Yesterday, we finished our series through the book of Ephesians.  It was bittersweet.  To come to the end of a lengthy study is a good thing, but it also makes you realize that it will likely be many years before you return to this great book that Ruth Paxson once called “the Grand Canyon of Scripture.”  As Paul came to the end of his letter, he ended with a big ambitious goal for the church at Ephesus and the churches in the surrounding cities.  We should ask ourselves if we have similar goals four local churches?

Paul’s Desire to Encourage

Paul ended with a desire to encourage the church.  In fact, that was one of the great purposes of the entire letter.  Paul was writing from prison, but had a desire to encourage the people.  Paul’s affection for the church in Ephesus and their affection for him is clearly seen in Acts 20:36-38.  Paul sent Tychicus to encourage the church, and they could find encouragement in the wellbeing of Paul (although he was in prison, he was well), and they could find encouragement in the grand truths of Christianity that were communicated to them through this letter.

Tychicus was a dearly beloved individual who was one of Paul’s faithful helpers and assistants.  In Acts 20:4 Tychicus was mentioned as a native of Asia and was with Paul in Greece.  Tychicus traveled with Paul as he took the collection from the Gentile churches to their needy Jewish brethren in Jerusalem.  In 2 Timothy 4:12 we find some additional information about Tychicus who was sent on some undesignated mission to Ephesus and was also intended to take Titus’ place at some point according to Titus 3:12.  The point is clear—Paul found a close connection to Tychicus who was a man he could trust.  Every minister needs close friends and associates that can be trusted.

Paul’s Doctrinal Ambition

Paul finished his letter with a blessed saying known to us as a benediction.  This was a typical manner of closing a letter.  However, Paul doesn’t just provide a shallow benediction.  He provides them with some doctrinal depth as he communicates some doctrinal desires for the church.

The first thing we see is the word peace – “εἰρήνη” – a state of concord, peace, harmony.  Paul desired the church at Ephesus to walk in the peace of God. Before anyone can enjoy the peace of God, first and foremost, they must be at peace with God.  That’s the purpose of Jesus’ birth, sinless life, and substitutionary death (Luke 1:79; 2:14; John 14:27; 16:33).   Before salvation you are pictured as a:

  • Transgressor
  • Law breaker
  • Sinner
  • Infidel
  • Rebel
  • Unclean
  • Evil
  • Filthy
  • Depraved
  • Lustful
  • Trespasser
  • Wanderer
  • Enemy of God
  • Wicked
  • Disobedient
  • Child of the devil
  • Child of wrath
  • Scoffer
  • Spiritually blind
  • Spiritually dead
  • Fleshly rather than spiritual
  • Double-minded
  • Unrighteous

It’s only through the blood of Jesus Christ that takes away our sin (Rom. 5:8) and serves as a propitiation to God the Father (1 John 2:1-2) that enables us to stand at peace before God (Rom. 8:1).  This truth produces peace among the church as we live in God’s peace that translates out to a peaceful church life among fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (see Eph. 4:3).

Paul continues by speaking of “love with faith from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The Christians would have experienced the love of God through faith that comes from God. How did these Christians receive the love of God? It was by faith? How did they exercise faith? It was a gift of God (see Eph. 2:8-9).  Since we are his workmanship (Eph. 1:15), we should walk in the love of God and demonstrate love for one another.

Paul finishes by talking about grace “χάρις”—God’s gift of unmerited mercy and salvation to fallen sinners.  Paul makes his point clear.  The only hope for final and eternal grace is by an incorruptible love.  Incorruptible – “ἀφθαρσία” – the state of not being subject to decay/dissolution/interruption, incorruptibility, immortality.  R.C. Sproul writes, “The love of Christ that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is not a passing fad or a romantic infatuation, but it is an enduring and abiding love that perseveres.” [1]

Can that be said about you?  Do you have a love that is incorruptible for Jesus or is it merely a passing fad?  If reading or studying through the book of Ephesians did not change your life—go back and start over at the beginning.

  1. R. C. Sproul, The Purpose of God: Ephesians (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 155.

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Author Paul’s Big Ambition for the Church

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.