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2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 331 - December 1883

 

2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

The conclusion is in perfect and manifest keeping with all that has gone before. " Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace constantly in every way. The Lord be with you all. The salutation by the hand of me Paul, which is a mark in every epistle; so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all."

The saints, through faith rescued from the wrath to come, are serving the living and true God, and waiting for His Son from heaven—Jesus raised from the dead. Even "that day" shall not overtake them as a thief: as of the day, they are sober, and have on the armour of light; and triumphing over death, comfort one another with the bright hope of His coming, when we shall ever be with the Lord. The worst deceit and the destructive power of Satan have no real ground of alarm for them, though none know so well the character of both in the latter day: still less has the day of the Lord any terror, though misled and misleading man has striven hard to trouble them by a false apprehension about it. But now, delivered alike from hopeless sorrow by the first epistle, and no less baseless fear by the second, their hearts had been comforted and established in every good work and word. And the apostle could and did ask their prayers that the word of the Lord might run and be glorified, and His servants be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; as he had also charged them, unweary themselves in well doing, to deal in brotherly faithfulness with disorderly brethren.

It remained only to commend them suitably to the Lord; and this the apostle does in his closing words. In the first epistle he had said "The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly: and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," with the comforting assurance, "Faithful is He that calleth you, who will also do it." This beautifully fell in with an earlier stage, when these young saints needed to be reminded of God's will, even their sanctification, as none were more exposed to the snares of personal impurity than the Greeks of that day: an evil peculiarly offensive to the Holy Spirit given to the saints, as the Corinthians were told yet more strongly afterwards. His prayer went well according to the freshness and energy of the Thessalonians, where this hope shone brightly before their eyes.

The second epistle gives greater prominence to the Lord; but holy separateness has no longer such a place to them. "Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace constantly in every way." He had looked at disturbing causes both in the world and in the assembly. But greater is He that is in them than he that is in the world; and He that is in the assembly is surely competent to make His gracious and withal mighty presence respected, if looked to, for such as dare to forget it or despair. The Holy Spirit is here to glorify Christ: why then should His own doubt or fear? Why not count on that unspeakable favour of " peace," whatever the natural threats or springs of disquiet?

"The Lord of peace" is a blessed title in which He stands related and revealed to the saints, who might and ought to be assured that He could not fail to act accordingly. For the name of the Lord is the expression of what He is or does; and what is our sense of that which is due to those related to us when they need succour in their difficulties, compared with His unfailing grace?

Nor is this all. "The Lord of peace Himself give you peace constantly," or, "at all times." His inspired servant did not wish to raise in their breasts an unwarranted expectation, but had the Spirit of truth directing the desire which he desired them to feel was of God. He did even more; not only at all times, but " in every way." Is it possible to conceive a more studied exclusion of every source of alarm at all times, a stronger guarantee of peace from the Lord of peace Himself (and what fountain of peace can much with Him?) for saints of little experience, passing through a world full of trouble at all times, with a predicted period impending of tribulation beyond all precedent?

The apostle directs them to expect it from the Lord "in every way." As they had no time wherein they might not look to Him to give them peace, whatever may be in its destined season for Jews or Gentiles, so He would give them peace, not in some way only, but "in every way." How exactly  answering to His own words before to the disciples! "These things have I spoken unto you that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." It was the enemy, not the truth, which had alarmed their souls falsely for a while.

There is indeed a singular but easily conceived various reading τόπω " place," for τpůπῳ " way," in the first hand of the Alex. and Clermont MSS., as well as in the Augian copy (now in Trin: Coll: Camb.) and in the Boernerian (now in the Dresden Royal Lib.) and in two cursives. The Vulgate and Gothic versions represent it; and so apparently Chrysostom, as Montfaucon (not Field) has edited the word. The great Greek commentator has in fact as unduly narrowed the meaning of "peace" as the word in question; for the apostle does not limit his wish to harmony among themselves, but embraces peace in a far higher sense and in all its force. It is therefore an instance, not without its instruction, that critics like Griesbach and Lachman should have the least hesitation in endorsing the ordinary and best attested text: Griesbaeh marking it as probable; and Lachman actually adopting it as his text. The apostle prayed that peace might be given them in every way, with no mere outward thought of "place."

This, too, is crowned by "The Lord be with you all: a wish of small price in eyes which see only a man, writing to other men. What is it to those who know by faith God employing a servant under His own unfailing guidance so to communicate His mind and heart to His children while passing through the world? What avail all other helps, if " the Lord" be not with us all? and why should we not be at perfect peace, if He be with us, whoever and whatever else be lacking?

There is another notable link of connexion with the close of the first epistle, though each perhaps has, as usual, its own distinctive traits. "The salutation by the hand of me Paul, which is a mark in every epistle: so I write." How in keeping with a very early communication of the apostle called to write not a few, thus carefully to authenticate his letters to the Gentile saints! Still more solemnly in the first had he adjured the Thessalonians by the Lord that the letters be read to all the (holy) brethren. The notion that Scripture, addressed even to the whole assembly, was not to be read to or by all, was an interference with divine authority as well as divine grace, which could only be conceived in a degenerate and rebellious age, verging to apostasy. That Paul's epistles are, as truly as any other of the holy writings, accredited as scripture, 2 Peter iii. 16 makes sure and plain. And it was the more necessary that they should have in all the mark of his hand in saluting the saints, as he usually employed an amanuensis. (Compare Rom. xvi. 22, 1 Cor. xvi. 21, and Col. iv. 18, with Gal. vi. 11.)

Also, the concluding words of the two epistles resemble greatly while they differ sensibly. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you," says the first—be "with you all," says the second. Here we find the more decided emphasis, where and when it was most needed; whilst the same farewell of divine love appears substantially in both.