Ephesians 4 begins and ends with touching calls to care for each other as church members (vv. 1-3, 32). Between these calls to love one another, Paul offers strong support for the idea that we should treasure and nourish unity in the church. He begins by listing seven “ones”: There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (vv. 4-6). We are bound together by these spiritual realities. We are, in fact, united.
While unity is a theological certainty, it requires our hard work. So we should always be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit” (v. 3). One way we do so is by being active “parts” of the body of Christ (vv. 7-16). Every member is a gifted part of the body and should contribute to the health of it (vv. 7, 16). And all should benefit by the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (v. 11). These, like ligaments and tendons in the body, have a unifying function, helping us grow up together into Christ Who is the head of the body (vv. 13, 15).
As he moves toward his final appeal to “be kind toward one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (v. 32), Paul asks believers to avoid the hard-heartedness of their pre-Christian lives (vv. 17-24) and to avoid anger and harsh speech in favor of language that builds up others and imparts grace (vv. 25-31).
This chapter on unity is easy enough to read when things are peaceful. It is more challenging—and important—to read it when we become embroiled in some conflict. Are you remembering today to experience the unity of the body of Christ, the unity for which He died?
Walla Walla University