“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
Most of the New Testament Epistles end with a prayer-benediction, and 2 Thessalonians is no different. Having addressed the church at Thessalonica and its concerns regarding the return of Jesus and the problem of idleness, Paul begins to bring his epistle to a close in today’s passage with a prayer for the Lord to give peace to His audience (2 Thess. 3:16).
The Apostle’s prayer for peace and benediction of peace would have been particularly meaningful for the original audience of 2 Thessalonians. This was a church whose members regularly faced a reality that was anything but peaceful. They were no strangers to persecution and the disruption of peace that attends affliction (1:5–12; see Acts 17:1–9). Many of them had been shaken by false teaching regarding the second coming of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1–12). Doubtless, the existence of able-bodied but idle members who took advantage of the church’s working members also caused the Thessalonian Christians distress (3:6–15). In sum, this was an audience that needed peace, and Paul prayed for them to enjoy the peace that comes with the blessed presence of the Lord (v. 16).
Note that Paul says “the Lord of peace” and not “the God of peace” in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. Given that Paul commonly uses the word “Lord” for Jesus, we have here a very close identification of Jesus with the God of Israel, especially since Paul elsewhere uses “God of peace” (Rom. 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23). In addition to demonstrating that Paul worshiped Jesus as God, this identification reminds us that there can be no peace with God apart from Christ. Only through faith in Jesus alone can we find peace with God and even peace with others (Rom. 5:1).
Finally, the titles “Lord of peace” and “God of peace” remind us that true and lasting peace is a gift from our Creator and finds its source in Him. Other religions such as Islam claim to provide peace, but they cannot live up to their profession. God alone can speak true peace (Ps. 85:8), ending the hostility that we have with Him on account of our sin. The Lord God of Israel, revealed most fully in Christ Jesus, is the source and sustainer of peace. Matthew Henry comments: “If we have any peace that is desirable, God must give it, who is the author of peace and lover of concord. We shall neither have peaceable dispositions ourselves nor find men disposed to be at peace with us, unless the God of peace give us both.”
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
People look to achieve peace in many different ways. Some people merely avoid conflict, hoping that it will go away. Others pursue peace in the accumulation of possessions or in the teachings of false religions. None of these things can give us peace with our Creator, so peace continues to elude those who look for it anywhere except in Christ. If we know Christ, we are at peace with God, and He will sustain this peace forever.