Ephesians 4:3
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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-3Ephesians 4:12-16 return from diversity of functions to singleness of object—viz., the perfecting individual souls in the likeness of Christ, and so building up of the whole Church in unity with Him.

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.The unity of the Spirit - A united spirit, or oneness of spirit. This does not refer to the fact that there is one Holy Spirit; but it refers to unity of affection, of confidence, of love. It means that Christians should be united in temper and affection, and not be split up into factions and parties. It may be implied here, as is undoubtedly true, that such a unity would be produced only by the Holy Spirit; and that, as there was but one Spirit which had acted on their hearts to renew them, they ought to evince the same feelings and views. There was occasion among the Ephesians for this exhortation; for they were composed of Jews and Gentiles, and there might be danger of divisions and strifes, as there had been in other churches. There is "always" occasion for such an exhortation; for:

(1) "unity" of feeling is eminently desirable to honor the gospel (see the notes on John 17:21); and,

(2) there is always danger of discord where people are brought together in one society. There are so many different tastes and habits; there is such a variety of intellect and feeling; the modes of education have been so various, and the temperament may be so different, that there is constant danger of division. Hence, the subject is so often dwelt on in the Scriptures (see the notes on 1 Corinthians 2ff), and hence, there is so much need of caution and of care in the churches.

In the bond of peace - This was to be by the cultivation of that peaceful temper which binds all together. The American Indians usually spoke of peace as a "chain of friendship" which was to be kept bright, The meaning here is, that they should be bound or united together in the sentiments and affections of peace. It is not mere "external" unity; it is not a mere unity of creed; it is not a mere unity in the forms of public worship; it is such as the Holy Spirit produces in the hearts of Christians, when it fills them all with the same love, and joy, and peace in believing. The following verses contain the reasons for this.

2, 3. lowliness—In classic Greek, the meaning is meanness of spirit: the Gospel has elevated the word to express a Christian grace, namely, the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves [Trench].

meekness—that spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people (2Sa 16:11; compare Ga 6:1; 2Ti 2:25; Tit 3:2). It is only the lowly, humble heart that is also meek (Col 3:12). As "lowliness and meekness" answer to "forbearing one another in love" (compare "love," Eph 4:15, 16), so "long-suffering" answers to (Eph 4:4) "endeavoring (Greek, 'earnestly' or 'zealously giving diligence') to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity between men of different tempers, which flows from the presence of the Spirit, who is Himself 'one,' Eph 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace" (the "bond" by which "peace" is maintained, namely, "love," Col 3:14, 15 [Bengel]; or, "peace" itself is the "bond" meant, uniting the members of the Church [Alford]).

The unity of the Spirit; either unity of mind, or spiritual unity, as being wrought by the Spirit, and then he means that unity he spoke of, Ephesians 2:14-16, and Ephesians 3:6, whereby is intended the mystical body of Christ.

In the bond of peace; i.e. in peace as the bond which keeps the members or parts of the church together, which by dissensions are dissipated and scattered. The first step to this unity is humility, for where that is not, there will be no meekness nor forbearance, without which unity cannot be maintained.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit,.... That is, a spiritual union: there is an union between God and his people, and between Christ and his members, and between saints and saints, and the bond of each union is love; and that it is which knits and cements them together; and it is the last of these which is here intended: the saints are united under one head, and are members of one and the same body, and should be of the same mind and judgment, and of one accord, heart, and affection: and this may be called "the unity of the Spirit"; because it is an union of spirits, of the spirits or souls of men; and that in spiritual affairs, in the spiritual exercises of religion; and it is effected by the Spirit of God, by whom they are baptized into one body. Now to endeavour or study to keep and preserve this, supposes that this union does already exist; that it is very valuable, as making much for the glory of God, the mutual comfort and delight of saints, and is worth taking some pains about; and that it is very difficult to secure, there being so many things which frequently arise, and break in upon it, through the devices of Satan, and the corruptions of men's hearts: but though it is difficult, and may sometimes seem to be impossible, yet it becomes the saints to be diligent in the use of means to keep it up, and continue it; and which they may be said to endeavour after, when they abide with one another, and do not forsake each other upon every occasion; when they perform all offices of love to one another, and stir up each other to the like: and the way and manner in which this is to be kept, is

in the bond of peace: the Arabic version reads, "by the bond of love and peace": by maintaining peace among themselves, and seeking those things which tend to, and make for peace, and spiritual edification; and which is called a bond, in allusion to the Greek word used, which comes from one that signifies to knit, join, and bind together, and because it is of a knitting and uniting nature. Now so to act is to walk worthy of calling grace, or agreeably to it: peace is what the saints are called unto in the effectual calling: and what is suitable to God, who is the God of peace; and to Christ, who is the Prince of peace; and to the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is peace; and to the Gospel, which is the Gospel of peace; and to the character which the saints bear, which is that of sons of peace.

