Question g - Peace, Unity, and Purity

Biblical Background

W-4.0404 g.—Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church?

The New Testament letters attributed to Paul reveal the struggles of the early church to maintain peace, unity, and purity. Paul asks the Philippian church to help repair the relationship between two of its members.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2–3, NRSV)

Paul makes the work of reconciling Euodia and Syntyche the responsibility of the whole church. The broken relationship is not just a personal loss but a loss to the Philippian congregation. In the troubled Corinthian church, the divisions are broader and deeper.

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? (1 Corinthians 1:10–13a, NRSV)

Paul is making his appeal to a congregation that is much divided. Through the rest of First Corinthians and Second Corinthians we see Paul’s efforts to bring unity to their divisions on a number of theological and moral issues. The beautiful Chapter 13 in First Corinthians that is often read at weddings is really a rose among the thorns of a conflicted church. You can almost feel Paul’s weariness as he closes out this search for peace that spans two letters of the New Testament.

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12, NRSV)

These serve as examples that the quest for peace, unity, and purity of the church is as old as the church itself.

For Reflection and Discussion:

Read Ephesians 4:6. What is Paul’s concern for the Ephesians? How does he want the Ephesians to work toward unity?