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The Unity of the Body

I am in prison because I belong to the Lord. God chose you to be his people. I tell you now to live the way God’s people should live. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue together in this way. Let peace hold you together. There is one body and one Spirit. And God called you to have one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything. He is everywhere and in everything.

Christ gave each one of us a special gift. Each one received what Christ wanted to give him. That is why it says in the Scriptures,

“When he went up to the heights,
    he led a parade of captives.
    And he gave gifts to people.” Psalm 68:18

When it says, “He went up,” what does it mean? It means that he first came down to the earth. 10 So Jesus came down, and he is the same One who went up. He went up above all the heavens. Christ did that to fill everything with himself. 11 And Christ gave gifts to men—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. 12 Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving. He gave those gifts to make the body of Christ stronger. 13 This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge about the Son of God. We must become like a mature person—we must grow until we become like Christ and have all his perfection.

14 Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from men who are trying to fool us. Those men make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path. 15 No! We will speak the truth with love. We will grow up in every way to be like Christ, who is the head. 16 The whole body depends on Christ. And all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part of the body does its own work. And this makes the whole body grow and be strong with love.

The Way You Should Live

17 In the Lord’s name, I tell you this. I warn you: Do not continue living like those who do not believe. Their thoughts are worth nothing. 18 They do not understand. They know nothing, because they refuse to listen. So they cannot have the life that God gives. 19 They have lost their feeling of shame. And they use their lives for doing evil. More and more they want to do all kinds of evil things. 20 But the things you learned in Christ were not like this. 21 I know that you heard about him, and you are in him; so you were taught the truth. Yes, the truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse and worse because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. 23 But you were taught to be made new in your hearts. 24 You were taught to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.

25 So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth because we all belong to each other in the same body.[a] 26 When you are angry, do not sin. And do not go on being angry all day. 27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. 28 If a person is stealing, he must stop stealing and start working. He must use his hands for doing something good. Then he will have something to share with those who are poor.

29 When you talk, do not say harmful things. But say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will help those who listen to you. 30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God’s proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the time comes. 31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. 32 Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

Footnotes

  1. 4:25 Tell . . . body. Quotation from Zechariah 8:16.

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