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08 October 2018

Pray for everyone—and pray for Paul.

Final statements to the Ephesians (among others).

Ephesians 6.18-24

As I said in the piece on God’s armor, we’re wearing God’s gear to fight the devil and its temptations. And while we’re at it, we’re praying prayers and requests at every moment in the Spirit. You know, like Paul wrote in the next verse:

Ephesians 6.18-20 KWL
18 Through it all, as you’re praying prayers and requests at every moment in the Spirit,
as you’re staying alert about it, always staying on it and making requests for all saints—
19 and pray for me, so a word would be given to open my mouth,
to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel.
20 Because of the gospel I’m “the elder in chains,”
but it’s so I can boldly speak of it, like I have to talk.

’Cause in this fight, we gotta stay in contact with our commander. We gotta stay alert, ask for support, ask for aid for our fellow Christians in the battle… and ask help for Paul too, while we’re at it.

Yeah, I know Paul‘s been dead for nearly 20 centuries now. But Paul wrote this letter in part so all the churches this letter went out to (Ephesus among them) would pray for him. He was wearing God’s armor too, and resisting the temptation to keep his mouth shut. He needed to boldly preach the gospel; he needed to not keep his mouth shut. It was for the sake of the gospel Paul was in house arrest, awaiting a hearing before the emperor: It was so Paul could share Jesus with Nero Caesar, plus everyone else in that court, and win some of ’em into the kingdom.

Though Paul has since passed on, there are plenty of other Christians in dire circumstances, who also need our prayers as they resist the temptation to keep their mouths shut. Not so they can be bold Christian jerks; hopefully they’re way more fruitful than that. No; it’s so they can share Jesus like he deserves to be shared—with conviction, with faith, without hesitation, without fear, with love.

And to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel—but Paul already gave away that mystery in Ephesians 3: Gentiles inherit the kingdom too. It’s not just for Israel anymore. It’s for Romans, for Europeans, for Africans, for Asians and Australians and Pacific Islanders, for North and South Americans, for everyone. God wants to save the world, and that’s good news.

“I’m ‘the elder in chains’ ” is how I translated presvéfo en alýsei, which the KJV renders “I am an ambassador in bonds.” The verb presvéfo/“I’m old” can be interpreted “I’m an elder” or “I’m your elder”—implying you gotta listen to such a person, ’cause he’s seen some stuff, and presumably gained some wisdom. Herodotus wrote of the ancient Greeks using elders as ambassadors and peace negotiators, so the KJV’s translators went with that. But I went with a more literal translation mainly because I expect Paul, having been in and out of house arrest so often, had a reputation—which he used to his advantage. Who’s the old guy in chains? Well, let him share his testimony; it’ll blow your mind.

Tyhikos comes with the letter.

We first read of Tyhikos (KJV “Tychicus”) in Acts, when Paul decided go from Greece to Syria, and changed his travel plans so he’d go through Macedon. Tyhikos “of Asia,” referring to the Roman province instead of the continent, was listed among seven men who met up with Paul and Luke at Troas. Ac 20.1-5

Tyhikos comes up a few more times in Paul’s letters. Most notably when Paul wrote Timothy, “I sent Tyhikos to Ephesus,” 2Ti 4.12 the capital of Asia. Christians figure this reference is about Paul sending the man with this very letter.

Ephesians 6.21-22 KWL
21 So you can also know what I’m about, what I’m doing, all will be made known to you
by Tyhikos, the beloved brother and faithful deacon in the Master.
22 I send Tyhikos to you for this reason:
So you can know all about us, and he can ease your minds.

It’s a little reminder that while Paul tends to get the credit for spreading the gospel all over the Roman Empire, he hardly did it alone. And no, I’m not just talking about the Holy Spirit; he’s obvious. He had a lot of supporters, a lot of helpers, a lot of fellow Christians in the churches he started who pitched in and continued the work Paul started, leaving Paul free to go start or supplement churches elsewhere. You know, like we’re supposed to be doing, instead of leaving all the work to the professional clergy.

Tyhikos occasionally gets credited for writing this letter down, ’cause Paul tended to write them by dictation. But Paul didn’t let Tyhikos say hi, like he let Tertius say in Romans, Ro 16.22 nor did he list a co-writer. So we don’t know for certain.

In any event that’s all he had to say. Now for some final greetings, and that’s the letter.

Ephesians 6.23-24 KWL
23 Peace to the Christian family, and love with faith from Father God and Master Christ Jesus.
24 Grace to all who sincerely love our Master Christ Jesus.