Peace and Grace

Bookends for all Paul's letters.

2 Thessalonians 3 (6)

Pray Psalm 40.16, 17.
Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let such as love Your salvation say continually,
“The LORD be magnified!”
But I ampoor and needy;
Yet the LORD thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3.16-18.

Reflect.
1. Peace and grace tend to serve as bookends for Paul’s epistles, as we see here (cf. 2 Thess. 1.2). Why are these so important?

2. Paul implies (v. 16) that believers can be at peace “always in every way.” Is that your experience?

Meditate.
It’s easy to take these closing remarks and benedictions with a grain of salt. But they are as inspired and important as the rest of the epistle, in particular because they help us to focus on Paul’s real and constant burden for the people he served.

Peace and grace are Paul’s constant desire for the churches. Grace is that divine disposition of favor and generosity the eventuates in power for full and abundant Christian living. Grace is the work of God’s Spirit, according to God’s Word, based on the finished and interceding work of our Lord Jesus Christ. God gives His people grace so that they might be channels of that spiritual blessing to the world (Jn. 7.37-39). Without God’s grace, we can do nothing to realize our calling to His Kingdom and glory.

Peace is the environment in which the grace-filled believer lives. Because of grace, believers know a peace that goes beyond understanding, a peace we can’t really explain (Phil. 4.6, 7) but which is real, palpable, and contagious. The Thessalonians, though persecuted and harassed, could know the peace of Jesus “always in every way” by focusing on Jesus, giving thanks in everything, and pressing on in their walk with and work for the Lord.

No wonder Paul consider these two spiritual blessings to be so utterly important!

He signs off this letter – dictated to an unknown amanuensis – with his usual greeting in what was probably a recognizable hand – large and perhaps with something of a flourish (Gal. 6.11). He says he did this in “every epistle,” and this is one reason scholars are reluctant to ascribe the book of Hebrews to Paul, since such an attestation is missing.

May the grace and peace of our Lord fill you with gladness and courage to do His will. We’ll review this final chapter in our study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians in our next installment.

Prepare.
1. How would you describe the peace of the Lord to an unbelieving friend?

2. In what ways do you expect to see the grace of God at work in and through you today?

3. What would you say to a new believer to help him know the grace and peace of Jesus “always in every way”? 

This prayer seems to be connected with the preceding sentence, with the view of recommending endeavors after concord and mildness. He had forbidden them to treat even the contumacious as enemies, but rather with a view to their being brought back to a sound mind by brotherly admonitions. He could appropriately, after this, subjoin an injunction as to the cultivation of peace; but as this is a work that is truly Divine, he betakes himself to prayer, which, nevertheless, has also the force of a precept. John Calvin (1509-1564 AD), Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3.16

O Lord, let me know Your peace, and use me today as an agent of Your grace as I…

Pray Psalm 40.

Take your time through this psalm. It is what we might call a complete prayer, including praise (vv. 5, 16), confession (vv. 12, 13), various supplications and intercessions, and even a little imprecation (vv. 14, 15). Commit your day to the Lord as He leads you through this wonderful psalm.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 40 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry, 
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.

Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare? None with You can e’er compare.

Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord.
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.

Lord, Your truth will I proclaim to Your people gathered ‘round, 
Nor will I my lips restrain – let Your precious ways resound!
Of Your saving grace and Word I would speak, most loving Lord.

Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.

Bring to shame my ev’ry foe, all who would my life destroy; 
Bring them down to scorn and woe who at my hurt sing for joy.
Let them come to grief and shame who heap scorn upon my name.

Let them shout for joy and sing who in saving grace delight!
Let them praise to Jesus bring, though affliction be their plight.
Christ, our help, our Savior He! Of us ever mindful be!

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you understand the setting of all the books of the Bible, and how they fit into God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Watch the brief video introducing this course at The Ailbe Seminary (click here), then plan to register in our Certificate in Kingdom Studies program, featuring Introduction to Biblical Theology.

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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