Well, if your Bible does not automatically open to the book of Philippians by this point, then I need ask you to open to the book of Philippians. And tonight I want us to look at the first two verses in the book of Philippians, Philippians 1, verses 1 and 2. And the title of this message tonight is A Personal Letter from Paul, A Personal Letter from Paul. As I always do, I want to begin by reading this text. And it is a very short passage that we will look at tonight and seek to draw out of it the riches that are contained. As Paul begins his epistle to the Philippians, he begins by writing in chapter 1, verse 1:
1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is always a special joy to receive a personal letter from someone who is very important to you. I can remember the times that I have received personal letters from certain Christian leaders whom I hold in highest regard. And I just cannot even put the letter down. And I keep it on my desk, and put it on a shelf. And I just want to pick it back up again and reread it, and just reflect on it. It is such an enormous encouragement to me. I can remember times receiving personal letters from John MacArthur, especially those that would be handwritten. And they just mean the world to me. Letters from R. C. Sproul, I cannot throw them away. I just collect them. They are being stockpiled. I save them. I cannot make myself discard them. I can remember receiving a letter from Billy Graham after I wrote my doctoral dissertation, and he was so kind to write to me and express his appreciation for what I had written.
One letter in particular stands out as I look back on my ministry. When I was a younger man and in my thirties, I received a letter from James Montgomery Boice, who was the great pastor in Philadelphia, the great expositor. And I was so thrilled to receive this letter. In fact, when it came, there were four people in our church staff who all brought the letter into my office. And it was going to be a public opening. And they were all so excited, and I was so excited. And when they put the letter in front of me, in the upper left-hand corner it said, “Tenth Presbyterian Church, Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA.” And I really thought that they had on the Xerox copier, you know, come up with a fake letter just to see if I would go along with this. And I could not make myself believe that I actually had a letter from James Montgomery Boice. And I opened it up, and they were all peering over my shoulder. And he said he would come preach for me. And I just could not even let myself believe that, one, that he had written a letter to me; two, that it was positive; three, that he spelled my name correctly in the letter, and that he was going to come and be with us, which meant be with me because I would just dominate his time the whole visit. And so, receiving a personal letter from a Christian leader whom you hold in high regard is a very special thing. It is a very personal thing.
Can you imagine what it would have been like in the first century to receive an inspired letter from the Apostle Paul, especially as you are concerned about his condition, knowing that he is in Rome, and he is in prison, and that you have dispatched one of your pastors or elders to go be with him? And now he has returned with a personal letter from the Apostle Paul. I mean that is even better than James Montgomery Boice. That is even better the apostle John MacArthur. I mean, that is very good. Can you imagine as the church would have gathered around, no one had a written copy of it, what would happen in that day and time? The church would all assemble. And the pastor, much like Revelation 2 and 3, the angel to the church at Ephesus, the angel which means “messenger,” that pastor who would bring the message of God’s word would stand and read it to the whole congregation. Can you imagine the thrill within their heart to receive this letter from the apostle Paul, and that it is not a general epistle like Hebrews or 1 John, written to the church at large, but that he is actually calling us out by name? He is saying to the church at Philippi. He is mentioning the names of Clement and Epaphroditus, and Euodia and Syntyche, and these different people by name in the church. Their hearts must have just leaped out of their chest. And no doubt, they had their pastor read it again. “Read that one more time to us.” And they would have, no doubt, begun to memorize this letter without even trying to memorize it. It would just be etched in their mind how he addressed us, the tone of the letter, what he would have to say, the encouragement, to take to heart any reproof that he would have for us.
Well, I trust that as we look in the book of Philippians tonight that there would be that kind of excitement within our hearts. Not just that Paul has written a letter to us, but that God Himself is speaking through the apostle Paul to us. Granted, this was written to the church at Philippi, but it is intentionally placed in the canon of Scripture, that means the accepted body of written divine revelation that would be found in the Bible itself. I trust tonight that it will have the same captivating hold on our hearts. And perhaps by the end of the night, even as we are dismissed and you walk out, you would be able to cite from memory “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus” and walk your way through this passage
As we look at this tonight, there are four main headings that I want to set before you as we look at verses 1 and 2. First, The Servants, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus.” And then second, The Saints, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” And then third, The Shepherds, “including the overseers and deacons.” And then finally, I want us to see the salutation in verse 2. Very simple outline, and it will serve us well to walk phrase by phrase through this passage.
