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.
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
Ephesians 6:21-24 ESV
With this forty-first sermon in our study through the book of Ephesians, we reach the conclusion of this powerful and dense letter of Paul. These closing four verses follow the general pattern of most Pauline epistles, while subtly displaying their unique beauties. What may at first appear to be a skim-able closing greeting is, in reality, a marvelously succinct and fitting conclusion to both Kingdom War and the letter as a whole.
TYCHICUS, THE FAITHFUL MINISTER // VERSES 21-22
Within these first two verses of Paul’s closing, we learn of Tychicus, who was responsible for delivering this letter to Ephesus and giving them detailed report on the apostle’s condition and circumstances. As with most of Paul’s companions, little is known of Tychicus. Acts 20:4 tells us that he was an Asian, which may explain why he was tasked with carrying the letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians. Indeed, Colossians 4:7-8 speaks of Tychicus in almost exact same wording:
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
For this reason (and the fact that Colossians and Ephesians contain so many similarities), many believe that Paul wrote both letters around the same time and sent both with Tychicus on the same journey. He is also mentioned later as being a possible deliverer of Paul’s letter to Titus, and in Paul’s final letter, we learn that Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus once again (2 Timothy 4:12).
Let us make two considerations here before moving onto the final benediction. First, Calvin notes the possibility of a further motive of Paul for having Tychicus give an update on his circumstances beyond simply catching up. Calvin states:
Never has any man of authority, who has edified God’s church, been cast into prison or brought to a halt without something or other being spread abroad to disgrace him and to bring him, as it were, into disrepute, and all to obscure the things that God has done through him and to overthrow that which he has built. That is one of Satan’s devices.
Paul’s statement to the Philippians (which was likely also written during the same imprisonment as Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon) of some who preached “Christ from envy and rivalry… thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment” (1:15, 17) may indicate this very sort of thing. Thus, Tychicus’ work of encouraging the Ephesians’ hearts may have run deeper than we first imagine. It would certainly have been an encouragement simply to hear from the beloved apostle; however, a message of faithfulness in the midst of rumors would have been encouraging indeed.
Second, Paul designated Tychicus to the Ephesians as the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord. Nothing else needs to be said to us about Tychicus. He is a beloved brother, a member of God’s household, the body and bride of Christ, the church. He is a fellow adopted sibling of our heavenly Father and co-heir with Jesus our Lord, one who has been knitted together in love to the rest of the body. He is a faithful minister, a diligent and reliable servant, ready and trusted to meet the needs of God’s people. Tychicus was an ordinary, faithful servant of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, what more should we strive for? What greater legacy could we ever hope to leave? One psalmist declared, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10). Ordinary, faithfulness to Christ is ultimately and eternally more honorable than ruling as the greatest of emperors here on earth. We seek treasure that cannot be taken away, that will last beyond time itself. The world cannot understand eternity. Of course, eternity is etched into every human heart. There is no denying that. Yet the default mindset of humanity is to chase after as much satisfaction and enjoyment as possible in this life, while hoping for the best after death. Our hope, however, is in the eternal, not in this world. Let us, therefore, be servants of Christ rather than rulers or kings. Let us love our brothers and sisters of eternal fellowship more than all the riches this world can offer. Let us devote ourselves to diligent, everyday faithfulness. This “godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Timothy 6:6-7).
PEACE BE TO THE BROTHERS // VERSES 23-24
Finally, we reach Paul’s final benediction, which purposely reflects back upon the opening greeting of “grace and peace” (1:2). However, the two are presented here in reverse order, peace and then grace, with the great theme of love added to each.
As we have seen and will see again, peace, love, and grace are fundamentally Christian virtues, and in Paul’s day, they stood defiantly against the paganism of the world. Today, however, the world has twisted and labeled these virtues as their own. Rather than the costly grace of Christ, the world’s grace is cheap (as it believes all things should be). Rather than the violent peace of Christ that kills our inner hostility toward others, the world’s peace is an avoidance of all conflict by attempting to make everyone the same. Rather than the God who is love, the world’s love is its de facto deity and is displayed by accepting everyone exactly as they are. These are contortions of true grace, peace, and love, which each flow from Christ.
The first half of the benediction states: Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from the God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace has reoccurred throughout the letter of Ephesians. Lloyd-Jones’ series title for his sermons preached from chapter 2 is fittingly God’s Way of Reconciliation, for in that chapter Paul presented the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope for our peace with both God and one another. Chapter 4 began with the apostle calling us to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Within the armor of God, we were commanded to put on, as shoes, “the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (6:15).
Rightly were we given these instructions. With hearts still bent toward sin, selfish personalities that still clash with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and a cosmic foe who longs for our damnation and neither sleeps nor tires, our life is a continuous war, a steep walk in pilgrimage to the Celestial City. Yet in the midst of these realities, we are nevertheless told: peace be to the brothers. How is this so? How are we to have peace in the midst of strife?
