whether we be bond or free”:
The baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is immersion in water, since, as demonstrated earlier, Spirit baptism had ceased by the time the first epistle to the Corinthians was inspired. Furthermore, a reference to Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 would be unique in the Pauline corpus—all other references to the baptism of the Holy Ghost are in the gospels or in Acts.[i] Indeed, throughout the entirety of Scripture, whenever baptism is spoken of without a contextual qualifier (“with the Holy Ghost” “with fire” “unto Moses,” etc.) immersion in water is universally the referent. No contextual qualifier is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Thus, the verse does not constitute a unique reference to Spirit baptism contrary to the uniform Pauline usage elsewhere in his epistles, but a simple reference to baptism in water, like all other unqualified references to baptism in the Bible. Such general considerations from Scripture establish that 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of immersion in water, not Spirit baptism.
The statement of the verse itself supports a reference to immersion in water. As discussed earlier, Christ is the agent of Spirit baptism—the second, not the third Person of the Trinity performs this baptism (Matthew 3:11, etc.). Were 1 Corinthians 12:13 a reference to Spirit baptism, it would contradict all the clear passages on the doctrine by making the Holy Ghost the baptizer. Recognizing in the text a reference to the working of the Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to be baptized in water harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the Bible.
A reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to the working of the Holy Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to receive water baptism fits the context of 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote his epistle to a church filled with “contentions” (1 Corinthians 1:11), where factions had formed claiming to follow Paul, Apollos, and others (1:12). The apostle exhorts the church to unity based on their uniform immersion in the name of the Trinity—they were not baptized in the name of Paul or any other affirmed head of a church faction (1:13ff.), but had all pledged themselves to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the baptismal bath. Likewise in 1 Corinthians 12:13, all the members of the Corinthian church, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, had received a common water baptism into the body of Christ, the local congregation (12:27), and thus unity was incumbent upon them. Having been added to the body by an identical immersion in water (12:13), each member of the church was a body part which needed the others for the congregation to function properly (12:14-27). The Corinthians exulted in the various pneumatic gifts, often improperly manifested among them (1 Corinthians 12-14), but they were to be unified, as they had all been led by the one Holy Spirit (12:13a) to submit to immersion into a common church body. The assembly was to recognize and prize the unity derived from the identical, Spirit-led immersion in water participated in by all its members. Finally, the reference to the other church ordinance, the Lord’s Supper, in 12:13d, supports a reference to water baptism in 12:13a. The context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly supports a reference to baptism in water in the verse, rather than to Spirit baptism.
Water baptism is “into one body” because the ordinance adds one to the membership of the congregation authorizing the immersion. This truth is also manifest in Acts 2:41, 47. Those that “gladly received [Peter’s gospel preaching of the] word were baptized: and the same day there were added [to the pre-Pentecost church membership of around 120, Acts 1:15] about three thousand souls.” These three thousand were “added to the church” (v. 47). The verb “add,” prostithemi, is not just a word for joining a church’s membership in Acts 2:41, 47, but is also employed in this way in Acts 5:14; 11:24[ii] (cf. Isaiah 14:1, Zechariah 14:17, LXX).[iii] Thus, 1 Corinthians 12:13 affirms that, led by the Holy Spirit, the members of the Corinthian church had been immersed in water and by that means had been added to the membership of the congregational body in that city.
