by Andreas J. Köstenberger
Christmas cards frequently proclaim, and Christmas carols echo, the well-known angelic pronouncement at Jesus’ birth of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Or do they? A closer look at the actual passage in Luke 2:14 proves both intriguing and illuminating. In context, Luke opens his narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ regarding the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus (31/27 BC–AD 14) who presided over the “Golden Age” of Rome and was widely heralded for having ushered in the period of Pax Romana, the “Roman peace.” Jesus was born during the reign of Augustus, the Roman “Prince of peace.” In keeping with Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus, too, came as the “Prince of peace,” and yet, the peace he came to bring was of an entirely different kind (cf. Isa 9:6; see also John 14:27). Jesus’ peace was not coercive, backed up by Roman military might; it was an otherworldly, supernatural peace—peace with God—that no human power can procure and no amount of money can buy.