Jesus has commanded to baptize everyone (those obey the good news) to whom the Gospel is preached in Matthew 28:19. Then why did Paul say that Christ had not sent him to baptize?
1 Corinthians 1:14 - 17
ESV - 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 So that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
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The Apostle Paul is concerned with baptizing believers. Paul himself was baptized upon coming to faith in Christ (Act 9:18). It is furthermore clear in Acts that Paul baptized others when they came to faith in Christ: Paul baptized Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue and his household in Acts 18:8, Paul baptized the jailer in Act 16:33; Paul baptized followers of John the Baptist in Act 19:3-4. He also holds a high view of baptism 1Co 12:13, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (ESV). With that in view we come to the passage above. The context of the passage show that Paul is speaking about the unity of the Church. (Read vs 10 - 17 as a whole.) Verse 11 is the key, Paul was informed that people were arguing and being divisive in the Church about the issue of baptism (among other things). To put this in context today it would be someone arguing, "I am greater than you because Billy Graham baptized me, while only your local pastor baptized you." So when Paul writes, "I thank God that I baptized none of you..." it isn't because he doesn't value baptism. He says it because he knows no one can 'gloat' / be divisive because of it. Finally, when Paul says "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." he is stating that his primary goal is to preach the gospel to believers. However, based on his activity in Acts, certainly does have believers baptized. APPLICATION: A believer who goes out and proclaims the gospel which results in people coming to faith isn't obligated to be the person who baptized the new believer. New Testament scriptures do however indicated that baptism is a necessary step after faith. Early Christians also held to the belief that a person is being baptized 'into Christ' as well as being baptized into a local community of faith believers--what we call the Church. For in the Church Christian grow occurs.
When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are automatically baptized. Here why Paul was not advocating baptism because his primary concern was to inculcate and spread the gospel of truth about resurrected Christ. At the time of Jesus, He was under the law and wanted to revolutionize. Jesus came to end the law, fulfilling the law, and to start the new era of grace.
Jesus gave instructions while living on earth and Jesus gave instructions while ascended into glory from heaven. Things changed at the cross, and the 'mystery' of these changes were revealed to and through the apostle Paul. 1 Cor 1:17 "17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." 1Cor 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." If Paul was not sent to baptize, and we are to follow Paul as he is also of Christ, then who after Paul's ministry was sent to baptize? No one: 2 Cor 5:16 "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." I believe Paul's point is that 'Christ crucified' is THE point (1 Cor 1:23). We shouldn't take our focus off what Jesus Christ did on the cross on our behalf and place it in things that we ourselves are doing and could then take pride (or boast) in, such as performing the act of a 'water baptism'. There is nothing that we can do to add to what Jesus Christ completed for us. It's fine if someone wants to be water baptized, but they need to be aware that it has ZERO bearing on their salvation during today's dispensation of God's grace (Eph 3:2). Paul never instructs Timothy to perform this, but certainly would have had it been of importance. Ephesians 1:12-13 "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," We're sealed upon belief 'unto the day of redemption' with the holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), and baptized into the body of Christ at the same time (1 Cor 12:13, Gal 3:27). Paul does not tell us to go out and get water baptized after belief. He also never tells us how to get our sins forgiven. The reason is because Jesus Christ has done EVERYTHING required for us (the whole point in Him being our savior)...including taking the punishment that we deserved for the forgiveness of ALL our sins (Rom 5:8-9, 2 Cor 5:21, Col 1:14). We simply need to believe this. Have faith in Christ alone for our salvation. It is by God's grace through faith in Him that saves us. There is inothing we can do to earn it and nothing we do will add to it (Eph 2:8-9). I heard someone recently say they've "been baptized 13 times just to make sure". If that isn't the definition of boasting then I don't know what is. I believe what Paul is telling us to say is: "I thank God for Jesus Christ, whose shed blood gave me forgiveness of all my sins, and whose resurrection gives me hope in life everlasting". A saved person realizes that their salvation doesn't come by their own merits or lack thereof. Salvation comes by belief in Jesus Christ and HIS merits; faith in HIS performance that was completed for them out of His love for us.
Paul’s question in 1:13, “Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” led him to note that he had baptized very few people in Corinth. He saw this as a positive note, as we will see below, and thanked God that he had baptized only Crispus and Gaius and the household of Stephanas. Paul had mentioned two men he has baptised, and then remembered others, and this was so noted as Paul spoke. While Paul certainly had many converts in the city, he had not baptized them all. Because he had baptized only a few, no one could say that they were baptized in Paul’s name. No one could claim that Paul had been baptizing people in order to obtain their loyalty as their special leader. Clearly he was not attempting to make disciples for himself. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. When Paul said Christ did not send me to baptize, he was not minimizing the importance of baptism. Instead, he was pointing out that his gift was preaching, and that Christ had sent him to preach the gospel (Acts 9:15). His primary task was to proclaim the message. Preaching the gospel could be a cause for division, however. In fact, this was already happening in Corinth, where believers were lining up behind different preachers for different reasons. Paul pointed out that neither he, nor the other apostles and preachers, spoke with words of human wisdom. In the gospel message he presented, Paul did not depend upon rhetoric or philosophical arguments which were admired by the Greeks. To do so would have left the message empty, causing the cross of Christ, to lose its power, and it would have drawn people to the preachers rather than to the message of salvation in Christ. The cross gives power to these elements, not the preacher.
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