This morning we come to the 6th chapter of Ephesians for the last time. Today we are going to be finishing our study of this marvelous book. This is our 60th message.
Let's reflect on Paul's circumstances as he writes this letter. He was in prison in Rome, chained to a guard. He was getting up in years and his health was probably not that great. From the book of Philippians, written during the same imprisonment, we learn that fellow Christians in Rome were attacking Paul. So we could understand if Paul sent out an appeal for prayer for his own needs. But he doesn't! He prays for boldness.
Think about this, Paul asking for boldness. When Paul was in Greece the people called him Mercury:
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us." And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Acts 14:11-12 NASB
Hermes, or Mercury, was the god of oratory, the god of eloquence. Here was Paul, a very eloquent man, the most learned apostle, the one whom Peter said wrote many things that are difficult to understand, and he is on his knees before God asking that God would give him boldness. It's remarkable, isn't it?
As we saw last time, Paul's only prayer request was that he would be bold in proclaiming the Gospel. When it comes to saying farewell, Paul's focus is his concern for these Christians and their needs. Paul knew that they were concerned about him and his imprisonment:
Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:13 NASB
So he sent Tychicus to tell them about his situation and to comfort their hearts. Caring, godly relationships among believers are at the heart of God's purpose for the Church.
It seems that Paul's biggest concern was that the Ephesians were worried about him in prison. So, twice (6:21, 22) Paul repeats that Tychicus will let the Ephesians know how he and those with him are doing. Of course sending Tychicus meant that Paul would be deprived of this dear brother's presence. His words about Tychicus show how much he appreciated this dear man of God. Both the words about Tychicus (6:21-22) and Paul's benediction (6:23-24) show us how caring Paul was.
I think it is obvious that the spirit of our generation is independence. This is especially true here in America. Our founding document is the "Declaration of Independence." In that document, we declared our independence from the tyranny that our founding fathers felt was imposed upon us by England. Of course that document reflected a spirit of independence and was paid for by the blood of our forefathers, who fought a war for independence. Our independence is a prized possession in this country. And it should be.
The problem comes when we misapply that spirit of independence to the Church. Independence can be good in certain circumstances, but it can also create problems in others. One such circumstance is the Church.
While the spirit of our generation is independence, the nature of the Church is interdependence. The Church, you see, is a community. It is the community of the King. And the Church universal always finds its expression in the church local, which is a body of believers called out of the world and into a spiritual fellowship based on the life of Yeshua within. It is not one person, or even a group of leaders. It is every believer called to be a part of that local church. As such, it must work through an interdependence of all its members if it is to work successfully. Independence will tend to erode the fellowship. Learning to depend upon one another, however, will cause the fellowship to grow, both in quality and quantity.
The bottom line is that we need each other. I need what you have in Christ, and you need what I have in Christ. We need each other! And community is the key. Yahweh designed the church to bring together people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, and situations in life so that we could learn to live together as Christians, united by our common faith in Yeshua the Christ.
As we live together, Yahweh breaks down the walls that divide us. In the church, He deals with our selfishness. In the church, He deals with our pride. In the church, He deals with all of the issues of isolation that keep us apart, that keep us from living as people created in His image for whom Christ died.
As Paul closes this letter to the Ephesians, he reveals that interdependence; he was not working alone. He had help. There were many helpers who worked with Paul, without whom Paul's ministry could not have been nearly as effective. Paul knew that, and he acknowledged that by including one of them here:
But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. Ephesians 6:21 NASB
Paul's words here are almost identical with Colossians 4:7-8. Notice that he says,
"That you also may know"—this "also" refers to letters sent to other recipients (Colossians), which were also delivered by Tychicus. Paul wanted them to know how he was doing; he wanted them to know about his circumstances, so he was sending them Tychicus who would fill them in. As I said, Paul was concerned about their concern.
The name of Tychicus appears five times in the New Testament (Acts 20:4, Eph. 6:21, Col. 4:7, 2 Tim 4:12 and Titus 3:12), and, unlike other names which recur, there appears to be little doubt that the individuals mentioned in all these passages are one and the same person. Tychicus was one of those no-name servants of God in the New Testament who made a big impact for the cause of Christ.
