Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:21c-22a “. . .shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent
unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs,. . .”
Paul knew the Ephesian Christians loved him and were anxious about his status. These were the people whose leaders traveled to Miletus and knelt down in prayer and wept with Paul (AC 20:17,36-38). Not wanting them to be discouraged over his imprisonment, Paul is sending a messenger to tell them how he is doing.
Do not underestimate the significance of this act. Paul gave up someone delightful and useful to himself, a precious and rare commodity for one in jail. This highlights how much Paul loved the Ephesians. For them, he was willing to part with a comforter. Being a Christian entails willingness to let private concerns take a back seat to the public good. The well-being of others must be placed above self.
Paul’s kindness was not self-serving. He was totally concerned about others, expecting no gift in return. This attitude is rare. It is hard to find one who, with total selflessness, truly cares about what happens in the lives of others. One abiding lesson I learned from reading Dale Carnegie is, when conversing, talk about the other person. Learn from them what matters to them. Get outside yourself. Care.
Eph. 6:22b “. . .and that he might comfort your hearts.”
Tychicus’ assignment is to encourage as well as to enlighten. Paul, a man in chains, sought to comfort others. We have no greater privilege than to minister comfort, to soothe the pain, to bring relief into another person’s hurting life.
Paul was self-less to the end. In prison he found joy and lost self-pity in the desire to help and care for others. Even in the darkest circumstances, Christians have ever been able to find rays of comfort. This trait has always baffled unbelievers. To them the idea of troubles, especially imprisonment, is harrowing and dreadful. They do not understand how we can “glory in tribulations” (RM 5:3) in general, and profit from jail in particular. This consolation in the darkness proves God is with us in the struggle, and causes us to believe ever more strongly in the divine.
Eph. 6:23a “Peace. . .”
This grand epistle ends in a benediction. Paul could not say good-bye without praying for his readers. His mind ever on prayer, he lived in the Holy of Holies, his thoughts never straying far from the throne of grace. Prayer was his breath.
As he drafted his parting prayer, power-words surfaced in his thoughts. His mind, a spiritual steel trap, grabbed and retained lofty concepts. Upon his friends he calls down from God wonderful things–peace, love, faith, grace. These dewdrops of Heaven are shining jewels needed in every Christian’s crown. Paul wants these traits, without which no Christian can excel, to cascade down as his legacy.
“There is no better test of a man than the things that he wishes for the people that he loves most. He desires for them, of course, his own ideal of happiness” (Maclaren). What we want for the beloved reveals what truly matters most to us. By what we say, and by what we spend time and money doing, are we conveying to our children and other loved ones the message that spiritual things matter to us more than all else? If our main concerns, what we value highest, for our loved ones are education, careers, riches, success, etc., we are far from what Paul prized most.
Paul did not desire earthly things for believers. Second best was not good enough. His ambitions soared higher than that, only the best would do. Peace, love, faith, and grace were the joys which had enriched him most. These had sustained him, given him meaning and purpose, and he wanted nothing less for us.
Paul’s first benedictory request is “peace.” Elijah left behind the mantle of power (2 K 2:14), Paul bequeaths the manna of peace. To know peace is the primal desire of every human breast. We may think we mainly want happiness, recreation, and excitement, but our most basic desire is actually to sense peace in our bosom, to enjoy quiet within. We yearn for composure, mental tranquility.
In this world, humans live in a turbulent middle, above ocean depths which even the fiercest hurricane cannot stir, and below heights in the sky to which no storm ever ascends. Below us is perpetual quiet, above us constant sunshine. This physical locale depicts our spiritual setting. When turbulence stirs our lives, we need to sink deep into the quiet bosom of Jesus, and let Him lift us to the highest level of living, way above the storms. Do not be content with anxiety. Never stagnate in the turbulent middle. Always be only passing through it. Be either getting down deep into Jesus, or already having done this, be rising high above troubles.
Many fail to enjoy the peace of God because they wrongly perceive the God of peace. Some deem Him an angry bully who wants people to be miserable. Nothing is farther from the truth. God has ever desired our peace. The Aaronic blessing included, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee,. . . .and give thee peace” (NB 6:24-26). Jesus invited, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (MT 11:28). God wants us to enjoy inner healing, wholeness, freedom from unrest, deep tranquility, a continuous flow of holy poise from Him.
Blessed, glorious, restful peace is “the portion of all who have learned to commit everything to the care of our blessed Saviour” (Ironside). In Jesus is peace. When the storm raged, He “rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (MK 4:39). Oh, Jesus, please do it again. Speak peace, Lord, in me, to my troubled breast. Stop the howling wind of agitation, calm my troubled waters. The questions Jesus asked after the storm still apply today, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (MK 4:40). We trust our spouses, children, parents, friends, doctors, lawyers, accountants, brokers, bankers, and pastors–is it too much to expect of us to trust in God?
He wants us to trust Him for everything, including death itself. The Psalmist knew this, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (PS 23:4). It is wonderful to rest one’s head in the lap of another, to forget discontent in the bosom of a loved one, to lose fear simply due to the presence of another. When I was a boy, and the storms blew through Southeast Missouri, if I could get in my mother’s lap, all was well. I was old enough to know she could not control the storm, but her presence somehow helped me anyway. God, who does have power over the weather of life, deserves for us to trust Him, to rest ourselves in His presence, even as I did in my mother’s. To enjoy peace, all we should need to know is, “I am with you alway” (MT 28:20).