"For Christ Sent Me not to baptize"??? - by Jeff Grimes

I Corinthians 1:17 - This scripture is one of the most perverted, misunderstood, and misapplied passages in the entire Bible. In discussing the plan of salvation with our friends in the denominational world, and trying to get them to see the importance, as well as the purpose of being scripturally baptized; invariably they will call your attention to this verse. Here Paul says: "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." They quickly emphasize Paul's statement, "For Christ sent me not to baptize...", therefore, they reason that if baptism had really been important, then Paul would have never made such a statement.

One important principle in understanding a passage of scripture is considering the immediate context (verses before and after) in which the passage under consideration is found. Someone has said, "Any doctrine that implies a false doctrine, is itself, a false doctrine." In the case of 1 Corinthians 1:17, the context indicates that Paul is discussing the sin of division (vs. 10) taking place at Corinth. It had been brought to Paul's attention that the contentions (vs. 11) had been produced by "preacheritis". Little did the Corinthian brethren realize it, but "preacheritis" was a serious sin. In 1 Corinthians 3:3-4, Paul refers to the Corinthian brethren as "carnal". Thayer comments on the word "carnal" as, "[It] has an ethical sense of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God; accordingly it includes whatever in the soul is weak, low, debased, tending to ungodliness and vice..." While Thayer's comments have a "Calvinistic slant" he does show, that being carnal is the opposite of being spiritual. The Corinthians were glorying in men (1 Cor. 3:21), rather than in the "cross of Christ" (Gal. 6:14).

With that thought in mind, now consider Paul's statement, "For Christ sent me not to baptize...." Why would you say that Paul? Paul's answer: "Lest any should say that I baptized in mine own name" (vs. 15). The last thing Paul wanted was to bring glory to his name. It is obvious from the context Paul was not minimizing the importance of baptism. After all, Paul had personally baptized a "few" of the Corinthians-Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas (vs. 14, 16). But in order to "nip preacheritis in the bud", Paul let others do the actual baptizing. This practice is common among us even today. During a Gospel meeting the visiting evangelist, as a general rule, does not do the actual baptizing of the one who responds to the Gospel. The local preacher takes care of that.

On Paul's second missionary journey, part of which is recorded in Acts chapter 18. Paul comes to Corinth. Luke records that Crispus, chief ruler of the synagogue "believed on the Lord with all his house", but Paul mentions Crispus in 1 Corinthians 1:14, as one of those baptized by him personally. Now note another part of Luke's account in Acts 18:8, "And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized. Acts 18:11 states that Paul continued in Corinth "a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." The implication is that although Paul only baptized a "few" as compared to the "many", he taught baptism as a part of the "word of God" he preached among them.

Are we to conclude that Paul disobeyed a direct order of the Lord "For the Lord sent me not to baptize..." but the fact of the matter is that Paul did baptize. Question, would this not indicate rebellion on Paul's part? Did Paul do something contrary to the Lord's command to baptize as given in the "Great Commission?" Any thinking person would know better. The sad truth, not many people THINK! They blindly follow the man made religious system of "faith only", and refuse Paul's own explanation of his mission as an apostle of Christ to "preach the Gospel" and let others perform the actual ACT of baptizing.

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