Christ Sent Me Not to Baptize - 1 Corinthians 1:171 Corinthians 1:17: For Christ sent me not to baptize. If that is the end of the matter then Paul disobeyed Christ when he always taught baptism to those who believed and when he did baptize at Corinth and elsewhere.
Or did he?
Paul said: "Christ did not send me to baptize."
Paul did not say: "Christ did not send me to preach baptism."
See the difference? All of the people in Corinth had been told about baptism. The issue was whether they were baptized into discipleship to their teacher in the traditional sense, or baptized into discipleship to Jesus Christ in whose name rested all of the authority of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that without being born AGAIN of Water and Spirit or Water and the Word you CANNOT, SHALL NOT enter into His kingdom or rule which is the Ekklesia or Christian synagogue or school of the Bible. The seven "spirits" of Isaiah 11:1-4 which would rest on the BRANCH are all related to forms of spiritual knowledge. Jesus said "My Words are Spirit and Life." Therefore, you might join a venue for Rock and Roll peddled as "worship" but Jesus Christ WILL NOT be your free-of-charge Teacher until He washes your spirit or mind. Only then do you have access to the seven spirits represented by the Menorah or Candlestick which gave LIGHT to the Holy Place along with the table of bread and the incense altar. Each Christian "priest" must look into the Most Holy Place with their own prayers. Then, you can enter into the Most Holy Place to meet God. Jesus said that the ONLY new PLACE is the human spirit as it gives heed to the Spirit of Truth through the Word. Don't believe the lie that "musical teams" lead you into the presence of God: that makes them claim to be God standing in the Holy Place. Not in the vilest pagan temple could singers and musicians enter into the holy precincts on the penalty of death. Don't follow people making "Christianity" viler than paganism. If you are part of the 5 out of 13,000 congregations then you have become a laughing stock just like the musical idolatrs at Mount Sinai which forfeited and continues to forfeit the Covenant of Grace.
People who refute this have a "spirit" which intends to hurt you real bad.
The Just Jesus or Core Gospel:
False teachers seem credible by quoting parts of Scripture (like Satan) which in the words of Paul "fools the fools." However, Paul's statement of just preaching Christ and Him crucified was his use of irony to ridicule the Corinthians who were not interested in Spiritual things and therefore could not hear the gospel nor could they abandon "their own songs, sermons, speaking in tongues" and other show off "acts" trying to outdo one another being "spiritual." Therefore, Paul begins:
1 Cor 2:1 AND I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev 19:10
1 Cor 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Paul's own life was one who, to be a successful evangelist, had to give up any claim to fame or fortune:
1 Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1 Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1 Cor 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1 Cor 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
Yet the Gospel preaching, so far from being at variance with true "wisdom," is a wisdom infinitely higher than that of the wise of the world
Teleios (g5046) tel'-i-os; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neut. (as noun, with 3588) completeness: - of full age, man, perfect.
Not This if it is human wisdom "sophistry":
Sophia (g4678) sof-ee'-ah; from 4680; wisdom (higher or lower, worldly or spiritual): - wisdom.
The false teachers were "trained speakers" and claimed to be "super apostles." However, the Spirit Word is put in old "clay jars" and if you are looking for a "Ming vase" God isn't going to speak to you. And neither would Paul:
1 Cor 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Therefore the "core gospel" or "just preaching Jesus and Him Crucified" is a brutal insult to the "audience" paying the super apostle for the free Word:
1 Cor 3:1 AND I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1 Cor 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
1 Cor 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
It is a fact that those who claim to "preach just Jesus and Him crucified" don't really mean it. What they mean is that if they just build their foundation on seven facts about Jesus then they can preach another Jesus, another Spirit and another Gospel. This, of course, results in a lifeless "body" or secular institution.
Those who preach that Jesus didn't intend for Paul to baptize for the forgiveness of sins as He gave the great commission and as Peter used these "keys" on the day of Pentecost, use the same, false and destructive method of inventing a new gospel.
Why can they do that? Because, in Paul's words: "Fools love to be fooled."
Too bad so many people feel that they are sent to baptized so that they can "log them in" when they know that the little child doesn't comprehend. What are they doing? They are doing with immersion what others do with sprinkling. Then just wait for the conversion to Christ to take place at some age of confirmation. The early teachers would not baptize those who had given no evidence of dying to self.
