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A Three-Part Benediction

2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV) — The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


The Bible never uses the word “Trinity.” This does not mean that the Bible fails to teach the Trinity. The official ways of speaking about God as One God in Three Persons materialized during the work of the Council of Nicaea. The church leaders throughout the Christian world gathered to debate and search Scripture for the best way of speaking about God. Our passage today is one such passage that informed their understanding of the nature of God as Triune. Paul writes a benediction to the church in Corinth to close his letter. The benediction is a blessing over the people reading it. Paul is invoking God’s favor on them. And he spells out specifically who God is in this blessing. 


He asks for “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” If Jesus were not God, then invoking him in a benediction would be worthless. God alone blesses His people. The grace of the Lord Jesus refers not only to the saving grace of his finished work on the cross, but his ruling and reigning grace as the Lord over heaven and earth. He upholds and sustains the universe each moment. If anyone were going to bless, Jesus is the one we look to. 


Then Paul invokes the love of God. He doesn’t reference the term “Father” in this verse—he does so in other places—but refers to the Father as God. We know that because both Jesus the Son is referenced in the verse and the Holy Spirit is referenced, each distinctly. So, the love of God is specifically referencing the love of the Father. God is love. And that love has been shown to the people of God through the sending of the Son into the world to die for sinners. He invokes the Father’s love to be with the church. 


And then the Holy Spirit. It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit he wants to be with the people. It is the Spirit of God that ushers us into fellowship with the Godhead and with one another. The Spirit unites us into union and communion. This text is a perfect reminder that our one God is revealed in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May they be with you all today.

Reflection & Journal: 

- What part of the Trinity is the most difficult for you to understand?

- How does Paul describe each person of the Godhead in this text?   

- In what ways does the text today encourage us to pray toward each person of the Trinity? 

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