Ephesians 4:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 23, 2006


We talked about how the book of Ephesians is divided into three sections, sit – walk – stand.

Chapters 1-3 were the “sit” section, where Paul talked about all the wonderful blessings that God has given us and how we need to learn to “sit” in the heavenlies and learn and receive all that God has for us. It’s when we learn to “sit” and receive what God has done for us that we are ready to “walk”.

This chapter starts the second division of the book of Ephesians, the “walk” section where Paul will begin to tell us how to walk with the Lord.

The third section is in chapter six, where Paul talks about learning to “stand” against the evil forces in our spiritual warfare.

Today’s message is going to be focused on the theme of “unity”.  It’s all about getting along with others.  That doesn’t always come easy.


Two stupid fellows are walking through the woods and come upon a set of tracks. One fellow said that they were deer tracks. The other said that they were moose tracks. They were still arguing when the train hit them.


Case Closed
Several women appeared in court, each accusing the others of causing the trouble they were having in the apartment building where they lived. The women were arguing noisily even in the court. The judge, banging his gavel to quiet them said “We are going to do this in an orderly manner. I can’t listen to all of you at once. I’ll hear the oldest first.” The case was dismissed for lack of testimony.

Got any “stupid fellows” in your life?  Listen up!

:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

What is the “calling”?

He may be talking about our “calling” to salvation.

But in the context here, he’s been talking about how both Jews and Gentiles have been called to believe in Jesus.

The issue is unity. Walking worthy is accomplished by walking in unity.

:2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,

These four phrases are ways we keep the unity.


Unity requires humility

lowlinesstapeinophrosune (“not rising far from the ground” + “mind”) –Having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind; not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great. The word is used in an early secular manuscript of the Nile River at its low stage, “It runs low.”
R.C. Chapman, a pastor and teacher back in 19th century England, wrote a book called “Agape Leadership”. He has a couple of great quotes about “unity”:

“Pride nourishes the remembrance of injuries: humility forgets as well as forgives them.”

“Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division”.

Fire the Slacker
A large company, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. This new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers and show everyone what he was made of. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning on a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business! The new CEO walked up to the guy leaning against the wall and asked, “How much money do you make a week?” A little surprised, the young fellow looked at him and replied, “I make $300 a week. Why?” The CEO then handed the guy $1,200 in cash and screamed, “Here’s four weeks’ pay, now GET OUT and don’t come back.” Feeling pretty good about himself, the CEO looked around the room and asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-off did here?” From across the room came a voice, “Pizza delivery guy from Domino’s.”

Pride brings stupid division.

(Phil 2:1-4 NKJV)  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, {2} fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. {3} Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. {4} Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
(Phil 2:7 NKJV)  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
(John 13:14-15 NKJV)  "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
Humility is shaped as we learn to serve one another.


Unity requires gentleness

gentlenesspraotes – gentleness, mildness, meekness; It is the attitude of mind and behavior which, arising from humility, disposes one to receive with gentleness and meekness whatever may come to him from others or from God. In the Greek language, this word was used for a soothing medicine, a colt that had been broken, and a soft wind. In each case you have power, but that power is under control.
You don’t have to throw your weight around for things to be safe.
It’s having the strength to know that you DON’T have to push others for things to be okay.
Never Argue
A fellow who’s just reached his 150th birthday was giving a press conference to the assembled media. “Excuse me, sir,” on of the reporters said, “but how did you come to live to 150? “It’s actually quite simple,” the old feller replied. “I just never argue.” “That’s impossible,” the reporter responded. “There must be something else, like diet, or meditation, or something. Just not arguing won’t keep you alive for 150 years!” The old fellow stared hard at the reporter for several seconds. “Hmmm,” he finally shrugged, “maybe you’re right.”

Maybe we don’t really have to argue either?


Unity requires patience

longsufferingmakrothumia – patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance; forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs; the self restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong. It is always used in relation to people, having patience with difficult people as opposed to being patient in difficult circumstances.
Cross-country Drive
Four men are driving cross-country together: one from Idaho, one from Iowa, one from Florida, and the last one is from New York. A bit down the road the man from Idaho starts to pull potatoes from his bag and throws them out the window. The man from Iowa turns to him and asks, “What are you doing?” The man from Idaho says, “Man, we have so many of these darned things in Idaho. They’re laying around on the ground, I’m sick of looking at them!” A few miles down the road, the man from Iowa begins pulling ears of corn from his bag and throwing them out the window. The man from Florida asks “What are you doing that for?” The man from Iowa replies, “Man, we have so many of these darned things in Iowa. I’m sick of looking at them!” Inspired by the others, the man from Florida opens the car door and pushes the New Yorker out.
The best example of patience is that of God:
(2 Pet 3:9 NKJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The reason Jesus hasn’t come back yet is because of God’s “longsuffering”, His “patience” with us.  He keeps putting up with us so that others have a chance to come to Christ.  In reality, He should have pushed mankind out of the car a long time ago.


