1Th 5:25-27 “Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
Paul’s request and desire for the brethren to pray for him and his companions is powerful in its simplicity. He has admonished and encouraged the Thessalonian church in their walk in the Lord. He has prayed for God to keep them wholly blameless unto the drawing near of Jesus. Now Paul is expressing in these simple words the great need he feels for the help of the brethren: “pray for us.”
Paul and, to some extent, others who traveled with him had already suffered much persecution. They were viewed by the ruling counsel as common criminals inciting the people to rebellion. Men who made their living fashioning idols of silver and gold opposed Paul and the others because they were costing them money with their preaching of this One God who was not fashioned by men’s hands. There were many who loved these men that preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and many more who would gladly see them dead.
Paul never asked in any of his letters for the brethren to pray that he would not suffer any more. He never gave any indication that he thought it unreasonable that the Lord would allow him to be beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. He only asked that the brethren pray for him, and the tone of his letters leaves us with the feeling that his desire was for them to pray that he might continue to endure for the cause of Christ (Eph 6:20).
It was also evident in his letters that he expected the brethren to treat each other with love. He was not interested in them observing social norms of greeting. In many of the cultures of Paul’s day (and still today in some countries) it was customary to greet one another with a kiss on the cheek, much like our modern-day practice of shaking hands. Paul called on the church to be sure this was more than observing social custom for them.
As brethren our greeting to each other, whether by handshake, a hug, or a kiss on the cheek, should be a sign of our love for each other as anchored in Jesus Christ. Our greeting to each other should always come with the realization that being able to salute one another with love and peace comes from God through our Lord Jesus Christ and is motivated by the Holy Spirit within us. As Paul admonished, our greeting of one another should be seen for the holy blessing that it is.
We have a responsibility to our brethren that we love to share the word of God freely and without hesitation. Holy brethren, sanctified and set apart by God to His service, need to hear and know the word of God. The Greek word rendered here as “read” literally means “to know again (see Strong’s).” Paul was not telling the church at Thessalonica anything new in his letter, but it is needful for us to know again and again the word that God has sent to us (2Pe 1:12, 3:1, 1Jn 2:21).
In all of this, we are insufficient in ourselves. We cannot keep these things, love one another, or give heed to the scripture with understanding on our own. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ must be with us. We study and share and endure and know according to the same power that worked in Paul, Timothy, Silas and all the other faithful brethren. So be it (amen).
May God bless us to remember each other in prayer, to love in holiness, and to speak often one to another of the word of God!