Focal passage: Ephesians 6:10-20
I still remember the day we read Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” in my undergraduate poetry workshop. My professor had printed two copies for each student to compare, highlighting the use of form and the nuance of translating poetry across languages. If you’ve read the poem, then you know.
Rilke moves slowly, paces himself, until the last line. “I remain startled by that final gesture,” Mark Doty once commented. While I won’t give anything away (you’ll have to read the sonnet for yourself), the final line is uncompromising. It shifts the attention and implicates the reader in the most exquisite way, and you never see it coming.
As Paul closes his letter to the believers in Ephesus, he also shifts his attention.
He’s reminded them of his prayers and love, built them up in their theology, and encouraged them towards unity and obedience in Christ. Then we see the quintessential “finally” as Paul begins the end of his letter. “Finally, be strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10).
You, believer, soldier on in real and menacing warfare. You have an enemy who rages, who devours, who works evil amongst you and your church.
You need what the Lord has given to protect you, to help you. You do not battle without armor, and you cannot battle alone.