Obviously, this one can start from a lot of different places and go in a bunch of different directions. So I've decided to begin my study and thinking at that place in the New Testament where we actually have the expression, "the unity of the Spirit." Of course it comes from the first paragraph of Ephesians 4:
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy
of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (verses 1-6, New International Version).
My first question is: Why does Paul refer to unity or oneness in the church as "the unity of the Spirit"? I have some inklings that I want to explore, and would appreciate your feedback.
A concordance search in Ephesians points to the many places in this short letter where the word "spirit" or "spiritual" appear. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, there are several passages where the Spirit of God is said to be the agent or instrument through whom God the Father in Christ Jesus accomplishes certain things in behalf of the church. For example . . .
- Through Christ, Jew and Gentile Christians "both have access to the Father by one Spirit" (2:18).
- In Christ, Gentiles are also "being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (2:22).
- The mystery of Christ "has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets" (3:5).
- Paul reports that he prays for the Ephesian Christians that God the Father "may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (3:16).
It seems natural, then, to conclude that (a) if the oneness of Jews and Gentiles in Christ is a oneness that the Father has created, and (b) if the Father's work in Christ is often said to be done by or through the Spirit, then it stands to reason that this unity might be called the unity "of the Spirit."
I've got a bunch of other questions. But I want to stop here. So far so good? What would you add?