Grace and Peace - Introduction
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
May 14, 2017
My first year in college I had to take an accounting class. Now normally the first day of class is pretty peaceful. But that peace was shattered when the teacher handed out a test. That’s right. We hadn’t even had time to settle in our seats before he placed a test on our desks and, get this, it counted toward our final grade. It was really hard. I failed.
Thankfully, later on he showed us grace, allowing us to drop our lowest grade.
I never got over the injustice of that day, though. I’m even kind of bitter about it. So today you ALL will take a test. On the back of the guest cards you will list all 27 books of the NT, grouping them neatly into four different categories.
This will count toward your final grade that shows up on a permanent performance report that follows you to heaven.
How many of you are at peace right now? How many of you would like some grace?
Here are the 27 books of the Bible broken down into four categories.
- History: Acts
- To churches
- 1 & 2 Corinthians
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- To people
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- Possibly Paul: Hebrews
- Peter: 1 & 2 Peter
- John: 1, 2, & 3 John
- Prophecy: Revelation
This is all well and good, but I imagine you’re thinking, “Why is Pastor Brad covering this? Has he been talking to our SS teachers and getting bad reports?”
No. Some time ago, reading through the NT, I discovered something interesting. Out of the 27 NT books, two special words are found together in 15 of them (mostly in the letters), all at the same place: the greeting.
These words are included in the greeting of every letter Paul wrote (if you exclude Hebrews), every letter Peter wrote, and one letter John wrote plus Revelation.
Look at these texts with me and see if you can figure out what those words are…
Romans 1:7 (ESV) — 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3 (ESV) — 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:2 (ESV) — 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 (ESV) — 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:2 (ESV) — 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 (ESV) — 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:2 (ESV) — 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 (ESV) — 1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 Thessalonians 1:2 (ESV) — 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:2 (ESV) — 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:2 (ESV) — 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 (ESV) — 4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Philemon 3 (ESV) — 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2 (ESV) — 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
2 Peter 1:2 (ESV) — 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 John 3 (ESV) — 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
Revelation 1:4 (ESV) — 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
Did you figure it out? I took the liberty of even highlighting them in the Today’s Texts handout just in case.
Grace and Peace.
On the one hand, this isn’t so surprising. Here’s why.
In the English language, we have countless ways to say hello. I found this list of ways to extend a personal greeting particularly enlightening…
This is the plain, everyday expression that you should probably use most.
Say this the first time you see someone in the morning. It sounds nice, though a little formal.
This is a more casual version of "Good morning.” It’s also how you say “Good morning” before you’ve had coffee.
Good afternoon / Good evening.
These are more formal than "Good morning". You might say "Good afternoon" to a someone you don't know well, or on stage when giving a speech or lecture, or a sermon :)
Use "Hey" with people that you know well. It's not exactly rude to use with strangers, but it might be confusing. The person that you say "Hey" to might think, "Huh? Do I know this person?"
This sounds casual and cool. Even though it looks like a question, it doesn't need to be answered.
If you’re really cool.
How's it going?
You’re not really looking for an answer.
This is a Southern way to say "Hello". You might sound like you're pretending to be a cowboy if you use it.
Say this when you're surprised to see someone, or if you haven't seen them in a long time or if you can’t remember their name.
Why hello there.
Make sure you’re single when you say this. And when you say the Joey Tribbiani version of hello, “How you doing?”
None of us in this room today are cool enough to use this form of hello.
Use this if you are a nerd, which is cool these days..
Look who it is!
You can use this when you see someone that you haven't seen in a long time or also when you can’t remember their name.
and finally, my favorite…
Look what the cat dragged in!
There were a number of ways ancient Greeks said “hello” too, but probably the most common was what would be in our English “Rejoice.” The Greek word for rejoice sounds very similar to the Greek word for grace. So Paul and the other NT writers used a play on words, tweaking a familiar Greek hello and infusing it with a much deeper meaning.
The Jewish way of saying hello is and has been since ancient times shalom, which means peace.
So in the greeting section of these letters, unsurprisingly, we have the writers employing Greek and Hebrew versions of hello, because they were Jewish and writing for the most part to Gentiles, those raised in the Greek culture.
But on the other hand, these two common words for hello are made uncommon by the fact that they are found so many times by multiple authors in the NT. And even mores when you consider that the Bible is ultimately authored by God…
2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Every word used and even the order of words are important when the divine and infinite intelligence of God is factored in.
Grace and peace must have special significance; they must be more than just a generic greeting like hello. I’ve discovered they do and are.
Conclusion: Most of you know I have three daughters. They are all practically grown now.
When they were little, every night after tucking them into bed I’d say “Grace and peace, girls.” And they’d reply, “Grace and peace, daddy.”
If there were ever a time this world needed the truths of grace and peace, it’s now. There is so much anger and hatred, so much fear and anxiety, even in the church.
Over the next few weeks we will break down what grace and peace mean for Christians and see how they fit together. We’ll discover how these two simple words, these ancient greetings for Jews and Gentiles answer the greatest needs we all have. We’ll see how the truth behind them applies to right now but also how it point to what’s to come.
Grace and peace, church.
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