What Does the Bible Say About..? Logo

What Does the Bible Say About...Paul Not Baptizing?

Could you explain 1 Cor 1:17 please?


First let me point out what Paul is not saying in this passage. He is not saying that baptism is unimportant. He is not saying baptism is not necessary. He fully understood that baptism is the point at which sins are removed (Acts 22:16) He himself states that it is at baptism that one puts on Christ (Gal 3:27), and begin a new life (Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12).

The context of the passage is division in the church at Corinth based on who baptized whom. In this context Paul is saying he is thankful that he didn't personally baptize more than one or two people, lest many could proudly say they were baptized by him. Instead, in the verse you ask about, Paul is saying that the emphasis of his mission was to preach the gospel. That was his job. If he baptized anyone (and he had done so), that was not his main job. It didn't matter who actually put the person under the water. Whether they were actually baptized by him, or Peter, or Joe the Butcher had no bearing on their salvation. Whether their baptism was based on the gospel he presented, whoever presented it, was what was important. It is similar to John 3:22-4:2. Jesus did not do the actual baptizing, but his disciples did. Paul followed his example.

Today many people are baptized by the preacher. But that is not the job of the preacher. He is just the convenient person. My personal feeling is that it has more meaning to a parent if he or she is the one who baptizes their child, as I baptized my son. If it is an older person, perhaps the one teaching them or a spouse should be "honored" by allowing them to do the baptizing. Or you could grab the next person passing the door of the building and ask them to do it. If you could convince the local rabbi or the imam of the nearest mosque to do it, that wouldn't make the baptism any more or less valid. Paul is emphasizing in the passage that it is not the person that does the immersing that is important, but the one being immersed and his reason for doing so.