ONE BAPTISM – Ephesians 4

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.

Ephesians 4:4‭-‬6 ASV

One Body

This is the spiritual body of Christ, the church, made up of Jews, Gentiles, all people and even includes the saved who no longer live on earth.

And One Spirit

The reference to the third person of the Godhead seems to anticipate “Lord” (Ephesians 4:5) and “God” (Ephesians 4:6).

In any case, the Spirit here is that being called “the Holy Spirit” in the New Testament, who like Christ and like the Father, dwells in Christian hearts.

One Hope Of Your Calling

This is the hope of eternal life in Christ. There is simply no other lesser thing that may correctly be defined as the “one hope” of Christians.

One Faith

is thought to refer to the Christian religion and not the subjective trust/faith of individual Christians. Wesley said it refers to “the universal church”; and there is no doubt that the meaning of subjective trust/faith usually read into this word is frequently not in it at all. However, Hendriksen has a convincing analysis indicating that it is trust/faith Paul had in mind. He wrote:

The fact that “faith” is mentioned immediately after “Lord,” and is immediately followed by “baptism,” all in a very short sentence, would seem to indicate that all three are a very closely knit unit.

This therefore carries the full impact of Mark 16:16, where Christ said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

The Lord and faith and baptism are all in a very short sentence there, faith and baptism appearing as coordinates in both passages.

Furthermore, this understanding of the passage has the advantage of explaining why there is no reference to the Lord’s Supper, an omission which is very puzzling to many commentators:

Why does he not also include the Lord’s Supper?

“Baptism” means “spirit baptism,” based on the fact that Paul does not refer to the Lord’s Supper here in this list of unities.

It is often asked why no reference was made here to the other great sacrament of the gospel (the Lord’s Supper).

The apostle is speaking of the initial conditions of the Christian life, whereas the Holy Communion belongs to the support and development of the Christian life.

For the same reason, Christ had no need to mention the Lord’s Supper in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

The fact that hinders many from seeing this is that they have failed properly to discern that baptism is one of the divinely imposed preconditions of salvation.

One Baptism

The reason why many commentators make this mean Holy Spirit baptism, the earnest of the Spirit, the Pentecostal outpouring, etc., is cited above.

The obvious meaning of the passage is Christian baptism; that is, the baptism which is the initiatory rite of admittance into the Christian religion.

As Bruce said, “If ‘one baptism’ here had meant Spirit-baptism to the exclusion of water baptism, it would have been associated with one Spirit,' and not withone Lord’.”

THE ONE BAPTISM

No less than seven baptisms are mentioned in the New Testament.

The statement here that there is “one” means that only one pertains to the Christian life in the present dispensation.

There cannot be any escape from the conclusion that this is the baptism of the Great Commission, as given by both Mark and Matthew.

That Christ would have mentioned a baptism in that context which is not the “one” baptism is unthinkable.

Furthermore, it has just been pointed out that “Lord … faith … baptism” in this passage answers perfectly to Mark 16:16.

The one baptism is therefore the one that the church itself is commanded to administer and that destroys any notion to the effect that baptism in the Spirit or by the Spirit is meant; because there has never been a church since the times of the apostles that could baptize anyone in the Holy Spirit, the same being something God promised that he would do (Matthew 3:11).

The “one baptism” is the one Christ commanded his followers to administer to “all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20).

A comparison of the post-Reformation writings with that of the wisest scholars of antiquity starkly reveals the bias toward Luther’s invention of salvation by “faith only,” which mars the exegesis of many writers in this later period.

And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now unto our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you.
Philippians 4:19‭-‬21 ASV

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