Salutation: Part 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on 2 Corinthians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

We do not progress to sainthood. But we progress in sainthood. We progress in sainthood in proportion as we sing alleluias for the initial gift of sainthood. This heavenly union with Christ is here contrasted with the earthly location of the worshipping community. The saints at Philippi are the free-born citizens of heaven (3:20{A.10]), but their present vocation is to bear witness to Christ amid the pagan darkness of a Roman colony―“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).


The human family is divided into two groups; the saints and the ain’ts. Saints are believers in Christ. They are saints, not because of their conduct, but because of their position in Christ. Saint means “holy,” set apart for God. Anything that is holy is separated for the use of God. Even the old pots and pans in the tabernacle were called “holy vessels,” and they were probably beaten and battered after 40 years in the wilderness. They may not have looked holy, but they were. Why? Because they had been set aside for the use of God. Now that should be the position of every child of God. We are set aside for the use of God. Now, friend, if you ain’t a saint, then you are an ain’t.

The saints are “IN CHRIST JESUS.” When you put your trust in the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God comes to dwell in you. The Holy Spirit baptizes you into the body of Christ. You are put in Christ by the Spirit of God. That’s what makes you holy; being in Christ makes a man internally and spiritually holy; it is necessary that he be in Christ by faith, so to make him externally holy requires a visible and external union with Christ in professing truths relating to Him.

Now, these saints were “IN CHRIST,” but they were at Philippi. You see, it doesn’t make any difference where you are at—that may not be grammatically correct, but it is a true statement. You may be at Los Angeles or Duluth or Moscow or Philippi. It won’t make any difference where you are at; the important matter is being “IN CHRIST JESUS.” Saints are such by divine calling, and they are also ones who on their part have called upon the Lord Jesus Christ―“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Divine initiative in calling and human response in faith, both belong to one’s becoming a saint. Saints in the New Testament are the eschatological{A.11] people or “the saints of the Most High” of Daniel 7:18, 27.

I believe the little phrase “IN CHRIST” comprises the most important words that we have in the New Testament. What does it mean to be saved? The Spirit of God chose just one little word, the preposition “IN,” to explain what salvation is. It is to be “IN CHRIST.” How do you get in Christ? You get in Christ when you accept Him as your Savior. When Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes the Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ. To be “IN CHRIST” is not only to be bound to Him individually by faith, trust, and commitment; but it is to be bound together with His people. To be “IN CHRIST” is the opposite of being “in sin” or “in Adam”―“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

“WITH THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST JESUS AND DEACONS.” Notice he is addressing a local church with officers. “THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST JESUS” has been rendered bishops, overseers, shepherds: we would say pastor, minister, preacher, etc. The phrase “SERVANTS OF CHRIST JESUS” actually refers to the office, while the word “deacon” refers to the individual who is in that office, and they should be men who are mature spiritually. “DEACONS” are spiritual men who perform a secular service (see Acts 6). In an unofficial sense, the word Deacon referred to one who waited on tables; it is possible that Pastors were

charged with teaching and guarding Christian doctrine whereas deacons were responsible for administrative matters.

[A.4} “SERVANTS OF CHRIST JESUS” are currently identified as “the clergy.” The clergy are not the Church, but, under God, the servants and religious guides of the people.
[A.5} “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites” (Exodus 19:5-6).
[A.6} Both words, “servants” and “slaves,” mean, namely, men who in all their work have no will of their own but only their Owner’s will and Word.
[A.7} “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
[A.8} “And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in (Or through the faithfulness of) Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9).
[A.9} “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” (Leviticus 20:26).
[A.10} “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
1A.11} “A belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind; specifically: any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment.”

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU.” You will find this form of address in all of Paul’s epistles, and grace and peace will always be in that sequence. Grace and peace were both commonplace words of Paul’s day. When Paul put together these two great words, he was doing something very wonderful. He was taking the normal greeting phrases of two great nations and molding them into one.

“GRACE” was the word of greeting in the Greek world. In the Greek language it is charis. They say it as we would say, “Have a good day.” And God is saying to you, “Have a good eternity.” When folks say to me, “Have a good day,” they don’t contribute anything to make it a good day other than just saying that. But God has made the arrangements whereby you can have a good eternity, and it is by the grace of God.

“PEACE” always follows grace; it never precedes it. While charis comes out of the Greek world, “peace” (shalom) comes out of the religious world; it is the Hebrew form of greeting. Actually, the name Jerusalem means “the city of peace”; Jeru-shalom—city of peace. It has never been that; it has been a city of war. Right now it is a thorn in the flesh of the world. No one knows what to do with it. There will never be peace in Jerusalem or in the world until the Prince of Peace comes to rule.

There is, however, the “PEACE” that comes to the believer through the “GRACE” of God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This is the peace that a sinner can have with a holy God because Christ died for us, paid our penalty, and now God in His grace can save us. However, the “PEACE” Paul commends the Philippians for is a blessing of reconciliation that has resulted from God’s gracious work on their behalf―“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1). So, when Paul prays for grace and peace on his people he is praying that they should have the joy of knowing God as Father and the peace of being reconciled to God, to men, and to themselves—and that grace and peace can come only through Jesus Christ.

This “GRACE AND PEACE” is “FROM GOD OUR FATHER, AND FROM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.” Let me ask this theological question; isn’t Paul a Trinitarian{B.1
? Doesn’t he believe in the Trinity? Then why doesn’t He include the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son? The reason is that the Holy Spirit is already over there in Philippi, indwelling the believer. Certainly, Paul believed in the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and he is being very accurate here.

[B.1} Believers in the doctrine of the Trinity.


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