Baptized Unto Whose Name?
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 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.” —1 Corinthians 1:10-17
We have seen that God has established a wonderfully blessed fellowship here on earth into which He has called His saints. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto (or into) the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” The fellowship of God’s Son is that communion of saints embracing all believers everywhere, all who have been washed from their sins in the precious blood of Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Men have formed denominations and so the visible church of God is, in our day, divided into a great many different factions and unhappily some of these factions are very markedly un-christian in their attitude toward others. Yet there are in all real Christian groups those who belong to the fellowship of God’s Son and who, I am sure, are often troubled and distressed as they think of the way Christians are divided among themselves. I have heard people justify these denominational divisions by saying that each one represents a different regiment in the army of the Lord. This is a very comfortable way of looking at it if one does not want to have his conscience exercised by present day conditions but the fact of the matter is that Scripture tells us that divisions are the work of the flesh. It is not the Spirit of God who divides His people into these different groups. It is the work of the flesh in believers that leads them thus to separate one from another into different companies. You say, “What shall we do under such circumstances? Shall we leave them all and start another company?” In what sense would you be better than they, you would simply add one more to the many divisions of Christendom. What shall we do? Shall we not recognize the fact that in spite of man’s divisions there remains “one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4), and so welcome all real believers who hold the truth of God as fellow members with us in the body of Christ and thus endeavor to rise above the spirit of sectarianism and denominationalism which prevails in so many places.
It is not denominationalism directly, however, that the apostle is rebuking in this passage. It was rather incipient divisions in the local church; for these Corinthian believers were not as yet separated from one another into various sects. But in the one local church in Corinth there were different cliques and factions and so there was dissension and trouble. They were losing sight of the blessedness of true Christian fellowship.
Notice how the apostle addresses them, “Now I beseech you brethren.” How in keeping that is with grace. Where grace rules, I command,” becomes, “I beseech.” “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” The admonition is to refrain from murmuring and complaining and from factiousness in the local assembly of Christ in order that all may be bound up in the same mind and in the same judgment. Of course, the Spirit of God speaking through the apostle does not attempt to force all believers to look at everything from exactly the same standpoint. That will never be. No two people ever see the same rainbow. If you stood near me looking upon a rainbow, you would see it differently from what I would because you would be a little way from me and get a slightly different view and then too, my eyes are very astigmatic and yours may be perfect. How foolish it would be for us to stand there and quarrel about the rainbow, about the tints, and so on. Rather let me say, “I am so glad you are able to see it so much more clearly than I, that with your perfect eyes you can get so much better a view of it than I with my astigmatic vision.” And you can think kindly of me and say, “Well, I hope the day may come when you will be able to see as clearly as I do.” That is the way the apostle puts it in his letter to the Philippians, “Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing…If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” We do not see eye to eye even as we read the Scripture. So much depends on our education, on our cultural standards, on our environment. We often misunderstand statements of Scripture because of not being more familiar with the languages in which the Bible was originally written.
You say, “But it says we are to be ‘perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.’ How can that be if we do not all see eye to eye about everything?” If we were to insist that we could have no real fellowship unless we did this, I am afraid our church fellowship would become a very small circle indeed. I do not know where you could find a dozen people who see eye to eye on everything. We have all laughed at the old Quaker who left one meeting place after another and finally some one said to him, “Well, what church are you in now?”
He said, “I am in the true church at last.”
“How many belong to it?”
“Just my wife and myself, and I am not sure about Mary sometimes.”
“It would simmer down to that if we could not have fellowship with those who do not see things exactly as we do. But what about “the same mind?” “We have the mind of Christ.” “The same mind”—that is the lowly mind, the subject mind, the mind that was displayed in Jesus. You may look at things one way and I look at them differently but if we have the mind of Christ, we are not going to quarrel but will get along in real happy fellowship considering one another and praying for one another. And then, “the same judgment,” what does that mean? We read that we are to increase in knowledge and in all judgment. That does not mean judging one another but it means discernment.
Every believer has the Spirit of God dwelling within him to give him discernment and when things come up about which we differ, it we depend upon the guidance of the Spirit of God, He will give the discernment we need. I am afraid some of us never get very far in real discernment, and the reason is that we neglect the study of our Bibles. We are called “a royal priesthood.” In the Old Testament times no man was allowed to be a priest who had a flat nose. What does the nose speak of? It speaks of discernment. Some dish is brought to you and you smell it. You have discerned that there is something wrong with it and do not want to eat it.
Out among the Navaho Indians they had a peculiar idea about the nose. One old Navaho said to me, “Long Coat, where is the mind located?”
“I said, “It functions through the brain.”
“No,” he said “it is in the nose.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, when you want to go anywhere, doesn’t your nose settle it first and then you follow it? When you come to a corner, your nose turns first and then the rest of you goes after it, and when you want to know whether to eat a thing, don’t you use your nose first to find whether it is suitable?”
