The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. 2 Thessalonians 3:17
“This salutation of Paul with my own hand,” tells us that, until this point, he has had a scribe writing the epistle for him. It is at this point that he stopped his narration and said to the scribe something like, “Bentonious, let me have the quill to finish up the letter.” Certainly not miffed at all because of writer’s cramp, Bentonious probably said, “It’s all yours, fine Sir, finish away.” The salutation of Paul was intended to keep from happening exactly what did happen, as noted in verses 2:1, 2 –
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
A hand written salutation from Paul authenticated the letter so that there would be no mistake in whether it was valid or not. This is seen in his next words, “which is a sign in every epistle, so I write.” Paul obviously wrote the concluding thoughts of the first letter to them, but he didn’t highlight it at that time. Now he is doing so in order to keep from any future possibility of a false letter being received and accepted.
It is known from Galatians 6 that Paul had a unique style of handwriting which was with very large letters (Galatians 6:11). It is generally assumed that this was because he had poor eyesight. The reasons for this assumption are convincing. His handwriting would be very easy to recognize, and rather hard to forge. This was his mark of authorship, and the letter’s mark of authenticity.
Life application: Nowadays, we send many emails, and our social intercourse is often reduced to short, rather impersonal, messages. From time to time, it should be our practice to take a moment and to actually write a note to those we cherish. In this, we go back to a more personal, even intimate, time where associations and friendships were recognized as such.
Lord God, You have created us to be personal, social beings. But our lives have been reduced to impersonal social media for the most part. We tell people we love them because they post friendly things and don’t annoy us, but we just as quickly unfriend them when they say they voted for Senator Do-Nothing. Grant us the ability to be more personal to others than just a 100 character tweet. Help us to establish true and enduring friendships. Your word says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Help us to be true friends and brothers. Amen.