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Ephesians: The Epistle of Ascension

Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is, in some ways, a continuation of his epistle to the Romans. It enlarges upon Romans 1-8 in regard to the believer's position and right standing with God. We are "seated" with Christ, so we must "walk" according to our calling, and "stand" in the full armor of God against those who would oppose us.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 13

One Lord, Faith, and Baptism

Just as there is but “one body and one spirit” (Eph. 4:4), so also is there “one hope of your calling.” There is one goal, or expectation, which is, in Rom. 8:23, “the redemption of our body.” To redeem the body is to pay off the debt that Adam incurred through sin, thereby removing the sentence of death (mortality).

The Believer’s Hope

At the present time, this remains a “hope,” as Paul explains in Rom. 8:24, 25,

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees. 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.

What we do have now is a new creation man, an immortal spirit man that is begotten by the Holy Spirit. We who have transferred our conscious identity from the soul to the spirit can properly claim to be immortal—not in body, but in spirit. Symbolized in the rite of baptism, we now walk in newness of life, both immortal and incorruptible in the inner man.

So what is it that we now hope for? What is it that we eagerly await? What is it that we do not yet see? It is the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets, where the dead are raised—that is, where the overcomers’ spirits are given a new body. At the feast of Tabernacles, which occurs two weeks after Trumpets, the living overcomers will be “changed,” and the effect upon them is the same.

They will receive access to the new clothing, tent, or tabernacle that has been held in reserve for them in heavenly places (2 Cor. 5:1-4). Just as the present physical body is clothed with mortality, so also our spirit is clothed with glory. All of this is seen in the prophetic type of the priestly garments, which were stored in the temple’s side chambers (1 Kings 6:8; Ezekiel 44:17, 18, 19).

Just as the priests were to be clothed appropriately for work in the outer or inner court, so will the overcomers—clothed appropriately—be able to minister in the outer court (the earth) as well as in the sanctuary in heaven. Each realm has its appropriate clothing, one physical and the other spiritual. This is well illustrated by Christ Himself after His resurrection, when He often changed His garments to minister to His disciples and then changed again into His spiritual garments to return to heaven. (For example, see Luke 24:36-43.)

The common belief that our hope is to forsake the earth and live in heaven is based on a shortage of understanding of the feasts of Trumpets and Tabernacles and how they prophesy of things to come. The plan of God is not that we should remain in a physical body on earth, nor again in a spiritual body in heaven. It is to have dominion in both realms and to access them as easily as changing clothes.

Whereas Adam, the “living soul,” was given authority only in earth (Gen. 1:26), we who are part of the body of Christ—the “life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45)—will have a share in His dominion in both heaven and earth. At the end of His ministry, Jesus said, “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). He then ascended to the throne at the right hand of the Father, where we too are seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). In other words, our authority in Christ is greater than what we received (and lost) in Adam.

This is the singular hope of our calling.

One Lord

Jesus Christ is that “Lord” in Eph. 4:5. We read in Acts 4:12,

12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

There was only one day in all of history—and only one event—that could prove the Messiah’s calling. That day came when Jesus died on the cross at Passover of 33 A.D. How do we know? Because it was the 1480th Passover since the first celebration of the feast in Egypt. The number 1480 happens to be the numeric value of “Christ” (christos).

There is only one Man who died on the cross on the 1480th Passover. It is Jesus. He died at the ninth hour of the day after three hours of darkness (Matt. 27:45). Since no one was allowed to kill the Passover lambs before noon, nor after dark, the people had to wait until the sun shined again in mid-afternoon to kill the lambs. Thus, they killed the Passover lambs at the moment when Christ died.

At the same time, 3:01 pm, a lunar eclipse began in Europe the moment Jesus died, and it appeared over Jerusalem at 5:10 pm, just as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were burying the body of Jesus. Jesus was crucified on a place called Calvary (Luke 23:33, KJV), whose numeric value is 301. The Greek word for “moon” is selene, which has a numeric value of 301. Also, “lambs” in Hebrew has a numeric value of 301.

No one else died at the prophesied time and place, marked by signs in the heavens. Hence, “there is salvation in no one else,” for He alone paid the redemption price. The price was His very life. Jesus’ name (Yeshua) means “salvation.” He is therefore the Christ.

In fact, the combination, “Lord Jesus Christ” is also part of the proof that He is Lord of all. Lord has a numeric value of 800; Jesus has a numeric value of 888; Christ has a numeric value of 1480. Adding them together gives us 3168.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is at a latitude of 31.68 N. The distance from Bethlehem, His birthplace, to Jerusalem, where He died, is 6 miles (or 316,800 feet another 3168).

