Sunday, April 23, 2017 pm                                                        Ephesians Index 

Ephesians 6:18-24

     Tonight we conclude our study of the book of Ephesians.  In this letter Paul has explained the unity that was according to God’s eternal purpose.  A unity in the church which Christ made possible by His death on the cross.  In that act He ended the enmity that existed between Jew and Gentile and made us one in Him.  The latter half of Ephesians then proceeded to describe how we are to conduct ourselves, especially toward one another.

     In Paul’s concluding exhortation, he addressed how together we are at war against Satan and his forces.  To combat him, we need to put on the armor of God which we addressed in our last lesson (Ephesians 6:14-17).  Tonight we resume with Paul’s request for the prayers of these brethren.  And we will conclude our study with his final admonitions in this letter.

 I.                     Praying always

a.       This is part of our warfare as we put on the armor of God.  Every successful army has effective communication – knowledge of who the enemy is and direction in engaging that enemy. 
He has communicated with us through His word (given us our directions to engage and defeat the enemy).  We need to communicate with Him through prayer. 
Why? 1) Because He tells us to!
2) Because as we engage this enemy, we cannot do it alone.  We need the help of God.  We DARE not seek to engage this battle alone.  All the spiritual armor we put on ourselves will not replace our need for God to be with us.  Prayer is the acknowledgment that we realize we need Him with us (cf. Romans 8:31, If God be for us, who can be against us?  8:37-39, Through Him we are more than conquerors – against principalities, powers, things present [i.e. the rulers of darkness of this age, etc.], and things to come.)

b.       We need to pray always – something emphasized several times in the NT both by command and example - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; Romans 12:12 – we ought to always pray and not lose heart; parables of persistence – Luke 11:5-10, 18:1(1-8), Colossians 4:2 – continue earnestly in prayer, etc.)

c.        With all prayer and supplication in the Spiritprayer is the general word used for prayer,
supplication is a prayer of earnest request, often with a sense of urgency.
We pray, “in the Spirit” – considering the text, this could mean our spirit (earnestly, with proper attitude – cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15); or it could be praying in the Holy Spirit (with Him as our guide – cf. Romans 8:26).  BOTH are truthful and essential in our prayers.

d.       Being watchful to this end with all perseverance
Our prayers offered in this spiritual battle are not offered flippantly.  Paul here mentions
Being watchful – alert, sober – 1 Peter 4:7 – the end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers; Colossians 4:2 – continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; Mark 13:33 – take heed and watch, for you do not know when the time is; 14:38 – in the garden, “watch and pray lest you enter into temptation
With perseverance – we are enduring.  We are not giving up!  The word is defined as firm persistence, even as we deal with difficulties.   This word is only used in this text.  BUT the idea of perseverance is found throughout the NT – Romans 5:3-4 – tribulation produces perseverance; 2 Peter 1:6 – that with which we strive to reach for perfection; and James 5:11 which speaks of the perseverance of Job.
- Consider how war is an ugly thing. Seldom is a war won with a single battle – it is a series of skirmishes, some won and some lost.  But with perseverance often comes the victory. 
We are reminded of our continued need to endure or persevere both in prayers and moving forward in our spiritual battles – be reminded of the continued prayers of our Lord, and the frequency of Paul’s prayers, and how Abraham continually called upon the name of the LORD everywhere he went, etc.
Hebrews 10:36 – you have need of endurance; Hebrews 12:2 – let us run the race with endurance.

 II.                   Praying for each other

a.       Supplication for all the saints – we have already addressed supplication.  Here, we find our supplications are not just earnest prayers for our own struggles, but also for the struggles of others.
AGAIN, in warfare, seldom is the battle one on one.  We amass armies, sometimes large, to engage the enemy with strength and hopefully, together we can overpower them.
Pray for one another – 1 Timothy 2:1 – we pray for all men.
James 5:16 – we are to be praying for one another.
Romans 15:30, “strive together with me in prayers to God for me…”
1) Our brethren, who are struggling in their personal battles against Satan need our prayers.
2) Those who are fighting on the battle field for souls need our prayers
3) When our own “allies” (i.e. our brethren) have turned against us, even in the slightest of things, we need to be praying for them that our differences can be resolved. 
Friends, among the blessings of prayer is how praying for one another enhances our fellowship with each other.  It can draw us closer as we are thinking more and more about each other. 
As one author noted, “We pray for forgiveness, for safety, for strength, for health, for support in times of grief and loss, for physical blessing and prosperity, and for many other wonderful favors from God.” (Truth Commentary, GOT foundation, Ephesians, pp.318-319)

b.       Prayers for Paul (vs. 19) – he asks that they pray for Him.  2 Thessalonians 3:1 – pray for us that the word may run swiftly.
2 Corinthians 1:9-11 where Paul speaks of them “helping together in prayer for us…” ,
Again we find personal prayers for individuals, including our leaders – those entrusted with the word and those who are striving to teach others – they need our prayers. 

c.        For the furtherance of the gospel – this is our goal, our objective.
In vs. 19-20 we find what Paul is asking for.  Notice he is not here asking for his personal comforts (since he is in prison and facing personal troubles), nor personal struggles with sin – though such things would be appropriate.
But here Paul is concerned about the spreading of God’s word.

                                                   i.      Paul’s desire that utterance (logos) be given to him - same word as John 1:1 used to describe Jesus as “the Word” and 1 Peter 3:15 – give a reason for the hope that is in you.  Here Paul’s desire is not just to utter syllables, but coherent thought with which he can give a defense. 

                                                 ii.      That he may speak boldly making known the mystery of the gospel, and speak as he ought to speak – sometimes saying what needs to be said is unpleasant and subject to being rejected.  Especially when here we consider that Paul is speaking of “the mystery of the gospel” – a reference to Paul being entrusted with presenting the fullness of the gospel to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-9). There may be times we know that a preacher or teacher is going into a difficult circumstance – maybe a foreign field, or dealing with someone who has rejected or challenged the truth.  Perhaps elders are called upon to go and deal with an ungodly soul facing disciplinary action unless they repent, or they have to deal with a couple that are against one another.
Such times call for our prayers – that they may with boldness speak what they ought to speak.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20)
Colossians 4:2-4, Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

                                                iii.      Finally, we are reminded that Paul is an ambassador in bonds.  This description is reserved for the apostles.  Used only here and in 2 Corinthians 5:20. An ambassador is a direct representative as the apostles were.  Today, we may be representatives of Christ, but not with the direct authority of an apostle.  We are simply messengers delivering His message.  This expression show’s Paul’s authority in presenting this letter.

     We will address Paul’s ambassadorship in our next and final lesson as we bring our study of Ephesians to its conclusion.  In our study today, may we be reminded of the importance of prayer as Christians and may we pray for one another as we ought to.  Think about it.