"Maintaining the Unity" Page 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
NOW PAUL GOES ON TO WRITE DOWN THE BASIS ON WHICH CHRISTIAN UNITY IS FOUNDED.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
“There is one body,”
Christ is the head and the Church is the “body.” No brain can work through a body which is split into fragments. Unless there is a co-ordinated oneness in the body, the plans of the head are frustrated. The oneness of the Church is essential for the work of Christ. That does not need to be a mechanical oneness of administration and of human organization; but it does need to be a oneness founded on a common love of Christ and of every part for the other.
The verse says, "There is one body." The church is a living thing composed only of living members, i.e., blood-bought, born-again, Bible-believing saints. This one body has one Head and many members.
“and one Spirit,”
The word pneuma in Greek means both spirit and breath; it is in fact the usual word for breath. Unless the breath is in the body, the body is dead; and the visualizing breath of the body of the Church is the Spirit of Christ. There can be no Church without the Spirit; and there can be no receiving of the Spirit without a prayerful waiting for Him.
And there is “one Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the life and breath of that body, and He was involved in the salvation of each member.
“even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;”
We are all proceeding towards the same goal. This is the great secret of the unity of Christians. Our methods, our organization, even some of our beliefs may be different; but we are all striving towards the one goal of a world redeemed in Christ.
The last part of the verse states that there is "one hope of your calling." Here Paul is talking about the goal that is set before all believers. They will be taken out of this world and into the presence of Christ. This is the blessed hope.
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
The nearest thing to a creed which the early Church possessed was the short sentence; “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). As Paul saw it, it was God’s dream that there should come a day when all men would make this confession. The word used for Lord is kurios. Its two usages in ordinary Greek show us something of what Paul meant. It was used for master in contrast to servant or slave; and it was the regular designation of the Roman Emperor. Christians are joined together because they are all in the possession and in the service of the one Master and King.
"One Lord" refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. His lordship over the church is what brings into existence the unity of the church.
Paul did not mean that there is one creed. Very seldom does the word faith mean a creed in the New Testament. By faith the New Testament nearly always means the complete commitment of the Christian to Jesus Christ. Paul means that all Christians are bound together because they have made a common act of complete surrender to the love of Jesus Christ. They may describe their act of surrender in different terms; but, however they describe it, that surrender is the one thing common to all of them.
"One faith" refers to the body of truth called the apostles doctrine in Acts 2:42.
In the early Church “baptism” was usually adult baptism, because men and women were coming directly from heathenism into the Christian faith. Therefore, before anything else, baptism was a public confession of faith. There was only one way for a Roman soldier to join the army; he had to take the oath that he would be faithful forever to his emperor. Similarly, there was only one way to enter the Christian Church—the way of public confession of Jesus Christ.
Today, we would say that truth is found in the Bible. When true doctrine is denied it causes divisions. There must be a substance to form an adhesion of believers. And that substance that binds us together is true doctrine.
"One baptism" is referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is real baptism. Ritual baptism is by water. Water baptism is a symbol of the real baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which believers are actually made one.
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
“One God and Father of all,”
The subject of this verse is the fatherhood of God. He is our heavenly Father, and as such, He watches over us and cares for us. Since there is only one Father, He is not the Father of unbelievers. Sonship can only come through Christ.
The unity of believers produces a sharp distinction between believers and unbelievers. He is Father of all those who are His through faith in His Son. My friends, there is only one God, and He is not Buddha or Allah. The One God unites us into the one family of God.
Paul says four things about the one God.
1. He is Father of all--that is, He created all.
2. He is above all--that is, He controls all.
3. He is through all--that is, He sustains all.
4. He is in all--that is, He is present everywhere.
There is “one God,” and He is the “Father of all.” In that phrase, “Father of all,” is enshrined the love of God. The greatest thing about the Christian God is not that He is king, not that He is judge, but that He is Father. The Christian idea of God begins in love.
“who is above all,”
In that phrase is enshrined the control of God. No matter what things may look like God is in control. There may be floods; but “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood” (Psalm 29:10).
“and through all,”
In that phrase is enshrined the providence of God. God did not create the world and set it going as a man might wind up a clockwork toy and leave it to run down. God is all through His world, guiding, sustaining, loving.
“and in you all.”
He is in all; in that phrase is enshrined the presence of God in all life. It may be that Paul took the germ of this idea from the Stoics. The Stoics believed that God was a fire purer than any earthly fire; and they believed that what gave a man life was that a spark of that fire which was God came and dwelt in his body. It was Paul’s belief that in everything there is God.
When I read this verse I am made to believe that Paul was a southerner, because he ends the verse with "you all."
IT IS THE CHRISTIAN BELIEF THAT WE LIVE IN A GOD-CREATED, GOD-CONTROLLED, GOD-SUSTAINED, GOD-FILLED WORLD.
When the Roman soldiers, who were on guard at Jesus' crucifixion, were dividing up His clothes, they came to His coat and they discovered that it was seamless. If they tore it, it would be ruined. Therefore, they decided to keep it and to cast lots for it. The seamless robe of Christ has become a symbol for the unity of the church. Henry Ward Beacher prayed that the church might be one again, like the seamless robe of His Lord. This very appropriate symbol is a thing of great beauty for those who are believers. Strife and divisions within the church have been ugly efforts to tear into pieces the sacred garment of truth. The Crucified One must look down sadly at the miserable conflict between those He died to redeem. His look of love and sorrow is reminiscent of His prayer, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved Me." (John 17:23)
The unity of the church is essential for the work of Christ. When there is unity, there will be oneness, and harmony, and agreement. Unity was apparent on the day of Pentecost when the believers "were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1). The Church is a unity in diversity, a fellowship of faith, and hope, and love that binds believers together.