Oh, by the Way
Oh, by the Way
Words of Faith 4-12-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Thessalonians 5
 Brothers, pray for us.  Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.  I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The conclusion of this first letter to the Thessalonians is a little like a postscript. P.S. there are a couple of last things or "Oh by the way..." Though these thoughts are the last on Paul's mind before sending the letter, these were indeed not unimportant. Sometimes the most important things are saved for the very last.
Don't forget to pray for us. Paul did not ask for prayer casually or as a "Christian courtesy." He asked with the absolute expectation of support. The position of the word "Brothers" at the beginning of the sentence in Greek and the present tense of the phrase make this an emphatic appeal to "keep on praying." Paul counted on those he considered as family to continue in prayer for him.
For Paul, much of the success of his missionary work could be attributed to the prayers of the Thessalonians and other believers. Paul understood both his personal insufficiency and God's sufficiency and knew the power and importance of prayer. He wrote to the believers at Corinth-- "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God" (2 Cor. 3:5). Paul knew that without prayer for the provision of God, his continued mission would go nowhere.
Paul called for a warm greeting among the fellowship. It was common in Paul's culture as in many cultures today, to greet friends with a kiss on the cheek. The men greeted other men this way, and the women did the same with other women. Such a kiss communicated personal affection, not romantic love. By urging this practice, Paul was encouraging an outward physical expression of true Christian love in a form that was culturally acceptable in his day. He was discouraging Christian isolation.
The kiss was to be holy, not passionate or fleshly. An acceptable alternative in Western culture today might be an embrace, a pat on the back or a warm handshake. J.B. Phillips paraphrased this verse for 20th-century English readers: "Give a handshake all around among the brotherhood."
The call urges that this letter be read to all the brothers, probably the whole Thessalonian church. The typical usage of the Greek word translated "read" implies that it should be read aloud. Paul saw great value in the public reading of God's message among the people. Paul's words are surprisingly strong. He put his readers under oath to do this, suggesting that God would discipline them if they disobeyed. It is possible that there were some problems in the church that Paul wanted to get at by having everyone hear his words. He also may have already realized that this letter was written under divine inspiration and was therefore extremely valuable.
Paul concluded with a simple benediction-- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Paul always referred to God's grace in the benedictions we find in his letters. The grace of God was Paul's great delight. He began and concluded this letter with words of grace. He identified it as the grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, Christians have all. Obviously, the grace of God is always with His children, but Paul's concern was that his readers experience and enjoy this grace. All that one has in Christ is due to His grace.
We can hear these same messages concerning our life in the Body of Christ.
We are called to be people of prayer. We are to be in prayer for our missionaries by name. Do you know your missionaries? Do you have missionaries-- people sent out and supported by your local church? Contact your church and find out the names of your missionaries and their families. Hold them up in prayer.
We are called to be warmly affectionate in the Body of Christ. We are to greet one another in genuine love that is appropriate for our culture. We are not called to cold, impersonal gatherings. We are not called to host gatherings of anonymous travelers. We are called to extend and receive the warmth of Christ's love.
We are called to the public reading of God's Word. Public reading and study of God's Word is central to the life of Christian believers. The Spirit illumines and applies with force the reading of God's Word in the corporate gatherings of His church.
We are called to walk in grace and peace. Is there anything more central or more wonderful in the Christian life than this?
Father God, keep me reminded toward prayer for those who are carrying the Gospel to the lost. Teach me the warmth of affection in the Body of Christ. Speak to me in the public reading of Your Word. Surround me with Your grace and peace. In Jesus' name.