Paul’s letters to the churches are all titled with “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle” to a certain church (“The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians” etc.). This title of “the epistle” in each book Paul wrote is highly significant, for it is this same word “epistle” which Paul uses to describe the Christian himself. In 2 Corinthians 3:2, Paul says “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.”
Here we have the church, the Christian, being named an “epistle” of Christ! What an honor this is, and what a responsibility! We as Christians all esteem Paul’s books as the word of God and attribute all the glory and honor of these words as coming from the mouth of God. Yet this same appellation is given unto us as the epistles of Christ. This description of us cannot be overemphasized.
The word of God is powerful because it is a spiritual thing. His words are spirit and life Jesus said. The word of God is inspired because it is given with the breath of God and can change men’s hearts. The Christian has also has had his heart written on by those very words when God said he would write those words in our hearts: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” (Heb. 8:10). That is one reason why we are a living epistle of Christ. We have the word of God living in us. Jesus said my words “abide” in you.
We are also an epistle “known and read of all men” Paul said in the verse above where he called us an epistle that men know us and men read us. They read what God is doing in us and through us. They see the love of God and the Spirit of God working in us in our love to others, in our compassion to others, and in our longsuffering to others. Our words and testimony are an epistle to believers and unbelievers that is just as much an epistle as the written word of God whose power is mighty. God uses believers, the body of Christ, the epistles of Christ, and the word of God, the written epistles, to change men and to change us. We can rest in the power of Christ in us, the hope of glory for us and all men.
Paul goes on to say in verse 3 of 2 Corinthians 3 “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” Here we are directly called the “epistle of Christ” and again, what a privelege that is for the men and women of God. He confirms again that the Spirit has written his words and life in the “table of the heart.” This was in contrast, of course, to the word of God (The Ten Commandments) written on stone tablets which men could not keep. The way we keep them now is through Christ in us, because they are written in us, and he will cause us to walk in them according to Ezekiel: “And I will put my Spirit in you, and cause you to walk in my statutes…” (Ezekiel 36:27).
Christ didn’t title his books of the Bible “The epistle of Christ to the Ephesians,” but he reserves that title for us, THE epistle of Christ to the world. Let us realize the awesome and beautiful thing it is to be a living letter to the world and each other, and more importantly, let us live out this letter in our love for each other.