Original Research - Special Collection: Festschrift

A call for peacemaking: A perspective from the Sermon on the Mount

Francois P. Viljoen
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 2 | a2708 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i2.2708 | © 2021 Francois P. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2020 | Published: 17 May 2021

About the author(s)

Francois P. Viljoen, Department of Church Ministry and Leadership, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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In a country burdened by violence and intolerance where many citizens claim to be Christians, a call to respond to a Christian ethics of peacemaking is appropriate. This article explores the instruction of the Matthean Jesus that his followers should be peacemakers amidst their exposure to violence. The point of departure is taken from the seventh beatitude ‘blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’ (Mt 5:9). The motif of peacemaking is followed through in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount and then contextualised within the broader Matthean narrative. In the article the strenuous environment is considered in which the Gospel was written and the frequent occurrence of resistance, antagonism, violence and strife in the narrative. Instead of the endless and escalating chain of violence spawning yet more violence, Jesus breaks this chain. He instructs his disciples to be peacemakers. Peace starts with peace with God but ripples out to peace in families and among neighbours, until it comes to the most difficult part, peace with enemies.

Contribution: Based on this investigation, the article offers pastoral guidelines for Christians on how they ought to deal with a violent and intolerant environment.


peacemaking; peace; Sermon on the Mount; Matthean Gospel; violence; resistance, antagonism; pastoral guidelines; beatitude.


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