I. The Servants (Phil. 1:1a)
Let us begin in verse 1, at the beginning of verse 1, The Servants. Paul begins by identifying himself as the author of this book. This is the first word in the entire letter, “Paul.” And this was the typical fashion for a letter, or what we would call an epistle in the first century, is to put the author’s name, the writer’s name, first, not last. We put the name last. But really that does not make any sense if you think about it, because this letter does not mean a whole lot to me until I know who wrote this to me. I need to know who is saying this before this writing can have meaning to me. And so in the first century, they would put the writer’s name first. And that is what we see. It is not because Paul is being self-centered and wants to put his own name forward and that kind of thing. No, it is just a common courtesy to identify yourself. It is almost like calling someone on the phone. You do not give your name at the end of the conversation. You give your name at the very beginning. “This is Steve Lawson. I need to speak to you about…” So, that is what Paul is doing here. And “Paul” is his Roman, or Greek name. “Saul” was his Hebrew name. And this is the Paul who is the author of at least 13 epistles. And I say at least because we still do not know who wrote the book of Hebrews. But we do know that Paul wrote 13 epistles in the New Testament. He is arguably the greatest Christian who ever lived. He was a missionary, church planter, preacher, pastor, evangelist, theologian, teacher, itinerant speaker, writer, author; Paul was the whole package. And his whole purpose for being on planet earth was to communicate the word of God, both to the lost as well as to the saved. Paul is a towering figure in the first century.
And let us reflect just for a moment, just a brief fly over the life of the apostle Paul, because it would be so easy for us to say “Paul” and move on past. But this is a significant individual. Paul was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin. He was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus with the Hebrew name “Saul.” So, he is known as “Saul of Tarsus.” He was raised under the Jewish law, and under the Jewish tradition. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. You could not be more Jewish than the apostle Paul. He had a brilliant intellect, and he was trained at the feet of Gamaliel. And he possessed a genius mind and a resolute will. That is an extraordinary combination. It all came together in Paul. Even before he was converted, God had already put that into Paul. He became a violent persecutor of the church and was converted on the road to Damascus in such a divine intervention that only God could have brought Paul to his knees.
He immediately began to preach Jesus as Messiah in the synagogue. And he was immediately persecuted by the Jews. He went from being a persecutor to being persecuted because he crossed the line and changed sides. And once he aligned himself with Christ, he began to be persecuted. He went into the Arabian Desert to be alone with the Lord, and the Lord personally instructed him and discipled him, and then returned to Damascus for three years. He went to Jerusalem, then returned back to Tarsus, and all this really before he began his public ministry, of which we know about.
And when he was there in Tarsus, Barnabas was at the church at Antioch. It was exploding. And there were so many new Christians, and so many new believers. And Barnabas was great at encouragement. That is what his name means, “Son of Encouragement,” but he was not as great in teaching and preaching. And so, Barnabas was self-deprecating enough to know we need a teacher. We need a preacher. And so, he went and sent for Paul up at Tarsus to come down and to teach the new believers in Antioch. And so Saul came, and he became Paul. And there was a shift in the leadership. It went from Barnabas being the headman and Paul supporting; and the giftedness and the passion and the devotion of Paul began to overshadow even Barnabas. And Paul, Scripture says, became the lead teacher, the lead spokesman. And the dominance of his ministry was recognized.
