“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philemon 3 (ESV)
Today’s text is one of the most familiar statements contained in all the Apostle Paul’s writings. It is so familiar to most believers in Christ, and students of Scripture, that it is easy to overlook its significance. In fact, one excellent study Bible does not mention Philemon 3 at all in its commentary notes.
Grace (χάρις; charis) means good will, kindness and unmerited favor. It is the favor and good will originating from and solely sourced in God which cannot be earned. Anyone expecting God to be gracious reveals that they have no true understanding of grace. God is free to be gracious when He does not have to be.
Peace (εἰρήνη; eirene) is tranquility and freedom from worry. In a very real sense, peace is the result of God’s grace. An individual sinner cannot experience the peace of, from and with God unless they have previously received the grace of God. Grace always precedes peace: not only theologically but also grammatically. It is salvation’s cause and effect.
Paul extended grace and peace not only to Philemon but also to Apphia, Archippus and the church (vs.1-2). We know this because the personal pronoun “you” is in the plural form.
Grace and peace are solely from God our Father. The title God (θεός; theos) refers to the Lord’s transcendence and sovereignty. The word Father (πατήρ; pater) concerns His immanence and nearness to those He justifies and redeems. The personal pronoun “our” particularly concerns Philemon and the others to whom Paul writes in this letter. However, all believers in Christ are included.
Paul then invokes the title and name of the second person of the Godhead; the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord (κύριος; kurios) is a title of deity. Jesus (Ἰησοῦς; Iesous) means Savior. Christ (Χριστός; Christos) means Anointed One. These titles and name for the second person of the Trinity clearly declares His personal and possessive deity.
In fact, since the Holy Spirit used Paul to produce this inspired text (2 Timothy 3:16-17’ 2 Peter 1:20-21), all three members of the Trinity are in view.
Puritan Matthew Henry explains, “The Holy Spirit also is understood, though not named; for all acts towards the creatures of the whole Trinity: from the Father, who is our Father in Christ, the first in order of acting as of subsisting; and from Christ, his favour and good-will as God, and the fruits of it through him as Mediator, God—man. It is in the beloved that we are accepted, and through him we have peace and all good things, who is, with the Father and Spirit, to be looked to and blessed and praised for all, and to be owned, not only as Jesus and Christ, but as Lord also. In 2 Co. 13:14 the apostle’s benediction is full: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen.”
It is amazing that so much theology can be contained in fifteen words. Thank you Lord. May each of us have a blessed day in Christ.
Soli deo Gloria!