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Ephesians 4:2 with
as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and
meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing
with one another and making allowances because you love one another.
Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other,
making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: Accept life with humility and patience, making
allowances for each other because you love each other. (Phillips:
Wuest: with every lowliness and meekness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: with all lowliness of mind and unselfishness,
and with patience, bearing with one another lovingly, and earnestly
striving to maintain,
WITH ALL HUMILITY AND
GENTLENESS: meta pases tapeinophrosunes kai prautetos:
(Numbers 12:3; Psalms 45:4; 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; 16:19; Isaiah 57:15;
61:1, 2, 3; Zephaniah 2:3; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 5:3, 4, 5; 11:29; Acts
20:19; 1Corinthians 13:4,5; Galatians 5:22,23; Colossians 3:12,13;
1Timothy 6:11; 2Timothy 2:25; James 1:21; 3:15, 16, 17, 18; 1Peter 3:15)
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- means accompanied with.
Eadie writes that...
The apostle now enforces the
cultivation of those graces, the possession of which is indispensable to
the harmony of the church: for the opposite vices — pride, irascibility,
impatient querulousness—all tend to strife and disruption. On union the
apostle had already dwelt in the second chapter as a matter of
doctrine—here he introduces it as one of practice.
explains the "with" writing that) The first two nouns (humility and
gentleness) are governed by one preposition, for they are closely
associated in meaning, the “meekness” being after all only a phrase of
the “lowliness of mind,” and resting on it. But the third noun
(patience) is introduced with the preposition repeated, as it is a
special and distinct virtue—a peculiar result of the former two—and so
much, at the same time, before the mind of the apostle, that he explains
it in the following clause. (A
commentary on the Greek text - Page 268)
Johnson writes that...
In the Greek text (humility and
gentleness) are associated together, one preposition has brought them
into a relationship, one to another: “with lowliness and meekness.”
Lowliness has to do with a low estimate of ourselves in the
proper sense. Now that’s not the low estimate of ourselves when we ought
not to have that. The Apostle will speak to that point in Romans 12. He
will say, “We ought not to think of ourselves other than we really are.”
But lowliness of mind is a proper attitude. And if you have any
difficulty with lowliness of mind, I suggest you read chapter 2 verse 1
through verse 3 again and remember what you were:
“And you hath he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now
worketh in the sons of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our
manner of life in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of
wrath, even as others.”
It’s easy to remember our lowliness if we just take a look at what we
were, and we’ve not been delivered completely, yet. The work of
sanctification is still proceeding. Confucius say, “Man who small potato
get in stew,” [laughter] and most of us are pretty small potatoes, and
therefore we don’t have any reason to be proud. (Unity
of the Body)
(pas) means all without exception, modifying both humility and
Each of the
following virtues reflects a Christlike spirit and characterizes a
"worthy walk" which contributes to the unity of the body.
= low lying, then low or
humble + phren = to think) means humiliation of mind, lowly
thinking, a humble attitude, modesty (modesty = unassuming in the
estimation of one’s abilities) or without arrogance. It is the
opposite of pride. Contemplating what we were before grace lifted us
from the miry clay should cause us to have a humble attitude.
In a word humility is "low
mindedness", an attitude that one is not too good to serve.
Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost
it. Humility means putting Christ first, others second, and self
The word indicates
that one esteems (not makes) themselves as "small" and lacking
sufficiency to walk worthy while at the same time also recognizing the
power and sufficiency of God to enable a worthy walk because Paul knows
that humility promotes unity but that pride promotes disunity.
Paul is saying
believing Jews are to lay aside their former "religious" pride and
humbly regard their Gentile counterpart as their equal and not as their
A missionary to
India once said that
"If I were to pick out two phrases
necessary for spiritual growth, I would pick out these: 'I don't know'
and 'I am sorry.' And both phrases are the evidences of deep humility."
Humility is not thinking less of
ourselves but is really not thinking of ourselves at all. This
supernatural attitude in believers has its source in our association
with the Lord Jesus and the enablement of His Spirit. Humility makes
believers conscious of their own nothingness and enables them to esteem
others better than themselves, a good antidote for a spirit of disunity
in the body. The opposite attitudes of conceit and arrogance, on the
other hand promote disunity.
writes that humility of mind...
is lowliness of mind, opposed
to haughty in mind Ro 12:16-note.
It is that profound humility which stands at the extremest distance from
haughtiness, arrogance, and conceit, and which is produced by a right
view of ourselves, and of our relation to Christ and to that glory to
which we are called. It is ascribed by the apostle to himself in
Acts 20:19. It is not any one's making himself small as Chrysostom
supposes, for such would be mere simulation. Every blessing we possess
or hope to enjoy is from God. Nothing is self-procured,
and therefore no room is left for self-importance. This modesty
of mind, says Chrysostom, is the foundation of all virtue. (A
commentary on the Greek text - Page 268)
In his last
meeting with the Ephesians elders Paul used tapeinophrosune
to describe himself ...
And when they had come to him, he
said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot
in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all
humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me
through the plots of the Jews (Acts 20:18,19)
In his letter to
the Philippians Paul again used tapeinophrosune
exhorting the saints to...
Do nothing from selfishness or empty
conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one
another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for
your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who,
although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a
bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found
in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even death on a cross. (See notes
Peter used tapeinophrosune
in his exhortation to younger men writing...
You younger men, likewise, be subject
to your elders; and all of you, clothe (tie something on with a bow -
used of a slave putting on an apron to keep his clothes clean)
yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED
TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (See note
1 Peter 5:5)
Comment: When younger men
willingly place themselves under the authority of the leaders, who are
usually older, order and unity will be preserved and promoted! Too often
there is a generation war in the church, with the older members
resisting change and the younger members resisting the older people!
Imagine a congregation where all the members have this humble spirit,
esteeming others better then themselves and all exhibiting a willingness
to perform menial but necessary tasks!
Baptist gives a good "formula" to ensure an every growing awareness
of our humble state writing that...
"He (Jesus) must (not an option)
continually) , but I must decrease (present
continually). (John 3:30-in
To the saints at
Rome Paul writes that...
through the grace given to me I say
to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought
to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted
to each a measure of faith. (Ro 12:3-note)
J Vernon McGee
offers the following illustration of humility of mind and adds a
The story is told of a group of
people who went in to see Beethoven’s home in Germany. After the tour
guide had showed them Beethoven’s piano and had finished his lecture, he
asked if any of them would like to come up and sit at the piano for a
moment and play a chord or two. There was a sudden rush to the piano by
all the people except a gray-haired gentleman with long, flowing hair.
The guide finally asked him, “Wouldn’t you like to sit down at the piano
and play a few notes?” He answered, “No, I don’t feel worthy.” That man
was Paderewski, the great Polish statesman and pianist and the only man
in the group who was really worthy to play the piano of Beethoven. How
often the saints rush in and do things when they have no gift for doing
them. We say we have difficulty in finding folk who will do the work of
the church, but there is another extreme—folk who attempt to do things
for which they have no gift. We need to walk in lowliness of mind. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
True humility is not putting
ourselves down but rather lifting up others. If we concentrate on
lifting up others, putting down ourselves will take care of itself. As
we go through life exalting Christ and others, then genuine humility
will be inevitable. If we exalt ourselves then God will take care of our
humiliation for He promises to humble the proud. It is much less painful
to do it the first way. (Philippians)
always had a negative connotation in the ancient world which considered
this Christian virtue to be groveling or abject and thus a trait to be
held in considerable contempt. They saw humility as a characteristic of
weakness and cowardice, to be tolerated only in the involuntary
submission of slaves. Christianity elevated this term to the supreme
virtue, in fact providing the ultimate antidote for self-love that
poisons all relationships.
adds this charge does not just deal with the inflated religious egos of
the Jews for...
The Greeks prided themselves on being
better than other men, and they considered it something to be proud of
to acknowledge their superiority. A man so perverted not to think of
himself as being a superior person was called by this word. If the army,
successful in battle, took a number of captives whose lives they spared
to become servants, these servants might rightly think of themselves by
this word “humble-minded.” But for a Greek, never! (Pentecost,
J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)
"The pagan and the secular idea of
manhood is self-assertiveness, imposing one's will on others; when
anyone stooped to others he did so only under compulsion, hence his
action was ignominious [disgraceful]. The Christian ethical idea of
humility could not be reached by the secular mind; it lacked the
"everyone who exalts himself
will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be
exalted." " (Lu
With this (and
other teaching of course) Jesus elevated
which was so despised among the Greeks to the level of the supreme virtue.
He also provided an antidote for the constant self-love that poisons
relationships and creates disunity.
describes humility as
"the subjection of self under the
authority of and in response to the love of the Lord Jesus and the power
of the Holy Spirit to conform the believer to the character of Christ.
In contrast to the world’s idea of being “poor-spirited” (in Classical
Greek tapeinos commonly carried that imputation), the Lord commends “the
poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3-note)."
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Someone has described
humility as “insight into one’s own insignificance”. It is the
mind-set of the person who is not conceited but who has a right attitude
toward himself. Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of
God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates
a lack of humility before God.
Humility of mind in its distilled essence
means a mind brought low. Paul practiced what he preached as the following chart
illustrates. Note Paul's estimate of
self as he grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus
Christ. Clearly, the closer he drew to His Savior,
the less significant self became and yet few men in the history of the
world have had such impact on mankind as the apostle Paul. Obviously,
humility does not equate with uselessness in God's program. To the
contrary it is the man who is humble in mind who God can greatly use.