While they are in Antioch, the Holy Spirit spoke and set apart Saul, Paul, to the ministry along with Barnabas. And they were commissioned. They laid hands on them and sent them out. And Paul’s first missionary journey as he traveled through the cities of Galatia just barnstorming his way like a pioneer preaching the gospel where it never been preached before. And churches just began to spring up. And in some places like Lystra, there was so much opposition that they stoned him, and they thought they’d stoned him to death. And they drug him out of town and left him as dead. And Paul resuscitated and came back to a conscious state and got up and went back into town to finish the sermon. What a man of God he was.
He then went on his second missionary journey, and then his third missionary journey. And wherever he went he turned cities upside down. And he could have just as easily checked himself into the jail because that is where he would be. But even when they put him in jail, like in Philippi, he is leading people to Christ in the jail. And a church was planted there in Philippi.
After his third missionary journey, he went to Jerusalem. And there he was arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin and two successive Roman governors. And he made his appeal as a Roman citizen. He appealed to Caesar, to a higher court, a court of higher appeal, if you will. And so, they granted that and sent him to Rome. And you recall how he was shipwrecked even on the way to Rome. And once he arrives in Rome, he is put into what we would call “house arrest.” He was confined, and the praetorian guard were chained to him and rotating their way through his chains. And Paul was just picking them off one at a time, leading them to Christ. And then they were taking the gospel into Caesar’s own household. And when we come to be end of the book of Philippians, it is really interesting. The next to the last verse, chapter 4 verse 22, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” You can just almost see the smile on Paul’s face as he just glories in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, that is Paul. That is the first of the servants. And so, whatever it is that he will have to say should come with extraordinary weight in the church at Philippi.
And then he is accompanied by Timothy, “Paul and Timothy.” Timothy, of course, is his son in the faith, which means he was a part of his spiritual development and was a supporter of Paul. Timothy was a travel assistant, a cherished companion. And Paul identifies them both as bond-servants of Christ Jesus. Usually Paul says, “an apostle of Christ Jesus,” which he was, but here with the church at Philippi he knows them so well. They are so responsive to what he says. There is no need for him to remind them of his apostolic authority for they are very submissive to his leadership. All he needs to identify himself as is bond-servants of Christ Jesus.
That is what we are. We are bond-servants of Christ Jesus. This word “bond-servant,” as you know, is a Greek word. You may recognize, doulos, which really means “slave,” which is a notch lower than a servant. A servant would have a few possessions, and would have a few rights, and would be hired for a project and would be able to return back to their normal life. But not a slave. If you are a slave, you actually belong to your master. You do not have a life outside of your master. You do not own anything. You do not go anywhere. You do not do anything except it be under the authority of your master. And everything that you need, and everything that you have is provided for you by your master. So, to be up a slave was a very simple life. All you do is devote yourself to your master and serve him and serve in his household. And they are bond-servants, not of a human master, but of the sovereign Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. And no slave ever had a more benevolent master, a more gracious master, a more giving master than do the bond-servants, or the slaves, of Christ Jesus.
This really is who we are, and what we are. Yes, we are joint heirs with Christ. Yes, we are sons of the King and daughters of the King. There is this nobility about our future and an inheritance that is laid up for us in heaven. But right now, as were here on the earth and as we serve the Lord, we are principally His slaves. That may sound demeaning because of the culture and the past history in our country, but there is nothing demeaning about being a slave if your master is Jesus Christ. And He provides everything that you need. And He uses your life to the fullest. And He gives to you what even this world cannot provide.
This is how Paul begins by identifying himself. And that is how we need to be reminded of how we see ourselves. It would probably do us well to start signing our letters “Bond-servant Dorothy,” “Bond-servant William,” “bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, that is how Paul begins this letter. And he really could not begin in a more humble posture.
II. The Saints (Phil. 1:1b)
Second, I want you to see The Saints. He goes on to write, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” As was the custom of the day after the writer of an epistle would identify himself, he would then name to whom this letter is written so that they would know they are reading their own mail, so that they would know that this is addressed to them. So, this is addressed to all the saints in Christ Jesus.
