The Unity of the Church.
SUMMARY.--The Exhortation to Unity.
The Seven Bonds of Unity.
The Various Gifts Given to the Church.
The Offices for Its Edification.
The Church Compacted in Christ.
The Gentiles Called from Their Former Lives.
A New and Holy Life Commanded.
1-3. I, therefore. Practical duties are now urged which grow out
of their glorious privileges in Christ.
The prisoner of the Lord. See
He was a prisoner because he was a servant of the Lord.
Walk worthy of the calling. They had been called to a glorious
calling, as he had shown in
The Christian has been called to the highest calling with which man has
ever been honored.
2. With all lowliness and meekness. Walk in humility and
gentleness of spirit. These are characteristics of walking worthily.
long-suffering and forbearance. To take offense easily, and to
seek to "pay back" any fancied injuries, are the opposite of these
In love. If the heart is filled with love, the other qualities
will be shown forth. Read
1 Corinthians, chapter 13.
3. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit. Forbearance and
long suffering are essential to unity and peace.
The unity of the Spirit. The unity of those who have the same
Spirit, not merely an outward unity.
In the bond of peace. An outward unity, which does not secure peace,
cannot be the unity of the Spirit.
4-6. There is one body. The Unity commanded has a basis in seven
unities which existed in the church, and should exist in all ages.
There was then only one body, the church, the body of Christ;
not a Gentile body and a Jewish body. Modern denominations were
1 Cor. 12:12, 13; Eph. 2:16.
And one Spirit. The same Spirit bestowed upon Jew and Gentile,
and upon all saints.
Called in one hope. Wherever called and from whatever state, all
were filled with one hope, that of immortality.
5. One Lord. Christ, the Head of the church
(1 Cor. 1:13; Eph. 1:10).
All saints have one Master.
One faith. One Lord who is the object of faith, and whom both
Jews and Gentiles lay hold upon by faith in him.
One baptism. All have been baptized into the "one Lord" upon the
profession of the "one faith" by one rite. It would be utterly
inconsistent with the Apostle's argument, if there could be anything
divisive about baptism, as three different ways of administering
itself. He is showing that there is unity in each one of seven
essential features of Christianity, and hence all should seek to "keep
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
6. One God. Not gods many, but one God for all; "The Father of
all, above all, through all, in all." Meyer, upon this passage, says
that the elements of church unity are: (1) The church itself
constituted as a unity: One Body, one Spirit, one Blessed Hope. (2)
The means by which this united church is built up: One Lord, one
Faith, one Baptism. (3) Over all one Supreme Ruler, the God and Father
of all. Bishop Pearson, on the creed, notes "Points of Unity of the
Church." He enumerates, (1) Unity of the Head; (2) Unity of the Spirit
dwelling in it; (3) Unity of hope; (4) Unity of faith; (5) Unity of
ordinance for admission; (6) Unity of the one Father; (7) Unity or
organization, one Body.
7-10. But unto every one of us. While all named above is common,
the Lord has given grace to each one
according to the measure of the gift of Christ. That is, there are
special offices, and special gifts, that Christ deals to each.
8. Wherefore he saith. The citation is from
It is cited to show that Christ gives.
When he ascended on high. Paul applies this to Christ's
ascension to heaven.
Led captivity captive. The captives, led captive by Christ, are
sin, the curse of the law, and death.
Gave gifts unto men. As a conqueror, returning in triumph, was
wont to distribute gifts, so Christ signalized his ascension by
9. Now that he ascended. Paul, in applying this to Christ, shows
that it implies that he must have descended from heaven, before his
ascension to heaven. This must necessarily follow, if the one ascending
is divine, and has a home in heaven, as
10. Above all heavens. The one who descended is now exalted to
the right hand of God. God's throne is represented above the heavens,
as God is above all. Compare
Heb. 4:14; 7:26.
That he might fill all things. And hence reach every place with
his grace and glory.
11-13. And he gave. It has just been shown that Christ "gave
gifts to men"
(verse 7, 8).
Of these gifts were various offices. The object of all these offices
was to promote "the unity of the faith"
Christ has appointed the offices, and gives the men in the church who
are fitted for these offices. In the matter of those offices that
continue, it is the duty of the church to recognize and call out the
men who meet the conditions Christ has given.
Some to be apostles. The apostles were all chosen by Christ. All
had to be witnesses of his resurrection
They, therefore, could have no successors, but their own office
continues. They still remain teachers and in authority by their
writings and example.
And some, prophets. An inspired office, essential in the church
for its teaching until
the New Testament was completed.
And some, evangelists. Such as Philip
(Acts 8:4-12; 21:8),
etc. This office is to preach the gospel, and will be necessary as long
as the church continues on earth. As this office did not require
extraordinary gifts, it is permanent.
Pastors and teachers. These were not distinct offices. Bishops,
or elders, and especially those "who labored in word and doctrine,"
came under this head. A pastor should always be an elder, but it is not
certain that a teacher was always an elder. These offices were all
given for the purposes indicated in the
12. For the perfecting of the saints. Helping them to higher and
For the work of the ministry. For carrying on the various works
assigned to the ministry.
