“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
Paul, The Apostle of Grace
Paul could have concluded his letter to the Philippians any way he chose...with any words he chose. Yet he chose to end his letter, as he does most of his letters, emphasizing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Philippian believers experience of grace.
Paul did not choose to close his letter this way because it was a nice way to close the letter. No, he chose to conclude his letter this way because the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ had completely changed his life (1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17), and his assignment in life was to communicate grace to people (Acts 20:24).
When Paul writes that the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit”, it is not an empty, meaningless, nice way to close his letter. Quite the opposite. It is an ending to his letter packed with tremendous meaning and life-transforming truths.
So what does Paul mean when he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” and how is this concluding phrase life-transforming?
As we have discovered in our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the grace of God was introduced in Philippi when Paul and his fellow missionaries of grace sat down at the riverside with Lydia and her household. There, the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to receive Paul’s message of grace. Lydia, then, opened her home to Paul and his friends, and from her home the church in Philippi began (Acts 16:13-15).
Paul and his companions, along with Lydia, her household, and those who responded to the good news of God’s grace, enjoyed God’s grace together (Philippians 1:5-7). Paul assured them that God’s grace, which first began to work in them when Lydia responded to Paul’s message of grace, would continue to work in them until the return of Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
It wouldn’t be long, after this grace-based church was established in Philippi, that religious leaders would come and attempt to draw the church away from grace and the righteousness that comes by faith. These religious leaders were seeking to convince the church to become a law-based church, filled with and following legalistic rules, rituals, and regulations to be righteous before God. Paul called these religious leaders “dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh” (Philippians 3:2). He strongly encouraged the Philippian church to “watch out” for them.
Because of such antagonism by religious leaders to the message of grace, and their attacks upon the Philippian church, Paul instructed the Philippian believers to “stand firm in one spirit, contending side by side for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (Philippians 1:27-28). Together, the Philippian church would need to stand up for grace by standing together.
The grace of God, given to them in Jesus, was what the Philippian church was founded upon. It was the truth the church would need to fearlessly defend. And now, in closing his letter, Paul has one final word about grace for them: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
These words were encouraging to the Philippians. After teaching them about grace, which impacted their lives greatly, after he instructed them to defend grace, suffering for it if necessary (Philippians 1:29-30), he was now telling them the grace of the Lord Jesus was with their spirit. That is exactly what they needed to hear.
The Philippian believers needed to know that the grace of Jesus was in them...deep inside them. The needed to know, deep in their hearts, they were unconditionally loved, fully forgiven, totally righteous, no longer under law, but under grace, under no condemnation, and at peace with God...all because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They need to know that Jesus was in and with them, and by his Spirit, was administering grace to them that came from the very heart of God, their loving Father (1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Galatians 4:4-6).
The Philippians would need to be aware of and depend upon this grace, since their days of contending with the religious leaders were not over. They would come again, as wolves in sheep’s clothing, just as they did in Ephesus (Acts 20:29-32). They would need this grace in their own personal weakness, just as Paul did (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). They would need this grace to approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). They would need this grace to be strengthened (Hebrews 13:9). They would need this grace to continue to grow (Colossians 1:3-8). They would need this grace to have grace upon each other, just as God had grace upon them (Ephesians 4:31-32). It was this grace that would teach them to live lives of moral purity and to produce an eagerness to do good, as they waited for the return of Jesus (Titus 2:11-14). It was in this grace they would need to stand (Roman 5:1-2).
Therefore, in Paul’s concluding words to the Philippians, he emphasized grace, with a desire for them to experience grace, when he said: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
As we conclude our study on Philippians, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
To read more of Brad's teachings on Philippians, click below.