1 Corinthians 1:17—Did Paul oppose water baptism?

Problem: Paul declares that Christ did not send him to baptize. Yet Christ commissioned His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Does Paul contradict Christ?

Solution: Paul was not opposed to baptism, but neither did he believe it was a condition of salvation (see comments on Acts 2:38). Paul himself was baptized by water (Acts 9:18; 22:16), and he taught water baptism in his epistles (cf. Rom. 6:3–4; Col. 2:12). Indeed, in this very passage (1 Cor. 1), Paul admits that he baptized several people (vv. 14, 16) as he did the Philippian jailor after he was saved (Acts 16:31–33). While Paul believed water baptism was a symbol of salvation, he did not believe it was part of the Gospel or essential to salvation.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.