The Church in Ephesus had doctrinal purity.  Christ commended them for their standing for the purity of the Word (Rev. 2:2:2-3); but they did have one problem.  They did not have spiritual unity.  In their contending for the faith, they had become contentious; unloving.  My father, who pastored for many years, told me that one must learn how to contend without becoming contentious. 

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”

        ONE LORD:  (Greek-eis Kurios)–Christ, the Head of the Church (1:10; I Cor.1:13; Eph 1:10) the Governor of the Church. The Second Person of the Trinity is introduced to us together with our relation to Him.   One Lord who is the object of faith, and whom both Jews and Gentiles lay hold upon by faith in him.

          What is our responsibility growing out of this unity through the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  The “Spirit” is mentioned in the previous verse; the Father in the verse following. On the application of the word “Lord” to the Savior. Paul’s argument here is, that there ought to be unity among Christians, because they have one Lord and Savior. They do not have different Saviors adapted to different classes; not a Savior for the Jew, and a Savior 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,; 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 Savior.  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 spiritual brothers. 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:  (Gr.-mia pistis)–One act of trust in Christ, the same for all (Jew or Gentile), one way of being saved.  The same belief; that is, either the belief of the same doctrines, or faith of the same nature in the heart.

         It is not saving faith that Paul is writing about here; rather he is referring to the body of truth called the Apostles Doctrine (see Acts 2:42)–“and they continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ Doctrine…” That body of truth which the Spirit has given to us in the canon of Scriptures, the written truth for which we are to contend earnestly.
           When this is denied, there are divisions.  There must be substance to form an adhesion of believers.  It is faith in the one gospel of Christ, it is wrought in our souls by the one Spirit of God; and it is one in its nature and effects, being a faith which works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world

       ONE BAPTISM:  Literally:  “one (Gr.-hen baptisma)”–The baptism to which Paul refers is Spirit baptism, which is the real baptism–the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). 

         Ritual baptism is by water.  Water baptism is a symbol of the real baptism of the Holy Spirit by which believers are actually made one.  Water baptism stands for the practical walk of the believer in those things which the Lord has commanded us to do. There has been much contention regarding water baptism caused by a mis-understanding of the wording of the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 28:19–“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  The misunderstanding of this verse has even caused variations, in the way that water baptism is administered.  Some take it to mean to baptize (immerse) three times, each time in a different Person of the Trinity.  Some even believe that we are to baptize in Jesus’ Name only. 
         The problem really comes about from the not understanding the phrase, “in the Name of…”  The Greek word that is rendered as “name” is onoma,  which literally means, “authority; or power.”  What Jesus is doing is telling His disciples that all Three Persons of the Tri-unity are giving them the authority to do the baptizing.  If you get a knocking on your door and you hear, “Open up, in the name of the law,” you know that the speaker is telling you that he has the authority given to him by the law to order you to open up.  Now to give this phrase in Matt. 28:19 a literal translation, it would really read, “Having gone, then, disciple all nations, baptizing them by the authority (or authorization) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  In other words, we have the authority of the Trinity to do this baptizing.

“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.””

“One God and Father of all”
Literally:  “one God and Father of all”– Not a separate God for each nation or religion. One God for all men.

         The Holy Spirit, Third Person, of the Trinity, forms the “one body” through His baptism.  Christ, the Second Person, of the Trinity is the Lord of that Body.  God, the Father, the First Person, is God of all.  He is the “Father of all,” not in the sense that modernistic/liberal preachers would have us believe as set forth in their “Universal Fatherhood of God” and their “Universal Brotherhood of Man.”  He is the Creator of all men, and in that sense, He is the Father of all.
         But understand that He is not the Father of unbelievers.  Sonship can come only through Christ (John 14:6).  This totally destroys that heresy known as the Universal fatherhood of God, and the universal brotherhood of man.  Such teaching is not only heresy, it is also blasphemy! The unity of believers produces a sharp distinction between believers and unbelievers.  He is Father of all who are His by re-birth.

           ONE GOD: (Gr.-heis Theos)The fountain of all being, self-existent and eternal; and Father of all, both Jews and Gentiles, because he is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. The same God; therefore there should be unity.

Not many gods, but One God for all–“The Father of all, above all, through all, in all.” F.B. Meyer, in writing about this passage, says that the elements of church unity are:
1.       The Church itself constituted as a unity“The Father of all, above all, through all, in all.”

2.       The means by which this united Church is built up: One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.
3.       The God and Father of all  over all; one Supreme Ruler.

