by J. Randal Matheny, editor
The first several verses of Ephesians 4 have long been recognized as a unity passage. Let’s take another look at it.
Here’s the text, from the NET Bible:
4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
1. The Conformity of Unity (1). It is not by chance that, in this section on unity, Paul calls upon the Christian to live, or walk, worthily of their calling. The calling is the invitation to enter and participate in the kingdom of God. Unity is a feature of that kingdom, one of its many blessings. To walk worthily of the calling means to live in a manner that corresponds to kingdom demands and reaches the heights of kingdom purposes. It means promoting the unity God grants.
2. The Attitude of Unity (2). Some people constantly fight over words or personalities. God’s people love peace and seek every opportunity to promote it, within the parameters he sets.
Some charge us with arrogance for what we teach, but to receive the word of God and proclaim it as only truth is the essence of humility, for it recognizes that the capacity for producing truth is not in the human heart, but in the message of Christ. Arrogant is he who refuses to recognize God’s plain truth.
3. The Effort for Unity (3). Unity is not created, but received from God; it is unity of the Spirit. Hence, we preserve it. We are to make “every effort” to preserve it, even if the church’s building is painted a different color than our preference.
And when unity is destroyed? We restore it with those who are willing, like us, to repent and do the will of God.
4. The Basis for Unity (4-6). These seven elements express the only basis upon which God grants unity. At the center is Lord Jesus Christ, around whom everything in the church revolves. Paul probably has a concentric or chiastic pattern for these seven.
A One body
B One Spirit
C One hope
X One Lord
C’ One faith
B’ One baptism
A’ One God and Father
Next week, the Lord permitting, we’ll look at these seven, but suffice it to say here that these elements are the foundational truths upon which unity is granted to Christians and upon which they must maintain it.
5. The Diversity for Unity (7). To speak of diversity in unity is inaccurate; God created the diversity of the body of Christ to contribute to unity, because it is not a diversity of beliefs, but of gifts and functions (see verses 8-16). In the many areas of service, we speak the same thing. The one body has many active members and all act in coordination from the head.
To be one, we must fit ourselves into the divine pattern of unity.