Oneness in the book of Ephesians — The one baptism
Published 2:20 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022
Two weeks ago, in this article I began a discussion on the oneness mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 4. Today I will continue that series on the oneness of the book of Ephesians. Paul said, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Last week we discussed the one God. Today I want us to discuss the one baptism of the book of Ephesians. What is this one baptism that Paul is speaking of?
As we study the Bible, we see that there are several baptisms mentioned. These would include the baptism of John (Mark 1:4-5), the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11), the baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11b-12), and the baptism commanded by Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). However, when the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians in about (62 AD), he stated that there is only “one baptism.” Paul was stating that there is one baptism that is associated with Christianity, one that is so important that the church of the first century obeyed the command of baptism. In fact, the church of Ephesus could personally identify this baptism. It was the one in which they had been partakers of according to the scriptures. We read in Acts 19:5, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In other words, the people who became Christians in Ephesus were baptized with the baptism commanded by Christ in the Great Commission. It was the same baptism Peter commanded in Acts 2. Because of their obedience to it, there is no doubt that this is the “one baptism” mentioned in Ephesians 4:5.
However, the “one baptism” Paul mentions involves certain prerequisites. According to the Word of God, this baptism must be preceded by belief in Jesus as the Son of God (Mark 16:16). We find in Acts 2:38, that this baptism must be preceded by repentance of sin. The Bible also teaches that this baptism follows after the confession of Christ (Romans 10:10; Acts 8:36-37). Based on these prerequisites we conclude that God does not approve of infant baptism. There is no way that a baby could meet these requirements.
We also can see that biblical baptism is administered in water. In the case of the Ethiopian Eunuch, he and Philip both went down into the water (Acts 8:38). Paul teaches us that this baptism is a burial (Colossians 2:12). In fact, the Baptism of Ephesians, the one commanded for salvation is immersion in water. According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, baptism is an act in which one is buried in or overwhelmed by the medium being employed. To this point I would ask, how can the sprinkling or pouring of water on or over the subject be considered a burial and thus a scriptural baptism? It could not.
The Bible clearly teaches that the “one baptism” is for the remission of sins as mentioned in (Acts 2:38). This means that upon one’s obedience to the command of baptism, their sins are remitted, they are forgiven. Paul so eloquently shows that it is the point when sins are washed away. He was told in Acts 22:16 KJV, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. The apostle Peter shows the ultimate importance of baptism in 1 Peter 3:21 where he said, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Sadly, there are religious groups and individuals that reject this plain and inspired doctrine of the New Testament on this issue. Many teach that one is saved before baptism. Many proclaim that baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith. These beliefs are not supported by the teachings of Christ and His apostles, they are not supported by the examples of conversion in the New Testament. In all kindness, all men everywhere should obey the simple commands of God, they should follow the example of the men in Ephesus and be “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-7). All men everywhere should do so because submitting to the “one baptism” is the way to get into Christ (Romans 6:3-7; Galatians 3:26-29), it is the way to get into the one body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13).
(Tony Hoss is minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)