         Were there many gods to be worshipped, there could be no more hope of unity than there is among the worshippers of Mammon and Bacchus, and that includes the various other idols that men set up. Men who have different pursuits, and different objects of supreme affection, can be expected to have no unity. Men who worship many gods, cannot hope to be united. Their affections are directed to different objects, and there is no harmony or sympathy of feeling. This is why it is wrong for a Christian woman to marry an unbeliever (and vice-versa).  In the end there will be strife; there must be strife, for they have different loyalties; different affections.
        But where there is one supreme object of attachment, there may be expected to be unity. The children of a family that are devoted to a parent will be united among themselves; and the fact, that all Christians have the same great object of worship, should constitute a strong bond of union among themselves–a chain always kept bright.

         “Who is above all”
         Literally:  “the {One} above all”– Who is supreme; Who presides over all things, as the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

          ABOVE ALL:  (Gr.-epi pantôn)–The “one God over all” (in His sovereignty and by His grace) is the grand source and crowning apex of unity (2:19).  Who is supreme; who presides over all things.

         “and through all”
         Literally:  “and through all”

    THROUGH ALL:  (Gr.–dia pantôn)-Literally dia means “by means of” being over all.  Christ “who filleth all things” (v. 10; 2:20-21), and is: “a propitiation” for all men (I John 2:2). 

He pervades universal nature, and His agency is seen everywhere, by means of Christ “who filleth all things” (Eph. 4:10; 2:20-21), and is “a propitiation”  for all men (I John 2:2). Pervading everything; being present with everything; providing for all creatures; and by his energy supporting all things.

         “and in you all.”
         Literally:  “and in you all”–There is no one believer in whose heart He does not dwell.

        The oldest manuscripts omit “you.” Many of the oldest versions and Fathers and old manuscripts read, “in us all.”  God is “Father” both by generation (as Creator) and regeneration (2:10; James 1:17,18; I John 5:1).
        Believers are His temple; and He abides in you (see 2:22; I Cor. 6:19-20). Paul’s argument here is, that as the same God dwelt in every heart, they ought to be one. See this argument beautifully expressed in the Savior's prayer, (John 17:21)–“That they all may be one: as Thou, Father {art} in Me; and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” Comp. John 14:23–“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘If a man love Me, he will keep My Words:  and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.’”

          IN ALL:  (Gr.–en pasin)-By the energy of His Spirit, enlightening, quickening, purifying, and comforting; in a word, making your hearts the temples of the Holy Ghost.  Some think the mystery of the Trinity is contained in this verse: God is over all, as Father; through all, by the Logos or Word; and in all, by the Holy Spirit.

By using three Greek prepositions (epi, dia, en) Paul has attempted to express the universal sweep and power of God in men's lives.


“Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

Paul now turns to another aspect of his subject.  Before he has been talking about the qualities of the members of the Body of Christ, but now he is talking about their different functions in that Body.  He has been speaking of what all believers have in common; now he moves to how we differ from each other.

“Unto every one of us is given grace”
Literally:  “But to each of us was given grace”– Each of us was given the favor of God is the meaning here.   God had bestowed upon each sincere Christian the means of living as he ought to be doing, and had in His gospel made ample provision that they might walk worthy of their vocation (their calling).

        What are the endowments thus given the apostle states in the following verses. The grace referred to here, most probably, means the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, or His operations on the heart in connection with the use of the means which God has appointed.  God has given gifts to believers, as we see in Romans 12 and I Cor. 12-14.  Each believer is given a gift so that he may function in the body of believers in a particular way.   Some people may say that they do not speak in tongues in the church; that they do it for their private devotions.  I can say to them categorically from the Word of God that they are wrong to think like that.
        Each believer is given a gift so that he may function in the body of believers in a particular way.  When he does this, the body functions.  That is where we find the unity of the Spirit.  When each believer functions in his peculiar gift, it produces a harmony, as does each member of the human body.  However, when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.  If you do not exercise your gift in the body, you throw us all out of tune. Our spiritual gifts are given to profit the Church, not our own esteem or prestige..  No gift is to be used selfishly for personal profit.  In fact, it is not a gift if it is being used that way.  A gift is given to every member of the body to enable him to function for a definite reason in his position in the body.

        EVERY ONE:  (Gr.–hekastôi hêmôn)–Every believer.  Each believer gets the gift that Christ has to bestow for his special case.

        GRACE:  (Gr.-charis)–Grace here may be referring to a particular office; as if Paul had said: “Though we are all equal in the respects already mentioned, yet we have all different offices and situations to fill up in the Church and in the world; and we receive a free gift from Christ, according to the nature of the office, that we may be able to discharge it according to his own mind.  So the free gift, which we receive from Christ, is according to the office or function which he has given us to fulfil; and the office is according to that free gift, each suited to the other.”

