“Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4).
What is your go-to greeting? “Good morning!” “Hey!” “How are you doing?” The way we greet one another is goes a long way in establishing a loving bond between two people. Some of us are Tiggers who spring from our beds and say, “Good morning!” to whomever we meet. Others of us are Eyores who would rather pull up the covers and remain in bed than have to greet anyone.
Greetings in New Testament letters are important reminders to us of how we ought to greet one another in the family of God. It is quite evident that “Grace and peace to you” was the most frequently used greeting offered by the leaders of the early church as they addressed the various churches to whom they wrote. Seventeen different times those words are uttered by Paul, Peter and John.
Because our greetings tend to be tired and worn thin, it’s unsurprising that we skip over these greetings or give them only cursory treatment. In the hustle and bustle of life, let’s slow down and look at those five words and consider why they would be used so frequently.
What does “grace and peace” mean? How can we offer grace and peace? Let’s start with the basics. The phrase “grace and peace” is so frequently repeated that we might miss all that is loaded in those words. Grace is the loving-kindness and favor, completely unmerited. Peace points us to the Hebrew notion of shalom, which refers not just to a lack of conflict, but wholeness, wellness, and harmony.
It’s important to note that both words point to God himself. Grace is offered by our perfect God who generously grants his unmerited favor upon us. Likewise, while we can achieve some measure of lack of conflict through human means, it is only God who can bring about true shalom.
We should also note how often the biblical writers mention the first two persons of the Trinity in these greetings. Fifteen of the seventeen invocations of “grace and peace” mention both God the Father and God the Son. That’s no mistake. God the Father bestows his favor upon his children. Jesus secures our peace through his reconciling work.
And every one of these references occurs within the first seven verses of the letter. For Paul, Peter, and John, the double-barreled promise of “grace and peace” are the barrels of their letters from which are shot the letters themselves. Every truth that is fired in these letters emerges from grace and truth. This is no mere pleasantry; it is at the very heart of what God is doing in his people. To state it even more bluntly: “grace and peace to you” is the gospel in five words.
If Paul, Peter, and John think that they ought to start almost everything they write with the double-barreled promise of grace and truth, shouldn’t we consider doing likewise? Starting to offer these words as a blessing is a great start. Meaning these words is even more important.
For those who have experienced the “grace and peace” of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, we have an abundance of that grace and peace to extend to one another. And so…
“Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”