by Robert Brow March 1999

2 Timothy 1:8-10

Whenever I say The Grace (2 Corinthians 13:13), I have no difficulty with picturing the love of God as Father and the work of God as Spirit. But I often wondered what the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ could mean? In this reading I was struck with the last four words of the Epistle -y charis meth umon- The grace is with you (see comment on 4:22).

Obviously the writer and the recipient knew what The Grace was. So I went back through the Epistle to look for a clue and found the words - theou tou sosantos ymas . . .kata idian prothesin kai charin tyn dotheisan ymin en Christo- God who saved us . . . according to a personal plan to save us and the grace given to us in Christ (1:9). And this happened -pro chronon aionion- before the ages of our time began (1:9).

That fanciful translation was suggested by the time frames of C.S.Lewis' Narnia stories. And it took me back to -y prothesis- the plan of the three Persons of the Trinity when they said "Let us make humans according to our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). But that -prothesis- plan would involve all three Persons of the Trinity in the salvation of each human being created and perfected in the image of God. I imagined the Father saying "I will love them by watching over them like a loving parent." The Spirit said "I will love them by being willing to come into their sinful hearts and minds to inspire and empower them to change."

That left the Son to say "I will love them by The Grace of continually being willing to walk with them as Friend, Healer, Forgiver, however much they fail and disappoint me." That -prothesis- plan of God was the saving event (tou sosantos ymas, 1:9) for humanity. And it was -ou kata ta erga ymon- nothing to do with how good we are (1:9).

So the Grace is always with us (4:22), but it can be spurned. From the beginning of our age humans began hearing "the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden" but they quickly chose to refuse his gracious company and hid themselves (Genesis 3:8).

For the Son of God to walk with us is very costly because from the beginning humans have rejected and hurt him. And that cost of walking with us -phanerotheisan de nun dia tys epiphaneias tou sotyros ymon- has now been made visible by the epiphany appearing of the life and crucifixion death of our Saviour Christ right here among us. He was - Iysou katargysamenos men ton thanaton photisantos de zoyn kai aphtharsian dia tou euaggeliou- the Jesus who destroyed the terror of death when he brought the life which is immortal to light and made it known through the preaching of the good news.

The Grace is what I preached as good news this morning. And it was expressed in the words of the liturgy : "He welcomes sinners and invites them to his table" (Canadian Anglican Book of Alternative Service, p.191). That makes the first strand of "The Grace" very visible.

2 Timothy 4:19-22

The Epistle ends with the words -y charis meth umon- The grace is with you.

Those words are often translated as an anaemic prayer "May grace be with you." But in the comments on 1:8-9 I suggest that the grace presence of the Lord has always and always will be with us. We don't have to pray for it. All we have to do is remember he is there and enjoy him.

In the previous sentence Paul reminds Timothy that -o kurios meta tou pneumatos sou- the Lord is with you (4:22 in the singular). But in the final sentence -y charis meth' umon- The Grace is with you (4:22) the plural refers to The Grace being with the three fellow workers who are to be greeted with Timothy -aspasai Prisca kai Akulan kai ton Onysiphorous oikon- Greet Prisca and her husband Aquila and the house church at the home of Onesiphorus (commended in 2 Timothy 1:16-18).

In Acts 18:2 Prisca is given her nickname "Priscilla" (little Prisca) and her name follows the name of her husband. Very soon she is named before her husband as she has taken the lead in teaching Apollos (18:26). Later Prisca and Apollos have a house church meeting in their home probably in Ephesus (Romans 16:3).

Many commentators have assumed that the Epistle was not by Paul, but this ending and the previous explanation of "The grace" (see 1:8-10) hardly looks to me like an unknown hack writer pretending to be Paul. Those again are two alternative interpretative models.

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