Conclusion to Ephesians Sentence by Sentence

It took a long time, but the task has been completed. The series I started a couple of years ago is now done. Ephesians has been translated, explained and applied one sentence at a time. From here, we must go beyond the words themselves and look at the history, the culture, the geography, and the rhetoric. Such things will not be part of this series, but they should be part of our studies.

I am hoping that this series will make it into a book form. In its current first draft form, it runs about 110 pages. It needs to be formatted and edited, with discussion questions, diagrams, and other supplements added, but the major task has been completed.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:24

ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἀγαπώντων τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν Ἱησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ. Grace with all the ones who love our Lord Jesus Christ in imperishability.

Paul concludes his letter with a desire for grace to be or to be given to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he adds ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ at the end. Are these words modifying Jesus, therefore claiming Christ to be immortal? Are they modifying τῶν ἀγαπώντων, thus describing the love as undying? Or are these words modifying the grace that Paul desired to be with the believers? If it is the latter, then Paul is requesting for grace to be with the believers with imperishability. The two go hand-in-hand with this view (“grace and imperishability be with those who love the Lord”). It seems best to see ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ in relation to τῶν ἀγαπώντων, indicating the manner of the love for Christ. Paul is wishing grace to be given to all those who incorruptibly love the Lord.

Grace be with all those who incorruptibly love our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul hoped the best for his readers and listeners. He wanted them to have God’s meritless favor. But it is important to understand the idea of incorruptibility. He wants everyone who loves the Lord Jesus Christ in an undying, imperishable, incorruptible manner to have grace. Those who receive grace are those who do not wane in their love for Christ. The love remains steadfast, unwavering, and uninterrupted. We must be righteous as he is righteous, and we must be faithful as he is faithful. Our love must not fail. We must be fully dedicated. Our hearts must be committed. We are to identify ourselves among the saints as those who love Christ unwaveringly. Those who love Christ in such a way have grace. To love Christ is to have God’s favor.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:23

Εἰρήνη τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς καὶ ἀγάπη μετὰ πίστεως ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καἰ κυρίου Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul begins to close the letter by wishing peace and love with faith to his readers and listeners. The dative articular noun, ἀδελφοῖς, means “brothers,” but because women were not addressed, we should understand this term to include the entire audience, and not simply the men. Those in the audience are desired by Paul to be the recipients of peace and love. Along with peace and love, Paul wants them to have faith. All three, peace, love, and faith, come from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace be to the brothers and sisters and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must never forget that peace, love, and faith all find their source in someone other than ourselves. It is God who enables us to love, who grants us peace, and who ingrains in us faith. Paul wanted his recipients to have all of these things. Are we so nice? Are we hoping the best for each other? Are we wanting the best from God for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Perhaps we should search ourselves and check our hearts whenever we interact or correspond with a fellow believer.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:21-22

Ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ κατ᾽ ἐμέ, τί πράσσω, πάντα γνωρίσει ὑμῖν Τύχικος ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς καὶ πιστὸς διάκονος ἐν κυρίῳ, ὃν ἔπεμψα πρὸς ὑμᾶς εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, ἵνα γνῶτε τἀ περὶ ἡμῶν καὶ παρακαλέσῃ τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν. But that you also might know what according to me, what I am doing, everything he will make known Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, whom I sent to you to this very thing, that you might know the things concerning us and it might comfort your hearts.

Paul now transitions from his prayer request to his intentions. Paul uses the subjunctive to indicate his end-goal for sending Tychicus. He wanted his readers and listeners to know his circumstances (τὰ κατ᾽ ἐμέ, “the things with respect to me”). He wanted them to know what he was doing. For this purpose, he sent Tychicus to fill them in on what was going on, so that the end-result would be his readers and listeners would be informed. And who is Tychicus? He is the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord. Paul sent him for the end-purpose of revealing to them the things concerning both Paul and Tychicus and comfort their hearts. He wanted them to be informed and to be comforted as a result of Tychicus’ news.

But so that you might also know my circumstances, what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved borther and faithful servant in the Lord, will reveal everything to you, whom I sent two you for this very reason, so that you might know what concerns us and it might comfort your hearts.

It is not a bad thing to update each other with our lives. It is constructive to inform each other of our work as it can warm our hearts. Even still, when we tell each other what is not going well, we can receive encouragement. It is important to be open with each other, so that we can help each other. Christianity is not merely an individual task. It is a communal religion and it requires participation on all accounts. Here lies the value of small churches. Small churches are better at involving each other in such encouraging communication. Large churches who incorporate small groups can do the same. We need to have such circles of believers for the sake of encouragement during good and bad times. We must nourish our hearts with encouraging, uplifting words and reports of good news, but we must discipline our hearts with encouraging, constructive criticism as well. When times are good, we should praise God together. When times are bad, we should seek to help lift each other up. We must praise with our brothers and sisters who are in a position to praise. We must weep with those who are weeping. And in so doing, we can encourage each other in love.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:18-20

Διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως προσευχόμενοι ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ εἰς αὐτὸ ἀγρυπνοῦντες ἐν πάσῃ προσκαρτερήσει καὶ δεήσει περὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, ἵνα μοι δοθῇ λόγος ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματός μου, ἐν παρρησίᾳ γνωρίσαι τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, ὑπὲρ οὗ πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ παρρησιάσωμαι ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι. Through every prayer and petition praying in every opportunity in the Spirit, and to this watching in every perseverance and petition concerning all the saints and for me, that to me he might give a word in opening of the mouth of me, in boldness to make known the mystery of the good news, for which I am an ambassador in chain, that in it I will speak with boldness as it is necessary for me to speak.