The first thing we need to point out is the word “all,” “to all the saints.” It is not just a few saints that, you know, would be canonized by the church in Rome. It is to all the saints, which is synonymous with all true believers. Every believer is a saint. You are being preached to tonight by Saint Steven, alright? And I am preaching to a congregation of saints. That is what you are. That is what I am. And we are not bragging on ourselves. We are bragging on the Lord Jesus Christ because it says we are saints in Christ Jesus.
Now, the word “saint” does not mean that we have a hospital named after us, or there is a statue of us someplace. The word “saint” simply means, “a holy one,” H O L Y. In fact, the word “holy” and the word “saint” come from the very same root word, and you can throw in the word “sanctification.” Those are virtually synonymous terms and come from the same Greek root word. They sound very different in our English language. They sound very much the same in the Greek language. And so he writes to those who are “the holy ones.” They so stand out in this filthy, vile world that they are clearly distinguished as the holy ones. They are on a different path. They are going in a different direction. They have a different standard. They have a different fidelity about them. Everything in their life is different. Their families are different. Their business is different. The way they conduct themselves is different. Their conversation is different, because they are saints. And if there is not a difference, it would call into question whether or not you are truly a saint, or whether or not you are truly a believer. You may find it interesting that this is the most common term that Paul uses for believers is “saints.”
It also means “a set apart one.” And that is what the word “holy” means, “to be set apart.” And the idea is to be set apart from the moral pollution of this world, to be set apart from Satan’s kingdom of darkness, to be set apart from living a life of pursuing sin, to be set apart from the evil world system. That is the negative to be set apart from. And then the positive is to be set apart unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and His kingdom of light, and His kingdom of holiness. It is a dramatic change that takes place in a person’s life when they are set apart by God.
And you will note, “in Christ Jesus.” All Saints are in Christ Jesus. We are positionally in Christ Jesus. We previously were in the world and of the world, though we are no longer of the world. We are now in Christ Jesus. And this speaks of the sphere in which we live. We are now in a new kingdom. We now live according to a new order. We are in communion with Christ. We are dressed in the righteousness of Christ. We are washed in the blood of Christ. We stand in Christ’s grace, and we stand in Christ’s forgiveness.
And this little prepositional phrase, “in Christ Jesus,” is the key that unlocks everything. That means we are in union with Christ. We are in communion with Christ. We have a personal relationship with Christ. And all that Christ is, and all that Christ owns, we are in that sphere of His glorious kingdom. And this is how Paul loved to begin letters was to remind his recipients, as if building them up, “You are someone special in the eyes of God. You are saints in Christ Jesus.”
And we talk much about humility here in lowering ourselves, but we also need to speak of the other side of how we need to be encouraged and built up regarding who we are in Christ. And Paul often began his letters this way. It is how he began Romans, Romans 1:7, “To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints.” 1 Corinthians 1, verse 2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling.” He would always put this on the front doorstep of a book. You could not get into a Pauline epistle without having to walk past this identification, that you are a saint. You are set apart unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, he says, “saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” Time does not permit me to really give the historical background that I would love to give to you on the city of Philippi. Suffice to say, you just need to know that it is in northeastern Greece, what was then eastern Macedonia. And it was a Roman colony, which meant it was like an island in the midst of the ocean of the Empire. And being an island, being a colony, it meant it had such an identification with Rome that it was virtually called, “A Little Rome.” There was Roman citizenship for its citizens. They did not have to pay the taxes that others would. They were exempt from certain military service. And it was a military outpost for the Roman Empire. And so, the Philippians, everything in the city, they had Roman architecture, they had Roman style of dress, they spoke Latin which was so prevalent by the Romans. And it was in this Roman environment, in this heavy Empire environment of Philippi that was very different from these other totally pagan cities. Philippi was pagan, but in a different way. They were very, we would say today patriotic, proud of their identity with Rome.
