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Sunday, May 21, 2017 pm                                                    Ephesians Study 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (40)
Paul’s Farewell
Ephesians 6:20-24

     We have now come to the conclusion of our study of Ephesians.   Paul has established the blessedness of the church of Christ, which is His body.  In this letter, we find Paul beginning by noting the blessings found in Christ Jesus and his prayer for these brethren.  We have seen that chapter 2 appealed to salvation through the grace of God (by faith- 2:8-9).  This led to Paul noting how the sacrifice of Jesus resulted in removing the LOM and in its place bringing in a law for all mankind.  Christ died to bring us together as His people – not to splinter us.  He explains how this was His work given to Him by God – to reveal the mystery that salvation is now available to Gentiles (as well as the Jews).  Then in the 2nd half of this letter Paul appeals to our need for unity and how to achieve it.  In brief summary, it is achieved with great effort, through functionaries (various offices with given responsibilities – 4:11) equipping us to build each other up as the body of Christ, and by us living with proper conduct (chapters 4:17-6:24).

The past 3 lessons have addressed our spiritual warfare (6:1-20) in which we have identified our enemy, described the “armor of God” and our need to pray for one another – with Paul pleading that they pray for him.  We now notice Paul’s concluding remarks.

 I.                     Paul, an ambassador in chains

a.       The term “ambassador” in the NT is only used twice.  (Here and 2 Corinthians 5:20).  
An ambassador is an official and direct representative of a state or ruling authority.  When they speak, it is as if the king (or president or country) is speaking himself.
That is a description of the work of the apostles.  They were chosen by Jesus Himself to deliver His message to the world.  They were given the “keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:18-19). 
Paul, was an apostle with equal authority, though he was appointed later (1 Corinthians 15:8) 
1 Corinthians 9:1 he boldly declares he is an apostle.  In 2 Corinthians he validates his apostleship – 2 Corinthians 11:5 – not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles, also 12:11-12 where he notes that he accomplished the “signs of an apostle”.
Recall how in Ephesians, Paul declared, that even though he was “less than the least of all the saints”, God through grace gave him the task to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8-9)

b.       In chains – Paul is in prison as we have noted on several occasions in this book (3:1, 4:1), very likely in Rome.  Consider what it means to imprison an ambassador.  It shows hostility against the authority they represent.   It can even be an act of war.
Paul is in prison because of hostility against preaching the truth found in Christ Jesus.   

c.        Paul, and we as Christians, will face hostilities as we stand for truth and speak up on behalf of our Lord.  Be reminded of 2 Timothy 3:12 – all who desire to live godly will suffer persecutions.  But we cannot let that deter us from standing for what is right.

 II.                   Faithful ministers (21-22)

a.       Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister. 
We read about Tychicus a few times in the New Testament.  He was a travel companion of Paul, especially on his third jourey (Acts 20:4).
In addition to our text, we also read of him in Colossians 4:7 – where he will bring news to those brethren, 2 Timothy 4:12 (Paul sent him to Ephesus), and Titus 3:12 where Paul intends to possibly send him to Titus. 
He was described as part of Paul’s spiritual family – a beloved brother AND as a faithful minister (one who serves) and can be counted upon.  Be reminded of 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – a faithful steward
Paul had many such travelers and friends.  They were able to help him accomplish what needed to be done.  They were couriers, and trusted preachers and teachers and workers he could leave behind or send somewhere with confidence.    Many of these individuals we know very little about them, BUT God’s knows who they are.

b.       He will make known Paul’s his affairs, and comfort your hearts – the tasks Tychicus would be involved in were all beneficial and designed to build up.   Let’s make sure that we are doing this for one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

c.        We need friends.  We need our spiritual family.  We need those in whom we can confide when we are struggling, need help doing something, or just to be there with us as we carry on in life. 
That is a lesson I see in all these names.
I also see the value of friends of “like precious faith” whose spiritual interests are alike.  When it comes to serving God, let THEM be the family we turn to for strength. (Romans 12:10, etc.)

 III.                 Peace, love and faith

a.       In his final benediction – we find here a final “blessing” (worded as a short prayer) from Paul in which he mentions typical qualities we need as brethren.  Let’s consider them in light of this letter and his appeal for unity.

b.       Peace – is that not our goal?  Peace with God, with our brethren (what he specifically mentions here), and with ourselves. Peace is mentioned 7 times in Ephesians
- 1:2 – in his greetings
- 2:14-15 (2x) Paul described how Christ is our peace, having broken down the middle wall of separation and made Jew and Gentile one – a theme we have emphasized throughout our study of this book. This has made peace
- 2:17 – He came and preached this peace to “you who were afar off and to those who were near” (reference to Jew and Gentile alike). 
- 4:3 – we are to be endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  When there is true unity there will be peace
- 6:15 – the gospel of peace is part of our armor
- 6:23 – our text

c.        Love - Christian love that binds us together.  The Greek word, agape.   This term is found some 19 times in this letter
- 2:4 (2x) – God, with great love with which He loved us (and mercy and grace) saved us, through the sending His Son
- 3:17-19 (2x) – the unfathomable love Christ is something we seek to know (understand), though its greatness can never be fully appreciated.  But as Christ dwells in us, we are rooted and grounded in this love.
- 4:2 – in seeking unity, we are bearing with one another in love
- 4:15-16 (3x) – being brought together as the body of Christ, we speak the truth in love (to one another and always), and as we all do our part it causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
- 5:25-33 (6x) – Paul appeals to how husbands are to love their wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
- 6:23-24 (2x) – twice in Paul’s farewell remarks to these brethren.
It is understanding of this love for God and one another that prompts us to pursue godly peace. 

d.       Faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Faith (again) is believing and trusting God.
It is our like precious faith in God that gives us purpose and reason to seek unity.  Faith (and faithful) is found 10 times in Ephesians
- 1:1 - Paul begins by acknowledging the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
- 1:15 – commending their faith in Him, Paul prays for them.
- 2:8 – faith is descriptive of our part in salvation
- 3:12 – through our faith, we have confident access in Christ
- 4:5 – Paul notes there is “one faith” – one united system of belief.
- 4:13 – in the church God has given us what we need, “till we come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…
- 6:16 – it too is a part of our armor – our shield
- 6:23 – used in our text, as an accompaniment to our love.  

 IV.                 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

a.       In Paul’s concluding statement, he appeals to the grace of God once again. 

b.       Notice how he acknowledges WHO will enjoy the grace of God, those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. 
God’s grace is available to all, but not all will receive it – because not all love Him in sincerity.  Many PROFESS to love Him, but their actions betray them – cf. John 14:15 – if you love Me, keep My commandments.  Also 15:21 and 1 John 5:2-3. 
While there are many ways we love our Lord in sincerity, I mention (again) just one here – we manifest that love through our achieving unity with one another.  John 13:34-35.

 

And thus we conclude our study of the book of Ephesians.  May we appreciate the body of Christ that Paul has sought to introduce to us.  Let us strive to live in manner he has thus described.  Think about it!  AMEN!