Unity in the Body of Christ
4 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. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 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.
The New Life
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
There is a deep calling on each of our lives. We who are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ have a mission. This mission does not altar from our placement in life. Whether rich or poor, struggling or in peace, in prison cell or walking in freedom, we who are Believers in Jesus are called to be on point. Paul’s words echo through the ages, “Live a life worthy of your calling.”
Paul went from highs to lows in his personal journey but it never thwarted the call Jesus had given him that day on the Damascus Road. This calling was everything he breathed and lived whether found in a damp prison cell, foreign country where idolatry was rampant or teaching and preaching – he wanted Christ known.
It is strange how for us life can dictate our own response, isn’t it? We allow things to get in the way, circumstances to rule our thoughts when all the while people are watching. People whom Jesus has brought into our lives whether for a brief or extended time, we have a mission. This life worthy of our calling involves many things. Paul specifically speaks toward humility and gentleness. He mentions bearing with one another through their own struggles. It involves holiness. Everything we do must have at the base our love for Jesus and love for the mission – no matter what the cost.
Within the Body, we are called to unity. We all know this doesn’t just happen. It takes work and many times requires we lay down our rights with one another for the sake of the Gospel. There is one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God! Building unity however is based upon the Holy Spirit actively involved in our lives. The reality is He leads but we must respond. Actions speak toward building a oneness with one another.
We each have God given gifts, which bring glory to Jesus and advance His Kingdom. These gifts build up the Body of Christ here on earth and although our gifts may differ, there is a richness to what they produce. This is part of God’s plan and requires we use our gifts and honor those with different ones.
- We each have a mission.
- We each have a calling.
- Live your life this day on point in a worthy way that Jesus is pleased.
The world is watching.
Ephesians 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;Ephesians 4:11-12 NASB
The first thing I want to point out is that these terms, though consistent in their roles, look different than they did in the First Century just as many parts of Scripture do. We need to ask ourselves, what did it mean for them? Let me give you an example.
Apostles were charged with the duty of the Holy Spirit-inspired composition of Scripture. Obviously, apostles today would not have that duty. Prophets were the mouthpiece of God back then and would lay the foundation for future events to take place. Today, we have those words recorded in Scripture.
Why does it look so different? Ephesians 2:20 gives us a clue.
Paul is speaking here to people who have become believers through Jesus Christ back then, and I think this certainly could be applied to believers today.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,Ephesians 2:19-20 NASB
So, as you can see, the early apostles and prophets were powerfully gifted to lay a foundation for future generations. What did the church need to get established?
Apostles were special ambassadors of God’s work. They possessed gifts as church planters, evangelists, pastors/teachers, and prophets. They were used in the early church to provide a foundation as we read in Eph 2:20.
Prophets were God’s mouthpiece who spoke in total consistency with the God’s Word in the Old and New Testament. A lot of people think prophets are all about future events. Sometimes they do speak in a predictive sense, but not always. A prophet has a strong desire to remind the people of God’s Word, which is why they are subject to the discernment and judgment of church leadership (1 Corinthians 14:29).
Evangelists were specifically gifted to preach the good news of Salvation in Jesus Christ. They are outward focused in their search to convert new believers.
Pastors and teachers (or, pastor-teachers; the ancient Greek clearly describes this as two sides of the same coin) They shepherd the flock of God primarily through teaching the Word of God and caring for His people.
The most important part of these gifts is not for the individual, as we read in the next verse. So many today parade around their gifts like a badge of honor. These various forms of ministry were given to the people of God to equip others! The goal is so that our church family (the body of Christ) would be built up.
There is work to be done that cannot be done by just one or two “gifted” people. Christ’s establishment of the church was so that all members would function together as one body. If you are a Christian, you are a participant in His Body!