AFTER the Reformation, Zwingli (1 January, 1484; died 11 October, 1531) taught the concept of a personal faith-only which saves rather than a system of faith clearly understood among many reformers. His reaction against Catholicism's view of baptism (assumed to be water regeneration) led him to deny that baptism was a Christ-commanded step to salvation. From the 1500s onward a new branch of religion developed which is forced to expend a lot of energy trying to explain passages about baptism in ways which none of about 26 translations will support. Have we missed something?
One important proof-text used to force Jesus to contradict His own revelation through His Spirit is Paul's statement that Christ did not send him to baptize:
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 1:17
Before jumping to conclusions we should remember that Peter warned that people pervert Paul's message to their own destruction. Paul is hard to understand by those "who have not turned to the Lord" because he wrote from a Hebrew perspective and used the parabolic language of the Old Testament. Jesus said, in Matthew 13, that this Spirit language "hid God's message from the foundation of the world." This agrees with Isaiah 6 and 29 and with Isaiah 48 which says that God hid His secrets to keep them out of the hands of mercinaries and false prophets.
If we find that Paul is disagreeing with Jesus and Peter we may be relying too much on human wisdom and not understanding the Koine Greek or common language of the marketplace.
It will help to look at Paul, a Hebrew, who often used various forms of parallelism: the second statement says the same as the first statement, says it in different words, or makes a contrast or etc. Paul said and we arrange it one way:
- 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 1:17
Rather than using Scripture as God's source of Spiritual knowledge, the false teachers develop traditions which become more binding than Scripture:
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13
We must eleminate the dangerous picture of Paul doing something Christ didn't authorize him to do. For instance, if we write a lawyer's brief we will be short, pithy and technical. On the other hand, one writing for general public consumption will describe a sun rise without missing a jot or tittle. Therefore, because Paul writes like a lawyer rather than a pop psychologist talking about himself, one solution is to say that this statement is an ellipsis where words are often left out when speaking in our shorthand way. For example, Paul wrote to Timothy:
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomachs sake and thine often infirmities. 1 Timothy 5:23
Well, we know that if Timothy quit drinking water and only "took" a little wine for his stomach, he would soon die. The RSV and other versions translate this:
No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. 1 Timothy 5:23RSV
From this we know that Timothy had taken the radically-different step to exclude wine from his environment. That is, he was a teetotlar in the sense of being a priest. Paul made it clear that the product of the vine was not inherently polluted.
So, instead of saying, "give up water totally and use a bit of wine," Paul really said, "put a small quantity of stomach wine into your water." This was typically 20 parts of water and one part wine. By the neglect of common sense we can have Paul saying, "I want you to sin a lot so that you can get a lot of grace."
If Timothy had a degree in Lexical-syntactical analysis he might tell titus: "Paul sent me not to drink water."
In another example, John wrote: "Christ sent me not to work for my food." Well, unless we make John 6:27 conditional that is what he said:
Labour not for the meat (which perisheth), but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. John 6:27
And, didn't John write: "Christ sent me not to believe on Him?"
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. John 12:44
That Paul used unscholarly (in the modern sense) ellipsis we believe to be the correct solution but we won't trust it. So, let's look further and see whether Paul violated a fundamental commandment of Christ Who appeared to Him as Holy Spirit and gave him the same commission and promise of Spirit aid He gave to the other apostles. Jesus promised to be with Paul and guide him into all truth.
Let's look at the intellectual chasm between Paul and the Corinthians whom he often insults if we listen carefully.
For instance, the "wise" mercinaries in Corinth made fools of the "pretend-wise" Corinthians and were heavily involved in the "mysteries." In the mysteries, one had to accept the cult, be trained, be admitted by the clan and undergo the mysteries in which a sign or experience of the gods was needed as proof before you could be voted on and join the group. These groups were, in our language, also called "churches" but they were not Christian churches because this was not a Christian principle.
Paul said, "No. It is not that complicated. It is not a system of wiseness or experience or signs or measuring up to the voting standards of the admissions committee. In fact, Paul said, if Christ adds you to His church you will be thought of as foolish." If the world doesn't hate you then your soul is in mortal danger. If you are applauded and even worshipped then your soul is in danger. If your agents attack anyone who would disagree with you then your soul is in danger. If you have to trust explaining away the clear statement of Scripture then your soul is in danger.
