It is good to know that the Almighty can strengthen us. Many times the Bible describes evidences of his power in order to encourage his people. Isaiah 40 mentions his power in creation and reminds us that his power can strengthen us when we are weak and faint. Paul in Ephesians 1 reminds his readers that the degree of divine power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work in all believers. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes his own assurance of divine power when he tells how the Lord confirmed that his strength was made complete in Paul’s weakness.
Those examples remind us that God can strengthen his people in different ways. In what way does Paul expect God to strengthen his people here? He says that it will ‘according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ’. Does Paul mean the same thing by ‘my gospel’ and ‘the preaching of Jesus Christ’? Obviously the gospel is about Jesus Christ, so why would he add the phrase about preaching?
The phrase can be regarded as subjective or objective. If objective, it would mean ‘preaching about Jesus Christ’, and this is how most commentators take it to mean. Yet it could be subjective, which would mean ‘preaching by Jesus Christ’. Paul does say in Ephesians 2:17 that Jesus ‘came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near’. Jesus had not preached physically in Ephesus, but he preached through his servants. So it is possible that Paul has in mind that Jesus is involved when his servants declare his message.
This possibility may explain how strength would come to Paul’s readers. We can understand how Jesus empowers his message in order to bring to his people what they need to hear. Obviously he does this through his Spirit, but it is still an aspect of the prophetic ministry of Jesus. And this means that we can have confidence of spiritual blessing when we are listening to a sermon.