In John 14:27, Jesus said to His disciples shortly before His arrest, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” The peace of Jesus is one that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), the sort of peace that upheld Stephen as he was being stoned to death in the name of Christ. It is the peace of knowing that the Almighty is now our Father, of knowing that the God who is able to “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28) has redeemed both through the broken body of His only begotten Son. This is the peace that enables us to sing:
Though Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there,
who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free,
for the God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.
This peace is only granted to the brothers, to the household of God (2:19). It is granted here and now, though it will be fully realized upon our departure from this life. Thomas Watson wrote, “Christians, you have but a little way to go, a little more violence, a few more tears to shed, a few more Sabbaths to keep, and then your hopes shall be crowned with the beatific sight of God.” It is this sure hope in Christ that gives us peace to endure the remainder of our time in this spiritual war all around us.
And love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Love has also been a recurring theme of this epistle. In 1:4, Paul linked together our holy and blameless conduct to having been predestined “for adoption” with the words “in love.” In 2:4, he wrote that God’s rich mercy rescued us from being dead in sin “because of the great love with which he loved us.” In 3:18-19, he prayed for us to have the strength “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” In 4:2, he called us to bear “with one another in love.” In 4:15, he commanded us to speak “the truth in love,” while he noted in 4:16 that the church “builds itself up in love.” In 5:2, he told us to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” which he reiterated in 5:25 but applied it specifically to husbands.
Repeatedly, therefore, the apostle has reminded us of the unsurpassed love of Christ, so the fact that this mighty love and peace are from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is a fitting summary of all that has been stated so far. The only source of real love is the Triune God who is love. But why does Paul add the words with faith onto love?
Returning again to 3:18-19, the love of Christ is so vast that Paul prayed for us to have the strength to comprehend it. It is the love of the Author of life submitting Himself to humiliation of death for defiant traitors and rebels like us. It is the love of our Redeemer who rescued us from gladly serving our very Accuser. His love is too wide, too high, and too deep to be grasped by anything other than faith, which gives us confidence in what is to come and assurance in what cannot be seen. Only faith in Christ is great enough to latch onto the riches of the love of Christ.
The second part of the benediction reads: Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. We might well call grace the theme of Ephesians, for it is by grace through faith that we have the unfathomable peace and love of Christ. Throughout the letter, Paul has associated the grace of Christ with riches. In 1:7, he called it “the riches of his grace.” Likewise, in 2:7, he said that our salvation was “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 2:8, 3:2, 3:7, 3:8, and 4:7 all speak of Christ’s grace as a gift, indeed the most glorious of all gifts! Although grace is not mentioned, the armor of God (which is Christ Himself) is God’s all-sufficient grace for seeing us through this war. Grace marks every verse of Ephesians, just as it marks every fiber of the Christian.
Indeed, as with the peace of Christ, the grace of Christ is only for “all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” All peace outside the gospel is presumption, all love outside the gospel is self-gratifying, and all grace outside the gospel is vanity. God does indeed give common grace to nonbelievers, yet that grace is fleeting and transient. His grace will be displayed through His saints, however, throughout “the coming age” of eternity (2:7). The gospel, however, is the good news that Christ has ransomed us and united us to Himself. The very best of our love is polluted with sin. Our motives are always mixed. Yet our Lord has not left us to ourselves. The gospel does not simply “wipe the slate clean” then leave us to try again. No, we are in Christ, united to Him, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and sealed in Him. It is His own incorruptible love within us that we now joyfully give back to Him. Gifts from my three-year-old are an illustration of this. All that she has comes from others (primarily, my wife and I or her grandparents); thus, a gift from her to me is very likely to be a repackaging or rearranging of something that I have already given to her. But does that in anyway diminish her gifts? Not at all. I treasure whatever I am given by her, even if I first gave it to her. In the same way, “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love for Christ is incorruptible because it is Christ’s love in us.
So too will this be the nature of our eternity with our Savior. He pours love upon His bride, and we pour it back out to Him. He showers us with His glorious grace, and we forever sing His praises. He gives us His peace, and we rest securely in Him.
So how might we summarize the letter of Ephesians?
In Christ, we are seated, chosen, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, sealed, guaranteed, enlightened, called, resurrected, reconciled, built together, and strengthened.
In Christ, we walk worthily, humbly, patiently, gently, lovingly, united, piously, righteously, carefully, wisely, forgiving, loving, giving thanks, exposing darkness, singing, and submitting.
In Christ, we stand, wrestling against the cosmic forces of evil, in the strength that God provides, equipped with God’s own armor, and in communion with God our Father.
At the beginning of our study, I said that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the theological heart of the New Testament, and it is a handbook, a field guide or manual, for being a citizen of heaven as we sojourn through the kingdoms of the earth. I pray that you have begun to see Ephesians as such a book. May Ephesians and the unsearchable riches of Christ that it declares continue to guide you through this life of war until our King comes again.
 Forty-second, if we count our prologue study of Acts 19.
 Note that minister does not necessarily carry the clerical connotation here as it does today.