A Commentary by John Stott
Ephesians 6:21-24. Conclusion.
Paul has reached the end of his letter, which he has been dictating. Perhaps at this point he takes the pen from his scribe and writes an authenticating sentence or two in his own handwriting, . He certainly did this at the conclusion of his letters to the Galatians (Gal.6:11), the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:17), the Corinthians (1 Cor.16:21) and the Colossians (Col.4:18).
To whom, then, has he been dictating? Probably to Tychicus, whom he now mentions affectionately by name. Tychicus was a native of Asia. Luke not only describes him as ‘Asian’ (Acts 20:4), but also brackets him with Trophimus, whom he later calls an ‘Ephesian’ (Acts 21:29). So Tychicus may have come from Ephesus too. Paul certainly sent him there during his second imprisonment in Rome (2 Tim.4:12), and reading between the lines of the Ephesian and Colossian letters Paul seems to assume that his readers know him already.
What is clear, whether or not Tychicus was Paul’s scribe, is that Paul entrusts the letter to him to deliver, together with the Colossian Letter (Col.4:7-8). For the apostle evidently has complete confidence in his younger colleague. *Beloved brother*, he calls him, and also *faithful minister in the Lord* (verse 21). He will rely on him not only to deliver the letters safely, but also to supplement their message with some personal news. He is sending him, he says, *that you also may know how I am and what I am doing*; he *will tell you everything* (verse 21). Indeed, *I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are* (verse 22). Thus three times Paul reiterates his intention that Tychicus will bring his readers up to date with news of him. This no doubt explains the unusual absence at the end of the letter of personal messages and greetings. Tychicus will convey them by word of mouth.
Then there is another reason for the visit of Tychicus to Ephesus and its neighbouring cities. He will deliver the letter, he will tell the church members how Paul is, and in addition Paul is sending him *that he may encourage your hearts* (verse 22). It is touching to see the apostle’s desire to forge stronger personal links between himself and these Asian Christians. His exposition of God’s new society is no mere theological theory; for he and they are members of it themselves. So they must deepen their fellowship with one another – by praying for one another (he has recorded two of his prayers for them, in chapters 1 and 3, before requesting their prayers for him in verses 19 and 20), by his letter to them, and through Tychicus who would both bring them information about Paul and seek to encourage them. Prayer, correspondence and visits are still three major means by which Christians and churches can enrich one another and so contribute to the building up of the body of Christ.
It was the custom in the ancient world for correspondents to end their letters with a wish – usually a secular wish, even if the gods were invoked – for the readers health or happiness. Paul sees no reason to abandon the convention in principle. But as he has Christianized the opening greeting, so now he Christianizes the final wish. Indeed, what he writes is half wish, half prayer. For the blessings he desires for his readers will come *from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ*. What blessings are these?
Tomorrow: Ephesians 6:21-24. Conclusion (continued).
|The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Ephesians. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.|