2 Thessalonians 3:17 “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.”
When you know someone well, it is easy to identify his or her handwriting. Each person has a particular way of putting the printed word on the page. We even use our signatures to verify our identity on documents. As a notary public I check a signer’s driver’s license if I do not know them, but when they are personally known there is no need for this proof. I can vouch for their signature because of our relationship.
When I was young my grandfather sometimes sat at the table and practiced his signature. He loved to write and his name was penned in old-style, free-flowing loops and clipped lines. I would recognize it anywhere. If I found a piece of paper where he had been practicing I would know his writing even if his name were not on it.
At the end of the book of 2 Thessalonians Paul gives a personal comment about his own handwriting. In a time where scribes would often take dictation, Paul mentions that this letter is penned with his very own hand and that it is a distinguishing mark in every letter. It seems strange that he would stress that this is the way he writes, and you wonder why he was making such a big deal about it.
But at the beginning of chapter 2 Paul warns the Thessalonians not to let anyone deceive and upset them. It seems there were certain individuals who were giving false information about the Lord’s return to earth, saying it had already happened. They were speaking the disturbing news and also writing letters about it. It seems Paul wanted his spiritual children to recognize his handwriting so a false letter that may have been forged or just written with usurped authority would not take them in.
Over and over again Paul warns about false teachers and religious leaders. It was a real problem then and just as much a problem now. There are so many who spout pious words and act as if they have truth, but their words do not line up with Scripture.
As you enter college or any new setting you must be very sure to verify that God’s signature is on any organization you consider getting involved in. Check out the doctrinal statement and make sure it follows biblical truth in all matters. Study for yourself what God’s word says so you will be able to recognize any inconsistencies in teaching.
I would recognize my grandfather’s handwriting anywhere. It is emblazoned in my brain. Let’s make sure that we recognize God’s distinguishing mark just as quickly. Knowing His mark is the only way to ensure that we stay connected to the truth.