“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17). This verse is used by denominations in an effort to counteract the New Testament’s teaching regarding baptism being essential for salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). This is no wonder, even the devil quoted and misapplied Scripture in an effort to get the Lord to do wrong (Matthew 4:6).
If Paul meant by this statement that baptism was not essential to salvation, then it would clearly contradict all other passages which speak of baptism’s essentiality in salvation! in EVERY case of conversion in the book of Acts, water baptism was involved! One can’t be converted without it. If so, one can be saved without the blood of Christ for it is in baptism that you contact the blood in Christ’s death (Romans 6:3). Wherever Paul preached, people were baptized: Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:14-16; Acts 18:8), Lydia and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:14-15, 27-34), 12 men of Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5). Paul later wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that it is by baptism that all get into the one body, the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). He said there is one scriptural baptism (Ephesians 4:5) and that we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3) and by it put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). In Titus 3:5 he wrote of the “washing of regeneration” (baptism) and even said that he was baptized to “wash away his sins” (Acts 22:16). Was he then saying that baptism is not essential to salvation? No, NO!
In this passage, Paul is referring to his primary work as an apostle. He was not made an apostle so that he might baptize, but that he might “preach the gospel.” Baptizing was not an act handled exclusively by an apostle, others could administer baptism. Preaching the gospel was his primary work, baptism was the end result of those who believed and wanted to be saved. This was also true of Jesus, he preached while his apostles did the baptizing (John 4:1-2; Mark 1:4)
HAVE YOU BEEN BAPTIZED LIKE PAUL (Acts 22:16)?