Nowadays, we authenticate or verify as genuine a person’s identity through such means as government-issued picture ID cards or notarized signatures. Higher standards of proof can be met by fingerprints, retinal scans, or DNA matching. These techniques were not available in the ancient world, of course, so Paul relied on church leaders to recognize his handwriting.
The apostle’s usual mode of writing was to dictate aloud to an amanuensis (secretary). Then he customarily ended his epistles by writing the final greeting in his own hand (2 Thess. 3:17). This served to authenticate the letter, that is, to prove that it really was from Paul and not a false teacher.
As Paul closed this epistle, he asked the Thessalonians to pray for him and his team (1 Thess. 5:25). All believers are to pray for one another. It didn’t matter that the apostle and his fellow missionaries were veteran church planters and the Thessalonians were “baby” believers. In addition to praying faithfully for them, Paul humbly asked them to pray for him.
He couldn’t be there in person, so instead, he asked them to “Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss” (v. 26). A kiss on the cheek was a culturally normal greeting in that day (and still is in some parts of the Middle East), one which Christians had reinterpreted to signify brotherly love (see 1 Peter 5:14). He also requested that his letter be read aloud to the assembled believers (v. 27). Before the advent of the printing press, reading aloud was a normal way of communicating with a group.
Paul closed with one more word of benediction: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (v. 28). God’s grace was supremely important to him, and he often opened and closed his letters by mentioning it.
>> We recommended beginning your study of Paul’s letter by reading it all in one sitting. Why not finish it that way as well? Listening to an NIV audio version takes only eleven minutes!
We ask you to bless our fellow believers, Lord, to strengthen them and protect them from the enemy. Grant them love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.