"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."To pray to the true and living God is to pray to the God who is triune.
As the Scriptures progressively unfold, YHWH, who is championed as "one" (e.g. Deut. 6:4), is most fully revealed in the New Testament as three distinct persons. The shadows that suggested a plurality in the Old Testament make way for the light of fullest revelation in the coming of Jesus Christ.
Jesus reveals for us most fully not merely Himself, but also who the Father and Spirit are as well. In other words, we cannot know who the Triune God is unless we understand who God the Son is. And this seems to be Paul's great emphasis in His letters. As the apostle of Christ Jesus, he concomitantly shows us the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father and the Spirit.
Not surprisingly, then, Paul ends this at times awkward epistle with a benediction pleading for God's blessing upon His elect people.
As most commentators note, Paul is not trying to lay out a Trinitarian theology here. Paul simply assumes the Trinity as a fact. He is not defending the Trinity; he is delighting in it.
Moreover, Paul is not saying that grace alone is bestowed by Jesus, or love poured out solely by the Father, or the establishment of fellowship being the unique ministry of the Spirit. That is, the Son loves us just as much as the Father, and the Father bestows grace with the Son, and the poured out Spirit establishes fellowship in the Son. The Trinity, though a glorious mystery, is nevertheless a harmonious symphony.
He is, however, generalizing, and saying that grace flows to us from God through Christ, and that the Father is the orchestrator of sovereign love; and that the Spirit by and large takes the reins when it comes to establishing and strengthening fellowship within God's people.
And so, let us pray to this end:
- That the grace of redemption, purchased by Christ for us, might be more fully experienced and cherished and esteemed in our hearts and lives.
- That we might more deeply sense how great the Father's love for us is in Christ.
- That the Spirit might bind and knit us together more tightly in Christ.
This is the 'secret' of overcoming the Corinthians perennial problem of disunity (see 13:11). This triune blessing of the Triune God will bring about "restoration" in their congregation, allow them to "agree with one another," and ultimately enable them to "live in peace."
We are no less needy today.
My encouragement is to memorize this glorious verse, as well as begin to regularly employ it in our arsenal when we come before the throne of grace in prayer.
In Christ, and for His glory in and through His church,