Introduction: Unity has always been a good word. Diversity, on the
other hand, is about being different. Sometimes being different is
good, sometimes it is bad. Diversity can be an excuse for being
sinful, proud or both. Our study today is a blueprint for handling
diversity in a way which brings about a healthy, loving unity. Let’s
jump right into our study!

  1. Walking Together

    1. Read Ephesians 4:1. The NIV translates this differently
      than I prefer. It says “live a life worthy of the calling
      you received.” “Peripateo” is the Greek word behind “live
      a life” and it is the basis for the English word
      “peripatetic.” Anyone know what peripatetic means? (Walk
      all around. Constantly walking in different places.)

      1. When Paul urges us to “constantly walk” in the way in
        which God has called us, what is he asking us to do?
        (Keep moving ahead in God’s way. Walking towards
        righteousness is a common theme of the New

        1. If righteousness is a walk, how should we view
          our “slips” into sin? (It reminds me of advice
          about dieting. The concern is not so much about
          weight variations each day, the concern is
          whether every week you are trending downward in
          weight. Is your life on the “upward” path?)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:2. Paul tells us not to just be humble
      and gentle, he tells us to be “completely” humble and
      gentle. How do you score on this instruction? Is the walk
      of your life “completely humble and gentle?”

      1. How does the world view being humble and gentle?
        According to the IVP Commentary, the Greek world
        viewed gentleness as a virtue, but humility was not –
        unless you were a social “inferior.” Is that true of
        your world?

    3. Notice that in Ephesians 4:2 Paul continues, “bearing with
      one another in love.” To whom are we called to be “humble
      and gentle,” those in the church or everyone?

    4. Read Ephesians 4:3. What group is referred to here? (If
      the “Spirit” is the bond, this has to be the church.)

      1. What gives us unity in the church? (“The bond of

      2. How do we achieve peace in our church? (Being humble
        and gentle with each other. Whatever the Bible may
        teach the Christian elsewhere about humility and
        gentleness, there is no doubt Paul is here speaking
        about the church.)

      1. My last question assumed that we have to “achieve
        peace” in our church. Is that assumption correct?
        (No. Jesus already gave us unity. The call to us is
        not to “mess it up” with our pride and harshness.)

    1. Think back about the last time you did not have peace and
      unity in your church. How would humility and gentleness
      have changed things?

      1. Understanding how to apply this in every situation,
        especially in the context of church authority, is
        sometimes difficult. Many years ago, I had a very
        difficult member of my Sabbath School class. She
        wanted to be the teacher instead of me, and no doubt
        thought she would be better. When she would raise her
        hand to comment, I would call on her. But, instead of
        just commenting, she would start to ask her own
        questions of the class and then solicit answers from
        others! How would you handle that problem with
        humility and gentleness if you were me? (I never said
        to her, “Stop that, I’m in charge here” – although I
        felt like it. Instead, I helped her to start her own
        class – which shortly thereafter died because of a
        lack of attendance. Within a year she (and her
        family) stopped attending church. It worked out well
        for my class, but not so well for her salvation.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:4-6. What is Paul’s argument here about
      unity? (We all have the same God and the same goal, why
      should we have conflicts?)

  1. Victory

    1. Read Ephesians 4:7-8. This is based loosely on quotation
      of Psalms 68:9 and Psalms 68:18. What three things do we
      find happening here? (Jesus ascended to heaven. He led
      captives in His train and He gave gifts to us.)

      1. What does it mean to “led captives in His train?”
        (The “train” is what trails along behind.)

        1. In classic war terms it would mean captive enemy
          soldiers. What are the captives here? (In war
          terms, these captives would be killed or
          enslaved for the glory of the victor. In Jesus’
          case, His goal is to bring us to heaven, to give
          us eternal life. Thus, I think we are the
          “captives” who follow Him. We are “hauled” back
          to heaven as trophies of His victory.)

      2. What do you think are the “gifts” that Jesus gives to
        us? Think in the context of the military conqueror.
        Normally, this would mean the captives are given as
        slaves to the friends of the victorious king. What
        are we talking about here? (Some commentators suggest
        this refers to spiritual gifts. The Bible Knowledge
        Commentary has another idea. It suggests this means
        that sinners are “captured,” redeemed and given to
        the church as gifts.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:9-10. Paul is giving us a little
      explanation of the terms in Psalms 68:18. What do you
      think Paul means here, and why does he bother to try to
      explain this? What point is he making? (Jesus humbled
      Himself by becoming one of us. This act of humility and
      love resulted in His glorious triumph over sin. Jesus won
      the victory, He won back the entire universe. This builds
      on Paul’s point in the beginning of this study. The way to
      victory in the church, the way to preserve unity, is for
      each one to be humble and gentle. Jesus modeled this for
      us in His victory over sin.)

  2. Diversity

    1. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. What does this suggest are the
      gifts that Jesus gave to us in His victory over sin? (I
      like the suggestion I shared before about the “gifts”
      being reformed sinners, but these verses leave no doubt
      that Jesus is also giving us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
      Compare 1 Corinthians 12:28.)

      1. What is the purpose of these gifts? ( Ephesians 4:13:
        To build up the church in unity in the “faith and
        knowledge of the Son of God.” To help us mature and
        become like Jesus.)

      2. Is there a flaw in Paul’s thinking? Notice that we
        are given different gifts. When you start giving
        different gifts to people, doesn’t that encourage
        division? Long ago American constitutional law
        discarded even the “separate, but equal” idea.
        According to 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 the gifts are
        ranked – they are not all equal. Thus, the gifts are
        separate, but not even equal. Won’t that cause
        problems? (Consider again Ephesians 4:13. Mature
        Christians, those who (as discussed above) are humble
        and gentle with each other, will realize that each
        one has his own gift and together those gifts work to
        build up the entire church.)

    2. Read Ephesians 4:14-15. What is a danger to the church?
      (Taking seriously (or at least being taken in by) each
      new, popular teaching. This is another aspect to
      “diversity” – diverse teaching.)

      1. What is the antidote for that? (The truth, spoken in

      2. What does it mean to “grow up” into Jesus? (This is a
        call for us to become more like Jesus in character.
        We become “mature” in our attitudes and in our

    3. Read Ephesians 4:16. Let’s examine this mental picture.

      1. What are the parts of the body? (Us, as we use our
        spiritual gift(s) in the church.)

      2. What are the “ligaments” that hold us together?
        (Humility, gentleness, and love.)

        1. How many people do you know who have a spiritual
          gift, but are lacking a “ligament?”

      3. What is our responsibility? (Each part has to do its

      4. What is the result? (A church growing and building in

    4. Friend, are you doing your part in the church? Are you
      using your spiritual gift(s)? Are your “ligaments” of
      humility, gentleness and love firmly in place? If the
      answer to any of these questions is “no,” will you pray
      that God will transform your attitude to give you
      maturity, love, humility, and gentleness?

  3. Next week: Living the New Life.