And if you don't understand that baptism is simply the time and place where you either justify God (show regard for) or reject the counsel of God for your life then you need to get over it. And you need to quite accusing those who followed a practice for 1500 years of preaching water generation because it is not the truth.
Zwinglian disciples of optional-baptism accuse as cultists water baptizers by falsely associating men like Alexander Campbell with David Koresh. They write to say that: "Scripture doesn't mean what you (churches of Christ) and all of those translators say that it means. Not even Jesus said what you think that he said. If you cannot extrapolate the true meaning then you are a dangerous fellow like 'Jim Jones, David Koresh, David Applegate and Alexander Campbell'." (Thanks to Dee for crucial corrections).
One writer even appeals to modern ways of interpreting old Scripture to keep from getting entangled in the revealed facts. He wrote:
"When we are given the task of "rightly dividing the word" (2 Tim. 2:15), it is not as easy as it sounds. The things we must consider when interpreting Scripture (aka "hermeneutics") include an evaluation of: (1) Historical-cultural context; (2) Biblical context (within the verse, paragraph, chapter, book, and across the whole Bible); (3) Lexical-syntactical analysis; (4) Theological analysis; (5) Genre analysis and ; (6) Transculturation analysis. This process becomes all the more difficult when we attempt to accomplish it without an education in the Scriptures or in the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek).
Oh, yes. Understanding Scripture must take these things into account if you are trying to destroy an old "pattern" or establish a new "paradigm."
However, if Jesus said: "Go, teach and baptize" just what part of the command do we need "lexical-syntactical analysis" to understand?
Is the statement: "Jesus Wept" a call for scholarship? No. Because baptism was such a common practice in all kinds of groups it is not all that difficult if we just believe what we read. Baptism is just a simple test to see whether we have a regard for a simple command and therefore a regard for God or whether we will reject the counsel of God for our lives.
This is why Paul said that he didn't perform baptisms like the world performed baptisms -- as a sign that you had been admitted into the mystery group requiring "lexical-syntactical analysis and into relationship with a human teacher;a
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God,
it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21
Don't you see that if you have to go to the literary analysists (whatever that is) who didn't know what language the New Testament was written in even 200 years ago then you are trusting the wisdom of the world?
Can't one be saved by a faith which leads to water baptism? Need a sign? In John's work looking forward to the cross, the sign that you had "accepted the counsel of God for your life was water baptism."
Paul spoke to this problem when he wrote:
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after (experience) wisdom: 1 Corinthians 1:22
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 1 Corinthians 1:23
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24 (Those who listen and obey are the called)
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25
Paul is devistatingly honest. He said, "well, let's take a look at the intellectual gene pool in Corinth and see how many of you scholars heard the call"--
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 1 Corinthians 1:26
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:27
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 1 Corinthians 1:28
Don't you know that all of that Transculturation analysis to explain away what Jesus commanded is just going to look foolish to the the older widow who needs your help rather than another burden loaded upon her shoulders? Confounded wise men are:
Kataishuno (g2617) kat-ahee-skhoo'-no; from 2596 and 153; to shame down, i.e. disgrace or (by impl.) put to the blush: - confound, dishonour, (be a-, make a-) shame (-d
But, someone is going to remember that John said about the same thing about Jesus? Well, in a way. He said:
Jesus himself baptized not John 4:2
One writer actually uses this to prove that Paul was not sent to baptize. If neither Paul nor Jesus baptized then surely it must not be important. Right? Wrong! Now, look at the truth just as the Spirit of Christ revealed it.
What was the background to Jesus' decision not to personally baptize? Well, the Pharisees are always looking for trouble. "We can pick a fight between the Jesus baptizers and the John baptizers." They knew how much pride was involved in "fathering" an intellectual son as a student under their command authority. Surely this new "cult" can be broken up over baptismal pride:
WHEN therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, John 4:1
(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) John 4:2
But, again, John wrote:
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. John 3:22
We should note that when a lowly believer baptized a person it was in the highest sense being baptized by Jesus Christ. Jesus baptized by His Spirit to bring us all into one body with one spirit. This happened when the person was baptized in water by a human agent.
Why was it important that Jesus not actually handle the body during baptism? Why, I could say that I was more important than others because Jesus performed my baptism. Haven't we heard the tremor of pride that "Old Brother Score-Keeper baptized me in Swan creek."
