Salutations by Apostle Paul
The word “salutation” refers to “a word or phrase serving as the preface or introductory greeting in a letter or speech.” And in the epistles authored by the apostle Paul, the salutations are quite similar in nature. A suitable example follows:
To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
A list of the other salutations is at the end of this document. But an interpretation of the nature of the chief element within these epistles and its application to Christians follow.
All of Paul’s letters contain two elements, which he avows to the benefit of the letter’s recipients. One is “grace,” the other “peace.” In addition to these two, Paul adds “mercy” to the recipients of three of his letters. But in all, “grace” appears to be the foundational element.
As it relates to Scripture, “grace” is probably best defined as “God’s unmerited favor toward man.” In the Old Testament grace is extended by God toward the entire human race embodied in Adam and Eve, a grace that in time is refused by most of mankind.
Still, God endeavored to offer the personification of His love, kindness, and compassion toward mankind to His chosen people, Israel, with the intent that Israel would be a blessing to all mankind (Genesis 12:1-3).
In the New Testament the epitome of God’s grace toward the human race is depicted in His personal sacrifice, that of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross on Calvary. And this grace-act of God (the sacrifice [payment for sin] that could only be accomplished by Christ on the cross, providing an efficacious avenue for man, who is “dead in trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1], to achieve an irreversible condition of eternal life) may only be obtained by a willful act (decision) of faith, apart from any good works (Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9).
This grace, accepted by faith, insures the individual a permanent peace [lit., rest and comfort in the individual’s relationship] with God as to his eternal state.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
But the grace that is offered to the lost (those without eternal life), evidenced in and by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, which results in an eternal peace with God, is not the grace and peace that Paul refers to in his salutations.
The grace and peace that Paul refers to in his salutations is directed only to Christians, those who have already experienced the grace and resulting peace that is derived from their one-time willful act of faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). But once a person is eternally saved (spirit-salvation, an irreversible past salvation that depends wholly upon the work of Christ), he is then to have “access by faith into this grace,” which will result in the “hope [lit., confident expectation] of the glory of God” (resulting in a present peace) that is depicted by the second verse in the fifth chapter of the book of Romans:
through whom [Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)
Christians are to understand that the comprehensive redemption plan of God for man is multi-faceted, which affects all aspects of man’s tripartite (three-part) nature of spirit, soul, and body.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)
For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Man is a tripartite being comprised of spirit, soul, and body; and the salvation of man within its complete scope pertains to the salvation of man with respect to his complete being. In Scripture it is revealed that each of these three aspects of man is subject to salvation at different times (past, present, and future). Thus, to understand salvation in its complete scope, one must first realize that man is a tripartite being. It is only then that the God’s comprehensive plan of salvation for man becomes clear, a plan that will then clarify the seemingly contradictory and confounding passages of Scripture throughout the New Testament on the issue.
Since the Word of God presents salvation in a framework of this nature, it is vitally important in Scriptural interpretation to first ascertain to which of these three aspects of salvation any given passage pertains. Consider the following three passages:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit [lit. “for the sake of the ones about to inherit”] salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
In Ephesians 2:8, 9, salvation is a past, completed act. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, salvation is a present, continuous work. In Hebrews 1:14, salvation is a future, inherited possession.
Regarding these three passages of Scripture, please note the following from Salvation of the Soul, a book by Arlen L. Chitwood (and which may be read in whole from its link on the home page of www.bibleone.net):
In the past aspect of salvation, dealt with in Ephesians 2:8, the words in the corrected text, “you have been saved,” are a translation of two Greek words that form what is called in the Greek text a “periphrastic perfect.” The “perfect” tense refers to action completed in past time, with the results of this action extending into present time and existing in a finished state. The “periphrastic” construction places additional emphasis on the present, finished state and refers to the persistent results during present time of the past, completed work.
Salvation in this verse is wrought by grace through faith, accomplished completely in past time, and is the present possession of every believer. This present possession, in turn, constitutes an active, continuing, ever-abiding salvation.
The eternal security of the believer cannot be expressed in stronger terms than the periphrastic construction of the perfect tense in Ephesians 2:8, for the present results of the past action, in this case, can only continue unchanged forever.
However, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, dealing with the present aspect of salvation, things are presented in an entirely different light than seen in Ephesians 2:8. Rather than the verb tense in the Greek text referring to a past, completed act, the tense refers to a present, continuous work. The former has already been completed, but the latter has yet to be completed.
Then, in Hebrews 1:14, dealing with the future aspect of salvation, matters are presented in a completely different light yet. The wording in the Greek text of this verse refers to something that is about to occur. Nothing is past or present; the reception of this salvation, in its entirety, is placed in the future.
Further, the salvation referred to in Hebrews 1:14 is not only to be realized in the future, but it is also an inherited salvation. And the thought of inheritance further distinguishes the salvation in this verse from the salvation previously seen in Ephesians 2:8, for the salvation that Christians presently possess is not an inherited salvation.
Rather, our present salvation was obtained as a free gift during the time we were alienated from God. And, as aliens (outside the family of God), we were in no position to inherit salvation, for inheritance in Scripture is always a family matter.
In the Old Testament, “sons” were first in line to receive the inheritance, with “daughters” next. If there were no sons or daughters in the immediate family, the inheritance was passed on to the nearest family member or members, designated by the law of inheritance (Numbers 27:8-11).
Consequently, an individual had to be a family member before he could be considered for the inheritance, which, during the present dispensation, is restricted to “children” or “sons” of the Owner. That’s why the statement is made in Romans 8:17, “. . . if children, then heirs . . . .” And that’s also why in Hebrews 1:14 that an inherited salvation pertains to those who have already been saved, those who are no longer alienated from God but are presently family members.
In this respect, the complete scope of salvation — past, present, and future — has a beginning point, with an end in view. It involves the Spirit of God breathing life into the one having no life, effecting the birth from above. And this has been done with a purpose, an end, in view. This has been done so that the Spirit can take the one who now has spiritual life and perform a work in the life of that individual, with a view to an inheritance that will be realized at a future time.
Thus, one should immediately be able to see the importance of proper distinctions being drawn and observed in the realm of these three aspects of salvation. And depending on how one approaches and deals with the different salvation passages in Scripture, either difficulties can be avoided on the one hand or insurmountable problems can result on the other.
Again, it is important to note that once a person becomes a Christian by placing faith in Jesus Christ, he or she can never become “unsaved.” His ultimate destiny is sealed by the Holy Spirit and guaranteed (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30); although, to completely please God, he must come to an understanding that he is also saved for a purpose, which is analogous to the purpose of man’s creation (Genesis 1:26-28), to have “dominion” [rulership] over God’s province, which will indeed resume upon the establishment of Christ’s kingdom when He returns to earth (Revelation 19:11-20:6). And this possibility of rulership, during the coming Messianic Era, involves the salvation of the soul, a concept that is indeed discussed in Scripture.
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He [Christ] who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:35-39)
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
. . . Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8b, 9)
Once a Christian comes to the realization that salvation is both an instant act (spirit-salvation) and an on-going process (soul-salvation) that pertains to his entire being, he then may mature in his spiritual life in order to affect the eventual salvation of his soul, which will result in his present (temporal) peace and his eventual rulership in Christ’s coming Millennial Kingdom upon the earth.
This is in fact the end result referred to by the phrase “hope of the glory of God,” which comes from a standing in the grace recorded in Romans 5:2. And to properly understand this “hope,” it is suggested that the reader carefully consider the following selection from Chitwood’s Salvation of the Soul:
The God-Provided Encouragement, Motivation
According to 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” This is called, in introductory verses to the book, “a living hope”; and it is made possible through “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:3). Christ lives, and those “in Christ” are being called to live, beyond resurrection, in glory with Him.
Hope in 1 Peter is associated with “an inheritance” (1:4), a future “salvation” (1:5 [“the salvation of your souls”; v. 9]), and “honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7; cf. 4:12, 13).
When Christ appears, Christians will appear with Him in glory; and it is different facets of this entire matter — ruling as co-heirs with Christ, realizing the salvation of their souls — concerning which Christians are exhorted to always be ready to provide a response to anyone who asks “a reason of the hope” that lies within.
In Hebrews 6:11, 12, the “hope” to be held by Christians is laid out in a very simple fashion: that “through faith and patience [present]” they would be able to “inherit the promises [future].”
Exercising “faith” is simply believing that which God has to say about a matter, resulting in the person who exercises faith acting accordingly. Hebrews chapter eleven is the great chapter on faith, toward which everything in the preceding part of the book builds: “By faith Abel . . . By faith Enoch . . . By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . .”
Then Hebrews chapter twelve, immediately following, forms the capstone to the whole matter. The fifth and last of the five major warnings comes into view — a direct reference to the rights of the firstborn (all the warnings have to do with these rights, though viewed from different facets of the overall subject) — and Christians are exhorted to run the race set before them after such a fashion that they will one day be accorded the privilege of realizing these rights.
Exercising “patience [lit., ‘patient endurance’]” has to do with the manner in which one runs the race (cf. 12:1). This is a race of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 3), to be run continuously for the entire duration of the Christian life. This is a race over the long haul — not one for sprinters, but one for marathon runners (though the runners may be called upon, at times, to sprint in the race). And Christians are to properly pace themselves so that they will be able to victoriously complete the race.
The “inheritance,” which is out ahead is the object of a Christians’ hope; and one day realizing that which God has promised is, within the text, to be wrought by and through patient endurance in the race of the faith. Both “faith” and “patient endurance” are inseparably linked after this fashion with the subject at hand — inheriting the promises.
Hebrews 10:23-25 presents a companion thought. In verse twenty-three, Christians are told, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” And the whole idea, contextually, behind Christians assembling together today (v. 25) is to “consider one another” and “to stir up [one another to] love and to good works,” with this hope in view.
