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Benedictions

Romans 15:33
The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
NIV

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

A unique feature of the end of Romans is that Paul “concludes” the letter about three times with benedictions (15:13, 33; 16:24/25). The closing benediction is pretty standard with the Apostle, and the instantaneous praise is another normal trademark of the Apostle.

The evangelical church, generally speaking, does not incorporate the formalities of a liturgy into its service. The services have an “order” of progression, but they do not consistently mirror a set pattern and order for each service or each type of service.

The Roman Catholic Church is the best example of a church with a strong liturgy. Depending somewhat upon pastors, the Episcopalian church is very close to the Roman Catholic. Other churches vary more, but many of the mainline churches still closely follow a uniform liturgy. This is not to suggest that liturgies are good or bad, just that not all churches follow a strict pattern.

Because of this, many people may not know the true meaning of doxologies and benedictions. I grew up in a Methodist environment where doxologies and benedictions were clearly highlighted and marked in the order of service. Other churches have such elements in the worship service, but either label them differently or do not place names upon them at all.

The pattern for the proper use of doxologies and benedictions may be found in the letters of the New Testament, and particularly in Paul’s writing, although the basis for these elements goes deep into the Old Testament.

A doxology is a hymn or declaration of praise to God that focuses upon the Almighty’s power and glory. The word doxology does not appear in the pages of Scripture and is merely our way of categorizing these statements of praise. Doxology comes from the Latin “doxologia.” Because of this, there is some mixed usage of the labels. The concept of the praise hymn is frequently found in the Scriptures.

Those following a formal liturgy frequently labeled the “Greater Doxology” (Gloria in Excelsis) is taken from Luke 2:14:

 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

There is a “Lesser Doxology” based upon Scriptural teaching but no specific verse. It is also called the Gloria Patri, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.”

The end of the Lord’s prayer is another doxology:

Matthew 6:13b
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Old Testament examples of doxologies include 1 Chron 29:11; Ps 8:1; 41:14; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48; 150.

Where doxologies are statements of praise, benedictions are properly statements of thanksgiving. Most often in the New Testament, the thanks is given over meals, but the idea stretches well beyond the table.

 Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God

There are specific examples of thanksgiving in Scripture separate and apart from meals. For example, Jesus give thanks to God the Father for hearing his prayer that God reveals the secret things to children and not to the wise (Matt 11:25; Luke 10:21). Jesus also thanks the Father for raising Lazarus (John 11:41). The heavenly hosts praise and thank God for creation (Rev 4:9-11) and for the salvation of humanity (Rev 5:9-14).

A general attitude of graciousness and thanksgiving should be the position of the believer in all situations of life (James 1:1-12). Thus, Paul frequently breaks into praise and thanksgiving as he reflects upon the application of God’s truth as applied to various situations. Most of his letters open with thanksgiving (1:1-4) and, more specifically, Paul has thanked the Romans for their faith (1:8). In the end, we all need to thank God for His glory and recognize that all of the power given to us is directed toward God’s glory (14:1-6). Thus, all praise and glory and honor and thanksgiving come because of God’s power. As such, doxologies and benedictions tend to merge into single statements of God’s majestic character.

All Scriptures taken from the NIV

 

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