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.
Therefore, I (the prisoner in the Lord) urge you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called; in all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, working hard to keep/obey the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, just as 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, through all, and in all. Eph (4:1-6)
“calling” in Paul’s letters is a synecdoche for the personal event of hearing and believing the gospel message. It carries the same connotation as conversion does for us today. To walk worthy of the calling is to live in a way that reflects the dignity of the one who has called you. It is important to note that for Paul and Jesus in the gospels, the calling is to a particular form of community life. Jesus used the phrase “kingdom of God.” Paul said “church.” The idea is still important. Our conversion is personal and individual. Yet, it is not alone because it is a whole person conversion, and our social self is part of who we are. To be called as a Christian is to be identified with God’s elect people. But this calling is more than individual or social. Paul does speak of the evangelist calling people in his letters and of the individual’s responsibility to respond to the gospel. But even more, for Paul, the gospel call is a call from Jesus himself. So to walk worthy of the calling is to live in a way that honors Jesus with respect to his office and character. He goes on by listing character traits as to how this may be done.
“unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” means divinely inspired unity which comes from the teachings related to the gospel. Paul tells them to be working hard to maintain this. There is a unity in the church which has its origin in God’s Spirit. But, this original unity must be maintained by God’s people in the sphere of “the bond of peace.” The bond of peace refers to the peace which Christ preached to those near and far. What Christ preached is the gospel (Ephesians 2:17). More evidence for this is that Paul uses this summary of the gospel story, “one body and one Spirit, just as 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, through all, and in all.”
Christians must break certain habits. Habits of impatience, rudeness, and an inability to forgive all have to go. To do this, I think we must radically transform our approach to time, we spend to much time rushing that we’re short with God’s people. Instead, we need to slow down to learn to be patient with others. I also suspect that learning about our own sinfulness and not resenting it, but knowing it will help us to be compassionate and forbearing to others.
Also, this passage tells us that Christians need to know the gospel well enough to have unity with other Christians based on our shared faith. To live worthy of the gospel, we must know it. Why? Because it’s principles are principles of peace. Once we know those principles, we must work hard to practice them so that we can have unity.
Finally, it is the calling of every Christian to put on these character traits.
Barth, Markus. Ephesians. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974.
Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1984.
Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2002.
Brandon Woodard says
I wished people had a better understanding of the need to understand the gospel in order for the church to have unity and be effective in spreading the gospel. All too often calls for unity or peace are really calls to overlook or de-emphasize aspects of the gospel. A peace that comes from that is going to be much emptier than peace that comes from the Spirit working in the humility, gentleness, and patience of people with a deep love for the gospel and each other.