When I was younger, I had times when I was tempted to skip over parts of Paul’s letters. Not the meaty parts in the middle, mind you. The “real” content of course. Just the introductions. You know, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, grace and peace to you…” and all that.
I don’t find myself tempted to do that anymore, which is probably a good thing. When you sit with them, there’s sometimes a lot more there than you realize. Yes, they’re introductions. Yes, they are greetings. But they’re also good news, especially as Paul would offer “grace and peace” as he did in Galatians 1:3, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In this line alone, there an incredibly powerful truth being told: that Jesus himself is God. I love how Martin Luther teased this out in his commentary on Galatians:
Christ does not give grace and peace, as the apostle gave it to people, by preaching the Gospel. He gives it as the author and Creator. The Father creates and gives life, grace, peace, and all other good things. The very same things also the Son creates and gives. To give grace, peace, and everlasting life, to forgive sins, to make righteous, to give life, to deliver from death and the devil—these are not the works of any creature, but of God alone. The angels can neither create nor give these things; therefore, those works belong only to the glory of the sovereign Majesty, the Maker of all things. Since Paul attributes the very same power of creating and giving all these things to Christ equally with the Father, it must follow that Christ is truly God.
This was exactly what I needed to read on a Saturday night when we’re settling in from a couple days on the road and the cares of the world continue to attempt to rob us of our joy. The grace and peace that come from Christ are his; he is their Author, and no one and nothing can snatch those away from us.