It’s the way he writes

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As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

2 Thessalonians 3:13-17 [ESV]

Great White Profile | South Padre Island | September 2023

On one level it would not be difficult to identify a letter written by Saul of Tarsus, more commonly known as Paul the missionary. He is a gifted writer, having penned some of the most beautiful and inspiring passages of the New Testament. Think of 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 1; 3; 5; 6; 7; 8; and 12. Consider Philippians 2; Ephesians 1 and 2. Don’t forget Galatians 2 and 5, or 1 Timothy 2. You might want to point out more. These chapters contain phrases and thoughts that hope faithfulness, bring joy, provide hope, inspire faith and extoll love. There are also passages that challenge complacency, correct false-understanding, and demand repentance.

All of the Old and New Testaments are inspired by God. But you must admit that – even within Paul’s letters his request to Timothy, “Bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas” (2 Timothy 4:13), is a bit less edifying on the surface than, “Now these three abide, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). The key being, “on the surface.” For even his request of Timothy reveals a reality about how God works. Whether Paul loaned his cloak to Carpus, or simply forgot it, the fact that he needed it when he wrote to Timothy helps us understand that God works through real people, and Paul was such a real person. Not just the chief of sinners as he identifies himself, but a perhaps forgetful and needy man as well.

But Paul’s unique ability to write and think is a great tool in the hands of God. And in this case Paul needs to let people know it’s really him because they were apparently troubled by questions of Jesus’ Second Coming. He not only wanted to correct their deficient understanding, he wanted to give them peace in the confidence that he was the actual author, and as such completely trustworthy and reliable. If ever there is a hint of self-promotion in Amy of his letters, it is not only to establish his credibility and give the kind of God-ordained guidance he does.

Maybe you have a unique writing style. You might recognize the writing of people like Max Lucado, C.S. Lewis, or William Shakespeare. Whatever your style, I hope somehow we all write in such a way that people are built up, edified, encouraged, and pointed toward the love of God in Jesus Christ, and the grace and peace he offers.

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