What does Ephesians 4:3 mean?
ESV: eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
NIV: Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
NASB: being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
CSB: making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
NLT: Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
KJV: Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 2 provided four specific applications of how Christian faith should translate into Christian behavior. Those traits are humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These are encouraged as ways to live worthy of the calling we've been given by God. This verse supplies an additional characteristic: passion for unity with other Christians. This kind of harmony has been a focus throughout Paul's letter and will return again in verse 13. Ephesians 2:11–22 offered a lengthy passage focused on the theme of unity between Jews and Gentiles in Christ. Paul often spoke of Christians as being "together" (Ephesians 2:5, 21, 22), as a body is one unit made of separate members.

This unity ought to also take place "in the bond of peace." Peace is another theme which Paul mentions multiple times in this letter (Ephesians 1:2; 2:14, 15, 17; 6:15, 23). Christ is our peace, He made peace, preached peace, gives unity in peace, and offers a gospel of peace. Peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and important for every believer (Romans 5:1). Paul calls peace a "bond," which is an interesting choice of words. It's entirely possible that Paul was wearing "bonds," in the form of prison chains on his hands and feet, when writing this letter. He had certainly worn them before (Acts 16:23–26).
Verse Context:
Ephesians 4:1–10 is Paul's compelling description of Christian unity. Every saved believer, regardless of talent or skill, Jew or Gentile, male or female, is saved by the same faith in the same God. Each Christian, therefore, is part of a single, universal family of believers in Jesus Christ. At the same time, God gives different gifts to different people, so that they can serve the many roles needed to accomplish His purposes here on earth. Rather than being concerned about what gifts we might lack, each Christian can rejoice in our unity, and focus on serving God to the best of our ability.
Chapter Summary:
Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters, is the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Here, Paul encourages believers to live in way which honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ. At the same time, different believers are given different talents. Some are called to positions of leadership and authority. All Christians should turn away from the ''old self'' we were prior to being saved. Paul's explanation of the ''new self'' includes some basic, practical steps.
Chapter Context:
The first half of Ephesians focuses mostly on doctrine, setting up ideas related to the Christian faith. The last half, beginning in chapter 4, puts those theories into practice. Paul begins by emphasizing the ultimate unity of all Christians, regardless of individual spiritual gifts. Paul also begins to explain how knowledge of the truths should translate into action. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 feature specific, real-world applications of Christianity to daily life.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
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