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 no effect.
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Because it is a greater thing to preach the gospel than to baptize, Paul says that he was sent to do the former, not the latter. Not everyone who baptizes is competent to preach the gospel, for the words used at baptism are an established formula. When Cornelius became a believer, the apostle Peter gave orders that he should be baptized along with his household, but he did not bother to do it himself when he had his assistants standing by. It was because Christian preaching does not need elaborate refinement of verbal expression that fishers, who were uneducated, were chosen to preach the gospel. In that way the truth of the message would be its own recommendation, and it would not depend on the cleverness or ingenuity of human wisdom. The false apostles were doing just that, and moreover they were omitting the things which the world does not believe, like the virgin birth of Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. Preaching and the administration of the Sacraments are the two duties of Pastors, but especially the former. And therefore the chief work of Bishops, Archbishops, and Primates is to preach the Gospel: and this they are bound to do themselves, unless lawfully hindered (Council of Trent, Sess. v. c2 , and Sess. iv. c4). But they may with Paul intrust the administration of Baptism and the other Sacraments to Parish Priests and their assistants.
Not with wisdom of words. I.e, with eloquence and rhetorical adornment, not according to the Gospel. The Greek word for wisdom gives us Sophists, the Greek orators who particularly pleaded in the law courts. Of this are modern innovators in religion, who rightly style themselves "ministers of the word." Not so did Paul, "lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect," i.e, should become emptied of its force, by men supposing that they had obtained salvation, and their belief in t...
Because the Jews desire signs, and the Greeks seek for wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and to the Gentiles foolishness; but to them that are called, Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Not to baptize. That is, the first and principal intent, in my vocation to the apostleship, was to preach the gospel, before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. (Acts chap. ix. 15.) To baptize is common to all, but to preach is peculiarly the function of an apostle. (Estius; Menochius; Grotius)
I was sent to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of speech, and as he says in the next chapter, (ver. 13.) not in the persuasive words of human wisdom The Spirit of God, which guided the thoughts and pen of St. Paul, and the other sacred writers, inspired them to deliver the gospel-truths with great simplicity, without the ornaments of an artificial human eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be made void, lest the conversion of the world might be attributed to any human means, and not to the power of God, and of Christ crucified. (Witham)
And not by these only, but also by the next words, he greatly represses their pride, saying, Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: for the more laborious part, and that which needed much toil and a soul of iron, and that on which all depended, was this. And therefore it was that Paul had it put into his hand.
And why, not being sent to baptize, did he baptize? Not in contention with Him that sent him, but in this instance laboring beyond his task. For he says not, I was forbidden, but, I was not sent for this, but for that which was of the greatest necessity. For preaching the Gospel is a work perhaps for one or two; but baptizing, for everyone endowed with the priesthood. For a man being instructed and convinced, to take and baptize him is what any one whatever might do: for the rest, it is all effected by the will of the person drawing near, and the grace of God. But when unbelievers are to be instructed, there must be great labor, great wisdom. And at that time...