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Ephesians 4:4 – The One Hope


Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. — World English

This scripture is often presented with the idea that “one hope” means that all Christians are to receive the same reward on one plane of life. The thought is usually that this scripture proves that all who are called go to heaven, and the one hope being spoken of is to either go to heaven at death (this is often proposed by the inherent immortality believers), or to be raised to heaven with celestial bodies in the last day (often presented by Bible Students and some others who believe that the dead are not conscious until the resurrection). In actuality, what Paul wrote does not warrant either conclusion. Paul, in the above verse, says nothing about there only being one reward, or one plane of life in the resurrection. Indeed, most Bible Students believe that in the resurrection there are two different classes, the 144,000 and the great company. These two classes are not thought to receive the exact same reward, but, traditionally, most Bible Students believe that both of these classes will receive life in heaven. Whether this is correct or not, it does demonstrate a willingness to believe that not all receive the same exact reward in the resurrection, which, in turn, would negate the thought that when Paul said “one hope” he meant the same reward.

There are two aspects of the word “hope” that we need to consider, however. The word “hope” does not necessarily refer to the kind of life received. The church can have “one hope” in Christ of everlasting life without it designating the plane of life to be received. The church has, through Christ, the one hope of the resurrection, whether the resurrection be to life in heaven, or to life on earth.

2 Corinthians 1:9 Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead,
2 Corinthians 1:10 who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver; on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us.

This tells us that through our trust in God who raises the dead, we have already been counted as delivered out of so great a death, a death from which we could not deliver ourselves. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) God, who calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17), thus counts, imputes, reckons, us as already justified and made alive (Romans 4:1-11,22-24; 6:11; Galatians 3:6), saved by hope (Romans 8:24) of the last day when we will actually be raised from the dead.  (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24) This is one hope, but it does not designate what the plane of life will be once delivered; that plane of life could be with celestial glory, or with the terrestrial glory. It is still the result of the one hope of deliverance. Indeed, the deliverance from the death in Adam places those so delivered on the same plane as was Adam before Adam sinned, which with life on earth, not in heaven.

Galatians 5:5 For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.

Here Paul speaks of the “hope of righteousness.” This hope does not designate what kind of life will be received, but, as being justified, made right, through faith in of the blood Jesus, the life that would result would be that which was lost, the terrestrial glory. (1 Corinthians 15:40) It is after receiving the terrestrial glory, that one may receive the celestial glory. “That [body given] which is spiritual isn’t first, but that [body] which is [physical], then that which is spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 15:46) The seed, representing the new creation, is first assigned a righteous [physical] body, not falling short of the glory of God through sin, righteous, as Adam had such a body before Adam sinned. (Romans 3:23) It is this righteous body that is offered as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), as opposed to the dying body of flesh in which new creature is housed. A dying and sinful body cannot be offered as a living sacrifice, and of the present body, Paul says that it is to be “dissolved” (Word English; “destroyed”, New King James Version), and the new house, the new everlasting body (house) is not made with hands, which the new creature now has in the heavens. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (1 Corinthians 5:1, New International) “For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.” — Hebrew Names Version.

The second aspect to consider about “hope” is that one can have a hope for a certain reward, but this does not mean that one attains that reward. There is only one call in this present evil age, and that call is spoken of Ephesians 4:4 and in Philippians 3:14. In Philippians 3:14, Paul speaks of two different groups in this call, those who obtain the goal or mark, and those who have not. Paul says that he did not count himself as having obtained that mark (at the time he wrote the letter), thus classifying himself as one who had not obtained worthiness of the prize. (Philippians 3:13) Thus, this prize is something beyond the “life” that is offered through faith in the blood Jesus. The life offered through the blood of Jesus is sonship as Adam was a “son of God,” on the earthly plane. By comparing spiritual revelation with spiritual revelation, we can see how Paul describes this in many different scriptures. First, the living body assigned to the new creation; the bringing of the new creature to perfection, and then the sacrifice of the human living body assigned to the new creature so as to receive the glory of a celestial/spiritual body. It is this final goal that all are being called in this age; however, this does not mean that all who set out with the hope obtaining this goal and its prize will actually obtain the goal in the age so as to obtain the prize. Thus, although all might have the “hope” of attaining the prize, very few actually obtain the prize, leaving the rest still justified with life on the earthly plane. Thus, having the “one hope” of obtaining that prize of the high calling does not mean that all who have that one hope will actually attain the prize that they hope for.

For further study:
2 Corinthians 4:5-5:11 – Outward and Inner Man
The Manner of the Resurrection

With What Body Will We Be Raised?


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