Jeremy Sarber

The Trinity and the church’s unity

Notice how Paul demonstrates the unity of believers by reflecting on the Holy Trinity. He says:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Do you see the Trinity in these verses? If not, let me show you. First, we have the Spirit: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” Second, we have the Son: one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Third, we have the Father: one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Let’s consider them one at a time.

Unity in the Spirit

Paul begins by saying there is just one body. There are no denominational, geographic, ethnic, or racial divides. There is no division between Jews and Gentiles or men and women. There is just one body, the body of Christ.

Of course, there is just one Spirit, and it is that Spirit—the Spirit of God—who brings all believers together into one body. Ephesians 2 tells us that we are joined together as one family and one structure to be a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph 2:22). Ephesians 1 tells us the Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance (Eph 1:14).

In turn, a single hope of the same calling unifies us. We may have different gifts and functions in the church, but our purpose and goal are the same. We are called into the family of God to glorify God and edify other members of the family of God. In the end, Christ-like perfection in the presence of God is what we hope to obtain.

Unity in the Son

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5). As Peter once preached, There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Ac 4:12). Whose name? Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Consequently, there can be only one faith. I don’t believe Paul is talking about the faith by which we trust in Christ for salvation. Instead, he’s speaking of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The Bible sometimes uses the word faith not to describe our faith, but the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the gospel. We can call the totality of everything the Bible teaches the faith.

There is also one baptism. Is Paul referring to spiritual baptism or water baptism here? I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter. Spiritual baptism is by the Spirit, and this verse seems to focus on Christ the Son—one Lord—rather than the Spirit.

As we read through the New Testament, what happens to people who have learned of Christ the Lord and believed in the faith? They are immediately baptized, not in the name of the local church or the name of an evangelist but the name of Jesus Christ.

Unity in the Father

Lastly, Paul says, One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:6). The belief of Judaism had always been the same: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Dt 6:4). There is one God—end of story. Even so, the New Testament reveals a more profound truth about the one true God. God is one, but he is also three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is perhaps the most comprehensive title within the Trinity, which Paul shows us here. There is one God and Father, but he is also over all and through all and in all. He’s sovereign (over all), omnipotent (through all), and omnipresent (in all). His will overrules all, his power is greater than all, and he is everywhere always.

By stressing the Trinity’s unity as well as our unity with the Trinity, Paul is essentially taking us back to the creation story in Genesis. The Trinity was involved in the creation of humankind as well as the re-creation of God’s people. Why? Sin divides, but salvation restores. We are brought into the intimate relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit, and we are brought into a relationship with one another.