Post 35 set forth the following takeaways from my observation of Ephesians 5:25-27 are below.
First, the basic thrust of Ephesians 5:25-27 is Christ’s sanctification of His church, i.e., the body of Christ.
Second, by his writing Ephesians 5:26, Paul intended to convey to his audience that upon believing the gospel, a person underwent an initial spiritual cleansing by Christ via the word of God, i.e., the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, at conversion. Paul used water in a metaphorical sense, and did not intend water baptism to possess any salvific efficacy.
Third, by his writing Ephesians 5:26, Paul intended to convey to his audience that throughout their post-conversion lives, a believer would experience day-by-day spiritual cleansing by Christ who would use the Word of God as the instrument of cleansing. Paul used water in a metaphorical sense, and did not intend water baptism to possess any salvific efficacy.
Post 36 presents my discussion of the impact the doctrine of the analogy of faith has on the interpretation of Ephesians 5:25-27. Post 36 sets forth my interpretation of Ephesians 5:25-27. Finally, Post 36 applies Ephesians 5:25-27 to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
THE DOCTRINE OF ANALOGY OF FAITH
Per the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, ARTICLE XVII reads:
We affirm the unity, harmony and consistency of Scripture and declare that it is its own best interpreter.
The Exposition of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics reads [in part]”
Interpretation should adhere to the principle of harmony in the biblical material. Scripture exhibits a wide diversity of concepts and viewpoints within a common faith and an advancing disclosure of divine truth within the biblical period. These differences should not be minimized, but the unity which underlies the diversity should not be lost sight of at any point. We should look to Scripture to interpret Scripture and deny as a matter of method that particular texts, all of which have the one Holy Spirit as their source, can be genuinely discrepant with each other. Even when we cannot at present demonstrate their harmony in a convincing way, we should proceed on the basis that they are in fact harmonious and that fuller knowledge will show this.
Any interpretation of Ephesians 5:25-27 must be consistent with the entirety of Scripture. For this discussion, I first looked at passages from Ephesians that impact on salvation, as well as any passages that use pisteuō in the context of salvation. Then, I looked at other Pauline epistles that use pisteuō in the context of salvation.
Usages in Ephesians
Paul set out a sequence of listening, believing (alone) and being sealed with the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13 (NASB95):
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Paul pointed that salvation is through grace in Ephesians 2:4–5 (NASB95)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
The often-quoted passage of Ephesians 2:8–9 (NASB95) removes water baptism from a requirement of salvation:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
See my discussion of Ephesians 2:8-9 in Post 9.
Ephesians 2:13 (NASB95) teaches that the blood of Christ, i.e., the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, that saves:
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Salvation is by faith in Christ per Ephesians 3:11–12 (NASB95):
11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
Other Pauline Epistles
Paul wrote that those who believe (no mention of baptism) are saved according to 1 Corinthians 1:21-25 (NASB95):
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
According to Paul, faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per 1 Corinthians 15:2, 11 (NASB95):
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. … 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per Galatians 3:22 (NASB95):
22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (NASB95):
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.
Failure to believe the truth, not failure to be baptized, is what condemns according to 2 Thessalonians 2:11–12 (NASB95):
11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Faith alone in Christ is what leads to eternal life per 1 Timothy 1:16 (NASB95):
16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Paul wrote that faith alone in Christ results in salvation per Titus 3:8 (NASB95):
8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Paul clearly says that faith alone in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation per the following passages:
Romans 1:16 (NASB95) – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 3:22, 24-25 (NASB95) – 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; … 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Works do not save. Paul taught against a works-salvation soteriology through a passage that faith alone in Jesus Christ per Romans 4:3-5, 24 (NASB95):
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, … 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
Paul set out an evangelistic plan that required faith alone in Jesus Christ per Romans 10:9–14 (NASB95):
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
These five passages from Ephesians and eleven passages from the other Pauline epistles show that Paul taught salvation was by faith alone in Jesus Christ. These passages establish that water baptism is NOT a requirement for salvation.
INTERPRETATION OF GALATIANS 5:25-27
My interpretation of Ephesians 5:25–27 reads:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having spiritually cleansed her by the spiritual washing of the individual believers with the Word of God both at conversion and throughout a believer’s life, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
CONCLUSION – APPLICATION OF EPHESIANS 5:25-27
In conclusion, in view of the above interpretation, it is my opinion that Ephesians 5:25-27 does not support the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
VERY IMPORTANT IF YOU BELIEVE IN BAPTISMAL REGENERATION
Finally, let me quote gotquestions.org (link: https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-Mark-16-16.html ):
If you believe in baptismal regeneration, you would do well to prayerfully consider whom or what you are really putting your trust in. Is your faith in a physical act (being baptized) or in the finished work of Christ on the cross? Whom or what are you trusting for salvation? Is it the shadow (baptism) or the substance (Jesus Christ)? Our faith must rest in Christ alone. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Please read and take to heart what I write in the section entitled “IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN.”
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
… please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
Upon your salvation, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
ONE CAUTIONARY POINT. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS
I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works. The quotations from commentaries are considered to be “fair use.”
Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked “NASB95” are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Scripture marked “NCV” is taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked “GW” is taken from the God’s Word Bible that is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission.