Ephesians: In the Heavenly Realms

Preserving the Unity of the Spirit

Ephesians 4:1-6

– The Bible Teacher's Commentary –

Paul J. Bucknell

Ephesians 4:1-6 ~ "Preserving the Unity of the Spirit" is The Bible Teacher's Commentary divided into eight sections including Bible Study Questions. Paul in Ephesians 4:1 not only sets our calling to unity but in 4:2-3 shows us five ways to actually implement this unity. Special discussion is given on the meaning of Ephesians 4:3 "preserving the peace of God." Come and see how the unity of God can be played out in your life, marriage and church today!

The Problem of Disunity

An Introduction to Ephesians 4:1-6

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).


I recently received this note from the UK.

Emaili have been reading the article regarding the similarity of marriage and the church. please forgive me for writing this, but i haven’t told anyone. i know the Lord knows, but sometimes it helps to tell a fellow human being (believer). it has been about 15 years since i attended a church on a regular basis. i have recently been to a couple of churches once or twice, but have come out each time in floods of tears, feeling the same rejection that was felt years ago. it is not the people in the churches fault. they have been very kind on each visit. the problem is a result of feeling rejected by members of the church i attended years ago and having left the church and followed 'my own way again'. when i go into a church now, fear grips me and the only thoughts that come to mind are 'you should not be here-you have sinned too much-you are defiling the church'. does this mean that i will never be able to attend a church in peace again. i have longed for fellowship with other believers, to pray with and share Gods word with.

Did you notice the tension in her email? She wants to attend church and be with God’s people but because of past difficult relationships from her former church situation, her many fears and sense of rejection make it almost impossible to attend. She has been pulled back and forth for 15 years now. She, unfortunately, is not the only one like this. Many brothers and sisters have a love for God and His people but can’t seem to live along with God’s people.

The church is: called, gifted and placed. Isolation from a church is unnormal.God has called, gifted and placed them in the church, and yet they question their call, don’t use their gifts and displace themselves at much pain to themselves and others. She and many others have isolated their lives from God’s people and in the end from God Himself. The reality is that they are one but allow their lives to live as if this truth is not real. This is the work of deception and of the evil one.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice before us. We can either live out our lives in joy, humility, peace and love or begrudgingly, isolated and sad. Many of you are young. You can today make a change on how you are to live out your life. I can probably safely state, that if you have not yet been disappointed with the church of God, you probably will one day. The solution is not isolation whether by sitting in the back row, coming late and leaving early or even by not coming to church at all.

Paul in Ephesians 4:1 says that we are called into the body of Christ. It is illegitimate to think of ourselves as having spiritual communion with the Lord and yet not fitting into the church of Christ. That would be like getting married by yourself. Let me just state here, that no matter how hard it is, we need to bring the two together. There will be a force to draw us to God and to fellowship with His people. This is a natural drawing of the Spirit of God. It is our calling. The apostle continues on throughout the Book of Ephesians interweaving our relationship with God and with our relationship with His other sons and daughters.

“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:17-22).

Some of you have already lost your vision or hope of having a good church relationship. Here, Paul is calling you back to what you were made for and called to. This is not only true in the local church context, but with all believers no matter what kind of relationship you might have had with them, whether they be your colleague, spouse or parent. God wants to restore hope to us who have lost hope. He wants to protect those who will go through times of testing. He wants to show us the way our relationships can be restored.

From the human perspective, this is impossible, but God has already declared this is what He is doing. Tell the Lord to ‘feed His sheep’ now. Whatever your need, you want Him to feed you. I only caution you don’t put unity out of your realm of possibility. For this is exactly what God wants to do.

An Outline Chart to Ephesians

We should at the outset re-familiarize ourselves with the outline of Ephesians. Ephesians 4:1, after all, is the common dividing point of the Book of Ephesians. Outline chart of EphesiansUp to this point, in the first three chapters, Paul used every possible way to show us the grand purposes of God. As if on the pinnacle of a mountain, in the last few verses, he was looking over the whole scene before and around him. He could only see the great power of God displayed and the glory that it brought to God. But then, in that moment he said that all of this was to be shown in the church, the people of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21).

Apprehending this power and glory is one thing. Many have set their sights on understanding this glory and many a theological paper has been written, but this is only half the journey. Paul says our journey must reach the heavenlies. It is quite insufficient to say that we know about God but have never experienced Him, or, that we have studied about God but have never seen His glory.

As I said, Paul has taken us to the shores of heaven but he cannot take us in. Church of God, you have heard what God has done for you in Christ. You have heard how the Almighty One has chosen to work in you, though feeble you be. It is now time for us to step into the heavenlies. Although our feet for a little while remain on earth, God wants us to join Him in His glorious living. This is not just inspirational talk. This is for real. But you ask, “How?”

This is Paul’s point in the next three chapters. In order to be holy as the Lord, we must step by step constrain our footsteps to follow God’s clear pathway. You might think it impossible; it is not. You might object to its strenuous demand on your life, I will not deny it. Only we can clearly state that God’s way is unimaginably better than anything we would experience living by the world’s ways. You see, we are God’s kingdom. We are a people set apart for Him. This is our chance to live for Christ. As much as we live for Christ, we will see the world fall to its knees before Christ and crumble in repentance. But if we refuse to go on with our journey after Christ, we will see the church rot in the sight of the world.

I for one, have seen the ugliness of the world and reject it. I have taken up the pathway God lies before us. Diagram of delusion and truth - your choiceHe is waiting for all of us to join Him. He wants all of us to follow. He wants to reveal His great power through our feeble lives.

The pathway that is begun to lay out in front of us today brings us to putting down our competitiveness, jealousies, pride and take up a great love and affection for those whom Christ died. We will go nowhere with Him unless we openly face our past willingness to not love the brethren. I know we have many excuses, but none of them work. If we are to love God then we are to love those whom God loves. If we do not love those around us, then we do not love God. Will you take this first step closer to God? It will mean that you make changes in your marriage, friendships and church commitment. Some have done this and found a refreshing outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Delusion: I can have a good spiritual life without being committed to God’s people.

Truth: I step closer to God as I strengthen my commitment to God’s people.

Your choice. Keep attentive. God does not play games. You can go no further than tell stories about God if you do not love the people of God. On the other hand, if you are willing, no matter how poorly you have done in the past seek to deepen your commitment to God’s people, then you shall know more of God and His power. Indeed, the world will see God’s power and love through your lives.

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OUtline of Ephesians 4:1-6Let’s now look at an outline of the following material on Ephesians 4:1-6:

A) The Goal: Our calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:1)
B) The Means: Our life in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:2-3)
C) The Reason: Our oneness in God (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Now let's look at our calling to unity in Ephesians 4:1. Next =>

For further reflection on the importance of belonging to a church, check out the study below: Observation | Analysis | Study

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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