Greetings of Grace

Remember when you first learned how to write a letter? Maybe it was your father or mother who taught you, or maybe a teacher in school, but we learned that it’s important to communicate properly to people in many different kinds of letters. Here’s what I remember first learning about writing a letter:

  1. Introduction (the writer and who will read the letter)
  2. Greeting (first sentence(s) following the introduction)
  3. Opening paragraph (tell them what you’re going to write about)
  4. Body of the letter (write about your subject)
  5. Closing paragraph (summarize what you told them and what response you want)
  6. Closing (last sentence(s) following the body of the letter and closing paragraph)

The Bible is God’s Love Letter to His children and the world. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of every Letter in God’s Word, so we can learn a lot about what He wants from us by what He inspired.

The Books of James and Galatians may be the oldest Books of the New Testament (James believed to have been written between 45 – 50 A.D. … Galatians between 49 – 52 A.D.). Let’s see what we learn from the way they were written.

Introduction to James: “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”

Introduction to Galatians: “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia.”

Greetings to James: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Greetings to Galatians: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Opening paragraph to James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

Opening paragraph to Galatians: “(our Lord Jesus Christ) Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen”

The Apostle James wrote to the twelve tribes (Hebrews) scattered abroad and told them to count it all joy when they faced various trials in their lives.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Gentile believers in the region of Galatia and wished them grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Different apostles, different audiences, different purposes in writing their letters. We’ll see these and other differences in the bodies and closings of each book. That makes sense since God’s purpose was different for each of the audiences.

James wrote only one letter included in the Bible, so we don’t have the opportunity to see how his ministry progressed through the years. But Paul wrote many letters to a lot of different churches over a period of more than 15 years, so we can see what may have changed in his ministry through the years.

What stands out about the ministry of Paul is how consistent he was in his greetings. Each church he wrote to had a different need, but Paul always greeted them in the same way. Whether a church was living up to its potential or not, whether church members were obeying God or not, Paul loved them and wished them the same thing. Watch.

Galatians (approx. 49-52 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians (approx. 51 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thessalonians (approx. 51 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians (approx. 56 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians (approx. 57 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans (approx. 57-58 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians (approx. 60 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians (approx. 60 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Colossians (approx. 60 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philemon (approx. 60 A.D.)  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Timothy (approx. 64 A.D.)  “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Titus (approx. 65 A.D.)  “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”

2 Timothy (approx. 67 A.D.)  “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul addressed the churches in the same way in every one of his letters in the Bible: “Grace to you and peace…”

Paul addressed the pastors of churches in the same way in all of his pastoral letters in the Bible: “Grace, mercy, and peace…”

Grace was at the heart of Paul’s greetings even as God’s Grace was the theme of Paul’s letters. The Apostle Peter also included greetings of grace and peace in his two letters (approx. 65 – 66 A.D). The Apostle John included greetings of grace and peace in his second letter (approx. 90 – 95 A.D.) and The Revelation of Jesus Christ (approx. 95 A.D.).

These are greetings of grace from our dear brothers in Christ from almost 2,000 years ago. What is our greeting to each other today? Has it changed over time? No. We wish you “grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These are our Greetings of Grace to one another in the 21st Century, even as it was in the 1st Century.

And our closing? As Paul wrote, “Grace be with you all. Amen.”

Blessings!

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

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