Paul, in his letters, often speaks about baptism. Automatically, Christians think, immediately, about baptism in water. This is not right. The baptism in water, as John the Baptist that practiced in Israel (John 1:31), was only a type of baptism with the holy Spirit in which Christ would baptize (Acts 1:5). Baptism in water is characteristic of John, while baptism in Spirit is precisely typical of Christ.
Paul speaks in his letters about “baptized in one Spirit into one body” (1Cor.12:13) and “baptized into Christ” (Rom.6:3; Gal.3:27). It must be clear that this is “not a work of human hands”. Immersion into Christ, i.e., unification with Him is not a ritual and takes place without a drop of water.
Immersion into Christ, i.e., unification with Him is not a ritual and takes place without a drop of water. Of all his letters, only in 1Corinthians does Paul mention water baptism. When we disregarded 1Cor.15:29 (see previous blog) only the following passage remains:
13 Christ is parted! Not Paul was crucified for your sakes! Or into the name of Paul are you baptized?
14 I am thanking God that I baptize not one of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 lest anyone may be saying that you are baptized into my name.
16 Yet I baptize the household of Stephanas also. Furthermore, I am not aware if I baptize any other.
17 For Christ does not commission me to be baptizing, but to be bringing the evangel, not in wisdom of word, lest the cross of Christ may be made void.
Paul is grateful that he has baptized only a few. He was not opposed to water baptism, but it was not part of his commission: “For Christ does not commission me to be baptizing, but to be bringing the evangel…” This is the only doctrinal statement that Paul makes in his letters about water baptism! Is that not significant? As a Hebrew of the Hebrews, the apostle had grown-up with “a doctrine of baptisms” (Heb.6:2), and to this day in Judaism, many ritual washings (mikwa’ot) are an elementary practice. But the “apostle of the nations” explains that for him only “one baptism” counts (Eph.4:5). It is not the baptism in water, but the baptism “in one Spirit: the “baptism into Christ.”
Translation: Peter Feddema