Now Mid-Acts dispensationalists use this verse to defend their position:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1Co 1:17 ESV)
Their reasoning is that Paul’s purpose was to preach the gospel and not to baptize people. And because Paul’s gospel didn’t have baptism as Jesus’ gospel did therefore Christians under this dispensation do not need to get baptized. In fact Jesus’ baptism only applies to circumcised jewish believers before the Church began. Presumably this would again apply during the millenial age as Jesus’ kingdom message teaching would once again be in effect.
But let’s look at that verse in context:
For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Co 1:11-18 ESV)
So what is Paul talking about here? He is reproving the Corinthian church for dividing into schisms. He’s pointing that baptism into Christ (and notice that the Corinthians who were gentiles were baptized) means that they are followers of Christ not of Paul, Cephas (Peter), or Apollos. But Christ and Christ alone. What Paul is doing here is emphasizing the fact that their baptism associates them with Christ and not with any other teacher. Paul then goes on to emphasize his calling as a teacher of doctrine (1 Co 1:17) which doesn’t mean that he was disparaging baptism but instead emphasizing how the Corinthians needed to understand the gospel.
In fact in Romans Paul uses the believer’s baptism as an example of how the believer has died in Christ and just as Christ was raised so to we were raised into a new life in Christ.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
(Rom 6:3-4 ESV)
Now if Paul wasn’t baptizing people why then would he use baptism as an example of our transformation from death into life? It would be a complete non sequitur unless those Christians to whom he was writing to had actually been baptized.
To summarize: The false hermeneutics of the Mid-Acts dispensationalists actually ascribes to Paul commands and instructions that he did not give. By setting aside the commands of Christ regarding his ordinaces they are producing a false gospel. I’ll end this with what Paul told the Galatians:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9 ESV)