"Grace to you and peace" - benediction?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is written at the beginning of most of the epistles. I've always considered it a "greeting" (I guess since it's at the beginning of the letters), but it sounds more like a benediction or blessing.

I've never really studied "blessings." What they are, their purpose, what weight or authority they're given, how we are to receive them, etc. Is a benediction a special kind of blessing?

Sorry there's not much direction to this thread, but I've always kind of skipped over the "grace to you" intro as something nice the apostles put in their letters and just was curious today why they're there.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
It's a benedictory greeting. The closing "benediction" or blessing of a worship service is a standard conclusion, which is called down or invoked by the minster of Christ in the stead of Christ.

Christ first calls the meeting, and later he closes it. In our congregation, it is some apt text of Scripture (variously sourced) that functions as an official summons; while the closing benediction is 95% of the time the full "apostolic benediction" found in 2Cor.13:14.

You could profitably begin a study of the theology of benediction with Num.6:22-27. "So they shall put my name on the children of Israel." That Triune name for blessing is fully fleshed out in 2Cor.13:14. It is the same name that is appointed for baptism, Mt.28:19.

The benediction is a form of reminder pointing us to the fact that his name is already on us, and he is pleased to call us by his name, see Jer.14:9, cf. Is.63:19. It is his mark or stamp of ownership, and he highlights it as we are sent forth.

Now it happens that usually as I rise into the pulpit, even before the Call to Worship, I welcome them gathered for worship with the apostolic greeting. I usually use some form of the benediction, "Grace, mercy, and peace..." as a way of situating our congregation in a New Testament frame.

I can imagine no implausibility to the suggestion, that Paul's letters (and 1&2Pet., 1&2Jn, and Jude) so commonly begin in a way that instantly reminded the first recipients of an ordinary worship address by the apostles in the flesh.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
As Pastor Buchanan rightly observes, it is "benedictory greeting." The apostles customarily salute the saints in this fashion. Our Lord himself greeted his disciples after his resurrection with the words "Peace be with you" (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26). And our Lord instructed those he sent out to bless the houses they entered into by saying "Peace be to this house" (Luke 10:5). So we see this pattern of a blessings being pronounced both at the beginning and end. They are the book ends of our encounters with the living God in worship.

The first words I typically utter to my congregation in worship on the Lord's day are "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." After this, I give the call to worship and we end our worship with the words of either the Aaronic or Apostolic benedictions (Num. 6:24-26; 2 Cor. 13:14). So our services begin and end with pronouncements of grace and peace by our Triune Lord Jehovah.
 

Timotheos

Puritan Board Freshman
Not being overly familiar with all of your traditions, I am a bit surprised that you generally restrict your closing benediction to only those passages. There are so many great ones in Scripture, and others that can be used in such a way. For example, I recently concluded with John 14:27. So many great benedictions like Heb 13:20-21.

However, Christopher, I think I may borrow your practice of your typical first words as that is a wonderful way to call the worship service to order.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I also use Hebrew 13:20, 21 at the conclusion of the Lord's Supper.
Likewise, on most of those very same occasions.

I don't use the Aaronic benediction, at least not but on the rarest of occasions. Unless I substitute "Jehovah" for the typical translation rendition, "the LORD," there is no name to assign audibly. And while it is a beautiful text, containing indisputable truth for even today's church, there is also a sense that it is "throwback," and may not capture the NT hour.

With that said, there is something to variety, and there's something to consistency. Let those who use multiple benedictions follow that rule, and those who use only one follow that rule. "To his own master he either standeth or falleth."
 
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