February 19, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
In our translation, the final words of Ephesians are: “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (6:24). This rendering of the original language is one possibility, but there is another. The New Living Translation reads, “May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” Instead of “with an undying love” modifying “all who love,” “eternally” modifies “grace be.” In one case it is our love for Christ that never dies. In the other it is God’s grace for us that is immortal. So, which is it?
Paul has not spoken of immortality or incorruptibility before in Ephesians (aphtharsia in Greek). Most translations link this word with the love that people have for Christ, like the NIV. However, the NLT and some commentators prefer the immortality of God’s grace in our lives. The Greek grammar is ambiguous. It does not allow us to decide definitively for either reading. The emphasis on God’s grace throughout Ephesians points, I believe, in the direction of eternal grace. God’s grace is present for us forever, without being corrupted. Yet it is also true that, in response to God’s never-ending grace, we love Christ with an undying love.
Whichever translation you prefer, it’s crucial to note that the last two words in Ephesians are “in immortality/incorruptibility” (en aphtharsia). This letter began with God choosing us before the foundation of the world (1:4). It ends with the hope of an endless, undying, incorruptible future, one that is indeed filled with God’s grace for us and our love for Christ. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting conclusion to Ephesians, one that expands our minds and enlarges our hearts so that we might receive yet more of God’s grace even as we love Jesus Christ more fully.
Reflecting on the final verse of Ephesians, I hear echoes in my mind of the Gloria Patri, a short hymn of praise sung in many churches throughout the world. In English it goes like this: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.”
Something to Think About:
As you think about God’s grace never ending, how do you respond? What ideas or images come to mind? What do you feel?
Would you describe your love for Christ as an undying love? Why or why not?
How does God’s grace at work in our lives enable us to love Jesus more and more?
Something to Do:
Take time to reflect on God’s glorious, undying grace. Offer thanks for this immeasurably wonderful gift.
Gracious God, again I thank you for your grace to me. How lost and hopeless I would be without your grace! Thank you for the promise that your grace never runs out, never gives up, and never lets go of me.
In response to your grace, dear Lord, I offer my love. I am confident that because of your grace my love for you, however imperfect it may be, will not die. May this be true, Lord. May I love you more and more each day. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.