“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. 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.” Ephesians 6:21-24
I can hardly put into words what a remarkable journey this study through the book of Ephesians has been for me. I spent years studying this book of Scripture before I ever put one word to paper, and now “Awake O Sleeper” is complete. Well, almost. We still have this final entry to journey through together, these last four verses of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. I hope you’re as eager as I am to dive in today. It’s been way too long, and I have missed you.
In the years I’ve spent reading through the Bible, I must confess a tragic mistake I made countless times. Most often, I would breeze past the opening few verses of any given book without giving them much consideration, particularly those in the New Testament that detail who wrote the book and to whom it was written, and gloss over the final few verses that are typically filled with people’s names that I can’t pronounce, thinking that in doing so, I wasn’t missing much. After my in-depth study of the book of Ephesians, however, I have learned that there is so much to be found within those words that I had wrongfully deemed unimportant.
Paul’s deep, abiding affection for the Ephesians was clearly portrayed throughout his letter, so it’s not at all surprising that he would conclude with verses 21-22. Since he wrote this letter from a prison cell, Paul was unable to be physically present with this group of believers that he cared for so deeply. Therefore, ringing true with his pastoral heart, he sends Tychicus to give a report on his well-being as well as to encourage their hearts. Still, even in his absence, Paul leaves them with one final exhortation in Ephesians 6:23-24. Read it for yourself in your own Bible, but allow me to express in my own words below what I believe is at the heart of Paul’s words to them. Take notice of those last five words.
“All who love the Lord Jesus Christ have the assurance of peace, love, faith, and grace.”
While the above statement is my own translation of Paul’s words of encouragement to the Ephesians, I believe this is the message he was reminding them of, that in Christ, these virtues are known. Peace can be had amidst hardship. Love can be known and expressed. Faith can be strong and unwavering. Grace can flow.
Still, what arrests my heart and attention even more than those words of promise and hope are Paul’s final three words in the book of Ephesians:
“with love incorruptible”
These final inspired words that landed on the page from Paul’s pen were shortly followed by Paul’s martyrdom. The Bible does not tell us how Paul died, but according to historic tradition, Paul was tortured and then beheaded in Rome around A.D. 67. What is important is that he knew his time was drawing near and that death awaited him. But he finished the race. He fought the good fight. He kept the faith…with love incorruptible. All the trials, beatings, imprisonments, persecutions, and sorrow he had faced for the sake of the Gospel had not succeeded in corrupting his love for Jesus Christ. He finished well.
Friend, I don’t know what you are facing today. I haven’t a clue the fiery trial you are trying to survive. I can’t begin to imagine the hurt that exists on the other side of my computer screen as I type these words. What I do know is that there is a God who offers peace when the waters rise. There is a God whose love for you is deep and wide and long and high. There is a God who grants faith when doubt seeks to cripple and paralyze. There is a God who extends grace in our time of need.
So, we can finish well.
We can keep the faith…with love incorruptible.