I saw a scripture misquoted today, and it’s been bugging me. In fact, I often see this scripture misquoted, and I felt the need to speak out. Today, I saw a perfectly well-intentioned group in a public forum misquote Matthew 5:9. Their version read, “Blessed are the peaceKEEPERS (my emphasis), for they shall be called the children of God.”
I have no doubt that this group meant well. In fact, I fully and wholly support this group. But, the misquoting of this scripture is very problematic for our understanding of peace.
I referenced seven different translations and versions of the Bible to check myself. I chose some colloquial versions and some academic translations. These included: NIV, NRSV, CEB, Good News, HCSB, KJV, and NLT.
Every single one of these translations/versions quotes Matthew 5:9 in a different way—but every one refers to “peaceMAKERS” or “those who WORK for peace.” This is not simple semantics. There is a huge difference in “keeping” and “making.” I KEEP a cake someone else baked for me. I MAKE a cake from scratch using my own efforts.
A peaceKEEPER merely maintains the status quo of a state of non-conflict. There is no action. There is no intention. A peaceKEEPER gets by on “not rocking the boat” and not causing any problems.
A peaceMAKER actively works toward mediating a peace in times of conflict. There is action. There is intentionality.
Jesus clearly said that those who ACTIVELY seek peace over conflict will be the ones blessed. There is no such promise to those who simply don’t rock the boat. May we all strive to be peacemakers.