May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 2 Peter 2:1
The apostle Paul starts all of his letters with the prayer that “grace and peace” will come to the reader. But he never uses a verb. He never says, “Grace and peace be to you,” or, “Grace and peace come to you.” He assumes the verb.
Peter makes it explicit. He begins both his letters, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” I think Paul would be very happy with this verb. It’s what he means when he says thirteen times, “Grace to you and peace.” The verb behind “be multiplied” is used twelve times in the New Testament and always means “increase” — a move from lesser to greater.
The first thing we may move toward is that grace and peace are experienced.
Grace and peace are not only the objective status we enjoy before God. They are also the experiential enjoyment of that status. It is gloriously true that God made an objective peace between him and us by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:14–15). And he did it by a historical act of divine grace that was firm and unchangeable (Ephesians 2:8).
We note that Peter says that grace and peace are “multiplied” to us. They are not static. They are not only a status. Peter is offering to us, and praying for us, that we experience an increase of grace and peace.
He does not mean that God is variable, as if he were a gracious God some days and not others. Nor does he mean that the objective status of peace between us and God comes and goes. If we stand in the unshakeable grace of God (Romans 5:2), and if we are reconciled to God in unchangeable peace (Romans 5:1), then what is multiplied to us is an increased and deepened experience of grace and peace. This reality is not simply a status. It is the overflow from status to a sweet, gentle strength.
We also learn, from this phrase that grace and peace vary in measure in our lives.
That is what the word “multiply” means. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” May there be an increase of grace and peace in your life. Grace and peace are not static. They go up and up in our lives.
Hour by hour, and day by day, grace and peace change. They continually supply for us, no matter the need. We need to own it and seek continually to receive the gift of these words: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Like the manna from heaven, grace and peace must be gathered in new measures for new moments.
From this posture of daily and moment by moment gathering of grace, we discover that there is always more grace and peace than we could ever need.
Paul and Peter never assume your present capacity of grace and peace cannot or should not be increased. They assume the opposite. They do not say, or imply, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you, unless you have all there is to have.” You never have all there is to have. That’s why this prayer is at the beginning of every letter. You always need more grace, more peace.
Since Paul doesn’t use a verb (“grace to you and peace”), you might try to water down his meaning to something like: “I pray you are now enjoying grace and peace.” No increase implied. You would try in vain. The word “to you” implies movement. Grace and peace are on the way. More is coming!
With Peter, there is no doubt what he means. He makes it explicit with a verb. The word “be multiplied” means “be increased,” “be more,” “be expanded.” He assumes we need more grace and peace. And we do. In this life we will never be able to say, “I have arrived. I have all the grace and peace I can use.” No you don’t. If there is more coming, you can have more. And you need more.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). The Christian life is not static. It is movement. We are growing in grace and peace, or we are going backward.
Real life in a fallen world is like a river. You go upstream with growth, or you go downstream. There’s no standing still. Your anchor is not straight down. It’s in heaven (Hebrews 6:19). And it is pulling you in, and upstream.
If grace and peace are multiplied, they can only be multiplied by God.
Peter uses the passive voice, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” The implied supplier is God. We are stewards of “God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). Grace does not just happen, it comes from God. “God gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Peter’s prayer is that God act on our behalf. “May God multiply grace to you and peace!” It is my prayer as well.