Paul Signs Off
Read Philippians 4:20-23 (ESV)
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
What do Paul’s final words in this letter remind the readers of?
How do you end a letter or an email? Do you keep it to the point and just sign your name? Or are you a bit more formal and follow some kind of closing format? Maybe you frequently use “sincerely” or “best wishes” or perhaps you offer the reader your thanks. Regardless, most of us probably do not give much thought to our closing remarks in our everyday correspondence. But that is not the case with Paul.
In today’s passage, we see Paul following a customary format for closing a letter in the Greco-Roman world. He sends his greetings to the recipients and he offers a benediction on their behalf. But Paul isn’t the type to waste words. Just because he’s following the usual letter-writing conventions for that time, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can glean from his closing. Paul chose his closing remarks carefully.
Before he signs off, Paul pens a doxology. He praises and worships God. He gives God all of the glory forever and ever. Throughout the letter of Philippians, Paul repeatedly encouraged the Philippians to rejoice and here Paul follows his own advice. Paul had previously been writing about how he can be content in any circumstance because he depends on God. Paul had acknowledged the sacrifice of financial support the Philippians had given to him and Epaphroditus had delivered. He assures them that God will supply their needs as well. They had been faithful to give and God would be faithful to provide for them as well out of His abundance. And then Paul bursts out in praise. He gives all of the glory to God where it belongs!
Then, Paul sends his greetings to the saints. Remember, the word saint is significant. He used it in his introductory greeting as well in Philippians 1:1. It means those who are “holy” and “set apart.” Paul reminded them of their identity in Christ. In Him, they are holy. In Him, they are set apart. In Him they are Paul’s fellow co-workers. They are citizens of heaven. Their names are written in the “book of life” (Phil. 4:3).
He says the “brothers” that are with him send greetings. He intentionally uses familial language to remind them that, in Christ, they are members of God’s family. This family even includes some of Caesar’s own household! We don’t know exactly which members of Caesar’s house were believers. It could have been Caesar’s family, or his slaves, soldiers, or employees. Either way, Paul’s ministry had impacted the very household of the most powerful emperor of the world at that time.
But Paul’s final words are the greatest comfort of all to our spirit. A prayer of blessing, a benediction, that God’s grace would be with us. And it is.
Friends, we have God’s grace. We are in His family. We are counting on Him completely. We are saints. So, let’s praise Him and live a life of rejoicing! To God our Father be the glory! Forever and ever. Amen.
Father, thank You for the gift of Your grace. I do not deserve to be called a saint. I don’t deserve to be Your child. I am not worthy to be a citizen of Your Kingdom. But I rejoice that You made a way for me. To You be the glory and honor and praise. Amen.