Eph summary of faith
In writing to the ecclesia in Ephesus, Paul appeals for unity
of mind and fellowship among believers there based on their mutual acceptance of
seven "ones": "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one
hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of
all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:4-6).
The enumeration of these seven "unities" has the distinctive
appearance of a "summary of faith", a statement of faith which is wholly
Biblical. Some writers (Marcus Barth, "Ephesians 4-6", Anchor Bible, pp 462,463;
Alfred Barry, "Ephesians", Ellicott 8:36; Francis Foulkes, "The Epistle of Paul
to the Ephesians", Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p 112)         suppose that Paul
is in fact citing a concise yet precise doctrinal summary known to the worldwide
church or ecclesia of his day:
The seven "ones" may be defined by comparing especially Paul's
use of the same words elsewhere. This produces a credible statement of essential
doctrines -- which defines the distinctive truths we believe, and sets that
system of truth apart from various false "gospels":
- One body
- One Spirit
- One hope
- One Lord
- One faith
- One God
1. One body: The unity of all believers, and
specifically both Jews and Gentiles, reconciled to God on the same basis (Eph
2:16). One body, bound together in love with Christ as the head (Eph 4:12-16;
Rom 12:1,4,5; 1Co 12:12-27). Also, one body as "husband" and "wife": the "great
mystery" of Christ and the church, or ecclesia (Eph 5:23,28,30). Finally, the
"one body" of the church is equivalent to the "one bread" of communion or
fellowship with Christ (1Co 10:16,17; 11:24,27,29). Thus "one body" defines the
ecclesia in terms of fellowship, both inclusively (all true believers being
members)         and exclusively (no others being members).
2. One Spirit: The Holy Spirit of God, by which
prophets and apostles were inspired to record the one truth, and by which the
Bible itself was written, validated, and preserved. This was the Spirit of
truth, or the Comforter, which came to the apostles, to teach them the words of
Jesus (Joh 14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13). As there is one true Spirit, or Teacher, the
others must be false "spirits" or teachers (1Ti 4:11; cp 1Jo 4:1-3)         when they
teach other doctrines contrary to that which the apostles received and taught
3. One hope: In Paul's own words elsewhere, the one
"hope" is the hope of a resurrection (Act 23:6; 24:14,15), the hope of the
promises made to the fathers (Act 26:6-8; Rom 4:13-18), and the hope of Israel
(Act 28:20)         -- that is, the kingdom of Israel restored (Act 1:6; 3:19-21; 2Sa
7:12-14; Luk 1:30-33). Thus the "one hope" must also be the hope of Christ's
appearing and kingdom (Act 1:11; Col 1:5; Tit 2:13)         and the hope of eternal life
(Tit 1:2; 3:7). Those who are "without Christ" have "no hope" (Eph
4. One Lord: References to "the Lord" in Paul's
writings are too numerous to catalog here. The essence of Bible teaching about
the "one Lord" might be summarized, however: Jesus is the one Lord because he is
the only-begotten Son of God, and the one man in whom all mankind (that is, all
believers)         are included (Eph 4:11-16; 2Co 5:14-17). He was the one man to lead a
perfect life, and therefore the one man capable of dying as the perfect
representative sacrifice for all men. Thus he was raised from the dead (Phi
2:8-12)         to become the head, or Lord, of all who would have eternal life in him
(Rom 5:12,18,19). A final point: as the "one Lord", Jesus is always personally
distinct from the "one God" (Eph 4:5,6; 1Co 8:4-6; 1Ti 2:5).
5. One faith: Faith in the crucified and risen Christ
is the one and only means to salvation (Act 4:12; Rom 3:22-31; Gal 3). By such
faith -- in prospect -- even Abraham was justified, or declared righteous (Rom
4:1-5; cp Rom 3: 25 and Heb 9:15). By faith sinners may be forgiven (Rom 4:6-8),
apart from their own works or acts of righteousness (Eph 2:8,9).
6. One baptism: The one baptism (ie, the only true
baptism)         is that which is preceded by belief in the one gospel, as defined in
the list. Paul knows only one form of baptism: a burial (Rom 6:3,4; Col 2:12)         in
water. Baptism is the means by which believers become heirs of the promises made
to Abraham and his "seed" (Gal 3:27-29).
7. One God: The last of the seven "unities" in Paul's
list is actually the first and greatest "unity", from which all other "unities"
are derived. "One God", as distinct from even His own Son (1Co 8:6; Gal 3:19,20;
1Ti 2:5). The "one God" is the "Father" of one Divine family, all made one in
Him because of His love for them, as shown through His Son (Eph
The essential doctrines derived directly from Paul's "summary
of faith" in Eph 4 are listed below. The references 1 through 7 are to the
preceding seven numbered "unities". For ease of future reference, the essential
doctrines are listed in the general order familiar to readers of our common
statement of faith.
Certain false doctrines are very directly and distinctly ruled
out by belief in the positive teachings summarized above:
- The Bible (the teachings and writings of
prophets and apostles), the only source of truth and the only hope of eternal
- One God, the Father of all
- The Holy Spirit, God's power unto salvation
- The one Lord, Jesus, the Son of God, who is
distinct from God Himself, being a man and the head of all men, by virtue of his
perfectly obedient life (4).
- The one Body: all
men -- both Jews and Gentiles -- who have been reconciled to God through the
life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
- The forgiveness of sins, only through faith
in Christ (5).
- Christ as the one mediator between
God and men (4).
- The second coming of Christ
- The resurrection of the dead
- The reward of the faithful with immortality
- The fulfillment of the promises to the
fathers: eternal possession of the earth (3).
kingdom of Israel restored (3).
- The one true
gospel, which cannot be altered (5).
(total immersion), only after belief of the gospel and repentance
- The memorial supper, expressive of
fellowship (inclusive and exclusive)         in the family of God
- The "trinity", and the pre-human existence and
"divinity" of Christ (all being contrary to the "one
- The immortality of the "soul" (contrary to
the "one hope").
- Heaven-going (contrary to the
- The earth literally burned up
(contrary to the "one hope").
- A superhuman fallen
angel "devil" or "Satan" (contrary to both the "one God" and the "one
- Infant-sprinkling (contrary to the "one
- Universal salvation (contrary to the