Benediction of Ephesians
The introductions and benedictions of the letters of the New Testament are easy to over look in a mad dash to get to our “life verses” or “favorite passages” that are often read, interpreted and applied out of their meaning.
However, when one slows down they can mine spiritual gold in the form of a kingdom worldview.
Remember, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God maybe complete, equipped for every good work.” – Timothy 3:16
This includes closings of letters in the New Testament. So, lets not skip over this closing and miss some beautiful grace from the Lord.
Be Content Being A Tychicus
“…Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord…”
Tychicus is mentioned five times in the New Testament: Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7, 8; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12
Tychicus was a Thessalonian, meaning one of Paul’s early disciples and appears in Acts at the end of Paul’s work in Ephesus.
He probably witnessed the silversmith’s riot against Paul that prompted them to leave for Macedonia (Acts 19:35-20:1).
Tychicus is called a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant (almost exact same wording in Eph 6:21 and Col 4:7 only “fellow servant” added in Colossians).
When Paul decided to return to Jerusalem where he would be arrested, Tychicus was one of the folks accompanying Paul as a traveling companion and helper (Acts 20:4).
When Paul was arrested, Tychicus along with Luke, stayed with Paul for his epic travels to Rome that would include a long stint in jail, Paul’s defense in front of high ranking officials, a shipwreck, a snakebite without effect and finally his house arrest in Rome awaiting trial.
Tychicus was sent to Ephesus by Paul, (reflected in 2 Timothy 4:12 and Ephesians 6:21) thus helping us to date and locate Ephesians’ dating and occasion as before Paul’s death and as written from his imprisonment.
Tychicus is often the runner of Paul’s messages and perhaps even his scribe.
Tychicus is not what many would call successful or an exceptional talent.
He’s no Paul, right? Wrong. He’s faithful and obscure. And as the Lord said, the last will be first.
I’m not exactly sure how that will play out when the kingdom is fully established, but you can bet that Tychicus’ faithfulness is written down and his treasure in the kingdom is his to inherit, and his background role will be fully rewarded.
No matter what role we are given from the Lord, our mindset would be just right if it were that of Tychicus.
I’m sure he wrestled, like all of us, with bouts of pride and over-inflation, but I’m also sure the Spirit’s work of sanctification had it’s powerful results too. Paul speaks so well of this brother.
Tychicus left no writing that survives, he did not feats that Luke would record in Acts, but his legacy of faithfulness is one that upholds kingdom work.
For the loss of a nail, lose a horseshoe;
For the loss of a horseshoe, lose a horse;
For the loss of a horse, lose a soldier;
For the loss of a soldier, lose a battle;
For the loss of a battle, lose a kingdom.
We may not read words that Tychicus wrote or celebrate great feats done by the Lord through him, but everytime we read our bibles we should give thanks for the faithful background work of Tychicus and people like him in the kingdom.
- Background work is essential in the kingdom and highlighted as first in the
Listen to the lyrics of Lecrae’s song, Background:
It’s evident you run the show, so let me back down
You take the leading role, and I’ll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I’m sticking to your script, and I’m reading all your signs
I don’t need my name in lights, I don’t need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I’m just going lose my soul
And my ways ain’t pure if I don’t live according to Your Word
I can’t endure this life without Your wisdom being heard
So word, to every dancer for a pop star
‘Cause we all play the background, but mine’s a rockstar
Yeah, so if you need me I’ll be stage right
Praying the whole world will start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
‘Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessing
That I’m not that impressive, matter of fact
I’m who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar.
I had a dream that I was captain of my soul
I was master of my fate, lost control, and then I sank
So I don’t want to take the lead, ’cause I’m prone to make mistakes
All these folks who follow me, gon’ end up in the wrong place
So let me just shadow you, let me trace your lines
Matter of fact, just take my pen, here, you create my rhymes
‘Cause if I do this by myself, I’m scared that I’ll succeed
And no longer trust in you, ’cause I only trust in me
And see, that’s how you end up headed to destruction
Paving a road to nowhere, pour your life out for nothing
You pulled my card, I’m bluffing, You know what’s in my hand
Me, I just roll and trust you, You cause the dice to land
I’m in control of nothing, follow you at any cost
Some call it sovereign will, all I know is you the boss
Man, I’m so at ease, I’m so content
I’ll play the background, like it’s an instrument. – Lecrae
We are all background because Jesus is the Head. We get in trouble when we think we’re not background and have some kind of starring role. Be content being Tychicus.
