"One baptism"? The meaning of Ephesians 4:5

Ephesians 4:5 refers to the practice of water baptism and not solely to the experience of baptism in the Spirit. Water baptism was the common practice of the early church following a person’s confession of faith in Christ (see Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 13, 36, 38; 10:47–48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5), which Paul himself experienced (Acts 9:18; 22:16). In Paul’s teaching, the ritual symbolized identification with Jesus in his death and resurrection (Rom 6:1–11; Col 2:12). Paul also uses the term baptism to refer to the work of the Spirit in joining every individual believer to the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Paul’s confession of “one baptism” here probably indicates the rite as well as all that it symbolizes.

Paul does not speak of one baptism here simply to maintain symmetry with each of the other “one” statements. Nor does Paul refer to it this way to distinguish it from other competing baptismal rites. The term and the ritual are never used of the initiation ritual in any of the local religions. It is also unlikely that Paul is distinguishing it from practices in the local synagogue. Although synagogues had installations for ritual purification, “baptism” was not an initiatory rite for a proselyte.

And, finally, one should not look to the band of disciples who had experienced only the ritual associated with John the Baptist (Acts 19:1–7) as an example of a competing rite. Members of this unique group were all baptized into the Lord Jesus after they heard the full story as explained by Paul. The “one baptism” probably has more to do with the unifying experience of the solitary rite that all the believers in Asia Minor participated in after putting their faith in Jesus Christ and becoming a part of the one body. The one baptism is a sign of their unity with Christ and with one another.

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12:05

What Does It Mean to Live ‘in the Flesh’? // Ask Pastor John

Over 90 times, Paul speaks of the “flesh.” So what does this word mean for the apostle? Pastor John forms a definition from two key passages.

Over ninety times, the apostle Paul speaks of the “flesh.” So what does this key word mean for him? It’s a shrewd and important question for any Bible reader to get clear on. The question comes from a listener named Cheryl. “Pastor John, I’m trying to come up with a clear definition of what Paul means by ‘flesh,’ sarx. Sometimes Paul seems to be talking about the external physical body (2 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Timothy 3:16). At other times, he seems to be talking about some internal nature causing sinful actions and thoughts (Romans 8:5–8; Galatians 5:17). I’m confused! What does Paul mean by ‘flesh’? And do you have a clean definition to encompass it all?”

Episode 1337: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-does-it-mean-to-live-in-the-flesh

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“Does Junk Food Dishonor God?” https://youtu.be/MRA0nl4yWSA

“Has My Sexual Sin Made Me Unsavable?” https://youtu.be/BkKKWO0qSvw

“If I’m Dead to Sin, Why Must I Kill It Every Day?” https://youtu.be/5yL7FHUciFI

Ask Pastor John Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKvMOJ1T8T4&list=PLFF7F6AE365DA3564

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes, http://desiringgod.org/ask-pastor-john