Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that Christ did not send him to baptize. Does this mean that baptism is not necessary for salvation? Karlo Broussard gives the reason why the answer is no and explains what Paul meant.
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.” Many evangelicals see this passage as an indication that baptism is not necessary for salvation.
But is this true? The answer’s no and here are some reasons why!
First, Paul doesn’t mean, “I don’t have authorization to baptize.” If he did mean that, then he would have acted in disobedience when he baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas, which he tells us about in the preceding verses. Do we want to say that the great Apostle Paul was disobedient to Jesus’ instruction? Of course not!
Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense that Paul would not have a mandate to baptize when Jesus tells all the apostles in Matthew 28:19-20 to go into all the nations and make disciples by baptizing them.
So, what did he mean?
It’s much more likely Paul was using hyperbole in order to stress two important things: 1) the focus of his ministry was to preach the invitation to salvation and not so much the response to the invitation, namely baptism; and 2) it doesn’t matter by whom you’re baptized—whether it’s Cephas, Apollos, or Paul—it’s the same baptism and every Christian belongs to Christ. This is topic of the preceding verses leading up to the verse in question.
So, Paul doesn’t intend for his readers to think baptism is not necessary for salvation in 1 Corinthians 1:17. That’s simply a misunderstanding of the text.
If you want to learn more about this topic and others like it, visit our website at catholic.com.
For Catholic Answers, I’m Karlo Broussard. Thanks for watching