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Baptism, as we know, is one of the two Christian ordinances along with the Lord’s Supper. Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus as stated by Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6. So it is an important symbol.

The Lord Jesus was baptized though it was not necessary for Him as He was the sinless One. But to set us an example He was baptized by John the Baptist. The Master made it clear in several passages of scriptures that water baptism, though it has no virtue in itself to cleanse anyone, was essential as it was a symbol of the greater cleansing. Jesus told Nicodemus,

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5

Also Jesus said in the last Great Commission to His disciples,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” Matthew 28:19

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16

So baptism is an important commanded in the New Testament scripture.

Now what did Paul mean when he wrote to the Corinthian church that particular verse? Let us read the complete passage.

 “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”1 Corinthians 1:11-17

The Corinthian church had lot of contentions and theological problems as you can see right from the first chapter to the very end of the epistle. Regarding baptism they felt that it mattered who baptized them. If one was baptized by Paul or Apollos or Peter, they felt they were greater Christians then the rest. Therefore Paul asked them, “Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

Because of these misconceptions of baptisms Paul decided not to baptize people but to leave that ordinance to be conducted by others, the elders of the church. He wanted to stay focused on preaching the gospel for that was his gift and calling. Baptism could be administered by any ordained elder or pastor.

If Paul did not believe baptism to be important he wouldn’t have baptized anyone at all, and would have written against it. But from the same letter to the Corinthians we come to know he baptized a few people.

Even the Lord Jesus, who gave the command to baptize people, Himself baptized no one. The Apostle John wrote,

John 4:1, 2 “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)”.

So also there are many preachers and evangelists today who follow the example of Jesus and Paul. They refrain from personally baptizing anyone; they do the preaching job and let others who are appointed for it to perform this ordinance!