the Prince of Peace, Christian’s are not allowed to feel comfortable, he is bringing a weapon to fight injustice and telling you your own family are your enemy!

There is an interesting divergence here with Islamic theology. The term "Islam" itself means peace, and a Muslim's highest, foremost duty is towards his mother. There is no presumption of family conflict in Islam, perhaps owing to the fact that the Prophet's parents died when he was young. Hence whilst Jesus had to deal with his family's disbelief whenever he went home, and subsequently inherited a very military attitude to family life, the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had no such adolescent problems, and was happy to tell his followers their first duty was to their families and to call his religion "Peace".

It helps to put into context all of these contradictions. You have to remember, a contradiction does not mean a teaching is untrue, quite the contrary, it makes it even more valuable. It presents an opportunity to understand it better as it shows you when, where and how that teaching is applicable.

Religious ‘peace’ of course refers to inner peace, and the rule of God in the adherent's heart. It does not directly translate into pacifism. "Prince of Peace" is a very loving label for Jesus, but not the way he described himself, not because it is inaccurate, but perhaps because it can potentially give a misleading impression. He is endeavouring to prepare his disciples for persecution, as the passage continues,

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matt 10:37-39


wertperch says re Prince of Peace: I'm shocked - you didn't mention Isaiah 9:6 - I understand this prophecy is where the title comes from, but alas I'm not a great fan of Isaiah and cannot comment on the meaning of the passage.

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