"THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT"
WHAT IS IT?
By Charles Welch
It is of the utmost importance in studying any portion of scripture to
carefully consider the context - not only of surrounding verses, but chapters,
and even books.
This is especially the case with the verse under consideration. It has
already been pointed out in these columns that the quotation of Isaiah 6 to by
the Apostle Paul, in Acts 28, marked an epoch, closing the door of the kingdom
for the time being, and opening the present " dispensation of the grace of God "
to the Gentiles of which Paul was made the apostle, minister and steward.
The Epistle that contains our title was the FIRST WRITTEN MESSAGE OF GOD
in this now present dispensation. All other Scripture that had ever been written
had been written in connection with Israel. This Epistle opens up the " Mystery
hidden away from the ages," the One Body, the One New Man-the subject of our
enquiry. The majority of our readers are aware that the words " at Ephesus "are
not a part of the inspired Scripture-probably a space was left, so that the name
could be filled in as the Epistle went on its way. The CHURCH, not the
CHURCHES, is the addressee of this wondrous letter, THE Church, not A
Church being the theme; a unity, with a risen Lord, in the Heavenlies; and not
primarily the unity of a local assembly, however desirable that might be.
As we hope to take a series of dispensational subjects in subsequent issues, we
leave a detailed examination of this Epistle, for the time being, and come to
the particular subject before us.
THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT- WHAT IS IT?
First, let it be marked, that the Holy Spirit has differentiated between the
unity which we are to KEEP, and the unity which we are to SEEK.
Eph. 4. 3. " Endeavouring to KEEP the unity of the spirit in the bonds of
Eph. 1. 13, " TILL WE ALL COME unto the unity of the faith."
This order is Divine ; but man has thought fit to attempt to revise God's order,
and says, " When you agree with me as to ' fundamentals' (as if all truth were
not fundamental) we can then have ' fellowship ' and keep the unity of the
spirit." This is practically the position of the majority of believers who have
had any concern about this subject. The others, alas! seem to care nothing about
" the unity of the spirit " at all, and -o to the other extreme, making a
wholesale jumble of creed and practice, "agreeing to differ," and raising
above their rubbish-heap of traditions and mangled Scriptures the words "All one
in Christ," etc.
What is "the unity of the spirit " ? Has the Lord told us?
It is evident we shall not be able to keep a unity unless we know
what it is; but shall probably become a prey to some stronger will of one who
will give us his opinion as a standard. God has not left us without teaching on
this important matter, for verses 4-6 are GOD'S OWN DEFINITION of what the unity
of the spirit is.
The insertion of the words " there is " in italic type in both the
A.V. and R.V. of Eph. 4: 4 tends to prevent the reader from seeing that
these verses are by way of explanation, and not the commencement of a new
The passage reads like this : " Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in
the bond of the peace (then add. mentally, " which unity consists of the
following "), One Body, One Spirit, etc."
These seven constituents of true Scriptural unity are arranged in perfect and
beautiful order. The fact of there being seven tells us that we have here
spiritual perfection, and the balance of each part fully explains the Lord's
mind as to this wonderful unity.
They are arranged as follows --
A | ONE Body,
B | ONE Spirit,
C | ONE Hope,
D | ONE LORD,
C | ONE Faith,
B | ONE Baptism,
A | ONE God and Father.
It will be seen that the great centre is Christ as LORD --that is,
Christ, not as the " Man of Galilee," nor as the
Nazarene," nor by any of the blasphemous titles whereby " Socialists " and
would-be world -improvers, " universal brotherhood," advocates and " peace and
safety " preachers dishonour Him. - No, not Christ as the " Son of man," or even
"Jesus" ; but Christ in Resurrection GLORY ; not Christ after the
flesh-Christ Head of the NEW CREATION-'THIS ONE is the centre, the pivot,
around whose glorious, PERSON the other elements of true unity are
Round this central Lord we find the other six placed in perfect correspondence.
Corresponding with the One Body or Family we have the One God and Father (A and
Corresponding with the One Spirit we have the One Baptism (B and B).
Corresponding with the One Hope. we have the One Faith (C arid C).
Christ is the centre of true unity, and, apart from HIM, faith and nape
are without foundation, and the body itself is dead. Just as in the temple : "
Every whit of it uttereth glory " ; so here, every part of this seven-fold unity
speaks of RESURRECTION.
None are joined to Christ as members of HIS BODY, except those who are quickened
from the dead. Read Eph. 1. 23 and 2. z right on without break, remembering that
r;ui not only means " and," but " also "and " even." "The Church which is His
Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all-EVEN you who were dead in
trespasses and sins . . . (v. 5)-even when we were dead in sires, bath quickened
us together with Christ (by• brace are ye saved)." Well might the inspired
writer be led to say °' grace," when dead ones are raised from the pit of
corruption to sit in the Heavenlies, and be made members of the ONE BODY.
