Immediately after explaining the spiritual blessings from God (chapters 1 to 3), Paul urges believers to live a life worthy of God’s calling. He starts with a call to keep unity and to live a harmonious life among believers. In doing so, he gives the spiritual basis of the unity already given by God. The basis mentioned is very important and so eloquently written:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (vv. 4-6)
Remember the Basis of Unity
One body points to the fact that all true believers are part of one universal Church (1:23; 3:10; 5:23; see also Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 10:17). Except for the Church (all believers) as one body, however, the use of the one in this passage is not stressing quantity; rather, the emphasis is on the same one.
That is, believers are urged to maintain unity because we all have the same Holy Spirit, the same eternal hope which we have because of Christ (1:12) and which is closely connected to the glorious inheritance (1:18), the same Lord, the same faith, and the same baptism. In the case of baptism, of course we were not all baptised at the same time in the same baptism ceremony, but we all have the same baptism that identified us with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Rom 6:3-6). And we are children of the same God and Father, so we are siblings!
Remember the Spiritual Emphasis
It is beneficial for us to recognize that Paul points out spiritual basis of unity when he urges believers to keep the unity of the Spirit. Sometimes we seem to lose focus and try to attain unity by human way, from human perspective, or on the basis of human needs / benefits.
Human perspective is not always bad or wrong, but after being in Church environment for about 4 decades, I sometimes wonder, if the spiritual and heavenly basis of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and one Father could not bring unity to a group of believers, what could human basis really achieve?
Andrew Lincoln, an author of an important commentary on Ephesians, says it well:
The unity of the Spirit involves not the human spirit but the Holy Spirit, as v. 4 makes clear, and is a reference not to the congeniality of some social grouping but to the unity which God’s Spirit gives and which is the ground of the Church’s existence.1
May we all remember the basis of unity and the spiritual emphasis on it!
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.
16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- Lincoln, Andrew T., Ephesians, vol. 42 of Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990), 237. ↩