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Pray In The Spirit, Tychicus, Final Blessing (6:18-24)

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As human beings we have a bias towards action. When confronted by a problem we like to feel that we can actually do something to solve it. But the followers of Christ sometimes forget that the battle in which they are engaged is spiritual, not physical. In his inspired letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul reminds them that victory is achieved, not through their own power, but by God’s. After telling them to be strong in the Lord’s power, to put on the full armor of God and to stand firm, he instructs them to pray. In chapter 6, verses 18 through 20 he writes, “with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

In chapter 2, verse 18 Paul had reminded the people to whom he is writing that they have access to God through the Spirit. Now he instructs them to use that access to bring their prayers and requests to God. One may ask why it is necessary to pray in the Spirit. Doesn’t Scripture say that we are to pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24) and that He is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)? This is very true, but Scripture also affirms that, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) There is another reason, however, why we must pray in the Spirit. Often we do not know how to pray in accordance with God’s will or for what we should pray. Romans 8, verses 26 through 27 says, “...we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.” While Jesus acts as our mediator, the Spirit is our intercessor or translator who presents to God on our behalf even those things which we cannot articulate.

In some religions there are set times every day to pray certain formal prayers. But the standard in Christianity is much higher than that. Paul writes that the followers of Christ should pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV) Another Scripture says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) God wants His people to be in constant communication with Him.

To pray ‘in the Spirit’ means to pray under influence or guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. There are some who think that means going into some sort of trance or state of ecstasy. Paul corrects this notion when he instructs Christ’s followers to also be watchful or alert. In chapter 5, verse 18 he had instructed them to “be filled with the Spirit.” But being filled with the Spirit does not decrease our awareness of what is happening around us. On the contrary it makes us more aware. This is why we can keep on praying for “all the saints.” (verse18) Through the working of the Spirit we can perceive and understand their needs and concerns in a better way.

After giving general instructions about prayer, Paul then asks for prayer on his own behalf. Keep in mind that Paul is writing from prison. He is in chains. In these circumstances most people would ask for prayer for their release. But Paul does not do so. Instead, he asks that people pray that he would have the right words to say while spreading the gospel and that he would be given the courage to do so. We can learn several important lessons from this. 1) If we are living in accordance with God’s will, God’s will can be accomplished through us regardless of our external circumstances. God has a purpose for our being in a situation, even if that situation is jail. Are we willing to let God use us regardless of our circumstances? 2) The followers of Christ are representatives of Christ no matter where they are. Paul specifically calls himself an ambassador even though he is in chains. Do people see Jesus in us even in difficult circumstances? Do we faithfully proclaim His message in all situations? 3) Paul was not concerned about himself. On the contrary, he was concerned that others have the opportunity to hear the gospel. On which do we place the most importance?

In verses 21 and 22 Paul writes, “But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts.”

Tychicus is mentioned several times in Scripture. Though we do not know his home town, he was from the Roman province of Asia which was located in what is now the South-Western portion of Turkey. This is the same region in which Ephesus was located. He accompanied Paul on at least part of his third missionary tour and probably was with him when he delivered an offering for the poor to the church in Jerusalem. Paul used this man as a messenger. In addition to this letter, he also delivered the letter to the Colossians and probably accompanied Onesimus in delivering the letter to Philemon. Paul may also have sent him on a mission to Crete.

In addition to delivering this letter, Paul’s purpose in sending Tychicus was so that he could verbally reassure the people about his own situation. The followers of Christ in the province of Asia no doubt knew of Paul’s imprisonment and would have been concerned about him. Tychicus was to allay those concerns and encourage the church. Paul describes Tychicus as a “beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord.” Can the same be said about us? If we were given a task on behalf of the church would we faithfully carry it out? Would we be an encouragement to those to whom we were sent?

In the greeting to this letter, Paul asked that God grant grace and peace to Christ’s followers. He ends the letter with the same blessing, but adds love and faith to it. In verses 23 and 24 he writes, “Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Amen.”

At the beginning of this letter Paul called the followers of Christ ‘saints.’ Here he calls them ‘brothers.’ It should not be thought, however, that Paul is excluding women from his blessing. In Scripture the term ‘brothers’ includes all those who follow Christ regardless of gender. Paul uses the term ‘brother’ to emphasize what he had already said in chapter 2, that the followers of Christ are members of God’s household. The term also indicates the unity which there should be in the church.