Ephesians 6:19-24 The Conclusion Of Ephesians
Let us read Ephesians 6:17-24,
17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
Last week we discovered...
that every believer is to be engaged in taking the Word of God and prayer into every area of their daily lives. Most of the sermon was guided by Ephesians 6:17-18 which says, “...and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
When Paul speaks of ‘prayer’ he is speaking of believers who begin to move towards the Lord by communicating with Him. Last week we quoted Dr. Sinclair Ferguson who said, “Prayer is set within a life marked by companionship and dialogue with the Lord.”
When Paul speaks of ‘supplication’ he is asking believers to pray to the LORD concerning specific needs that they have.
Let’s look at an example of how both prayer and supplications are seen in a particular scripture.
In Psalm 39, David finds himself surrounded by wicked people and in that moment David is determined not to say a word. Look at what he says in Psalm 39:1, “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.’”
David had determined that he would muzzle his mouth and remain silent; but as he did this he began to see that things became worse for him. He says in Psalm 39:2-3, “I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.”
If we were not to read any farther we might expect that David would begin to vent in front of his enemies. We might expect David to begin to rail on them and give free reign to tongue.
We see something similar in the book of Job. For a whole week they sat in silence; but when Job began to talk the flood gates were opened and their conversations and dialogues rarely ceased from that moment on. In the end, very little about their discussions pleased the LORD.
In Job 42:7 we read these words, “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’”
David shows the same wisdom in this moment that is written about in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
In all of this David has prepared his heart for prayer. 1 Peter 3:10-12 says,
“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Because of the stress that David was experiencing within him he begins to speak but it is not to those around him; David begins to draw close to the Lord when he opens his mouth and prays to the LORD. Through this prayer he moves closer to the LORD just as Paul is asking us to do in our text today.
As we look at this prayer we see that David also makes six specific supplications. Let’s take a moment to consider them.
Supplication #1 - David prays that the LORD would help him to number his day’s...
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (4-5)
Supplication #2 - David wants to know the futility of his days...
“Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” (6)
Supplication #3 - David acknowledges that he is waiting upon the LORD...
“And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”(7)
Supplication #4 - David asks to be delivered from his sins…
“Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!” (8)
Supplication #5 - David acknowledges that he cannot criticize the LORD. “I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it.” (9)
Supplication #6 - David asks that the LORD would remove His discipline from him…
“Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath!” (10-11)
These moments, when we become aware of these sort of needs in our lives, can have a profound impact upon us. This summer I was taking a walk with my son when I realized how little time I may have left with my family. That realization provoked a desire to see a lot of change in my life. Over the next few weeks I found myself praying almost exactly the was that David has in Psalm 39.
I wanted to live in light of the brevity of my life.
I wanted to see the futility of my days and live more intentionally.
I became more dependent upon God and placed my hope in Him.
I became more aware of my sins and sought God more often to deliver me from them.
I could not blame God for any of the decisions I have made in the past. I have become more aware of my need for a mediator and a High Priest to represent me before God.
I wanted God to make my life more fruitful and to deliver me from any discipline that I deserved because of my sins and foolishness.
In verses 12-13 we discover what David desired this prayer to accomplish. He says, “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”
We might wonder if God ever answered David’s prayer? According to 1 Chronicles 29:26-28 we can see that the LORD did answer David’s prayer and supplications. We read, “David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. The time that he reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. Then he died at a good age, full of days, riches, and honor. And Solomon his son reigned in his place.”
One of the things that I think we can take away from Psalm 39 is that...
if God forgives our sins and restores us we will be free to pray about anything.
If we know that our lives have been reconciled with the LORD then we can turn our attention to seeing the grace of God working in those around us.
Having been blessed by the grace and mercy of God we can pray that the gospel will spread to others.
This is exactly what Paul describes for us in the remaining portion of this letter.
Grace filled believers are to make supplications for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 says, “...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”
Grace filled believers are to pray for boldness and clarity for the ministry of the gospel to go forth. Ephesians 6:19-20 says, “...and [pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Gospel centered people are not selfish people. They care about how others are doing and are encouraged in knowing this. Gospel centered people are an open book to others and the testimony of God’s grace encourages them most of all. In Ephesians 6:21-22 we read, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
Gospel centered people experience grace, peace and faith based love. And they love Christ with a love that is incorruptible, immortal, undying and never perishes. In Ephesians 6:23-24 we read, “Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Let us take the remaining time that we have together to look at Ephesians 6:19-24.
Let’s begin with Ephesians 6:19-20, “...and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him in two ways.
Paul asks that they would pray for him that the words would be given to him to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.
And he asks for them to pray that when he speaks of the gospel that he would be given boldness. He needs boldness because he is an ‘ambassador in chains’ and he will eventually make his appeal before Nero in Rome. Paul does not want to speak with timidity or to be fearful. Paul does not want to be frightened or nervous when he faces any challenge.
It is remarkable that Paul, who is at the end of his ministry, would believe that he needed the prayers of others to speak clearly about the gospel. He was the first to bring the gospel to so many cities, villages and providences. He was the first missionary to bring the gospel to Asia and to Europe. He had preached to Jews and Gentiles; male and female. He had spoken before kings, governors. He had addressed political, religious and military leaders.
