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Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος μετὰ μακροθυμίας ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· Ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν· εἷς κύριος μία πίστις ἓν βάπτισμα εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. I urge you, therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, worthily to walk of the calling of which you were called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
In chapter 4, Paul begins his section of exhortation in this letter, although it is not without its own bits of theology. In this sentence, we see a mix of both exhortation and theology.
In light of all that he had talked about–such as the work God has done on our behalf through Jesus Christ, and the unifying of the Gentiles with the Jews in Christ–Paul has some exhortations to make. He appeals to his condition as being the prisoner of Christ. He exhorts his readers to walk worthily of the calling that they were called to. The infinitive περιπατῆσαι does mean to walk, but in this context it has bears the idea of living. Paul is exhorting his readers to live worthily of the calling. They were to live a life worthy of the calling with all humility and gentleness. They were to live with patience. How were they to live with these inner qualities? By bearing with one another in love, which is the counterpart to patience, and by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit, which is the counterpart to humility and gentleness. Patience is required for bearing with others; humility and gentleness is necessary for keeping unity. But this unity that Paul mentions is quite extraordinary. It is the unity of the Spirit, which is bound together by a common peace. Paul goes on to explain what the unity is by identifying the contents of the unity of the Spirit.
The Greek is interesting here. The editors of Nesle-Aland’s 27th edition place a semicolon at the end of verse 3 and begin a new sentence in verse 4. However, since there is no conjunction in verse 4 and because the content of verse 4 and following explain what is meant by the unity of the Spirit in verse 3, it makes sense not to think of vv. 4-6 as a separate sentence. What comes in vv. 4-6 are all part of the same thought as vv. 1-3. In terms of translation, it is possible to separate it into different sentences, but such practice will not be utilized here in order to preserve the connection between the unity of the Spirit and the essentials laid out in vv. 4-6.
According to vv. 4-6, the unity of the Spirit has some common ground. There is one body, the Church, and one Spirit. In the same way, there is only one hope in the calling that the readers were called. If there is only one hope in the calling, then there is similarly only one group of called out ones, and there is only one Spirit that tends to them. In the unity of the Spirit, there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, one faith, trust and belief both in God and his work on our behalf, one baptism, the common practice of water pouring, dipping, or sprinkling to signify a new life out of an old, and one God and Father of all, who is over all things, through all things, and in all things. God is identified as the one in authority over all things, the one who works through all things, and the one who is associated with all things. Together, the one body, the one Spirit, the one hope, the one Lord, the one faith, the one baptism, and the one God are all the bond of peace that make the unity of the Spirit.
Therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling, of which you were called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, by bearing with one another in love, by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit, just as you were also called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all things, through all things, and in all things.
Unity is important. Unity is part of living right–to live worthily of the calling. How often do we divide and forsake unity over issues that fall outside the bond of peace? Brothers and sisters, we should not divide over issues that fall outside of the bond of peace. So long as we hold to the one Lord, the one faith, and the one baptism, to the one God and the one Spirit, we should not be dividing up amongst ourselves. It is heartbreaking to hear of schisms in churches on the basis of systematic theological issues, such as, “Are humans predestined and without a choice, or does God not know what choice they will make?” Such an issue falls outside the bond of peace. We need to preserve the unity of the Spirit by bearing with one another in love, patience, and gentleness in regards to such issues. Unity does not mean full agreement on every aspect of biblical interpretation. In such instances, we should agree to disagree, so long as the basics–those fundamentals of the unity–are not violated. Ask yourself, “Am I living in a way that is worthy of the calling? In what ways am I causing disunity in the Church and how can I correct it?”