Hello, Grace, and Peace

By Mark D. Roberts

June 10, 2024

Life in Christ: Devotions Inspired by Philippians

Scripture — Philippians 1:1-2 (NRSV)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with this greeting: “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This distinctive greeting reflects, not only Paul’s diverse cultural context, but also his conviction that divine grace and peace as essential realities of life in Christ.

This devotion is part of the series Life in Christ: Devotions Inspired by Philippians.


Have you ever wondered why we say “Hello” as a greeting when answering the phone? Usually, we take this word for granted, of course. But it can be interesting to know a bit of its history.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “hello” is a variant of the word “hallo,” which was used to get someone’s attention or express surprise. (Ebenezer Scrooge uses “hallo” in that way in A Christmas Carol, Stave V). According to an article published by NPR, our usage of “Hello” to answer the phone began with Thomas Edison. Ironically, the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, preferred to answer the phone by saying “Ahoy,” common among sailors. But Edison liked “Hello,” and for some reason his preference caught on. Bell seems to have stayed with “Ahoy” for his entire life. In time, “Hello” became a common greeting in addition to its telephonic usage.

The letter of Paul to the Philippians begins with a greeting that was both common and uncommon in the first century A.D.: “Grace to you and peace.” In that time, Greek letters began with chairein, the infinitive of the verb “to rejoice,” which means “greetings” (for example, Acts 23:26; James 1:1). Paul chose instead to use the word charis, which means “grace” and sounds a lot like chairein. To this he added the word eirēnē, which means “peace” in Greek and echoes the traditional Hebrew greeting, shalom. So, “grace and peace” is a Christianized greeting that combines both Greek and Jewish elements. As far as we know, Paul himself coined this particular greeting, which shows up not only in Paul’s letters but also in several later New Testament letters (1 Pet, 2 Pet, Rev). Paul’s invention is rather like when a Christian ends a letter with “Yours in Christ” rather than the common secular ending “Yours truly.” Paul took that which was culturally common and tweaked it to carry a new message.

But Paul wasn’t simply trying to be clever. Rather, he was highlighting two of the most important truths about the Christian faith. Grace is, of course, the very ground of our salvation. We are saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph 2:8). Apart from God’s grace, we are without hope.

Peace is what comes as a result of divine grace, God’s unmerited favor. When we receive God’s grace through faith, we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). Moreover, because of what Christ did on the cross, “he is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He forges peace, not only between us and God, but also between people as we are reconciled to each other through the cross (Eph 2:15-17).

Thus, Paul greets the recipients of his letter by wishing them grace and peace, but not just any old grace and peace. Rather, he offers “Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2). Yes, this is a clever greeting. Yes, it ties together common Greek and Roman greetings. But also it underscores two of the most important realities of Christian faith, the grace and peace that come from God through Christ.

Inspired by the Apostle Paul, I commonly end my correspondence with the closing words, “Grace and Peace.” I do this because I truly want those to whom I’m writing to experience God’s grace and God’s peace. I expect many Christians will know that I’m imitating Paul. Those unfamiliar with the Bible might wonder about such an odd way to close a letter. But no matter the recipient of my writing, I do hope that they truly know God’s grace through Jesus Christ and the transformational peace to which it leads.


When you hear the word “grace,” what comes to mind for you?

Similarly, what comes to mind when you hear the word “peace”?

How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?

How have you experienced God’s peace?


Find a way to share God’s grace and/or peace with someone today. (You don’t have to use those words, of course.)


Gracious God, thank you for your grace. Without your unmerited favor, we would be truly lost and without hope. But you look upon us and act toward us with grace, saving grace, healing grace, renewing grace. How marvelous! Thank you!

Thank you also for the peace you give us through Christ. Yes, we can have peace with you, a lasting relationship of intimacy and love. Moreover, through Christ, we can experience peace with other people. This is your wish for us, your gracious provision through Christ. Thank you!

Help us, dear Lord, to be people who not only receive your gifts of grace and peace, but also who give these gifts to others. Help me, I pray, to be a channel of your grace and peace today. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Introduction to Philippians.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

More on Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (2)

  1. Frederic A Parker

    June 11, 2024

    7:50 am

    Assuming that you have an international ministry, / audience, you might want to remember that “Hello” is a western convention. Many people in the world answer the phone differently.
    For instance, Chinese answer with word that sounds like “Weigh !!.” In Japan they answer with “moshi moshi,” which means something like “speak to me.”
    The Bible itself reflects Middle Eastern culture and expression that sometimes doesn’t make complete sense to us Westerners or to Far Easteners. Missionaries and translators around the world struggle to express God’s Word in ways that make sense to that audience.
    I recommend we keep that in mind, even as we encounter more and more folks from foreign cultures who need God’s Word in their own language.
    An article like this doesn’t require a major rewrite. Perhaps all this needs is to lead off with something like, “We all have standard greetings that we use on the phone. We here in the West generally answer with “Hello,” which comes from … .” You may have a different greeting.”
    That easily segues into you discussion of Paul and his way of greeting.
    I offer this as a small way to respect all of the cultures we encounter in our ministries.
    Thank you.

    • Mark Roberts

      June 11, 2024

      4:32 pm

      True! Mostly our readers are in the U.S., but some are international. Do you know any English greeting that is more universal? I can’t think of one but would be open to your thoughts.

Learn Learn Learn Learn

the Life for Leaders newsletter

Learn Learn Learn Learn