Kevin Bauder sees a "universal church" in Matthew 16:18. Then he argues for the universal church from 1 Corinthians 12:13. When you examine every other usage of ekklesia by Jesus other than Matthew 16:18, it is obviously an assembly and local only. The burden of Bauder and those like him is to show that Matthew 16:18 is different than all the other usages of the word by Jesus. It is also the first appearance of ekklesia in scripture. Jesus doesn't distinguish it as a different meaning than how it is used previously in history, that is, how people would have understood it in that day. Ekklesia has meant, "assembly," and there is no reason to think it means something different. What I'm describing are hermeneutical principles that describe "plain meaning."
Since ekklesia is a singular noun in Matthew 16:18, it could only be a particular ekklesia or a generic usage of ekklesia. There are several good reasons that Jesus is speaking of His church in a generic way, or what I sometimes label "an institutional sense." By "my church," He was distinguishing from other congregations. Israel was an ekklesia (Acts 7:38) and then there was the governing institution of the Greek city state, the ekklesia, the town meeting. Jesus had His governing institution for which He gave His authority, the keys of the kingdom.
1 Corinthians 12:13
I (and Thomas Ross) have written a lot about 1 Corinthians 12:13 here and other places (Me: here, here, here, here, here, here; Thomas Ross: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here), which would be good to examine, rather than reinventing the wheel. Bauder uses 1 Corinthians 12:13 as the clinching text for the universal church. Here's the verse:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.By One Spirit
He treats the identity of "Spirit" as crucial in the interpretation. Thomas Ross and I take the same position on 1 Corinthians 12:13, and yet we know that different authors with the same position identify "Spirit" in different ways. I don't mind the "Spirit" definition, not seeing it is a crucial to the local only position. Thomas Ross says that "Spirit" is "Holy Spirit" and I have said that I prefer "spirit of unity" for pneuma. We had a tract in our tract rack for years by Forrest Keener on 1 Corinthians 12:13, taking the identical position as Thomas and I, also believing that "Spirit" (pneuma) is the Holy Spirit. Bauder makes the same argument for "Holy Spirit" as Thomas does. What I'm writing now is that we don't believe that the identity of pneuma is the deciding factor on the meaning of the verse.
Bauder doesn't even deal with the major argument for reading "spirit of unity." If he wanted to debunk that, he should at least treat the primary reason for thinking pneuma is spirit of unity. The identical phrase en heni pneumati, translated "by one Spirit" in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is translated "in one spirit" in Philippians 1:27 by the King James translators, and means "spirit of unity." The New King James and the New American Standard both understand Philippians 1:27 the same way. The end of Philippians 1 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 are similar contexts. Both speak in the context of unity. Bauder shouldn't write or act amazed, when there is an identical wording and context that translates it as "spirit of unity." Even though "Spirit," as in "Holy Spirit," is common in 1 Corinthians 12, there is only one usage of en heni pneumati, and it is a usage similar to how it is understood in Philippians 1:27.
Another argument for "in one spirit" that I see is the regular usage of the Greek preposition, en. The normal understanding is "in," not "by." "By" isn't a wrong translation. The same translation is found in 1 Corinthians 12:3, which is a good argument for that. A. W. Pink takes the same view on "in one spirit."
Bauder says that "we all" cannot be the church at Corinth because it includes Paul. When Paul writes "we," he is including at least himself, so I agree that "body" in 1 Corinthians 12:13 cannot be only the church at Corinth. However, a conclusion does not follow, like Bauder makes, that "we" refers to all believers, just because Paul includes himself.
Bauder writes (p. 207),
The question is whether a single local church can account for the language that Paul used in this verse. If "we all" includes Paul (let alone all believers everywhere), the one body cannot possibly refer to the church at Corinth.This is a situation where Bauder argues a straw man. No local-only advocate I know or have ever read says that "one body" is identical to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and for the very reason that Bauder asserts. I and they agree. However, one cannot then conclude like Bauder concludes (pp. 207-208) :
Because he (Paul) included himself in the one body, Paul forced his readers to understand that the body transcends the individual church at Corinth. . . . Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13 definitely indicates, first, that a universal Body of Christ exists; second, that this body includes all believers and not just members of the particular congregation; and third, that this baptism is constituted by baptism in or by the Holy Spirit.If Bauder is going to debunk local only ecclesiology, then first, he needs a more thorough dealing with 1 Corinthians 12:13, and, second, he needs to deal with the belief or position of local-only ecclesiology on 1 Corinthians 12:13. He does neither.
