v3-5 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
This is the gospel in a nutshell. Grace and peace to you (v3); glory to God (v5).
The only thing we contribute is our sins. We don’t play any role in delivering ourselves except putting ourselves in the position of needing to be delivered in the first place. Jesus does all the delivering. Our role is to glorify God as he delivers us and as we receive his grace and peace.
The definition of “grace” is free and unmerited favour. We learn from Ephesians 2v7 that God has immeasurable riches of the stuff, and he wants to display those riches in kindness towards us.
“Peace” is calmness, or the absence of war. Our sins meant we were at war with God, but he gave himself for our sins in order to make peace, and we can rest calmly and peacefully in the knowledge that our salvation is secure in Christ.
When Paul mentions the “present evil age”, I don’t know about you, but my first thoughts were about the kinds of things the Christian Institute campaigns against; the obvious sins that are prevalent in our society: abortion, binge-drinking, sexual promiscuity, etc… We immediately think about other people’s sins. But Paul’s not talking about other people’s sins. Paul says “he gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age”. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about those widespread obvious sins of our nation, but we certainly shouldn’t allow ourselves to think we’re ok because we haven’t participated in those particular sins. We should be concerned about the aspects of the present evil age that we get drawn into. The present evil age idolises money, possessions and entertainment, and takes pride in being more moral than the next person. How Christians get caught up in these more “respectable sins” could be a topic for another time, but we are guilty, and God’s grace extends to giving himself for our respectable sins as well as the ones we’re really ashamed of.
Because Jesus does all the work in delivering us, and all we do is receive grace and peace freely from God, we don’t get any of the credit for it. All the glory goes to God himself.
This is all “according to the will of our God and Father” (v4). We didn’t even think to ask God to come up with a way of saving us; it was all part of his sovereign plan to display his immeasurable, glorious grace.
Paul could’ve just said “according to the will of God”, but he chooses to remind us of our adoption into God’s family: “according to the will of our God and Father”.
I’m reminded of the parable of the prodigal son. The son who’d gone off and wasted his father’s possessions wanted to work as one of his father’s servants to earn his way back, but that wasn’t allowed, because the will of the father was to welcome him back into the family as a beloved son, forgiven entirely on the basis of the father’s free grace.