Divisions and Wisdom (Part 5 of 8) (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Was Paul crucified for you?
This question implies that the crucifixion of Christ had an influence in saving them which the sufferings of no other person could have, and that those sufferings were, in fact, the peculiarity which distinguished the Work of Christ, and caused it to be of so much value. The atonement was the grand, crowning work of the Lord Jesus. It was through this that all the Corinthian Christians had been transformed and pardoned. That work was so superlative that it could not have been performed by another. And since they all had been saved by that alone-they were all equally dependent on his merits for salvation-it was inappropriate that they should be split into contending factions, and located under different leaders. If there is anything that will call back Christians with different labels and of competing factions from the heat of strife, it is the recollection of the fact that they have been purchased by the same blood, and that the same Savior died to redeem them all. If this fact could be kept before their minds, it would put an end to angry strife everywhere in the church, and produce universal Christian love.

Paul was not out-of-line when he asked, Was Paul crucified for you? because he had taught them a better doctrine; to be exact, that Christ was crucified for them, that he died for their sins, and had bought them with the price of his own precious blood; and therefore they were not to be the servants of men, or to call any man master, or to be called by his name. They belong to Him, because the Father has given them to Him; they are to be called Christians, because only Christ redeemed them by his blood; so that they were not their own, nor any other's; therefore, they ought to glorify him with their souls and bodies, which were his.

Their answer had to be an emphatic “no,” because Paul, the founder of their church, had not been crucified, and Cephas and Apollos could not make such a claim either. The glory of Christ then is not to be divided between him and his servants; neither is the unity of the body to be torn asunder, seeing that Christ is still one.

Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul;
Here, Paul solemnly reminds them that their baptism was an argument why they should not place themselves under different leaders; because it was by baptism that they had been firmly and entirely devoted to the service of the only Savior. The implied language is "Did I ever, baptize in my own name? Did I ever pretend to organize a sect, and say that I am its leader? Haven’t I always lead you to that Savoir into whose name and service you have been baptized?" I think it is remarkable that Paul refers to himself, and not to Apollos or Peter. He does not insinuate that the claims of Apollos or Peter were to be ridiculed or that their talents and influence were overrated, as a jealous rival would have done; but he lists only himself, as if he could serve as a bad example. Even though he was the founder of the church, and their spiritual father, he had never desired or intended that they should call themselves by his name; and in this way, he showed the impropriety of their adopting the name of any man as the leader of a sect.

Locke said, “To be baptized into, or unto anyone, is to be devoted to him, to receive and acknowledge him as a teacher, professing to receive his rules, and to be governed by his authority. But there is only One true authority in this matter, and He said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28:19; KJV). The apostle did not make-believe he was the author of a new revelation, or the emissary of a new religion, but was a preacher of the Gospel, and an administrator of the ordinances of Christ; as such he baptized no one in his name; but those he personally baptized were devoted to the worship and service of Christ, and not to the service of men, and therefore, they are not to be called by their names.

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

In Verses 14-16, the apostle gives an account of his ministry among them.

I thank God that I baptized none of you
The Alexandrian copy and the Syriac version reads thus, "I thank my God"; it’s not that the apostle disliked the ordinance of baptism, or the actual doing of it; and much less that he thought it was wrong for him to perform it; and he was not displeased with those persons who wanted to be baptized by him; but on the contrary, he rejoiced when new converts submitted to it; but when some persons in the church at Corinth accused him of baptizing in his own name and then aligning those New Christians under his banner, he was very thankful that the majority of them were baptized by deacons or other ministers. For the reason why Paul did not baptize many, see 1 Corinthians 1:17. As a general rule, baptizing was a job assigned to the deacons—“And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:48)—rather than to the apostles, whose responsibility it was to establish and oversee the churches. The deacons had a better opportunity to give the new converts the preliminary instructions to baptism.

Apparently, some of the Corinthian Christians (probably those of the "Paul Party") made a big deal of the fact that they had been baptized by Paul, and that became one of the issues that was dividing the church.

Preaching was more important to Paul that Baptizing, but he was not opposed to baptizing. It is apparent from this attitude that baptism is not essential to salvation. If it were, that is, if the teaching of baptismal regeneration were true, then Paul could never thank God that he baptized so few in Corinth, and he, as an evangelist, could never say Christ did not send me to baptize. If he thought it was essential he would have kept track of those he baptized, as he did his converts; he would not have said: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other (v. 16). Also, I do not think he was a sacramentalist, because when he says, I thank God that I baptized none of you, it clearly shows that he did not consider baptism essential to salvation or the means to obtaining forgiveness.

It is also evident from this passage that the individual doing the baptizing doesn't really affect the validity of the baptism. Those baptized by the great apostle Paul had no advantage over those baptized by some unknown believer. The power of baptism is in the spiritual reality it represents.

but Crispus and Gaius.
Chrispus was the chief ruler of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth, who upon hearing the apostle, and believing in Christ, was baptized by him (Acts 18:820);and the latter was a very generous and hospitable man, and was the apostle's host while he was at Corinth (Romans 16:2321).

These two were probably among the first Corinthian converts by Paul, who founded the church. Dr. Lightfoot observes: "If this be Gaius, or Caius, to whom the third epistle of John was written, which is very probable when the first verse of that epistle (3 John 1) is compared with Romans 16:23, then it will appear probable that John wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. I wrote, he says, unto the Church—What Church? Certainly, it must have been some particular Church which the apostle has in view, and it probably was the Church where Gaius himself resided. And if this is true, we may look for Diotrephes (3 John 9) in the Corinthian Church; and the author of the schism of which the apostle complains.”

15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
The Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin version, and some others, read, "lest anyone should say that ye were baptized in my name"; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "that ye might not say we have been baptized in his name". This gives the real reason behind why the apostle was so thankful he had baptized so few of the members of this church, which he states as “in case either some should rebuke him for having done it in his own name, and for desiring to be honored for doing it; or in case others should believe that since they were baptized by him, they should also be called by his name and belong to his sect. But this was not something that Paul wanted to happen, and God made sure that it would not happen.

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