Christians are to assemble together to discuss that which lies out ahead, pray for one another, and exhort one another; and they are to do this “so much the more,” as they “see the Day approaching [that coming day when their hope will be realized]” (vv. 24, 25).
This is that “blessed hope” in Titus 2:13, which is to be a purifying hope. And Christians are exhorted to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present age,” with a view to one day realizing this hope (v. 12).
(That “blessed hope” is not Christ’s return per se [particularly not His return for Christians at the end of this present dispensation, as is often taught]. Rather, that “blessed hope” has to do with the “glorious appearing [lit., the ‘appearing of the glory’] of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” [v. 13], a glory that will not be revealed until Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation.
The construction of the Greek text would necessitate the previous understanding of the verse. In the Greek text, the “appearing of the glory” is a further explanation and description of that “blessed hope”; also in the Greek text, in the latter part of the verse, the construction of two other parts of the verse is the same: “Savior Jesus Christ” is a further explanation and description of “our great God.”
With this in mind, the verse could be better translated as follows:
Awaiting that blessed hope, which is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior who is Jesus Christ.
And this “hope” surrounds the thought of Christians having a part in Christ’s glory at this time — a central teaching of the book of Titus.)
With Confidence and Rejoicing
Christians are to hold fast the hope set before them after a revealed twofold fashion — with confidence and rejoicing (Hebrews 3:6). The word “confidence” is a translation of the Greek word, parresia, meaning “to be bold, courageous, open, or plain” about a matter; and the word “rejoicing” is the translation of the Greek word, kauchema, meaning “to take pride in something,” resulting in the person having “something to boast about.”
Parresia is used a number of times in the New Testament in the sense of being “open” or “plain” about matters, with nothing being hidden. Jesus spoke openly and plainly to His disciples and the people of Israel (Mark 8:32; John 16:29; 18:20), though, because of the nation’s rejection of Him, the day came when He “no longer walked openly among the Jews” (John 11:54). And it was because of this same rejection that Jesus had previously begun to teach through the use of parables (Matthew 13:10-15).
Parresia is also used in the New Testament a number of times in the sense of being “bold” or “courageous” about matters. Peter and John, standing before Annas the high priest, and others, exhibited “boldness” as Peter spoke; and those hearing Peter “marveled,” recognizing that both men exhibited these qualities because “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:5-13; cf. v. 31).
Then Paul, at the end of his epistle to the Ephesians, requested prayer on his behalf: “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).
(Note that the thought of “openness” or “plainness” would also have to be included within the idea conveyed by “boldness” in the preceding passages [cf. 2 Corinthians 3:12; 7:4; see also Philippians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:13; Hebrews 4:16].)
Then the word kauchema (translated “rejoicing”), or the verb form of this word (kauchaomai), is also used a number of times in the New Testament. The word is translated three different ways in Scripture (KJV) — “boast,” “glory [used in the sense of ‘boast’ or ‘pride’],” and “rejoice” (cf. Romans 2:23; 4:2; 5:2; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 5:12; 9:3).
The thought of “rejoicing” (as in Hebrews 3:6; cf. Philippians 1:26; 2:16), rather than being derived from the meaning of kauchema, appears to be derived more from the result of what this word means. That is, kauchema means “to take pride in something,” resulting in the person having “something to boast about”; and “rejoicing” would emanate out of the person being placed in this position.
Firm unto the End
When a Christian is told to be “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,” he is to be open about the matter, he is to exhibit plainness of speech, he is to be bold and courageous as he expresses himself, and he is to take pride in the matter, for he has something to boast about.
He has been extended an invitation to ascend the throne with “the King of kings and Lord of lords” to rule as co-heir with Him in His kingdom. He possesses the hope of having a part in what Scripture calls, “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3), which is the greatest thing God has ever designed for redeemed man.
And this is what Christians are to be open and plain about. They are to tell it exactly as it is, regardless of what others may say or think. And they are to be bold and courageous as they tell it as it is, knowing that they have something of incalculable value, something they can boast about (cf. Matthew 10:32, 33; 2 Timothy 2:10-13).
Christians have been saved for a revealed purpose, which has to do with future regality, as co-heirs with Christ in the kingdom.
Christians are to set their course straight and hold it there, not deviating; and they are to hold their course, after this fashion, “firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:6), allowing them to one day realize that which Scripture refers to as “so great a salvation,” the salvation of their soul.
(Salvation of the Soul [Appendix 2], by Arlen L. Chitwood)
The proper Christian life is totally a life of grace, that which provides the “birth from above” (spirit-salvation) by an act of faith; and, that which may be achieved by continued faithfulness resulting in the salvation of the soul.
And this grace is what Paul refers to in his salutations.
The following is a list of the other salutations of the Apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:2, 3
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:1, 2
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:1, 2
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, to Timothy, a true son in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, a beloved son: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:1, 4
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness . . . to Titus, a true son in our common faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.