on Ephesians 4 :5
One Lord - Jesus Christ, who is the governor of this Church.
One faith - One system of religion, proposing the same objects to the faith of all.
One baptism - Administered in the name of the holy Trinity; indicative of the influences, privileges, and effects of the Christian religion.
on Ephesians 4 :5
One Lord - This evidently refers to the Lord Jesus. The "Spirit" is mentioned in the previous verse; the Father in the verse following. On the application of the word "Lord" to the Saviour, see the notes on Acts 1:24. The argument here is, that there ought to be unity among Christians, because they have one Lord and Saviour. They have not different Saviours adapted to different classes; not one for the Jew and another for the Greek; not one for the rich and another for the poor; not one for the bond and another for the free. There is but one. He belongs in common to all as their Saviour; and he has a right to rule over one as much as over another. There is no better way of promoting unity among Christians than by reminding them that they have the same Saviour. And when jealousies and heart-burnings arise; or when they are disposed to contend about trifles; when they magnify unimportant matters until they are in danger of rending the church asunder, let them feel that they have one Lord and Saviour, and they will lay aside their contentions and be one again. Let two men who have never seen each other before, meet in a distant land, and feel that they have the same Redeemer, and their hearts will mingle into one. They are not aliens, but friends. A cord of sympathy is struck more tender than that which binds them to country or home and though of different nations, complexions, or habits, they will feel that they are one. Why should contentions ever arise between those who have the same Redeemer?
One faith - The same belief. That is, either the belief of the same doctrines, or faith of the same nature in the heart. The word may be taken in either sense. I see no reason why it should not include "both" here, or be used in the widest sense, If so used it means that Christians should be united because they hold the same great doctrines; and also, because they have the same confidence in the Redeemer in their hearts, They hold the same system as distinguished from Judaism, Paganism, Mohammedanism, Deism; and they should, therefore, be one. They have the same trust in Christ, as a living, practical principle - and they should, therefore, be one. They may differ in other attachments; in temperament; in pursuit; in professions in life - but they have a common faith - and they should be one.
One baptism - This does not affirm that there is one mode of baptism, but it refers to "the thing itself." They are all baptized in the name of the same Father, Saviour, Sanctifier. They have all in this manner been consecrated unto God, and devoted to his service. Whether by immersion, or by pouring, or by sprinkling, they have all been baptized with water; whether it is done in adult years, or in infancy, the same solemn act has been performed on all - the act of consecration to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This passage cannot be adduced to prove that only one "mode" of baptism is lawful, unless it can be shown that the thing referred to here was the "mode" and not "the thing itself;" and unless it can be proved that Paul meant to build his argument for the "unity" of Christians on the fact that the same "form" was used in their baptism. But this is evidently not the point of his argument.
The argument is, that there was really but "one baptism" - not that there was but one "mode" of baptism. I could not use this argument in this form, "Christians should be one because they have been all baptized by 'sprinkling;'" and yet the argument would be just as forcible as to use it in this form, "Christians should be one because they have all been baptized by 'immersion.'" There is one baptism, not one "mode" of baptism; and no man has a right to "assume" that there can be but one mode, and then apply this passage to that. The "essential thing" in the argument before us is, that there has been a consecration to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, by the application of water. Thus, understood, the argument is one that will be "felt" by all who have been devoted to God by baptism. They have taken the same vows upon them. They have consecrated themselves to the same God. They have made the same solemn profession of religion. Water has been applied to one and all as the emblem of the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit; and having been thus initiated in a solemn manner into the same profession of religion, they should be one. (See Matthew 3:6 note and Matthew 3:16 note.)
on Ephesians 4 :5
4:5 One outward baptism.