Ephesians 6. This week we reach the conclusion of the letter. As we do so take time to go back and read the entire letter once again. I wonder if there is a particular verse or a set of verses that you want to be sure to remember and recall in future? Listen for the Word that God is writing on your heart as you read. I will be interested to learn what it is that you discover, what it is from the Letter to the Ephesians that resonates with your heart and soul and mind.
Since last week's session included the Household Code that runs from chapter five into chapter six, we will focus our attention on Ephesians 6:10-24. That seems appropriate since verse ten begins with the word "Finally".
In verses ten through seventeen Ephesians invites the church to "put on the whole armour of God" in order to be protected from "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places". What spiritual forces come to mind when you read this? What do you, do we, need protection from in order to "be strong in the Lord"?
Notice that most everything named in this military metaphor is defensive in nature: a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes that enable the proclamation of peace, a shield of faith and a helmet of salvation. When have you needed this kind of armour in your life? Where do you most need it now? How might the church remain "strong in the Lord" through this time of evident decline and diminishment in North America?
The one weapon named is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". How is such a weapon best used? What is its purpose? Since Jesus is the Word of God in human form how might we learn from him what it is to "fight the good fight"?
Verses eighteen through twenty are three prayer requests, including requests to pray in supplication for the saints and for Paul, that he may be given a word to speak and that he may declare it boldly when he must speak. What do you think it means "to pray in the Spirit at all times"? Remember that the letter is sent primarily to the church in Ephesus and so these requests are being made of the gathered congregation when it prays. In what ways might we, as a congregation, respond to these and other similar requests for prayer? How would you describe our congregation's life of prayer?
The letter concludes with a benediction that bestows the gifts of peace, love with faith and grace. What power, if any, does the benediction at the conclusion of the letter or at the conclusion of a service have for you? What about a blessing given by a friend as you are parting?