We aren’t exactly booking it in these personal studies but here on the third day we’ve finally graduated to the SECOND verse of Chapter ONE! Smells like progress.
Philippians 1:2 - “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Just like Paul addresses himself as an “apostle” and addresses the churches as “saints” in many of his epistles, “Grace and peace” is a very common phrase in Paul’s letters. It’s the greeting proper of the letter, and that specific phrase shows up in Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3 . . . yeah, that’s all of them.
Here’s what’s beautiful about the phrase: It is absolutely normal for Paul’s day and age and at the same time it’s absolutely bizarre. The phrase “grace and peace” is the exact same phrase that was commonly used in this time of day to start letters. It’s the equivalent of saying:
“Hey! It’s good to see you.” Or “Hope all is well.”
It’s normal. It’s bland. It doesn’t stand out at all. It wouldn’t have made anyone thing twice. EXCEPT for the way that he completes the phrase: “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s not normal. That’s not bland at all. Paul takes a common, standard, plain greeting and transforms it to talk about a whole new kind of grace and peace. “I hope you’re doing well but I’m not just saying that because I needed some nice thing to say to start this letter. I hope SPECIFICALLY in our loving Father God and in the grace evidenced through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus who is now our Lord, that you are walking with Him in such a way that GRACE and PEACE COVER EVERY FACET OF YOUR LIVES!!!
Simply put, grace is receiving what you don’t deserve. In terms of God, grace is receiving His love and favor despite the way you lived your life for everything but Him. Grace is the death of His Son Jesus on the cross that paid the debt for your sin.
Read Romans 12:3
<> What connection does Paul make between grace and pride?
<> Why is grace humbling?
Read Titus 2:11-12
<> What does God’s grace bring?
<> How does it teach us to say no to ungodliness? What is our motive for living upright, self-controlled, godly lives?
Too often, we think that accepting God’s grace is this big emotional moment accompanied with goose bumps and chills where God breaks through and we cry and finally come around to believing that He loves us. In truth, you’re breathing in God’s grace right now. It’s grace that God would tell you what sin is and that it’s bad for you. It’s grace when God gives you a heart that doesn’t want to keep sinning. It’s grace when God gives you active obedience. It’s grace every time God reminds you that you aren’t Him. It’s grace when God opens your eyes to the people around you. It’s grace when He gives you a heart to love them. You didn’t earn any of that. It’s all the undeserved gift of God. It’s humbling. It’s grace.
Peace is the absence of war. At a deeper level it’s an absence of any tension whatsoever. Too much of our lives are given to useless tension, worry and fighting. Jesus wants you to walk so intimately with Him that there is an undercurrent of peace in knowing that He is God and that regardless of circumstances He is good. Remember that Paul is writing this letter from the confines of prison. Can you imagine the tension he should be walking in? But he’s not. Paul finds and writes to encourage that we would find peace in the saving work of Jesus’ cross and resurrection that says we are free from our failures, our sin and all of our tension.
Go check out the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born on earth: Luke 2:14.
Walking in Grace and Peace:
<> How much tension is in your life right now?
<> What are your main sources of tension? What areas of your life steal your peace?
<> What does Jesus have to say to those areas of your life? Have you even talked to Him about them?
<> How often do you think about the different ways God is giving you grace right now?
<> What would change in your life if you regularly thought about the grace and peace that comes from God?
<> How often do you encourage people (Christians or non-Christians) around you with the message of grace and peace that only God can give?