The Unity Of The Spirit

The Unity Of The Spirit

Ephesians 4:1-32
Paul urges believers to live a life worthy of their calling. He emphasizes the importance of walking in humility, gentleness, and patience. Bearing with one another in love and maintaining the unity of the Spirit are key aspects of this calling. The bond of peace is what binds Christians together. Paul emphasizes the theological basis for unity through the repetition of "one." He starts with the church as the body of Christ and mentions the role of the Spirit. Believers are called to one hope, and Jesus is recognized as the one Lord. The faith they share is a common bond, as is their baptism. Ultimately, there is one God and Father of all, who is present in and rules over everything. The divine Trinity is central to Paul's discussion on unity.

He emphasizes Christ's role in bestowing unique gifts to believers for the benefit of the church. These gifts are not based on our works or merit but are graciously distributed by Christ. Paul cites Psalm 68:18 to support his claim, highlighting Christ as the conqueror who ascends to his heavenly throne and generously gives gifts to his followers. Christ's ascension signifies his exalted status, and its purpose is to fill all things as the divine Lord over the universe. Paul presents four types of individuals gifted by Christ to the church. Apostles are mentioned, followed by prophets, who are contemporary individuals speaking God's truth to the church. Evangelists are likely those entrusted with spreading the good news of peace through Christ by traveling. The final terms, "shepherds" or "pastors," and "teachers," are not distinct groups but overlapping roles. Pastors are a subset of teachers, as all pastors teach, but not all teachers are pastors.

Leaders are given by Christ to equip the saints. The context emphasizes gifts given to each individual for their work. Ministry is not limited to a select few who are paid, but rather, leaders are gifted by God to equip all the saints for service. The goal is to build up the body of Christ, focusing on qualitative spiritual growth and maturity, rather than merely numerical growth. Ultimately, Christ's gifting of leaders to the church aims to foster spiritual maturity in his body, the church.

First, believers should strive for unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, aligning themselves with the apostolic teaching found in the Bible. Second, they should pursue maturity as a church, reaching the measure of the fullness of Christ. Paul warns against spiritual immaturity, likening it to being tossed and blown by false doctrine, human cunning, and deceitful schemes. Instead, believers are encouraged to speak the truth in love and grow into Christ. Christ, as the head, leads and nourishes the church for growth. The entire body, joined and held together, contributes to the growth through their gifts and love.

Although his readers are converted Gentiles in a Gentile context, Paul warns against walking "in the futility of their minds," emphasizing the meaningless nature of a life without the fear of God. Paul also describes the negative condition of Gentiles, whose understanding is darkened and who are alienated from the life of God. In contrast to unbelieving Gentiles, they have learned a different way through Christ. The Ephesians heard about Christ through the gospel proclamation and were taught about Him through apostolic teaching. They were instructed to put off their old self, be renewed in the spirit of their minds, and put on the new self. The new self is created in the likeness of God, characterized by righteousness and holiness. Paul urges his readers to live in accordance with this new self, displaying God's righteousness and holiness.

Paul introduces a series of moral exhortations that demonstrate the behavior of the "new self," created in the likeness of God. The command to "put away" falsehood should be understood as a directive to refrain from speaking lies. Instead, believers are encouraged to speak the truth to one another and to their neighbors, emphasizing individual responsibility.

These verses contain four commands: (1) be angry; (2) do not sin; (3) do not let anger linger; and (4) do not give opportunity. The first command, "be angry," is better understood as a call to appropriately express anger on certain occasions. Christians should hate sin and be indignant in the face of evil. The second command reminds us that anger can easily turn into sinful behavior. The third command advises dealing with anger promptly to prevent it from festering. The fourth command warns against giving the Devil an opportunity to exploit our unchecked anger.

Believers are not only called to do good with their actions but also with their words. They should avoid corrupt talk and instead speak words that edify and bring grace to those who hear. Speaking unkindly grieves the Holy Spirit, showing the connection between God's people and the Spirit. Paul exhorts his readers to put aside anger and avoid sins like bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. Instead, they are encouraged to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, just as God in Christ forgave them.





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