Ephesians: In the Heavenly Realms

Preserving the Unity of the Spirit

Ephesians 4:1-6

– The Bible Teacher's Commentary –

Paul J. Bucknell

Ephesians 4:4-5 ~ "The Doctrine of Unity" is part 6 of 8 of The Bible Teacher's Commentary on Ephesians 4:1-6 which lists 7 doctrinal reasons we should live in unity and harmony. Each point is discussed with emphasis on how to practically apply it to our lives. Bible Study Questions are provided at the end.

D) The Doctrine of Unity (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Reason for Pursuing Peace

“There is one body and one Spirit, just 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 4:4-6).

Ephesians 4:4-6 Introduction

Why was Ephesians 4:4-6 written? Paul faced the same incredulous challenges to peace that we see today. Did he not seen the division, fights, false teachers and wolves, some from within and some from without? How can a church be unified when the very churches that he worked with harbored all sorts of pride, jealousy, selfish, lying and rudeness? Paul in his many epistles met up with these very issues. In fact, the very reason Paul wrote letters to these churches was to help them work through those problems. Here is a difficulty that we find in Philippi church.

“Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment” (Philippians 1:15-17).

Paul did not see unity. What then enabled Paul to speak about the gift of peace and unity in the church (Ephesians 4:3) when what he saw appeared so different from what he experienced? How can Paul say what he did in verses 1-3 with any sort of seriousness? We find that he looked at the church through God’s eyes. He handled them through faith. We will do the same if we understand the scripture's teaching of unity.

Ephesians 4:4-6, then, is a bold theological statement that presents the teaching of the unity of God’s people. These truths are rooted in God’s person and His work. These signs of unity are apparent in what He does. (We should note here that the signs of division and jealousy are outworkings of the evil one.)

People at times write to me objecting to my views on all sorts of items such as whether men should wear earrings. Sometimes they are quite strong. They more often than not, however, are concerned with defending what they believe rather than understanding the truths behind the issue.

Ephesians 4:4-6 Oneness in GodUnity is defined by the seven truths, that is, seven ‘ones,’ brought up by Paul in these verses. The number seven represents perfect and holy, a full representation of the Lord. The key question is not whether it is impossible but whether we are willing to do as Paul says and be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. We do acknowledged that the Spirit of God is not with every group of people, but where He is present we must practically and seriously get down to asking how to preserve the unity of the Spirit.

“There is one body and one Spirit, just 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 4:4-6).

We find here that there is a definitive oneness about the people of God and her Lord. The oneness defines who we are. But more than that, it shapes how we are to interact with others.

• One body

One body means that we cannot separate ourselves from other Christians, even if we wanted to. Remember that if you are part of a non-believing church, they are not a real church and not a part of the body of Christ. Since we are one and not many, we are forced to think of ourselves as one and therefore decidedly live for one another.

Jesus’ teaching on love stems from this. Once we understand this teaching, then all our efforts to help care for others makes a lot of sense. Helping a brother move his house fits in here. So does using my gifts to help another build up his or her faith. Paul speaks much of this 'body' in other places.

Perhaps most important, this teaching of one body does not allow for arguing, selfishness and the many other things Paul later mentions in the Book of Ephesians. Perhaps we could say that if we perfectly understood this teaching then we would not need the rest of the book. But our many divisions is proof of our need of the scriptures.

• One Spirit

We, as the people of God, are animated by one Spirit. There are not two spirits leading us. Because there is only one, He cannot lead us differently. If it seems that the Spirit of God is leading in two places, what are you going to do? It certainly is time to go back to the drawing board. It is imperative that one get back into God’s Word and prayer, and check how each of you interpreted what the Spirit of God wanted. It is because of this truth, we can trust God to work through our authorities such as our parents or elders.

Remember, it is the Spirit of God that continually, as a strong constant wind, pushes us back into unity with one another. It is our duty to take heed. The teaching of unity is based on truth and is at all times calling us back to oneness in Christ.

• One hope of your calling

You have only one hope and that is in Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Together we hope in the same Jesus to deliver us from our sins. My brother and I do not have two different hopes. Our hearts are set on the same Savior to rescue us from sin.

Cults, of course, define themselves by focusing on things other than Christ to save them. Mormons look at their inward feelings. Jehovah Witnesses look to their active door-to-door activities. Unitarians look to their good works. Because of this, and the attack to undermine our faith, we together need to affirm each other’s faith so that we will not lose focus and drift away from our hope.

• One Lord

Having only one Lord means we are loyal to one alone. We have no other commitments that call us to lessen our allegiance to Him. We love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We might have many authorities, but we all have one Lord to follow. We sing to Him. We worship Him as one body. We as one follow His leading.

We admit that there is always a preponderance of idols that detract us from a wholehearted commitment to the Lord. As it was in the days of old, so it is with each new generation. Different masks only mark their difference.

