|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-6 Nothing is pressed more earnestly in the Scriptures, than to walk as becomes those called to Christ's kingdom and glory. By lowliness, understand humility, which is opposed to pride. By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul, which makes men unwilling to provoke, and not easily to be provoked or offended. We find much in ourselves for which we can hardly forgive ourselves; therefore we must not be surprised if we find in others that which we think it hard to forgive. There is one Christ in whom all believers hope, and one heaven they are all hoping for; therefore they should be of one heart. They had all one faith, as to its object, Author, nature, and power. They all believed the same as to the great truths of religion; they had all been admitted into the church by one baptism, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as the sign of regeneration. In all believers God the Father dwells, as in his holy temple, by his Spirit and special grace.
Verses 4-6. - WHEREIN UNITY CONSISTS - SEVEN PARTICULARS. There is one body (see Ephesians 2:16). The Church is an organic whole, of which believers are the members, and Christ the Head, supplying the vitalizing power: The real body, being constituted by vital union with Christ, is not synonymous with any single outward society. One Spirit; viz. the Holy Spirit, who alone applies the redemption of Christ, and works in the members of the Church the graces of the new creation. As ye also were called in one hope of your calling. This is one of the re-suits of the Spirit's work; when the Spirit called you he inspired you all with one hope, and this one hope was involved in the very essence of your calling (comp. Titus 2:13, "Looking for the blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"). To all believers the Spirit imparted this one blessed hope. One Lord; Jesus Christ, unique and beyond comparison: as Teacher, all hang on his words; as Master, all own his supreme authority; to his example all refer as the standard; his likeness all covet as the highest excellence (where Mary is worshipped, though nominally you have but one Lord, virtually you have two). One faith; not objective in the sense of creed, but as denoting the one instrument of receiving salvation (Ephesians 2:8), the one belief in the one Savior by which we are justified, adopted, and in other ways blessed. One baptism. One initiatory rite admitting into the visible Church - baptism in name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, symbolic of the washing of regeneration, the one way of entering the Church invisible. One God and Father of all. We rise now to the fountain of Godhead, the one supreme Being with whom all have to do, the only Being who is or can be the Father of us all; who can be to us what is implied in the name "Father," who, so love and grace can satisfy our hearts. Who is over all; the supreme and only Potentate, exercising undivided jurisdiction, "doing according to his will in the armies of heaven." etc. And through all; pervading the whole universe, sustaining and ruling it, not dwelling apart from his works, but pervading them; not, however, in any pantheistical sense, but as a personal God, whose essence is separate from his works. And in all. A closer and more abiding influence; he dwells in them, and walks in them, molding their inner being, and filling them with his own light and love. Some commentators of mark have tried to find a reference to each of the persons of the Godhead in the three prepositions over, through, and by, but this seems a strained view. The three persons, however, appear clearly in the seven elements of unity, but, as before (Ephesians 3:16-19), in the reverse of the common order - first, the Spirit; second, the Son; and third, the Father. These seven elements constitute the true rarity of the Church. It is out of the question to identify the Church which is thus one, with any external organization like the Roman Catholic Church. How many millions have been connected with it who have notoriously been destitute of the one hope, the one Spirit, the one Father! It is of the invisible Church the apostle speaks, and his exhortation is, seeing that this blessed sevenfold unity is the unity wrought by the Holy Spirit, maintain that unity; maintain the manifestation of it; give no occasion to any one to say that there is no such unity - that the Holy Ghost is a Spirit of confusion and not a Spirit of order and unity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
There is one body,.... The church; in what sense that is a body, and compared to one; see Gill on Ephesians 1:23. It is called "one" with relation to Jews and Gentiles, who are of the same body, and are reconciled in one body by Christ, and are baptized into it by the Spirit; and with respect to saints above and saints below, who make up one general assembly; and with regard to separate societies; for though there are several particular congregations, yet there is but one church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; and saints of different ages, places, states, and conditions, are all one in Christ Jesus, who is the one, and only head of this body: and this is an argument to excite the saints to unity of Spirit; since they are, as one natural body is, members one of another, and therefore should not bite and devour one another; they are one political body, one kingdom, over which Christ is sole King and lawgiver, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand; they are one economical body, one family, they are all brethren, and should not fall out by the way.
