Both the Hebrew ra·tsohnʹ and the Greek eu·do·kiʹa and related forms of these words have reference to that which pleases or to one’s being pleased, and they are translated “pleasure,” “good pleasure,” “liking,” “approval,” “goodwill,” and so forth.
God’s Goodwill. In the Bible the above terms are used with regard to the pleasure, approval, or goodwill of God. (Ps 51:18; 106:4; Eph 1:5, 9) God sets forth clearly what is required to please him, and he determines whom he will accept as his friends, as recipients of his goodwill. Those rejecting his Word or rebelling against him do not receive his goodwill but, rather, experience his displeasure.—Ps 2:5; Heb 3:16-19.
Man’s Goodwill. The same words are also used with reference to the approval of men, or of goodwill on their part. (2Ch 10:7; Es 1:8; Ro 15:25, 26) The apostle Paul spoke of some who preached the Christ through goodwill. (Php 1:15) These sincere Christians were expressing goodwill toward the apostle and therefore also toward God and his Son, whom Paul was representing. Such ones would accordingly experience the goodwill of God. (Pr 8:35; 10:32; 11:27) Another example of the goodwill of man toward others is the apostle Paul’s expression concerning his fleshly brothers, the Jews: “Brothers, the goodwill of my heart and my supplication to God for them are, indeed, for their salvation.”—Ro 10:1.
“Men of Goodwill.” When an angel announced the birth of Jesus, he appeared, not before the religious leaders of the Jews, but before humble shepherds. After he told the shepherds of the birth of the Messiah, an angelic host proclaimed: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.” (Lu 2:14) The angels were not proclaiming peace to God’s enemies, who were not at peace with him. “‘There is no peace,’ my God has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’” (Isa 57:21) The King James Version renders Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” But God was not here expressing goodwill toward men in general; neither did he mean that his peace was extended to those inclined toward him merely in a friendly and indulgent way. Rather, God had reference to those who would please him by genuine faith in him and who would become followers of his Son.
Modern translations harmonize with this view, making the matter clear. The Revised Standard Version reads: “Peace among men with whom he is pleased!” The New English Bible translates the phrase: “His peace for men on whom his favour rests.” James Moffatt’s translation renders it: “Peace on earth for men whom he favours!” and An American Translation reads: “Peace to the men he favors!” Other modern versions read similarly.