Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (verses 23-24)
As Paul ends this remarkable letter to the Ephesians, he prays over them four of his favourite words. Peace. Love. Faith. Grace.
Grace and peace are the two words he bestowed on them as he began this letter, as he does in every single letter of his which we still possess. Much more than commonplace, offhand greetings, these words are fully loaded with spiritual significance, brimming with the wonder of our salvation.
"Peace" captures the full meaning of the Hebrew word “shalom,” used in the Old Testament, referring to much more than a mere absence of conflict, but rather broader and deeper, highlighting a life of reconciliation, fullness, wholeness and completeness. This peace, life in all its fullness, has been won for us by Christ, bringing us into a fully reconciled relationship with the Father. What a powerful word of blessing.
"Grace," of course, resonates with the fullness of our salvation, freely given to us as a gift which could never be earned, never deserved. Indeed, we were dead in our sins, powerless to save ourselves, living in enmity with God, when, by grace, the Lord rescued us out of darkness into his kingdom of light, purely and simply because he loved us. The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross gave expression to that love, as he paid the ransom price and purchased forgiveness for us. Such is grace. What a powerful word of blessing.
These two words, combined at the letter’s beginning and again at its end, envelope us. It’s an apt metaphor of the Christian life, for from beginning to end we are dependent on the enduring grace and peace of God. How good – how necessary – to be so enveloped.
But two other favourite words are also combined here at the letter’s end in the phrase “love with faith.”
"Love" is crucial for disciples of Jesus – without it, Paul says, everything else falls flat. See 1 Corinthians 13 for his full expression. Gifts of tongues and prophecy, faith that moves mountains, insightful knowledge of theological mysteries, sacrificial giving, heroic martyrdom – all of it means absolutely nothing, if divorced from love. Of course – it’s the command of Jesus, who calls us to love one another just as he loved us. The treasure we’re meant to store up in heaven is to be saturated with this essential ingredient. Without it, we’re stockpiling dust.
“Faith” is equally crucial. Indeed, without it we can’t even enter the Kingdom. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). In the same way, we put the weight of our lives into Jesus’ own hands, believing, and we are saved.
Paul combined these two words earlier in his letter when he told the Ephesians he’d been praying for them “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15). He sees these two words as essential markers of authentic life in Christ.
What we discover now, here at the end, is that these two – “love with faith” – are themselves gifts from Father and Son. Once again, it turns out we are absolutely dependent for every aspect of spiritual life. We see our need, and we realize the Lord meets us here – that realization sparks gratitude (oh, how intense!) and joy (oh, how unspeakable!). And it invites us to lean heavily into this closing benediction. What powerful words of blessing. Oh, how we need them.
Peace. Love. Faith. Grace.
May they overflow us with fresh anointing. May they fill our lungs with invigorating breath. May they undergird our feet with immovable foundation. To Jesus be the glory. Amen.
Praise be to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. You have blessed us with peace, reconciling us. You have poured out rich grace, beyond expectation. You have called us to love, bestowing your own love that we might live it. You have birthed faith within us, that we might entrust ourselves to you. O Lord, I open my hands to receive the ongoing outpouring of these gifts. Praise your name.
Reflect: Choose one of these words to soak in today. Lean into it. Receive more. Give thanks.