• One faith

Our common faith follows our one hope in our one Savior. Our salvation is well-defined; there are not two, three or more faiths. We cannot say as the world does that ‘all the religions are the same.’ Our faith is in Christ’s work for us on the cross. Without this faith, there is no genuine saving faith.

Paul has captured the truths of this one faith and expanded on them in the first three chapters of this Book of Ephesians. If we wanted to further summarize it, we would turn to Ephesians 2:8-10.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

• One baptism

Paul through this 'one baptism' is speaking of the way that we are saved. He is not speaking of one mode of baptism over another. This was not an issue back in the very early church. Whether one was immersed, sprinkled or poured upon hardly matters. If it did, then he would mention it!

Baptism instead speaks of the process of repentance and on how each of us has died to ourselves. The spiritual process is represented by how each Christian is physically baptized. Having died to ourselves, we are then baptized into one body in the Name of Jesus Christ. Spiritual baptism, that is, conversion is the very means by which we become one body.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin (Romans 6:4-7).

• One God and Father

We do not have two fathers. When I go to China, Singapore, Africa or Latin America or India and meet a fellow believer, we are brother and sister. We are one family. We were born into one family by the same Father. We share God’s image together and will forever share our Father’s riches in Christ.

Recently I was asking one African bishop about potential problems working together because he mentioned that they believe in speaking in tongues. He said that this does not matter because we are one body. He is right. He allowed the ‘oneness’ shape his thoughts, words and decisions. We will spend extra time focusing on this phrase and the elaborate on the way the Apostle Paul spoke of God our Father.

For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren (Hebrews 2:11).

Next => Read more on the fascinating text of Ephesians 4:6 - One God and Father.

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For further reflection on these topics with BFF article:
How do you train basic doctrine into new believers? 3 X E
Unity and Diversity in Genesis
Establishing unity in marriage
Oneness Forever principle
OVERCOMING ANXIETY: Finding Peace, Discovering God

Read more exciting and practical articles on the Book of Ephesians.

Introduction to the Book of Ephesians

Paul's Second Missonary Journey to Ephesus - Map
Chronology Chart of Pauline Letters
Ephesians 1:1-3 Introduction in text.

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing

Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1 Only by the Will of God
Ephesians 1:2 Only in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 1:3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1-3 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 1:4-6 Bible Study Questions
Ephesians 1:1-14 Redemption & Sovereignty
Ephesians 1:15-17 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:1-3 Our Need, His Grace

Ephesians 2:1-3, an Introduction
Ephesians 2:1 A) Man's Nature
Ephesians 2:2 B) Man's World
Ephesians 2:3 C) Man's Heart
Questions (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Ephesians 2:8-10 Extraordinary Purpose
Ephesians 2:8-10, an Introduction
Ephesians 2:8-9 A) Purpose of Salvation
Ephesians 2:10 B) Purpose of our Lives
Questions (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Ephesians 2:19-22 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:1-10 Growing in Our Commitment
Ephesians 3:1-10, Introduction
Ephesians 3:1 The Value of the Gospel
Ephesians 3:2-5 The Reliability of the Gospel
Ephesians 3:6-7 The Glory of the Gospel
Ephesians 3:8-10 The Calling of the Gospel
Questions (Ephesians 3:1-10)

Ephesians 3:14-21 The Fullness of God's Love

Ephesians 3:20-21 God's Unlimited Power
Ephesians 3:20-21 Unlimited Power
Ephesians 3:20 God's Amazing Power
Ephesians 3:21 God's Amazing Glory
Ephesians 3:20-21 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:1-6 Preserving the Spirit's Unity

Introduction: Problems of Disunity
Ephesians 4:1 Calling to Unity
Ephesians 4:2-3 Our Oneness of the Body
Ephesians 4:3 Preservation of Unity
Ephesians 4:1-3 Bible Study Questions
Ephesians 4:4-5 Reason for Oneness
Ephesians 4:6 One God & Father
Ephesians 4:4-6 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:11-16 The Purpose of Training

Ephesians 4:11-13: A) God's Word in the Church
Ephesians 4:11 Gifts in the church
Ephesians 4:12 Purpose of equipping
Ephesians 4:13 The final goal
Ephesians 4:11-13 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:14 B) Responsibility 1. Deceit
Ephesians 4:15a 2. Speaking the truth in love
Ephesians 4:15b 3. Grow up into Christ
Ephesians 4:16 Summary: Function of the Church
Ephesians 4:14-16 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:11-14 Chart: Equipping of the Saints
Ephesians 4:26-27 The Urgency of Resolving Anger
Ephesians 4:31 The Tree of Bitterness

Ephesians 5-6

Ephesians 5:22,24 Wives be Subject to your Husband
Ephesians 5:25 Marital Love
Ephesians 5:31-32 Redemptive Analogy & Marriage
Ephesians 5:31-33 Building a Great Marriage
Ephesians 6:1-3 Obedience to Parents
Ephesians 6:17 Sword of Spirit

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell

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