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Bible Gem 312 - The Baptisms (1 Cor 1:13-16)

April 7, 2019

Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!

I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 

for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. 

 (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don't remember baptizing anyone else.) (1 Cor 1:13-16)



As we saw yesterday, the factionalism spilled over into the question of who baptised who. Hey you members of the Paul group, he says. Was I crucified for you? Were you baptised in my name? No way! Paul was glad he only baptised a handful of people: Crispus and Gaius and Stephanus’ household. It seems this only happened because they the first converts when Paul founded the church at Corinth and so Paul baptised them both. Later on others did the baptising. Crispus was the chief ruler of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth, who hearing the apostle, and believing in Christ, was baptized by him, Acts 18:8. Gaius as we know from my first Gems on Corinthians and from Chapter 16 of Romans (Bible Gem 297) was Paul’s host while in Corinth and the host of many others. 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 1:1) is compared with Rom 16:23, then it will appear probable that John wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. I wrote, says he, unto the Church - What Church? Certainly it must have been some particular Church which the apostle has in view, and the Church where Gaius himself resided. And if this be true, we may look for Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) in the Corinthian Church; and the author of the schism of which the apostle complains.” [Source Clarkes Commentary in E-Sword] 


Also Paul baptised Stephanus’s household. Greek writers thought Stephanas to be the jailer baptized by the apostle at Philippi, who had now moved from Philippi to Corinth, and became a famous and useful man there. The fact that Paul says he baptised Stephanus household [οἶκον] has sparked a controversy. Many claim this is evidence for infant baptism. 

Household - οἶκον  oikon. The house; the family. The word comprises the whole family, including adults, domestics, slaves, and children. It includes:

(1)  The men in a house, Acts 7:10; 1Tim 3:4-5, 1Tim 3:12;

(2)  “Domestics,” Acts 10:2; Acts 11:14; Acts 16:15, Acts 16:31; 1Tim 3:4;

(3)  “The family” in general; Luke 10:5; Luke 16:27.


Bretschneider says “It was the custom, doubtless, for the apostles to baptize the entire “household,” whatever might be the age, including domestics, slaves, and children. The head of a family gave up the entire “household” to God.” That adult domestics and slaves were baptized without personal profession or other evidence of faith, is incredible. The word οἶκον indeed includes domestics as well as children, out while the latter must have been admitted on the profession of their parents, it is reasonable to suppose that the children would be received solely on their own profession of faith. I suspect Paul is using this term to refer to the group of believers who met in these homes so referred to. The word can bear that meaning but it is a use of the term that sparks huge debate. 


As observed above Paul’s comment “for now no one can say they were baptized in my name.” suggests the situation has changed and he no longer baptises people. He did at the beginning but then did so no longer. It is my guess that Paul sensed something was wrong with the attitude of the people after the baptisms. He strong statement thanking God that he didn’t baptise any more other than Crispus and Gaius is not a comment on baptism per se, but a condemnation of the excesses and wrong thinking related to factionalism. Paul then takes stock and thinks again of who he baptised and recalls, “Oh yes I baptised Stephanus’s household / house church too. But I don’t remember baptising anyone else.” 



If you spent as much as time praying as you do complaining, you'd have a lot less to complain about. Rick Warren


He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.  Ben Jonson


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