The writing, (all scripture), is God-spirited, (inspired by God, II Tim. 3:16). But this does not mean that the men who did the writing always avoided mistakes in what they did. Nor is this true of those men of whom they wrote.
Paul's writings - not his deeds - are for our guide in faith and practice. In his early ministry he, probably through ignorance, acted contrary to his commission. The fact that he baptized some at Philippi and at Corinth, should not outweigh his solemn words, God-spirited, that "Christ does not commission me to be baptizing," I Cor. 1:17. The latter should be considered for more important than the former. Yet Christendom places great stress on the fact, recorded in the Acts, that he baptized, and absolutely ignores his God-spirited words, repudiating baptism.
Before Peter's visit to Cornelius, Acts 10, baptism had been administered with the idea that it would prove a factor in salvation. That Christ was not dependent on this, has already been shown in this series. At Caesarea, Peter preached to those who received the spirit in his presence. He could not get away from baptism, but he was in doubt about baptizing Cornelius and his household, (gentiles who were already saved), as is shown by his question, "Can anyone forbid water, that anyone of these is not to be baptized, who obtained the holy spirit even as we?" He had never asked such a question before. Those people were not asking for baptism. Peter was in considerable doubt; but, instead of following the safe course, "When in doubt, don't," he did the opposite. His philosophy seems to have been, "When in doubt, DO."
Even as it is now, precedent was a strong factor in "religious" matters, and Peter here set a precedent that Paul follows for a while, until he became fully aware of what his commission was.
In Philippi, Acts 16, Paul was announcing the way of salvation. This he did to the disturbed jailor. "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household," he said. He did not prescribe baptism as a part of the way of salvation. Yet, after the man manifested every proof of being saved, either Paul or Silas baptized him. There was absolutely nothing to cause Paul to do, or allow, this, except the precedent set by Peter. No command from the Lord prompted it. Lydia and her household had been baptized only a short time before.
In Corinth, some time later, when Paul was beset by opposition, the Lord said to him, "Fear not; but be speaking; and you should not be silent, because I am with you , and no one shall place hands on you to ill-treat you, because I have many people in this city," Acts 18:9, 10. "Be speaking." "You should not be silent." Nothing is said here about baptism. Preaching was his job! Yet, strange as it may seem, he neglected the carrying out of his commission long enough to baptize a few.!
I repeat, Christendom lets those acts of Paul outweigh his God-spirited words which repudiate those very acts, I Cor. 1:17.
That the repudiation "went" for Philippi also, is evident by the fact that in later years Paul wrote, to the ecclesia there, a letter devoted entirely to service, and did not one time mention baptism. They were specially told to become imitators of him, and to note those who are walking thus, "according as you ARE HAVING us for a model," 3:17. "Are having!" not "had!" He would not have them take his past conduct, before he understood his commission, as a model. What he was doing at the time he wrote the epistle, is to be considered the model. There is much meaning in the words, "are having," (sublinear). It should be so rendered in the Version.
When Paul said Christ does not commission him to be baptizing, but to be preaching the evangel, he was not contrasting his commission with that of the Twelve, Matt. 10. They too were commissioned to preach the evangel, but not the same one that was committed to Paul. They were not commissioned to be baptizing any more than was he. He was contrasting his commission with that given an indefinite number of Jewish disciples, represented by the twelve, Matt. 28:16. That commission is to be carried out while the kingdom is in existence. In other words during the "millennium." This is shown by two statements: "All authority in heaven and on earth was given to Me," and "I am with you all the days till the conclusion of the eon," He will not take His authority and reign, until the kingdom comes, Un. 11:17. And certainly He did not remain with them all the days till the conclusion of the present eon. They are long since dead, and the conclusion has not come. Put that commission in the coming eon, and it fits.
It is worthy of note that the commission under consideration does not include preaching the evangel. They are to TEACH, which can easily be a different matter from preaching the evangel. The law and the word of the Lord, will constitute the teaching, Isa. 2:3. The evangel committed to Paul will long since have closed; the evangel of the kingdom will have ceased at the consummation of the present eon, Matt. 24:14. Those who are commissioned to be baptizing in that era are not commissioned to be preaching the evangel! (In the September issue, page 3, second column, line 15, "evangelized" should be "taught.") [So noted]
Paul's commission includes bearing the name of the Lord "before the nations as well as kings, besides the sons of Israel," Acts 9:15. Bearing the name of the Lord! No baptism is connected with this.
