We recently finished a study of 2 Corinthians on Wednesday nights at Rockville. The last verse of the letter is a closing blessing that Paul is sending to his Christian family in Corinth:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14)
Even in this heartfelt closing to a letter we find profound theology. All 3 persons of the godhead are mentioned along with an attribute that maybe best captures what each provides:
The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ - While grace is seen throughout the Bible, it is realized in Jesus Christ (John 1:17). It is the ultimate gift that comes through one man - the Lord Jesus (Romans 5:15, 17). This is the same grace we see earlier in 2 Corinthians when we are told that Jesus embraced poverty so that we who are in Him might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). This second person of the godhead comes down to be born as one of us, a gift to earth from heaven. He is the ultimate and defining expression of grace.
The Love of God - God is Love (1 John 4:8), perhaps as His most essential characteristic. Part of how we know that the love of God is as eternal as God’s existence is lies in the Triune nature of God. To have love, one must have community. Love is always relational. It is a meaningless word without objects of love. God is a community of loving relationship even within Himself. Jesus often refers to this love He receives from the Father (John 3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 15:9). He even says this love between God the Father and God the Son has existed before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). The Father is the initiator of the love shared with the Son, that the Son shared with humanity, and that humanity is now charged to share with each other (John 15:9).
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit - The Spirit of God is the finisher of the work initiated by the Father. The Father creates the idea, the Son brings it into existence (incarnates it), and the Spirit finishes the ongoing work in and among the world. Part of this finishing work of God is unifying the people who have experienced the love of the Father and the grace of Jesus into one body. As the body of Christ, we are sharers in everything from worship and study (Acts 2:42) to food and other material goods (Acts 2:44-46). How is such fellowship possible? Because we who are many and are different in many ways were made to drink of one Spirit when we were baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, there is a unity among Christians brought about by the Spirit in a way that reflects the unity in diversity that we see in God Himself (Ephesians 4:3-4). Part of the power and motivation for the charge to the Philippians to be of the same mind, love, spirit, and purpose (Philippians 2:2) is “the fellowship of the Spirit” (Philippians 2:1).
What a beautiful Triune God whom we serve! And what a blessing to live within His Grace, His Love, and His Fellowship.
To His Glory,