Questions From Readers
● What is the “one baptism” referred to at Ephesians 4:5? Is it the same as the baptism spoken of at Matthew 28:19?—E. B., U.S.A.
Yes, it is essentially the same. The apostle Paul was referring to acceptable water baptism when he wrote: “One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons.”—Eph. 4:4-6.
When Paul was in Ephesus in 55 C.E. he wrote to the Christians in Corinth. One of the points he stressed was that they should not be divided, attaching themselves to leading men, including the person who baptized them in water as if they were his followers. Those who were baptized in Corinth were not baptized in the name of Paul or Apollos or Cephas; they were baptized in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, as directed by Jesus.—Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 1:10-16.
Some five years later, or about 61 C.E., Paul wrote to his beloved spiritual brothers in Ephesus. One of the important points he stressed in this letter was unity, just as in his letter to Corinth. He showed that the division between Jew and Gentile had been abolished. Now all believers could unitedly approach Jehovah. They all could have holy spirit and form part of the spiritual temple, “a place for God to inhabit by spirit.”—Eph. 2:13-22.
Continuing this point of unity, he explained that together they constituted one spiritual body. They all received of the holy spirit. With the spirit as a token of what was to come, they had a heavenly hope. (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:5) They had all believed on the same Lord, Jesus Christ, and they all exercised faith in the same divine provisions so as to be acceptable to God.—1 Cor. 8:6; 2 Cor. 4:13.
Then, before commenting that they were united by having one God and Father, Paul mentioned that they had “one baptism.” How true that was! All who were Christians had undergone water baptism.
The majority of those who were then Christians had been baptized as disciples after Pentecost 33 C.E. Prior to that time, some, such as the apostles who traveled with Jesus, had been baptized by John the Baptist in what was then a God-ordained and acceptable baptism. These did not later need to be rebaptized. When once the Christian congregation was established on Pentecost 33 C.E., John’s baptism was no longer acceptable. Those being properly baptized from that time forward would be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,” as Jesus said.—Matt. 28:19.
This matter of being united by being acceptably baptized in water would have had particular meaning to those in Ephesus. It was in that city that Paul met some who had not heard of Jesus’ baptism. Apparently they had been baptized in “John’s baptism” after that ceased being an acceptable baptism. They would have already known about God, so Paul explained about Christ and holy spirit and “they got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:2-6) Thus they could join with all the baptized Christians in Ephesus and elsewhere in serving Jehovah. And probably most, if not all, of the other Christians in Ephesus had been baptized after Pentecost 33 C.E. as disciples of Jesus.
Being acceptably baptized in water was thus an experience that Christians shared in common. Paul could appropriately draw upon this as an example of the oneness that Christians should have.
● Had Judas Iscariot left already when Jesus instituted the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal?—J. D., Uruguay.
Yes, the Scriptural evidence is that Judas was present for the Passover celebration with Jesus on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., but that he left before Christ instituted the memorial of his death.
Of the four Gospel accounts, the only one that might lead a reader to a different conclusion is Luke’s. First, Luke mentioned the regular Passover celebration, in which Judas as a Jew would share. (Luke 22:15-18) In the next two verses, Luke 22:19, 20, he presented some of the comments Jesus made when instituting the new arrangement, the annual memorial of his death. Then Luke showed that sometime that evening Jesus indicated that one of the twelve apostles was a betrayer, which comment caused them to wonder whom he meant (Luke 22:21-23) If Luke’s presentation were accepted as being in chronological sequence, it would indicate that Judas was there when the bread and wine of the Lord’s Evening Meal were served.
Let us remember, though, that even though Luke set out to present his Gospel in “logical order,” he did not always follow a strictly chronological order. (Luke 1:3) This can easily be seen from Luke 3:18-21. While this in no way limits the value of Luke’s Gospel, it being an inspired account, it becomes evident that the other Gospels should be taken into consideration to establish chronological sequence. Furthermore, Luke does not tell us precisely when Judas left the group. Surely it was before Jesus said: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials.” (Luke 22:28) So let us turn to the other Gospels to determine when the betrayer left.
Both Matthew and Mark explain that a questioning arose among those gathered to celebrate the passover. Jesus had indicated that one of the apostles was a betrayer, and they wanted to know his identity. Both accounts indicate that this occurred “while they were eating” the Passover meal. (Matt. 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21) While John’s Gospel does not cover many of the points already provided in the three Gospels that were written earlier, it does mention this questioning about the betrayer. John amplifies the matter by relating that Jesus identified Judas by giving him a morsel. Then what happened? John writes of Judas: “After he received the morsel, he went out immediately.”—John 13:21-30.
With this expanded view of the questioning about the betrayer and the exit of Judas, we turn back to Matthew and Mark. Both go on to explain that then Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25) Consequently, the order of events appears to have been: The group, including Judas, ate the Passover meal. During the meal Jesus mentioned that one of the twelve was a betrayer, a questioning over his identity arose and Jesus definitely identified him. Immediately Judas Iscariot left to betray Christ. Following this, Jesus instituted the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal among the remaining eleven apostles, who had ‘stuck with him during his trials.’