Commentary on Ephesians, 4:4-6


Ephesians 4:4-6

“4 one body and one Spirit (just as also you were called with one hope of your calling),
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who [is] over all, and through all, and in all.”  LEB

“one body and one Spirit”

Paul has just finished instructing us on the proper walk of the Christian, and how we are to relate to others, particularly to one another as fellow-believers. In verses 1-16, his focus is on the body of Christ, which is the Church, that is composed of all believers in Christ. Regarding the body, Paul mentions it several times in this passage:

“One body” – vs. 4
“body of Christ” – vs. 12
“whole body” – vs. 16
“the body” – vs. 16
“the head, Christ” (head of the body) – vs. 15

Thus we can clearly see that it’s the corporate body of Christ that is Paul’s focus in this part of his letter. There is a question about whether Paul is referring to the Church universal, or to the local church. I think the answer is both. Whenever the universal Church is in view, we must look for the practical applications of it, in and for, the local church. It’s in the local assembly that we live out the instructions of the Word of God as it relates to everyday life and ministry as followers of Christ.

With that in mind, where Paul refers to “one body,” he is referring to the Church universal. We know that’s true, because he follows that with

“one Spirit”

then follows that with

“one Lord, one faith, one baptism”  (vs. 5)

then follows that with

“the body of Christ, until we all reach the unity of the faith”  (vs. 12, 13)

then follows that with

“from whom the whole body”  (vs 16)

As we go along, all of the above will be tied together.

We should also see what Paul said about the body of Christ elsewhere:

“12 For just as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, [although they] are many, are one body, thus also Christ.  13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free [persons], and all were made to drink one Spirit. ”  LEB (1 Cor 12:12,13)

I will discuss the above passage in a bit. But what we need to see at this point, is that Paul has primarily the universal Church in view in this section. However, Paul’s concern is always what goes on in the local assembly, where we are to carry out the practical applications of the universal Church, as we’ve already discussed.

With that as our background, let’s proceed through these verses.

“one body and one Spirit” (vs. 4)

There is one universal body of Christ, composed of all born-again believers in Christ. Paul mentions the “one Spirit” in the same breath, because it’s the Holy Spirit who places us into the body of Christ at conversion. We see this above in 1 Cor 12:12,13.

I realize that some believe that these references to baptism refer to water baptism, but I have to disagree. It’s not water baptism that places us into the body of Christ, which is the Church. Water baptism has no power to do that. Water baptism demonstrates outwardly what takes place inwardly when we place our faith in Christ. Thus water baptism is a picture of spiritual baptism.

“(just as also you were called with one hope of your calling)”

Believers all have the same one hope: to be out of this body of sin, and into our resurrected, glorified bodies, and into the eternal presence of God.

“one Lord, one faith, one baptism”  (vs. 5)

There is one Lord Jesus Christ who provided the way of salvation. There is one faith through which we obtain our salvation. And there is one baptism. I think it should be clear by now that Paul has spiritual baptism in mind here, and not water baptism. The context of the whole passage reveals that to be so.

Furthermore, the context of this one verse makes that clear. “One Lord,” and “one faith,” both refer to our salvation. Therefore, “one baptism” must refer to the same thing. When we place our faith in Christ, we are at that moment born (again) into the family of God, and baptized (placed) into the body of Christ, which is the Church. Again, water baptism is an outward picture of that.

Note:  Many believe that there is a baptism of the Spirit that takes place subsequent to salvation. However, I believe Paul makes it clear that there is only one baptism of the Spirit, which takes place at conversion, and is something that places us into the corporate body of Christ, the Church.

“One God and Father of all, who [is] over all, and through all, and in all.”  (vs. 6)

In verse 4 we have “one Spirit,” and in verse 5 we have “one Lord,” and in verse 6 we have “one God and Father.” The Trinity of God is clearly revealed here.

Where Paul refers to the “Father of all,” he is referring to believers only. Contrary to what some people believe, God is not the Father of the whole human race. He is the creator of all, but not the Father of all. The Apostle John says that we become children of God through the new birth, by receiving His Son (John 1:12,13).

‘who is over all”

Our God and Father is over all His children. He is our authority, not only as our God and King, but also as our Father. It’s a wonderful relationship that we have with Him.

“through all”

Within the context, I believe Paul must be referring to the fact that it’s through His people (the Church) that He accomplishes His will. The Church is central in God’s plan for this world, and we as individual Christians are a part of that plan. God works through us individually, and through the body of Christ overall. Do we ever stop and really consider what an honor it is to serve God and to be used by Him is such a manner? Do we ever really consider the privilege and opportunity that we have? You’ve probably heard this before:

“One life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Something to think about!

“in all”

All of us as believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. At conversion, the moment we place our faith in Christ, we are born-again, and the Spirit of God moves in to make His home within us. Corporately we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 6:16,17), and individually we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19,20).