What is the “One Baptism” of Ephesians 4:5?

What is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5?

As you know, there are several different kinds of baptisms discussed within the New Testament. Matthew 3:11 mentions three: baptism of water, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and baptism of fire. John the baptizer says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” There are also several baptisms mentioned under the Old Covenant. These are referred to in Hebrews 9:10 where it says “divers washings.” The word “washings” is translated from the Greek word baptizo. This is probably something similar to what the Pharisees practiced as mentioned in Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38 where the verb “wash” is also translated from the same word. Matthew 20:22 also speaks of a different kind of baptism–a baptism of sufferings. Finally, we come to Acts 8:38 and we see Phillip taking the Ethiopian down into the water and baptizing him based upon the confession of Christ. So we have at least six different ways in which the word is used in the New Testament. There is baptism 1) in water of John, 2) of the Holy Spirit, 3) of Fire, 4) Washing, 5) of Suffering, and 6) In water of Christ. Which one is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5?

The context of Ephesians 4 is religious. So first and foremost it must be speaking of a holy baptism, not a common one. This eliminates #4 above. That is, the “one baptism” of which Paul speaks is not the common baptism of washing plates and cups before you eat out of them. Paul is clearly discussing a holy baptism, given the context of his discussion.

Second, Paul does not indicate that baptism should be taken in any way here other than some kind of literal baptism. In other words, the context does not indicate that the one baptism that Paul is discussing is a baptism of suffering or something like that. Just as there is one Lord, one Father, one faith, one hope, one Spirit, there is one baptism. Those other “ones” are pretty much referring to literal things. So the one baptism must be something equally as literal. This eliminates #5 above.

What about baptism of fire? Well, in going back to Matthew 3:11, we look at verse 12. It says, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” This does not sound like salvation to me. This sounds like condemnation. Baptism in fire is something that you don�t want. Jesus will baptize in fire those who have not obeyed his gospel at the second coming according to 2 Thessalonians 1:8. So, I am sure that this is not the baptism that Paul was discussing in Ephesians 4:5. Paul was speaking of matters that relate to salvation, not condemnation. That eliminates #3.

What about John’s baptism in water? Here was a baptism that many received in that day and age. It was in water and many thought it was related to salvation. We see this baptism in Acts 19:1-7. These twelve men in this passage were baptized with John’s baptism. But Paul tells them to be baptized with Christ’s baptism–the baptism that mentions the Holy Spirit. This is what Christ commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. He said that the disciples were to baptize “into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” John’s baptism did not do this and so they had never heard of the Holy Spirit prior to Paul. So Paul baptized them properly. From this, we know that the one baptism could not have been John’s baptism. Paul specifically dealt with this issue in regard to the Ephesians. This eliminates John’s baptism from being the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 (#1 above).

This leaves us with two different baptisms to discuss: the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and water baptism in the name of Christ. Let’s look at Holy Spirit baptism first. Note John’s statement in Matthew 4:11. He says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” John’s point is that he is MERELY baptizing in water, but the one coming after him is going to baptize with two additional elements. A) the Holy Spirit, B) fire. First, we call attention to the fact that these two baptisms are administered directly by Jesus. This is an important point. The contrast that John is setting up is that he baptizes in water, but Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. No one but Jesus can administer these baptisms. Second, notice that the baptism of fire is limited to the chaff. Would it not make sense to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was going to be limited as well? Third, notice that in the great commission, Jesus tells his disciples to administer baptism (Matthew 28:18-29 and Mark 16:15, 16). This baptism was to be administered to all who would believe. The baptism of the commission was baptism in the name of Christ, by water. We know this from Acts 8 and the Ethiopian Eunuch. So we have the following from Matthew 4:11:

1. John baptized in water.
2. Jesus baptizes in fire, and the Holy Spirit.
3. Only Jesus can administer the baptisms of fire and of the Holy Spirit.
4. Baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit is limited.
5. Baptism in the commission is not limited, i.e. it is for the whole world.
6. Baptism in water is the baptism of the commission.

