“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) “…Christ did not send me to baptize…” (Tom Edwards)
2) A Simple Observation of a Hebrew Cubit (Tom Edwards)
“…Christ did not send me to baptize…”
The title of today’s article is from a passage that is sometimes used as an argument by those who believe that baptism is not necessary to be forgiven and become a Christian. Of course, we have seen in the two previous bulletins for March 27 and April 3 that baptism is part of God’s plan of salvation. But let us look more into 1 Corinthians 1:17:
The verse fully states, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”
If Paul were not sent to baptize ever, then does that mean, like the Quakers believe, that baptism should never be practiced today for any reason? In other words, instead of some trying to use this passage to only show that baptism is not needful to be saved, would they not have to also be consistent by saying that “Baptism is also not for those who have already been saved without it”? But would not most people who reject the need for baptism to become a Christian, believe that “Christians are to be baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command,” that it is “an outward showing of an inward grace”? So, why the double standard? If Paul’s not being sent to baptize means that it should not be done, then it should not be done for any reason. But that is not what the passage implies.
From the context, it is obvious that the Lord was not forbidding Paul from baptizing people. For he even speaks of those whom he had baptized in Corinth: Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:14,16). Was Paul disobeying Christ by doing that?
Rather than wrongfully viewing the statement in 1 Corinthians 1:17 to imply that Paul was not to baptize, or that baptism is not necessary, we should see that the apostle is simply putting the emphasis on preaching the gospel, rather than on baptism. For without the preaching that instills faith (Rom. 10:17), baptism by itself will not save anyone (cf. Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:36-38).
In the context of 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul did not baptize many of the Corinthians. These Christians were of a divisive party-spirit. Some said, “I am of Paul,” while others said, “I of Apollos,” “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ” (v. 12). Because of their factions, Paul had exhorted them toward unity (v. 10), so that there “be no divisions” among them.
After speaking of the different groups that each were claiming affiliation with, Paul then says, “Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, SO THAT NO ONE WOULD SAY YOU WERE BAPTIZED IN MY NAME” (vv. 13-15, emphasis mine).
Due to those who would have a misconception of baptism — and think they are being baptized into Paul’s name, rather than into the Lord’s — the apostle had no desire to baptize these. So we see more of the need for preaching that others might rightly understand the purpose for baptism. Therefore, Paul had said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” We might also see in this the need for “first things first” — and which certainly doesn’t exclude the second and third things, etc.
Similarly are the “not-but” passages (the “emphasis passages”) in which the “not” does not rule out the need for what it refers to. For example, Jesus instructs, “Do NOT work for the food which perishes, BUT for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…” (Jn. 6:27, emphasis mine). Is Jesus teaching that no one should have a secular job? Of course not. And would we not think that being able to buy food is one of the main reasons for working? Food is essential for the body; but even more important is the spiritual food for the soul. For “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). The great patriarch Job had treasured and esteemed the word of God more so than even “necessary food” (Job 23:12).
If Paul was not to baptize, why did he also baptize those 12 men in Ephesus (in Acts 19:1-7) who had not known about the baptism Jesus commanded, until after Paul taught them?
And remember, too, that Paul is certainly not implying in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that baptism is irrelevant for salvation; For he is the one who had been told by Ananias, whom God had sent, to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins…” (Acts 22:16). And it is Paul who teaches the need for baptism “…so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4); and that we may be “clothed with Christ” by being “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:26,27). For “…we are buried with Him in baptism, in which” we are also “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12); and that God saves us “…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Yes, Paul taught the need for baptism.
For a time, John the Baptist was “…preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” ( Mark 1:4). The Jews of his day needed to realize that they had failed in keeping the Law of Moses and repent of that. “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:30).
So John’s baptism was also important. To reject that was to reject God.
That would have also been the baptism that the Lord’s disciples had been administering, prior to the Lord’s death on the cross: “Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee” (John 4:1-3).
Are we to infer that this baptism was irrelevant or of no importance because Jesus Himself did not personally do the baptizing, but His disciples did? Of course not.
Similarly, it was important for the Corinthians to have been baptized, even though Paul emphasized to them that he was not sent to merely do that; but, rather, to preach the gospel. And, according to Acts 18:11, he had remained in Corinth for “a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” So compare that long period of teaching to the few minutes it would take to baptize someone! What did Paul spend more time doing? For in this we again see why the emphasis should be on the preaching rather than just the baptism. And also because, without the proper understanding and beliefs that the gospel can instill, baptism would be ineffectual.
It is the gospel that is “…the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16); and after hearing that message preached, “Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized” (Acts 18:8).
The baptism that Jesus commanded as part of the plan of salvation (Mark 16:16) is just as important today as it was way back then! Do not allow the multitudes who believe to the contrary dissuade you from the truth! Examine God’s word for yourself to reach the conclusion He wants you to understand — and then believe and obey His soul-saving message! You will not be sorry in the great Judgment Day for having done so!
A Simple Observation of a Hebrew Cubit
Out of all the different kinds of cubits, it is probably the Hebrew cubit of which we are the most familiar — or maybe it being the only cubit to our knowledge. Yet there were also various others that fall within the range of a 3.31″ difference between the shortest and the longest of them, as seen in the following list:
Roman cubit (17.5″)
Egyptian cubit (17.72″)
Hebrew cubit (18″)
Ezekiel’s cubit (20.5″)
Royal Egyptian cubit (20.67″)
Hebrew Long cubit (20.67″)
Babylonian Royal cubit (20.81″)
I’m glad that this one we find used most often in the Old Testament is the Hebrew cubit, and that it is an even 18″. For it makes it much easier to get a quicker grasp on the sizes, since we merely need to divide the number of cubits by 2 and call it a yard! This came in handy when reading, for example, in Exodus 26 of the various dimensions for the tabernacle, where mention is made of “thirty cubits,” “twenty-eight cubits,” “ten cubits,” “four cubits,” and “one and a half cubits.”
Yes, it is much easier to think of 28 cubits as 14 yards (28 divided by 2), rather than figuring 18 * 28 = 504, which divided by 36 equals 14.
You probably already know these things, but this is for those folks, who like me in the past, used to do it the more difficult way.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)