Bearing the name of the Lord before the sons of Israel included more than speaking to them "by word of mouth." His contact with the sons of Israel continued during the two years in which he wrote his perfection epistles, Acts 28:30, 31. During this time he "welcomed all those going in to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God, and teaching that which concerns the Lord Jesus Christ." Sons of Israel were among those going in to him. Those who had no part in the ecclesia which is the body of Christ, nevertheless, found Paul's instruction helpful. With them he maintained a sweet fellowship during that period. Mark, Justus and Luke are specially mentioned in Eph. 4:10-14. At a later time only Luke was with him. Mark having gone away, the apostle wanted him back, II Tim. 4:11.
There is indication that whoever wrote the Hebrew epistle had gotten much of his subject matter from Paul. It is not improbable that he wrote it in the apostle's presence, if not under his direction, for he mentions Timothy, who had evidently been imprisoned, but later released, Heb. 13:23. One would hardly know much about Timothy without also knowing Paul. My theory that it was under Paul's direction that the epistle directs the sons of Israel to leave certain things, including baptisms, 6:1-3, and go on to maturity, is not far-fetched. And who, but Paul, could have said "By faith we are apprehending the eons to have been readjusted to a declarations of God, so that what is being observed has not come out of what is apparent,?" See 11:3. I am not contending that Paul wrote the epistle. But I believe it contains information which the writer received from Paul.
It is certain that Paul wrote one epistle to the sons of Israel. Peter says, "And be deeming the patience of our Lord salvation, according as our beloved brother Paul also writes to you, according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all the epistles, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things hard to apprehend, which the unlearned and unstable are twisting, as the rest of the scripture, to their own destruction," II Peter 3:15, 16. "All the epistles" evidently means those epistles of Paul which we have in the cannon of scripture. "The rest of the scripture," is the Circumcision writing. It seem quite likely that, at that time, those who were really sons of Israel - and this term does not include unbelieving Jews - were acquainted, not only with those scriptures written to them, but also with Paul's epistles to believers among the nations. In the latter the found things hard to apprehend.
But in this passage, Peter speaks of the fact that Paul had written to the very ones whom Peter addressed. He said " - our beloved brother Paul also writes to you." This epistle is not included in the cannon of scripture, and should not be. We know on one thing it contained. Just as those to whom the Hebrew epistle was addressed, needed to know why there is such a long time before the kingdom is established, which information is contained in the expression about the readjusting of the eons, so those to whom Peter wrote, needed to understand the same thing. Paul, in an epistle, evidently brief, instructed them that during the long period when Israel is calloused, God is, nevertheless, saving people. "And be deeming the patience of our Lord salvation," is evidently what Peter had learned from that epistle.
It does not seem unreasonable to think Peter learned from the same, now non-existent writing, that the baptism which saves, is the one that touches the conscience instead of washing the body, I Pet. 3:21.
Christ DOES not, (not simply DID not), commission Paul to be baptizing. The apostle uses the indefinite verb. It tells of a permanent arrangement that will last so long as Paul's ministry continues. And it will continue until the full complement of the nations may be in entering, Rom. 11:25. "Paul" means interval. The interval between the casting away, and the taking back, of Israel, is continuing. Therefore we are continuing Paul's ministry. In his writings, (not in his doings as recorded in the Acts), believers among the nations find all instruction needed for faith, deportment and service. His writings - God-spirited - say baptism is no part of this ministry.
Do you believe it?
The series on baptism will be continued for two more issues, the Lord willing.
Those six numbers will then be bound in one volume, and will be on sale at 15 cents, or two for 25 cents. Only 100 copies will be available, and orders will be booked in the order of dates shown by postmarks on the letters. After 100 orders have been booked, all other money sent for them will be returned. They will be ready for delivery December 1.
Favors received by mail from August 21 to September 21: Lucy J. Fleming, Mrs. D. B. Kirk, Mrs. Alice Blount, Mrs. R. C. Dalzell, Miss Hattie Johnson, E. W. Wheelock, J. E. Carlson, Miss Annie E. Greiner, Louise Stein, E. Wuinee, Los Angeles Ecclesia, Mabel Abbot, S. T. H. Berry, F. J. Kuhn, C. A. Barnes, H. E. Camp, W. H. Payne, four anonymous. Sincere thanks, dear saints.