What is a person of peace? In the New Testament, the “person of peace” is the person who opens the way for the gospel to enter one’s social group or even their village. Jesus taught his disciples to search for a “worthy” person or “person of peace” on entering a village. Throughout the book of Acts, we see this played out as Jesus’ apostles find persons of peace who help them share the gospel.
Jesus instructed his disciples to search for a “worthy” person, or a “person of peace,” when they visited a village (Matthew 10:11; Luke 10:6). They were to “stay” with the worthy person until they left. This person of peace often opened the way for the gospel to enter one’s social group or even a village.
At Lincoln Christian University, one of my mentors, Dr. Lowery, encouraged us to trace ideas through the text. In re-examining the Gospels with this “person of peace” insight, it is clear Jesus made use of this principle within his ministry.
Persons of Peace in the Gospels
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and saw Levi sitting in a tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus commanded. “Levi got up and followed him” (Mark 2:14, NIV). The next scene is at Levi’s house. Levi has invited all his business associates and sinners to a large meal to introduce them to Jesus. Levi was a person of peace.
I should note—a person of peace may not have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior but still be open to the Gospel message. It’s this openness to those sharing the Gospel that shows God is already working within their lives. Levi 1) welcomed Jesus, 2) opened his home, and 3) invited all his friends.
“Levi welcomed Jesus, opened his home, and invited all his friends.”
Jesus selects a demon possessed man from the Gerasenes, on the far side of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 5:1). The demon-possessed man lived among the tombs, harming himself and defying the locals with his great strength (Mark 5:2-4). Jesus cast out the “Legion” from the demon-possessed man and the evil spirits entered the pigs nearby, destroying them in the sea (Mark 5:8-13). Now in his right mind, the man desired to go with Jesus. But Jesus commanded, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19, NIV).
In the demon-possessed man’s case,
- Jesus heals him and gives back the man’s freedom (Mark 5:15).
- Jesus invites the demon-possessed man to return home and share his story with all (Mark 5:19).
- The demon-possessed man did as Jesus commanded.
Thus the demon-possessed man became a person of peace to his own people.
“The demon-possessed man became a person of peace to his own people.”
The most impressive example of a person of peace is in John 4 when Jesus spoke with the woman at a well outside Samaria. She is an outcast because of her having had five husbands and now living with a man who was not her husband. Jesus welcomed her and encouraged her without being harsh or judgmental. He shared with her the heart of the Gospel—himself.
(1) The Lord must have opened her heart, for she returned to the village (John 4:28). (2) She invited everyone in the village to come and see the one who knew all about her life (John 4:29). (3) Many Samaritans believed (John 4:39-42). The Samaritan woman was a person of peace.
Persons of Peace in the book of Acts
In the book of Acts, this also occurs. Peter has a dream of a sheet being lowered down from heaven with clean and unclean animals. God commands him to kill and eat one of the animals. While he ponders this strange dream, men arrive to get him. God has already arranged a person of peace in Caesarea, a military man of the Italian cohort by the name of Cornelius.
- The Lord heard Cornelius’s prayers and commanded him to send for Peter (Acts 10:1-8).
- Cornelius opened his home and called all his friends to hear the Gospel from Peter (Acts 10:27-43).
- Cornelius and all his friends began speaking in tongues, and Peter and his companions baptized them (Acts 10:44-48).
Cornelius was a person of peace.
The apostle Paul had a similar experience with Lydia outside Philippi.
- “The Lord opened her heart to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14, NIV).
- She opened her home while Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke stayed in Philippi (v. 25).
- Lydia and members of her household were baptized.
Lydia was a person of peace.
In each of the various examples of Jesus and his disciples, they made it a practice to approach the person of peace. Jesus spoke to the crowds, but I believe they did the most significant work through specific individuals whom God had already prepared for his purpose.
“They did the most significant work through specific individuals whom God had already prepared for his purpose.”
Jesus commanded the twelve, and also the seventy-two, to look for the person of peace in the villages they would visit. Therefore, it seems logical from the many biblical examples above that we model their example by seeking the person of peace in our communities.
What are some examples of the person of peace in today’s world?
“Samantha.” During a survey of the local area, we asked people what was the first thing they thought of when they heard the word church. Samantha answered the door with a skeptical look on her face and did not say much, but answered the question. I thanked her and left.
Later, Winnifred mentioned Samantha had come to her and asked about me and the church. I was a stranger to Samantha. Winnifred and the other women in the church started a Bible study with Samantha, who also invited her daughter. Later, Samantha and her daughter accepted Jesus.
My friend Tim Cook also shared three examples from his work church planting:
“Rob.” Rob met Andrew at a construction site, struck up a friendship with the young man, and introduced Andrew to Jesus. Andrew later introduced Kaitlin and Debbra to Rob who shared Jesus with them. This occurred within the context of Tim’s work planting a new church.
“Andrew later introduced Kaitlin and Debbra to Rob who shared Jesus with them.”
“June.” June discovered what Tim was doing and brought her husband, her mom, her brother, and her friend. They all accepted Jesus and were baptized by Tim.
“Maria.” Maria heard about the church plant. She brought her mother, her father-in-law, her brother-in-law, and his fiancée and another family who were baptized.
Hidden Harvest Workers
Jesus stated, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38, NIV). And again to the seventy-two, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2).
Disciples who want to make disciples who make disciples need to tap into the workers of the harvest God has already put into the field: the person of peace.