Paul's Token
2 Thessalonians 3:17
The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is the token in every letter: so I write.…

was the mark by which to tell an authentic epistle of his from those forged letters with which false brethren had troubled the Church (2 Thessalonians 2:2). At first sight it seems to us too audacious for any one to have conceived the thought of writing a letter under the name of Paul; but, on the other hand, we must recollect several points.

1. St. Paul's genuine first epistle, in spite of its claim to inspiration (1 Thessalonians 4:15), could not yet have acquired in the eyes of the Thessalonians the sanctity it wears for us. They had no notion of such a thing as Holy Scripture; and even if they had, St. Paul was a familiar figure, a mechanic, who had just left them, not yet invested with the heroic halo.

2. Such literary forgeries were not uncommon in that age, and scarcely considered reprehensible, unless they were framed to inculcate with authority some heretical teaching. Apocryphal gospels soon after abounded, under false titles, and works fathered on Clement and other great Church teachers.

3. There need not always have been a direct intention to deceive the readers as to the authorship; but the renowned name acted as a tempting advertisement for the work, and the theories thus shot forth hit their mark; whether the real authorship were discovered or not mattered little in comparison. Such points must be borne in mind before we accept as genuine any of the early Christian writings.

(Canon Mason.)There is the suggestion here that other letters may have passed between the apostle and the Thessalonian believers. If there were such a correspondence, we may regard it as having no doctrinal interest, and so was allowed to disappear. The amanuensis — probably Timothy — has now finished his work, and the apostle authenticates it. He gives his sign manual as a guarantee of the genuineness of the letter. He calls attention to it. Though his readers were doubtless acquainted with it, he asks them to mark it well — its large and, it may be, uncouth characters (Galatians 6:11) were to be "the token" in every epistle he might in future send to them or to others, where attestation was needful. "So I write."

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

WEB: The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write.

The Lord of Peace and the Peace of the Lord
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