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What do airlines, big-box retail stores, restaurants, and churches have in common? Many of them have greeters. Greeters stand at the entrance and welcome you. They are such a common feature these days that we hardly notice them.
Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:21
Paul’s letters often included greetings. Like the letters, emails, and messages we send, friendly greetings like this were often included in letters written during the New Testament era. But Paul observed this custom with a theological twist. For example, in verse 21 he greets “all God’s people,” or as the Greek text puts it, “every saint.” What makes every Christian worthy of this title? Paul reveals the answer in the second phrase of this verse. It is because they are “in Christ Jesus.” This shared bond changes the nature of our relationships with one another. We were once strangers, but we are now part of the same spiritual family. All those who are in Christ are “brothers and sisters.”
The apostle’s mention of “those who belong to Caesar’s household” in verse 22 is a vivid demonstration of the power of the gospel to unite those who come from a wide variety of social backgrounds. This is not a reference to royal family members but to those who served as slaves and freedmen. Paul’s closing benediction reveals the secret that unites such a diverse group into one spiritual family, that he designates as “all God’s people.” It is the shared experience of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 23). When you greet someone in the church, it’s not just about being polite. You are acknowledging the bond you share in Jesus Christ. You are a family, connected by our Savior. Together, we live in Christ.