{3} Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(3) Thirdly he requires perfect agreement, but yet such that is joined with the band of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:3. Parallel of ἀνεχόμενοι κ.τ.λ., which is characterized as respects the effort by which it must be upheld.

τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος] The πνεῦμα is not the human spirit, so that in general animi studiorumque consensus is meant (Ambrosiaster, Anselm, Erasmus, Calvin, Piscator, Estius, Wolf, Koppe, and many, including Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Rückert, according to whom Paul did not write τοῦ νοός, because he derives the unity of the spirit from the Divine Spirit), but, as is shown from Ephesians 4:4, and is in itself clear from the exhortation to the Christian life (Ephesians 4:1), the Holy Spirit, instead of which we have not, with de Wette and Schenkel, to understand the Christian spirit of the community; the N.T. knows not this modern notion, but knows only the Holy Spirit of God, as that which rules in the church (Ephesians 2:22), and upholds and developes its specific life, so that the latter has precisely in the κοινωνία τοῦ πνεύματος (Php 2:1; 2 Corinthians 13:13) its common source and support. Rightly already Chrysostom (τὸ πνεῦμα τοὺς γένει καὶ τρόποις διαφόροις διεστηκότας ἑνοῖ) and his successors, Beza, Calovius, Bengel, and others, including Harless, Winzer, Bleek, and Ch. F. Fritzsche, Nova opp. acad. p. 244: the unity, which the Spirit produces. Comp. Php 1:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; John 17:21. And this unity is the identity of faith, of love, of sentiment, of hope, etc., in the different subjects who are moved by the Spirit.

ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης] is attached by Lachmann to what follows, whereby the parallelism with the preceding participial clause is destroyed. And after the definition by ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρ. being prefixed, several of the following elements of unity would not be appropriate, since even without the bond of peace there is one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father.

ἐν is ordinarily taken as instrumental: through the bond of peace. In opposition to the parallelism with ἐν ἀγάπῃ; and through the unity of the Spirit the bond of peace is preserved, not the converse.[199] Hence: in the bond of peace, by which is denoted the ethical relation, in which they are to preserve the unity of the Spirit, namely, while peace one towards another must be the bond, which is to envelope them. τῆς εἰρήνης, accordingly, is genitive of apposition. Comp. σύνδεσμος εὐνοίας καὶ φιλίας, Plut. Numbers 6; Acts 8:23; Isaiah 58:6. Others: “vinculum, quo pax retinetur” (Bengel; so Theophylact, Calovius, and others, including Rückert, Meier, Harless, Winzer), and this is held to be love. Appeal is made to Colossians 3:14, and to the parallel with ἐν ἀγάπῃ. But, in Col. l.c., love in fact is expressly named, and designated as σύνδεσμος τῆς τελείοτητος; while justice is done to the parallel with ἐν ἀγάπῃ by our interpretation also, and it was at any rate most natural for the reader to understand under the bond of peace peace itself, conceived of as a bond. Expositors would not have sought for another explanation, had they not taken ἐν as instrumental, in which case the difficulty obtruded itself, that the unity of the Spirit is not preserved by means of peace, but peace by means of the unity of the Spirit.

That, moreover, no inference may be drawn from Ephesians 4:3 as to divisions prevailing in the church, Bengel has already rightly observed: “etiam ubi nulla fissura est, monitis opus est.” And particularly was such exhortation natural for the apostle, even in the absence of special occasion, considering the many saddening experiences which he had met with elsewhere on this point!

[199] What de Wette observes in opposition to this view—that the peacefulness, to which the readers are exhorted, is to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the fact that it holds all enveloped with the bond of peace—is not sufficient; since this peacefulness, which encircles all with the bond of peace, at any rate presupposes the unity of the Spirit. Where there is dispeace, this unity is already wanting.

