Biblical Antonyms

I YHWH and none else, forming light and creating darkness; making peace and creating evil – I YHWH do all these things. Isaiah 45:6-7

Peace – What is an antonym?  Answer: the opposite.  The antonym of black is white.  The antonym of fast is slow.  The antonym of leader is follower.  But when it comes to the Bible, our usual expectations about antonyms are often misplaced.  What is the opposite of love?  In common culture, the answer is “hate,” but in the Bible the answer is “apathy.”  What is the antonym of sin?  We might say, “holiness,” but the Bible suggests the answer is “obedience.”  What is the antonym of “grace?”  It’s not “law,” that’s for sure.  And what is the antonym of evil?  If you thought, “good,” you might be leaning on the tree trunk of the Genesis story.  Isaiah suggests something else.  The opposite of evil is not “good;” it is “peace.”  Why?

In order to understand why the opposite of ra is shalom, not tov, we need to go back to Genesis.  God created order.  Order in God’s creation is an expression of harmony, balance and integration.  In God’s creation, this order leads directly to the well-being of everything created and the fullest possible relationship with the Creator.  In the Bible, this is called shalom, peace.  The introduction of evil into this harmonious existence brings about chaos, the disruption of shalom.  Our culture considers good and evil to be ethical opposites, but the Bible views peace and evil as ontological opposites.  The antonym “peace and evil” describes the existence of the world, not the potential of ethical choices.  Peace and evil precede the ethical choices of good and evil.  Even in the Genesis account, good and evil stand as possible but not actual antonyms.  They only become actual ethical descriptions of human choices after the choice is made.  But shalom exists as an actual (ontological) fact from the moment of creation.

You might say, “All this is interesting philosophical discussion, but what difference does it make to me today?”  Ah, it makes all the difference.  The Bible tells us that evil is not a part of creation, a fact of existence.  It is the disintegration of creation, the collapse of what was originally and essentially at peace.  Furthermore, this implies that the end of the game is not the Good, the True and the Beautiful (as the Greeks thought), but rather shalom, the state of the world where the lion lays down with the lamb.  Our direction is toward the past, a return to the Garden of delight in peaceful harmony with itself and with its Creator.  God is restoring peace on earth because everything started in peace.  When I apply this fact of creation to my world today, I am directed to pursue peace.  I am called to be the peacemaker, the one who brings the world into harmony with its Creator.  I am challenged to stand against all the forces of chaos, disintegration, separation and dissention.  I am exhorted to seek unity.  Where I find brokenness, I am asked to heal.  Where I find heartache, I am asked to comfort.  Where I find schism, I am asked to repair.  Peace is my project.  It begins with peace with God and extends itself toward every aspect of His creation.

Of course, God’s peace does not mean peaceful co-existence with what brings evil (chaos).  It means peaceful harmony with what He planned and desires.  And that comes with a price.  But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Topical Index:  peace, evil, shalom, ra, good, tov, Isaiah 45:6-7

8 thoughts on “Biblical Antonyms

  1. Great post, Skip. What a small change it takes to expand our understanding of this idea. Who would have thought that ‘good vs. evil’ is really ‘peace vs. evil’? This makes it so much easier to appreciate, and to apply.

  2. Skip Thank You so much for this. It makes me cry.

    Our ministry has been one of repairing small to massive breaches in the church. For the last twenty years we’ve lived in a bus and traveled from one split church/ministry to another scooping up people that have been chewed up and spit out by the pastors /elders administrators, etc……….. and visa versa. Pastors and elders are not immune to the same treatment.

    These poor folks start out with great zeal to serve and end up being incredibly angry or feeling utterly rejected by our loving Father in heaven because they equated God with the leadership.

    Our task has always been to try to redirect their anger toward HaSatan, get them past the bitterness toward G-d and His people, and give them back to Him by getting them back in a safe place in the fold. Although there has been fruit, I can’t say we feel that we are very good at it. It takes a lot of looking into the mirror if you know what I mean.

    We KNOW we’re headed for something tougher than we’ve ever faced before. I tremble to imagine such a thing and have actually dreaded our next assignment (whatever it might be) at times.

    Our last experience brought ME to the point of wanting to give up and leave G-d. It was the second time in my life that I realized it’s no use, He won’t let me go (one can endure much once one really knows what it means to have been excepted in the beloved) which now comforts me past any hurt man has inflicted on me “so far”.

    Todays perspective has injected me with a fresh understanding of what we’ve been called to and a pile of hope that HE/we will accomplish His will by His strength in the future. Bless you for this important devotional.

    And bless all of you as you wrestle your way through the next week.

    Thursday night we are gathering all the children and grandchildren together to celebrate one of our grandsons 14th birthday with all our might. Friday morning we are leaving our family ties and driving through a predicted blizzard out into the wilderness to Shabbat and pray together in a snowy little off grid distraction free cabin that Avinu has provided for us.

