Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – August 29, 2021
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Scripture reading – Eph 6:21-24
21 “Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
Exposition of vv. 21-24
- Structure: 20-22 – personal remarks; vv. 23-24 – concluding benediction
- Personal remarks. “Tychicus” (Tu-chee-kos). Paul’s missionary colleague from Asia (Colossae?) mentioned 5x in the NT: Acts 20:4; Eph 6:21; Col 4:7; 2 Tim 4:12; Tit 3:12. Paul refers to him as a “beloved brother” and “faithful minister in the Lord.”
- Concluding benediction. Common to Paul’s letters (cf: Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 16:23; 2 Cor 13:13; Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23; Col 4:18; 1 Thess 5:28; 2 Thess 3:18). Paul would also open his letters with a benediction (e.g., 1:2). Paul is invoking four blessings here: peace, love, faith and grace, all of which have been major themes in this letter.
- “peace to the brothers and sisters.” Peace, eirene, is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew shalom: tranquility, harmony, security, safety, prosperity, joy, thriving, flourishing. This is at the heart of the Levitical priestly blessing (Num 6:24-26). It’s a major theme of this letter: Christ is our peace and has made us one with God and each other (2:13-14). It reflects God’s general desire for his people.
- “love… from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The love, agape, that Paul invokes is sourced in the heart of both the Father and the Son, as Paul makes clear throughout the letter (Father: Eph 1:4; 2:4; 5:1; Son: 3:19; 5:2,25,29). This is consistent with other NT texts, in which the Father is said to love us (e.g., Jn 3:16; 16:26-27) and the Son is said to love us (e.g., Jn 15:9, 13-14). Cf. Eph 3:14-19.
- “faith.” Faith is needed to access these blessings and is itself a blessing, so Paul prays for it to be ours. They began their journey with faith (1:13) and they are to continue growing in faith (4:13-15). Faith, pistis, is “believing loyalty:” a posture of trust in God and his Son, Jesus, involving our intellect, volition and emotions. Faith shields us from the enemy’s “flaming arrows” (Eph 6:16). God delights in our faith and encourages us to be immovable and resolute in our confidence in him (Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 15:58).
- “Grace.” Grace, charis, is God’s unearned friendship, favor and help. This letter started with grace (1:2), ends with grace (6:24) and is saturated with grace throughout (1:6,7;2:5,7,8; 3:2,7,8;4:7). In this respect, it is just like the Christian life (cf. Gal 3:3). Eph 2.8-9 is one of NTs clearest statements about our salvation being based on grace as opposed to works.