LCN Article
Being of One Mind

May / June 2017

Gary F. Ehman

Jesus was gone! He no longer walked among His disciples. Even though He had been resurrected, as they gathered together for the annual Feast of Firstfruits, the grim thought of His crucifixion still weighed heavily on the minds of the disciples. But before that astonishing Feast day occurred, some of those closest to Him had seen Him taken up into heaven.

He had said to them: “‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:7–9). While they gazed upward, two angels appeared suddenly and further instructed them: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (v. 11).

What had occurred in their lives was stunning. Their friend, companion and teacher had been brutally murdered at the instigation of their own countrymen. The sight of His torn, bloody body nailed to the stake—along with His resurrection and appearance among them for 40 days—continued to have a profound impact on them. His last words prior to His ascension—that they should wait together in Jerusalem—were perplexing.

A People Continuing with One Accord

But all of these events, together, brought a new feeling of anticipation they never had before. “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (vv. 13–14).

The Scripture uses the phrase “one accord.” It is the center post of this article, because, even to this day, it is a phrase with deep meaning as we prepare to observe Pentecost together. The Greek word translated “accord,” as it is used in verse 14, is homothumadon (pronounced hom-oth-oo-mad-on’), and in this context means they were unanimous regarding what they were thinking and in their mindset. This English phrase is used 30 times in the Bible—once in the Old Testament, 29 times in the New, and 25 of those references are in the Book of Acts alone.

We are seeing a diverse people gathered together in anticipation of what the Master said would come. The word “continued” in verse 14 is more than it seems in English. The Greek word translated there is proskartereō (pros-kar-ter-eh’-o), meaning to adhere to one another and to be devoted and constant with each other. When added to “one accord,” it is an awesome statement of unity.

The Feast of Pentecost finally arrives in Acts 2:1–4, and Luke, again, explains that the disciples were “with one accord”: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (v. 1).

Members of the Living Church of God will similarly be gathered together on June 4, 2017 to observe the Day of Pentecost, and we will, hopefully, be of one accord—hopefully with like passion about what we are doing and why we are doing it. The opening chapters of the Book of Acts give us an introduction to the fledgling Church of God. They were uniquely aware of one another, stirred by a power in them that was previously known only by isolated individuals (cf. John 14:17).

The phrase “one accord” begins to show the passion being developed in them through the Holy Spirit. It began to spread throughout those moved to conversion: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart…” (Acts 2:42–46).

Again, as before, we see that they “continued steadfastly”—were devoted and constant with each other—but with emphasis on being so within a community, the Church, centered in total love and commitment to others.

The Greatest Purpose in Existence

Today, we are being introduced to and trained in a way of life and thinking that will eventually alter the entirety of the universe! Is that too big a statement for us to swallow? No, it should not be too big! This is something that we need to wrap our minds around, as we continue our journey through this new Holy Day season.

The Bible says we should deeply understand this. “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7–10). God has revealed this to us, His 21st-century sons and daughters. It is a Pentecost revelation for us.

Still not convinced? “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [which] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (vv. 11–13).

A True Spirit of Unity

We must realize the unifying importance of the Holy Spirit in all this. What was done to those people on the Day of Pentecost 31AD, collectively, has been done to us, individually. We are added to this universe-changing process through the Spirit in us (vv. 14–16).

The Apostle Paul, singularly, championed this concept of being of one accord, of one mind. “Then we who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1, KJV). But notice Paul’s further thrust: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (vv. 5–7). Notice the words: “like-minded toward one another,” “with one mind,” “receive one another.”

These are very unifying words. The Greek word translated “with one mind” is, again, homothumadon, the same word that we saw Luke use earlier when he described the disciples as being of “one accord.” It speaks to a passionate agreement regarding their thinking, their mindsets, and how they related to one another.

This unity not only continues throughout the New Testament—it grows in magnitude. Many astounding things were taking place after the Day of Pentecost 31AD, and it caused confrontation with the religious community around them. After performing a miraculous healing, the Apostles were taken to task: “But when they [the Jewish leadership] had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’ So, they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:15–18).

