The Triune God: The Basis of Church Unity
We have here what some scholars think is an ancient creed of the Church reflecting that belief in the doctrine of the Trinity which she has ever taught. We note that the three Persons are mentioned with a corresponding qualifier which speaks to that Person’s particular function or concern. Indeed, we believe in one God so that whatever one Person does the other two also do in concert. However, it is also true that in whatever activity in this world in which the Triune God is involved, one of the Person’s is generally the primary Actor. For instance, the Father sent the Son, and the Holy Spirit prepared the human nature and body from the Virgin’s womb and even empowered him to heal; still, it was only the Son who was incarnate, crucified, and risen—not the Father or the Holy Spirit.
So here we have the Persons mentioned, but in reverse order of what we are accustomed; that is, rather than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we have Holy Spirit, Son, and Father. The Father sent the Son for our salvation who together with the Father sent the Spirit to convince the world for its need of the Son. So in reverse order, he is the Spirit who leads people to the Son in saving faith who then leads them to glorify the Father. The first order emphasizes the “sending” and the “plan” of salvation; the second order emphasizes the execution of that plan and result of that sending.
And then there are the qualifiers which accompany each Person. As there is one Spirit, so there is one body, the body of Christ, which is the Church. It was the Church of which Paul was just speaking in 4:1-3 when discussing how we are to walk with one another in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He is the Spirit who animates the local body, distributing gifts to and producing fruit from her members, and constantly enlivens her with the heavenly hope to which she is called. This hope is founded upon our one and only Lord Jesus Christ in whom we have believed and been baptized. As our Lord is one, so is our faith; that is, Christ is not the Lord of many faiths but of only one—the Christian faith and life as taught in the Scriptures. There is no baptism but in this one Lord, WHICH is into his body, the Church, through the action of the Spirit regenerating the soul. And this is all according to the plan of the one God and Father, who is described as “over all, through all, and in all,” but meaning not the world but His Church as this is where we started in verse four. Of course, God is as sovereign over the world as He is over His Church, but He has a special care for His Church as they are His redeemed—called OUT of the world.