PROGRESSION of PAUL'S
ESTIMATE OF SELF
1Cor 15:9 For I am the least of
the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
Eph 3:8 To me, the very
least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the
Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
1Ti 1:15 It is a trustworthy
statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
The humble person is not one who
thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!
that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it! The truly
humble person knows himself and accepts himself (see note
He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has
for the glory of God and the good of others. “Others” is a key
idea in this section as the believer’s eyes are turned away from himself
and focused on the needs of others.
"This (section) is perhaps
Scripture’s clearest portrait of the “humility” called for
in the Gospel. It is not a weak man’s surrender, but a strong man’s
rejection of selfishness and determination to be actively concerned with
the needs and interests of others." (He adds) It is good to know as we
humble ourselves to follow Jesus that our "labor in the Lord is not in
vain" (1Co 15:58). In Christ there are no empty, meaningless lives. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
has an interesting description of
as the estimation of
ourselves according to truth. It is a
willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God
and man; and, having the low estimate of our own importance and
character which the truth about our insignificance as creatures and
vileness as sinners would produce, it will lead us to a willingness to
perform lowly and humble offices that we may benefit others. (Philippians
false humility in his letter to the Colossians where there were
individuals in their midst who were
"delighting in self-abasement
(tapeinophrosune)... inflated without cause by his fleshly
mind....matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in
self-made religion and self-abasement (tapeinophrosune)
and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly
indulgence." (Col 2:18, 23-see notes
When F. B. Meyer
pastored Christ Church in London, Charles Spurgeon was preaching at
Metropolitan Tabernacle, and G. Campbell Morgan was at Westminster
Chapel. Meyer said,
“I find in my own ministry that
supposing I pray for my own little flock, ‘God bless me, God fill my
pews, God send my flock a revival,” I miss the blessing; but as I pray for my
big brother, Mr. Spurgeon, on the right-hand side of my church, ‘God
bless him’; or my other big brother, Campbell Morgan, on the other side
of my church, ‘God bless him’; I am sure to get a blessing without
praying for it, for the overflow of their cups fills my little bucket.”
The opposite of
humility of mind is illustrated by the story of the young Scottish
minister who walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his first sermon.
He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was confident of
himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer he preached,
the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not in the wind.” He
finished his message quickly and came down from the pulpit with his head
bowed, his pride now gone. Afterward, one of the members said to him,
“If you had gone into the pulpit the
way you came down, you might have come down from the pulpit the way you
Many years ago the great Bible teacher William R. Newell was concluding
a conference in China for China Inland Mission, and as he left he said
to the mission’s leader,
“Oh, do pray for me that I shall be nothing!”
The director responded with a twinkle in his eye,
“Newell, you are nothing! Take it by faith!”
from the adjective
describes the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s
is a quality of gentle friendliness - gentleness, meekness (as strength
that accommodates to another's weakness), consideration, restrained
patience, patient trust in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Prautes suggests having one’s emotions under control (indicating the
need for the strengthening of the Spirit) and is the opposite of
self-assertion, rudeness, and harshness. Although prautes
connotes meekness, it is not weakness but is knowing how to get angry at
the right time and for the right reason. People who are angered at
every nuisance or inconvenience to themselves know nothing of
A gentle person is
one whose emotions are under control. It describes the attitude that
submits to God’s dealings without rebellion, and to man’s unkindness
without retaliation. It is best seen in the life of our Lord Who said,
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn
from Me, for I am gentle (praus) and humble
(tapeinos = low) in heart; and you
shall find rest for your souls” (Mt
Paul rightly ascribed prautes to His Lord writing to the saints at
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness (prautes)
and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face with
you, but bold toward you when absent! (2Cor 10:1)
comments on Jesus' gentleness writing...
What an astonishingly wonderful statement! The One Who made the worlds,
Who flung the stars into space and calls them by name, Who preserves the
innumerable constellations in their courses, Who weighs the mountains in
scales and the hills in a balance, Who takes up the isles as a very
little thing, Who holds the waters of the ocean in the hollow of His
hand, before Whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, when
He comes into human life finds Himself as essentially meek and lowly in
heart. It is not that He erected a perfect human ideal and accommodated
Himself to it; He was that. (Ephesians:
An Encyclical Letter from the Heart of Christ Through the Heart of Paul
to the Heart of the Church of All Time. Moody Press. 1954)
Meekness (gentleness) relates
to the manner in which we receive injuries. We are to bear them
patiently, and not to retaliate, or seek revenge. The meaning here
is, that we adorn the gospel when we show its power in enabling us to
bear injuries without anger or a desire of revenge, or with a mild and
forgiving spirit. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary) (Bolding
The meek person
does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under
(Spirit) control. A perfect picture is found in our Lord Jesus Christ in
Matthew 21. Quoting
from the Septuagint (LXX = Greek of the Hebrew Old Testament) rendering
of Zechariah 9:9, which predicts the Lord’s triumphal entry into
Jerusalem, Matthew uses the adjective form of prautes (praus) to
describe Jesus as
“gentle (praus) and mounted
on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Mt
a willingness to waive one's rights for a good cause, just as Jesus
waived His rights to His rule as King as he rode into Jerusalem mounted
on a donkey (see above). Set aside your rights! Do not demand that you
be satisfied, but for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ be willing
to suffer loss. Meekness is the opposite of rudeness and abrasiveness.
and weakness are not synonymous. Meekness says,
"God, in this situation, You have a
purpose. You're in control, sovereign, and ruling over all."
Meekness is thus a willingness to stand and do the will of God
regardless of the cost.
John Eadie writes that prautes is...
is meekness of spirit in all relations, both toward God and toward
man—which never rises in insubordination against God nor in resentment
against man. It is a grace ascribed by the Saviour to Himself (Mat.
11:29), and ascribed to Him by the apostle. (2Co 10:1; Gal 5:23-note).
It is not merely that meekness which is not provoked and angered by the
reception of injury, but that entire subduedness of temperament which
strives to be in harmony with God's will, be it what it may, and, in
reference to men, thinks with candour, suffers in self-composure, and
speaks in the “soft answer” which “turneth away wrath” (Pr 15:1) (A
commentary on the Greek text - Page 269)
sees everything as coming from God and accepting it without murmuring
and without disputing, patiently submitting to every offense,
without any desire for revenge or retribution! (See the example of our
Lord as described by Peter -
1Pe 2:21, 22, 23-note)
prautes in his discussion of a teachable spirit instructing his
"Therefore (to "achieve the
righteousness of God" and manifest ourselves as "the firstfruits among
His creatures") putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of
wickedness, in humility (prautes) receive the word
implanted, which is able to save your souls." (Js 1:21)
In the Sermon
on the Mount Jesus used the adjective praus
"Blessed are the gentle (or "meek" = praus), for they shall
inherit the earth. (See note
MacArthur writes that...
Meekness is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek
person, for example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property,
knowing that he has infinitely better and more permanent possessions
awaiting him in heaven (Heb. 10:34). The meek person has died
to self, and he therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or
about loss, insult, or abuse. The meek person does not defend
himself, first of all because that is His Lord’s command and example,
and second because he knows that he does not deserve defending. Being
poor in spirit and having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle
person stands humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend
himself. (MacArthur, J:
Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary
Chicago: Moody Press)
describes meekness as "strength under control" adding that
"It is real strength, but it does not
have to display itself or show off how strong it is. This is what our
Lord beautifully displayed He described himself as "meek and lowly in
heart." The first curriculum of the Holy Spirit is that we must do what
Jesus said, "take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and
lowly of heart."
literature prautes was sometimes used of a
feigned, hypocritical concern for others that is motivated by
self-interest. But in the New Testament it is always used of genuine
consideration for others.
"denotes the humble and gentle attitude which expresses itself, in
particular, in a patient submissiveness to offense, free from malice and
desire for revenge...controlled strength, the ability to bear reproaches
and slights without bitterness and resentment; the ability to provide a
soothing influence on someone who is in a state of anger, bitterness and
resentment against life...the word indicates an obedient submissiveness
to God and His will, with unwavering faith and enduring patience
displaying itself in a gentle attitude and kind acts toward others, and
this often in the face of opposition. It is the restrained and obedient
powers of the personality brought into subjection and submission to
God’s will by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23)....the opposite of arrogance...the word stands in
contrast to the term orge (wrath, anger as a state of mind)...It denotes
the humble and gentle attitude which expresses itself, in particular, in
a patient submissiveness to offense, a freedom from malice and desire
for revenge...mildness, patient trust in the midst of difficult
circumstances." (2Co 10:1) (Compiled from the
C L (originally by Fritz Rienecker): New Linguistic and Exegetical Key
to the Greek New Testament. Zondervan. 1998)
was used in secular Greek writings to describe a soothing wind, a
healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance,
there is power for a wind can become a storm, too much medicine can kill
and a horse can break loose. Thus prautes describes power
is an interesting word. Aristotle defined it as the correct mean between
being too angry and being never angry at all. It is the quality of the
man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right
time and never at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never
angry at any personal wrong he may receive, but who is capable of
righteous anger when he sees others wronged.
comments on this verse writing that this man
"will receive the word with
gentleness. (humility = praǘtēs). Gentleness is an
attempt to translate the untranslatable word praǘtēs. This is a great
Greek word which has no precise English equivalent. Aristotle defined it
as the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness; it is
the quality of the man whose feelings and emotions are under perfect
control. Andronicus Rhodius, commenting on Aristotle, writes, “Praǘtēs
is moderation in regard to anger … You might define praǘtēs as serenity
and the power, not to be lead away by emotion, but to control emotion as
right reason dictates.” The Platonic definitions say that praǘtēs
is the regulation of the movement of the soul caused by anger. It is the
temperament (krasis) of a soul in which everything is mixed in the right
proportions. No one can ever find one English word to translate what is
a one word summary of the truly teachable spirit. The teachable
spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn.
The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger and is,
therefore, able to face the truth, even when it hurts and condemns. The
teachable spirit is not blinded by its own overmastering prejudices but
is clear-eyed to the truth. The teachable spirit is not seduced by
laziness but is so self-controlled that it can willingly and faithfully
accept the discipline of learning. Praǘtēs describes the perfect
conquest and control of everything in a man’s nature which would be a
hindrance to his seeing, learning and obeying the truth." (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
that unassuming inner spirit of mildness and gentleness which is the
opposite of haughtiness, harshness and self-assertiveness.
Trench adds that prautes
“is closely linked with humility, and
follows directly upon it (Eph
Col 3:12) because it is only the humble
heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against
God, and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness,
however, being first of all meekness before God, is also such in the
face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the
insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed
by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect. This was the root
of David’s (meekness) when Shimei cursed and flung stones at him—the
consideration that the Lord had bidden him (2
Sa 16:11 hold pointer over
blue ref for popup), that it was just for
him to suffer these things, however unjustly the other might inflict
them; and out of like convictions all true Christian (meekness) must
spring. He that is meek indeed will know himself a sinner among
sinners...and this knowledge of his own sin will teach him to endure
meekly the provocations with which they may provoke him, and not
withdraw himself from the burdens which their sin may impose (Ibid)
F B Meyer - THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT--MEEKNESS --Eph. 4:1-2.
THE MEEK man, according to Luther, is the sweet-tempered man.
Meekness and lowliness are the two aspects of the same disposition, the
one toward man, the other toward God. "Blessed are the meek," said our
Lord, "for they shall inherit the earth." It is profoundly true, because
to the meek and chastened, the sweet and tender spirit, there is an
unfolding of the hidden beauty of the world which is withheld from the
arrogant and proud. Here is a millionaire who has just purchased a
beautiful and valuable picture, which he exhibits to all his friends,
taking great care to tell them the price he has paid. To him it is
written all over the canvas, "This picture cost me ten thousand pounds!"
Does he really possess or inherit its beauty? In his employ is a girl
with culture and keen artistic sense. Whenever she gets the chance she
enters the room in order to absorb the inspiration of the picture into
her soul. Does not she really own it? So it is that the meek inherit all
that is good and beautiful. All is theirs, since they are God's.
One of the most exquisite gems in the Psalter is that beginning "Lord,
my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty" (Ps 131:1). The writer
describes himself as a weaned child, which at first works itself into a
passion because of the change in its diet; but afterwards becomes
soothed and quieted. This is the symbol of the meek and quiet spirit,
which in the sight of God is of great Price.
To acquire this meekness of spirit, ask the Holy Spirit that He would
keep your proud and vainglorious nature nailed to the Cross. Next, we
must believe that the meek and lowly Jesus is in our hearts, and we must
ask Him to live, think, and speak through us. Lastly, look to the Holy
Spirit for His sacred fire to bum out all that is covetous, envious,
proud, angry and malicious within our hearts, for these are the five
elements of hell. Let us always take the low seat, confessing that we
are not worthy to loose the shoe-latchet of our brethren.
PRAYER - Enable us, we beseech Thee, O God, to walk as Thy dear
children. May all uncleanness, foolish talking, covetousness,
bitterness, wrath and anger be put away from us, with all malice Make us
meek, as our Saviour was. Deliver us from the spirit of retaliation. May
we make peace, healing the strife and allaying the irritation of men,
for Thy Name's sake. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
WITH PATIENCE, SHOWING TOLERANCE
FOR ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE: meta makrothumias, anechomenoi (PMPMPN) allelon
(Mark 9:19; Romans 15:1;
1 Corinthians 13:7; Galatians 6:2)
from makros = long, distant,
far off, large + thumos = temper, passion, emotion or
thumoomai = to be furious or burn with intense anger)
long-temper (as opposed to short tempered),
a long holding out under trial before giving
in to passion, a tumultuous welling up of the whole spirit or a might
emotion that seizes and moves the entire inner man. It is bearing
patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others.
It is a patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted restraint of
the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger. Our
old nature is so quick to take offense that we need longer "fuses". The
new life in Christ enables one to endure with unruffled temper any wrong
suffered without retaliation and to turn the other cheek.
- 14x in 14v - Ro 2:4; 9:22; 2 Cor 6:6; Gal 5:22; Eph 4:2; Col 1:11;
3:12; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 3:10; 4:2; Heb 6:12; Jas 5:10; 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet
Makrothumia is often used in the OT to
translate the Hebrew phrase ('erekh 'appayim) which is literally “long
of nose” (or “breathing”), and, as anger was indicated by rapid,
violent breathing through the nostrils, “long of anger,” or “slow to
anger.” This Hebrew phrase ('erekh 'appayim) and the
makrothumia (and the cognates makrothumos, makrothumeo) is included
in the catalog of His attributes that runs through the OT like a
refrain, a God "slow
for the 14 occurrences of this phrase in the OT).
Makrothumia reflects an
emotional calm in face of provocation
or misfortune. It expresses the capacity to be wronged and not
retaliate. It is the ability to hold one's feeling in restraint or bear
up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without
retaliating. It is manifest by the quality of forbearance under
provocation. Patience is the spirit which never gives up for it endures
to the end even in times of adversity, exhibiting self-restraint such
that it does not hastily retaliate a wrong. Vine says makrothumia is the
opposite of anger. It follows that a lack of patience often leads to
wrath or revenge.
John Eadie characterizes
makrothumia as that temperament which...
is opposed to irritability, or to
what we familiarly name shortness of temper (Jas 1:19), and is that
patient self-possession which enables a man to bear with those who
oppose him, or who in any way do him injustice. He can afford to wait
till better judgment and feeling on their part prevail, 2Co 6:6; Gal.
5:22; 1Ti 1:16; 2Ti 4:2. In its high sense of bearing with evil, and
postponing the punishment of it, it is ascribed to God, Ro 2:4, 9:22.
Boice tells the story of...
A rather pious individual once
came to a preacher and asked him to pray for him that he might have
patience. “I do so lack patience,” he said, trying to be humble as he
said it. “I wish you would pray for me.”
“I’ll pray for you right now,”
the preacher replied. So he began to pray: “Lord, please send great
tribulation into this brother’s life.”
The man who had asked for prayer
put a hand out and touched the preacher on the arm, trying to stop his
prayer. “You must not have heard me rightly,” he said. “I didn’t ask you
to pray for tribulation. I asked you to pray that I might have
“Oh, I heard what you said,” the
preacher answered. “But haven’t you read
Romans 5:3 (note),
‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that
tribulation worketh patience’? It means we acquire patience through the
things that we suffer. I prayed that God would send tribulations so that
you would have patience.” (Boice,
J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary)
Albert Barnes has a pithy
and practical comment on longsuffering (with thoughts overlapping
with the next trait of forbearance) writing that...
The virtue here required
is that which is to be manifested in our manner of receiving the
provocations which we meet with from our brethren. No virtue, perhaps,
is more frequently demanded in our intercourse with others.
We do not go far with any
fellow-traveler on the journey of life before we find there is great
occasion for its exercise. He has a temperament different from our own.
He may be sanguine, or choleric, or melancholy; while we may be just the
reverse. He has peculiarities of taste, and habits, and disposition,
which differ much from ours. He has his own plans and purposes of life,
and his own way and time of doing things. He may be naturally irritable,
or he may have been so trained that his modes of speech and conduct
differ much from ours. Neighbours have occasion to remark this in their
neighbours; friends in their friends; kindred in their kindred; one
church-member in another.
A husband and wife--such is the
imperfection of human nature-can find enough in each other to embitter
life if they choose to magnify imperfections and to become irritated at
trifles; and there is no friendship that may not be marred in this way,
if we will allow it.
Hence, if we would have life
move on smoothly, we must learn to bear and forbear. We must indulge the
we love in the little peculiarities of saying and doing things which may
be important to him, but which may be of little moment to us. Like
children, we must suffer each one to build his playhouse in his own way,
and not quarrel with him because he does not think our way the best.
All usefulness, and all comfort,
may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, a crabbed temper of mind--a mind
that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament. A spirit of
fault-finding; all unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little
inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and
dissatisfied--your husband or your wife cannot tell why--will more than
neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a
It is in such gentle and quiet
virtues as meekness and forbearance that the happiness and usefulness of
life consist, far more than in brilliant eloquence, in splendid talent,
or illustrious deeds that shall send the name to future times.
It is the bubbling spring which
flows gently; the little rivulet which glides through the meadow, and
which runs along day and night by the farm-house, that is useful, rather
than the swollen flood or the roaring cataract. Niagara excites our
wonder; and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God there, as
he "pours it from his hollow hand." But one Niagara is enough for a
continent or a world; while that same world needs thousands and tens of
thousands of silver fountains, and gently-flowing rivulets, that shall
water every farm, and every meadow, and every garden, and that shall
flow on, every day and every night, with their gentle and quiet beauty.
So with the acts of our lives.
It is not by great deeds only, like those of Howard --not by great
sufferings only, like those of the martyrs--that good is to be done; it
is by the daily and quiet virtues of life--the Christian temper, the
meek forbearance, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife,
the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, the
neighbour--that good is to be done; and in this all may be useful.
(Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
J Vernon McGee writes that
means “long-burning”—it burns a
long time. We shouldn’t have a short fuse with our friends and Christian
brethren. We shouldn’t make snap judgments. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Evans writes that
"could be translated “large
emotions,” signifying wells of endurance that will not dry up, no matter
how much is drawn from them. The Christian with this patience will have
refreshing water to sustain continual effectiveness even in the face of
unrelenting pressures. Those with such patience and faith are those who
receive or “inherit the promises.” (Briscoe,
D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series, New
Testament. 2003; Thomas Nelson)
Calvin said makrothumia
refers to that quality of mind that disposes us
“to take everything in good part and
not to be easily offended.”
Larry Richards writes that...
The NT contains many
exhortations to be patient. But just what is patience? The Greek word
group (makrothumeo/makrothumia) focuses our attention on restraint: that
capacity for self-control despite circumstances that might arouse the
passions or cause agitation....This is not so much a trait as a way of
life. We keep on loving or forgiving despite provocation, as illustrated
in Jesus' pointed stories in Mt 18." (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Barclay has a lengthy
discussion explaining that makrothumia...
as the Greeks used it, usually meant patience with people. It is the
ability not to lose patience when people are foolish, not to grow
irritable when they seem unteachable. It is the ability to accept the
folly, the perversity, the blindness, the ingratitude of men and still
to remain gracious, and still to toil on...
This word has two main
directions of meaning.
(a) It describes the
spirit which will never give in and which, because it endures to the
end, will reap the reward. Its meaning can best be seen from the fact
that a Jewish writer used it to describe what he called “the Roman
persistency which would never make peace under defeat.” In their great
days the Romans were unconquerable; they might lose a battle, they might
even lose a campaign, but they could not conceive of losing a war. In
the greatest disaster it never occurred to them to admit defeat.
Christian patience is the spirit which never admits defeat, which will
not be broken by any misfortune or suffering, by any disappointment or
discouragement, but which persists to the end.
(b) But makrothumia has
an even more characteristic meaning than that. It is the characteristic
Greek word for patience with men. Chrysostom defined it as the spirit
which has the power to take revenge but never does so. Lightfoot defined
it as the spirit which refuses to retaliate. To take a very imperfect
analogy—it is often possible to see a puppy and a very large dog
together. The puppy yaps at the big dog, worries him, bites him, and all
the time the big dog, who could annihilate the puppy with one snap of
his teeth, bears the puppy’s impertinence with a forbearing dignity.
Makrothumia is the spirit which bears insult and injury without
bitterness and without complaint. It is the spirit which can suffer
unpleasant people with graciousness and fools without irritation.
The most illuminating thing
about it is that it is commonly used in the New Testament of the
attitude of God towards men (Romans 2:4; 9:22; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1
Peter 3:20). If God had been a man, he would have wiped out this world
long ago; but he has that patience which bears with all our sinning and
will not cast us off. In our dealings with our fellow men we must
reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God
towards ourselves. Paul asks the impenitent sinner if he despises the
patience of God (Romans 2:4). Paul speaks of the perfect patience of
Jesus to him (1 Timothy 1:16). Peter speaks of God’s patience waiting
in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20). He says that the forbearance of
our Lord is our salvation (2 Peter 3:15). If God had been a man, he
would long since in sheer irritation have wiped the world out for its
disobedience. The Christian must have the patience towards his fellow
men which God has shown to him."
In another note
that makrothumia is
"the ability to bear with them even when they
are wrong, even when they are cruel and insulting. It is a great word.
The writer of First Maccabees (8:4) says that it was by makrothumia
that the Romans became masters of the world, and by that he means the
Roman persistence which would never make peace with an enemy even in
defeat, a kind of conquering patience. Patience is the quality of a man
who may lose a battle but who will never admit defeat in a campaign"
William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
Boles writes that
"refers to what
we might call “staying power,” to endure hard events and obnoxious
people. While the word was not frequently used in classical literature,
it has a rich history in the LXX. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience”
(Pr 19:11), with which he can calm a quarrel (Pr 15:18) or persuade a
ruler (Pr 25:15). More importantly, patience makes a man like God, who is
“righteous and strong and long-tempered” (Ps 7:12, LXX). One of the
great truths about God is that he is “slow to anger” (makrothumos),
repeated by Moses (Ex 34:6), David (Ps 103:8), Joel (2:13), Jonah
(4:2), Nahum (1:3), and Nehemiah (9:17)...Patience is the even temper
that comes from a big heart. It is not the “grit your teeth” kind of
angry endurance; it is loving tolerance in spite of people’s weakness
and failure. Love is patient (1 Cor 13:4) and so must Christians be (Eph
4:2)...the same divine quality that allows God to be patient with
sinners (2 Pet 3:9) enables the Christian to endure the exasperating
behavior of others. Perhaps the best way for us to “lengthen” the fuse
on our tempers is to remember how much God has had to overlook and
forgive in our own lives."
(Boles, K. L. Galatians & Ephesians. The College Press NIV commentary
Joplin, Mo.: College Press)
Makrothumia is patience in
face of injustice and unpleasant circumstances without complaint or
irritation. The short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and
lacks self-control. When a person is longsuffering, he can put up with
provoking people or circumstances without retaliating. It is good to be
able to get angry, for this is a sign of holy character. But it is wrong
to get angry quickly at the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.
It is the attitude
which endures another's exasperating conduct without flying off the
handle. It is a negative term. It is holding back, restraining yourself
from becoming upset or speaking sharply or shrilly to somebody be they
your mate, your child, or whoever...despite their conduct you find
difficult and exasperating.
has to do with our reaction not to circumstances but to people that God
allows (or sends) into our life! Because of the new nature you can be
longsuffering with those with whom you otherwise could not be. What was
heretofore IMPOSSIBLE is now ''HIM POSSIBLE''!
Hallelujah! Remember though it is a product of prayer (see note
this definition you must wonder how can anyone manifest genuine
makrothumia? The answer is they cannot, but God can. Paul explains
"the fruit (click discussion of
karpos) of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience (makrothumia - patiently putting up with people
who continually irritate us. The Holy Spirit’s work in us increases our
endurance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness" (Galatians
writes that makrothumia...
"...is the ability to put up with
other people even when that is not an easy thing to do. Patience in
this sense, of course, is preeminently a characteristic of God, who is
“long-suffering” with his rebellious creatures. He is the loving Lord
who in the face of obstinate infidelity and repeated rejection still
says of his people, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you
over, Israel?” (Hos 11:8). Paul’s point is clear: if God has been so
long-suffering with us, should we not display this same grace in our
relationships with one another? This quality should characterize the
life of every believer, but it has a special relevance for those who are
called to teach and preach the Word of God. As Paul instructed Timothy,
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (see
2 Timothy 4:2)."
T. The New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
characterizes all labor that has love for its motive...
"Love is patient (verb form =
makrothumeo), love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and
is not arrogant," (1Corinthian 13:4-note)
If forbearance denotes delay in
executing judgment, long-suffering denotes the particular disposition
which delays it." (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
from aná = in + écho = have) (Click
word study on
anechomai) means literally to hold one’s self
upright or firm against a person or thing, to put up with, to bear with
(equanimity or evenness of mind especially under stress), to tolerate,
to forbear. It pictures restraint under provocation and includes liberal
allowance for the faults and failures of others. The
calls for this to be our lifestyle.
(reflexive) means that one is to have patience with or “to hold oneself
up” till the provocation is past.
Paul also uses
anechomai in the "practical" or exhortational last two chapters of
his letter to the church at Colossae writing...
And so, as those who have been chosen
of God, holy and beloved (he reminds them of their high position and
privilege that connotes a serious responsibility), put on a heart of
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
bearing with (anechomai -
= continually, as a
lifestyle) one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a
complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should
The idea is to
hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or
complaints and not retaliate. It conveys the sense of putting up with
others and of undergoing
something onerous or troublesome without giving in.
the saints to make allowance (tolerate, bear, endure) for the faults and
failures of others, or differing personalities, abilities, and
temperaments. Forbearance is not a question of maintaining a
façade of courtesy while inwardly seething with resentment but is a
Spirit empowered positive love to those who irritate, disturb, or
embarrass you! Not a natural but a supernatural response!
We can understand
why Paul prayed for the Ephesian saints to be strengthened by the Spirit
in their inner man! (see note
This attitude and action is not possible naturally, but only
How are you bearing up with the
idiosyncrasies of your brethren at church, your spouse, your children,
your co-workers, your fellow students, etc? You can't, He can and He
lives in you to transform your temperament and attitude to those who
(allelon from állos = another) means just what it says. It
is like the sequoia trees of California which tower as high as 300 feet
above the ground. You might be surprised to discover that these giant
trees have unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all
directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Their
intertwining roots also provide support for each other against the
storms. That's why the giant Sequoia trees usually grow in clusters. Seldom will you see a
redwood standing alone, because high winds would quickly uproot it!
That's what "one another" means!
In love -
describes the spirit in which such forbearance was to be exercised.
Retaliation was not to be allowed;
all occasionally needed forbearance, and all were uniformly to exercise
it. No acerbity of temper, sharp retort, or satirical reply was to be
admitted. As it is the second word which really begins the strife, so,
where mutual forbearance is exercised, even the first angry word would
never be spoken. And this mutual forbearance must not be affected
coolness or studied courtesy; it must have its origin, sphere, and
nutriment “in love”—in the genuine attachment that ought to
prevail among Christian disciples. (A
commentary on the Greek text - Page 270)
(for more discussion see notes on
in the NT usually refers to
unconditional (as in
sacrificial, supernatural love, that quality of love that God is (1Jn
4:8,16), that love which God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and (to praise
of the glory of His amazing grace - Ep 1:6-note)
that quality of love that God's Spirit enables us as His children (Jn
1:12, Ro 8:16, 17-note)
to manifest (see fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-note).
Do not "try" to "manufacture" this love, but instead learn daily (even
moment by moment) to "die" ("to self", cp Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23, Ro 6:11-note,
Ro 6:12, 13-note,
Ro 7:5, 6-note,
Ezekiel 36:27 = a promise associated with the New Covenant) that you
might manifest this supernatural Christ-like love (cp Ep 5:1,2-note)
to a lost, dying world (Eph 2:1, 2:2-note,
in which even natural love is growing cold (cp "unloving" in 2Ti 3:3-note,
cp Jesus' admonition regarding love in the last of the last days = Mt
24:12). (See John Piper's related sermon =
The Greatest of These Is Love
- Dying As a Means of Loving)
Agape love is
empowered by the Holy Spirit, activated by a personal choice of our
will, is not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and is
manifested by specific actions especially as summarized in 1Corinthians
Love is patient (makrothumeo
[word study]), love
is kind (chresteuomai
[word study]), and is not jealous
[word study]); love does not brag (perpereuomai
[word study] = self display, boast,
praise oneself excessively) and is not arrogant (phusioo
[word study] = inflated, puffed up,
haughty), 5 does not act unbecomingly (aschemoneo
= an ugly, indecent, improper,
unseemly manner); it does not seek its own, is not provoked (paroxuno
= aroused to
anger, not "touchy"), does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
things. (1Cor 13:4-7)
with showing tolerance, the idea is to love those who
don't deserve it or who irritate, disturb or embarrass us. This
supernatural, Christlike behavior is only possible by the strengthening
of our inner man by the Holy Spirit.
Thomas à Kempis
If Christ is amongst us, then it is
necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of
peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things?
Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to
hear the opinions of others.
D L Moody
There are two ways of being united --
one is by being frozen together, and the other is by being melted
together. What Christians need is to be united in brotherly love, and
then they may expect to have power.
once wrote that...
In the primitive times, there was so
much love among the godly as set the heathen a-wondering, and now there
is so little, as may set Christians a-blushing.
and John Wesley disagreed in matters of theology which could have led to
great disunity. Below is a letter from Whitefield to Wesley illustrating
Paul's charge to show "tolerance for one another in love"...
My honored friend and
brother...hearken to a child who is willing to wash your feet. I beseech
you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, if you would have
my love confirmed toward you.… Why should we dispute, when there is no
possibility of convincing? Will it not, in the end, destroy brotherly
love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of
soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? How glad would the
enemies of our Lord be to see us divided....Honored sir, let us offer
salvation freely to all by the blood of Jesus, and whatever light God
has communicated to us, let us freely communicate to others. (Comment:
And all God's people should carry out this same divine duty!)
BEING DILIGENT TO PRESERVE THE
UNITY OF THE SPIRIT: spoudazontes (PAPMPN) terein
(PAN) ten enoteta tou pneumatos: (Ep 4:4; John 13:34;
17:21, 22, 23; Romans 14:17, 18, 19; 1Corinthians 1:10; 12:12,13;
2Corinthians 13:11; Colossians 3:13, 14, 15; 1Thessalonians 5:13;
Hebrews 12:14; James 3:17,18)
Endeavoring to keep (NKJV)
Making every effort to maintain (NRSV)
Do all you can to preserve (NJB) - (Caveat: "YOU" in your flesh
can't! Rely on the Spirit to enable you to "pull this off!")
Corinthians Paul writes...
1Cor 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be
no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same
mind and in the same judgment.
Corinthians Paul writes...
2Cor 13:11 Finally, brethren,
rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in
peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Romans Paul writes
So then let us pursue the things
which make for peace (walls broken down between believers!) and
the building up (instead of tearing down) of one another (See how
to "edify" one another in Eph 4:29-note,
cf Acts 20:32-note).
And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of
unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which
indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Being diligent (4704)
form spoude = haste)
word study on
spoudazo) conveys the idea hastening to do
something with the implication of associated energy or with intense
effort and motivation. This verb has an element of haste, urgency, or
even a sense of crisis to it. It suggest zealous concentration and diligent
effort. It also suggests difficulty and a resolute determination to
overcome the difficulty. Brethren, the precious fruit of unity is not automatic but
takes considerable effort to cultivate and propagate!
unity is a difficult task!
To dwell above with
saints we love,
O that will be glory
But to dwell below with saints we know,
Well, that's another story.
speaks of intensity of purpose followed by intensity of effort toward
the realization of that purpose. Spoudazo is marked by careful
unremitting attention or persistent application. The idea is give
maximum effort, do your best, spare no effort, hurry on, be eager!
Hasten to do a thing, exert yourself, endeavour to do it. It means not
only to be willing to do with eagerness, but to follow through and make
diligent effort. In other words
spoudazo does not stop with affecting one's state of mind, but also
affects one's activity. Spoudazo
conveys the idea of exertion. It means to be conscientious, zealous and
earnest in discharging a duty or obligation. It speaks
of intensity of purpose followed by intensity of effort
toward the realization of that purpose.
calls for the Gentile
believers to keep on making every effort, eagerly seeking to guard the
oneness of the body. Clearly maintaining unity is going to entail that
we continually work hard at it. Do we really understand this basic
principle in our churches? The natural tendency is to disunity. The
indicates that this
action (of striving earnestly) is a volitional choice or a choice all
believers must make in their own heart to carry out (e.g., by
manifesting the "worthy" traits mentioned in verse 2 - humility,
gentleness, patience, tolerance in love).
that spoudazo means
"to make haste, do one’s best, take
care, desire. The idea of making haste, being eager, giving diligence,
and putting forth effort are in the word. The word speaks of intense
effort and determination." (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
from teros - a
guard or warden)
means to keep an eye on, keep something in view, to attend carefully, or
to watch over it. Tereo speaks of keeping as the result of guarding
something which is in one’s possession (in this case it is the Spirit's
gift of unity to the Body of Christ, which when "unguarded" will
manifest a natural "entropy," or tendency to dissipate, because of its
three mortal enemies -
the flesh and
And so tereo means to watch as one would some
precious thing (unity is precious!).
In using the
Paul is calling for the
saints at Ephesus to continually guard the unity of the body.
Why would we need to guard the
unity? The simple answer
is that it is precious, it can to stolen by enemies, can be easily
disturbed by saints refusing to seek it, etc. In short, we have to fight
the good fight of faith to preserve unity in the local body. How do we continually
guard the unity of the Spirit? There are many ways, but certainly
one of the more important ways is watching our tongue, which has set
many a church "ablaze" (For a "refresher" read James 3:2-7, 8,
9, 10 - read that last phrase again - "these things ought not to be this
way" - disturbed unity is guaranteed if the tongue is not controlled by
the Spirit). And so if we would guard the unity, we would do
well to pray...
a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
over the door of my lips.
Comment: Yes, we must all frequently pray this great prayer and
then we must immediately "jettison" self-reliance (i.e., relying on our
"self" control to control that "member" in us which is not controllable
by the flesh [read James 3:8 again - just try to control it in your own
"strength"!!!], but only by the Spirit!) and continually seek the
filling (controlling) of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18-note),
Who will enable us to "walk by the Spirit" for when we do, we
will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal 5:16-note),
all the while remembering that this will be a continual, ongoing war
until the day we go home to Jesus (Gal 5:17-note).
What's the natural "addendum" to that last statement?
We need "fresh grace" EVERY morning, before we go to war (i.e., before
we even say a single word to another person, spouse or otherwise!) We
need to present ourselves in totality (no reservations, no qualifiers,
no "rooms of our heart locked" so to speak) to God in the morning,
agreeing we can live the supernatural life Christ has given us (Gal
without His supernatural "supply," the Spirit of Grace (Heb 10:29b).
Spurgeon: David's mouth had been used in prayer, it would be a
pity it should ever be defiled with untruth, or pride, or wrath;
yet so it will become unless carefully watched, for these intruders
are ever lurking about the door.
David feels that with all his own watchfulness he may be surprised into
sin, and so he begs the Lord Himself to keep him. When Jehovah sets the
watch the city is well guarded: when the Lord becomes the guard of our
mouth the whole man is well garrisoned. Keep the door of my lips. God
has made our lips the door of the mouth, but we cannot keep that door of
ourselves, therefore do we entreat the Lord to take the rule of it. O
that the Lord would both open and shut our lips, for we can do neither
the one nor the other aright if left to ourselves. In times of
persecution by ungodly men we are peculiarly liable to speak hastily, or
evasively, and therefore we should be specially anxious to be preserved
in that direction from every form of sin. How condescending is the Lord!
We are ennobled by being door keepers for him, and yet he deigns to be a
door keeper for us. Incline not my heart to any evil thing. It is
equivalent to the petition, "Lead us not into temptation." O that
nothing may arise in providence which would excite our desires in a
wrong direction. The Psalmist is here careful of his heart. He who holds
the heart is lord of the man: but if the tongue and the heart are under
God's care all is safe. Let us pray that he may never leave us to our
own inclinations, or we shall soon decline from the right.
