In all of the extant letters that bear Paul's name, he signs off with this, or a similar, grace-benediction. Like his salutations, Paul's closing greetings are Christianized. Instead of the standard goodbye in Greek letters (erroso [literally "be strong"]; cf. the letter of James in Acts 15:29), it is grace that he wishes for the Philippians. Although grace is primarily from God in Paul's letters, in the grace-benedictions it is invariably the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that he prays will be with them. Thus the final grace serves to "bookend" his letters, which begin with "grace and peace" as part of the greeting (see on 1:2).
On this note the letter comes to an end. One hesitates to draw out too much theology from these rather conventional closing formulas. But as noted at the beginning and elsewhere (e.g., 4:8, 11-13, 15-16) in Paul's hand conventions are never merely conventional. Eventually everything, including these conventions, is brought under the influence of Christ and the gospel. Thus the final greetings of Philippians, which by their threefold elaboration presuppose the church as the body of Christ, are to be given and received as in Christ Jesus. And the final grace is also from the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the whole letter, from beginning to end and everywhere in between, focuses on Christ, who as Paul's life (1:21) is magnified both in his language and in the two narratives that point specifically to him (Christ's in 2:5-11 and Paul's in 3:4-14). To miss this central focus on Christ would be to miss the letter altogether, and to miss the heart of Pauline theology. May we who read this letter as the Word of God follow in Paul's train.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to remove banner ads and unlock new features!
For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!