In 1722 a small group of Moravian Christians, who lived in what is now the Czech Republic, found refuge from persecution on the estate of a generous German count. Within four years, more than 300 people came. But instead of an ideal community for persecuted refugees, the settlement became filled with discord. Different perspectives on Christianity brought division. What they did next may seem like a small choice, but it launched an incredible revival: They began to focus on what they agreed on rather than on what they disagreed on. The result was unity.
The apostle Paul strongly encouraged the believers in the church in Ephesus to live in unity. Sin would always bring trouble, selfish desires, and conflict in relationships. But as those who were made “alive with Christ” the Ephesians were called to live out their new identity in practical ways (Ephesians 5:2). Primarily, they were to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3).
This unity isn’t just simple camaraderie achieved through human strength. We are to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). From a human perspective, it’s impossible to act in this way. We can’t reach unity through our own power but through God’s perfect power “that is at work within us” (3:20).
How are you experiencing division or unity in your community of faith? What efforts can you make in God’s strength to keep the unity of the Spirit?
Paul and his team planted the church at Ephesus during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19). He returned during his third journey, spending three years there growing the faith of the young believers in Jesus (19:1–41; 20:31). We read of the apostle’s final direct engagement with the Ephesians in Acts 20:17–38. As he was traveling to Jerusalem at the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul stopped at the port city of Miletus in western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and called for the Ephesian elders so he could invest in the congregation there one final time. Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians some years later while he was under house arrest in Rome, awaiting his hearing before Caesar (28:30). Combined together, these points of contact reveal a deeper investment and relationship of Paul with the Ephesians than any of the other churches he served.
To learn more about Paul’s interaction with the Ephesian believers, visit christianuniversity.org/NT334-03.