ISSUE: 2021, Volume 18, Issue 4
The YPS Magazine has also been produced in PDF format. To read these PDF's you will need a PDF Reader. The popular free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available from Adobe's website by clicking here.
‘And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak’, Eph. 6. 19, 20
Apart from world politics, the term 'ambassador' is unlikely to be part of our everyday vocabulary. It is even more unlikely that we would ever use the word to describe ourselves. Yet, at the end of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, he states, 'I am an ambassador', Eph. 6. 20.
We will consider the setting of this statement in Ephesians along with definitions of the term 'ambassador', before making some applications to the Christian life.
The main themes of the six chapters could be summed up as follows: 'our blessings in Christ'; and 'our responsibility to the Lord'. 1 In chapter 6, Paul talks about the 'whole armour of God', v. 11, which we should 'put on . . . to stand against . . . the devil', v. 11. The blessings that we have received lead to personal responsibility to live our lives to please the Lord. Whilst God supplies all that we need in 'the evil day', v. 13, it is important to decisively 'put on' the armour available to us.
Although a separate study, it would be beneficial to consider the whole armour of God, vv. 11-20, and the importance of each element to daily Christian life:
• 'loins girt about with truth', v. 14
• 'breastplate of righteousness', v. 14
• 'feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace', v. 15
• 'the shield of faith', v. 16
• 'the helmet of salvation', v. 17
• 'the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God', v. 17
Paul concludes that section by stating, 'I am an ambassador', v. 20, and relates this to making known the gospel, v. 19. Paul, out of responsibility to the Lord, and being fully equipped and guarded by the whole armour of God, can 'speak boldly', as he 'ought to speak', v. 20.
The dictionary definition of 'ambassador' is 'an important official who works in a foreign country representing his or her own country there, and who is officially accepted in this position by that country'. 2
In Bible study, it is often helpful to look at words in the original language. The word 'ambassador' is translated from the Greek word presbeu?, which is defined by Vine as, 'to be elder, to be an ambassador', 3 and Strong adds, '[to] act as a representative', 4 and refers to the idea of being a 'preacher'.
Paul is an official representative of Christ. A representative with experience who has been entrusted with the responsibility to proclaim the word of God and communicate the gospel on behalf of his Lord.
As Christians, it has often been said that we are in this world, but not of it. An ambassador's single purpose is to represent the interests of his home country in a foreign land. Paul recognized that he was a representative of God and the gospel in a world that disowned his Lord. He was faithfully serving in a place that was not his home. This brings about a personal challenge – how 'at home' am I in this world? Can I become comfortable with the world's systems and thinking? Paul's function was to officially represent One from a different place, in his thinking, actions and speech.
As a preacher of the gospel, Paul was to speak boldly. Whilst Christians are not all called to be preachers like Paul, we all have a responsibility to pass on the message of the gospel. As our tool, we need to 'take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God', v. 17. As believers we need to read and study the word of God, so that we can use it accurately and skilfully in presenting the gospel to others. As Paul recognized his need to 'speak boldly', v. 20, there is a requirement for us to be bold. Passing on the message of the gospel can be a daunting task, so we should ask the Lord to give us opportunities and help.
Just as Paul represented the Lord Jesus well in his day and situation, we too can follow his example and represent the Lord in ours.
1 A. Leckie, What the Bible Teaches, Ephesians, John Ritchie Ltd., pg. 118.
2 Cambridge English Dictionary.
3 W. E. Vine, Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Nelson.
4 James Strong, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hendrickson Publishers.