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Bible Gem 634 - The Personal Touch (Eph 1:15-16)

March 29, 2018

 

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere, 

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, (Eph 1:15-16)

 

Note, in these two verses Paul appears to start the personal part of the letter. Do you remember the beginning of Romans? Assuming you were getting Gems back then [many have joined me since Romans]. In Gem 138 I drew attention to the depth of Paul's prayer focus for the Roman christians. Paul doesn't just flip off a Christian cliché and tell us he is praying for us unless he really means it. It is clear from his comments that he has been praying for the Ephesians for some time. "Ever since I first heard of your strong faith . . . and your love for God's people everywhere." Remember from our time looking at 1 & 2 Corinthians, that Paul spent some time in Ephesus establishing the church there. His connection with the Ephesians has been a long on going one and he certainly holds them dear. Since he first heard about their faith he has not stopped thanking God for them and praying for them. He says "I pray for you constantly." Not the usual "I'll pray for you" but then forgetting about it. Or "I'll pray for you when you come to mind". Paul's prayer input on behalf of the Ephesians was much more intentional than that. It was in the realm of the "constantly, not stopping" variety. 

 

The other interesting element here is his personal touch within the letter in addition to his personal touch in prayer. This segment could be considered to be a more normal opening for Paul. Compare this with his opening in Romans. He begins with the normal Greek / Hebrew opening to a letter and then adds this personal comment about his feelings for them and the degree to which he is always thinking of them. But of course sandwiched in the middle is the long sentence we have spent over a month looking at. When you really look for the personal touches in this letter to the Ephesians they are there. However they are hidden as it were in the midst of the long eloquent outbursts of heavenly thought. 

 

So you will have to decide for yourself if you think Ephesians is a "gang letter" sent to numbers of churches as I told you some think in Gem 597 – 599 or a letter written to the Ephesians whom he loved dearly and then shared with other churches because it was so good. So theologically full and so helpful for instruction for all the churches. You choose. 

 

Now take some time to look at what he prayed. (Eph 1:17-19) Here in Ephesians and also in the letter to the Colossians Paul spells out what he prayed (Col 1:9-12). And like the letter to the Colossians, it is hard to tell where Paul's prayer ends. It is like he gets thinking about praying for them and telling them the kinds of things he prays for them but then as he adds explanation to prayer he goes off into teaching rather than praying. 

 

We will look at the content of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians  tomorrow.


 

None of us pray as much as we should but all of us pray more than we think we do. Stanley Shipp

 

The power of prayer does not depend on the one who says the prayer but the One who hears the prayer. Max Lucado

 

If you spent as much as time praying as you do complaining, you'd have a lot less to complain about. Rick Warren

 

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