The Apostolic Benediction
Referring to the apostolic benediction, the apostle Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthian Church wrote, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (ch. 13:14). This verse is unique in that here alone, in the New Testament, is what later came to be known as the apostolic benediction.
From the time of the apostles, it became a part of church liturgy. It was also said at the baptism of new converts and at the dismissal of Christian assemblies. The apostolic benediction suggests every kind of graciousness and tender consideration. No divine attribute is more valuable to a sinner than the grace, love and communion of God (2 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 3:24).
As a Christian greeting, “grace” showed the wish that the one to whom it was given might have the fullness of God’s strength and blessing. “Peace,” a common greeting of the Jews, wished for the one addressed every physical and spiritual blessing (Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 5:9; Luke 1:79; 2:14; John 14:27). God’s “grace” justifies repentant sinners (Romans 3:24; Titus 2:11). And His “peace” keeps their hearts and minds set on Him (Philippians 4:7).
The Apostolic Benediction Made Possible Through Christ
The life, death, and resurrection of Christ brought new meaning to the word grace. “Grace” was realized as the redeeming love of God in Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). With this Christian word, “grace” became Paul’s customary greeting in all his epistles (1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 3; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). Peter and John also used similar greetings in their books (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 3; Revelation 1:4).
The Apostolic Benediction Supports the Godhead
2 Corinthians 13:14 together with other Scriptures support the doctrine of the Godhead. Such verses are: Matthew 3:16,17; 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 14:26; 15:26; Acts 1:4,5; 2:33;10:38; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 1:17; 2:18, 22; 4:4-6; Titus 3:6; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Jude 20-21). The test of all true Christian experience is fellowship and communion with God through the Holy Spirit.
In comparison with the “Apostolic Benediction,” the Old Testament formula of dismissal the “Aaronic Blessing,” was also threefold in nature. Moses wrote, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace'” (Numbers 6:24–26). This was a double benediction for long life and happiness, and protection from loss and sin.
In His service,