Paul’s love for the church, as touching as it is, isn’t ultimately about Paul but about a promise God made to his people long before Paul had life and breath. For example, consider the words of Jeremiah 23:1-4. “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord.
Ephesians 6:21-22, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
Ephesians 6:21-24 comprise Paul’s closing words to the Ephesians, and admittedly it would be easy to read over them quickly or to ignore them altogether because, truth be told, the beginning and ending of the New Testament letters often seem to us like formulaic words. It’s not that we think them empty or meaningless, but they we think of them as standard ways to start and finish, and so we usually blow past them without seriously pondering what the Lord might be saying to us through them.
This impulse is understandable, but we have to watch ourselves because every single word of the Bible is God-breathed and designed to accomplish any number of purposes in our lives for the glory of God’s name. Every single word of the Bible is profitable for teaching, correction, reproof, and training in righteousness so that the man or woman of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). Every single word of the Bible has glory embedded in it, including the opening and closing words of every New Testament letter.
God has so many good things stored away for us in every one of his words, and therefore the question becomes this: are we willing to be patient with the Lord and do the hard work of study and meditation until we come to see something of the spiritual depth that’s present in all of God’s words? May the Lord give us the grace to do just this as we meditate together on the closing words of Ephesians.
Paul’s Love for the Church
Paul writes, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts” (Ephesians 6:21-22). Let me draw your attention to three things in these verses. First, notice that Paul truly loved the people he served. For all intents and purposes, Paul planted the church of Ephesus. When he came to that city, he found a handful of believers there because of the work of Apollos, Aquila, and, but they had yet to form these believers into a church, so Paul did.
Given his important role in their lives, Paul could have envisioned himself as the founder of a religious organization and the people of the church as his constituents. But the idea of professional distance between the clergy and the people, which is so prevalent in some circles of the church today, was utterly foreign to Paul.