Monday, 30 October 2017
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 2 Thessalonians 3:18
Paul’s closing words here are identical to those of 1 Thessalonians 5:28, except here he adds in the word “all.” This is in line with his words of verse 16 of this chapter where he said, “The Lord be with you all.” This is especially important because he has censured some of the congregation for being lazy sluggards. Despite this, he has no ill will towards them, and the letter has been intended to correct their sloth. Should they fail, the congregation also has its orders to withdraw from them, but still admonish them as brothers.
Despite the addition of “all,” as is in accord with all of his epistles, Paul’s closing salutation is a blessing which is a petition for divine favor to be upon his audience. In the Greek, there is a definite article in front of “grace.” Quite often English translations will insert “the” for clarity at certain points, but it may not be in the Greek. However, it is here.
“The grace” is different than saying something like, “May grace from the Lord Jesus be with you.” Paul is asking for a divine impartation of this attribute of the Lord to rest upon those in Thessalonica (and thus us!) and to sustain them in their walk. It must be then considered that those who are not obedient to the epistle are to be excluded from this petition.
For example, in a similar petition for grace to be bestowed upon the congregation at Corinth, he wrote concerning a disobedient congregant, saying to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Until that person was willing to adhere to the sound instruction of the epistle, his petition for divine grace was most probably not intended for him.
And yet, at the same time, we all fall short of one precept or another. Therefore, it must be considered that it is for those who earnestly strive for adherence to it, even if they do fall short. Such is the nature of grace; undeserved merit. Paul, in one form or another, closes out every one of his epistles with such a note of request for this divine favor. Even the last words of the Bible are very closely aligned with his words here. There John writes –
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21
Finally, Paul closes the letter with “Amen.” In essence, “So let it be.” Paul has petitioned for grace upon his audience, and he then confirms that petition with assured hopes that it will be so.
Life application: The Bible, time and again, asks for an undeserved blessing to be bestowed upon those who pursue it, even if they fall short of what it states. Such is the nature of grace, and such is the nature of our gracious Lord. As you walk along life’s highway, take time to contemplate the wondrous grace which has been lavished upon you. And then thank the Lord and praise the Lord for that same grace.
Lord God, we take the many blessings of this life for granted. At times we even act as if we deserve Your grace. But grace is unmerited favor, and so help us to realize this. May we look to each radiant day of sunshine as a gift. Every beautiful flower that opens was because of Your gracious hand. None of such things are deserved, but are instead kind acts from You, our loving Creator. Grant us wisdom to realize this, and to thank and praise You for each delight which fills our eyes, minds, and hearts. Amen.