The full story clearly shows that all of this was not just about the Apostles. They certainly were in accord, but notice they went back to the congregation and reported everything to them: “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…’” (vv. 23–24).

supporting one another

Luke further amplifies this: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (vv. 31–32). The phrase “one heart and one soul” indicates that they were singular in their passions, their desires—united in their affections, purposes, and endeavors. Centered in it was the Holy Spirit. Luke writes that this was true of “the multitude who believed”: All of them were of one mind. What we see here is the work of the Spirit of God in His Church.

A Special Focus of the Apostle Paul

This unity of the Spirit was a rallying cry of the early Church, and especially of the Apostle Paul, who fought against division. He recognized that Satan would attempt to divide Church members: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The Spirit of God is one of unity. Paul uses the phrase “perfectly joined together,” which is translated from the Greek word katartizō (kat-ar-tid’-zo), meaning mended or repaired to become one, which can only happen through the Holy Spirit. It is the opposite of division. Paul was single-minded about this. He realized that a house divided against itself will fall: “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it” (1 Corinthians 11:18; see also Matthew 12:25). He went on to state, “…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:25–27).

Paul says we must “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). What does this mean to you, personally? Whatever it is, it involves our conduct—better defined as our citizenship—and it must be an effort worthy of Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God.

We are back to the idea of being of one mind. But here Paul’s words “one spirit” introduces the concept of our unity through God’s Spirit now in us.

Paul’s words translated “striving together” suggest athletes in competition together—wrestling in company with others. This is tag-team time! Paul continues the idea in his epistle to the Philippians: “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:1–2).

All of this should sound familiar to those of us who took the Passover earlier this year. Why all of this oneness, unity and accord? Why should it be singularly important to us? Jesus explained it this way: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:16–21). Jesus prayed this for us and then, on Pentecost, sent the one thing that would ensure it—God’s Holy Spirit.

The Church Then and Now: Called to Unity

The early Church—and we, here, in the end time—were and are called to this “one accord,” this unity of purpose. It is the most profound thing that can happen to a human mind. And we are not to merely value it, but we are to totally, without holding back, actively involve ourselves in it. As the Apostle Paul stated: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” (Ephesians 4:1–5).

As Christians, we will keep the Day of Pentecost—and we understand the reasons why. We will keep it because we have been given, just as our brethren at the very start of the Church were given, God’s Holy Spirit. Paul says we are to be in accord with that Spirit “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3). There is only one Holy Spirit, and Paul says that our job is to be diligently “endeavoring” to keep that Spirit centered in our accord with our brethren—to guard it closely and prevent it from being lost or stolen.

The Day of Pentecost draws near—the pivotal point in God’s plan of salvation. It truly is the beginning point that personally involves individual Christians, linking us in a unique way to that plan. There is more to the story of the Day of Pentecost, and Paul reveals the awesome scope of it to the Ephesian Church, explaining God’s desire that “speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15–16).

This truly exemplifies what this article is all about. We Christians are the body that is “joined and knit together”—translated from a Greek word (sunarmologeō) suggesting that each part is in its right place, tightly united to the rest for the benefit of the whole.

What is Paul alluding to here?

The answer is a staggering concept that brings to life what Jesus promised the night before His death. As Paul explains, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18–22).

We are the “temple of God”—where the Greek here indicates not the broader temple complex (the hieron), but the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies themselves (naos), where God dwelt with man. He is building in us—as the focal point—His plan to reconcile His creation to Himself.

We can say today, as our brethren on that Day of Pentecost in 31AD in Jerusalem would say: “kardia kai psuchē mia… proskartereō… homothumadon…”—“With one heart and mind… continue steadfastly… in one accord.”

(Author’s note: All Greek definitions are based on comparisons between Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Robertson’s Word Pictures and Thayers Greek Definitions.)