Special Feature

Peace on Earth—To Whom?; Wise Men and Their Priestly Gifts

Peace on Earth—To Whom?; Wise Men and Their Priestly Gifts

Peace on Earth—To Whom? by Eric D. Huntsman, from Good Tidings of Great Joy, 83
Although “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” has become one of the best known Christmas wishes, the difference of a single letter in some Greek manuscripts produces different possible meanings of this familiar expression from Luke 2:14.

While “peace, good will to men,” “peace to men of good will,”and “peace to those whom God favors” all have significantly different meanings, they each represent an important theological truth. God does, in fact, desire peace on earth and has good will towards all men and women. But it is also true that lasting peace will not exist on earth unless people first have good will, first towards one another, but more importantly, also to God— accepting the gift of his Son and letting his peace come into their lives.

The Wise Men and Their Priestly Gifts by John W. Welch, from the BYU New Testament Commentary
Although it is possible that the Wise Men came from Mesopotamia as Zoroastrians or from points even farther east, the early Christian writer Justin Martyr said that they came from Arabia, closer to the Judean homeland.

Gold was required in the Temple. According to scripture, the doors and altar (1 Kings 7:48), the table for the bread of the Presence (1 Kings 7:48), the lamp stands and drinking vessels of the Temple (1 Kings 10:21) were to be made of pure gold. Many other implements of the Temple were gold-plated. Gold was incorruptible and was thought to have embodied the radiance of the sun.

Frankincense provided the fragrance required by priestly regulations for every sacrifice “offered by fire to the Lord” (Leviticus 24:7). Its sweet smoke carried prayers up to heaven. It was burned in the Temple to invoke the presence of the Lord.

Myrrh, another resin from the life-sustaining sap of a desert tree, was a key ingredient in making the oil of anointment that imparted holiness, which oil could not be used outside the Temple (Exodus 30:25-33).