“Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Today we finish our study of 1 Thessalonians, looking at Paul’s final words to the church in Thessalonica. In these closing comments, we get a window into some of the relationships in the church during the Apostolic period and Paul’s understanding of the place of his epistle in the church.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:25, Paul asks the Thessalonian Christians to pray for him and his companions. We tend to have high view of the Apostles, and rightly so. However, we err if we think that they were invincible or had no need of help in their mission. Paul relied on the intercession of his fellow Christians to sustain him in ministry.
Verse 26 exhorts the Thessalonians to “greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.” Scripture often calls us to show love to one another in the church and gives us practical ways to do so (e.g., John 13:34–35; Gal. 6:2). One way we can love each other is with affectionate greetings. This does not necessarily require a kiss, for acceptable greetings vary from culture to culture. A handshake, hug, or other expression of camaraderie can be appropriate.
First Thessalonians 5:27 calls for the Thessalonians to read this letter aloud in the church. The Apostle wanted all the Christians in Thessalonica to hear his instruction because of its authority for every believer (2 Tim. 3:16–17). He intended his words to be preserved by the church, and we must continue to do this until Christ returns.
Paul ends his epistle by calling for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:28). This is a fitting prayer, for the Thessalonians were trophies of grace won by the Savior. Their firm belief in the gospel and their turning from idols proved that divine grace had given them spiritual life (ch. 1). This same grace fueled Paul’s ministry among the Thessalonians, for it drove him to seek God’s approval and moved the elect in Thessalonica to believe the Apostle’s preaching even though doing so brought much affliction (ch. 2). Our Lord’s grace preserved the Thessalonians in faith during Paul’s absence from them, and it guided them (and us) to flee sexual immorality and to work hard for the sake of the church’s witness (3:1–4:12). In His grace, Christ will bring all those who have rested in Him alone for salvation into the fullness of His blessings when He returns to consummate His kingdom and complete the transformation of His people that He has begun (4:13–5:28). We can count on God’s grace to do these things for us as well.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
We remain ever dependent on the grace of God to sustain and change us. None of us has arrived at full holiness, and we will make progress only as we seek to grow in the grace of the Lord. We will grow in grace as we follow Paul’s admonitions in today’s passage to pray for one another, love one another, and attend regularly to God’s Word together. We do this most effectively in the fellowship of our local churches.