It was in this city that Paul came on his second missionary journey. And as he came on his second missionary journey, he just came preaching as he always did. And as he came preaching, God saved Lydia at a riverbank, and saved some others. He created a riot. He was thrown into prison. He just kept preaching. God sent an earthquake at midnight. He led the Philippian jailer to Christ, his family to Christ. He baptized them that night and moved on. And in the afterglow of all of this, a church was just spontaneously, supernaturally birthed. I mean there was no ten-year plan on how to start this church in Philippi. It just happened. God just did it, just like God birthed our church eleven years ago. It just happened out of thin air. It was the invisible hand of God that did it. There was no plan. There was no premonition. God just did it. And that is what happened in Philippi. And God birthed this church out of the trail dust of Paul’s preaching the gospel. And it made for a very special relationship between Paul and the Philippians, because adversity just bonds people together. And adversity in the gospel is like supernatural glue. You are just bound together. That is what happened with Paul and this church.
So, these are the saints to whom he writes. And I want to remind all of us that we, too, are saints. We have a very special call of God upon our lives, and we have been set apart from our previous way of life, and that is over. That is ancient history. That is a closed volume number one, and we are all living now in volume number two. And that is good news, because volume one was an awful edition. It is just entitled, “BC.” Those are our “BC” days, “before Christ.” And now we are living in Christ, and we are saints in Christ, and our lives are changed, and they are transformed by the grace of God.
III. The Shepherds (Phil. 1:1c)
Now third, I want you to note The Shepherds, as we continue to look at verse 1. And there is so much in verse 1. He concludes by addressing the leadership. Now, he has already addressed everyone in the church when he says, “all the saints who are in Philippi.” But now he wants to single out a subgroup within the larger group, really two subgroups within the larger group of all the saints. And the two subgroups are overseers and deacons. And in the New Testament, these are the only two positions of leadership that are recognized by the word of God: “overseers,” which is synonymous with “elders.” And even a casual reading of Titus 1:5 and 7 shows that “elder” and “overseer” are interchangeable words. All elders are overseers, and all overseers are elders. And by the way, they are also shepherds.
The word “elder,” which is not used in this passage, speaks of spiritual maturity. The word “overseer” speaks of spiritual ministry. And those two have to come together. In order to be an effective overseer, you have to be an elder in the truest sense of the word, not just the title, but the reality in your life. The word “elder” means, “maturity.” “You are older.” And there is the idea of being advanced in your spiritual growth and development. That is what an elder must be. That is why very few younger men qualify as an elder, because they really have not yet had the time that it takes to grow an oak tree. They are still a sapling in some ways. And it is the storms, and the challenges that cause the roots to grow down deeper in the soil and produce a grown-up in the Lord. And so, the elders are overseers.
Now, just the very term “overseer” means they oversee the entire church. There is nothing that is another sub-compartment where there is another committee over here that has an autonomous standing, and they do their thing. Some churches like to have a division, almost like checks and balances, like the executive branch, and the judicial branch, and the legislative branch. That is a great way to run a country; it is just an awful way to run a church. And everything is under the oversight of the elders. And that is the way the Scripture always presents it. And they oversee its doctrine. They oversee its finances. They oversee its personnel. They oversee its ministries. They oversee its direction. Everything is under the oversight of the elders. There is no other meeting that needs to take place for a decision to be made.
And so, that is how Paul addresses the church at Philippi, and he especially wants to have the attention of the overseers, but he is also drawing the attention of the whole church to the overseers and uses this title, rather than “elder,” “overseer” to remind them of their overarching influence and leadership that they are to have in the church.
And then serving right next to them are deacons. And deacons are extraordinarily important in the life of a local church. And while they do not have the same oversight as do elders, nevertheless, they are incredibly important just like a wife is important to a husband, though the husband is the spiritual leader, and she is to be in submission. Nobody wants to live in a house where there is not a precious, sweet, wonderful, beautiful wife. And it is only a hairy father that is in that house and all that he brings. You need both for it to be what God designed it to be. And so, deacons provide the facilitating of many of the ministries in the church and care for widows and also make ministry happen. They are conduits to make happen what the overseers perceive to be the direction and the opportunities that a church has. No church can be any stronger than its overseers and deacons. Spiritually-minded overseers set the agenda for the church, and spiritually-minded deacons help carry out and facilitate the agenda for the church. And it is a sense of security for the members of the church as they see they are being well cared for by the overseers and by the deacons.
