Summary: Ephesians 4:4-6 shows us the biblical foundation of unity in the church.
Last week I begin a new series of sermons in Ephesians 4:1-16 that I am calling, “Unity in the Body of Christ.”
In Ephesians 1-3 the Apostle Paul deals primarily with doctrine. He sets down a number of glorious doctrines about predestination, election, adoption, redemption, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the work of God in joining people from all nations into the one body of Christ.
In Ephesians 4-6 the Apostle Paul deals primarily with application. He applies in very concrete ways how the glorious doctrines apply to Christian believers in Christ’s Church.
In Ephesians 4:1-3 the Apostle Paul teaches Christian believers about the call to a worthy walk. And then he explains what it is that characterizes the walk of every Christian believer. He says that every Christian is characterized—perhaps not in full bloom, but certainly in germ form—by humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and unity. And then he goes on in verses 4-6 to explain the biblical foundation of this unity.
Let’s read about unity in Ephesians 4:4-6:
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
A man was stranded all alone on a deserted island. He sent smoke signals daily, hoping that someone would see it and find him. Ten years elapsed and finally a ship passed by.
The captain of the ship was notified about the smoke signals, and he decided to see what was going on at the island.
When he got close to shore, he saw a man and three huts. The captain of the ship sent a small boat to rescue the man. When the man got on board the ship, he embraced the captain and thanked him profusely for rescuing him.
“I am glad to be able to help you,” said the captain. “Where are the others?”
“What others?” said the man, “I am alone. I am the only one on this island.”
“Well then,” asked the captain, with a confused expression, “if you are alone, why are there three huts on the island?”
“Oh, that! I can explain,” said the man. “The first hut is my home. That is where I live. And the hut next to it is where I go to church.”
“And the third hut?” asked the captain.
The man said, “Oh! That is where I used to go to church!”
We smile at that story, but it really reflects a sad reality. Far too many Christians do not understand the biblical foundation of unity in the church.
Ephesians 4:4-6 shows us the biblical foundation of unity in the church.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. There Is One Body (4:4a)
2. There Is One Spirit (4:4b)
3. There Is One Hope (4:4c)
4. There Is One Lord (4:5a)
5. There Is One Faith (4:5b)
6. There Is One Baptism (4:5c)
7. There Is One God (4:6)
I. There Is One Body (4:4a)
First, there is one body.
Paul writes in verse 4a, “There is one body….”
The word “body” is a metaphor for the church. Boice points out, “There are many good metaphors for the church in Scripture, even within this one letter. It is compared to a kingdom, a family, and a temple in chapter 2. In chapter 5 it is compared to a bride.” However, comparing the church to a “body” is a great metaphor because a human body is a unified, organic entity. Each part of the body has life and contributes to the well-being of the entire body. Each part of the body is necessary for the proper functioning of the entire body.
Paul used the same metaphor when he wrote to the Corinthian church, stressing the unity and interdependence of each member of the body. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:14–27, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many…. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty…. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:14; 21–27).