“Pray in the Spirit unceasingly at every opportunity. Be perseverant and intent, interceding for all God’s people. Pray also for me that God will give me the right words to say, fearlessly proclaiming Gospel truth, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I will have the courage to speak boldly, as I should.
But that you and others may know how I am doing, Tychicus, our dear brother and faithful minister in the Lord’s service, will tell you everything. I am sending him to inform you of our situation and to cheer and strengthen your hearts. Peace, love, and faith be to all our Christian brothers, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be to all those who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” (paraphrased)
In the final verses of his letter, Paul reminds his readers of the necessity of prayer. The epistle commences by bringing us into the heavenly places and concludes by bringing us to our knees. Those headed into spiritual battles, even prepared with God’s full armor, must stay in contact with their Commander in Chief. Every piece of spiritual equipment must be saturated with prayer. As a soldier must understand his orders to fight effectively, so the Christian must pray as he wages war against satanic elements. Regardless of personal skill, courage, and education, prayer is essential to assure the victory.
Our communication is not to be sporadic but consistent. “With all prayer” (proseuche) means “with all types of prayer,” both public and private. We must pray when we feel like it and when we do not. The Colossians are encouraged to devote themselves to prayer (Col. 4:2). “Supplication” is deeseos and indicates prayer should be specific rather than generic. Paul uses this term twice in this verse for the sake of emphasis.
Effectual prayer is always “in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). Although we may not always know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit always does, working though us to express our heartfelt desires (Rom. 8:26). Paul unashamedly tells the Corinthians he prays in tongues very frequently (I Cor. 14:18). Being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) allows us to pray in the Spirit (I Cor.14:15).
“Watching” (agrupnountes) is “to be fully awake, vigilant, and alert.” As we maintain a spirit of prayer, we should be on guard against interruptions. “With all perseverance” (proskarteresei) lends weight to Paul’s comment here. Proskarteresei means we are to give constant attention to prayer and not be discouraged if answers do not come immediately.
As Paul ends his letter, he is keenly aware of the wiles of Satan and the temptations that surround every child of God. We are told to pray specifically “for all the saints,” for we are not alone in our spiritual struggles. Intercession for fellow combatants is a great privilege. This verse also serves as a reminder that Believers who are free to preach Christ are obligated to pray for those serving Him in countries where an open proclamation of the Gospel is life-threatening.
Paul stands alongside all Believers in his need for prayer. While he prays for his churches, he seeks their prayers for him (Col. 4:3; I Th. 5:25 & II Th. 3:1). He does not ask for deliverance from his bonds, sufferings, or the reduction of his sentence. He desires prayer that his ministry will be both anointed and effective. “Boldness” is parresia and means to be “fearless; to have freedom of speech.” Bravery is essential for effective preaching, because many who hear the Gospel message adamantly reject it. The “mystery of the Gospel” may be a reference to his earlier comment regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation (Eph. 3:3-6). He wants to be undergirded with prayer in order to explain the Gospel confidently and clearly, making the most of every opportunity to win souls to Christ (3:7).
Paul reminds his readers that he is “an incarcerated ambassador.” To put an ambassador in prison is an affront to the nation he or she represents. Although he represents the King of Kings, his embassy is a dungeon. He is probably chained to a Roman jailer, for the Greek word “bonds” refers specifically to the coupling-chain by which a prisoner is bound to a guard. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this as well, not to elicit sympathy, but to show the enigma of his situation (II Cor. 5:20). He does not dwell on his confinement, but asks that others pray the Lord will empower him to speak of Christ without fear or intimidation.
Up to this point in his letter, Paul has made very few references to himself. He realizes the Ephesians and numerous other churches are concerned about his condition and hopes to relieve their anxiety. The absence of personal comments is now explained. Tychicus will not only deliver the epistle, but answer questions regarding Paul’s situation in Rome.
The name “Tychicus” means “fortunate.” He is described as “a beloved brother” (adelphos) which conveys the idea of “coming from the same womb.” He is a native of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus is the capital. This great metropolis is second only to Rome in Paul’s day. Tychicus travels with Paul as he returns from his third missionary journey to deliver relief money to the Jerusalem church (Acts 20:4 & I Cor. 16:1-4). He spends time with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment.
Ephesus was 835 miles from Rome in a straight line, but twice that distance by land and sea. It is a journey which takes many weeks. Tychicus carries Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and delivers the letter to the Colossians as well. In both epistles, Paul assures them Tychicus will provide them with spiritual comfort (Col. 4:8). Because both letters address heretical teachings, it is probable Paul’s emissary is well-versed and capable of answering doctrinal questions.
Tychicus serves as Paul’s representative on other occasions. Paul may have commissioned him to relieve Titus in Crete (Titus 3:12). Toward the end of Paul’s ministry, Tychicus is again sent to Ephesus, perhaps bearing the letter we know as Second Timothy (II Tim. 4:12). In view of his consistent track record, it is obvious he is “a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Col. 4:7). Supportive and trustworthy to the end, church tradition holds this humble man dies the noble death of a martyr.
As a prisoner in Rome, Paul’s physical, emotional, and mental state were at risk. The churches dear to Paul would naturally want to know about his welfare. How the Gospel was spreading since he was in jail would be of keen interest to them. They would also be curious regarding the prospects for his release. Paul thus dispatches this special messenger to provide additional information, confident it will bring comfort to them.
Paul’s wish for the Ephesians is that they may enjoy “peace” (eirene), a term focusing on internal tranquility unaffected by external circumstances. His benediction includes “love with faith” or “the faith love produces.” True peace is only possible through loving Christ and having faith in Him. Paul explains to the Galatians that faith in Jesus is effective only when grounded in love (Gal. 5:6). The origin of the great plan of salvation Paul credits to both the Father and the Son.
Paul’s final comment is not that God’s grace be haphazardly given to everyone, but to those who love Jesus “sincerely” (aphtharsia). This word means “without corruption” and is used regarding the sterling character of godly women (I Pet. 3:4). It is a term which describes a love that never diminishes. The apostle wants all Believers to consistently worship Jesus Christ with a pure heart – free from any taint of hypocrisy.
His “Amen” or “let it be so” is his farewell wish for all who read this letter. Let it be so that we enjoy the peace of Christ, have faith in Christ, love Christ, and fully appreciate the grace He freely bestows on us.
Points to Ponder
1. Although Paul is incarcerated in Rome, what is he allowed to do (Acts 28:30-31)?
2. What happens to Paul when he “speaks boldly” in Acts 23:2?
3. What woman is persistent in her pleas in Mark 7:26-29?
4. Concerning the topic of serious prayer, paraphrase Luke 22:41-44.
5. Why does Paul seek the prayers of the Colossians (Col. 4:4)?
6. What should be our attitude regarding prayer (I Thess. 5:17)?
7. List things you pray about concerning your spouse. Keep this list handy and refer to it as you pray together.