1 Corinthians 1 reveals Paul’s concern over the divisions in the church of Corinth. Members of the church were fighting over who they should listen to. This was upsetting to Paul and a blatant denial of the Gospel.
Here’s what Paul says about this:
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptised in my name. 1(Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:13-17)
Paul says he only baptized a handful of people. You would think, as a major apostle of the New Testament and with all the hubbub we’ve tacked onto baptism, that Paul would have been a leading baptizer. Nope, just a couple people.
Why? It seems like Paul is saying that if he baptized people it would have caused strife. You can see this clearly with a little imagination. Imagine being baptized by the Apostle Paul! Would you not brag about that?
“Ha, loser. I was baptized by THE Apostle Paul; you just had some local pastor. How pathetic!”
You know that would happen! So Paul says he avoided it. If he had baptized some in Corinth he says it would have just caused more division.
People are nuts. We divide over everything and unfortunately the church is no different. As I said yesterday, if we’re baptized in Christ all physical identifiers are no longer important to us. It’s all Christ.
Yet Church History is filled with divisions. Many of those divisions are over baptism. Catholics feel their baptism is best, Lutherans disagree, Baptists, while not eating potlucks, are sitting in the corner judging both.
We divide and fight over baptism linked up with who baptized us. It becomes less about Christ and more about Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Mormons, and who knows who else.
I think this also explains why in John 4:2 it says that Jesus never baptized anyone, only His disciples did. Can you imagine going through life bragging about how you were baptized by Jesus, the Son of God, Himself? That superiority would pass down through the generations of your family and cause so much trouble.
If your view of baptism is identified with a person or institution more than Christ, you have missed the point completely.
Baptism is to eliminate all cause for division because the one baptized is dead, fully raised up and identified with Christ. Yet we’ve taken baptism and instead made it into a battle of institutions and celebrity dunkers.
It’s sickening actually.