Question: "What does it mean to be in one accord?"
Answer: The concept of being in one accord is expressed frequently in the Bible, with ten instances in the book of Acts. For example, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14, ESV). To be in one accord communicates being one in heart and mind.
More specifically, the words in the original language convey the inner unity (oneness of heart and mind) of a group of people engaged in a similar action. As such, the expression is sometimes rendered “with one mind,” as in Romans 15:6: “So that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice” (CSB).
When a group of people acts single-mindedly, unanimously, in harmony, in unity, and without dissent, they are operating in one accord. In the Bible, the phrase often occurs along with statements about the people, the place, or the activity in which the harmonious group is participating: “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: ‘The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul’” (Acts 15:22–25, ESV).
In the Old Testament, the phrase in one accord is always used to describe unanimous participation in a particular action. In Joshua 9:2, the pagan kings “gathered themselves together to fight with one accord against Joshua and Israel” (LEB). Speaking of the conversion of heathen nations, Zephaniah 3:9 says, “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord” (ESV). Here, the phrase translated “with one accord” literally means “with one shoulder.” It likely comes from the practice of yoking oxen together for plowing. The NIV translates the idea with a similar English expression, “shoulder to shoulder.”
In the New Testament, in one accord is used to emphasize the internal unanimity of a community. In Acts 12:20, that community is “the people of Tyre and Sidon” who are angry with Herod. In Acts 8:6, it describes the crowd of people who are listening to Philip’s teachings: “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did” (ESV). It illustrates how the community of Christian believers worshiped, prayed, and fellowshipped together (Acts 1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; Romans 15:6). Unity in the early church is also expressed by the sharing of material possessions: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32, ESV). The early church, being in one accord, had “no schisms, no divided interests, no discordant purposes” (from Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes, 1834).
This kind of oneness of heart and soul in the body of Christ is only possible through the Holy Spirit’s enabling (Ephesians 4:1–6). It is a gift of God’s grace (Romans 12:3–13). The Greek term translated “in one accord,” according to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, “helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. . . . The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonise in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”