1 Corinthians 1:16


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 1 Corinthians 1:16

As Paul is putting forth his thoughts for the epistle, he realizes that when he had just stated that, “I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius…” wasn’t exactly correct. And so he amends his thoughts here using the Greek term de. As Vincent’s Word Studies indicates, “The de … has a slightly corrective force.” It would then be something like writing, “I only like chocolate ice cream. Oh, and I also like vanilla and strawberry too.” It isn’t an untruth, but a thought based on reflection.

In the process of his thoughts came the reminder of “the household of Stephanas,” and suddenly he realized that he had “also baptized” them. In 1 Corinthians 16:15, Paul will call the household of Stephanas “the firstfruits of Achaia.” They had readily come to Christ at the first preaching of the gospel and Paul had baptized them. Because it was at such an early point, certainly before any formal church or meeting place had been established, it had slipped his mind. Then, to ward off any other omissions as intentional deceit, he finally adds in, “Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.”

There could have been someone that he had simply forgotten about. Maybe there was someone there in Stephanas’ household that wasn’t a member of the family or servants who could later state that what Paul said wasn’t accurate. He has thus preempted such a charge. In the coming verse, he will explain further the reason for his detailed words concerning baptism.

This is a good verse to stop and consider what “household” means in connection with “baptism.” This is especially needed because the doctrine of “infant baptism” is often tied to this and several other verses because the term “household” seems all inclusive. The word rendered “household” is oikos and generally covers the two greater concepts of a) a house, the material building, and (b) a household, family, lineage, nation. Depending on the context, it refers to any of the following: descendants, families, family, home, homes, house, household, households, itself, palaces, or place.

In Titus 1:10, 11 Paul makes the following statement –

“For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Speaking of those who are disruptive and destructive, he says that they “subvert whole households.” In this, he uses the adjective translated as “whole” in order to show that entire households can be swept up into false teachings. If the term “households” was intended as all-inclusive for baptism (including infants), one would think that a similar adjective would be used. Being baptized into the faith is surely as important as being apostatized!

Therefore, the term “household” which is a general term, should be considered in a general sense unless it is accompanied by an adjective to further refine what is being stated. It is only a presupposition at best to state that infant baptism is intended by passages such as this one. Further, because baptism reflects a personal commitment to the Lord, it should be on the more conservative interpretation of “household” that an interpretation should be made; it is general in nature, not specific and all-inclusive.

Finally, the wording in today’s verse which shows that Paul isn’t completely sure of a matter (meaning who he had baptized) in no way diminishes the doctrine of “divine inspiration.” Just because something isn’t known by the human author of an epistle has no bearing on whether or not the Holy Spirit knows. There are ten jillion times ten jillion things (and more!) known to the Holy Spirit which are unknown to any human. What He chooses to include in His word is at His prerogative, including human failings and uncertainties.

Life application: Seemingly insignificant verses found in the Bible often contain some of the most theologically important concepts for us to consider. As you read the Bible, take time to think on “why” certain things are mentioned and why the Holy Spirit allowed their inclusion in the Bible. Don’t listen to liberal-minded scholars who would try to diminish the importance of what is stated, but think on what God is conveying to you. Every word is pure and perfect and is given to us to learn more about God’s wonderful plan for us.

O God, I often read Your word and wonder why certain things are included in it. Some things seem harsh, some seem confusing, and some seem without purpose. It is at these times that I know I need to stop and consider why You would include them. When I attempt to look at things from the greater perspective, I often realize that what I thought at first was wrong… Instead, I see things from a different way and realize that every word is so perfectly placed. What a wondrous joy it is to read and think on Your word. Thank You for it, O God. Amen.



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