1:1 From Paul, 1 an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our `words loosely in our day, but the early Christians used it in a much more literal way. It signified a bond that was equivalent to being biological brothers and sisters. Jesus intended that the ties between his followers would be nothing less than that. Historical anecdotes from that period show that the early church lived that way. Nowadays we can’t imagine that. Most of us would consider it an affront to our relatives. That is largely because we have mostly lost the depth of Jesus’ and Paul’s intentions to establish us as a community under the lordship of Jesus. We view the Church more like an institution whose meetings we attend than as a true family of which we are members. This doesn’t mean we should forsake family relationships and obligations. But it means that we have to give high priority to acting as true brothers and sisters of our fellow followers of Jesus. There is a particular urgency about this nowadays as our culture is becoming increasingly antagonistic toward Christian values. Both we and our children will increasingly need the support of like-minded brothers and sisters.
In his typical fashion, he wishes them grace and peace. Grace was originally a covenant word, in Hebrew, hensh. It referred to the gracious gesture of a conquering king who extended covenant to a cowering city-state rather than slaughter its inhabitants. To be in covenant with God is to have such grace extended in spite of the punishment we deserve. The Hebrews understood shalom (peace) to mean multidimensional well-being—peace not only with God, but also with ourselves, each other, and the world. Many of us focus on peace with God alone while our other relationships may remain broken.
Paul packed a lot into this brief salutation. It was not simply a throw-away flourish.
Questions for Personal Application:
- How do I see the purpose of my life? Am I in fact living that out?
- Do I see myself as set apart from the world in order to live in as part of God’s covenant people? What would that mean on a practical level?
- Am I cultivating relationships with other believers that have the strength and depth of blood relationships?
- What does it mean for me to receive God’s grace and peace today?