Cole's sermon (the last section -
for full message)...
Paul shows us how to be caring, godly
brothers and sisters in Christ (Eph 6:23, 24).
We’re probably tempted to skim over these benedictions without much
thought, but there is a lot of solid theology here. This benediction
varies from Paul’s usual form, which suggests that it was not just a
throwaway close to this letter. Paul wanted his readers to think about
it. Usually, Paul’s closing words are in the second person (“you”); but
this is in the third person. Usually, the close is a single part; but
here it consists of two parts. Usually, grace comes first; but here
peace, which is usually last, is first (T. K. Abbott, A Critical and
Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the
Colossians [T. & T. Clark], p. 190).
A. Skevington Wood writes (The
Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. by Frank Gaebelein [Zondervan], pp.
“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.”
Four key words in Paul’s benediction
have played a key role in the message of Ephesians. They are more than
Paul’s wish; they are also his prayer, and therefore should be our
A. Pray for peace for the brethren.
One of the main thrusts in Ephesians is that through the cross of Jesus
Christ, we have peace with God and peace with those from whom we
formerly were alienated (Eph 2:11-22-note).
We have peace with God because the blood of Jesus paid the penalty for
our sins, which God’s perfect justice demands. Drawing near to God is
not a matter of being religious. The Jews had been as religious as
anyone could be, but their religion was not good enough to reconcile
them to God. Also, the good news is that being a sinful pagan who has
never darkened the door of a church does not mean that there is no hope
for you ever to be reconciled to God. Rather, as Paul has shown, the
blood of Christ has made it possible for both nonreligious pagans and
religious Jews to draw near to God through faith in Jesus.
But this peace with God through the cross of Christ also reconciles
groups that formerly were alienated from one another. As Paul wrote
For He Himself is our peace, who made
both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.
For Paul, a large part of the glory
of the church is that it contained
no distinction between Greek and Jew,
circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman,
but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:11-note).
This means that a racist church is
not compatible with the New Testament church! If you have trusted in
Christ as Savior and Lord, every other person who has trusted in Christ
is your brother or your sister. Our church should reflect the racial
makeup of our community. As various races live in visible peace with one
another in the church, it is a testimony to the world of Christ’s saving
B. Pray for love for the brethren.
Peace and love go hand in hand (Eph.
4:1, 2, 3-note).
God’s love for us is the example for our love for one another (Ep 5:1,
Our homes should radiate the self-sacrificing love of Christ between
husbands and wives, and parents and children (Ep 5:22-6:4-note).
In the church, we must work at building and maintaining loving
relationships between one another (Eph 4:31-note,
Ep 5:1, 5:2-note).
C. Pray for faith for the brethren.
Paul prays for “love with faith,” as the two qualities are closely
connected. In Galatians 5:6, Paul writes,
For in Christ Jesus neither
circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working
The outward keeping
of religious rituals is not the main thing, but rather, faith that works
itself out in deeds of love.
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 Jesus Christ that will move us
toward self-sacrificing love for one another.
The source of this peace, love, and faith is “God the Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul easily connects the Lord Jesus Christ with God
the Father, thus demonstrating His deity and His equality with the
Father. We should ask for one another and for ourselves, that God would
increase our peace, love, and faith.
D. Pray for grace for all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in
This is Paul’s second benediction, that God’s grace would be with these
believers. They already have experienced something of the riches of
God’s grace, as Paul exulted in Ephesians 1:7, 8a-note,
In Him we have redemption through His
blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His
grace which He lavished on us.
Paul emphasized (Ep 2:5-note,
that salvation is by grace alone,
so that in the ages to come He might
show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus (Ep 2:7-note).
In Ep 3:2-note
Ep 3:8-note and Ep 4:7-note we saw that
the only way we can serve Christ is
because of His grace. But because God’s grace is an inexhaustible
storehouse, we need to pray for one another and ourselves that we would
experience His grace more and more.
Note, also, how Paul describes believers (Eph 6:24): they
love our Lord Jesus Christ with
That last phrase is literally, “in
incorruption.” It may mean, “incorruptible love.” Or, it may refer
to the sphere in which our love for Christ takes place, namely, in the
sphere of incorruptible or eternal life, which He has given to us. You
are a genuine Christian if you know that God has given you eternal life
in His Son (cp 1Jn 1:2, 2:25, 3:15, 16, 5:11, 13, 20) and as a result, you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and
Savior. Experiencing His grace that saved you, although you should have
been condemned, will increase your love for Jesus Christ.
