“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:3-5).
Although Paul the Apostle will dispense with many of the customary pleasantries that typically appear in his New Testament letters, he did make certain to extend a familiar blessing in this letter to the Galatians: “Grace and peace to you…” These elements form an important part of our relationship with God through Christ.
First, “grace” is the term we use to describe the undeserved favor that God extends to us in Christ. It refers to the unearned and unmerited kindness we receive from God through Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. As mentioned previously, the word “peace” describes a state of contentment and/or well being. This would include the absence of external hostilities or internal conflicts like worry, anxiety and/or insecurity. A person who is free from these contentions is someone who is “at peace.”
One theologian expands on these concepts with the following observations…
“Each of Paul’s letters begins with a reference to these two blessings from God. ‘Grace’ translates the Gk. charis, which means ‘an undeserved act of kindness.’ Paul uses this word more often than any other NT writer and gives it immense theological significance. It refers to all that God has given us in Christ, nothing of which we have earned or can repay. ‘Peace’ refers to the relationship that Christ’s death and resurrection (1:4) have established with God for those who believe the gospel. For Paul’s own comments on the meaning of these two terms, see Rom. 5:1, 2” (1)
These elements become especially important when we consider the “present evil age” in which we live. Even the most unspiritual person surely recognizes that evil exists within our age- and there are a multitude of media outlets and citizen journalists with mobile phones who stand ready to document that reality on a daily basis.
When we think about the instability of the world around us and consider the potential for destruction that exists at the touch of a button, it’s easy to become distressed. Nevertheless, God extends grace and peace to us through Christ. As Paul said to the Philippian church, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2074). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.