GOOD COMMUNICATION FOSTERS FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL
Benjamin Merkle: This section contains Paul’s concluding remarks to the saints in Ephesus and can be divided into two parts: (1) a commendation of Tychicus and his task (Eph. 6:21–22) and (2) a final benediction (vv. 23–24). Paul describes Tychicus (probably the bearer of the letter) as a “beloved brother” and “faithful minister.” Tychicus was sent to the Ephesian believers for two main reasons: to explain Paul’s current situation and to encourage their hearts. In the final two verses Paul offers a benediction (a prayer invoking God’s blessings on others) for the recipients to experience God’s peace, love, faith, and grace. This passage is strikingly similar to Colossians 4:7–8, suggesting that both letters were authored by Paul at roughly the same time and were carried by Tychicus from Rome to their respective recipients.
Andrew Lincoln: Through thanksgiving and paraenesis the writer has been concerned to reinforce his readers’ sense of their calling in Christ, to remind them of the privileges of salvation that are theirs, and to encourage them in the light of these to lead a distinctive life in the world. In such a letter, which has attempted to make Paul’s gospel speak again to a new situation among some of the churches of the Pauline mission in Asia Minor, the final grace-benediction is particularly appropriate. The blessing of grace, which was a liturgical form before it was an epistolary form, recalls the language of worship and the liturgical forms which frame the first half of the letter. It also recalls through its content two of the great themes of the first half—that all the privileges of salvation believers enjoy are theirs through God’s grace, which has been lavished on them in Christ, and that one of the greatest of those privileges is their share in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, which they experience now but which they will continue to experience in the coming ages. Having exhorted his readers in the second half of the letter to maintain the Church’s unity and participate in its growth and to demonstrate the life of the new humanity in society, and having braced them for the battle against the powers of evil which this will involve, the writer comes full circle, as he once again points the readers back to the divine resources that are available and calls on God to bestow his abundant grace and glorious immortality upon them.
Harold Hoehner: The conclusion of this letter (6:21–24) illustrates to believers the kind of love and oneness that Paul had been demonstrating throughout the book. Although imprisoned in Rome, his thoughts were for the welfare of the Ephesian believers. In light of this he sent Tychicus to them to report on his situation. His purpose was to comfort them. In addition, he sent a letter (now known as the Book of Ephesians) to instruct them in doctrine and their daily walk. His greetings to them were more impersonal than the greetings in some of his other letters. This may have been due to great changes in the congregation over the two years since he had seen them or it could have been because the letter was encyclical.
This epistle began with Paul’s salutation of grace and peace (1:2) and ends with a benediction that also includes grace and peace. Indeed, the believer can have no peace without God’s enabling grace.
I. (6:21-22) CLOSING REMARKS — MISSIONARY REPORTS FROM THE FIELD ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO ARE PARTNERS IN THE GOSPEL
A. Communication from the Field is Necessary
“But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing“
B. Faithful Messengers Get the Job Done
“Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will
make everything known to you.”
Stephen Fowl: In this electronic age in which we pass around ever more trivial information ever faster, it is easy to forget how difficult it would be for an apostle in prison to give and receive news. Emissaries such as Tychicus played an important role in keeping a network of communities both in touch with each other and in touch with Paul.
Andrew Lincoln: Tychicus features elsewhere in the NT as one of Paul’s co-workers, who is particularly associated with Asia Minor. In Acts 20:4 he is one of the representatives from the province of Asia who accompanies Paul on his visit to Jerusalem, while in the Pastorals he is said to have been sent on missions to both Ephesus and Crete (cf. 2 Tim 4:12; Titus 3:12). He is likely to have been known to the recipients of the letter as one of the leading representatives of the Pauline mission. The designation of him as a “dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord” reinforces his intimate relationship with Paul and his proven record of reliable ministry in the cause of Christ. These are excellent qualifications for the tasks with which he is entrusted—to pass on information about Paul’s situation and to encourage the hearts of the letter’s recipients. The latter task would be accomplished not only by Tychicus conveying news about Paul but also through his own strengthening and exhorting of the readers in a ministry in line with what have been the writer’s concerns in this letter.
Clinton Arnold: Paul extols Tychicus in the most glowing terms, describing him as Paul’s “beloved brother” and as a “faithful servant in the Lord.” This likely indicates that the Lord has used Tychicus to encourage Paul in his difficult circumstances. Paul also regards Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave, as a “dear [beloved] brother” (Col 4:9; Phlm 16). The two of them have together been serving Paul during his confinement and will be traveling together back to Roman province of Asia with three letters (Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon). Paul was assisted throughout his years of ministry by many trusted colleagues, but the only other person he refers to as a “faithful minister” (πιστὸς διάκονος) is Epaphras, the man responsible for planting the church at Colossae (Col 1:7).
C. Twofold Purpose of Missionary Reports from the Field
“And I have sent him to you for this very purpose“:
- Reporting on Paul’s Status
“so that you may know about us“
- Reassuring their Hearts
“and that he may comfort your hearts“
Benjamin Merkle: Essentially, Paul is informing them that Tychicus will relay to them a firsthand account of Paul’s situation in prison. Second, Tychicus is sent to encourage their hearts (v. 22). These two purposes are perhaps related, since the Ephesian believers would certainly have been encouraged to learn of Paul’s health, his imprisonment, and how God was using Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
II. (6:23-24) BENEDICTION — GOD’S BEST FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD
Frank Thielman: Paul concludes the letter with a double prayer-wish that succinctly reminds his readers of four important themes within the letter. He prays that all believers (not simply the letter’s readers) might experience both peace and love, and he connects love with faith. He then offers a separate prayer-wish that those who love the Lord Jesus Christ “incorruptibly” might experience God’s grace. . .
