The one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 is not the baptism of John: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance…” Matthew 3:1,2,11
The Bible teaches that John was sent by God to “baptize with water” (John 1:33). Hence, the baptism of John was of Divine origin; it was from Heaven and not from men (Matthew 21:23-27). John’s baptism was “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Matthew 3:6). The question of the duration of John’s baptism is settled decisively by Scripture. In Acts 18 we read of an outstanding orator and student of the Scriptures named Apollos. However, despite his tremendous ability and knowledge of the Scriptures, there was one glaring deficiency: he knew only the baptism of John (Matthew 18:25). Aquila and Priscilla quickly corrected this deficiency by expounding “unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Matthew 18:26). It is apparent that the baptism of John was no longer regarded as a valid baptism at this point. Corroborating this fact is the incident which occurred between Paul and the twelve men from Ephesus, recorded in Acts 19:1-7. When Paul met these men he asked them whether they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. Their response was that they had not so much as heard whether there is any Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). Perplexed by their reply, Paul inquired, “Unto what then were ye baptized?” and they answered, “Unto John’s baptism” (Acts 19:3). Paul responded, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Upon hearing this, the twelve men were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5). Apparently, these men had been baptized with John’s baptism after it had ceased to be valid. Paul’s statement in Acts 19:4 makes it quite clear that John’s baptism was an anticipatory baptism, that is, it was designed to anticipate the coming Christ and His kingdom. Paul’s comments in Ephesians 4:5 were directed to these same Christians!
Hence, John’s baptism is not the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 which is in force today.