Bauder does not establish what "one body" is and why. Is one numeric one or one in unity? Writing to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 15:6
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.This is an instance where "one" is a "one in unity." Paul is not expecting one big mind or a universal mind, but unified minds. "One body" is a unified body. The previous verse, 1 Corinthians 12:12, should cue one into Paul's meaning:
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.Paul is talking about a physical body and he says that it is "one." He's using the physical body as a metaphor for the church. "One" stands for unity and "many members" stands for diversity. In a physical body, there is unity, the body is one, and diversity, it has many members or body parts. The point isn't that there is only one body on all the earth, when it says "one body." In the same way, the very next verse is not saying there is one numeric body. No.
Bodies are local. The church is local. The body of Christ is local. It's not universal. Body works the opposite of universal. The members are in one place. That's how they unify and work together. The body isn't universal. That is seen as you work your way down through the chapter, never more apparent than in verse 27:
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.Paul defines the body of Christ by saying, "ye are the body of Christ." A particular church is the body of Christ. I repeat, the body of Christ. The body is defined here. A church can't be the body and then something else the body. There is no unequivocal place in the Bible that says the body of Christ is all believers. You don't see it anywhere. However, we do know an individual church is the body of Christ.
With 1 Corinthians 12:27 saying, "ye are the body of Christ," how then does the "we" of 1 Corinthians 12:13 work? It isn't hard to figure out. It isn't meant to be hard. Paul includes himself because he too was baptized into one body. He doesn't exclude himself from being baptized. He was baptized. Consider 1 Timothy 3:12:
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Were all the deacons the husbands of the same woman? Of course not. Anyone would know that. This is basic grammar and syntax. There is a similarity here. Paul wasn't in the same body as the people at Corinth, but he too was in one body, baptized into one body, just like each deacon was a husband to a different wife, not the same one.
Bauder assumes "baptism" is "Spirit baptism" in 1 Corinthians 12:13, but there are many actual contextual and exegetical reasons why it isn't. He doesn't even deal with it. In writing the Corinthians, Paul uses baptizo, the Greek word for "baptism," ten times. The other nine are water baptism. If the word is found nine out of ten times and it's water baptism every time -- water, water, water, water, etc. -- there would be some explanation that this isn't water in the one other time. Without explanation, one should assume water again. That's how language works.
The first reason for water baptism here is conclusive already. Yet, there are more reasons. If the audience was to expect "Spirit baptism," then one would think that 1 Corinthians 12:13 fits the model of Spirit baptism, prophesied in the gospels and Acts. One example of the model prophesied is Matthew 3:11, which tells what one would expect of Spirit baptism:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Spirit baptism has Jesus ("he") as the administrator of the baptism, the Holy Spirit as the medium, and already saved people the recipients, subsequent to their salvation, not concurrent with their salvation. Bauder says 1 Corinthians 12:13 is Spirit baptism, and he writes:
It is baptism in or by the Holy Spirit, an it is of such a nature that it places individuals into a single body that includes believers from multiple local churches.
His statement is contradictory, because it can't be both "in" and "by," but as you read further, his choice is "by." In his fulfillment, the Holy Spirit is the administrator ("by") and Christ, the body of Christ, is the medium, and it occurs concurrent with salvation. It doesn't fit the model of Spirit baptism prophesied in every possible way, so it can't be Spirit baptism. No one should think this is Spirit baptism.
There are two other reasons to see this "baptism" as water baptism. One, "baptized" and "drink" represent the two ordinances of the church, which are both unifying factors of the church. The one body is seen in baptism and the Lord's Supper. Two, "into" (the Greek preposition eis) does not express here "position," as "in" the body, but identification. Paul's use of eis is showing or indicating symbolic identification, not some mystical placing "in." 1 Corinthians 12:13 is identical to Paul's usage in Romans 6:3-4, speaking there too of water baptism, when he says, "baptized into Christ." Two chapters earlier (1 Cor 10:2), Paul writes, "baptized unto Moses." Were they placed "in Moses"? Of course not. They were identified with Moses through the baptism. 1 Corinthians 10:2 provides commentary for 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Paul is talking about water baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13, unifying and identifying a believer with the church, so that there is one body, even though there are many members. That is the plain meaning of that verse, that Bauder attempts to find a universal church in the Bible. Bauder fails at proving that baptism is "Spirit baptism." He reads that into the text.
More to Come