    YHVH Bless you and keep you

  3. Job 3:8 “Let them curse it who curse the day, Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.”
    Job 3:26 “For me there is no calm, no peace; my torment banish rest.”
    Job 24:13 “Others of them hate the light, know nothing of its ways

    When Yahweh punishes Job, by taking away all the good things in his life.

    Job is left with an image of chaos; the “Leviathan,” which makes me think of Moby Dick.

    Job contrasts chaos and darkness with peace and light.

    And coincidentally, shalom contains the OM sound.

    The Mem sound that brings peace.

  4. Thanks, Skip. These thoughts come at this point as I struggle with the philosophy of the problem of evil: So GREEK that it causes me to tremble. You have offered a gentle counter point the the other reading that I struggle with.

  5. “I YHWH and none else, forming light and creating darkness; making peace and creating evil – I YHWH do all these things. Isaiah 45:6-7″

    “All this is interesting philosophical discussion, but what difference does it make to me today?”

    Hi Skip,

    Well I must admit this is all very interesting philosophical discussion, I just wish you had taught me these things about forty years ago.

    I’ve been trying to figure these things out for a long time.

    On a practical level, the fastest way to find peace for me is really pretty simple.

    When walking my dog Max, for example, I breathe in “Yah” and out “weh.”

    Then I breathe in “Hom” and out “bre.”

    Then I breathe in “Sha” and out “lom.”

    Then I say the Lord’s prayer.

    In the face of psychological chaos, it works like a charm.

  6. “I just wish you had taught me these things about forty years ago.”

    Hi Skip,

    What I specifically had in mind when I wrote the statement above was from a few days ago.

    When you said that Hebrew was a phenomenological language.

    I was just breezing along in The Guardian Angel where you make the same point on p. 45.

    And on p. 44 I found what I could not find 30 years ago.

    The precise Hebrew words (tselem and demut).

    Which in my view are the key to understanding The Scarlet Letter.

    And I was just thinking about my life 30 years ago in Del Mar when I picked up the The Guardian Angel.

    At my wife’s house.

    Thinking about my dog Magen, which you mention on p. 41 (shield).

  7. Beloved, thanks for the data!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, WOW, from eternity past, there was obviously peace and good and free choice among the angels. Our MISSION which is to be well-communicated to others in love everywhere< is to help get others saved. That is WHY I am here and you are here and your neighbor is here and their neighbor is here and their distant relative is here and people living on Pacific Islands are here. Peace was the original state of things if you will and was not evil, so God is not a tyrant, nor just an "idea" as American society BELIEVES. Actually, though, my pastor informed my church, God's church, that there's no such thing as an athiest because for the fact that all must admit in their minds that this orderly world must have came from a divine being and that they have a conscience, which God gave us all so that it would help us TRUST Him. You know well that not all of your family or your co-workers trust our God. This is due to evil and not their own thinking. I have a short story to share for God's sake and I'm glad this also relates to peace and evil.

    My former friend "____" told me once while we were on good grounds that "there must a distant divine being out there causing me pain." I'm aware that the person wants a lover and spends hours on the Web in a public place (where others believers may notice and pray for him. I lovingly talked with him about himself and God. He told me that church gave him "no enlightenment." You must receive from God and not expect anything else including the *Person Jesus to "make you believe." Thus, if one doesn't accept God, after hearing about the Gospel, would know that God IS the Way even though their words and attitude say otherwise. So, knowing about peace and evil are important and this has led me to share with you ALL about how we can use the information on this Website to help others get saved!! Is that our passion? Should we indeed go in all places to seek the lost with Christ's aid? Amen! Jesus spoke this and He endorses us when we go forth and shine for HIS Glory. After all, we all would be obeying Him all of the time if we had never sinned. That is why Jesus tells us everyday to obey Him and that our pride is not good. Have you considered this? That's logic and it's true. So, I sincerely pray that all of you's accept reading this data about using what we know to help others get SAVED. God uses all things for His good. I also want to share that it might be that God even "spared" Lucifer, whom He loved at first so that other angels and humans (us) could learn from him. I once asked a saint if one would "learn" if they were in hell. He said "no" because it's only a place of punishment and that the lesson wouldn't matter any way due to the reality that there would be no second chance. Jesus did descend into hell literally to show the inhabitants there that He is Risen and Real. That is like learning a lesson for those that were in hell then.

    See, our churches must preach about hell and money and the lust of sexuality. Those three are the most elite to be warned about! Money is the top concern because it's the root of all evil. Hell, obviously should be warned about prior to the promise of heaven with a submitted life to the Son. Sexuality is so strong a force because it is a basic human need and in our temporary fallen state, we view parts of sexuality in the wrong because it feels right. This applies to men and women. Now, this is related to light because God surely wants us all to know about His Son. Boy, do I have passion for other hearts like yours and thanks, Jesus. God has copy texts like these that I keyboard and share with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *