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Bible Commentary Adam Clarke

'Oneness' The Christian Society - Download PDF Article

(A Study of Ephesians 4:1-16)

Ephesians unveils the great sacred secret, which was hid from all generations until it was revealed to the apostles and prophets. The sacred secret, unveiled in chapter three is our oneness in Christ, who is our Head, we being his Body; Christ dwelling on the earth through the members of his Body. Ephesians chapter four unfolds the 'Christian Life,' the manifold wisdom of Yahweh. Verses four through thirteen of chapter four, which will be our main lesson, is essentially a parenthetical paragraph; verse seventeen resuming the thought of verse three, while verses four to sixteen explain in more detail verse three, which states, "Giving diligence to keep––the 'Oneness' of the spirit in the uniting–bond of peace." Yahweh's grand lesson, in this section of scripture is the unity of the billions of members of the Body of the Christ (the Christian Society) in order that each member, framing and connecting themselves together, may release their unique energy (life), as they have been gifted, which results in the growth of the Body and in their own upbuilding in love. Our individual gifts are very much needed in our Christian Society (the Body of the Christ). We do not have the ability to make people become one but we do have the ability to be one in the Body of the Christ, whether the other members like it or not. We do not walk in a manner worthy of the calling wherewith we were calledif we are not faithful friends and supporters to all who confess Romans 10:9.

The history of the Christian Church reveals a lack of oneness. The Christian Churches' major members consist of Protestants and Roman Catholics. These two groups some what agree but in many area's they may doubt each other's Christianity. It also consists of minor members such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses and myself whom many would deny our Christian standing but members of the Body of the Christ we are, as are Protestants and Roman Catholics, if we believe and confess Romans 10:9. Yahweh has placed us into the Body, as well as them, as it pleases him. Are we able to unite these divisions into one Church? No. Yahoshua was not able to unit the different divisions of the Israelites but he was able to connect his life into these divisions, releasing his unique energy into them, resulting in their growth and in his and their upbuilding. He met them where they were, imparting to them the life (energy, gift) he had been given by his Father. He fellowshipped with them in order to benefit them but he did not join them by compromising the truths in the Word of Yahweh. Yahweh's will for us is "that there might be no division in the body, but that the members might have, the same, care, one for another; And, whether one member, suffereth, all the members, suffer with it, or, a member is glorified, all the members, rejoice together" (1 Cor. 12:25-26). It is our calling to obey this scripture by imparting our individual gifts, when able, to all the different members of Christ's Body, regardless of them being Roman Catholic's, Protestant's, Mormon's, Jehovah Witnesses etc. If there be but one body, all that belong to that body should have one heart. The Christian Society is one spiritual body of Christ, and all good Christians make up but one body, incorporated by one charter, that of the gospel, animated by one ruah (spirit), which enlivens, and governs that body. If we belong to Christ, we are all actuated by one and the same ruah (spirit), and therefore should be one.  

Ephesians chapter four will be understood in the light of chapters one through three. Chapter three can be looked at as a parenthetical chapter, which connects the end of chapter two with the beginning of chapter four. The ending of chapters one and two and the beginning of chapter four reads as follows, "And gave him [Christ] to be head over all things unto the assembly, Which, indeed, is his body, the fulness of him who, the all things in all, is for himself filling up... In whom [Yahoshua Christ], an entire building, in process of being fitly joined together, is growing into a holy shrine in the Lord; In whom, ye also, are being builded together, into a habitation of Yahweh in ruah (spirit)...I exhort you, therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling wherewith ye were called."

Verses 1 through 3

Yahweh through Christ through Paul proclaims in the next two verses; "With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, bearing one with another in love,  Giving diligence [spoudazo] to keep––the oneness [henotes] of the spirit in the uniting–bond of peace," (Eph. 4:1-3). The word, 'spoudazo,' which has been translated 'giving diligence'  means to: hasten, make haste; to exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence. Oneness is the Greek word, henotes, which is derived from the Greek word, heis, which means, 'one.'   Henotes is only used two times in the New Testament and only in this section of scripture:

Giving diligence to keep––the oneness [henotes] of the spirit in the uniting–bond of peace,–– (vs. 3)

Until we all advance––into the oneness [henotes] of the faith, and the personal knowledge of the Son of Yahweh, into a man of full–growth [teleios], into the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ; (vs. 13)

