“From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our dear friend and colaborer, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Paul opens this letter and describes himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. This is the only letter in which he does this, and it sets us up well for the themes he is going to bring out through in his letter. We see that Timothy is also present with Paul, and that the letter is going primarily to Philemon, but also Apphia (very possibly Philemon’s wife), Archippus (possibly their son or the church’s pastor), and the church they were all part of. In typical style, Paul wishes them grace and peace…from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First and foremost then, Paul wishes this group of believers grace and peace. Experiencing the grace of God in our lives, embracing the grace of God in our lives, brings us a peace that we will find nowhere else. The peace Paul is talking of is a deep, settled, doesn’t-care-too-much-about-circumstances kind of peace. No matter what is happening around them, for them, or to them, Paul knows that the grace of God and the peace of God are stronger still. Edwin C. Deibler wrote this:
“There can be no peace apart from grace. Peace with God, a judicial matter, comes by means of faith (Rom. 5:1). The peace of God, an experiential condition, results from the infilling ministry of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22-23)”.
Do you feel like you need more peace in your life?
I think most of us have felt like that during the last twelve months (2020 into 2021). As Deibler wrote, echoing the words of Paul, the peace of God is experiential, not just theoretical. That’s how Paul could wish it on people. He wishes them grace and peace…from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn’t wish them an increased understanding of what the peace of God might be like. He wants them to experience it. We need to experience it, too.
Today then, pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord for more of His presence in your life, more peace in and about and throughout all the circumstances of life you encounter today.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”