Last time we looked at the logic of Paul's ministry and also his statement that Christ sent him "not to baptize". There is a wrong syllogism that many who promote a mid-Acts start for the sussoma use and which can only be rectified by accepting the clear Acts 28 divide that the Holy Spirit has recorded for us in the scriptures.
We will now continue with some more truths from the scriptures concerning baptism, connections and dissimilarities which point the way to more light and understanding both of the Mystery and the times of Messiah Isa.33:6.
Paul in showing how he baptized only a few people laid the foundation for his argument that he did not baptize in his own name. It is evident from the context that those whom he did baptize were baptized in the name of Jesus. In Matt.28:16-20, the Lord gives the 11 instructions about a ministry to the nations.
19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος·
20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδού, ἐγὼ μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. Ἀμήν. (Mat 28:19-20 TBT)
These verses can be diagrammed as follows:
These verses have two main sections connected by kai. The first section divides in three, discipling, baptizing and teaching. The point that stands out clearly from the morphology and symmetry is that the nations were to be made disciples, they (the nations, antecedent of autous) were to baptized in the name of the trinity and taught to obey all things that Jesus had commanded the disciples. The Lord's ministry during the gospels was very Jewish, and the disciples were to continue this. Nations not individuals were to baptized with this formula. The formula for baptism in the Acts was "in the name of Jesus" see Acts 8:38; 9:18; 16:15, 33; 18:8 and here in 1 Cor 1:13-17 by implication.The national baptisms were consistent with the ministry given to Israel as the head, to be a nation of priests to carry out God's mission as the mediatorial kingdom and be the salt of the earth. But if the salt would lose its savor then it would be thrown out. This national ministry was the overarching job given to the 11 as representatives of the favoured nation, but first they were to make Christ manifest to Israel so that as a united nation they would serve Christ until the consumation of the age.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. (Joh 1:31 KJG)
John the baptizer made it clear why he baptized with water -- to make Christ manifest to Israel. Should we do so today? Well if Israel has been judged Acts 28:28 why should we seek to give them the advantage? Further, one baptism is to be observed today (Eph. 4:5).
There is a connection between John and Peter,
4 ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, καὶ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. (Mar 1:4 TBT)
38 Πέτρος δὲ ἔφη πρὸς αὐτούς, Μετανοήσατε, καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, καὶ λήψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος. (Act 2:38 TBT)
Both Mark and Luke record that John and Peter (respectively) preached a baptism of repentance εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν "for the remission of sins", notice the close connection between baptism, repentance and remission of sins. This links the two ministries and ministers. Further, in between these two times we have the statement of Mark 16:15-18
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Belief and baptism then salvation -- this is hardly Paul's "my gospel" but it does coincide with and link with baptism unto or for the remission of sins either side of the cross. After this comes the outward manifestation of the gifts all of which form a part of the confirmatory ministry of the Holy Spirit.
If we are to accept the notion that Eph 4:5 is water then we must also believe that the reality or substance which is Christ, the true circumcision,the true baptism (performed through the faith of the operation of God) is now to be supplemented with a shadowy water observance! Putting PAul's prison ministry into the Acts is a clear Mid-Acts disaster and does not help to answer the baptismal confusion that is within professing Christianity today.
In 1:17 Paul qualifies how the gospel was to be preached "not with wisdom of words" lest the cross of Christ be ineffectual. We should be careful about this also -- playing with words and dressing the gospel up to the point where it becomes something else, different and perverted would bring the condemnation of God Gal 1:7ff. He then continues
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
It is the word or message of the cross which is to them who are perishing moria or foolishness. But to us (those who are saved) it is the power of God. There is a beautiful men.. de construction here that allows a nice comparison to be made between foolishness and power. The lost will see the message of the cross as moronic and will respond with pride and arrogance. It is just as true then as now that for us who are saved it is the power of God, the evidential and confirming miracles are not ours because of the change in God's economy since the fall of Israel at Acts 28 but the power is still there which brings life to the dead. Is it foolish to look for a "real" resurrection from that dark hole in the ground that awaits all of us? I think not -- we must NOT spoil that message with human fallen arrogance and man's wisdom. As Paul says to the Galatians:
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Gal 5:11 KJV)
There are parallels that come to us in this age -- it would be a temptation for some to smooth out the gospel of the unsearchable riches and make it a part of the jeish economy so that differences are removed. This would not be in accord with the message of PAul the prisoner of Jesus Christ.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
This comes from Isaiah 29:14 which says:
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Notice that Isaiah is very specific to his audience Israel, and this verse finds its place in a context where the LORD has poured out a spirit of deep sleep. This is exactly what we find in the acts -- a spirit of deep sleep is on Israel. The prods of Paul through the inclusion of the Gentile does not ultimately work. If the gospel message about Christ's cross work is a mystery to people, how much more the revelation of "The mystery" is to the saved.
There were a number of baptisms performed in the Acts, an important one that began with John and was continued by Peter functioned to make Messiah manifest to Israel, this is not something we should be involved with today. Why?
- We have been given a new unity made by the Spirit and commanded to keep it, part of which is "one Baptism"
- To observe any other baptism would be to destroy this unity
- It would be confusing -- why should we be involved with a shadowy water ceremony that has its roots in Israel's picture book.
May we all grow in grace as we study this exciting book which provides insight into the Acts period and also importantly that contain issues that we face today.