Ephesians 4:3. σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος: giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit. Further description of the mutual forbearance in respect of the inward effort required, but introducing also the larger, fundamental idea of unity. σπουδάζω, which conveys the idea of exertion, is better rendered “giving diligence” (RV) or “earnestly striving” (Alf.), than “endeavouring” (AV). τηρεῖν = keep, in the sense of maintaining with watchful care; suggesting also that what is to be kept is something already in our possession. τοῦ Πνεύματος is the gen. of originating cause, = the unity which the Spirit produces or works, and here the oneness in feeling, interest and purpose which is appropriate to the oneness in doctrine and privilege whereof the readers are immediately reminded. Commentators, even of the rank of Calvin, have interpreted the πνεύματος here as the human spirit, the Christian spirit of concord; while others (De Wette, etc.) have taken it to denote the spirit of the Christian community. But the ἓν Πνεῦμα of the following verse, the general NT doctrine of the Spirit of God as operating in the believer and in the Church (cf. Ephesians 2:22), and the analogy of such passages as 1 Corinthians 12:13, point clearly to the Holy Spirit.—ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης: in the bond of peace. This is not to be attached to the next verse (Lach.), a connection which would again disturb the symmetry of the participial sentences and rob some of the statements which follow of their appropriateness. It defines the way in which the unity is to be kept. The ἐν is not the instrumental ἐν, = “by means of the bond of peace”; but, as in ἐν ἀγάπῃ, the local ἐν or that of relation specifying the sphere (Ell.), or the ethical relation (Mey.) in which the unity is to be maintained. The εἰρήνης might be the gen. obj., = “the bond by which peace is kept,” to wit, love (Beng., etc.). But it is best understood as the gen. of apposition (Mey.), or identity (Ell.), = “the bond which is peace”. The unity, therefore, which is wrought among these Ephesians by the Spirit of God will be theirs in so far as they make peace the relation which they maintain one to another, or the bond in which they walk together. In Colossians 3:14 love is the “bond of perfectness”; but the construction and the idea are different here.

3. endeavouring] R. V., better, giving diligence. The A. V., to a modern reader, suggests (as the Gr. does not) a certain imperfection and precariousness of result.

the unity of the Spirit] The sacred Oneness effected and maintained by the One Holy Spirit who had, by uniting them to Christ, united them to each other. This Oneness has many aspects. The aspect here is that of realized community of feeling and purpose, based on the fact of community of regenerated position and nature in Christ.

in the bond of peace] Grammatically, this may mean either “in peace, as the bond”; or “in that which secures peace.” Bengel prefers the latter; “the bond, with which peace is bound, is even love.” But we have recently (ch. 2) had Christ Himself presented as the “peace” of His people one with another; and is not the same thought present here? To realize their connexion with Him as such was the way to maintain the sense and exercise of spiritual solidarity.

Ephesians 4:3. Τηρεῖν, to keep) Even where there is no division, there is need of admonitions.—τὴν ἑνότητα, the unity) So far as we are concerned, for the Holy Spirit in Himself remains one, Ephesians 4:4.—ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ, in the bond) The bond, by which peace is maintained, is love itself; Colossians 3:14-15.

Verse 3. - Striving to keep the unity of the Spirit. Σπουδάζοντες is stronger than the A.V. "endeavoring," and denotes an object to be carefully and earnestly watched for and promoted. "The unity of the Spirit" is equivalent to the unity of which the Spirit is the Author. In all in whom he works savingly, the Spirit produces a certain oneness in faith, in repentance, in knowledge, in their views of sin, grace, Christ, the world, etc. This oneness exists, and cannot but exist, even when Christians are not careful of it, but the manifestation of it is lost; it seems to the world as if there were no such oneness. "Many men, many minds," says the world, when believers differ much and contend much, and are at no pains to preserve and manifest the unity wrought by the Spirit. It is due to the Spirit, as well as to the interests of the kingdom of God, that the unity of the Spirit be maintained in the bond of peace. The genitive, εἰρήυης, is commonly held to be that of apposition, the bond which consists of peace - a peace-loving spirit, a spirit laying more stress on the points in which Christians agree than those in which they differ. Those who are combative, censorious, careless of peace, do not walk worthy of their vocation. Ephesians 4:3Endeavoring (σπουδάζοντες)

Not strong enough. Originally the verb means to make haste. So the kindred noun σπουδή haste, Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39. Hence diligence. Rev., here, giving diligence.

To keep (τηρεῖν)

See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.

Unity of the Spirit

Wrought by the Holy Spirit.

Bond of peace

The bond which is peace. Compare Ephesians 2:14, our peace - made both one. Christ, our peace, is thus a bond of peace. Others, however, treat in the bond as parallel with in love of Ephesians 4:2, and cite Colossians 3:14, "love the bond of perfectness."

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