Now, let’s turn to Acts 1:5. In this passage, Jesus says, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” The context tells us that Jesus was talking to the apostles (v.2 and 4). They were going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So we know what baptism of the Holy Spirit looks like per Acts 2:1-4. It is not water baptism. It is not baptism that is for the whole world. It was a limited baptism administered by Jesus to the apostles in Acts 2, per Jesus own words in Acts 1. There is only one other instance of Holy Spirit baptism within the New Testament and that is in Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius on his household. Concerning this situation, Peter says in Acts 11:15, 16, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” So Cornelius was baptized of the Holy Spirit as well. However, you will notice that in Acts 10:48 Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. They had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit, so now, in what is Peter commanding them to be baptized if not water? Well, if Holy Spirit baptism is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5, then why was Cornelius and his house commanded to be baptized in water? We conclude from this that while Holy Spirit baptism is an involuntary baptism, water baptism is a baptism of command, that is, a voluntary one.

Now, notice the following regarding water baptism in the name of Christ.

1. It is baptism that is for all, not merely limited to some.
2. It is a baptism that can be administered by men, not only by the Lord.
3. It is baptism that all can participated in.
4. It is the baptism of the great commission.
5. It is a voluntary baptism that results from command.

Holy Spirit baptism is as follows.

1. It is a baptism that is limited to a few.
2. It is a baptism that is directly administered by Jesus, not men.
3. Only those who Jesus personally selected participated in it.
4. It is not the baptism of the great commission.
5. It is not a voluntary, but an involuntary baptism and thereby, not a baptism of command.

Now which baptism would the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 be? It wouldn’t be limited because Paul cites it as a unifying factor for all believers. It wouldn’t be directly administered by Jesus because Paul says that this is part of our endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It wouldn’t be based upon who Jesus personally selects, because the unity of the Spirit is for all Christians. It would be the baptism of the great commission because that is the authority under which Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians. It would be a baptism that was voluntary because the context says that we must endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit and this throws the whole discussion into the area of voluntary obedience. It has to be a baptism that is a uniting factor for the church and so all must have been able to participate in it. Now what is the baptism that fits this context? It must be water baptism in the name of Christ.

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Would You Please Explain Romans 9:18?

Would you please explain Romans 9:18?

Romans 9:18 states, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” The context of this particular passage is in the midst of Paul’s expressed desire for the salvation of the Jewish people. He says in Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Paul wanted them to be saved and he wished that this could be done even if it meant he himself being forever cursed. However, that was not God’s will for salvation. As such, it is up to God as to how men are going to be saved. This is the discussion that he enters into in this particular chapter.

Notice he says in verse 6, “not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.” The word of God had indeed said that Israel was going to be saved. Paul makes note of this in Romans 11:26, 27. However, who is Israel? He says in Romans 9:6, 7. Those who are of the seed of Abraham are the TRUE Israel–spiritual Israel. He explains this in verse 8 that just because one is the child of Abraham in the flesh doesn’t mean that he is the child of Abraham according to promise. Those are two different things. Who are the children of promise according to Galatians 3:16? “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Christ is the seed through which all nations would be blessed. So if the Jews in the time of Paul wanted to be saved, they must be saved through Christ, just as the Gentiles must be saved.

Paul says that this is illustrated through the cases of the birth of Isaac and Jacob. Both of these children were born as a result of promise, not as a result of lineage. That is, God promised that Abraham would have a son. Isaac was born through that promise. God also promised that Jacob would be the head of the house over Esau and Jacob became the child of blessing. It was through the promise of God that these things happened, not because of lineage. The Jewish people of that day believed that they would be saved based merely upon being the offspring of Abraham. They believed that their salvation was in their physical lineage. But Paul makes it clear that this was not the case. It is not lineage, but promise that affords one’s salvation.