(The phrase, 'oneness of the ruah (spirit),' to the best of my understanding, can be understood by many of us by unlearning our theological conceptions of spirit. Ruah is the Hebrew word that is sometimes translated into our English word, 'spirit.' This word, which is usually feminine in Hebrew and neuter in Greek (pneuma) is also translated breeze, wind, breath, blast, and many other terms, which are hidden from the English reader. One common characteristic of ruah is that it is an 'invisible force,' or as the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains it as, 'air in motion.'  The Old and New Testament are full of usages where ruah (pneuma) is equivalent to 'dunamis,' (power.)  You can not go wrong by translating ruah (Hebrew) and pneuma (Greek) as 'an invisible force,' where ever it is used. For example:

"Now, the earth, had become waste and wild, and, darkness, was on the face of the roaring deep,––but, the invisible force of Elohim, was brooding on the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2).
"...and Elohim caused a invisible force to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided" (Gen. 8:1).
"And the invisible force of Yahweh, came suddenly over him, and he tore it in pieces as..." (Jud. 14:6).
"But ye shall receive power when the holy invisible force cometh upon you..." (Acts 1:8).
"How Yahweh anointed him with holy invisible force and with power..." (Acts 10:38).

I Corinthians 12:12-14 helps us to decipher the usage of ruah in Ephesians 4:23 because of its context. 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen deal with pneumatikos (spiritual things or matters), the one ruah and the one Body, which is to be upbuilded as does also Ephesians four. Christ could have had Paul write, "Giving diligence to keep––the oneness of the 'body' in the uniting–bond of peace." This statement would be easy to comprehend since we have been discussing the Body of the Christ throughout the first three chapters of Ephesians but the word used is ruah (spirit) and not body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 will enlighten us on this matter of ruah (spirit) and body by declaring, "For, just as, the body, is one, and yet hath many members, but, all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so, also, the Christ; –– For, even to one ruah (invisible force), we all, into one body, have been immersed,––whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free,––and, all, of one ruah (invisible force), have been caused to drink. For, the body also, is not one member, but many." This section of scripture ties together three truths; the Christ, the one body and the one ruah (spirit).

Christ without a Body becomes weak while a Body without ruah (power) can accomplish little, which is why we were clothed with ruah which is power from on high (Lk. 24:49). The sacred secret is the Christ; the Head of the one Body, which has many members who have been immersed into and have been caused to drink of the one invisible force (ruah), which is the promise of the Father, the earnest of our inheritance, which was poured out on the day of Pentecost, also known as the ruah (spirit) of Yahweh. )

We have been commanded to be "Giving diligence to keep––the oneness of the invisible force [the invisible force that we were immersed in and have been made to drink of as told in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14] in the uniting–bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). Believers have been given an invisible force, which binds us together as one. The nervous system of our body acts in a similar way acting as the communication system which allows the body to act together rather than apart. This same system empowers the muscles to produce force. Without a nervous system we are paralyzed and without ruah, we, as a Body, would be greatly hindered in our endeavors, working independently of one another, which is very inefficient.  We have been commanded to diligently keep the oneness of the ruah, in the bond (sundesmos), of peace.
The wonderful greatness of the heritage of Christians might tempt them to boast, be self-confidence and self-asserted but Yahweh lays down that we are bound to cultivate the oppo­site graces which are lowliness, meekness and long-suffering. It is through these that the oneness of the Church is estab­lished and maintained. Our Faith sets before us not our own greatness but the greatness of what Yahweh has done in Christ. We are all, the strongest no less than the weakest, dependent on Him in all things. Therefore in view of His glorious purpose for us, we must strive to attain to a corresponding life, first recognizing in deepest lowliness our true relationship with Him.

Lowliness, which answers to reverence, is the sign of a noble character. The proud man only looks at that which is (or which he thinks to be) below him; and so he loses the elevating influence of that which is higher. Humility is a thank­ful sense of dependence upon Yahweh, as opposed to pride and self-confidence. Meekness is a consideration for others even under provocation, as opposed to self-assertion. Long-suffering has regard to a different kind of trial which comes from the fall of Adam and Eve and the unreasonableness of men. Long-suffering supports us when we are disappointed in not finding the results for which we naturally looked. Meekness and humility are claimed by our Lord for Himself, and the perversity of man brings out the long-suffering of Yahweh. These three holy qualities occur together in Colossians 3:12; "Put on, therefore, as men chosen of Yahweh, holy and beloved, tender affections of compassion, graciousness, lowliness of mind, meekness, long–suffering."

But, while there is need of for­bearance in the Christian, there is need of effort also. We must give diligence to keep the oneness of the ruah (spirit). Having spoken of 'the oneness of the ruah (spirit),' in verse three, the keeping of which is the aim of Christian effort,

Paul seems to pause for a while, and then,
moved by the greatness of the thought,
he thinks, as it were, aloud and lays open a view
of the unity of the whole Christian society,
first in its objective foundation (verses 4-6)
and then in the provision for its vital realization (verses 7-16),

which is why this section of scripture, verses four to sixteen are essentially a parenthetical paragraph explaining in more detail the 'oneness' of the invisible force (ruah).

Verses 4 through 6

The oneness of the Christian Society is witnessed by its oneness in itself, which answers to the Christian call (v. 4); by its historical foundation (v. 5); by the oneness of YAHWEH "... Father of all––who is over all, and through all, and in all." Verses four through six explain in more detail what actually occurred in Ephesians 2:21-22, which unfolded the household of Yahweh, the erection of a holy building, the holy shine (naos) in the Lord.

This habitation of Yahweh is composed of seven (spiritual perfection) components: one body, which are the called out (assembly) for Yahweh; one ruah, which is the invisible force that has been given to each member of the body; one hope of our calling to walk in meekness, lowliness and long suffering; one Lord, who is Christ Yahoshua, unto whom ever knee will bow; one faith, which is recorded in the Word of Yahweh; one immersion, for, even to one ruah, we all, into one body, have been immersed, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, into Christ and  one Elohim, YAHWEH, who is over all, and through all, and in all, who is inhabiting this holy creation in ruah (spirit), which is called, the Christ. Christ, ruah and Yahweh are perfect! We, as works in progress, have been given a calling to be one, adhering to the faith in order that this glorious creation grows unto an upbuilding of itself in love.

Verses 7 through 16

"To each one of you, however, hath favour been given, according to the measure of the free–gift of the Christ."(vs. 7). Though the members of Christ's church agree in so many things, yet there are some things wherein they differ: but this should breed no difference of affection among them, since they are all derived from the same bountiful author and designed for the same great ends. Unto every one of us Christians is given grace, some gift of grace, in some kind or degree or other, for the mutual help of one another. The unity of the Christian Society is due to the combination and ministry of all its members. Some things are common to all; but each has a special function, and each re­ceives the grace which is necessary for the fulfillment of his own office.

"Ascending on high, he took captivity captive, gave gifts unto men..." (vs. 8). "As great conquerors, when they rode in their triumphal chariots, used to be attended with the most illustrious of their captives led in chains, and were wont to scatter their bounty among the soldiers and other spectators of their triumphs, so Christ, when he ascended into heaven, as a triumphant conqueror, led captivity captive. It is a phrase used in the Old Testament to signify a conquest over enemies, especially over such as formerly had led others captive; (see Judges 5:12.) Captivity is here put for captives, and signifies all our spiritual enemies, who brought us into captivity before. He conquered those who had conquered us; such as sin, the slanderer, and death. Indeed, he triumphed over these on the cross; but the triumph was completed at his ascension, when he became Lord over all, ascended over–above all the heavens, that he might fill all things and had the keys of Death and Sheol put into his hands."

This manifold endowment of the Christian Society is foreshadowed in the Psalmist's description of the tri­umph of the great Conqueror.

"Wherefore start ye up, ye mountains, ye peaks?
The mountain Elohim hath coveted for his habitation,
Surely, Yahweh will inhabit it ever!
The chariots of Elohim, are two myriads––thousands repeated,
My Lord, is among them, Sinai, is in the sanctuary!
Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led in procession a body of captives,
Thou hast received gifts consisting of men,
Yea even the rebellious, That, Yah, Elohim, might settle down to rest.  
Blessed be My Lord! Day by day, he beareth our burden for us,
El himself, is our salvation" (Ps. 68:16-19).

Even in a work of art the perfection of details, as contributory to the design, is necessary for its complete­ness. It is only when we neglect to recognize the specific differences of parts that we miss the truth, that they belong to a whole and suggest a larger unity. Christ first states the fact of the individual endowment of all the members of the Christian Society (v. 7); he then points out how the many gifts taken together form the Divine endowment of the whole (vs. 8—to); and lastly notes that certain special gifts have been made for its due government.

The Hebrew Society re­ceived its spiritual endowment from the ascended Lord at Pentecost. The Christian Society received its spiritual endowment from the Lord at the house of Cornelius. Christ finds this outpouring of Divine gifts prefigured in the triumph-song of the Messianic king. But in apply­ing the Psalm he substitutes for the words 'received gifts consisting of men' for the very different phrase 'gave gifts unto men.' It seemed more natural that the Divine Conqueror should bestow gifts than receive them, or rather, as Christ applies the thought, that he should return to men what he took from them fitted for nobler uses.

"He took captivity captive..." in his train (like Saul of Tarsus), and these, unlike earthly conquerors, he numbered a­mong his own people and enriched and used them. Their presence implies the conquest of his enemies, and far more, for he made those whom he conquered his ministers to men; "gave gifts unto men." Those whom he had taken he gave to serve others. Similarly the Levites are spoken of as 'a gift to Aaron and his sons.' The gift was a double gift. Christ first endowed the men (apostles, prophets, etc.), and then he gave them, so endowed, to the Church. The three groups (apostles, prophets and evangelists) represent servants who have a charge not confined to any particular congregation or district. In contrast with these are those who form the settled ministry (shepherds and teachers) who are reckoned as one class not from a necessary combination of the two functions but from their connection with a congregation.

The object of these manifold ministries is to bring to maturity (teleios) every member of the Body after the pattern of Christ (12, 13), that all realizing the truth in life may grow up to complete fellow­ship with Him (14, 15), who provides through the ministry of every part for the growth of the whole body in love (16). The bringing to teleios (maturity) of each Christian, is the aim of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. Teleios is derived from telos which means the end. Teleios means 'brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness.' They do this by completely equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. This ideal fullness is the standard;  presenting every man teleios (complete) in Christ so that in love we can grow into him in all things because in him dwells all the fullness of Yahweh, and we are in him filled full (Col. 1:28, Eph. 4:15, Col. 2:9-10).

Anatomy of the Glorious Naos, the Body of the Christ

How important is each member of the Body of the Christ? Let us learn from a member of our own bodies, the epiglottis. "Ever wondered what keeps your food from going off into your windpipes while eating? It is the humble Epiglottis that does the job for you. During the eating and swallowing process, the Epiglottis shuts itself thus blocking the opening into the trachea. When the swallowing is done, the Epiglottis opens up again allowing normal breathing. The Epiglottis function in swallowing is a very important one. While swallowing food and water, it draws itself back to cover the entry point of the larynx which prevents food and drink from going into the windpipe. These edible substances enter the esophagus and directly go into the stomach. When the swallowing action ends, the epiglottis moves up once again making normal flow of air into the trachea. The Epiglottis' function in the respiratory system is a very important one. It is because of this cartilaginous structure that you do not choke while eating or drinking. It is because the Epiglottis shuts the entrance to the trachea that food and drinks are transferred to the digestive system. The Epiglottis also has a vital role in speech. It acts as an articulator in the production of vowels and pharyngeal consonants. In pharyngeals, Epiglottis articulates against the posterior pharynx wall. During slow speech, the speech is generated through a narrow opening. While pronouncing vowels, the opening between the Epiglottis and the pharynx becomes larger. In case of pronunciation of consonants, the aperture becomes smaller. The epiglottis is also involved in whisper, though it is seen to be more retracted than in normal speech."

This humble member of our bodies lies unnoticed but without this simple member we would die. We can live without an eye, a kidney, a limb but we can not live without this unattractive small member called the epiglottis. All other members depend upon it doing its job. Our individual position in the Body of the Christ is very important. Other members daily depend upon us performing our daily duties.

Ephesians 4:16 and Colossians 2:19 unfold the workings of the Body of the Christ:

"...may, in love, grow into him in all things,––who is the head, Christ, Out of whom all the body––fitly framing [sunarmologeo] itself together, and connecting [sumbibazo] itself, through means of every joint [haphe] of supply, by way of energising [energeia] in the measure of each single part––secureth the growing of the body, unto an upbuilding of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).

"And not holding fast the head: from which, all the body, through means of its joints [haphe] and uniting bands [sundesmos], receiving supply, and connecting [sumbibazo] itself together, groweth with the growth of Yahweh" (Col. 2:19).

These two verses deal specifically with the 'touching,' 'growing,' and the 'upbuilding' of the Christian Society (the Body of the Christ). Both verses use the Greek word, 'haphe,' which has been translated as joint. Haphe is only used in Ephesians 4:16 and Colossians 2:19. It is derived from haptomai which means to touch, fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to. "Haphe means primarily 'touching,' and is used in classical Greek of the touch upon harp strings, or the grip of a wrestler." Also in both books is the Greek word sundesmos, translated as bond in Eph. 4:3, Col. 2:19 and 3:14. Its meaning in classical Greek is the 'middle thing' by which two or more things are joined together." The Word Study Greek English New Testament by Paul McReynolds translated it as 'co-chaining.'

The growing and building up of the Christian Society is accomplished when each single spiritually endowed member supplies, their unique energy (energeis) (the one and the same energy the ruah (spirit), distributing unto each one, peculiarly, even as it is disposed,) by way of touching (haphe) and co-chaining (sundesmos) the other connected (sumbibazo) members (growth and edification being the divine purpose) who are joined closely together, in one body, with one ruah (spirit). All energy flows from the top to the bottom; from Christ, our Head, to us his feet; Revelation flowing from the mind of Christ by way of ruah (the nervous system) to all members of his Body even to the most undesirable and farthest extremity.

An example of the Body of Christ in action would be Christ instructing one of his members, by revelation through ruah, who lives in the United States to give money to another member, who lives in Uganda with specific instructions on how the money is to be used, such as the daily reading of the Bible to children. With the assistance of the internet, money can be transferred by way of Western Union, electronically. The internet can act as the nervous system of the Body whereby information and resources are transferred. The member receiving the money then daily reads the scriptures to the children, who then accept Yahoshua as their Lord and Savoir, who then receive the gift of ruah. Christ becomes their Head and can now act through them (by the written Word and by revelation) enabling them to minister to others in their community.

This is an example of what we are doing in Uganda. Christ led us, through revelation and other members of the Body, to support a Christian orphan school consisting of 230 children, who, as a whole, are ignorant of the ways of Yahweh.  The Word of Yahweh is listened to each day for twenty minutes by way of a solar audio Bible. These children become members of the Christian Society (Body of the Christ), members who Christ will contact by revelation with duties for them to perform for the growth and upbuilding of the Body. We have not personally met any of these members and may never do so just as the kidney will never come into physical contact with the big toe, nevertheless they are mutually dependent upon each other for the growth and upbuilding of the body.


We, the members of this spiritual Body are not instructed to grow into the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, etc. Church but rather into him in all things, in ahab (love), who is the Head, Christ. In many cases, our allegiance is first to a Christian denomination, rather than to him who died for us in order that we live for him. To each one of us a gift has been given in order that we produce good fruit. The ministers (apostles, etc.) job is to fully equip us with the counsel of Yahweh in order that we can accomplish our individual task in the one Body. This process of increase is continuous and it involves the putting together of parts and the combination of persons. Wherever one part comes into close connection with another, it communicates that which it has to give. Each part as it is brought into contact with other parts, fulfils its own office and contributes to the growth of the whole. We must be ever alert to the truth that our Lord and Savior, our Head is giving us instructions through the Word of Yahweh or through revelation to bestow our personal gift to the members of his Body, regardless of what Church they are affiliated. These members could be affiliated with Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholics, Protestants or Pentecostals. We have been specifically commanded to walk "With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, bearing one with another in love,  Giving diligence to keep––the 'Oneness' of the ruah (spirit) in the uniting–bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2-3). We do not have to agree with their teachings, if they are not recorded in the Word of Yahweh but we should always avail our gifts to them in order that the Christian Society grows and is built-up.


(In this study, many excerpts from B. F. Westcott's book, 'St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians' were used.) 



(For footnotes, see the PDF verison)

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(*When quoting scriptures, from the Rotherham Emphasized Bible New Testament, I will substitute the Hebrew word Yahshua for Jesus, Yahweh and Elohim for God and the LORD and Anointed for Christ.)


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