Read: Eph 6:18-24
Before the concluding recommendation of Tychicus and the concluding wish of peace and grace,
Paul exhorts his addressees to prayer in Eph 6:18-20. The exhortation goes from the general to the more specific, from prayer “at all times” to “supplication for all the saints,” then for Paul to receive a message so as to make known the “mystery of the gospel, and finally that he may “declare it boldly.” There are several interesting expression used in this passage.
First of all, the expression rendered “at all times” in the NASB is literally “in every season.” The TEV has “on every occasion” which is a good rendition, since it reflects the singular expression kairos in the Greek.
Another interesting expression is “pray in the Spirit.” How does one pray “in the Spirit”? How does the Spirit impact our prayers? Paul suggests elsewhere in Rom 8:26 that the Spirit helps our weakness in not knowing how to pray as we should. Also in Rom 5:1 he states that God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Spirit. Perhaps one could infer from this that when we pray “in the Spirit” this love becomes active and pervasive.
Questions: How would such love relate to the purpose or purposes of prayer? What impact does such prayer have upon the one praying, the One prayed to, the one prayed for? Is it not such love that is at the heart of what Paul refers to as the “mystery of the gospel”? What is it that the Spirit accomplishes according the chs 2-3 where the expression “mystery” recurs in relation to the gospel?
Paul also refers to being on the alert in “perseverance and prayer” for all the saints. The idea is that of persevering in prayer.
Questions: Why “persevere”? Is it so that God will finally listen? Or that the ones prayed for will be comforted and find greater strength? Is there some way that prayer connects people that may not be tangible but nevertheless real? Or is it that one needs to spend enough time in prayer for it to have a beneficial effect on the one praying?
In the closing wish of peace and grace (Eph 6:23-24) Paul wishes not only peace but also “love with faith” from God and Jesus Christ. Is “faith” used to refer to our faith which we exercise toward God. If so, then along with peace and love this faith is something God blesses us with. There is another possibility. It is that “faith” here is to be taken as it is in Rom 3:3, i.e. “the faithfulness of God” If this is its sense here, then it refers to love coupled with God’s faithfulness. Love from God really is an expression of God’s faithfulness to humankind, inspite of the fact that many would not open their hearts to it. This also can be said to be the “mystery of the gospel.”
Questions: After studying Ephesians this quarter, what do you think is the heart of its message? What is its relevance for Christians today? Which passages have spoken to you the most deeply and why?