For the edifying of the body of Christ. All was intended to
minister to the upbuilding of the church, within and without.
13. Till we all come. These offices are given in order that all may
come to a goal that is named just below. They must be continued in some
form until that goal is reached.
Unto the unity of the faith. This is one of the great objects to
be attained through these offices. In
Paul, as an apostle and a prophet, exhorts to the same end. As an
apostle and prophets, he so exhorts still. Every evangelist and pastor
who is under God's spirit should labor to the same end. Not only "unity
of the faith," but unity
of the knowledge of the Son of God is aimed at. Full unity of
the faith will be found when all alike know Christ.
Unto a full-grown man (Revision). The second end to be attained
is a noble manhood, fully developed, after the modes of life furnished
in Christ Jesus. This must be the aim of all teaching, and of all
living. If we cannot attain fully to it in the flesh, we certainly can
aim at it and grow more and more into Christ's likeness.
14-16. That we henceforth be no more children. This should be
the aim; to reach a stature such that we are no more froward children.
Children are feeble, inexperienced, and easily deceived.
Tossed. Tossed about like a wave by every wind of doctrine. It
is "doctrines," in great part, which have broken up unity.
By the sleight of men. Their tricks.
And cunning craftiness. Craft and cunning, employed by teachers
of false doctrine in order to deceive. There can be little doubt that
Paul refers to the false teachers against whom he warned the Ephesian
15. Speaking the truth in love. Truth is never to give way to
false doctrine, but it must be spoken in love. Some cling to the truth
tenaciously, but forget to speak it in love.
May grow. This continues the characteristics of those "who are
no longer children."
grow up into him in all things. In all their growth there should
be a growth of Christ's traits, a growth into his likeness.
In all their growth there
should be a growth of Christ's traits, a growth into his likeness.
16. From whom. The Head of the body, the church. He is the
source of all life, power and growth in the body.
Fitly framed together. The body of Christ, composed of many
individuals, is one, like a building composed of many parts framed
Through that which every joint supplieth. As in the body every
joint and part does its work towards compacting the body into a
harmonious whole, and towards its growth, so in the body of Christ
every member deriving life from the Head is to work in his place, and
harmoniously, for the increase of the body.
17-19. This I say, therefore. Now, after the statement of the
great principles named in
Paul returns to the exhortation of
Walk not as other Gentiles. Having come out from the heathen and
abandoned all their sins.
The vanity of their mind. Vanity of mind means what is a waste
18. Having the understanding darkened. He shows how the Gentiles
walk in vanity. They are in darkness, unenlightened by the gospel.
Alienated. Without the spiritual life that comes from knowing
Because of blindness of heart. The idea is a willful
19. Who being past feeling. Having trampled conscience under
foot until it is calloused. Having silenced its admonitions, they give
themselves over to licentiousness and evil. This description is not
overdrawn. Purity of life was not even considered a virtue among the
Gentiles of that period.
20-24. But ye have not so learned Christ. You are Gentiles by
birth, like those just described, but you have learned otherwise from
21. If so be that ye have heard him. This does not express a
doubt that they had heard and been taught by Christ. The idea is: If ye
have heard, etc., as I know you have, you have been taught the truth in
ye put off concerning the former manner of life the old man
and his deeds. "The old man" is the old sinful life, in contrast with
"the new man,"
or new life in Christ.
23. And be renewed. That is, be made new by having a new mind,
or spirit. See
24. And that ye put on the new man. He who has a new mind within
him is a new man. He who is born anew, "of water and of the Spirit"
created in righteousness. This is still part of what they were
The new creation described took place at conversion.
25-28. Wherefore. Since you were so taught, putting away
falsehood, speak the truth.
We are members of one another. All members of one Christian
household; hence every member has a right to the truth.
26. Be ye angry, and sin not. Quoted from
Septuagint Version. Do not sin through anger is the thought. If
circumstances arouse your indignation, do not be led astray.
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Let there be no long
continuance of your wrathful mind.
27. Neither give place to the devil. By cherishing anger. A
person under the dominion of anger is in a fit state to be tempted to
28. Let him that stole. All sorts of sinners had been
converted among the Gentiles, even thieves. In this exhortation, "To
put off the old man and his deeds"
this class is embraced also by name.
Let him labor. Honest labor is the best antidote to a dishonest
life. Every man is to labor in order that he may not only supply his
needs, but have that which he can give.
29-32. Let no corrupt communication. What is rotten. Anything
that will demoralize others. Obscene, licentious, or immoral language
is forbidden. All that the Christian speaks should be
that which is good to the use of edifying, building the hearers
up in Christ.
30. Grieve not the Holy Spirit. Such sins as those described
above grieve the Holy Spirit, nor will he continue to dwell those
addicted to them.
Sealed unto the day of redemption. The sealing of the Holy
Spirit is an earnest, a proof, an assurance of the final redemption.
If we grieve him away, the seal will be gone.
31, 32. These verses enforce sundry duties essential to keeping
"the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"
plain, every-day duties of life. Those of
are negative; those of