Paul has finished describing the full armor of God that Christians should take up. Now he turns to the action of the Christian. Part of standing and resisting involves taking up the right equipment, but it also involves prayer. The participle, προσευχόμενοι, “praying,” expresses means in relation to standing as do the previous participles describing the full armor of God. Prayer is to be done ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ, “in every opportunity.” The preposition is temporal, and therefore we can translate it as “at.” Christians should take every opportunity to pray. But when they pray, it is to be done ἐν πνεύματι, “in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is involved in the act of prayer. It is best to understand ἐν πνεύματι as a dative of means. Christians pray to God by means of the Spirit. Such prayer is to be done διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως, “through every prayer and petition.” How is διὰ functioning here? Is it expressing means or manner? If ἐν πνεύματι is expressing means, then διὰ is likely functioning as a marker of manner. If διὰ is expressing manner, in what sense is it adding color to the participle? It seems that it is neither manner nor means, but rather, it is marking attendant circumstance, and therefore it ought to be translated as “with,” so that we will render the phrase in this way: “pray with every prayer and petition at every opportunity by the Spirit, . . .”

Not only are Christians supposed to resist by standing and praying, but they are also to keep watch. Paul tells his readers and listeners to keep watch for this. The prepositional phrase, εἰς αὐτὸ, “for this,” marks purpose (“for this purpose”). The purpose of keeping watch was to persevere in making petitions for all of the saints and for Paul. Paul tells his readers and listeners, “. . . keep watch in every perseverance and petition concerning all the saints and for me, . . .” What does this mean to keep watch in all perseverance and petition? It means to be persistent in prayer. They were to keep alert for a purpose, to pray persistently for fellow believers. Paul delineates what he wants them to pray for on his behalf. He wants them to pray that he will receive a message or a word when he opens his mouth. He wants them to pray for him that he will be able to make known the mystery of the gospel with boldness. After all, as Paul himself states, it is for the gospel that he is an ambassador in chains. This phrase, ἐν ἁλύσει, “in chains,” is actually singular, but it speaks of imprisonment, hence, being in chains. Paul wants to be able to speak the message boldly, which, in his words, “it is necessary for me to speak.” He wanted encouragement through prayer to be able to courageously speak the gospel in a way that was fitting for an ambassador.

With every prayer and petition, praying at every opportunity by the Spirit, and for this purpose watching in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints and for me, in order that a message might be given to me when opening my mouth, in order to make known the mystery of the gospel with boldness, for which I am an ambassador in chains, in order that in it I might speak with boldness as it is necessary for me to speak.

Prayer is important in this struggle against the powers in the heavenly places. It causes us to participate in the struggle and not simply stand idly. But we are to be ever dependent upon the Spirit when it comes to prayer. Are we praying and so relying on the Spirit for strength? The Spirit of Christ is in each and every one of us who believe. Therefore, we are all empowered with the same Spirit, and, as a result, we should join together in prayer, lifting each other up with our words, making requests of God on each other’s behalf. It is an encouragement and it is spiritually edifying. And in this battle, we need to be equipped not only with armor, but also with prayer. If we are equipped with the defensive garbs but have not prayer, we will not be tapping into God’s power, and therefore we will be lacking. Prayer is vital. Paul knew it, and so he requested not only that his own audience would pray diligently, but he even gave them specific things to pray for on his behalf. We need to keep an open line of communication with God. Tell God your fears and troubles. Request your desires, including pleas for help. It is important to interact with God with our mind and our words, and this practice is prayer. But prayer is about community as well. We do not pray only for ourselves, but we pray for each other too. Therefore, prayer entails relationship between us and God and each other. If we are not in such relationship, then we will be all alone in the struggle. But there is strength in numbers. If we want to stand victorious, we have to enter into prayer.

And what can we say of the idea of Paul being an ambassador? We too are ambassadors. We are God’s representatives. How are we boldly proclaiming the gospel? We should certainly be spreading the gospel with our actions. Our lives are messages and testimonies in themselves. We should boldly do what God desires of us. We should courageously follow Christ, pursuing righteousness in all that we do, seeking to please God in every aspect of our lives. In so doing, our lives can become a message that speaks against the contrasting ways of the world. While we boldly decide not to be drunkards, our lives therefore shine a contrastive light on those in the world who are drunkards. While we courageously pursue right, ethical behavior in the work force, such as refusing to embezzle, bribe, or blackmail, our actions place those who do such things into the light, so that our deeds speak a message. Our lives show the world’s actions for what they really are. The message is clear: Jesus Christ changes lives, transforming those who are morally corrupt into righteous sons and daughters of God. As ambassadors, it is important that our lives are speaking this message. When they do, we can also boldly proclaim with our mouths the message of the gospel, but our words must be backed by our deeds, lest our words show themselves to be empty and void. As ambassadors, we have the responsibility to boldly proclaim the message in both our words and our actions.