jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/st-paul-baptizing-300x192.jpgI just realized the solution to a minor biblical mystery.
There is a famous passage in 1 Corinthians, where Paul is rebuking the Corinthian Christians for forming factions around different Church figures, and he writes:
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I am thankful*that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name (1 Cor. 1:13-15).
Then he writes:
I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else (1 Cor. 1:16).
Paul clearly forgot about having baptized the household of Stephanas, but something jogged his memory.
What was it?
At the very end of the epistle, we read about a group of Corinthians who had come to visit Paul and were with him at the time. He writes:
Now, brethren, you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia *, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence; *for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men (1 Cor. 16:15-18).
A-hah! Stephanas was**with Paul at the time the letter was written!*
That gives us a very good idea what–or rather, who–jogged Paul’s memory: Stephanas himself!
In all likelihood, Paul was dictating away, he mentioned baptizing Crispus and Gaius and then moved on, and then Stephanas piped up with something like, “Um, you baptized my household as well.”
And so, having been reminded, Paul mentioned them as well and–lest he forgot anyone else–said he didn’t remember if he baptized anyone else.
Heh. I love little discoveries like that–and imagining the human dynamics at play in the event, such as Stephanas’s embarrassment at having to correct Paul and Paul being embarrassed that he forgot Stephanas’s household and possibly others.
It would have been particularly embarrassing for him to realize that he had forgotten that he baptized the household of Stephanas since, as he says in the second passage, they were the very first converts in Greece!