As interpreters have often noticed, this is the positive counterpart to 1 Cor. 16:22: “If anyone does not love [φιλεῖ, philei] the Lord, let him be accursed.” Moreover, the notion that God’s people are obligated to love God is prominent in both Old and New Testaments (e.g., Exod. 20:6; Deut. 5:10; 6:5; Judg. 5:31; Neh. 1:5; Ps. 145:20 MT, Eng. [144:20 LXX]; Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 2:9; 8:3; James 1:12; 2:5) and in other Jewish literature of the period (Sir. 1:10; 2:15–16; 34:16, 19; Pss. Sol 4.25; 6.6; 10.3; 14.1; T. Iss. 7.6; T. Dan 5.3; T. Jos. 11.1; T. Benj. 3.1; cf. Hoehner 2002: 874–75; Aletti 2001: 319n19). Although this is an unusual statement for a concluding Pauline grace-wish, then, there is precedent for a reference to the importance of loving the Lord Jesus at the end of a Pauline letter, and nothing surprising from the perspective of early Christian theology about defining the people of God in terms of those who love the Lord Jesus.
“Peace be to the brethren“
Clinton Arnold: His prayer for peace (εἰρήνη) is fitting, given the importance of this concept throughout the letter. The high point of his teaching was the declaration that “[Christ] is our peace,” based on the fact that, through his blood, we have been brought near to God (2:13–14). Paul, in fact, characterizes his gospel as “the gospel of peace” in this letter (6:15). This good news of peace with God is what the apostles proclaim through the empowerment of the Spirit, which results in the establishment of the church (2:14–17). But this peace is not only a gift from God that believers experience and enjoy; it also unites all believers into one body. The gospel of peace unites Jews with Gentiles, slaves and freedmen, people of different social classes, and folks from all different ethnicities. Paul’s prayer is for an ongoing and deeper experience of this peace from God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
B. Love with Faith
“and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ“
Andrew Lincoln: All three qualities, peace, love, and faith, have their source in and flow from both God and Christ.
R. C. Sproul: A benediction is not a prayer. A benediction means ‘a good saying’ and is a prophetic utterance. When the apostle gives his apostolic benediction to his readers or to his hearers he is speaking as an ambassador of the King. He is announcing God’s benediction upon his people. So when Paul refers to peace and grace and love and faith, he is not saying, ‘Grace to you and peace from me.’ But he is announcing that the promise of grace, peace, faith, and love comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, therefore, speaking for both the Father and the Son.
Klyne Snodgrass: A comparison of other blessings of this type shows clearly that grace, love, and peace—and sometimes mercy—are standard items in blessings and that the reference is to God’s gifts and character being conveyed to the recipients. In other words, Paul is saying, “May God continue to reveal his loving nature to you.” The benedictions are prayers that God or Christ will be present and active in the people’s lives (see 2 Thess. 3:16). With regard to love at least, the benediction is essentially the same as the prayer in 3:19, that the readers will know Christ’s love.
But what does “with faith” mean then? It could be an abbreviated way of emphasizing the importance of human faith, but a neglected alternative is more likely. Remember that the word translated “faith” also means “faithfulness,” depending on the context. If the focus is on the love and faithfulness that come from God and Christ, the passage makes better sense. This option would be translated: “Peace to the brothers and love with faithfulness from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This recalls the emphasis in 1:3 that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ as well as the focus on the faithfulness of Christ in 3:12. If this translation is correct, verses 23–24 focus on both the faithfulness of Tychicus and the faithfulness of God and on both the love of God and the love of believers.
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible.”
Grant Osborne: “With immortality” (NIV “with an undying love”) is the final phrase of the letter, and its meaning is disputed. Depending on which term it modifies, the phrase could be translated:
- “the immortal Lord Jesus” or
- “with undying [or sincere] love” (most versions) or
- “may grace be experienced for all eternity.”
Frank Thielman: The solution to the puzzle of this closing phrase may lie in comparing the structure and meaning of the entire sentence to an ascription of praise that concludes Pss. Sol. 6. This brief psalm describes the blessings that come to the person whose inner character is disposed to call spontaneously on the Lord in prayer at the beginning and end of the day and throughout the vicissitudes of life. It concludes in much the same way that Paul concludes Ephesians:
The two sentences have a common structure. They begin with a reference to an abstract quality that God shows to human beings (mercy/grace), continue with a reference to the demonstration of that quality to “those who love” the Lord (him/our Lord Jesus Christ), and qualify the reference to love with an adverbial prepositional phrase of two words, “in” (ἐν) and an abstract noun (truth/incorruption) without the article.
Clinton Arnold: “grace with immortality” — Paul is thus praying that God will bless his people not only with grace but with the experience of the immortal life (i.e., eternal life) in the present. This is consistent with the emphasis on realized eschatology throughout the letter. Believers will experience a future life beyond the grave (see 1:10; 4:30), but they can have a foretaste of that immortal life here and now through their close personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers have already been made alive with Christ. The goal now is to experience this life in greater measure. Ephesians begins with an eternal perspective (from time immemorial) and now ends with a focus on life immortal.
Benjamin Merkle: Essentially, Paul is informing them that Tychicus will relay to them a firsthand account of Paul’s situation in prison. Second, Tychicus is sent to encourage their hearts (v. 22). These two purposes are perhaps related, since the Ephesian believers would certainly have been encouraged to learn of Paul’s health, his imprisonment, and how God was using Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles