Yesterday we saw that there are a host of ingredients that could go into an epistle closing section. One way to use the closing is to select an element and preach an overview of the whole epistle using that text. Some examples:
1. Preaching Final Personal Remarks – Galatians 6:14-15
Paul keeps on reinforcing the big themes of Galatians: it is all about Christ crucified, the promised deliverer, and the work of the Spirit in making us new creatures in relationship with our Abba. Here Paul gives a Christ and Spirit (New Covenant shorthand term) summation, just to reinforce the point already made in chapters 3-4, in the summary of 5:5-6, etc. From these two verses you could effectively preach the whole letter.
2. Preaching Concluding Exhortations – Romans 16:17-20
Paul addressed the issue of a disunited Roman church from the beginning of the letter. The applicational climax in 15:7-13 is brought back here in the final verses of the letter. Romans could be preached or reviewed with this text, as it could with the doxology to follow in 16:25-27.
3. Preaching Closing Prayer – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Again, the big themes of the body of the letter are clearly evident in this single verse: sanctification and anticipation of the Lord’s return.
4. Preaching Prayer Request – Colossians 4:2-4
Not only does Paul offer a “practical” prayer request, but it is focused on the key issue of the whole epistle – the person and mystery of Christ.
5. Preaching Greetings – Romans 16:3-16, 21-23
Paul’s list of connections in Rome gives an insight into the constitution of the church in Rome – several Jewish names among a predominantly Gentile group. This is tricky, but if handled well, this could be a gateway into the issue that Paul has been addressing theologically throughout the letter.
Tomorrow I will almost wrap up the series by looking at doxologies, and then will offer a final post with some big letter-frame preaching suggestions.