1 Corinthians 1:17
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words…
No man did so much as Paul to prevent Christianity degenerating into form. He had himself been galled by the bondage of the old dispensation, and he the more rejoiced in the liberty of the new. He upheld the spirit against the letter, the life against the ceremony. He did not depreciate baptism, for it would not have been easy to depreciate the ordinance and at the same time to honour the spiritual reality it symbolized. But others could and might administer the rite of purification; he was at liberty to leave this to them, in order to give himself the more devotedly to his own special and appointed work, the preaching of the gospel.
I. THE LANGUAGE EXPRESSES THE CONVICTION OF A DIVINE MISSION.
1. The Christian, and emphatically the Christian preacher, does not go his own way and do his own work in the world. He does not claim to direct his own steps.
2. Christ is the sender. To Paul he had said, "Unto whom now I send thee;" and Paul acknowledged concerning his commission, "I received it not of men." It is a high and sacred truth that we are sent men. The soul that awakens to a sense of the reality of life and hears the voice of God, proves its vitality by exclaiming, "Here am I; send me." Every Christian is, in a sense, a missionary, an apostle of Christ.
II. THE LANGUAGE ASSERTS THE VAST IMPORTANCE OF PREACHING. It is common amongst worldly men to undervalue this spiritual agency; they think more of political or physical power than of moral influence. What is preaching? It is the use of moral means towards a moral end. It is the presentation of truth to the understanding, of authority to the conscience, of persuasion to the heart. Above all, it is the use of a Divine weapon, though with an arm weak and ill adapted for a service so high. Our Lord himself was a preacher, Paul was a preacher, and preachers have been among the greatest moral factors in the history of all Christian nations. Preaching is the vehicle of a Divine blessing, the means towards a Divine and immortal result.
III. THE LANGUAGE LAYS STRESS UPON THE SUBSTANCE OF CHRISTIAN PREACHING. Paul felt himself called and qualified to preach the gospel.
1. This was good news. An argument may be reasoned, an oration may be declaimed, a poem may be sung, but that which has to be preached is good news.
2. It was good news from God. From any inferior source good tidings could scarcely have deserved the name. Man needed pardon, the principle and power of a new life, hope for the future; and these were blessings God alone could bestow.
3. It was good news concerning Christ. Thus to preach Christ and to preach the gospel were one and the same thing. For Christ was to man the wisdom, the power, and the love of God.
4. It was good news for all men. It brought liberty to the Jew and light to the Gentile, truth to the inquiring, comfort to the sorrowful, peace to the sinful penitent, and hope to the downtrodden and the slave.
1. The preacher may be reminded of his true vocation.
2. The hearer of the gospel may be reminded of his precious privilege and of his sacred responsibility. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.