Unity of the Faith
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV
In birthing the church, God eliminated one of the greatest division that ever existed among men—the animus and the bigotry between Jews and Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles had vast differences culturally, socially, and in their religious beliefs and practices, or a lack thereof. After being baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), Paul told the newly formed church, consisting of both Gentiles and Jews, to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit, and that peace would be the glue to hold them together (Eph. 4:3). However, the unity of the Spirit is not the unity of the faith.
A common reaction when there are differences among people is divide and seek a more-in-common friendship, marriage, church, etc. Could this be why Paul pleaded with the Corinthian Christians to agree with one another so that there would be no divisions, and that they be perfectly united in mind and thought? (1 Cor. 1:10).
The Holy Spirit gives believers unity, and walking in love and in peace with others keeps that unity. But what is the unity of the faith? Consider Paul’s word to the Roman Christians:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18). Ergo, the unity of the faith is the equally shared belief among all believers in the doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and salvation by grace through faith (Author’s definition). So, it is God’s intention to use Ephesians 4:11 ministry gifts to perfect believers to do the work of the ministry to build up and advance the Body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the faith (Text).
Five-fold ministry gifts will all expire when believers come into the unity of the faith (doctrine), maturity (full growth and development), and conformity (morally like Christ, see 1 John 3:2). In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed for believers’ unity of the faith. The Church is not there yet, but will get there!