Unity requires loving support

bearing withanechomai – to hold up; to hold one’s self erect and firm; to sustain, to bear, to endure
loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
In my mind, I see one of those war movies where after the battle the soldiers are helping the wounded get off the battlefield, one man’s arm around another’s, helping one another, holding each other up.

Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t do better with one another if we realized that we were all in a horrendous spiritual battle and that the wounded are all around us. Yes that person yelled at you, but do you see the shotgun wound in his side? Do you see the knife wound in her back?

But instead, some have characterized the church as the only army where it shoots it’s own wounded.

:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Unity requires work

endeavoringspoudazo – to hasten, make haste; to exert one’s self, endeavour, give diligence; It speaks of a determined effort. It has the idea of exertion in it.
I don’t think unity comes “naturally”.  It takes work.
Unity is difficult between any two people. Why? Because they are human.
(James 3:13-17 NKJV) Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. {14} But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. {15} This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. {16} For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. {17} But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Without God’s help, any group of two or more can easily fall apart.

Pastor Mark: It’s a miracle whenever two or more people can stay together for very long.

We may not be successful in keeping the unity of the Spirit, but we need to try. We need to work at it.
(Rom 12:18 NASB) If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
When you first get married, it’s not hard to be happy. You’re in love.  Things are great.  But if you want to stay happy in marriage, you are going to have to WORK at it.
Relationships at church aren’t something that always come easy or keep easy.  They take work.  One of the reasons we have things like “potlucks” is to give people a chance to connect with each other.  But it takes work.  We all need to work at it.

:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

Paul is now going to give a list of things that should demonstrate the unity we should have. What’s sad is that through the centuries some of these things haven’t brought unity, but division.

one body – we are all members of the body of Christ.

This may shock some of you, but this is talking about the “Catholic” church.

The word “Catholic” literally means “universal”. By itself it does not refer to the “Roman Catholic” church, but to the real, entire “church” which is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ.
You are a part of the “Catholic” church.

one Spirit – the same Holy Spirit is in all believers

Paul wrote,

(Rom 8:9b NKJV) …Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

one hope

Paul used this phrase earlier:

(Eph 1:18 NKJV) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

It speaks of the hope of salvation which involves life after death and eternity in heaven.

We are all called to the same hope, whether Jew or Greek …

:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

one Lord – Jesus

(Phil 2:9-11 NKJV) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, {10} that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, {11} and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Rev 19:16 NKJV) And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

one faith

This one should be a simple one. It should be the faith in Jesus that saves us.

The Gospel:
Our sin is what separates us from God. And we’re all sinners.
But Jesus came to die on a cross, to die in our place, to pay for our sins.
And now all we must do to receive God’s forgiveness is to “believe”, to put our trust in, to count on Jesus to pay for our sins.
(John 3:16 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

But it has got complicated over the years.

Various groups want to add to this where it’s not just about faith in Jesus, but it’s faith and Jesus and don’t smoke or drink. or it’s faith in Jesus plus being a member of their special church, or faith in Jesus and speaking in tongues, or faith in Jesus and being baptized with their special baptism.

one baptism

Again, this should be a simple thing to understand.

The Bible does not teach that we have to be baptized to be saved. The Bible teaches that we get baptized because we’ve been saved and we want to obey what Jesus tells us to do. We are to be immersed in water as a way of demonstrating to others that Jesus has washed our sins away, that we have found a new life in Jesus, and that we intend to follow Jesus. In reality, baptism is not just about being immersed in water, but it’s to be a picture that we’ve been immersed into Jesus.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said to the disciples,
(Mat 28:19 NKJV) "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
On the day of Pentecost, Peter simply said to the people:
(Acts 2:38 NKJV) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But again, over the years people have developed different traditions so that the issues become things like sprinkling or full immersion, which formula to use (“in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” or “in the name of Jesus”), or even which church you were baptized in.

I’ve heard some churches say that the “one baptism” is the baptism that THEIR church offers.
I’d say that they all miss the point. The point is to be baptized. One baptism. Into Jesus.

:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Notice the Trinity in this passage: “one Spirit” (vs. 4), “one Lord” (Jesus, vs. 5), “one God and Father” (vs. 6)



It is vitally important to God that we learn how to cultivate unity with each other.
The Psalmist wrote,
(Psa 133 NKJV) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

It’s a good thing for us to get along with each other.

{2} It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.

Oil is always a picture of the Holy Spirit. There is a connection between unity and the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t think that you’re going to receive or operate in the power of the Holy Spirit when you can’t get along with others.

{3} It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing; Life forevermore.

Mount Hermon was in the far north. It is the snow and “dew” that waters and nourishes the entire land of Israel.

Refreshing comes from unity.

Are you at odds with someone? I would imagine that you may be experiencing a drought of the Holy Spirit’s work.  God has things for you and I to work at.