The closing exhortations—i.e., of our chapter—are full of importance, and are, as might be expected from all previously seen, in view of the path in this world proper to the saints, who have Christ appearing in the presence of God for them. They do not, consequently, rise to the height of the communications in Ephesians; for the subject throughout has been the heavenly calling, rather than the mystery of Christ and the Church. Brotherly love is to continue spite of obstacles. Hospitality is not to be forgotten, if we would fare like Abraham. Prisoners and the ill used are to be borne in mind, considering ourselves and our own circumstances. Marriage is to be honoured and purity sought in or out of that state. Our conduct is to be without avarice, contented with what we have; for God will be true to His word of unfailing care, even as to these things; so that we say boldly, “The Lord is my helper and I will not fear. What shall man do to me?”
The Holy Ghost then tells the saints (ver. 7) to remember their leaders who had spoken God’s word to them, the issue of whose conversation was worthy of all consideration and their faith to be imitated. They were gone; but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Let them not, then, be carried away by various and strange doctrines. Grace is that which establishes the heart, not meats by which those who walked in them were not profited. It is a mistake that Christians have no altar: they have one, whereof those who serve the tabernacle have no authority to eat. That is, the Jews have lost their place of privilege, which now belongs in an infinitely more blessed way to such as have Jesus. As in Him, so in us the extremes of shame here and glory above are found to meet. It was not so with Israel. They had the camp, and they could not draw within the veil. And yet even they had the most striking type of another state of things. “For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Christians now must bear the cross, waiting for heaven with Christ. All middle ground is gone with the old covenant. But if we wait for glory not the less but the rather should we praise continually, offering by Jesus to God the fruit of the lips which confess His name, and not forgetting sacrifices of doing good and communication.
Further, we are called to obey our leaders and to submit ourselves; for “they watch over your souls as those that shall give account.” It is not that they are to give account of the souls of others, but of their own conduct in respects of others. Obedience on the part of those watched over would be much for these guides, that they might do their work with joy, and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for the saints.
The apostle asks their prayers, which he could with a good conscience, occupied with the work of grace, and not the weakness and failure of a careless walk. Moreover, he besought it of them, that he might be the sooner restored to them.
And how blessed and suited to their need and comfort is his concluding prayer! “The God of peace that brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, in [virtue of] the blood of the everlasting covenant, perfect you in every good work to do his will, doing in you that which is pleasing before him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
The name of Paul does not appear at the close any more than at the commencement; and this for obvious reasons in a letter to saints of the circumcision. But who else would have so spoken of Timothy? The writer was in Italy, and sends the salutation of such as were there. The apostolic under-current is apparent to a spiritual mind.