(henotes from heís = one +
henós = of one) speaks of
unanimity. It describes a state of oneness or of being in harmony
and accord (cf similar Greek word
which is a "key word" describing the first church in the Acts of the
Spirit - see notes below discussing this great word).
not describe an external, ecclesiastical union, but internal, spiritual
unity. It means that Christians should be
united in temper and affection, and not be split up in factions and
parties (See discussion of
Homothumadon). The Spirit in the Body has created a basic unity
(our position in the Body because of the oneness wrought by the
New Covenant) that nothing
can destroy, even though believers can still behave (our experience) as if this fact is
not true. And so Paul pleads for the saints at Ephesus (and all saints)
to "burn" with zeal to guard the unity which Christ bought at Calvary and
live at peace with one another.
command His disciples (and us today) to manifest the sweet aroma of
A new commandment I give to you, that
you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one
another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you
have love for one another." (Jn 13:34)
prayed for this oneness of the Spirit in John 17
I do not ask in behalf of these
alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that
they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee,
that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst
send Me. 22 "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to
them; that they may be one, just as We are one; (John 17:20-22)
And here in
Ephesians, Paul says that the Father has answered the prayer of His Son
and created a Body characterized by oneness (a positional truth,
immutable, but one that must be acted upon). Now enabled by the Spirit,
the members of that Body are to be diligent to produce the experiential
fruit of that oneness (See the NT
so that the lost see and God is greatly glorified!
How is the unity, oneness,
koinonia, homothumadon in your local church? May our Father grant us the
enabling power from His Spirit, so that we fight for unity (that's a
paradoxical statement for sure!), for the glory of the Lamb. Amen
Version helps us see our need to depend on the Spirit Who made us
one in Christ to now keep us one in Christ...
Be eager and strive earnestly to
guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by]
the Spirit in the binding power of peace.
Unity is not
uniformity. Unity comes from within and is a spiritual grace, while
uniformity is the result of pressure from without.
The only other NT
use of henotes is found in Eph 4:13-note
and there are no uses in the
O'Brien has an
interesting and convicting comment on unity...
unity and reconciliation that have been won through Christ’s death
(Eph 2:14–18) are part and parcel of God’s intention of bringing all things
together into unity in Christ ("summing up of all things in Christ" -
see Eph 1:9, 10). Since the Church (Christ's Body) has been
designed by God to be the masterpiece of His goodness and the pattern on
which the reconciled universe of the future will be modeled (see Eph 2:7), believers are expected to live in a manner consistent with this
divine purpose. To keep this unity must mean to maintain it visibly.
If the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT is real, it must be transparently
evident, and believers have a responsibility before God (Ed: And
we have the enabling power from the self-same Spirit) to make sure that
this is so. To live in a manner which mars the unity of the Spirit
is to do despite (injury) to the gracious reconciling work of Christ (Ed:
And to His Gospel - see preceding discussion of Jesus' command and
prayer for oneness). It is
tantamount to saying that His sacrificial death by which relationships
with God and others have been restored, along with the resulting freedom
of access to the Father, are of no real consequence to us!
Letter to the Ephesians Pillar New Testament Commentary- Peter T.
O'Brien) (Bolding added)
We see this
unity like a sweet aroma permeating the early church...
Acts 1:14 (Context is actually
before the official birth of the church but clearly is a beautiful
example of unity of believers and also is an answer to Jesus'
petition for unity in John 17:22) These all with one mind
(homothumadon from homos = one and the same + thumos = temperament,
mind) were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the
women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Acts 2:46 And day by day
continuing with one mind (homothumadon from homos = one and the
same + thumos = temperament, mind) in the temple, and breaking bread
from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness
and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the
people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who
were being saved.
Acts 4:32 And the congregation
of those who believed were of one heart and soul (psuche); and
not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but
all things were common property to them.
Comment: Sometimes we
meet someone, and before a word is spoken we sense a oneness with him or
her. If we are true believers, we share a fundamental unity in the core
of our beings. This inner greatness also produced a unity of soul. “All
the believers were one in… mind.” They shared the same basic mental
focus and thought about many of the same things. This came about as the
fundamental, inarticulate unity of their hearts effervesced upward into
their souls! They were truly soul brothers and sisters. This was the
greatest, most profound, most satisfying unity the world has ever seen!
As a result, there was no division. This was astounding
because, just a few days before, when 3,000 were converted, they came
from everywhere! This does not mean these believers saw everything
eye to eye. It is wrong to suppose, as sadly some do, that when
believers dwell in unity they will carry the same Bible, read the same
books, promote the same styles, educate their children the same way,
have the same likes and dislikes—that they will become Christian clones.
The fact is, the insistence that others be just like us is one of the
most disunifying mind-sets a church can have because it instills a
judgmental inflexibility that hurls people away from the church with
lethal force. One of the wonders of Christ is that he honors our
individuality while bringing us into unity.- (from
Hughes, R. K. Acts)
Acts 5:12 And at the hands of
the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people;
and they were all with one accord (homothumadon from homos = one
and the same + thumos = temperament, mind) in Solomon's portico.
Acts 15:25 it seemed good to
us (the apostles and the elders with the whole church to choose men from
among them to send to Antioch v22), having become of one mind
(homothumadon from homos = one and the same + thumos = temperament,
mind), to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Comment: It was the believers’
great unity that enabled the spread of the gospel. That bonded band of
brothers and sisters conquered the world—Christ-followers who sailed the
oceans and marched the continents to both throne and dungeon. You can
mark it down - When there is great unity, the church is "great" and
greatly used by God!
The final NT use
of the great unity word homothumadon is found in Romans where
Now may the God who gives
perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one
another according to Christ Jesus; 6 that with one accord (NIV =
"a spirit of unity") (homothumadon from homos = one and
the same + thumos = temperament, mind) you may with one voice glorify
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ro 15:5-6-note)
Comment: Paul is not praying that we see everything "eye to eye"
but rather that we regard one another with minds that are filled with
and focused on one Lord - Ep 4:5-note
alluded to the unity of believers when he wrote...
If we say that we have fellowship
with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the
truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we
have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son
cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:6-7)
painted a beautiful word picture of this unity in Psalm 133
Behold, how good and how pleasant
(acceptable, beautiful) it is for brothers to dwell together in unity
(Hebrew = yachad which emphasizes a plurality in unity!). It is like
the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's
beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of
Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD
commanded the blessing-- life forever. (Psalm 133:1-3)
David recalled a scene with obvious affection—the high priest being
anointed with oil. He remember the oil poured over his head, running
down his beard and onto his robes and he used this picture to poetically
portray how unity overflows to others -- a picture he portrays as
Thomas Brooks rightly stated...
Discord and division become no
Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb
to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous."
once said that...
The unity of His servants is so much
esteemed by God, that He will not have His glory sounded forth amidst
discords and contentions.
The deadly effect
of disunity illustrated...
Two battleships met in the night and
began to attack each other. In the conflict, a number of crewmen were
severely wounded, and both vessels were damaged. As daylight broke, the
sailors on the ships discovered to their amazement that both vessels
flew the English flag.
Many years earlier, just before the
battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British naval hero Lord Nelson learned
that an admiral and a captain in his fleet were not on good terms.
Sending for the two men, he placed the hands of the admiral and the
captain together. Then, looking them both in the face, he said,
“Look—yonder is the enemy!”
rightly states that...
there is always danger of discord
where men 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
[1Co 2:1], seq. and hence there is so much need of caution and of care
in the churches (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
In His high
priestly prayer Jesus in John 17 prayed for unity,
"I do not ask in behalf of these
alone (Jesus now prays for all believers of all generations), but for
those also who believe in Me through their word (the written message of
the apostles - the Word of God); 21 that they may all be one;
even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in
Us; that (here is the great purpose of Christian unity)
the world may believe that Thou
didst send Me. (From this
petition it is clear that the propagation of the gospel of Christ is
bound up for better or for worse with the degree of unity we
display to the world. Christian unity is of the utmost importance!) 22
And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they
may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them, and Thou in
Me, that they may be perfected (the idea of completeness not
perfection) in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst
send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me. (John
Comment: In John 17:17
Jesus emphasized that the critical importance of truth, the adherence to
truth forming a firm foundation for Christian unity. Observe that the
unity of believers with each other is compared with the perfect unity
which the Son has with the Father. Such unity cannot be legislated or
produced by the mechanics of an organization. It is produced and
maintained by the Holy Spirit. These verses are misapplied by many
who advocate a worldwide, ecumenical movement, with no regard for
doctrinal heresies that exist in various sects and groups. Truth comes
before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous.
have heard the famous quote by Augustine (others credit a man
named Rupertus Meldenius with this quote)...
In essentials, unity. In
non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity. (I would add that if we
cannot experience unity in diversity, there is no possibility of unity,
for all believers differ in many ways).
the only references to Christian
"unity" in the New Testament--in so far as the word itself is
concerned--are here in this chapter. "The unity of the faith" (Ephesians
4:13) is vital, but so is "the unity of the Spirit." There can be no
real spiritual unity without doctrinal unity, and vice versa. In one
sense, the two are synonymous because sound doctrine includes the
doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His fruit produced in the lives of true
believers (1Corinthians 1:10). (Morris,
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Ruth Paxson adds that...
If someone asked what is the first
essential of the Christian's walk, it would seem most fitting to say it
was holiness. Did God not choose us in Christ that we should be holy?
Then is not holiness the fundamental essential in the Body of Christ?
The divine order in Ephesians is otherwise, and God's order can never be
Eph 4:2-16 shows that the first
characteristic of a worthy walk is unity. What is the primary necessity
for wholeness and health in a human body? It is the harmonious
functioning of all the organs of the body; the perfect co-ordination in
action of every part with every other part. A displacement of even an
insignificant organ or the maladjustment of any parts of the body can
cause disease and disability. A missionary in China began to have
convulsions. She had the best of medical attention. She was told she had
an incurable disease and advised to go home. On the way back to her
station she consulted an osteopath. Two little bones were found to be
out of adjustment, which caused pressure on the nerves. Quickly they
were brought into unity through adjustment, and the incurable disease
So in the Church, the mystical Body
of Christ, spiritual health is dependent upon the harmonious functioning
of all the members and upon their perfect co-ordination in action. But
what awful maladjustments we see in Christ's Body to-day! What sinful
failure in co-ordination between its members! What shameful divisions
over secondary matters which dishonor the Lord in the sight of the
world! How desperately we need to come back to the divine standard set
in Ephesians, and how humbly we need to acknowledge our failure and sin
in not living according to it!