And so, for those men here tonight who are elders and deacons, let me encourage you and remind you of the enormous responsibility that the Lord has laid at your feet for the spiritual good of this flock. And one reason why there are not politics in this church like there are in other churches, there is not lobbying, and there is not block voting, is because we have adopted, not the pattern of the United States government, we have adopted the pattern of the New Testament. And it brings stability, and it promotes peace as God’s work is done God’s way for God glory. May God ever and always provide strong overseers and strong deacons to serve this flock.
IV. The Salutation (Phil. 1:2)
We have seen the servants, and we have seen the saints, and we have seen the shepherds. Finally, I want you to see The Salutation in verse 2. And this salutation is very familiar, “Grace to you.” It is more than a radio program.
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul could wish nothing greater for the church at Philippi than grace and peace. This expresses his love and concern for the faithful members of this church. And this dual greeting, grace and peace, was often used in the first century as a way of greeting people as you would walk into someone’s home, and even unbelievers would give this as a greeting. But Paul Christianizes it by adding, “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” to set it apart from just its normal use. The Jews would always say, “peace,” which is the word shalom. And it is a desire for your well-being and God’s blessing to be upon you. And grace was, it is really at the heart of our Christianity, but it was used in letters in a general way. Paul is using it in a very specific way, and he is wanting the fullness of God’s blessing to be up on these precious people.
Now when he asks for grace, he is not asking for saving grace to be upon them as though they are lost and need to be saved. This is not Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” No, they are already saints. We know that from verse 1, “saints in Christ Jesus.” They are already saved. They are already redeemed. They are already reconciled. They are already regenerated. They are already adopted. They are already in the family of God. There is nothing more that could possibly happen to them to make them anymore saved than what they are. So, for this request, “Grace to you,” that is not an evangelistic plea for lost people to have saving grace. They are already there. This grace is the fullest expression of what flows out of saving grace. There is no grace until you have saving grace.
Now that they have saving grace, this is really a request for a sustaining grace for the entirety of their spiritual lives. Every demand upon their life is to be fulfilled by the sustaining grace of God. This is almost a synonymous way of saying, “The power of the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the Holy Spirit be upon you, and be in you.” This grace refers to sanctifying grace, that they would become more like Christ. It refers to serving grace, that they would be empowered in their ministry for Christ. It refers to strengthening grace, that they would be able to persevere and to endure through every trial. All the way down to dying grace, that when that last hour comes and they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that they will have grace to make them strong, that their faith will hold tight, and that they will have their hope in heaven made all the more stronger.
This is echoed in the last verse of this epistle. It is like bookends around the entire book. It starts with a request for grace, and it ends with a request for grace to be upon them. And at the end of the book in Philippians 4, verse 23, Paul concludes, and there is no higher pinnacle for Paul to ascend than to make this request for them, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Not on the façade of your life. Not on the outside of your life, but with your spirit, in the depth of your soul, in your innermost being, in the core of your personhood, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.”
And that is certainly what I would desire for you tonight. And you have done well to come here tonight, because you have placed yourself in “the ordinary means of grace,” what the Puritans referred to. There are means of grace like pipelines by which this abundant grace flows into our lives. And the primary, ordinary, means of grace, and when the Puritans said “ordinary,” by that they meant they were not looking for some mystical, charismatic experience. It is just the ordinary preaching of the word of God, the fastball down the middle of the plate. You have done well tonight by coming here to position yourself to be under the primary means of grace by which God’s full measure of grace comes flowing into your life. You are being washed by the word of God right now. The Spirit of God always accompanies the word of God. The Spirit of God never works independent of the word of God. The Spirit of God is the Author of the word of God. And the Spirit of God is powerfully at work this very moment in your life and in your mind and in your spirit, small “s,” as you are under the means of grace, and under the ministry of the word of God. Grace is flowing in large measures into your life right now. And so, the question is for us to be receptive and for our hearts to be open, for our minds to be open, and to receive the word of God by faith and to embrace it in our lives. So, Paul says to them, “Grace to you.” It is another way of saying, “May every blessing of God, and every empowering of God, and every enrichment of God be your personal experience.”
