“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)
Many interpret Paul’s statement to mean baptism is not essential for salvation. By doing so they set Scripture against itself. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Peter said baptism is “for the remission of sins”, and that baptism “saves us” (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). Ananias told Saul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). There was division in the Corinthian church. Although Paul had baptized Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas, he was glad he had not personally baptized more, “lest anyone should say they I had baptized in my own name” (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Did Paul violate verse 17 by baptizing these people? Not at all. As an apostle, Paul’s work was especially to preach the gospel. Others could baptize the sinners who responded to the gospel call to be saved. Who baptizes you is inconsequential. What is crucial is unity in Christ and His gospel, not division over men. Unity in Christ includes the gospel truth that water baptism is essential for salvation.