Paul brings this glorious epistle to a close with a few simple parting words, a greeting, and a benediction. We are introduced to Tychicus, the bearer of this letter, and learn a bit about his friendship with Paul, as well as the obvious care that the Ephesian church has for Paul’s welfare. Paul evidently had great confidence and love for Tychicus, as his beloved brother and faithful co-laborer in the Gospel. Due to Paul’s close relationship with the Ephesian church, instead of a few lines of personal nature at the end of the epistle, Paul sends Tychicus, a living epistle, to update the church about his welfare. The personal face to face visit and testimony of Tychicus would encourage the church far more than a mere few lines in a letter.
Obviously Paul had a deep concern for relationships. With all of the high theology and practical individual application that he has just written to them in the 2400 or so words which precede this ending, Paul concludes with evidence of his desire to forge a stronger personal link between himself and the church he loved so greatly. This is the outworking of his exposition on God’s new society – demonstrating that it is more than mere theological theory. Paul wanted the church, to live like the church – to deepen their fellowship, by praying for one another, sending this epistle, and sending Tychicus who would encourage them and carry personal information from Paul. Prayer, correspondence, and personal visitation remain the three major means by which Christians can encourage one another to this day, and so contribute to the building up of the body of Christ.
This being the beginning of a new year, it is a good time for us to reflect upon our own church life. How connected are we to the brethren? How much do we really know about our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we truly count them as family? Are we being aloof from our spiritual brothers and sisters, giving preference to our physical family and secular friends? How often do you pray for those in your church – not just the pastor, but other congregants? With the advent of the telephone, email and Facebook, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach out and encourage our brethren far more than past generations – are you taking full advantage of these things to correspond often with your church family? Of course, nothing replaces face to face fellowship – how often do you actually see your brothers and sisters face to face to fellowship, pray for, and encourage one another during the week? What steps might you take this year to strengthen the external ties that bind our hearts in Christian love?
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