The fourth chapter of Ephesians deals primarily with unity within the body of Christ. Through the first three chapters of the book Paul has been laying the theological framework for the life of good works that he describes in the final three chapters. The first topic he discusses in this regard is unity. He encourages believers to live together in humility and patience, bearing with one another and maintaining the unity of the Spirit. The word one appears seven times in only three verses, which brings emphasis to the oneness the Lord expects of his family. Having discussed the importance of unity, Paul goes on to show how this unity will be formed and maintained.
Unity is a common theme in the New Testament, isn’t it?. Paul spoke of it in 1 Corinthians 1:10 where we read, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” Among Jesus’ final words to his apostles is the beautiful and powerful prayer for unity which is recorded for us in John 17. Peter and other biblical writers discuss the subject as well. Unity is clearly an important component to the Christian life.
Perhaps the clearest example of this type of unity is shown to us in the book of Acts. We read in Acts 5, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…” (Acts 5:12-14). This unity was based on unity of doctrine, and that asserted itself in practice. In the previous chapter Luke writes, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:32-35).