1 Corinthians 1:14-18
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;…
It did not concern baptism, but preaching. Rites are of value in relation to the Christian life and culture. But rites may be overvalued, and, instead of helping the apprehension of spiritual realities and duties, may be sought for their own sakes. This peril always lies in symbols. The commendation or the establishment of rites had no place in Paul's mission. They would have confused his presentation of the doctrine of "Christian liberty" under Christ; though he himself observed rites; and we are able to see how sacrament and ceremonial may be in full harmony with our freedom in Christ. The expression "baptized into the Name" needs explanation. Here "baptism" is the public act by which our discipleship to a person is declared. Illustrate by the branding of cattle or slaves, or by the public declaration of having adopted a child as son and heir. Baptism is a voluntary taking on ourselves of a Name; from it we are called "Christians;" we bear on us the Name into which we were baptized, and are under pledge to live in the spirit worthy of that Name. With the administration of any rite Paul contrasts his call to preach the gospel. The nature of his call may be thus enlarged on. He was -
I. TO PREACH. A term used in the Acts as distinct from teach. "Daily... ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." The figure in the word is that of the herald, whose duty is to go from place to place, and announce, or declare, a message, or proclamation. John the Baptist preached as a herald. When our Lord sent the apostles forth on a trial mission, he would instruct them in their work as preachers, "As ye go say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Press, that still preaching is the authoritative announcement of God's mercy to men in Christ, and, the demand at once to accept that mercy.
II. TO PREACH THE GOSPEL. The very essence of the gospel is given in John 3:10. It has these points - Man's need and helplessness; God's love and pity; the effective manifestation of that love in Christ; the requirement of faith in the Redeemer thus set forth. The power that lies in the simple announcement of the gospel may be illustrated by the familiar story of Kajarnak the Greenlander and the early Moravian missionaries.
III. TO PREACH THE GOSPEL IN SIMPLICITY. Not with elaborations of "human wisdom," or as trusting to the artifices of "human rhetoric." Paul wanted no other power than that which lay in personal conviction and simple fulfilment of the duty imposed upon him. To him the persuasion and power of the gospel lay in its simplicity. He preached Christ, and strove to draw men to him in trust and love.
IV. TO PREACH THE GOSPEL EVEN IN THE ASPECT THAT MEN WOULD RESIST. He was not to hold back the story of the cross, however Jew or Greek may seem to be offended at it; he was to declare the whole gospel he had received; and he was to be quite confident that God could and would make it power unto salvation. In this we have the very essence of missionary work in every age. A kind of work that has its spheres both at home and abroad; and finds its agents in all who, having received the gospel, find an inward impulse urging them to make that gospel known. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;