The ONE BODY is balanced (as seen in the structure) by the ONE GOD
and Father. This also speaks of resurrection-for none call God " Father " but
members of His Family (the word " Father" is, pater, the the reader from
seeing that these verses are by way of word " Family" in 3. is, putria).
None are such, except by new creation; and hence we have emphasized by this
structure the Family relationship of the One Body to the " God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ of Whom every family in heaven and earth is named " (3:14,15).
The ONE SPIRIT is balanced by the ONE BAPTISM; this plainly tells
us that the Baptism in question is the Baptism by the Spirit into the One Body;
and inasmuch as it says "ONE Baptism," there is necessarily excluded baptism of
every other kind.
Some say that the One Baptism is inclusive of both
water and Spirit: but if the word "ONE" in this case
means TWO, why not in the- other six instances?
Can we dare to say that the other passages MAY mean
The very statement is its own refutation. How then can we speak of Two Baptisms? Yet how solemn it is to see that, in the travesties of unity around us it
would seem that this is actually the case, and that there are two LORDS ; which
state of affairs comes under the Divine judgment- "Ye cannot serve two masters."
The One Spirit and the One Baptism are alike HEAVENLY, and have nothing to do
with the "EARTHLY THINGS" of John .3:1-12 ; it is no longer the " water
AND spirit "
which obtained during "Acts" ; neither is it "water only with the promise of
the Baptism of the Spirit," as in the case of John Baptist's witness ; but it is
"spirit " only.
" Water " alone, and "water and spirit " are both left on the other side of
Acts 28. 26-28.
Much evil has arisen by taking it for granted that the Baptism by the Spirit in
Acts, with its accompaniments of "gifts," and the "laying on of hands," is
the same ; as the Baptism by the Spirit now ; but the further consideration of
this important subject we reserve for a
The ONE HOPE is balanced by the ONE FAITH, and both are vitally connected with
Resurrection. The HOPE of the believer is set upon His Lord's appearing, and on
the blessed hope of the "building of God, a house not made with hands," of
having a body like unto the glorious body of the Risen Lord (Phil. 3: 20, 27).
The ONE Faith likewise is vain without Resurrection, for without it " your faith
is vain ; ye are yet in your sins " (1 Cor.15. 17).
Thus the whole complex unity belongs essentially to the other side of Death and
Burial. It is in the Heavenlies " where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God
It is not enough for us to have the faith that once was sufficient. Faith
believes the whole of God's Word; "all things written." And God's LATEST
revelation for our faith takes us up to rest in the Person of One at His own
right hand-One whose work is finished and complete.
At what particular period the One Body began to be manifest may always remain an
open question, but
Eph. 2:15-18, makes it clear that, like every other of God's dealings in grace, it is vitally connected with the Cross.
There we see
the peace which binds together. There we see the love that constraineth us.
There we see the access by ONE SPIRIT unto the FATHER. There we learn the depths
of the parenthetical remark of
Eph. 2: 5, " By grace are ye saved."
This, then, is the unity that we are to endeavour to "keep." Its "circle of
fellowship " is as broad, as long, as deep and as high, as the love of Christ
itself; and that IN-cludes every saved one, however feeble his faith, and
EX-cludes every other, however great his gifts. We are not commanded to
but to keep a unity ALREADY MADE, and existing, unshaken, and indefectible in
Heaven (Phil. 3: 20).
The bond of unity is not " all speaking the same thing," however desirable that
may be; neither is it Creed, Confession, or Conformity-but it is the "binding
together" by the peace made through the "blood of His Cross " (EPH. 2:15 ;
Col. 1: 20).
We may not have fellowship with the sins, errors and denominations of our
brethren ; but, we cannot cut ourselves off from them, or they form us, without
denying the truth of these wonderful verses.
Our calling, our hope, our position in Christ, and our
position, dispensationally, are all alike heavenly ; and the
Divine corollary from this exalted position is to walk
worthy of the calling wherewith yea are called; with ALL
lowliness, AND meekness, WITH long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, etc." The travesty enacted
and repeated all around seems to be as though the
Scripture said, " With ALL arrogance, AND bitterness, WITH a sectarian and party intolerance, casting out
like Diotrophes, endeavouring to keep, by one means or another, a man-made un-dispensational unity in the
bondage of legalism, Judaism, Romanist, and Brethrenism." May every reader be led to shun these ways of
men, and to "Hold the Head," seeking to KEEP THIS
unity set forth in Eph.. 4., leaving the bickerings and
fightings to those who say, "My Lord delayeth His
coming." May we more fully enter into the blessing
' (1:3), power (1:20), grace (2:6), triumph (3:10), and conflict (6:12) of
the key-words of true Unity, "In the Heavenlies -- in Christ."