The Divine Standard - The unity to
which God is calling His Church is distinctly defined and definitely
declared. It is not a union of denominations or a federation of the
churches of Christendom. Neither is it the unity of the Body. God
nowhere asks us to make or to maintain the unity of the Body, for that
is God's task. Through baptism with the Spirit the believer is united to
Christ, the Head, and to every other member of the Body in an
indissoluble bond, which unity is maintained by the indwelling Spirit.
So with the making and keeping of the unity of the Body we have nothing
to do. (Ed:
While I agree the unity is
supernatural [it "making" is all from God] and the Body will be
preserved by God, nevertheless the NT is replete with passages that
sound a similar call, a charge for believers to "be diligent to preserve
the unity of the Spirit," something we can do only with the enabling
power of the Holy Spirit! Perhaps this is simply a difference of
semantics, but I think Paxson's comment is not entirely accurate.)
But with the outworking of God's
eternal purpose for the completion of the Body; for its edification and
sanctification; and for its manifestation of Christ in glory and power
to the world, we have much to do, which requires the harmonious,
effectual working of every member. Hence God's call to keep the unity
which He now defines. (Ruth
Paxson -The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian - Pdf)
Of the Spirit
(pneuma) is what is known as subjective genitive (possessive
case) indicating that the Source or Agent producing the unity is the
Holy Spirit. Paul is describing the unity which is wrought by the Holy
If one considers the fruit of the Spirit, it is reasonable
to see how His production of supernatural fruit can help preserve the unity of
which He is the Author...
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-note,
Note the similarity of this list to the attitudes and actions in which
Paul is imploring saints to continually walk! Contrast the fruit of the
flesh, especially "enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger,
disputes, dissensions, factions, envying", any one of which can
disrupt the unity of the body
Barnes writes the bond of
peace refers to...
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 he fills them all with the same love, and joy, and
peace in believing. The following verses contain the reasons for this.
(Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
McGee writes that since we
have all been baptized into one body (1Cor 12:13) believers...
are to keep the unity which the Holy
Spirit has made. We cannot make that unity. We cannot join
into an ecumenical movement to force a kind of unity. Only the Holy
Spirit makes the unity, but we are to maintain it. All
true believers in Christ Jesus belong to one body, and we should realize
that we are one in Christ. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
><> ><> ><>
There is a wonderful story about
Harry Ironside which illustrates the beauty of the unity of the Spirit
Harry Ironside once fell sick while
in the midst of a series of meetings in Minneapolis and was forced to
return home to California by train, which was the best mode of
transportation in those days. He could barely stand. So the porter made
up a lower berth for him and allowed him to recline there throughout the
day. The first morning he opened his Bible and began to read it as part
of his devotions. A stout German woman happened by and stopped when she
saw the Bible.
“Vat’s dat? A Bible?” she asked.
“Yes, a Bible,” Ironside replied.
“Vait,” she said, “I vill get my
Bible and we vill haf our Bible reading together.”
A short time later a tall gentleman
came by and asked,
“Vat are you reading?”
He was a Norwegian.
He said, “I tank I go get my Bible
Each morning these three met, and
others collected. Ironside wrote that once there were twenty-eight
people and twenty-eight Bibles and that the conductor would go through
the train, saying,
"The camp meeting is beginning in car
thirteen. All are invited.”
It was a great experience. At the end
of the trip, as the cars divided up in Sacramento, some to go north and
some south, the German woman asked,
“Vat denomination are you?”
Ironside replied, “I belong to the
same denomination that David did.”
“Vat vas dat? I didn’t know dat David
belonged to any denomination.”
“David wrote that he was ‘a companion
of all them that fear God and keep his precepts.’ ”
The woman said,
“Yah, yah, dat is a good church to
><> ><> ><>
A sad example of failure to
preserve the unity of the Spirit...
Two congregations located only a few
blocks from each other in a small community decided to become one
united, and thus larger and more effective, body instead of two
struggling churches. But the merger did not happen because they could
not agree on how to recite the Lord’s prayer. One group wanted “forgive
us our trespasses,” while the other demanded “forgive us our debts.”
><> ><> ><>
The Puritan John Trapp wrote
Unity without verity is no better
><> ><> ><>
In his well known devotional classic
The Pursuit of God, A W Tozer asked...
Has it ever occurred to you that one
hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to
each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other,
but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one
hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ,
are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they
to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to
strive for closer fellowship. (The
Pursuit of God)
><> ><> ><>
C H Spurgeon had these
comments on unity...
"To remain divided is sinful! Did not
our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22).
A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are
saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come
together in one visible organization, regardless... Unite, unite!" Such
teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine
our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is
hazardous. Our Lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full
context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is
truth." Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To
teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel. (Charles H. Spurgeon, The
Essence of Separation)
It is not likely we should all see
eye to eye. You cannot make a dozen watches all tick to the same time,
much less make a dozen men all think the same thoughts. But still, if we
should all bow our thoughts to that one written Word, and would own no
authority but the Bible, the church could not be divided. It could not
be cut in pieces as she now is. We come together when we come to the
Word of God.
A plague upon denominationalism!
There should be but one denomination. We should be de-nominated by the
name of Christ, as the wife is named by her husband's name. As long as
the church of Christ has to say, "My right arm is Episcopalian, my left
arm is Wesleyan, my right foot is Baptist, and my left foot is
Presbyterian," she is not ready for the marriage. She will be ready when
she has washed out these stains, when all her members have "one Lord,
one faith, one baptism" (see note
><> ><> ><>
Louis Berkhof wrote that...
Church unity is internal; church
union, external. The former is the result of spiritual and organic
growth; the latter is to a great extent the product of the organizing
activity of men.
><> ><> ><>
A university professor yearly would
conduct an experiment for his class which is a wonderful illustration of
the unity of the Spirit...
On an oak table was placed a pile of
horseshoe nails. In one corner of the room was a powerful dynamo. When
the electric current was turned on and the poles of the battery were
brought up under the table, although they did not touch the nails
themselves, immediately there was constituted around them a field of
magnetic force. So long as this field of force was maintained the loose
horseshoe nails could be built up in various forms, such as a cube, a
sphere, or an arch. So long as the current was on, the nails would stay
in exactly the form placed, as if they had been soldered together. But
the second the current was cut off, the nails would fall into a
shapeless mass. What that field of magnetic force was to those nails,
the Holy Spirit is to all believers. By His power we are held together
in a bond of love, a bond that is broken when we grieve and quench the
Holy Spirit by our self-willed actions. Let us endeavor to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
><> ><> ><>
Our Daily Bread has a
devotional dealing with the Spirit of unity...
During World War II, Hitler commanded
all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the
Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went
along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced
harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone
died in a concentration camp.
When the war was over, feelings of
bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension.
Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from
each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent
time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ’s
commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, who told of the
incident, asked a friend who was there, “What did you do then?” “We
were just one,” he replied. As they confessed their hostility and
bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a
spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their
When love prevails among believers,
especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an
indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ. (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
><> ><> ><>
A little humor regarding "unity"...
In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded
that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he
didn't. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?"
"These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they're nothing but when
I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon
that is terrible to behold."
"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his
fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?" (Charles
Schultz - writer of the comic strip Peanuts)
><> ><> ><>
Tonto and the Lone Ranger were riding
through a canyon together when all of a sudden both sides were filled
with Native American warriors on horses, dressed for battle. The Lone
Ranger turned to Tonto and asked, "What are we going to do?" Tonto
replied, "What you mean 'we,' Whiteman?" (Edward Dobson, In Search of
Unity, p. 20-27)
><> ><> ><>
There can be union without unity - You may tie the tails of a cat and a
dog together by a rope and have union, but you surely don’t have unity!
><> ><> ><>
The power of unity...
A March 1984 malfunction in a 500,000
volt Pacific Gas and Electric Company line in Northern California
triggered a chain reaction that eventually darkened lights for millions
in six Western states. The blackout came at rush hour, with motorists
backed up at traffic lights in cities of California, Arizona, Nevada,
New Mexico, and Texas. The trouble originated at the Round Mountain,
California, substation, about one hundred miles south of the Oregon
border. A circuit breaker tripped, and the concatenation shut down
circuits all over the West as machinery protected itself from damage.
How dramatically that breakdown
expressed the interdependence of our country’s power, transportation,
and food production! One little circuit breaker tripped in a remote
rural substation, and hundreds of miles away people’s lives instantly
changed. We are one people in more ways than we think. What affects one
affects many, perhaps all. Interdependence characterizes us.
The unity of the church is no
different. An interlinking of interests, goals, and influences exists in
which we all share. The good one person does makes righteousness easier
for all. The bad example one sets negatively affects us all. God’s
people, wherever they live on earth, are linked into a grid of community
interdependence from which they can never escape. Inextricably bound to
one another as separate parts of the whole, what affects one becomes
part of all. (Hurley, V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations.
Dallas: Word Publishers)
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Our Daily Bread has a
devotional related to the unity of the Spirit entitled Church
Three churches, located on different
corners of the same intersection, didn't get along together. One Sunday
each of them opened their meeting with a rousing song service. It was a
warm day and all the doors and windows were wide open. One congregation
began singing the old hymn, "Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?" The
strains had barely faded away when the congregation across the street
started singing, "No, Not One, No, Not One!" They had scarcely finished
when the third church began singing, "Oh, That Will Be Glory for Me."
