Saturday, January 18, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

As I noted two weeks ago, my Bible study plan this year is a weekly focus on one word found in Scripture. This is an endeavor I've entered prayerfully, and as I write these summaries every two weeks, I want to share what the Spirit has shown me as humbly as I can. I don't presume to be a Biblical scholar or a hermeneutical expert, and my summaries will not be exhaustive, simply brief summaries. I simply want to share what the Scripture has shown me.

The words that I have studied during these first two weeks of January are confidence and peace. The secular world portrays these attitudes or ideas differently than the Scriptures, so I have feared that I have not understood them as correctly as I should. This is why I chose these two words to kickoff this 2014 journey.


In the New International Version of the Bible, the word "confidence", or some variation of it, is used 18 times in the Old Testament and 19 times in the New Testament. There are multiple Hebrew words that are translated as "confidence", most intriguing to me were "batach" and "mibtach". Naturally, they both have similar meanings, batach focusing more on the aspect of trust while mibtach focusing more on seeing God, someone, or something as a refuge. The Old Testament use of the word "confidence" spans from Israel's or other nation's confidence in political or military leaders to a husband's confidence in the "woman of noble character" in Proverbs to David's confidence in God in the Psalms. However, the use of confidence in the Old Testament that spoke to my heart most were found in Isaiah. Perhaps it is due to my Midwestern roots, but Biblical agricultural analogies have always resonated with me. Isaiah 32:16-17 reads:
The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
What a message. A fertile field of God's righteousness will produce peaceful fruit leading to both quietness and confidence. I've always thought of confidence as loud, but it seems it is not. Isaiah is using the word "betach". There is a trust that comes from righteousness and peace.

In the New Testament, there are multiple Greek words that are translated as "confidence" in English. The word "parresia" was the most intriguing to me, meaning cheerful courage. Interestingly, it is also often used in reference to people speaking plainly, without ambiguity, but with boldness. Perhaps a little bit like Sara Bareilles's song "Brave", which was stuck in my head the whole week I was studying this word:

However, the use of word confidence in the New Testament is more often about being confident before God (I John 3:21) --coming before His throne--and in the face of persecution (Hebrews 10:32-35) than it is about trying to verbally right a wrong. So often the world attaches to the idea of confidence to self, when, in Scripture, the only use of the phrase "self-confidence" is in Nehemiah when the an enemy of Israel lost "self-confidence" when defeated by an Israel that put its trust in God. The Scriptures point to confidence as something we can have in coming before God and in being bold in this world because of Him.


For the word "peace", I used the English Standard Version. With the prevalence of the word (273 times in the Old Testament and 94 times in the New Testament) throughout the Bible it was easier to follow using the Lexiconc resource on During this week, I decided to focus on the peace in relation to God or a sense of personal peace, rather than to look at the verses that discuss peace surrounding the relationships between nations.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "shalowm" is generally translated as peace, meaning tranquility, prosperity, quietness. A large portion of the verses that use the word peace are in reference to "peace offerings" sacrificed to God, but there are other uses as well--especially in the Psalms. What intrigued me most is the verbs associated with peace:
Psalm 4:8- sleep/dwell in peace
Psalm 34:14-seek/pursue peace
Psalm 37:11- delight in peace
As I studied the Psalm 37 verse, it was especially interesting to look at what Hebrew word was translated into "delight"-the word is "anag" which means to be delicate or to be pampered. What a concept! To pamper yourself in peace because of God. I know it's certainly not something I do very well. It has given me a new view of peace. God's peace is a glass of red wine, a bubble bath, or a manicure for your spirit!

In the New Testament, the Greek word "eirene" (tranquility, harmony, security) is usually what is translated as peace. There are many interesting tidbits about the use of peace in the New Testament that I discovered during this week's journey:
  • Jesus told His disciples "peace be with you" three times in John 20 following His resurrection
  • There is an interesting thread in Romans connecting the Trinity and peace. Romans 5:1 which notes that we can have peace with God through Christ, and Romans 8:6 which notes that the mind of the Spirit is life and peace
  • There are over a dozen references to peace in the greetings and closings of Paul's letters to various churches
This is my Scripture word journey so far. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

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