Why was it important that Paul not personally baptize people? Remember, that Paul had taught and practiced Christian baptism in Corinth. Therefore, he reaches this conclusion only after seeing the partisan spirit in Corinth: "Why, I was personally baptized by the apostle Paul and you were only baptized by John the Tanner."
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. 1 Corinthians 1:12
Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:13
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 1 Corinthians 1:14
Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 1 Corinthians 1:15
Could Paul be saying: "I think God that I did baptize Crispus and Gaius?" I think so as we will see later.
You see, Paul makes it clear to us, that the master teacher must personally baptize you into his own name. However, Paul was not the Master.
Therefore, he didn't actually perform the act in order to keep the pride-level down. We noted above that when one disciple baptizes another it is equal to Christ Himself baptizing them. If the disciple had understood that it was the human Paul baptizing them into his own name then he was not sent for this kind of nonesense.
Next, if Paul literally meant that Christ did not give him a commission to baptize in water, and if all of these people have been baptized and Paul doesn't condemn them then wasn't Paul negligent?
And, if Paul literally meant that Christ did not give him a commission to baptize in water and Paul baptized people then Paul stands self-condemned and was a sinner:
But, he did baptize people in Corinth but not in the Corinthian sense of the word. Look at this passage again:
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 1 Corinthians 1:14
And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 1 Corinthians 1:16
Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 1 Corinthians 1:15
In Corinth ones baptism was valued by the superior qualifications of the master-baptizer.
Paul pricked the ballon of their pride and said "The baptizer is the least important person in the loop. Evangelism is so important that only Christ-ordained men with supernatural gifts of knowledge and language can preach until the revelation was fully mature and put into practice. "My baggage man can do the baptizing because it is Christ Who does the work."
The master, in the educational sense, received a huge ego boost by having power over the disciple.
However, if baptism performed by the least important disciple is really the Spiritual Christ Himself performing the baptism then the candidate cannot give any glory to the baptizer.
He that receiveth you receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. Matthew 10:40
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 1 Corinthians 3:22
Paul did not have to be, and should not be, sent as the baptizer in his own name. He was sent out to preach the gospel. When the gospel was preached people wanted to be baptized. However, once the preaching task was finished Paul should not concern himself with keeping a tally of the people whom he has baptized. He needed to be on his donkey to the next village to preach while the few baptized believers in the old city performed the baptizing of the others.
Remember that when the teacher teaches it is Christ teaching -- the very oracles of God. And when the teacher teaches it is Christ teaching to open the hearts with His Spirit Words. Paul preached in Philippi and:
One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened (expounded to) her heart (through Paul's preaching) to respond to Paul's message. Acts 16:14
When Paul was preaching, he was:
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. Acts 17:3
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us,
while he talked with us by the way, and
while he opened to us the scriptures? Luke 24:32
When the Lord expounded the gospel through Paul, Lydia understood and must have believed. What did she do when she responded to Paul's message?
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us. Acts 16:15
Paul would not have baptized Lydia unless she could confess that she believed in Lord Jesus Christ. However, only after her baptism did she consider herself a believer. You see, even demons can believe and quake but they are not believers.
Paul preached in Corinth:
And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Acts 18:11
Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8
Let's do a bit of "Piney Creek" analysis of that verse.
1.--As the passage is written, we have Crispus and the congregation of the synagogue believing in the Lord.
Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord;
2.--Next, we have the other Corinthians hearing, believing and being baptized:
and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8
3.--But Paul baptized Crispus, Gaius, the Stephanas group and perhaps others.
4.--Conclusion: When Crispus believed in the Lord we understand that he was personally baptized.
5. This is consistent with the statement in Acts 2 that believers were baptized believers.
There was no local "church" at this time, in our sense, to "join." You couldn't join Christ's church even if you wanted to. He must decide to add you to His body. Therefore, Paul didn't take a vote and decide that these people should be baptized. It was part of his gospel message. Paul preached baptism even when he was not sent to do the actual body handling.
Who baptized Crispus as a result of Paul's teaching the word of God?
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 1 Corinthians 1:14
If Paul was literally not sent to baptize anyone then why has he taught baptism and personally baptized some of them? Where did they get the idea that they should be baptized if not from Paul? And why did Paul disobey Christ if Christ did not send him to baptize?