Tychicus traveled widely with Paul. Along with some other men, he accompanied Paul on part of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). He was one of the men who helped take the collection to Jerusalem.
Tychicus' willingness to travel with Paul to Jerusalem shows his servant's heart. This was not an easy journey in that day. Travel in the ancient world was difficult and dangerous. The trip to Jerusalem would be very difficult, and it would take Tychicus away from his family, friends, and church for a long time. Along the way, Paul was repeatedly warned that trouble awaited him in Jerusalem. Although Tychicus must certainly have heard those warnings, he remained with Paul.
He also went to the trouble of going to Rome to be with Paul in his first imprisonment. Now Paul is sending him back to Asia with the letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Assuming, as we did at the very first study of the book of Ephesians, that the book of Ephesians is a circular letter—in other words, it wasn't just specifically for the church at Ephesus, but it was going to go around all the churches of Asia—Tychicus was the postman that took it around to all of those churches.
The trip from Rome to Ephesus and Colossae was a difficult one. Tychicus would first have to cross much of Italy on foot, then sail across the Adriatic Sea. After traversing Greece on foot, he would sail across the Aegean Sea to the coast of Asia Minor. Once he reached Ephesus, he still faced a journey of nearly one hundred miles on foot to reach Colossae. That he was entrusted with delivering the Word of God once again indicates Paul's trust in him.
Tychicus also escorted the runaway slave, Onesimus, who had now become a Christian, back to his owner, Philemon. Tychicus was responsible to intervene before Philemon so that he would welcome Onesimus back as a brother, rather than punishing him as the law would have dictated. Later, Paul sent either Tychicus or Artemas to relieve Titus on the island of Crete (Titus 3:12). Tychicus was again with Paul in his second imprisonment. Paul sent him to Ephesus, freeing Timothy to try to get to the apostle's side before he was executed (2 Tim. 4:9, 12).
Paul gives a three-fold expression of the admiration he has for this dear brother. He was "the beloved brother"—the article "the" marks him as well known to them. He was well loved having endeared himself to Paul by his love for Christ. The word "beloved" is the Greek word agapetos. It is used sixty times in the New Testament—the first nine times by God to Christ his beloved Son:
and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Matthew 3:17 NASB
It's ONLY other use is of believers. "Beloved" is a term of affection. It is used of a deep and abiding love. Love for one another was a characteristic of the early church. A Greek writer named Lucian, who lived from about A.D. 120-200, said of the early Christians, "It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator [Yeshua] has put it into their heads that they are all brethren." What a great testimony.
Tychicus was dependable in every way, for Paul calls him a, "faithful minister." The word "minister" is from the Greek diakonos, which means: "an attendant, a waiter (at table or in other menial duties)." It seems that Tychicus had a greater concern for Paul and the body of Christ than in serving his own interests.
"Faithful" is from the Greek word pistis. It is that quality of being true, trustworthy, and reliable in all one's dealings with others. Faithfulness means something like "dependability." We admire "faithfulness" in all realms of life. The person with this quality keeps his word, his promises, and his vows.
Tychicus kept his word. He did what he was assigned with integrity. Paul could entrust him with the weighty responsibility for the churches in Crete or in Ephesus and know that he would be responsible. In a day when it would have been easy to mishandle the large gift for the Jerusalem saints, Tychicus could be trusted to deliver it all without pocketing some of it for himself. He could be trusted to deliver safely the letters of Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. He didn't know that his name would be in the Scripture, but we have Tychicus mentioned in our New Testaments today because he was a faithful man.
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit that should mark every believer (Gal. 5:22), but it seems all too often that is lacking among Christians. It means that if you take on a responsibility, a leader does not need to prod you or check on you repeatedly to see if it got done. You do it as unto the Lord. Faithfulness is a crucial part of caring relationships, because it means that if you say you'll do something for someone, you do it. They can count on you.
Faithfulness is a quality of Yahweh:
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB
We see this supremely manifested in our Lord, whom John calls faithful:
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. Revelation 19:11 NASB
We are also assured that "faithful is He who calls you, Who also will bring it to pass" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Our God is faithful, and as His children, we are to be faithful. Yahweh does not require that we be brilliant or clever in the ministry. We do not have to be original. God does not expect us to be famous or popular. He does not even expect success from us. He does expect us to be faithful:
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NASB
"Trustworthy" is from pistos. Someone has said that the greatest ability in the world is dependability, and this is true.
