"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Christ Did Not Send Me To Baptize (1:14-17) INTRODUCTION 1. An objection commonly raised concerning the necessity of baptism is based on Paul's statement to the church at Corinth - cf. 1Co 1:14-17 a. Note Paul's words: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." - 1Co 1:17 b. From which some conclude baptism must not be essential to salvation 2. However, when one takes into account the context... a. The immediate context of his words in this epistle - 1Co 1:10-13 b. The remote context of Paul's ministry in Corinth - Ac 18:1-18 -- Paul preached baptism, and his comments should not be taken out of context [In this study, let's take a closer look at the context in which we find Paul's statement. Note that...] I. PAUL WAS ADDRESSING A PROBLEM AT CORINTH A. WITH THEIR ATTITUDE TOWARD PREACHERS... 1. They were divided - 1Co 1:10-11 2. Their division was a result of "preacher-itis" - 1Co 1:12 a. They were claiming, "I am of Paul", "I am of Apollos", etc. b. As Paul expounded later, they were thinking too highly of the different preachers 1) Their attitude was a mark of carnality - 1Co 3:3-4 2) Preachers were simply fellow servants - 1Co 3:5-9 3) Thus they were not to boast in men - 1Co 3:21-23 B. IT APPEARS RELATED TO WHO BAPTIZED THEM... 1. As indicated by Paul's rhetorical questions - 1Co 1:13 2. E.g., "Were you baptized in the name of Paul?" 3. Some evidently claimed to be disciples of those who personally baptized them C. THUS PAUL WAS GRATEFUL HE PERSONALLY BAPTIZED FEW... 1. Thankful that he baptized only Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas 2. Lest any should say that he was baptizing in his own name - 1Co 1:14-15 [So Paul was addressing a problem at Corinth. Are we to construe from this that Paul didn't preach baptism, or didn't think it necessary? To the contrary...] II. PAUL'S PREACHING HAD RESULTED IN MANY BAPTISMS A. LUKE RECORDS PAUL'S WORK AT CORINTH... 1. How he worked with Aquila and Priscilla - Ac 18:1-3 2. How he reasoned in the synagogues, testified that Jesus is the Christ, and persisted despite rejection by unbelieving Jews - Ac 18:4-7 B. LUKE RECORDS THE SUCCESS OF PAUL'S PREACHING... 1. Crispus, ruler of the synagogue, and his household believed on the Lord (and whom Paul personally baptized) - Ac 18:8; cf. 1Co 1:14 2. But also "many" of the Corinthians believed and were baptized - Ac 18:8 [Though Paul personally baptized few, his preaching resulted in many baptisms! Baptism must have played a significant role in his preaching. That is one reason why we must not twist Paul's words to the church at Corinth as implying that it was not necessary. As we return to 1Co 1:13, we should also note that...] III. PAUL'S WORDS DEMONSTRATE THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM A. NOTE CAREFULLY PAUL'S REASONING... 1. For one to call himself after Paul (or any other man) required two things: a. Paul would have to be crucified for the person - 1Co 1:13 b. One would have to be baptized in the name of Paul
- 1Co 1:13 2. Neither happened, of course, which is why they should not be calling themselves after men [But consider what Paul's argument means positively...] B. TO BE CALLED AFTER CHRIST, TWO THINGS ARE REQUIRED... 1. Christ would have to die for the person (which of course He did) 2. The person would have to be baptized in the name of Christ! a. Have you been baptized in the name of Christ? b. If not, then you cannot rightfully be called a Christian! [In the very context of a passage which many use to claim that baptism is not essential, Paul implies one cannot be called a Christian unless they have been baptized in the name of Christ! How then are we to understand Paul's statement ("For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel...")? The answer is easy...] IV. PAUL WAS EMPHASIZING HIS ROLE AS AN APOSTLE A. PAUL WAS SENT TO PREACH, NOT BAPTIZE... 1. As an apostle (which means "one sent"), Paul's role was to proclaim the gospel a. As explained to the Ephesians, he was given the task to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ" - Ep 3:8 b. Which he did by inspiration - cf. Ga 1:11-12 2. Though his preaching resulted in baptism (cf. Ac 18:8), it was not imperative that he do it a. Others could easily do the baptizing (such as his traveling companions) b. Which happened at Corinth, for while many were baptized, he personally baptized few B. PAUL USED A COMMON STYLE OF SPEAKING... 1. Notice the words of Jesus in Jn 6:27... a. "Do not labor for the food which perishes" b. "but for the food which endures to everlasting life" c. Jesus was not saying one should not work, but rather was emphasizing the importance of seeking after spiritual food over physical food 2. In a similar way Paul says 1Co 1:17... a. "For Christ did not send me to baptize" b. "but to preach the gospel" c. Paul was not saying he was not to baptize, but that his role as an apostle to preach the gospel was more important! C. HOW OTHERS HAVE UNDERSTOOD PAUL... 1. "That is, not to baptize as my main business. Baptism was not his principle employment, though he had a commission in common with others to administer the ordinance, and occasionally did it." - Barnes (Notes, on 1Co 1:17) 2. "According to Semitic idiom, 'not so much to baptize, as...'. The word 'sent' involves the meaning 'made me an apostle'. The primary function of an apostle was 'to bear witness'." - Farrar (Commentary on 1Co 1:17) 3. "Baptism was not his principal work, not the main business for which Paul was sent, it was part of his work, otherwise he would not have baptized Crispus, or Gaius, or 'the household of Stephanas,' but preaching was his principle work." - Poole (Annotations, 1Co 1:17) 4. "...bearing mind Paul's other utterances about baptism, v.17 is to be interpreted in the light of the Semitic manner of laying stress on an issue: Christ sent Paul to preach the gospel rather than to baptize. But this is no depreciation of the value of baptism." - Beasley-Murray (Baptism In The New Testament, p.181) CONCLUSION 1. When one considers all the evidence we have about the situation at Corinth, we learn... a. Many were baptized as a result of Paul's preaching - Ac 18:8 b. Paul was glad that he did personally baptized few, because of the problem that later arose in Corinth - 1Co 1:14-15 2. In the passage so many use to say that baptism is not important... a. Paul emphasizes his role as an apostle - 1Co 1:17 b. Paul's reasoning implies the necessity of baptism (to be called after Christ, one must be baptized into the name of Christ) - 1Co 1:13 Can you rightfully be called a Christian? True, Jesus Christ was crucified for you; but have you been baptized in the name of Christ...?