Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond- of peace.
I. CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THIS UNITY.
1. It is not the unity of the body, the Church. That is an immutable unity which man cannot keep. God alone keeps it. Neither are we commanded to make the unity of the Spirit, but simply to keep it - for it exists, in a sense, independently of man's fidelity; but in the degree in which it is kept in the bond of peace, it will eventually lead to visible oneness.
2. Much less is it a unity of external organization. That unity existed already at Ephesus. It is rather a unity in view of internal differences, which must have existed at Ephesus, as in other Churches which had a mixed membership of Jews and Gentiles. Christ did undoubtedly make both one on the cross, but the apostles allowed a considerable diversity of order and usage to exist in the Churches, according to the dominance of the Jewish or the Gentile element in them. There were Churches that followed the rule of Moses - the apostles themselves holding by the ceremonial law till the end of their lives (Acts 21:20-26). And there were Churches that did not observe days nor follow Jewish usage, but took a course authorized by apostolic command itself. If the differences that existed in the days of the apostles did not destroy the unity of the body, it is difficult to see how similar differences in order and worship can destroy it now.
3. The unity of the Spirit is that unity of which the Spirit is the Author. Its indwelling is the principle of unity in the body of Christ. Man, therefore, cannot make it, nor can he destroy it, though he can thwart or disturb its manifestations. The use of the word "endeavoring" implies that it may be kept with a greater or lesser degree of fidelity.
II. CONSIDER HOW THIS UNITY IS TO BE PRESERVED, "In the bond of peace." That is, the bond which is peace, springing out of humility, meekness, and forbearance. Just as pride, arrogance, and contention are separating elements, the opposite dispositions are conducive to unity. The peace which is the element of Christian society is that to which we are called in one body; for we are called by the God of peace, redeemed by Christ who is our Peace, sanctified by the Spirit whose fruit is peace, and edified by the gospel of peace, that we may walk as sons of peace. Thus the unity is preserved and manifested by peace, as it is marred or lost sight of amidst conflicts and jars. The apostolic injunction is very inconsistent with the Darbyite principle that the unity of the Spirit is to be preserved by separation from evil, theological, ecclesiastical, or moral. It is strange that the apostle never hints at such a thing as separation, but speaks only of such graces as "lowliness, meekness, with long-suffering," which are but little exemplified in many of the separations brought about by such a principle. The Darbyite principle is not a bond of peace. It multiplies separations and divides the saints of God. There is uniting power in a common belief or in a common affection, but there is none in mere separation from evil. The common rejection of Arianism can never become a center of union for Protestants and Roman Catholics, because they are still so fundamentally apart in the whole spirit of their theology. The unity of the Spirit which we are enjoined to keep is, therefore, a unity compatible with minor differences, and ought to be the grand means of throwing the unity of the body into more glorious distinctness before the world. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.