“There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-5 NIV).
Although it may not appear so at first glance, these two short verses open up some very important truths about the church and the nature of God. So let’s take a few minutes to zero in on this valuable portion of Scripture and see what it has to tell us about these important Biblical topics.
First, we’re told in this passage that there is one body. This is a reference to “the body of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 12:27) which is a general way of referring to God’s church. Every one of God’s people is a member of this body. For example, Colossians 1:18 tells us that Jesus “…is the head of the body, the church” (NIV) and the book of Romans goes on to say that, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body” (Romans 12:4-5a NLT).
So this church (or body) is made up of people from every generation who genuinely and sincerely follow the God of the Scriptures. This reference to one body also means that there are no second class citizens in God’s plan- every believer is a member of this one, single body of people who belong to the Lord.
Next, we find out that there is one Spirit and this refers to the person of the Holy Spirit. We’re told in the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit is God (see Acts 5:3-4) and that no one can go to heaven without the work of the Holy Spirit in their life (see John 3:5). We also know from this passage that there are not a number of “holy spirits” as some religions teach -there’s only one Holy Spirit.
The next verse goes on to say that there is “one hope of your calling” (NKJV). What does this hope and calling refer to? Well, another section of the Bible explains that reference like this…
“…Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see.” (1 Peter 1:3b-5).
So we can identify the “hope of your calling” as eternal life in heaven, a hope that can only be achieved in one way: by believing that Jesus died and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for the wrong things that we’ve done.
We’re then told that there is one Lord and one faith. While it may be contrary to the opinions held by some people, this portion of Scripture clearly tells us that all religious beliefs do not necessarily lead to God. You see, the Bible teaches that it does make a difference what religion you believe because there is only one Lord and one faith just as we read in the passage quoted above. The Biblical book of Romans goes on to identify that “one Lord” and “one faith” for us like this:
“…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV).
So if we put these two Scriptures together, we can say that this “one Lord” reference is speaking of Jesus and the “one faith” part refers to an authentic and genuine belief that Jesus died for our sins and was brought back to life by God.
Following this, we come to that reference concerning one baptism. Now this does not necessarily concern the method or way that someone is baptized but refers to the fact that there isn’t one baptism for a certain group of people and a different baptism for another group of people. And just as we’ve done previously in this study, we can make this idea a little clearer and easier to understand by looking at another portion of the Bible that also speaks about this subject…
“Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ’s body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
So there aren’t separate baptisms for different groups of people who follow Jesus- there’s only one baptism into the body of Christ that is personally directed by the Spirit of God.
We’re also told that there is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. This is an important Biblical truth because some religions maintain that there are many “gods” while others believe that “the world is god” or hold other, similar beliefs. However, these beliefs are very different from the truth about God that we see in the Scriptures. This portion of the Bible tells us that is only one God (not many different gods) who is over all (or in other words, God is in authority over His creation and is separate and distinct from it).
Finally, we’re told that God is through all and in all. This means that God is omnipresent (or everywhere at once) and transcendent (meaning that He is beyond the limits of what we can normally experience). The true God of the Scriptures is totally supreme in everything and isn’t limited by time, space or matter- He transcends (or goes beyond) those things.