The believer is never to be like the chameleon, which changes colors with the surroundings. He is to be steady and reliable in all circumstances. His friendship and concerns are never to be dictated by what is in it for him or even how much it will cost him. Just as our Lord is faithful in all things, even so He manifests this characteristic in His children who walk by the Spirit. Paul could depend on Tychicus, he was a faithful servant.
Today it costs us relatively little to minister the Gospel faithfully. No one persecutes us. No one puts us in jail for preaching the Gospel. No one ostracizes us for our witness for Christ today. Yet there is more unfaithfulness in ministry today than in Paul's day. God is looking for people upon whom He can count to do His ministry.
I think that it is interesting that the New American Standard Bible translates the same Greek phrase as "faithful servant" in Colossians 4:7 and "faithful minister" here. As you know, there is no such thing as a clergy-laity distinction in the New Testament. Every Christian is a minister or servant of Christ. Some are supported to do it full time, whereas others work (as Paul did) to support themselves. But whether he worked or was supported by the churches, Tychicus was a faithful "servant in the Lord."
In Colossians 4:7, Paul adds that he was a "fellow bond-servant in the Lord"—this is from the Greek sundoulos, which means: "a co-slave." This reveals the kinship that Paul sensed with this man as he wrote from his prison cell. Tychicus had entered into his labors as a slave of Christ, sharing in the suffering and the joys of Christian ministry. It would be incorrect for us to think of Tychicus simply as a bearer of letters or as a reliable informant as to the events that had surrounded Paul's continuing proclamation of the Gospel.
Paul was not a politician; he was a man of God. He didn't lie about his colleagues, describing them more than what they were. He never exaggerated their accomplishments. However, he did give them their due. He accurately estimated their abilities and qualities. This thumbnail sketch of Tychicus was accurate. He not only was a brother, he was a "beloved brother." He not only was a minister, he was a "faithful minister." He not only was a servant, he was a "fellow servant." If Paul were writing a letter to your church, would he give a similar description of your Christian walk?
How would Paul have ministered so effectively without the help of the faithful believers? The church needs faithful men and women to minister effectively. Without the faithful men we have here none of my teaching would go beyond these walls. If Berean has a ministry to others outside these four walls, it does so because of faithful men like Garrett and Jeff, who do the recording and broadcasting and make videos and take care of the web site. And let me say this, none of our ministry could take place without the faithful men and women who financially support this ministry. So to all of you Tychicuses I say, "Thank you." Thank you for serving the Lord Yeshua with me, thanks for being co-laborers.
It has been said, There are two types of people who walk in the door of the church. One type thinks, "Here I am, church! Meet my needs!" These folks often leave the church disappointed, because the church just didn't meet their needs. The other type walks in, looks around, and asks, "Where are the needs that I can meet?" These are the Lord's servants. They're not here to be served, but to serve Christ by serving His church. They care about others. Here is a question to ask yourself, "If every church member were just like me, what kind of church would my church be?"
Paul goes on:
I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. Ephesians 6:22 NASB
To the Colossians he writes:
For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; Colossians 4:8 NASB
"I have sent him to you"—the verb pempo (sent) is an epistolary aorist, that is, it views the action from the viewpoint of the recipients as they read the letter and should be translated "am sending" and not as "sent." If translated in the past tense, it might be interpreted that Paul had sent Tychicus before he wrote the Epistle.
Again, for some unknown reason the NASB translates the same Greek phrase differently. In Ephesians 6:22, Paul says that he is sending Tychicus so that "he may comfort your hearts." In Colossians 4:8, it is, "that he may encourage your hearts." It is the Greek word, parakaleo, which means: "to come alongside to help." Paul knew that the Ephesians were prone to lose heart over his trials. So he sent Tychicus with this letter for two primary purposes. He wanted to provide more information about himself and his present ministry than he felt led to record in this letter. He also wanted to encourage the Ephesians. The news reported by Tychicus would comfort the hearts of Paul's readers and diminish their anxiety. Paul's courageous faith would be an encouragement to them.
