The gospel of Jesus Christ results in a new people of the Spirit. I think that most people would agree with that statement. However, sometimes we miss just how much “togetherness” there is associated with the gospel in Scripture.
For example, I was recently reading through a familiar passage in Ephesians, and I came away from that passage with an every greater appreciation for the fellowship, unity, community, and… well… “togetherness” of the gospel.
It all began when I read this short passage:
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:1-6 ESV)
I originally turned to this passage to think about the “mystery” that Paul said had been revealed to him and to others in his generation. But, when I got the last sentence, I was struck by something unexpected.
You see, “fellow heirs,” “members of the same body,” and “partakers” are three adjectives in Greek, each of which have been prefixed with the conjunction that means something like “together with.” When you look at the sentence in Greek, those three adjectives stand out like rhyming words or capitalized words in English.
Perhaps it would help if we translated the verse in a way that highlighted these parallels: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are heirs together with us, members of body together with us, and partakers of the promise together with us in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
If I’m right, then Paul is heavily emphasizing the “togetherness” that he says is “in Christ Jesus” and “through the gospel.”
But, the emphasis is even more apparent when we realize that Paul is talking about Gentiles TOGETHER WITH Jews in the grace of God. As he had written just a few paragraphs earlier:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:13-16 ESV)
Enemies have now been reconciled to God and to one another, to live TOGETHER WITH God and one another. If enemies have been reconciled to God and to one another through the gospel, how much more should those who are not enemies share their lives TOGETHER WITH one another?
Paul did not know of an individualist gospel. Of course, I think that’s because Jesus did not know an individualistic gospel either. The good news of Jesus Christ includes salvation for people… a salvation that creates a new people who are known for togetherness.
But, if we’re not know for togetherness…