Paul’s purpose in his letter to the Ephesians was to explain that the Church, as the people of God, is both the goal and the instrument of achieving God’s purpose of bringing “all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (1:10). Paul’s letter focuses on two aspects of unity:
The Basis for Unity
God’s eternal purpose, stated in 1:10, above, is seen in, and accomplished through, the Church. Disciples are chosen to be “holy and blameless” before God (1:4), are created in Christ Jesus “to do good works” (2:10), and are called to be members of a united “household” (2:19). By his death, Christ destroyed any and every “barrier” and “dividing wall” (2:14) that separated us, so we can have true unity as members of “one body” (3:6). Through the Church, the “mystery” (1:9; 3:3-6) that all Disciples share a common identity as the one family of God is revealed and fulfilled (3:9-10).
Attaining and Maintaining Unity
Church unity isn’t just an ideal; it’s a reality to be experienced and a conviction to be fought for. Paul gives practical instructions for realizing and maintaining this unity. Old patters of thinking and behaving, which were characterized by futility, darkness, and sensuality (4:17-19), have to be “put off” (4:25). Instead, Disciples are to live in a manner consistent with their salvation in Christ (4:1). Then, Disciples are to be humble, gentile, and patient (4:2), submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21). These changes in behavior are possible as we imitate Christ’s self-sacrificing love and service (5:1-2) and access God’s power, which enables us to resist and defeat our spiritual enemies (6:10-18).