Tuesday, 12 May 2015
The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s. 1 Corinthians 16:21
It is evident from Paul’s letters that he used what is known as an amanuensis, a scribe, to write his letters for him. What seems likely is that he had extremely poor vision, possibly from his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. Because of this, a scribe would write as he dictated and then he would authentic the epistle with his own greeting. That a scribe is used is seen, for example, in Romans 16:22 –
“I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.”
And so as in several other letters, a personal greeting from Paul is given. Other examples are found in 2 Thessalonians 3:17 and Colossians 4:18. Also, in Galatians 6:11, there is an added thought which is worthy of note –
“See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!”
Some take this to mean that he wrote all of Galatians; others that he simply signed the letter in this way. Whichever is the case, the “large letters” seems to indicate a person with weak eyes. It also gave him easily recognized writing which would authenticate his authorship. This is important because in 2 Thessalonians 2, it appears that Paul was worried that someone may try, or actually did try, to forge a letter as if from him –
“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.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2
Life application: Paul bore “a thorn in the flesh” which he petitioned the Lord to remove from him. It is speculated that this is referring to his bad eyesight. The truth is that the Lord could have healed him anytime, but chose not to, stating the reason that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” In this, there is also the truth that Paul’s letters were easily identifiable and therefore forged letters would be shown as false. If you carry a perceived deficiency of some sort, the Lord can and will work with it to His glory. Rather than mourn over your deficiencies, exalt in them, knowing that they have placed you in a particular position for reasons that He is pleased to work through!
Heavenly Father, there are things I can’t do and areas where I am weak or even completely deficient. And yet, if I didn’t have these failings, I wouldn’t be who I am. I may have excelled in an area which kept me from relying on You. I may have had an ability which kept me from choosing a different path in work or in volunteering my time. And then I would have missed interaction with someone who needed me at that moment. Everything I am and everything I do has been shaped for an ultimate end that I cannot yet see. And so I will trust that Your grace is sufficient for me and that Your strength is made perfect through weakness. I will rejoice in my deficiencies if they will but exalt You! Amen.