Today we conclude the letter to the Ephesians. Paul says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Paul speaks about how we should submit to one another, which can be really hard for us to do in our human, fleshly nature. However, if our eyes are on Jesus and we trust the Lord, that He is good and for our good, then submitting becomes life-giving and freeing. Remember, that’s the reason Jesus submitted to His father and died on that cross for us – to give us new and eternal life!
Therefore, Paul instructs the church body to submit “to one another in the fear of God.” He calls wives to submit to their husbands, “as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body.” Then Paul tells the husbands “to love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” And children are to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
In addition, Paul instructs bondservants to be obedient to their masters “as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart… knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.” And masters are to “do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”
So we see that everyone is called to submit, and submitting is designed to be for our good. However, it can be very difficult to submit to someone who is not following the Lord (i.e. difficult for a wife to submit to a husband who is not submitted to Christ or an employee to submit to a boss who is not submitted to Christ). But as Christ followers, we are called to submit to each other out of our love for Jesus and trust the Lord with the hearts of the ones to whom we are submitting. You never know the impact your life as a Christian can have on those around you, especially when you are submitting through the difficult.
Paul ends his letter by giving the Ephesians instructions on how to walk in this evil world, where Satan rules and deception reigns – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Paul then begins a letter to the Colossians – “Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome. He sent the letter to Colosse with Onesimus and Tychius, who were also carrying the letter to the Ephesians.” (OYCB)
Paul writes to the church at Colosse after receiving news that false teaching was impacting the church. So Paul begins his letter by elevating Jesus Christ and encouraging the Christians to continue in the faith – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him… And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence… And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
One commentator said – “If the gospel teaches the final perseverance of the saints, it teaches at the same time that the saints are those who finally persevere – in Christ. Continuance is the test of reality.” (Bruce)
More to the Colossians tomorrow. Keep reading.
(Ephesians 5:15-6:24, Colossians 1:1-23)