Summary and Review
The great theme of Ephesians is the
eternal purpose of God, to sum up all things in Jesus Christ. The book
falls into two halves. Chapters 1-3 reveal our exalted position with
Christ in the heavenly places (Ep 2:4, 5, 6-note),
all because God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (Ep
Chapters 4-6 show our experiential walk with Christ in this world (Eph
as we stand firm against the evil forces of darkness in the heavenly
places (Eph 6:10-20-note).
Our position in Christ and our walk in this world as we stand
victoriously against these evil forces demonstrate God’s eternal
purpose, to sum up all things in Christ. At the heart of this practical
walk is that we get along in unity in the church and in the home, which
is the basic unit of the church.
By way of summary and review, here are four main practical lessons from
(1) The gospel is a life-transforming message.
Whether you are from a religious background, as the Jews in Ephesus
were, or from a pagan background, as the Gentiles were, believing in
Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord drastically changed your life. As
we saw, many of the people in Ephesus were heavily involved in the
occult (Acts 19:18, 19). Many had engaged in immorality with the temple
prostitutes at the famous Temple of Artemis or Diana in Ephesus. But
when they came to Christ, they burned their occult books and they
abandoned their immorality (Eph 5:3-12-note).
God created them anew in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph
Granted, this transformation works itself out gradually, as we lay aside
the old life, are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and put on the new
life (Eph 4:22, 23, 24-note).
But those who have been saved by grace embark on this new life of
transformation in holiness.
(2) What you believe is extremely important.
Paul would not have spent the first three chapters of Ephesians laying
the doctrinal foundation if doctrine were not crucial for your Christian
life! What you believe determines how you live. If you claim to believe
the gospel but live as the world lives, it proves that you really do not
believe the gospel. We live in a day when professing evangelical
Christians have belittled doctrine as irrelevant or even as divisive.
While truth necessarily divides, we should hold to the truth in love (Ep
The doctrine of election, which Paul emphasizes in chapter 1, is
divisive. But it’s also vital for your understanding of the gospel and
your growth in the Christian life. If it were not, Paul wouldn’t have
put it there.
(3) The church is extremely important to God.
Ephesians emphasizes the vital importance of the church. As Paul said
Eph 1:23), the church is Christ’s body, “the fullness of Him who fills
all in all.” If Christ loved the church and gave Himself for the church
as His bride (Eph 5:25, 26, 27-note),
then we must love the church and give ourselves for her. True, she is
not yet glorified, without spot or blemish. Yes, you will get wounded in
the church. But, yes, you must commit yourself to that to which Christ
You can’t say, “I love Jesus, but I
hate His bride.” Or, “I love the Head, but His body stinks!” I recommend
that you read Josh Harris’ little book, Stop Dating the Church
(4) Relationships in the church are
extremely important to God.
This is the main thrust of Ephesians 2:11-22, Ep 3:4-11, and Ep 4:1-6:9. It’s
not a minor theme! Remember, in that culture, Jews and Gentiles were
completely alienated from one another. But the church was to demonstrate
the saving grace of God, who reconciled these two humanly incompatible
groups into one new man. It is vital that we work through relational
differences and show the world the love of Jesus Christ through our
reconciled relationships. Don’t miss the fact that all of these truths
are for those who are brethren (Ep 6:21-note,
You become a brother or sister through the new birth, when God’s Spirit
quickens you from spiritual death to spiritual life. So I close our
studies in Ephesians by quoting again Ep 2:8, 9-note,
“For by grace you have been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as
a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Above all, make sure you have been
1. What do you need to be doing now so that you will hear, “well
done” from Jesus at the judgment?
2. How can a Christian discover where he should be serving? What
guidelines does Scripture give?
3. Do we really need to work through relational difficulties in the
church? Isn’t it more practical just to avoid the other person?
Discuss in light of Romans 12:18-note &
4. Why is
commitment to the local church not optional for believers? How can
someone who has been wounded by a church recover? (Used by Permission -
Ephesians 6:21-24 The Caring Church)