Day 1

Paul’s Opening Words

from the Philippians reading plan

Philippians 1:1-2, Acts 16:6-15, 1 Peter 5:1-5

BY Bailey Gillespie

Not everyone makes dinners from scratch. Nor do they set the table while singing folk songs in four-part harmony, no less. No, not everyone does these things. But the Trudeau family does. And years ago, when disease broke into their family, my friends still continued to welcome people into their home, investing great care and attention into making their space a refuge since so much of their time would be spent there due to illness.

Receiving an invitation to dinner at the Trudeaus’ home is special because there are just so many things for them to juggle on an average night, let alone one with company—a warm hearth for cold bodies, hand-crafted dairy-free dressings, detoxifying herbal tea, gentle noise levels. But their home has always been a warm place because this family is the essence of hospitality. When you leave, it feels like you’ve actually been touched by grace and peace. Not merely abstract concepts on a page, grace and peace are felt in the Trudeaus’ home—as real as the gift of hospitality, evidenced by their thoughtfulness and intention, not to mention the gloriously sautéed pork chops or a round of acapella sing-a-longs.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he begins by giving them something: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2). It may seem like a simple greeting, similar to “Hello!” or “Nice to see you!” But the phrase carries more spiritual depth along with it. In Paul’s day, letters were the primary way to convey personal information from afar. It wasn’t like today, where you can text your relatives across the world or confess your love on Facebook Messenger and, best-case scenario, hear back within the hour. Because writing and sending letters required valuable commodities, there was often more intentionality behind it.

Paul’s message to the believers in Philippi was even more important because his words were the closest he could get to being there with them in person. Being imprisoned, he wanted to thank this church for their financial support and faithful friendship, for being his partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5). And after personally experiencing the grace of God and His peace that surpassed all understanding (Philippians 4:7), Paul desired for his brothers and sisters in Christ to experience these things too.

When Paul wrote to the saints in Philippi, he extended a spiritual blessing. Both “grace” and “peace” were common salutations in Paul’s day, but he reimagined the phrase and used it to remind his readers of the gifts already imparted to them by God’s Spirit. By greeting fellow believers in this way, Paul encouraged them to remember what was theirs in Christ Jesus.

May we seize these blessings from Paul’s church greeting, remembering that grace and peace are real and active gifts that the Father gives to us through the Holy Spirit and makes accessible through His Son. They are ours today, if only we would receive them.

Post Comments (84)

84 thoughts on "Paul’s Opening Words"

  1. Sherree Hunsberger says:

    Just the words, “grace and peace” comfort my heart!

  2. Sarah Combs says:

    Imagine if we began greeting people with “Grace and peace to you”. Hearing those words is like hearing “you are enough just as you are” or “you can be you and I accept you”. For me, it lets me release that breath I’ve been holding and frees me to just exist in God’s presence without the expectations of trying so hard to be more.

  3. Jessica McKeough says:

    Just started today!

  4. Bobbie B says:

    So good to get a reminder of what we have already been given in Christ. Grace and peace!

  5. Sam Marlin says:

    I love that we focus on this introduction so much. It sets the tone for the entire book, and personally it sets my attitude for reading scripture. God has gifted us with grace and peace,…how amazing! I pray you ladies feel an overflow of grace and peace today, especially with this hard am crazy times!

  6. Denys Domenko says:

    Really good

  7. Jeanine McKinney says:

    Enjoying these podcast so much and learning more about the scriptures. Thank you. God bless u.

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