Solomon’s temple was 60 x 20 cubits (2 Chron. 3:3), measured according to the old cubit of 19.8 inches. Its perimeter, then, was 160 cubits, which works out to 3168 inches (19.8 x 160). This suggests that the temple itself was a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (3168).

This number, of course, depends upon who is the “one Lord” and the true Christ. It is only by inserting the name Jesus in Greek that the numeric value of 3168 is attained. If you assert any other name to the phrase, it is highly unlikely that the numeric value will come to 3168.

One Faith

There is only one faith that merits righteousness in the eyes of God. It is the faith defined specifically by Abraham’s faith, which the Apostle Paul sets forth in Rom. 4:20-22,

20 Yet with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.

Abraham’s faith was based on His assurance that God was able to perform what He had promised. This is New Covenant faith, which is contrasted to Old Covenant faith that God will help us fulfill our own vows, promises, and “decisions” to follow Jesus. Faith is in His ability, not ours. The responsibility to make us righteous is His, not ours. Hence, all credit goes to Him, not to us.

Old Covenant “faith” is seen in Exodus 19:8,

8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.

The problem was that the Old Covenant could not save anyone, because no one was capable of keeping their vow—not even when they prayed for God to help them be righteous. They were given 1480 years in which to strive to attain righteousness through the Old Covenant. This was long enough to prove the inadequacy of Old Covenant faith.

Yet we know that even prior to Moses, God had already set forth the New Covenant in the example of Abraham—and even further back to Noah (Gen. 9:9-11). Any time that God made a promise without requiring men to make a reciprocal vow, it was a New Covenant vow that only called for faith and confidence in God’s ability to perform what He had promised.

This is the “one faith” that Paul set forth here. He did not define it clearly in Eph. 4:5, but he did so many times in his other epistles—most clearly in Rom. 4:20-22. In telling us that there is but “one faith,” we understand that Old Covenant faith is not justifying faith at all, for there is but “one faith” that can result in righteousness and salvation.

One Baptism

Baptism was instituted by God in the days of Moses, seen most notably in the law of cleansing lepers (Lev. 14:7). The prime example was in the cleansing of Naaman, the Syrian leper, when Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan seven times, according to the law of healed lepers (2 Kings 5:10). In other words, he was to be baptized in the Jordan.

Baptism was conducted daily at the laver in the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon. The laver was used to cleanse the priests before entering the sanctuary. John the Baptist, however, was called by God to forsake the temple in his time and to minister as a priest in the wilderness. There he baptized many people at the Jordan (John 1:28) and at Aenon (John 3:23).

John’s baptism unto repentance was appropriate in his time as he prepared the way for the Messiah. However, his baptism was based on Moses, and this needed an upgrade when the one like Moses arrived (Deut. 18:18, 19; Acts 3:22, 23).

So we read in Acts 18:24, 25 about Apollos, a great preacher in Ephesus, who understood only the baptism of John. Paul questioned him, and Apollos confessed that he knew nothing about the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). Hence, Paul told him of a greater baptism. We then read in Acts 19:4, 5, 6,

4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

It is clear that there were two baptisms, one of John who baptized them in the name of Moses, and another which was a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul wrote in Eph. 4:4 about “one baptism,” no doubt he was recalling the story of Apollos. Paul himself had introduced this “one baptism” to Apollos and the other believers.

We see then that “one baptism” refers to the one type of baptism that was acceptable to God after Christ’s death and resurrection. One must be baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection in order to obtain “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3, 4). Repentance, or John’s baptism, is a necessary starting point, for it denotes a change of mind (belief). But though Moses was a deliverer from the house of bondage, Christ was greater in that He was the One who delivered us from bondage to sin itself.

One baptism” is having “one faith” in the “one Lord”—Jesus Christ.

By looking closely at Paul’s concept of oneness, it seems clear that Paul was stating that Christ—not Moses—was the true Mediator between God and man. Moses was a mediator of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19), while Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8:6). There was only “one body,” not two, because those baptized into the body of Moses must become part of the body of Christ to be part of the “one body.”

Although there were two mediators, one for each covenant, yet 1 Tim. 2:5 says,

5 For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Likewise, there is “one faith,” not two, because Old Covenant faith is insufficient for salvation. There were two paths, or choices, so to speak, one presented by Judaism and the other by Christianity. In every case, Paul seemed to answer the controversy between Jews and Christians over whose path was the true path: that of Moses or Jesus.

Likewise, this controversy might lead some to think that there are actually two Gods, a stern God (Yahweh) of the Jews and a loving God (Jesus) of the Christians. Indeed, there are some who believe this, each having his own view about the nature of God and Christ.