“So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” (Ephesians 3:13 (ESV)
The examination of the Apostle Paul’s extended parenthesis prior to his prayer on behalf of the Ephesian believers concludes with today’s text. With all the privileges believes in Christ possess, what does the apostle say is one, of many, practical applications regarding this truth?
Paul tells us that it is to not lose heart (ἐγκακέω; enkakeo). This phrase means to be discouraged, or to give up ((Luke 18:1; 2 Cor. 4:1, 16; Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13+). One of the chief reasons believers in Christ are tempted to be discouraged is due to the problems of life and living: either by their own sufferings or the sufferings of other people.
Such was the case from today’s text in the life of the Ephesian Christians. Paul was concerned that they had become discouraged because of his imprisonment by the Roman government (Acts 21-28).
On the contrary, what could have been discouraging the Apostle Paul wanted the Ephesians to regard as glorious. The word glory (δόξα; doxa) has many meanings and nuances. It literally means brightness. It also refers to splendor, honorable and praiseworthy.
The Apostle Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to realize, along with believers in Christ today, is that believers in Christ are to praise God and glory in whatever difficult circumstances they may face on behalf of the Lord.
Nineteenth century biblical theologian Charles Hodge writes, “It is because we have access to God, the sum of all good, we ought to be superior to all the afflictions of this life, and maintain a joyful spirit. Being the subjects of such a redemption and having this liberty of access to God, believers ought not to be discouraged by all the apparently adverse circumstances attending the propagation of the Gospel.”
Living for Christ, while living in a fallen and sinful world, has never been easy. It wasn’t in Paul’s day. It certainly is not in our own. Let us resolve, as believers in Christ, to never set our joys and hopes in what this world promotes, but rather in what God has promised in His Word.
Soli deo Gloria!