And then he adds “peace.” “Grace to you and peace.” And the order is important because there is no peace until there first is grace. It is grace that leads the way for peace. And where there is grace, there is peace. And the peace of God here is the supernatural calm of resting in the grace of God. Grace is the root, and peace is the fruit. Grace is the cause, and peace is the result. And they are like twin sisters. And wherever you see grace, you see peace.
And this peace is not peace with God. Notice how he words this, “peace from God,” not peace with God. That is justification. That is Romans 5, verse 1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” No, we already have peace with God. The moment we put our faith in Christ, we were brought into a new relationship with God. And we went from being aliens and enemies to now friends of God who have peace with God. This peace is the peace of God. This is what we call subjective peace. Peace with God is objective peace. It deals with our position before God. This peace of God is our personal experience of God. And this peace is of supernatural tranquility of soul in the depths of our being, because we know that God is in control, that God is causing all things to work together for our good, that we have abundant resources in the Lord Jesus Christ. No challenge will ever be greater than the reality of God in our lives to carry us through. And so, this is Paul’s desire for them, “Grace to you and peace.”
V. The Source
Now notice The Source, and we will be finished. “From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” You have heard me say this before. There is not one drop of grace outside of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is not one drop of peace outside of knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ. All grace and all peace are in God the Father and Christ and, therefore, can only come from them. 2 Corinthians 1 says that He is the God of all comfort, and He is the God of all peace.
Now, several things to note about this. The first thing that strikes me is the fullness of this grace and peace. It is coming from both God the Father, and it is coming from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a double dose of grace. It is a double dose of peace. It is in essence grace upon grace, and peace upon peace, that is flowing, flooding, gushing into the souls of those who receive the word of God. It is coming both from God the Father, and from God the Son. It is opened up the means by which this grace comes to us and this peace.
The second thing that strikes me here is the emphasis on the oneness of the nature of the Father and the Son. It is from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This places Christ on equal footing with God the Father. This is a statement for the deity of Jesus Christ. This is a magnification of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an elevation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And so, Christ is elevated here in this opening salutation.
There is the sufficiency of God’s grace for our lives. There is the sufficiency of God’s peace for our souls. We will never face a trial, we will never face a difficulty, that is beyond the grace and the peace of God. We are like just one fish in the ocean. There is more than enough water in all of the seas of the earth to keep one little fish going. Multiply that 10,000 times 10,000 times 10,000 times infinity, and we see that the grace of God, and the peace that surpasses all comprehension, of which Paul will write about in chapter 4, verse 7, is so far beyond what we could ever use up, what we could ever exhaust. There is more than enough grace, and more than enough peace to sustain us, and strengthen us, and uphold us, and encourage us. It does not happen automatically. That is why he says in chapter 4, verse 6:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So we have to pray. And we have to dig into the word. And we have to have the word in us. And we have to set our mind on things above, and not on things of the earth. And we have to be in Christian fellowship, in Christian relationship, with other believers. We have to be in worship before the throne of grace. And we need to be serving one another. And as we carry out our Christian duties and as we avail ourselves to the means of grace, God supplies for us abundantly. It is hard to imagine a more positive beginning to a letter than the way this letter begins.
May the Lord supply your every need. May God supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. Let us pray.
Father, thank you for our study tonight, its simple verses. And yet, when we probe, they reveal great treasure for our souls. I pray that you would give us this grace, give us this peace tonight. We are very worrisome people. We are prone to anxiety. We are prone to be filled with worry; the best of here tonight, are. Lord, we need grace and peace. Many here tonight have left heavy concerns at home, unresolved issues at home. It is the reality of life. We need your grace every moment of every day. So I pray that you would pour out an abundance of your grace upon this precious flock. Uphold them, sustain them, and strengthen them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.