“May the love of the Father,
the grace of His Son,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forevermore.
And may you know God’s smile.”

AndrewMills-168You hear it at the end of every service here at Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church, but have you ever wondered what it was?

The English word “benediction” is derived from the Latin words bene which means “good” and diction which means “words.” In a religious context, it would refer to good words spoken to another on behalf of God. In other words, it is a blessing and not a prayer because it is directed to people rather than to God.

The benediction was a significant part of the regular worship of Israel. Leviticus 9:22-23 describes one of the worship services saying, “Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.”

You may be wondering how Aaron blessed the people. Thankfully we know exactly how he blessed them. He used a benediction that was given directly from God.

“The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22-26)

The tradition of blessing is continued in the New Testament. It tends to be coupled with a charge to do God’s will. For example, the Great Commission includes a charge and benediction that Jesus gave following his resurrection: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The benediction that we use frequently at Tuskawilla comes from 2 Corinthians 13:14. There are many other benedictions given throughout the Bible. In case you are looking for a good way to conclude your emails, here are ten more:

  • “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:7)
  • “The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Rom. 15:33)
  • “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” (Eph. 6:23-24)
  • “Now may the Lord of Peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. the Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thess. 3:16)
  • “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Tim. 1:2)
  • “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” (2 Tim. 4:22)
  • “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21)
  • “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (1 Pet. 5:14)
  • “Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Pet. 1:2)
  • “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, and the rulers of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:4-5)

Fun fact: The simple parting used by Spanish-speaking people, “Adios,” is a blessing that can be translated: “Go with God.”