- Neither your work nor mine, in the Lord for the kingdom, is ever irrelevant, no matter how obscure it is.
Be Spiritual Family Rather Than Agenda Driven Spiritual Users v. 21-22
“So that you also may know how I am…that you may know how we are…he may encourage your hearts.”
Paul was sending Tychicus with this letter of instruction along with news on how the “fam” was doing personally and in the work they were sent to do.
Paul spent a lot of time at Ephesus, and this was family. So, Paul wanted those he cared about and those who cared about him to be up to speed and be encouraged in spite of his imprisonment. Paul was concerned with them while in prison because he loved his family.
The imprisoned one was concerned with those well and whole precisely because they are linked in kingdom and therefore, soul.
I’d like to share a modification of a sheet that we use at Northwood in our relationship to Bob Roberts as a spiritual “father” to us planters. We are using these distinctions here in helping those who want to plant a new campus and for those interested in planting independent / pioneers churches to know what we expect relationally. This document contrasts “sons” versus “hirelings”. These distinctions come from biblical principles on family and authority and sons and fathers and help us overcome worldly ambitions and replace them with kingdom ambitions.
These biblical truths apply to the life of the church as well, so I’ve modified them for family versus users.
The reason is that in the west the church is inundated with people who shop the church for what they want / (perceive) need to the detriment of the whole. These are takers and not givers. These are irritated when things are not perfect and uproot with every wind of change they don’t like. These are some of the reason the church in the west does not look like the kingdom. These make the church more of a spiritual Wal-Mart rather than a community of the kingdom.
Here are some contrasts between family and users:
Has the family’s success as their own success. Family is family first.
Have their own ends and think in terms of their wants / needs / rights only.
Uses the language of us, we and our.
Use the language of me and mine.
Honors headship and taking care to make up for the weaknesses of others.
Takes delight in highlighting the weaknesses and failures of others, particularly those they should honor.
Always looking to redefine authority because they don’t care about submission. Selective about who they submit to.
Loves working together and getting along. They don’t have to focus on loyalty because it’s built in to their family DNA.
Have to look for people who’ll be loyal to them because they are really looking for position in order to work their agenda (looking for an advantage).
Transparent. Tells all.
Shares only what they want others to know. They control the narrative.
Ready for input and they carry an open heart.
Carry offenses and look for opportunities to get even.
Care about all generations and wants to share life with all generations. Care about the family as a whole.
Self-focused and care about their own “calling” and “ministry” opposed to the overall end of the family. Care only about certain demographics.
Seeks to get new and weaker people into the family for the person’s good.
Bond new and weaker people to themselves for a following.
Focus on the welfare of the family.
More concerned with appearances, numbers, events and “success”.
Secure to accept change, uniqueness and healthy feedback.
Change, uniqueness and healthy feedback offends and threatens their secure place.
We are a fellowship constructed on the vision of the glory of God, glocally, by the radical life. The culture produced is a KDSC culture. That vision and culture makes us a family.
One of the evidences of our strong family culture is that when truly committed people leave TRCC they have trouble finding the same thing again. They’ve been ruined for the ordinary. It’s because the vision and culture are thick, and this is a gift of the Spirit. It’s because we are a family not a confederation of users. Users don’t last long at TRCC. The culture roots them out.
Be family, don’t be a user who wants to take and pick and choose. Continue to be the family of TRCC that epitomizes the vision and the value of KDSC.
Be a Blessing With Our Words In The Fellowship v. 23-24
“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith…Grace be will all who love our Lord…”
Let me be clear. There are always times when we need to bring the thunder with our words. When we are dealing with issues that break doctrinal orthodoxy, unrepentant sin, intentional hurting of others, subversion, using the tongue to curse rather than bless, gossip, etc.
But most of the time, at least in our fellowship, these things are needed less often, and I’m speaking of membership as a whole not just pastors.
