Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We may conceive of "grace and peace" being connected with "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," as we conceive of the water with which a town is supplied in relation to the reservoir of storage on the one hand, and the channel of communication and distribution on the other. We may think of God our Father as the exhaustless fount of these perennial blessings — He is "the God of all grace," and the "very God of peace." Yet all this grace and peace are not gathered up in Him like water in some lake from which there is no outlet, but, like reservoir supplies, these unspeakable mercies are meant to be communicated and enjoyed through the channel and conduit of the Lord Jesus Christ. And while the whole appliances are regulated and managed by the continual operation of the Holy Ghost, there is nothing derogatory to that Divine Spirit, although in this salutation no specific mention is made, in so many words, of His work and offices, because the greater function includes all the separate distributions for individual use and benefit. Grace, therefore, is peace prepared for us, and peace is grace enjoyed by us. For grace is simply that free favour that spontaneously emanates from love — the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ being the self-moved and self-moving operations of Divine love to sinful men. Such kindness is called "grace," because the inherent goodness of the Divine disposition alone can account for it — "grace" being the word that brings into special prominence the Divine motive in redemption as unbought, unsought, and unconstrained by principles from without, just as "mercy" has reference particularly to the unworthy character of its objects. A many-sided word like grace is best explained by analogies suggested by some similar many-sided word, such as "life," "vegetation," and the like. Grace, like life, may be regarded as a great and blessed gift from without, or a Divine power working mercifully towards us, and ultimately working in us; bringing salvation for us, and securing its mightiest triumph when it secures a lodgment of itself within us. And just as life receives various names from the various blessings it includes — feeling, moving, seeing, hearing, which are but varieties of the one great privilege of living — so grace is the comprehensive term including the supply of all favours and privileges needful for our fallen and undeserving condition as sinners to be saved. It is enlightenment for darkness, pardon for transgression, comfort for trial, hope for despondency, strength for weakness, and all help for all need. And just as life brought into play as a power within us will be sight if it operate through the eye, speech if through the tongue, hearing if through the ear; so with grace — if it work upon our convictions of sin, it will be the grace of repentance; if on God's testimony, it is the grace of faith; if on God's commandments, it is the grace of obedience — and so on through the whole range of Christian excellence. We thus use "grace" with the varied applications attachable to any kindred word, like "vegetation"; as when we say "Vegetation is at work," we mean the hidden power or influence which produces the buds, leaves, fruits, and all the riches and beauty of the face of nature; or when, on the other hand, we say, "Vegetation is looking lovely," we refer to the effects themselves of the hidden power as they strike and delight the eye. So grace is the Divine agency or quickening power which, when it takes hold of us, produces all good thoughts, all holy desires, and all heavenly life, while it is no less the name for those thoughts, desires, and graces themselves, considered as its fruits. If, further, it be viewed as dealing with Divine truth and promise, with God's gospel message of mercy, with Christ and His work, with the Holy Spirit's aid, with the heavenly inheritance, and the like, under the aspect of blessings appropriated and enjoyed, then grace becomes peace. When, in short, we think of spiritual and saving benefits as connected with the Divine nature, and as communicated through our Lord Jesus Christ, we call them all grace; and, on the other hand, we call them all peace when we think of them with special relation to our own good — when we think of their precious value for us, and their tranquillising and enjoyable effects upon us. Oh! if our peace were not of grace, we should be doomed to perish for want of it, like a population whose whole water supply depended on two or three trickling streams, that might dry up and fail when most needed. If we are to live beyond the fear of our peace getting exhausted, it must be by drawing on the perennial resources of heavenly grace, ever full and ever flowing among the everlasting hills — the free, the sovereign, self-moving and redeeming love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. What an appeal there is to Philemon in such a salutation! As if the apostle would say, "This is sufficient to enable you to do all I am to ask at your hands. And as you would find grace and favour with the Lord yourself, or enjoy peace in your own soul, you may not be inexorable or ungracious towards Onesimus, but must seek peace and pursue it, by sealing its comforts on the penitent's heart."
(A. H. Drysdale, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.