You will notice that there is no hint that they were saved when they believed. Nor is there any hint of a Keeper Group who put them on probation until they were good enough to "join" the church. When Paul taught the gospel their baptism tells us what he preached in order to be a follower of Christ.
Jesus still baptized in Rome when believers were baptized in water
We noted above that when even an "unimportant" disciple teaches another it is Christ teaching them. And when this disciple baptizes another believer it is Christ baptizing. Because Christ returned as the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18) when we are baptized in the element of water He baptizes us into the Spiritual world or adds us into His kingdom.
Old Paul apparently thought that baptism was important in Rome in order for people to be enfolded into the body of Christ so that they did not have to literally die for their sins. Remember that John or Peter or Paul could baptize in Water but only Christ (Spirit) can baptize us into His body. In the form of parallelism, Paul wrote of both the literal body washed in pure water and the spiritual baptism of Christ into His death:
Literal: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into (eis) Jesus Christ
- Spiritual: were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3
- Spiritual: Therefore we are buried with him
Literal: by baptism into death:
Next, Paul reverses the parallelism to put the symbolic or parabolic on the outside to make the connection clear:
Spiritual: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,
- Literal: even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
- Literal: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death,
Spiritual: we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Romans 8:3
If Christ is going to enfold us into His Body in the spiritual sense then we must meet Him where He condemned sin: in the flesh. When we, in turn, are united with Him in the likeness of His death it must be in the flesh.
Paul expained how this happens to the Hebrews:
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
Spiritual: having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,
Literal: and our bodies (soma) washed (the whole body) with pure water (as in rain). Hebrews 10:22
Pagan baptism meant that you were stripped naked and the temple servants removed every speck of physical dirt. The act was purely a physical act in that you were baptized into the group or into the pagan church. Peter said that Christ didn't send anyone to baptize in the commonly understood mind of human wisdom. Christian baptism in literal water is the time and place where you ask Christ to put you into His Body which is the only place you can shed your old "dead body" and live in relationship to the body of Christ "in heavenly places."
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save (sozo) us
not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,
Literal: but the (request for) a good conscience toward God,
Spiritual: by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21
When we obey the gospel of Christ we yield ourselves to Christ. Obedience to Christ in this passage means to be baptized into Him. This, in turn, means that we continue to follow Him in all of our actions.
This is the pattern or form of doctrine commanded by Jesus Christ:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (sozo);
but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16
Paul has no doubt: our obedience is on the path to righteousness because we yield ourselves to doing what is not wise in our own eyes:
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;
whether of sin unto death,
or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:16
Or as the RSV reads:
Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death, or
of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16RSV
In context, Paul calls us back to the beginning:
Therefore we are buried with (spiritual) him by (literal) baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
This is exactly the form or pattern baptism Luke wrote about and which many rejected. The Pharisees and lawyers declared God unrighteousness because they rejected His counsel which means that they refused to be baptized:
And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. Luke 7:29
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God (for) themselves, being not baptized of him. Luke 7:30
The believers obeyed and were justified or declared righteous. Those who refused to obey brought damnation upon themselves by actually declaring that God was not justified or righteous. When they rejected baptism they rejected the counsel or pre-plan of God for their lives. The meaning of Christian Baptism has not changed except now Father-Son-Holy Spirit dwell in Jesus into whose name we are baptized.
Paul was sent to preach. Preaching made people want to be baptized. Either Paul or a slave could do the baptizing. The "handler" is not important because one is being baptized in or in connection with Christ. Therefore, the Corinthians should give up on "preacher worship" and give the glory to Christ. And the preacher must throw away his tally book.
Those who use 1 Corinthians 1:17 as their authority for minimizing water baptism try to reject the counsel of God for the lives of untold other people. All of the evidence would tend to show that there is a deep-seated spirit of rebeliousness in people like the humanist, Zwingli, who is the father of those who reject the counsel of God for their own lives by trusting their own faith.
Peter said that careless people pervert Paul's deceptively simple teachings to their own destruction -- and to the destruction of those whom they teach to reject the clear teaching of Jesus.
No, there is no magical power in water. However, if God tells us to baptized in water and we refuse then the power of death will grip us in its wet grave because baptism was the time and place where we repudiated God by rejecting His pre-ordained counsel for our lives and where we told others that they could ignore the external command of Christ as long as we internally believe that He existed.