"That he may comfort your hearts"—what a ministry there is for a person who is an encourager! Tychicus would have conveyed Paul's perspective that we read in Philippians: "Sure, Paul is in prison and his living situation isn't exactly plush. But you wouldn't believe the ministry that God has given Paul with the soldiers. Every time they change the guard, Paul gets a new opportunity to tell about Christ. Now, there are believers all through the praetorian guard and even in Caesar's household!" Don't worry about Paul, he is having the time of his life. He is being used in a mighty way by Yahweh."
Preterist sidebar: If we are not careful, we can begin to think that the Bible was written to us in this century and is detached from history. But the close of this Epistle brings us back to reality, that the Word of God was given to real people who lived in the first century. Paul writes, "I have sent him to you"—who was sent to whom? Tychicus was sent to the Ephesians. Many believers hold the view that the Bible was written to us. If this is true, then we should be waiting for Tychicus. This letter was written two thousand years ago. Tychicus is dead and so are all the original audience. Now, I'm sure that you won't get much argument about this, Christians understand the principle of "audience relevance" here. But when it comes to references about Christ coming, we ignore audience relevance and time frame, and most of Christianity is still waiting for Christ to return. There needs to be a consistency in the application of the principle of audience relevance.
Usually, Paul's closing words are in the second person (you); but this is in the third person. Usually, the closing is a single part; but here it consists of two parts:
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Yeshua Christ. Ephesians 6:23 NASB
Paul is making a "chiasmic inclusio," ending the letter with the same emphases with which he began it:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2 NASB
"Peace"—is an abstract word in English; to understand what peace is we have to see it as a concrete, and we can do that by looking at the Hebrew. In Hebrew it is shalom. It comes from the root shalam, and it is used most often of restitution, which means: "to make someone whole." It literally means: "to make one whole and complete." Shalom Aleykhem is saying, "May you be whole and complete. May you have everything you need to be whole and complete."
In the ancient Hebrew, the word shalom was made up of four letters. The "shin," which looked like our capital W. It represented teeth, and meant: "to consume or destroy." The next letter is the "lamed" and it looked like a shepherd's staff. It stood for: "control or authority." Then you have the "vav," which is the nail. It has the idea of: "connecting or attaching." The final letter is a "mem," which pictures water. It means: "chaos or mighty." So peace means: "to destroy that authority attached to chaos." When you destroy what is bringing chaos, you will have peace. What is it that brings chaos into our lives? It is sin. Yeshua destroyed sin bringing us peace with Yahweh:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, Ephesians 2:14 NASB
"He Himself is our peace"—the position of the pronoun here in the Greek indicates that the best translation is: "He alone is our peace," or, "He only is our peace." It's emphatic. He alone. Not only does Yeshua make peace between Jews and Gentiles, but He Himself is that peace. He, living in believing Jews and Gentiles, is what has made both one. It is our union with Him that gives us peace with Yahweh.
A. Skevington Wood writes (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. by Frank Gaebelein [Zondervan], pp. 91-92), "This is more than a farewell greeting; it is a prayer for reconciliation. Paul longs to see the whole brotherhood of believers in Ephesus and its environs—Jews and Gentiles alike—at peace with each other in the one body of Christ."
One of the main thrusts in Ephesians is that through the cross of Yeshua the Christ, we have peace with God and peace with those from whom we formerly were alienated (2:11-22). We have peace with God because the blood of Yeshua paid the penalty for our sins. In chapter 1 and verse 2: "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Yeshua Christ." Chapter 2 and verse 14: "He is our peace..." Verse 15: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances...so making peace." Verse 17: "And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were near." Chapter 4 and verse 3: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." What is the message of Ephesians? It is that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places—where? Where? In Christ! Peace is where? Where? In Christ!:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1 NASB
So where do we get peace? In Christ! This is the message of this Epistle.
"And love with faith"—since Paul is praying this for the brethren, he is concerned here with the increase of faith and love among those who have already believed in Christ for eternal life. As Christians, we need greater faith in Yeshua that will move us toward self-sacrificing love for one another.
