Tuesday, 18 March 2014
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius… 1 Corinthians 1:14
In what seems an unusual statement at first, Paul notes his great thanks to God that he didn’t baptize any of those at Corinth with the exception of a few he will name. He will give the reason in the verses ahead though and we will see that it bears directly on what he has said in the previous three verses concerning divisions and contentions.
If Paul was the one to have baptized all of these people, then those who were instigating the contentions could state that he was setting himself up as some type of figurehead to be more greatly honored or followed. Instead however, he pursued his job without looking for the notoriety that he could have attached to it by being the “chief baptizer” of the flock.
Baptism is one of the most precious and memorable moments in a believer’s life and it certainly is an honor to participate in the baptism of someone. This is why families often gather around, pictures are taken, and special care is often used to decide who will get the honor of conducting the rite. It could be comparable in importance to choosing who will marry a couple or perform a funeral.
Regarding this highly notable honor of conducting baptisms, Paul states that “I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius.” Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth as is noted in Acts 18:8 –
“Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”
This baptism by Paul certainly made sense. As the ruler of the synagogue and a person in a prominent position to convince others of the truth of the gospel, he himself would then be qualified to perform the rite on others. It would make no sense to not baptize him because then who would do so? But once he was baptized, then he could take over this solemn responsibility for the others who chose Christ.
Concerning Gaius, there is a Gaius seen in Acts 19 during a time of trouble in Ephesus. Then, a “Gaius of Derbe” is noted in Acts 20. Paul notes a Gaius in Romans 16:23 also. And finally, there is a Gaius to whom the letter 3 John is written to. The Gaius being referred to by Paul here is certainly the one mentioned in Romans and he may be the one whom John wrote to. He was Paul’s host and so he probably baptized him personally because of the care he had taken for him as his host.
As a side note to Paul’s statement here, baptism in the New Testament always follows conversion. The doctrine of “infant baptism,” though going back to very early times, is not a scriptural tenet. The claim by adherents to infant baptism is that it is comparable to the Old Testament rite of circumcision. This is a complete misreading of the precept and cannot be so identified with any teaching in the Bible.
Abraham first believed God and then he was given the rite of circumcision for those who followed him. As Abraham is the example of justification by faith, it only follows that those who are justified by faith will receive their external sign after, not before, that justification. Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, and his statements even here in the first chapter, fully support the concept of baptism only after faith in Christ.
Life application: In whatever capacity we serve the Lord, as an evangelist, a teacher, a preacher, or whatever, it should be for the honor of the Lord, not to promote self notoriety. Paul is an excellent example to follow in this. He was constantly redirecting those around him to Jesus. In the end, the Lord sees our works and will reward us for them.
Lord, thank You for the many opportunities You place in our path to serve You. Help us to keep our eyes open for these moments and not to let them slip by. Remind us that we have such a short time to walk here and to tell others about You. Let us not look back in regret at missed opportunities to lead others to You while we have the chance. This I pray to Your glory. Amen.