In previous posts, we noted Paul as The Messenger of Grace and the Ephesian believers as The Receiver of Grace. Now, we will dig deeper into The Letter of Grace.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:2, ESV).
Paul uses a Greek greeting, “grace” (charis), and a Hebrew expression, “peace” (eirene), in all his letters. This salutation (greeting), “grace and peace,” is more than just an address. It is a word of blessing, a benediction. The blessing of the apostle is itself the blessing of God. The reason is that in Hebrew thought, the sent one carries the same authority as the sender. The word of the messenger is as much the word of the sender. As the apostle of Christ therefore, Paul’s word of blessing to the Ephesians is itself the word of Christ.
The Hebrew word for “grace” is chen, which means, “subjectively (kindness, favor).” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, s. v. χαρις in BibleSpeak CD). (See Genesis 6:8; Exodus 33:2; Ruth 2:10). In this context, “grace,” then, means the favor of God towards the saints who are faithful in Christ. It is “a special manifestation of the divine presence, activity, power or glory; a favor, expression of kindness, gift, blessing.” The word signifies “especially that favour which is powerful and active, and loads its objects with benefits” (Romans 1:7). (Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary, in Power Bible CD).
Grace is the favor of God that reaches down from the height of light to the depths of darkness. It touches, teaches, and transforms those touched by it. It is divine kindness which we cannot earn (unmerited) and do not deserve (undeserved). Paul explains about this grace further in his letter, connecting it to our great salvation in Christ, which began in the eternal mind of God (See Ephesians 1-2)
“Grace and peace” are the stated objects that Paul wishes the Ephesians to receive. “Grace to you” therefore means, “May you be partakers of the Divine favour, the source whence every blessing is derived.” (Clarke, Commentary) “Peace” is from the Greek, eirene, which refers to “a state of freedom from anxiety and inner turmoil.” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, s. v. ειρηνη, in Bible Windows CD) It is equivalent to the Hebrew, shalom, which occurs 237 times in the Old Testament. It refers to a relationship, which is “one of harmony and wholeness, which is the opposite of the state of strife and war . . . a harmonious state of the soul and mind.” (W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), 173-174). It means, “completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment” and “unimpaired relationships with others . . . the state of fulfillment which is the result of God’s presence.” (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Volume 2 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), s. v. __ by G. Lloyd Carr) (See Numbers 25:12; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 34:25). Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God. It comes by living according to His will. It occurs after taking everything to the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
Are you experiencing today the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? Many of us like to part ways by saying, “God bless you!” That is a blessed word. But more meaningful it is to say, “God’s Grace and Peace to you,” or “God bless you with His grace and peace.” All of us need the grace and peace of God every day. For life on this earth is full of troubles. Yet the Father and the Son are ready and willing to give you grace and peace today! Claim it today!
God is the Father only to those who put their trust in Christ alone. Conversely, He is not the Father of all those who reject Christ (John 8:44). To those who believe in Christ, and only to them, God gives the authority to become His children (See John 1:12).
Beyond the weaknesses and failures of a local church, we are to look at the church as the recipient of God’s grace and peace. The small church therefore is as special as the big church. Do not despise the Christ-centered, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, evangelical church where you came to know Christ. Neither should you leave it for another “better” church, just because it’s bigger, or you like the worship there. Remember that worship is not a matter of what we like, but what God likes. The Lord put you in that church in the first place. The Lord used that church to lead you in the knowledge of His grace.
The saints and faithful of your church are the objects of God’s spiritual blessings. Having been decreed by God from eternity, determined in Christ, and destined for glory by the Spirit, the true church, then, is truly special in the eyes of God.
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