Friday, 4 February 2011

Called Only to Preach?

1 Corinthians 1:17 (ESV)
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

This verse really caught my attention this morning. Here, Paul is grateful that he didn't baptize many believers because of the divisions in the church caused by the "who-baptized-whom" issue. He even goes so far as to say he wasn't sent to baptize, but to preach. Now I do realize it doesn't say that was called ONLY to preach, as my title indicates. He was a spiritual father and wrote many letters of spiritual exhortation to the churches, but preaching was definitely his sole focus.

However, in what we as Christians commonly refer to as the Great Commission, Jesus commands His disciples to baptize. See what He says.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Notice how Jesus doesn't even use the word "preach" in that passage. His command is to make disciples, baptize and teach. But Paul didn't want to baptize. He didn't believe he was called to baptize. He believed his calling was to preach. How does this work?

I think this comparison shows us again that not all Christians are called to do the same thing. The Apostle Paul, one of the great leaders of the early church felt his calling was to preach, not to baptize, as was given in Jesus' command. Now, by saying this I don't mean to nullify what Jesus said, but could it perhaps mean that we are not all called to do what Jesus said to His disciples, or at least, not in the way He said it?

Each Christian has a specific calling for their life and we have to live within that. Not all of us are called to preach, baptize, and disciple others, but we must all love and demonstrate God's love to those around us. Again, I can't say for sure that I'm right on this matter. What do you think?


  1. A few weeks ago at our annual church leadership planning meeting we as elders were challenged with the idea that everyone has been called to make disciples. I'm wondering if maybe Paul's call to preach came in addition to his discipling and teaching. He did definitely make disciples (thinking of Timothy and Onesimus to name a couple) and did teaching (Mars Hill).
    Just a thought from a different perspective. :)

  2. Thanks for your input Sherry. I did think of him discipling Timothy, which is why I referred to him as a spiritual father. I'm sure if I had taken more time, I could have studied this in much more depth and probably reached different conclusions.