Monday, 22 August 2016
Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. Ephesians 3:13
Paul now makes a petition for strength. All translations state it as a request for strength for his readers – “I ask that you do not lose heart.” However, the scholar Bengel, says that “the nominative of the finite verb is naturally the subject of the infinitive which follows.” For this reason, he says it should read, “I ask of God that I may not faint.” He is a lone voice in this and it seems to then not agree the words of verse 16 which are yet ahead.
However, if he is speaking of himself, the word “Therefore…” is referring to the “grace of God which was given” to him of verse 2, and which he continues to refer to after that. If he is speaking of his audience, the word “Therefore…” is referring to the mystery which has been revealed to them; that they are now “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” referred to in verse 6, and which he continues to refer to after that.
It is difficult to be dogmatic about this. Either way, Paul is petitioning for strength so that either he or the Ephesians “do not lose heart.” The word is ekkakeó. It is a word which indicates “to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted” (Strong’s). In classical Greek, it also means to be cowardly, but this is probably not the intent here. Rather, Paul is using it in the sense of being “dispirited.”
It is used only six times in the New Testament, once by Jesus in Luke 18:1, and five times by Paul. Whether he is referring to himself or the Ephesians, he notes that the losing of heart is on account of his “tribulations for you.” His work was on behalf of the Gentile people and despite his present imprisonment, this situation could actually continue to be a source of benefit. He then expressly states that this benefit is “for your glory.”
Here, he either means that their not losing heart because of his suffering was for their glory, or that his sufferings were their glory. This, because they actually bolstered his teachings as he was willing to suffer for the very thing that he had proclaimed to them. He had been given a high office in the household of God, and yet he suffered in chains because of it. His ability to suffer in this way, and not lose heart (either him or them), was (or became) a marvelous example to them as well.
Life application: When we see people suffer for the sake of Christ, and yet they remain steadfast in their proclamation of Him, it strengthens us. As this is so, we should then be willing to stand firm in our proclamation of Christ as well, thus giving others this same confidence. Let us not draw back in our time of testing!
Lord God, should a time of testing of our faith come about, grant us the ability to stand fast in it and be willing to suffer loss, suffer persecution, or even suffer death without faltering in our witness of Christ Jesus. Help us to never bring a note of discredit upon His glorious name through our own failings. And so stand with us and embolden us should that day come. This we pray that You will be glorified and others will be edified through our faithful stand. Amen.