Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 3, 1949
NUMBER 26, PAGE 3,6a

"Is Water Baptism For This Age?" -- No. 2

Felix W. Tarbet, Colorado Springs, Colorado

In a previous article I pointed out some of the efforts that are being made by men to circumvent the teachings of the Bible on "Baptism." One of the arguments made by such men is that while "water baptism" was a requirement for salvation under John's teaching; also absolutely essential according to the preaching of Christ; that it was necessary to salvation during the commission as given in Mark 16; that it was still mandatory on the day of Pentecost; and, even was a requirement to Saul's salvation, yet, because the establishment of the kingdom was "interrupted" the God of heaven changed his plans and gave Paul a new commission, a new gospel to preach, which left baptism in water out. It is admitted by these teachers that the water baptism of the Book of Acts was absolutely necessary to salvation, but that the history recorded in he Book of Acts was really an abortive effort by the Lord to get the Jews to accept Jesus so that He could establish the kingdom. Since the kingdom could not be established at that time the era of grace came in and it is for Gentiles. This new age, the age of GRACE, the new dispensation, had been kept secret from the very beginning. Paul was the first one who knew anything about it (we are told). This new dispensation made the commission of Mark 16, commonly called the "Great Commission" obsolete. We are told that the "Great Commission", which included "water baptism" was the "kingdom" commission and was intended for Jews only and, therefore, excluded the Gentiles.

Now, let us look at the Great Commission as recorded in Mark 16:15-16. It reads: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every Jew." Does that sound right? No, and t is not right. But that is what these "dispensational preachers" say it means. It says: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Are not Gentiles creatures also? This same commission as recorded by Matthew says: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 28:19). One cannot read this and then honestly say that it was just a "kingdom commission" and intended for Jews only. Jesus unconditionally promised that the kingdom would be established during the lifetime of some who were in his presence. (Mark 9:1). I believe that Jesus kept that promise. The Apostle Paul, called by these "dispensational preachers" the "apostle of grace", said that he had been translated into the kingdom. (Col 1:13). In support of this idea that Paul had a different commission from that of the other apostles it is argued that while the commission given in Matthew and Mark told the apostles to baptize, Paul said in the Corinthian letter that he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel The passage referred to is: I Cor. 1:17. It reads: "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" But in the same passage Paul said that he did baptize Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas. Did Paul overstep his authority? Paul wrote in another place that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17). Near the close of his ministry he said: "I have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7). He also said, "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Rom. 14:23). Now, if he did not act by the authority of the word of God in baptizing these few which he did baptize, he was not acting by faith, because faith comes by the word of God. If he was not acting by faith then his statement made long afterwards, "I have kept the faith", was false.

Why did Paul thank God that he had baptized but a few of them? He tells us why. "Lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name." (1 Cor. 1:15). Here he is rebuking a spirit of faction that had sprung up among the Corinthians. Some were saying: "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ," and lest some might assume to belong to him in an extraordinary degree he was thankful that he baptized but a few. He did not thank God that but a few had been baptized but that few of them had been baptized by him. Any other gospel preacher who wants Christ to have all the glory and honor would say the same thing under the same conditions.

Some were saying, "I am of Paul;" therefore, he must prove to them that they are of Christ and not of himself. This he does by calling their attention to these facts: 1. Christ was crucified for them, and not Paul. 2. They were baptized in the name of Christ and not in the name of Paul. It follows that for them to be of Paul, Paul must have been crucified for them and they must have been baptized in his name. For them to be of Christ, Christ must have been crucified for them and they must have been baptized into the name of Jesus. Paul here stated two necessary conditions before they can be of Christ; Christ must be crucified for them and they must be baptized in His name. Instead of proving that baptism was not necessary when Paul wrote this it proves just the opposite. Paul could not have made this argument if the Corinthians could have been "of Christ" without being baptized in the name of Christ.

"Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" What is the meaning of this passage? Its meaning can be seen by comparison. There is a law in grammar concerning elliptical sentences. In such sentences when the ellipsis is implied but not expressed it must be supplied in the mind of the reader or hearer before he can fully understand the sentence. This is a well-known rule of grammar. Now let us look at some examples of sentences of this kind. We will read first John 12:44: "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me." Did Jesus mean that they did not believe on him? No. With the ellipsis supplied the idea simply is, "He that believeth on me, believeth not on me only but also on him that sent me." Again Jesus said, "Labor not for the bread that perisheth but for that which endureth unto eternal life." (John 6:27) Does Jesus here forbid our laboring for the bread or the meat which we eat? No. With the ellipsis supplied the thought reads , "Labor not only for the meat that perisheth but also that which endureth unto eternal life." One more sentence that can be compared to these. Paul speaking to Timothy said: "Drink no longer water but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and for thine often infirmities." (1 Tim. 5:23). Did Paul mean for Timothy to quit drinking water altogether? No. When the ellipsis is supplied the thought is clear. "Drink no longer water only but use a little wine also for thy stomach's sake." This passage in First Corinthians is of similar structure. When Paul said, "Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel," did he mean that he was to preach a different gospel from that preached by the other apostles? (If so, he pronounced a curse upon the other apostles when lie said in Gal 1:9, "If we, or any man, preach any other gospel unto you than we have preached, let him be accursed.") If we simply supply the ellipsis here we can see clearly the meaning of the passage. "Christ sent me not to baptize only (or merely) but to preach the gospel also." The preacher's first duty is to preach the gospel. The baptisms are the result and will follow in consequence. But men who are not doing the preaching could attend to the baptizing whether Paul did or not. Yet he did baptize some of the Corinthians and said so. Again, I ask, did he do something which God had not authorized him to do? It must be apparent to all that such an argument against baptism as this is a mere dodge and a poor one at that. (These thoughts on Paul's baptism were taken from articles by Foy E. Wallace and B. L. Douthitt in past numbers of the Bible Banner.)

Water baptism does not nullify the GRACE of God. It is the only act in becoming a Christian in which the subject is passive. In believing ore is active. In repenting one is active. In confessing Christ one is active. But in being baptized the subject is passive, instead of acting—he is being acted upon. If the sinner's doing something does away with grace, then believing, repenting and confessing are more apt to do away with grace than is baptism. I read from Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." What is this washing which is the means by which mercy saves? We are told in Ephesians 5:25-26 that Jesus "loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." It ought to be evident to all that "water baptism" is for this age, even if Paul is its teacher, because he is the author of these passages.