If you turn to chapter 1 and verse 15, you find love there. He says: "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Yeshua, and love unto all the saints..." Chapter 4 and verse 2: "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing" (putting up with) "one another in love." Verse 15: "But speaking the truth in love..." Verse 16: "...each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." Chapter 5, verse 25 —in the home: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." Verse 28: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." Verse 33: "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." The word "love" is used some fourteen times in the book of Ephesians. God's love for us is the example for our love for one another:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB
At the end of verse 23 Paul says, "From God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Christ"—this prepositional phrase indicates that the attributes of peace and love with faith have their origin in God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Christ.
Augustine said "We know that faith is a gift," he said, "for many reasons." But this is one of his reasons: "He (Paul) said, 'Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Yeshua Christ.'" In other words, peace, love, and faith are from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is a gift of God. If we believe, it's because we've been given that faith in wonderful grace. That is something to praise Yahweh about? That is something to be eternally grateful for; that I have faith, for it has come as a gift of God.
The preposition "from" introduces the entire expression, "God our Father and
the Lord Yeshua the Christ," suggesting that the two are on the same level. The Christ of the Bible was Yahweh, who took up a human nature, and sacrificed Himself for those whom God had chosen in eternity:
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Yeshua the Christ with incorruptible love. Ephesians 6:24 NASB
Again, Paul making a "chiasmic inclusio," ending the letter with the same emphasis with which he began it. Paul begins the letter with grace, and he ends it with grace. Twelve times in this letter he mentions grace:
to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NASB
The word "grace" is charis, and the word "freely" is charitoo. He is doubling the word for emphasis. The Hebrew word for grace is chen and has the idea of "providing continual protection." And Yahweh does this, "...In the Beloved"—again, we see that all that we have we have in Christ.
Paul emphasized that salvation is by grace alone:
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:5 NASB
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8 NASB
In chapter 3 and verses 2 and 8 and in chapter 4 verse 7 we saw that the only way we can serve Christ is because of His grace. Believer, all of the Christian life is a matter of grace. We are brought into Yahweh's eternal kingdom by grace; we are positionally and practically sanctified by grace; we are motivated to obedience by grace; we receive strength to live the Christian life by grace; and we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings by grace. The entire Christian life is lived by grace.
To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Yeshua the Christ. To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God, including my acceptance and standing with Him, on my union with Christ. To live by grace is to recognize that in myself I bring nothing of worth to my relationship with God, because even my righteous acts are like filthy rags in His sight. To live by grace means that we understand that God's love is not conditioned by our obedience or disobedience, but by the perfect obedience of Yeshua:
For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NASB
It is by His obedience that we are righteous.
Note, also, how Paul describes believers (6:24): They "love our Lord Yeshua the Christ with incorruptible love." That last phrase is literally, "in incorruption," or "immortality." It is an endless love.
Ephesians is a marvelous book. It is rich in doctrine, and loaded with practical instruction. I think that one of the greatest truths taught by Paul in this book is our union with Christ:
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Yeshua, Ephesians 2:5-6 NASB
The words "with Him" are used three times in our text. It is describing our union with Christ in being "made alive" (Eph. 2:5), "raised" (Eph. 2:6), "and seated in heavenly places" (Eph. 2:6). None of these things are possible on our own. It is only through our union with Christ that any of this is attainable. The greatest fact of all is that we are joined to Yeshua the Christ. So from here on our identity is no longer "in Adam," but it is "in Christ."
Our destiny is identified with Christ's destiny, His work. He was made alive; we were made alive together with Him. He was raised up, we were raised up together with Him. He was made to sit at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places; we have been made to sit together with Him. Why have we been identified with Him? For this simple reason: He is the covenantal head of the redeemed family. What He does, He does for us.
Everything that He did He did as a covenantal head. So when He bore the penalty for sin, our penalty was borne. That's why heaven cannot punish one iota those for whom Christ died. You see, He has borne the penalty. There is no further penalty. We have borne our penalty in Him.
What a magnificent thing it is to realize that my acceptance with the Father is the acceptance Yeshua has with the Father. That's why Paul talks about being in Him so often. It was this great truth that caused the hymn writer to say,
So nigh, so very nigh to God,
I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son,
I am as near as He.
What you believe determines how you live, so doctrine is extremely important. To understand the doctrine of our union with Christ will change your life.
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