He was a wise Navaho. The nose does speak of discernment and a flat nosed priest was one who could not discern and God said that he could not serve. I am afraid a lot of us as believers are flat nosed. We are taken up with almost anything that seems to have some scriptural backing and we listen to all kinds of teaching and pay little attention to the careful study of the Word of God. People say, “I go anywhere, I listen to everything for I can get a little good out of everything.” If you do this, you will soon lose all ability to discern the truth as it is in Jesus. It is barely possible that one could so train his digestive powers to get nourishment out of sawdust but why eat that when you can eat good substantial oatmeal? And what is the use of going after all kinds of fads and follies when you can have the pure unadulterated Word of God? “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Now the apostle gives one of his reasons for writing this letter. “It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.” Observe first, the apostle has heard a bad report about these Corinthians. He is going to write them about it and he tells them exactly who brought the bad report. He would have no sympathy with these anonymous letter writers who write, “Dear Pastor: Perhaps you do not know it but there is a woman in the church doing very prominent work who is a thorough hypocrite. I hope you will see that she is disciplined. Sincerely yours, a lover of Christ.” The apostle would never pay any attention to a thing like that, nor would he have any sympathy with the person who came to him and said, “Brother Paul, I am sorry to speak to you about this but there is one of our brethren—don’t for anything say that I told you—but Mr. So and So, oh Brother Paul, it is perfectly dreadful—I do hope you will do what you can—but don’t give him the least idea that I told you.” I think Paul would say sternly, “What business do you have coming to me blackmailing a brother when you are not willing to face him openly about it?” And so when they sent a bad report to Paul regarding these Corinthians, he wrote them about it and said, I received this report from the house of Chloe.” It if is not true, the house of Chloe would have to face the fact that they had been guilty of libeling the Corinthians. In this case it was true but Paul is straightforward about it and said, It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you”—there was division right in the local assembly of Corinth. Then he uses an illustration to show what he means. “Every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”
“I am of Paul”—Paul, the teacher. “I like the real Bible teaching, I do not have much use for this other kind of thing, I am not interested in evangelism and exhortation, I like Brother Paul for he feeds my soul—I am of Paul.” And another said, I am of Apollos.” Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scripture. “I like a man that can stand up and give a wonderful oration, a man who can give a great address winding up with a marvelous peroration that almost brings you out of your seat. That is the man for me. I am not concerned about these dry Bible teachers, I want something to thrill my blood and stir my soul.” And then others said, I am of Cephas. I like these practical men, these exhorters, Cephas, the man who over and over again used the words, ‘I stir you up.’” And then others said, “Well, you may have Paul and Apollos and Cephas but I am of Christ. I am not interested in any one else. I do not need any man to teach me, I am of Christ and I do not recognize any of the rest of you. Stand by, for I am holier than thou.” Have you ever seen that crowd? They are the most conceited of all.
These were not the actual names that were used. In chapter four, verse six we read, “These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” Paul is saying, “You see, I have simply used this figuratively.” It was not actually Paul and Apollos, it was men in their local group and they were saying, “Well, I am for this brother and I am for this other one,” and another, “I am of Christ and am not interested in any of the rest of them.” And so Paul put in his own name and that of Apollos and Cephas to illustrate how wrong this was. And then he asks the question, “Is Christ divided?” Is it only a little group who are of Christ? Even those who sometimes say, “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas,” if they are truly converted, are all of Christ. And so no one group should arrogate that distinction to themselves.
“Was Paul crucified for you?” What does he mean by that? I am not to take any man and make his name the head of a party, I am to remember that the fellowship to which I belong is that of the One who was crucified for me. We owe a great deal to Paul. I think after I have seen the Lord Jesus Christ and my father and mother, the next one I want to see is the apostle Paul. I want to have a good talk with him and tell him how much the messages he left on record have meant to me. But Paul was not crucified for me. He helped to give me a better understanding of the One who was crucified for me and so I value his ministry.
“Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” Why does he put this question? The only One that I am to recognize as the head of the Church of God is the one in whose name I was baptized. Do not get the idea as some have that the apostle Paul was putting a slur on baptism, that he meant to imply that baptism was an unimportant thing eventually to have no further place in the Church of God. He is recognizing it as a tremendously important thing when he bases his argument upon it. When you became a Christian, in whose name were you baptized? In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Very well then, you belong to Him. Recognize the entire fellowship of which He is the head but do not try to make His name the head of a party and do not make the names of His servants the heads of parties but recognize that the only real head is Christ.
Because of the fact that these Corinthians were making so much of individuals, Paul says, “I am very thankful as I look back that I personally did not do the baptizing in many cases.” He is not saying, “I am thankful that you were not baptized.” They were baptized. We read, “Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized.” Their baptism followed their believing. But he says, “I am very thankful, since you are so given to party spirit, that so few of you can say ‘I have been baptized by Paul.’” “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus—(he was the ruler of the synagogue), and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.” And he adds, “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas.” Evidently Stephanas was not with them at this time because he was one who ministered elsewhere. We read in the last chapter of this epistle, verse 17, “I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.” Stephanas, apparently was a traveling preacher. Elsewhere Paul tells us that the household of Stephanas had “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15). Finally he said, “Besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.”
Now he gives his closing argument: “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.” Observe, he is not saying that he was not commissioned to baptize but he is saying that he was not sent to make baptism the important thing. He was sent to preach the Gospel. As an apostle he went out preaching and when any believed the Gospel, they were baptized. In this you get the opposite to the great church systems of today and also of Roman missions. Where Romanism goes it is their first business to get as many infants together as possible and baptize them but the apostle says that he was not sent to do that, he was sent to preach the Gospel and when they believed that Gospel, they were baptized.
I may illustrate this point in this way. I am not sent to try to raise money but to preach the Gospel and yet I have to raise a lot of money. In order to finance this work, one has to give himself to trying to raise a certain amount of money but what a terribly wrong thing to imagine a minister of Christ as sent to raise money. He is sent to minister the Word and to preach the Gospel but there are many other things he will have to do in connection with it. And Paul’s great ministry was making Christ known, it was to preach the Gospel, “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” He did not depend upon mere human oratory nor upon rhetoric but on the power of the Holy Spirit enabling him in all simplicity to present to the people a crucified, risen, ascended, and returning Christ that all hearts might be taken up with Him and men be brought to put their trust in Him. That is the thing that unifies. As Christ is presented to the hearts of God’s people they are drawn together, they are drawn to Him, they are occupied with Him, their glorious Head.