Romans 1:1 - Paul had been set apart for this gospel.
1 Corinthians 1:17 - sent by Christ as a minister of the gospel.
2 Corinthians 4:3 Paul calls it ‘our gospel’.
Galatians 2:2 - Paul received this gospel by revelation.
Ephesians 3:17 - Paul was made a minister by the gift of God’s grace.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 - Paul was approved by God to be a minister of the gospel.
Despite all of this, Paul still knows that he cannot be successful in the preaching of the gospel without prayer and God’s ennoblement. I learned this lesson the hard way. A couple of years ago I had to speak on a special occasion. I had worked hard on my sermon but had not really prayed. Before I got up to speak I saw that there were college professors and successful business men there and I became so terrified. And in that moment, I realized that I did not pray and I lacked the boldness that I needed.
Even though Paul was in chains, we see that in Ephesians 6:21-22 Paul continued to think of how he could encourage others. “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
Paul sends Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, to encourage these believers. Tychicus is from Asia, perhaps even Ephesus, and it may surprise you to learn that he is mentioned in five New Testament books (Acts, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Timothy, Titus). He truly is a trusted friend and a faithful minister of Paul who had joined Paul on his third missionary journey.
As I consider these particular verses I try to put myself in the place of the believers in Ephesus and what it would mean for me to receive this letter. Paul is convinced that these believers will be encouraged in their hearts when they hear about how he he is doing and about what he is doing. He speaks of this twice in these two verses.
In verse 21 Paul says, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing…”.
In verse 22 he says, “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are…”,
Some of you may have watched at some point the television show ‘Survivor’. In season 33 of there is a moment when the contestants are given some letters delivered from home. At the sight of these letters every individual began to cry. They have been starving and playing this game for a month and even the chance to receive a letter from their loved ones makes most of them very emotional.
One of the contestants cried more than any other. At one point he explained that his mother had lung cancer and he knows that at any moment he could receive word that she has taken a turn for the worst. He became so emotional because when everyone received these letters he knew that it would be from his mom but it would not be bad news. In fact, his heart was greatly encouraged by how she was doing. Similarly, Paul knows that when Tychicus comes and brings news of Paul and his ministry the hearts of these believers would be greatly encourages.
Paul says that Tychicus will tell them everything. Paul’s life is an open book for everyone to see. He is doing the same thing that he encourages Timothy to do in 1 Timothy 4:12, “...set believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”. An example such as this is very important to believers. Paul tells Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (4:15-16)
Even though Paul is in chains he never looses sight of the aim of his life (2 Timothy 3:10). Paul never stops being a faithful minister and proving to be a faithful steward of the ministry that he had been given by the Lord (1 Cor. 4:2). Therefore Paul wants to encourage these believers by letting them hear what he is doing (21).
Richard Sibbs speaks of the AIM that a minister ought to have in life when he writes, “Let it never be forgotten that the chief object of a minister of the gospel is to set forward the salvation of souls. I lay it down as a certain fact that he is no true minister who does not feel this. We are sent to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. We are sent to persuade men to flee from the wrath to come. We are sent to draw men from the service of the world to the service of God, - to awaken the sleeping; - to arouse the careless, - and ‘by all means save some,’”
Paul ends this letter beautifully, “Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” (23-24)
Peace, love, faith and grace are tremendous gifts from the Lord. So let’s end our study in Ephesians by reflecting upon these things for a moment.
“Peace be to the brothers” – Because we are so close to Christmas my thoughts immediately went to Luke 2:13-14, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”
There was a day in history when a multitude of angels voices cried out in this world with praises to God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” There may have been a multitude of angels voices heard by the angels on that night; but no doubt every angel in heaven and on earth could be found saying those words in that moment. Those in the highest of heaven and those whose voices could be heard on earth cried out in one voice, with one unified message, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Do you have peace with God?
Does God’s pleasure rest upon you?
Paul tells us clearly in Romans 5:1-2 how we obtain this peace. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Have you looked to Christ and placed your faith in what He has done for you? All who have trusted in Christ and His redemptive work have peace with God and He takes pleasure in them.
Let’s discuss love faith and grace at once since Paul has linked them together when he says, “...and love and faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Grace based love is founded upon faith and not upon works. Grace based love is a love that is faithful, steadfast and sacrificial. Love that is not mixed with faith cannot be unconditional and will only be given when it is earned.
There is probably no better text to look at to consider this than Galatians 5:13-15. It says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
The Christians in Galatia were abandoning the grace of God and were going back to live under the law. As a result, they were biting and devouring one another. When they first received the grace of God they were quick to care for Paul in his sickness. Faith promotes unconditional love, humility and kindness. The law promotes self-righteousness, self-preoccupation and conduct that is not in step with the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:14).
As we come to the end of this letter Paul reminds us of the importance of applying this grace to ourselves, towards others and to our relationship with the Lord by faith. If we fail to do this we will be unsettled personally, there will be discord with others, and we will not experience the peace of God. However, when we establish our hearts upon the grace of God our love for God is incorruptible.