Author: Ron Graham
Salutation, Doxology, Benediction
—Paul’s letter to the Galatians
Having noted the letter’s background and structure, we now turn to the text. We start with the three elements which are common in New Testament writings.
- Salutation (words of greeting)
- Doxology (words of praise)
- Benediction (words of blessing)
These are important elements of Christian communication. Words of greeting, praise, and blessing should become natural upon our lips. They are not expressions of empty sentiment or reserved only for church services. Salutation, doxology, and benediction may often grace "the need of the moment" (Ephesians 4:29) in everyday life, to enrich our fellowship with one another.
1 Salutation (words of greeting)
At the start of the letter (Galatians 1:1-3), Paul reminds the Galatians of his credentials, and mentions his present companions in Christ. Then he offers the customary greeting, "Grace and peace to you". This is like saying, "I hope good things are coming your way and your life is free of trouble". It's a way of saying, "I care about you".
We could say the formula of words, "Grace and peace!" without meaning it. On the other hand we could say, "G'day" or "How are you?" and mean exactly, "I hope good things are coming your way and your life is free of trouble". Even when a greeting is fleeting, it can still be heartfelt.
2 Doxology (words of praise)
Paul then offers a short poem of praise and glory to God for his sacrifice of deliverance. "...God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore, Amen". (Galatians 1:4-5).
Many such doxologies appear in scripture. For example Mary’s exaltation of the Lord (Luke 1:46) and the familiar "Holy, Holy, Holy..." (Revelation 4:8,11)
3 Benediction (words of blessing)
At the end of Galatians Paul offers blessings. These are like little sentence prayers directed at once to God above and to the persons for whom the blessing is intended.
Paul writes, "Those who are willing to walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16), Then he ends his letter, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit brethren, Amen." (Galatians 6:18).
These words of blessing remind us of the beloved priestly benediction, "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26).