Mt. Nebo Baptist Church
Bible Study Reflection
The Mandate for Christian Unity
~ A Study of Ephesians 4:1-6 ~
While many in today’s world are engaged in celebrating “diversity,” the Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on the value of “unity.” The Persons of the Godhead are a grand tri-unity of absolute perfection (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30). The majestic universe, though bearing the abrasions of divine judgment (Romans 8:20), nonetheless exhibits the glory of God in a harmony of celestial laws (Jeremiah 31:35-36). Albert Einstein said:
We see a Universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations (Brian, 186).
There is an amazing unity of revelation in the two major testaments of the Bible.
“The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is by the New revealed.”
Domestic unity is a “good” and “pleasant” environment (Psalm 133:1), and religious “oneness” is the antidote against infidelity (John 17:20-21). Unfortunately, the divisive spirit seems to be more common than that of tranquility, and a host of problems are the result.
It is difficult to find a church within the framework of New Testament history that did not experience some level of discord. The church in Jerusalem was troubled with Judaizers (Acts 11:2; 15:1ff), the Corinthian congregation had their factious elements that gave inordinate adulation to leaders (1 Corinthians 1:10ff), and even the beloved Philippian church had its Euodia and Syntyche problem (Philippians 4:2-3). These examples by no means exhaust the list.
Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is a document that addresses unity. The first three chapters provide a theological basis for unity; the final three are principally concerned with the practical implementation of “oneness” in Christ. In 4:1-6, God’s inspired apostle lays down a micro-platform for unity that concerns the two main sources of discord among those who profess to follow Christ. One has to do with temperament, the other with teaching. The recognition of these two problematic areas could go a long way towards healing division.
Under the impulse of the Spirit of God Paul wrote:
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all (Ephesians 4:1-6).