Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you …
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (verses 16, 18)
“Grace and peace to you.” Each of Paul’s New Testament letters begins with this very phrase, or some slight variation, but always including these two powerfully loaded words: Grace and Peace.
“Grace” is the outpoured, undeserved, unearned, all-encompassing, powerful love of Almighty God, which has been lavished upon us.
“Peace” is the absence of conflict and strife, yes – but more powerfully yet, it involves wholeness, completeness, and well-being that impacts the whole of life, and brings full reconciliation with the Lord himself.
Paul always starts his letters with these two hefty words that flow directly from the Gospel of Jesus Christ – he can’t help himself. It’s fitting, then, that he chooses to conclude this letter to the Thessalonians with these same two words. He wants to be clear that the Thessalonians are enveloped in both.
Beyond the words themselves, I am struck by several things:
(1) In both cases the source is clearly the Lord Jesus himself. The prophecy in Isaiah 9 declared, centuries before his birth at Bethlehem, that Jesus is the Prince of Peace – the one who emanates peace, bestows peace, rules in peace, and upholds peace. Peace with God comes directly through his sacrificial death, cancelling the written debt that was against us and bringing us into a place of reconciliation we could never, ever achieve on our own. His peace continues to overflow so that we may have “life in all its fullness.”
Meanwhile, “grace” is simply described as being “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course. What other source could there be? He paid the price. He washed us clean. Salvation is found in no one else. Praise his name. How good!
(2) Both grace and peace are perpetually ours in Christ. That’s the implication. This benediction, spoken in faith, is based in the reality of our new life in Jesus. “Peace at all times and in every way” is all encompassing. “At all times” literally means “constantly, always, continually” – it’s not speaking about peace bestowed on a series of separate moments, one after another, but rather of the constancy of Christ’s peace, which flows in our lives with no interruption at all. That, together with “in every way,” indicates this peace is not dependent on our current circumstances – regardless of what’s happening in our lives, it constantly abides. How good!
Similarly, with “grace.” Just as Jesus himself is “Immanuel” – God with us – so, too, his grace is to “be with you all.” His own faithfulness ensures the constancy of his grace in our lives.
(3) Finally, it is significant that Paul uses the little word “all” twice in these last verses. He wants to make sure the Thessalonians understand that each and every one of them is included. No one is left out. It’s significant, because Paul has just rebuked and warned those who have been idle, those who have been refusing to work for their own livelihood. They have been living a “less than” faithful life of discipleship. Regardless, they are fully included in this blessing of grace and peace. How good!
So, grace and peace be to us, also. To all who are in Christ Jesus. He himself is the source. Perpetually. For now, and all eternity. Nothing interrupting. For all of us. Each and every one. Amen.
Lord Jesus, thank you. Your grace and peace abide. Through every moment of my life. Regardless of the circumstances, you are constant. I receive. Praise your name.
Receive: Sit quietly and receive this blessing afresh. Let it settle into the whole of your being. Grace and Peace from the Lord Jesus Christ.