Of course, this is just a humorous story, but it reminds us that a
spirit of divisive competition does exist among some churches.
Naturally, we will want to support our own church, pray for it, and
rejoice in its growth. But we must never feel self-satisfied or be
critical of churches that have problems or are not growing.
If there is a place for "competition", let it be to oppose those who
deny scriptural fundamentals and the gospel. But if a church is true to
God's Word and is winning people to Christ, regardless of its label,
let's rejoice. That should be our attitude when faced with the
competitive motives of envy and strife. Let's avoid church competition.
-- Richard W. De Haan (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the church in one.--Neale
The fruit of Christian unity grows out of our union with Christ.
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Our Daily Bread has another
devotional related to the unity of the Spirit entitled When We
While visiting friends who are rock
collectors, I asked, "Do you believe that rock formations reveal a very
old earth?" The wife answered first, saying she thinks the earth is
relatively young. The husband, on the other hand, said he believes there
is evidence that the earth is much older than many
Before leaving, I said, "You've taught me something about the way
Christians should deal with disagreements. You've been married for 30
years. You're still in love with each other, and above all, you both
love the Lord. Yet you differ on when God created the earth. Your
differences have not destroyed your devotion to Christ and your love for
each other. That's how it should be with Christians on debatable
Paul's plea for walking in unity does not suggest that believers will
see eye to eye on every issue. What he does encourage, however, is an
honest effort to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Christians share in one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, and one God and Father (Eph. 4:4-6). And when this unity is
coupled with humility, gentleness, longsuffering, and loving forbearance
(v.2), debatable issues are not likely to become divisive. -- Dennis J.
De Haan (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Although we often feel the urge
To prove a point to others,
We must respect divergent views
Expressed by Christian brothers.-- Murray
Our union with Christ is the basis for unity with one another.
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Our Daily Bread has another
devotional related to the unity of the Spirit entitled The Good Sense
of the Grasshopper...
One grasshopper seems insignificant
as it leaps across the lawn. But when it joins forces with other
grasshoppers, the resulting swarm can soon
devour all the vegetation in its path.
Grasshoppers demonstrate the power of community. What they cannot do by
themselves, they can accomplish together. In the book of Proverbs, the
wise man Agur observed, "The locusts have no king, yet they all advance
in ranks" (Pr 30:27).
We can learn a lesson from these little creatures. Believers can make
far greater advances for Christ's cause when they act and pray together
than they could ever make alone. When Christians are united in serving
the Lord, they can become a mighty force for God.
Although the New Testament urges us to possess a PERSONAL faith in Jesus
Christ, it says nothing at all about a PRIVATE faith. We need other
believers, and other believers need us.
Let's enjoy the strength and fellowship available in the unified body of
Christ. An effective church will reflect "the good sense of the
grasshopper" by its love and unity in the Holy Spirit.-- Haddon W.
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
We all depend upon the strength
We draw from one another,
For we are one in faith and love
With every Christian brother.-- Sper
Two Christians are better than
one---when they're one.
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IN THE BOND OF PEACE: en to
sundesmo tes eirenes:
Eadie explains that
"In" (en) does not
denote that the unity of the Spirit springs from “the bond of peace,” as
if unity were the product of peace, or simply consisted of peace, but
that the unity is preserved and manifested in the bond of peace as its
element. Peace” is that tranquillity which ought to reign in the church,
and by the maintenance of which its essential spiritual unity is
developed and “bodied forth.” This unity is something far higher than
peace; but it is by the preservation of peace as a bond among church
members that such unity is realized and made perceptible to the world.
The outer becomes the symbol and expression of the inner—union is the
visible sign of unity. When believers universally and mutually recognize
the image of Christ in one another, and, loving one another
instinctively and in spite of minor differences, feel themselves
composing the one church of Christ, then do they endeavour to keep “the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The
Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
Bond of peace
- the bond which is peace.
Christ Himself is our peace
and thus the bond of peace. He made both
one as Paul explained earlier writing that Christ...
Himself is our peace, Who made both
groups into one (an excellent illustrative definition of peace), and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall
by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments
contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one
new man, thus establishing peace, (See
sundesmos from sundéo = join together in turn from
= with, speaks of an intimate union + deo = bind) describes that
which binds together. Sundesmos describes that which holds something
together and was used for example to describe the fastenings that hold
the various ships together.
that sundesmos (syndesmos)...
is the “middle thing” that serves as
a “link,” “joint,” “loop,” or “bond,” and in grammar “conjunction.”
Special meanings are “chain,” “cable,” or “halter.” In Plato the term
takes on special significance as the mediation or union that overcomes
cosmic dualism. Figuratively for Aristotle it refers to “children” as
the bond between father and mother. In rhetoric it may be a “connecting
word,” and physiologically it is the “joint” or “muscle.” (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Sundesmos was used in Greek to describe a
tendon or ligament of the bones by which the members of the human body
are united together. It denotes that
which keeps something together. It's the "tie which binds together".
In secular Greek
writings sundesmos was used to describe "good men" who form the
bond that keeps the state (government) together! Moulton and Milligan
quote Aristeas who writes "the great doorway and the fastenings
(sundesmos) which held it to the door-posts".
In Ephesians of course sundesmos
is used figuratively to picture the binding together in the sense of the
spiritual forces that unite believers. It is peace which brings
both groups into a unified relationship and peace which will maintain
them in that relationship of unity. In
we see that it is
love which is the bond that unites all the virtues Paul had just
listed (see notes
is used more often in the
(1Ki 14:24; 2Ki 11:14; 12:20; Job 41:15; Isa 58:6, 9; Jer 11:9; Da 5:6,
12). Below are the only other NT uses of sundesmos (note the use
in Colossians 3 which parallels Eph 4:3)...
(Acts 8:23) (Peter addressing
Simon the sorcerer who was trying to obtain the gift of God with money
declared) "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the
bondage of iniquity." (Comment: Here sundesmos is used in
a negative sense to describe the unspiritual forces that enslave people
and so bring them into bondage or put them in a fetter and thus
describes that which causes one to be under control, in this case the
control of iniquity. Unrighteousness was like a fetter [chain or shackle
for the feet, restraining from motion] binding and controlling Simon!)
- see note) and not
holding fast to the Head from Whom the entire body , being supplied and
held together by the joints and ligaments (sundesmos), grows with
a growth which is from God
- see note) And
beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond
(sundesmos) of unity. (Comment: This passage parallels Ephesians 4:3,
but here Paul substitutes love for peace.
from the verb eiro = to join or bind together that
which has been separated) (Click
word study on
eirene) literally pictures
the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated
or divided and thus pictures setting at one again.
Peace is the
bond or "glue" which ensures that this God-given unity will not fall apart.
Peace has a bonding effect and is the means by which the
addressees will maintain and show forth the unity of the Spirit. When
the peace is disturbed you can rest assured that the unity is disrupted.
description of the creation of one body in Ephesians 2, we see peace
as an intimate component of this new creation - Christ Himself is our
2:14), He made both Jew
and Gentile in to one new man (body) establishing peace (Ephesians
2:15) and He preached
peace to both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians
picture of eirene is reflected in our modern expression "having it all
together." Everything is in place and as it ought to be. When things are
disjointed, there is lack of harmony and well being. When they are
joined together, there is both. Thus Hamlet cried, “The times are out of
joint. O, cursed spite that I was ever born to set them right."
Blaikie explains that
genitive (eirene - "of peace") 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.
(The Pulpit Commentary)
William MacDonald explains that...
is the ligament which binds the members of the Body together in spite of
their wide natural differences. A common reaction when differences arise
is to divide and start another party. The spiritual reaction is this:
“In essentials, unity. In doubtful questions, liberty. In all things,
charity.” There is enough of the flesh in every one of us to wreck any
local church or any other work of God. Therefore, we must submerge our
own petty, personal whims and attitudes, and work together in peace for
the glory of God and for common blessing. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Eirene is the
root the English "serene" (= clear and free of storms or unpleasant
change, stressing an unclouded and lofty tranquility!) and "serenity".
Peace is defined
by Cremer as
"a state of untroubled,
with strife and thus denotes the absence or end of strife.
Eirene includes both the
concept of an agreement, pact, treaty or bond and of an attitude of rest
as a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from disquieting or
oppressive thoughts or emotions, harmony in personal relations, a pact
or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in
a state of enmity, state of repose in contrast with or following strife
Outside of Christ there is no peace and only those in
Christ know peace and can experience the bond of peace.
A W Tozer wrote that...
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the
same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord
by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each
one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers (meeting) together,
each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than
they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn
their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
A W Tozer also wrote that...
For the very reason that the church is one body, anything that tends to
introduce division is an evil, however harmless, or even useful, it may
appear to be. Yet the average evangelical church is divided into
fragments which live and work separate from, and sometimes in opposition
to, each other. In some churches there is simply no time or place for
the worship and service of all members unitedly. These churches are
organized to make such unity impossible.
"PEACE" - Jim Walton was translating the NT for the Muinane people
of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. But he was having trouble with
the word peace. During this time, Fernando, the village
chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have
taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving
at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came,
a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had
returned, the plane had left. Fernando was livid because of the mix-up.
He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton
had taped the chief's diatribe. When he later translated it, he
discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, "I don't have
one heart." Jim asked other villagers what having "one heart"
meant, and he found that it was like saying, "There is nothing
between you and the other person." That, Walton realized, was just
what he needed to translate the word peace. To have
peace with God means that there is nothing--no sin, no guilt, no
condemnation--that separates us. And that peace with God
is possible only through Christ (see note
Do you have "one heart" with God today?
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