April 29, 2014.
If you have been following along the past few days, we are in the middle of a discussion of the book of Ephesians. Paul is writing to the church of Ephesus that is made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians, a mixture that would seem to be causing a bit of contention. It is my opinion that the central message of the epistle is unity. Paul wants the body of Christ to be one unified unit. We are all one in Christ. Yesterday we saw how Paul addressed the concept of the Gentiles now being invited into the kingdom of God just as Jews were. There was no longer a separation between the two groups. Today we will discuss the fourth and first half of the fifth chapters of Ephesians where Paul talks more about unity in general and then lays down some truths about love, union and truth itself. Let’s start in what I would call the thesis statement for the entire letter (not to be confused with yesterdays thesis).
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Whenever a sermon or message is spoken about unity, I feel like this is almost an obligatory passage to go to. I have spoken or written on this passage many times. It is interesting to me, however, to speak on it in this context as we are studying the book as a whole. We can see that this statement didn’t just come out of nowhere. Paul has been building up to this point throughout the first three chapters. Finally, he lays it all out. One body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. Sometimes this is referred to as the seven ones. I believe that if there is anything important to remember, these seven would be at the top of the list. Everything is one, and it all of these to we come to the one Father who is above all, through all and in all. Then he goes on to discuss our different roles in the one body, which we will visit in more detail tomorrow, Lord willing.
What is interesting to me is what Paul follows this up with. In the next section, he starts talking about truth and love. I don’t think this is an accident. If there are two things that are essential to holding together the body, it is truth and love. We cannot stand without both of these. One is not enough. When you read today, notice how many times Paul emphasizes doing everything in love and truth of doctrine and ways of living. I don’t think there was any room for compromise with Paul. I will let you read most of this for yourself (and you can find my earlier post about crude talking and the like based out of chapter five), but there is one passage that I would like to specifically highlight.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
We are to be growing up to mature adulthood, not being tossed about by every wind of doctrine. This tells me that there is a truth, we need to find it and once we have found it, we need to stick to it, teaching others in love. Thus we can obtain the unity of faith, and truly be one in Christ. Amen.
Suggested Daily Reading: Ephesians 4-5.
May the peace of our Loud be with you.