And one Spirit; the Holy Spirit of God, who animates, quickens, and actuates the body: there is but one Spirit, who convinces of sin, enlightens, regenerates, and makes alive; who incorporates into the body, the church; who comforts the saints; helps them in their access to God through Christ; makes known the things of Christ to them, is a spirit of adoption, and the seal and earnest of the heavenly glory; and the consideration of this should engage to unity, because a contrary conduct must be grieving to the Spirit of God, unsuitable to his genuine fruits, and very unlike the true spirit of a Christian: and by one spirit may be meant the spirit of themselves, who, as the first Christians were, should be of one heart, and of one soul, of the same mind, and having the same affections for one another; which sense is favoured by the Syriac and Arabic versions; the former rendering the words, "that ye may be one body and one spirit", making this to be the issue and effect of their endeavours after union and peace; and the latter reads them as an exhortation, "be ye one body and one spirit"; that is, be ye cordially and heartily united in your affections to one another:
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; that is, the glory hoped for, and which is laid up in heaven, and will be enjoyed there, to which the saints are called in the effectual calling, is one and the same: there are no degrees in it; it will be equally possessed by them all; for they are all loved with the same love, chosen in the same head, and secured in the same covenant; they are bought with the same price of Christ's blood, and are justified by the same righteousness; they are all equally the sons of God, and so heirs of the same heavenly inheritance; and are all made kings and priests unto God, and there is but one kingdom, one crown, one inheritance for them all; and the holiness and beatific vision of the saints in heaven will be alike; and therefore they should be heartily affected to one another here on earth, who are to be partners together in glory to all eternity. So the Jews say (p), that in the world of souls, all, small and great, stand before the Lord; and they have a standing alike; for in the affairs of the soul, it is fit that they should be all "equal", as it is said Exodus 30:15, "the rich shall not give more".
(p) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 154. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. In the apostle's creed, the article as to THE Church properly follows that as to THE Holy Ghost. To the Trinity naturally is annexed the Church, as the house to its tenant, to God His temple, the state to its founder [Augustine, Enchiridion, c. 15]. There is yet to be a Church, not merely potentially, but actually catholic or world-wide; then the Church and the world will be co-extensive. Rome falls into inextricable error by setting up a mere man as a visible head, antedating that consummation which Christ, the true visible Head, at His appearing shall first realize. As the "SPIRIT" is mentioned here, so the "Lord" (Jesus), Eph 4:5, and "God the Father," Eph 4:6. Thus the Trinity is again set forth.
hope—here associated with "the Spirit," which is the "earnest of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13, 14). As "faith" is mentioned, Eph 4:5, so "hope" here, and "love," Eph 4:2. The Holy Spirit, as the common higher principle of life (Eph 2:18, 22), gives to the Church its true unity. Outward uniformity is as yet unattainable; but beginning by having one mind, we shall hereafter end by having "one body." The true "body" of Christ (all believers of every age) is already "one," as joined to the one Head. But its unity is as yet not visible, even as the Head is not visible; but it shall appear when He shall appear (Joh 17:21-23; Col 3:4). Meanwhile the rule is, "In essentials, unity; in doubtful questions, liberty; in all things, charity." There is more real unity where both go to heaven under different names than when with the same name one goes to heaven, the other to hell. Truth is the first thing: those who reach it, will at last reach unity, because truth is one; while those who seek unity as the first thing, may purchase it at the sacrifice of truth, and so of the soul itself.
of your calling—the one "hope" flowing from our "calling," is the element "IN" which we are "called" to live. Instead of privileged classes, as the Jews under the law, a unity of dispensation was henceforth to be the common privilege of Jew and Gentile alike. Spirituality, universality, and unity, were designed to characterize the Church; and it shall be so at last (Isa 2:2-4; 11:9, 13; Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9).
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