Ephesians 4:1-6 deals with an exhortation, means and platform for unity in Christ. The stress on unity comes to its most obvious expression in Ephesians 4:4-6 by the repeated use of “one.” It occurs 7 times. The 7 items mentioned in the passage were matters of common conviction among Christians then and ought to be today if we seek to honor God’s will. These elements are not to be taken lightly; to do so reflects an attitude toward God and His will that is unhealthy and disrespectful. Let’s briefly consider each one.
- One BODY – Paul often refers to the church as the body of Christ. See Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:12, 13, 20; Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:15-16; 5:29-30. This takes care of the question, “How many churches are there?” There are as many churches / bodies as there are Lords and faiths – One!
- One SPIRIT – It is the Spirit who incorporates people into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is in and by the Spirit we have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18), and the Spirit now fills the church as the new covenant temple (2:22). The Spirit is just as much a “person” as the Father and the Son and possesses all the qualities and attributes of God. See Acts 5:3-4. The Holy Spirit marks believers as God’s “property” (Ephesians 1:13).
- One HOPE OF YOUR CALLING – Note 2:11-12. See Colossians 1:5; Romans 8:24. Responding to this “call” gives Christians hope (1 Peter 1:3-4). This hope involves a present assurance rooted in God’s provision of salvation, along with a confident expectation of God performing all He has promised.
- One LORD – Jesus is the AUTHORITY – the Master and Owner. See Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36; Ephesians 1:20. What a person believes about Jesus as Lord and Savior matters! Responding to what Jesus did at the Cross in love, humility and obedience is the only appropriate response.
- One FAITH – This expression can legitimately mean, (1) saving faith and what constitutes it; or (2) the unified system or body of truth consistent with divine revelation. For view one, see Colossians 2:7 and Ephesians 1:13-15. For view 2, see Acts 6:7; Galatians 1:23; Jude 3; 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:1, 6; 5:8. Really, the two views are interrelated.
- One BAPTISM – It is interesting that most commentators will rightly admit that this is a reference to water baptism. There is no doubt that the New Testament connects baptism with saving faith (Acts 2:38; 8:16, 35-39; 22:16; et al). Further, the New Testament connects baptism with the death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). The New Testament also connects baptism with putting on Christ (Galatians 3:27). Apart from the one baptism, one has yet to display saving faith, has yet to experience the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection, and has yet to put on Christ!
- One GOD AND FATHER OF ALL – The passage shows God’s sovereignty (“over all”), power (“through all”) and presence (“in all”). See Romans 11:36 and 1 Corinthians 8:6.
According to Paul in this passage, the way we walk and what we believe in that walk greatly matter. At least they do to the Lord. May we ever desire to be guided by God’s Word in seeking true unity in Christ!