PFOA: Ephesians 6:21-24
“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 6:23,24, NRSV.
As we come to this final greeting, let us take time to read the whole letter of Paul to the Ephesians again.
It is significant that, unlike the other letters of Paul, no personal greetings are included. If the letter was specifically addressed to the church at Ephesus, we would expect that many names be mentioned, since Paul spent a considerable period teaching there.
We surmise that this was a circular letter carried by Tychicus to a number of churches, including the one in Ephesus. Most probably these would include the seven churches mentioned in Rev. 2-3 as they were all in Asia Minor (Turkey today). Personal greetings would have been delivered verbally by Tychicus together with updates on Paul’s status and ministry (v.21).
Paul intended this letter for the “whole community” (v.23). While taking into account the differences in context over two millenniums, the instructions and exhortations of Paul are very much relevant and applicable to us today. We are reminded of our union and identity in Christ (ch.1); our unity as the people of God (ch.2); the gospel is for all (ch.3); living as a community (ch.4); living as believers (ch.5); and living in the world (ch.6).
Again, considering Christ’s messages to the seven churches in Revelation, we find the recurring theme there is the exhortation to “stand firm”, echoing with Paul the need for us to put on the whole armour of God in order to “stand firm” (Eph. 6:13).
This is a message we must take to heart – not so that we can argue over some intricacies of doctrine, but to recognise that there are “schemes of the devil” to stand against. These includes not just the black magic practices our missionaries face in their field of ministry, or the overt aggression and persecution from religious and political regimes, but also the difficult to discern pervasive forces of secularisation that are using “flaming darts” like political correctness, social activism and even legal wrangling of law and legislature.
So let us stand firm in the whole armour of God, with the no offensive weapon other than “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.
And “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere”.
Let us continue to Pray For One Another, including all believers everywhere.