         The favor of God; meaning here, that God had bestowed upon each sincere Christian the means of living as he ought to do, and had in His gospel made ample provision that they might walk worthy of their vocation. The grace referred to here, most probably, means the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, or his operations on the heart in connection with the use of the means which God has appointed.

         “according to the measure of the gifts of Christ”
          Literally:  “according to the measure of the gift of Christ”–Each gets the gift that Christ has to bestow for his special case.  

While it is true that no one has all the gifts; it is also true that no member of the Body of Christ is without some spiritual task and spiritual gift for it. To each, and not just ministers or leaders, these spiritual gifts are given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  In His wisdom, the Lord portions out different kinds of gifts to different members.

        “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office”
        “So we,
{being} many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another”

        “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, {let us prophesy) according to the proportion of faith”  (Rom. 12:4-6).

      “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (I Cor. 12:4).


“Wherefore He saith, ‘When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.’”

“Wherefore He saith”
Literally:  “Because of this, {He} says,”- The pronoun “he” is not in the Greek text, and it may mean either “the Scripture saith,” or “God saith.

“When he ascended on high He led captivity captive”
Literally: “Having gone up on high, He led captivity captive”– Paul is using this passage as a confirmation of what he has just said.  The meaning of this in the Psalm is, that Christ triumphed over His foes. He not only subdues His enemy, but He leads His captives in triumph. The allusion is to the public triumphs of conquerors, especially as celebrated among the Romans, in which captives were led in chains; and to the custom in such triumphs of distributing presents among the soldiers

         The quotation is from Psa. 68:18–“Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive:  Thou hast received gifts for me; yea, {for} the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell {among them}”– a Messianic Psalm of victory which Paul adapts and interprets for Christ's triumph over death. 
         Christ here is seen as the glorified Man receiving from the hands of the Father gifts which in turn he bestows upon the Church.  Here we see the Trinity working together in calling out the Body of Christ and preparing each member of the Body for ministry.  The Father, Son and Spirit are intensely interested in the creation of the Body of Christ, with all Three having a part in its calling and ministry.
         The point of the argument here is, that Christ, when He ascended to heaven, obtained certain gifts for men, and that those gifts are bestowed upon His people in accordance with this. To prove that, Paul deduces this passage from Psa. 68:18.  Paul does not quote this literally, but gives the spirit and scope of the passage, which is, that the gifts received by the ascended Savior He bestows upon men. Ascended up; into heaven. Led captivity captive; triumphed over all his foes, and led multitudes captive as trophies of his victory.
         When He ascended to heaven, Christ triumphed over all His foes. It was a complete victory over the malice of the great enemy of God, and over those who had sought his life. But He did more. He rescued those who were the captives of Satan, and led them in triumph. Man was held by Satan as a prisoner. His chains were around him. Christ rescued the captive prisoner, and designed to make him a part of His triumphal procession into heaven, that thus the victory might be complete–triumphing not only over the great foe Himself, but swelling His procession with the attending hosts of those who had been the captives of Satan, now rescued and redeemed.

        HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE: (Gr.-eichmalôteusen aichmalosian)–This expression refers to the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.  These “captivity” were Old Testament saints who were in Paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom as it was called, waiting for the Son of God to make possible their entrance into God’s presence.  

         They died in hope and had gone to Sheol to await the accomplishment of Christ’s atoning work.  Until the Cross, Old Testament saints went to Paradise, which was a part of Sheol, the place of departed spirits, where they waited for the accomplishment of redemption.
         When Christ died, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, signifying that access into the presence of God was now possible.  From the Cross, the Lord Jesus went into Paradise.  When He ascended into the presence of God, a multitude of those who had been held “captive” in Sheol (numbering from Abel who brought the Lamb offering to the last of the OT saints) accompanied Him   In His ascension, Christ not only brought the OT saints with Him into God’s presence, but He also, through the Holy Spirit, bestowed His gifts.  At the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit baptized believers into the Body of Christ and then endowed them with certain gifts, enabling them to function as members of the body.  The Holy Spirit put each of them in a certain place in the body, and He has been doing the same with each new believer ever since.

         “and gave gifts unto men”
         Literally:  “and gave gifts to men”–As a conqueror, returning in triumph, was wont to distribute gifts, so Christ signalized his ascension by gifts.

Meaning the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and particularly such as qualify men for the work of the ministry; these He received “in man;” in human nature, in that nature in which He ascended to heaven;  “in the man that is known above,” as say the Jews; and these he bestows on men, even rebellious ones, that the Lord God might dwell among them, and make them useful to others: wherefore the Jews have no reason to quarrel with the version of Paul as they do; who, instead of “received gifts for” men, renders it, “gave gifts to men;” since the Messiah received in order to give, and gives in consequence of His having received them.

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