Paul then takes up in verse 14 the hypothetical objection that God might be unrighteous because some have thought that they ought to be saved on account of the lineage. After all, this is what they understood God to be promising. But Paul answers this by showing that just because these Jews had this understand of God�s promise does not necessarily imply that God is unrighteous. This is where the verse that we take up comes under consideration. Paul cites Exodus 33:19. He says that God will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy. What does this mean? It means that God is sovereign. It means that God is ultimately the one who decides what he means, not us. We must listen to His word and do His will in order to be saved. The result is that those who are saved will not be saved of their own power (Romans 10:2, 3), but by the power of God and the will of God (Romans 1:16, 17). He is the one to whom we must submit if we are going to have salvation in our life. This is true for the Jew as well as the Gentile. Paul uses Pharaoh as an example in this regard. Was Pharaoh lost because it was God’s will that Pharaoh be lost? No, but because Pharaoh made the choice not to serve God and be obedient to him. God knew that when he put Pharaoh in the circumstance that he did, that Pharaoh would choose the way he did; so the scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. But Pharaoh chose his own destiny. It is through that means that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Hence, God has mercy upon whom he will and hardeneth whom he will.

This mercy and hardening is not done merely through some arbitrary decision that God makes. It is always just; it is always righteous; it is always in keeping with the decisions that men make, but it is based upon God’s will first and if we turn against God’s will, then God hardens us. If we accept God’s will, then God has mercy upon us. This is exactly the situation that the Jewish people were in during the time that Paul wrote the book of Romans. So within the context, the statement means that God has mercy upon whom he will and those whom he has willed to have mercy are those who accept the gospel. God will harden whom he will and those who he has hardened are those who have refused to accept the gospel.

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What Day is the First Day of the Week?

Who decides what day is the first day of the week? If the first day of the week somewhere else is not Sunday, what day do they worship upon?

God has decided what the first day of the week is by deciding what the seventh day of the week is. That is, the first day of the week is defined in terms of the seventh day. We are familiar with the creation account in Genesis 1 that says that God made everything in six days and He rested upon the seventh day. That seventh day then became the Sabbath day of Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” The Sabbath day is Saturday. So the first day of the week must be Sunday as it is the day after the Sabbath. God is the one who decides what the first day of the week is.

The second question is a little more difficult. First let me say that I cannot think of a non-hypothetical situation where we wouldn’t know what the first day of the week is. Today, the daily calendar is pretty much set worldwide. International travel has pretty much set the standard in every single country in the world. So, the second part of this question can only be answered hypothetically. Let’s suppose that we were shipwrecked on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Having been washed up on shore and been unconscious for several days, we have completely lost track of the day of the week. As soon as we wake up, we wander inland and find a church building with a lifetime supply of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, so we determine that we are going to worship God. How are we going to determine which day is Sunday? Genesis 1:14 says, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” So, using the information from the sun, moon, and stars, we should be able to determine which day is Sunday. Astronomers are able to do this today and if we ever get into such a situation, it might take some time, but we could eventually figure it out. I guess the bottom line is that we are always going to be able to determine which day is Sunday one way or the other. Currently, there are not any places that I know of where the first day of the week is not Sunday.

We should note that we are privileged in our society to have the first day of the week off from labor. In the time of the early Christians it was not so. The Jews took off Saturday to observe the Sabbath, but the first day of the week was a working day. The gentile world knew nothing of days off and if you were a slave, you would be lucky to get a decent night’s sleep. Early Christians sometimes met in the evenings after the work day was finished. The best example of this in the New Testament is in Acts 20:7-12. Paul met with the disciples in the evening. Poor Eutychus probably had just gotten off of a hard days work and sitting in that upper room with all of those oily candles burning made him sleepy. So he sat in the cool of the window probably to try and stay awake. However, it just was not enough. Fortunately, Paul was there to bring him back to life. We are indeed fortunate to have buildings, padded pews, incandescent and fluorescent lighting, heaters, and air conditioners. We are also fortunate to have the first day of the week off from our labors. Such has not always been the case for Christians.

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