However, even when we do not have to righteously use harsh words, it’s tempting to use our words to hurt or subvert or accuse or condemn in a passive aggressive kind of way. It’s easy to use our words and even good intentions to put people down or lift ourselves and our opinions above others.
We must be careful with our words.
Listen to the Lord Jesus on this:
““Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:33-37
No doubt Paul brought correction: See Galatians. But when Paul closes his letters to his loved people, he speaks blessings.
Speaking blessing over each other is not playing magical fairy; speaking blessing is a way of pleading for the grace of God to be showered mightily in the lives of the people we are speaking blessing to. One can do this with the speaking of Scripture or kind words or even prophetic words from the Spirit over each other.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21
The Lord speaks with precision and care and sustaining purpose. Hebrews 1:1-3 reminds us that the Son is upholding the universe by the word of his power. This means that the precision of gravity and angles and trigonometric functions are at work by his precise decreeing of them.
The Lord breathed out Scripture in precision and is bearing witness to the precision of the written text of Scripture.
As image bearers, we can’t be God, but we can speak intelligently, precisely and thoughtfully. The fall wrecked that ability to an extent, but in Christ we have Holy Spirit in us and we have the word written to us and we have been rescued from darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light, therefore, we can speak rightly to one another and know that although not infallible, our words can bless rather than curse.
We all know the power of intentional and unintentional words and thoughts that have wounded us deeply.
We also all know the power of a fitting word rightly placed.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11
Words of blessing are centered on the importance of others.
Words of “not-blessing” are centered on the getting of one’s way or justifying one’s sinful or silly actions.
Paul ends his correspondence with his family in a word from the Father and Son and a prayer / wish from himself for the family.
Notice that “peace” and “love with faith” are sent via Paul from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The only conclusion one can make from this language is that God delights in delivering his words to us through the vehicle of fellowship in the kingdom.
Paul has a word for them from the Father and Son, and indwelling Holy Spirit will take delight in and affirm this as being the words of the Father and Son.
So we conclude that it’s our pleasure to speak blessing from the Lord to each other.
What did Father and Son want Ephesus and us to hear?
- Peace v. 23
Not necessarily peace without, but necessarily peace within.
Jesus promised we would have difficulty without, but we are to take heart because Jesus has over come that world system and his kingdom is coming with power.
Our hope is that when it’s storming on the outside that we have peace within.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, ‘it is well with my soul.’” – Horatio Spafford
- Love with faith v. 23
The Father and Son communicate that they love them and are sustaining their faith.
This not so subtle reminder of the Father and Son’s love for them, I would argue, serves to exhort the Ephesians to stay the course in love that issues from faith. To love people the way God does requires faith that not giving retribution will be ok.
We know the Lord reminded Ephesus in Revelation 2 that they had abandoned the love they had at first. We can only conclude that their desire for doctrinal purity had led them to be cold in the love department.
Father reminds them he loves them and has sustained their faith. Therefore, the Ephesians and us TRCC’ans are to be reminded we are loved and sustained and should love as we have been loved.
- Grace v. 24
Paul issues his prayer / wish for the people: Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus with love incorruptible.”
Grace, the unmerited favor of God, is showered richly whether common grace in rain for crops even for the unregenerate or special grace in new birth to salvation for his elect. Paul desires that those who love Jesus taste the abundance of grace from the Father.
No doubt, this prayer is answered as immediately as the Ephesians here the words of Paul in the letter.
No doubt this prayer is answered for us as we are ministered to by the Spirit in the gathering of the saints.
Father’s grace is abundant and rich, and with eyes to see, we can live in great hope that Father is providentially taking care of us just as he did the Ephesians.
Blessing of TRCC:
Three Rivers Community Church, may peace be yours in abundance regardless of the external chaos that may abound. May you taste the love of the Father and sustained faithfulness to love as you have been loved, and may you have eyes to see the rich grace lavished on us as beloved children of God in Jesus Christ.
Corporate Worship is Our Fitting Response
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
In response to the fact that all things are being reconciled to King Jesus under his rule so that we can live in a manner reflecting that reality, let’s worship. It’s the only fitting response.
 Kent Hughes, Epheisans (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990) p. 259.
 Omar Reyes and Bob Roberts created the Sons versus Hirelings chart and we are using it in defining our relationships. I am modifying it’s contents for our purposes today.