Sunday, 8 July 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philemon 1:3
After identifying himself, and Timothy who was accompanying him, Paul then identified who he was writing to, and then extended other specific and general greetings. Now, he gives a greeting which is very similar to that found in many of his epistles, “Grace to you and peace.” The words are in the second person, plural. Thus, they are to all who are being addressed, not just Philemon.
Grace is unmerited favor which cannot be earned. This is the common greeting among the Greek people. Peace, however, is the common greeting among the Hebrew people. In their language, the word is shalom. This is more than a greeting for calm or quiet, but is a state of wholeness and completion in all ways. Paul unites the two terms just as the church is being united between Jew and Gentile during his time. This grace precedes the peace because only after receiving the grace of God can a person experience the peace of God.
Paul extends this wonderful blessing to them “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a greeting from the eternal God – both the unseen Father and His Son who reveals the Father to us. Rather than being an argument against the divinity of Jesus Christ, it is an argument for it. He is tying the two in as one – Jesus being a member of the Godhead. He is not making some type of great division, but a harmonious blending of the two.
Throughout Paul’s letters, as with the entire Bible, the deity of Jesus Christ is a concept and a precept which simply can’t be missed. It is the very heart of what God has done for the reconciliation of the people of the world.
Life application: Outside of God’s creation, which reveals Him in a general way, we cannot comprehend Him except through His special revelation. One way we receive special revelation is through the mouths of His prophets. But these prophets all testified to the same thing – the coming of Messiah, Jesus Christ (see John 5:39). The most magnificent special revelation of God that we have received is the incarnation of Jesus. But for us, even this isn’t sight, it is found in the testimony of those who have recorded what they knew into the New Testament. So, in order to understand God, one must know Jesus Christ, and one cannot understand Jesus Christ unless he knows the Bible. Know your Bible!
Heavenly Father, how grateful we are that we can fellowship with You personally. We have Your word and so we know who You are. We can have personal talks with you as we pray in solitude, or even in a mall bustling with activity around us. We can feel Your presence in church as we fellowship with others, praising You and giving thanks for Your wonderful care of us. Thank You for allowing us to fellowship with You, O God. Amen.