Unity in the Church
The New Testament letters written by Paul the apostle are filled with references to unity among Christians. He encourages those in the church to love each other, have a like mind, and share purpose and belief as they experienced persecution and bore the weight of external pressures. One example of Paul’s exhortation to unity is Philippians 2:2: “Then make my joy complete by being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (see also 2 Corinthians 13:11).
A great example of early church unity is when the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). This was a time when “all the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44). Later, the church in Antioch provided a gift of benevolence to those suffering a severe famine in the church in Judea (Acts 11:27–30). “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
Unity in the Godhead
Deuteronomy 6:4 contains the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” There is unity within the Godhead. Later, when Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), He further emphasized unity in the Godhead.
After Jesus had ascended to heaven to be with the Father, Paul encouraged the church with the idea of the Trinity, three co-equal members of the Godhead. He says of Jesus, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18). The Holy Spirit unites and encourages believers and connects them with Christ and the Father. The church is to reflect the unity of the Godhead: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3–6).
Unity with Christ
Another important manifestation of unity in the Bible is when a sinner accepts the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in return receiving eternal life. Jesus said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29). Eternal security of salvation is promised to the believer from the moment of conversion.
Unity spurs the believer on to glorify Christ. Ephesians 4:15–16 states, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Nothing captures unity quite like the picture of Christ being the head and believers being parts of a single body.
Another picture of our unity with Christ is found in Jesus’ command to “remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). And Peter pictured us as joined to Christ in God’s ultimate building project. Jesus is the Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6–7), and “you come to him, the living Stone . . . you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4–5). Unity with Christ is essential for the success of a believer’s service to God.