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The One Baptism

of Ephesians 4;5


When I was a child, growing up, we heard more sermons about baptism than any other subject.  You would think that if any one knew the truth about baptism it would be us.  And we were taught much precious truth, for which I am forever thankful.  But did we receive the complete truth?  As I got older I found some things I had been taught did not square with the Bible.  For example:


Later, much to my surprise, I learned that all that was not quite correct.


That opened the door to the question, “If I had not been correctly instructed about the Holy Spirit, are there other areas that need to be examined again?”


How about the one baptism of Ephesians 4: 5?  Have we received the complete truth or is there something further to be said or at least asked?


What is the one baptism.  The Restoration Movement asserts that the one baptism is baptism in water.  We reasoned that there is no other valid baptism applicable today; therefore the one baptism must be water baptism.  If the premise is correct then the conclusion would be correct.  But is the premise correct?  I feel confident that the baptism in fire is yet future; has the baptism with the Spirit ceased.  This question needs to be answered before we draw conclusions about the one baptism.  See the article, “What is baptism with the Spirit’?


Others confidently assert that Spirit baptism is the one baptism.  Which is it?  Or shall we keep our minds open to the possibility of a synthesis of the two ideas?


The One Birth


After being begotten by God through the Word, the seed, we must be born again.

We must be born of water and the Spirit.  I don’t know of anyone, notwithstanding those who immerse three times at the initial baptism, who advocates multiple births.  Although the Scriptures do not specifically say it, the likeness of regeneration to procreation would strongly suggest that there is only one spiritual birth.  But the truth is often stranger than fiction, because in the one birth there are two elements, water and the Spirit.


I suggest that the same is true of the one baptism.  There is one baptism but two elements, water and the Spirit.


Question:  If “born of water” means baptized in water why doesn’t “born of the Spirit,” mean baptized in the Spirit?

Question:  Was the Apostle Paul baptized in Holy Spirit?

Question:  Was the Apostle Paul one whit behind the other Apostles?


The Typical Baptism of Israel


We find that the typical baptism of Israel sheds more light upon the one baptism.  “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”  (1 Corinthians 10: 1, 2)  Here we find one baptism but two elements.  The cloud, which was a pillar of fire by night, represented more than water vapor.


But you say, give me a Scripture; I want something more concrete.


1 Corinthians 12: 13


“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”


But you say, “It does not say ‘in’, it says, “by’.”

Does it really?

First:  my American Standard Version gives the alternate reading as “in”.

Second:  I am not a Greek scholar but my interlinear gives the following:


Matthew 3: 11 with the Holy Spirit and fire; en pneumati hagio kai puri.

Mark 1: 8 with the Holy Spirit; en pneumatic hagio.

Luke 3: 16  with the Holy Spirit and fire; en pneumati hagio kai puri.

John 1: 33 in the Holy Spirit; en pneumati hagio

Acts 1: 5  with the Holy Spirit; en pneumatic hagio

Acts 11: 16  with the Holy Spirit; en pneumatic hagio


1 Corinthians 12; 13  For by one Spirit; kai gar en heni pneumatic


When one preposition, “en” is used in all instances it is worst than disingenuous to reguire a different interpretation.  This verse plainly says, “For with one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”


Jesus preforms Holy Spirit baptism when we obey

It is a promise not a command.

All Christians must receive the Holy Spirit.  John 4: 13, 14; 7: 38, 39


Examples of the one baptism.


Jesus our Lord-  Jesus was baptized with water and the Spirit of God (not the word) descended on Him and remained.  After this He was declared to be the Son of God.   Matthew 3: 16-17; John 1: 33


Pentecost- 3, 000 were baptized in water and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2: 38-41


Samaritans- The Samaritans, both men and women,  were baptized in water but the Holy Spirit did not fall on them until Peter and John prayed for them and placed their hands on them.  At that point they received the Holy Spirit . I suggest that their baptism was not completed until they received the Holy Spirit.  This is the unity of the one baptism  Notice that receiving the word is not the same as receiving the Holy Spirit.   Acts 8: 12-17; 1 Thessalonians 1: 5


Cornelius-  Here we find a reversal of the order.  Cornelius was baptized with the Spirit, received the Spirit, but the process was not complete until he had been born of water in baptism in water.  Again demonstrating the unity of the one baptism, because one must be born of water and the Spirit. Cornelius’ response to God was not complete until he was baptized in water also.   Acts 10: 44-47


Ephesians-  Paul asked certain disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed.  And they said they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit.  Paul then asked into what had they been baptized.  They replied that they had been baptized into John’s baptism.  Paul explained the difference and they were then baptized in the name of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit came on them after Paul laid hands on them as demonstrated by speaking in tongues.  Here again we see the unity of the one baptism, baptized in water and the reception of the Holy Spirit.


Surely those of us who believe in three persons yet one God, or husband and wife, yet one flesh, can entertain the idea on one baptism but two elements.


God bless.  Arland


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Last Update   09/26/12