“And have been all made to drink into one Spirit”
As the members of the church at Corinth had been contentious and factious over the issue of baptism (1 Corinthians 1), so they had been practicing the Lord’s Supper improperly (1 Corinthians 11). As Paul had exhorted the congregation to Spirit-led unity around their common immersion in the first half 12:13, so he reminds them that they had all participated in the Lord’s Supper, had “been all made to drink,” with reference to the same unifying Holy Spirit. The verb make drink is used for literal drinking in Scripture.[iv] The use of the passive voice for the verb is parallel to the passive voice for were baptized—indeed, the clauses discussing the two church ordinances manifest strong parallelism,[v] a strong argument that the phrase refers to the church ordinance that complements believer’s immersion, the Supper,[vi] the celebration of communion with reference to (eis) the one Holy Spirit. The topical and linguistic connection of 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 to the discussion of communion in 10:16-17, as explained earlier, further supports this interpretation. While a reference to the Lord’s Supper is natural when compared to the first half of the verse, and the perspicuity of Scripture supports the fact that one can indeed determine the significance of the text, the question of why the Supper would be referred to as “drinking” rather than “eating” (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20), along with the use of potidzo as “make drink” rather than the verb drink elsewhere used for the Supper, pino, makes a view that the clause refers more generally to common blessings received from the Spirit, including the Lord’s Supper but not exclusively referring to it, understandable. However, both of these arguments for a wider reference to spiritual blessing, rather than a restricted one to the Supper, can be effectively answered.[vii] While the verb potidzo is not used elsewhere of the Supper in Scripture, the related noun poterion is regularly employed in the New Testament in connection with communion (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:25-28), and the noun is exclusively used—in eight references, all of which are in the two chapters immediately preceding 1 Corinthians 12—with reference to the Supper in 1 Corinthians. Furthermore, the specific sense of potidzo as made to drink, in contrast to the simple idea of drink with pino, emphasizes the work of the unifying Spirit in bringing the Corinthians to both immersion and the Supper. The connection of 12:13 with 10:16-17, with its mention of the Supper first as drinking, explains the reference in 12:13 to the ordinance as a common drink rather than a common eating—contextually, greater clarity is achieved through the representation of the Supper in this manner.[viii] Furthermore, one wonders, since drinking is not clearly a metaphor anywhere in the Bible for general Spirit-produced spiritual blessings, what could possibly be drunk in 1 Corinthians 12:13 other than the fruit of the vine from the church ordinance that complements the baptism spoken of in parallel syntax in the first half of the verse. Contextual and lexical considerations demonstrate that the final clause of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to participation in the Lord’s Supper.
e.) A Summary of the Conclusion of the Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13
In the divided church at Corinth, the ordinances of baptism and communion, which were intended as sources of unity, had been distorted and were associated with divisiveness and strife within the Corinthian congregation (1 Corinthians 1:11-17; 11:20-22). The Corinthian strife was further worsened by the misuse of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul reminded the church that God had given them a common baptism and Lord’s Table, and called them to the unity the Lord intended for their congregation as the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul told the Corinthians, in paraphrase, “Spiritual gifts are for unity in the congregation, the body of Christ—the Spirit who gave these gifts to your church also worked in you to receive a common immersion, and to partake in a common Lord’s Supper—so be unified!”
[i] That is, no verse in Paul’s epistles employs the word baptism in connection with the work of the Spirit in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19. Titus 3:6 does allude back to this action in the historia salutis. A discussion of verses in other parts of the New Testament sometimes alleged to be references to Spirit baptism is found in the section “Spirit Baptism: Other Alleged References in the Epistles: Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21” below. Concerning these latter texts, “It is sometimes argued that certain passages that refer to baptism, without any further qualification, also teach about Spirit-baptism (e. g., Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). This interpretation is usually designed to protect these texts against a view that takes them to teach baptismal regeneration. But, in fact, the early church consistently used ‘baptism’ without any qualifiers to refer to water-baptism. None of these passages, even when taken to refer to immersion in water, implies baptismal regeneration” (pg. 50, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” Craig Blomberg, in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996).
[ii] Note that these verses cannot refer to becoming “in Christ” at the moment of conversion. Those who had already become believers were subsequently “added to the Lord” by means of baptism into His body, the local, visible congregation.
[iii] Isaiah 14:1, kai« e˙leh/sei ku/rioß to\n Iakwb kai« e˙kle÷xetai e¶ti to\n Israhl kai« aÓnapau/sontai e˙pi« thvß ghvß aujtw◊n kai« oJ giw¿raß prosteqh/setai pro\ß aujtou\ß kai« prosteqh/setai pro\ß to\n oi•kon Iakwb, “And the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and they shall rest on their land: and the stranger shall be added to them, yea, shall be added to the house of Jacob.” Zechariah 14:17, kai« e¶stai o¢soi e˙a»n mh\ aÓnabw◊sin e˙k pasw◊n tw◊n fulw◊n thvß ghvß ei˙ß Ierousalhm touv proskunhvsai tw◊ˆ basilei√ kuri÷wˆ pantokra¿tori kai« ou∞toi e˙kei÷noiß prosteqh/sontai, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others.”
[iv] The fifteen New Testament references are Matthew 10:42; 25:35, 37, 42; 27:48; Mark 9:41; 15:36; Luke 13:15; Romans 12:20; 1 Corinthians 3:2, 6-8; 12:13; Revelation 14:8.
[v] pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n sw◊ma e˙bapti÷sqhmen
pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n Pneuvma e˙poti÷sqhmen
One notes as well the naturalness of the aorist tense for the verbs e˙bapti÷sqhmen and e˙poti÷sqhmen as references in the text to baptism and the Supper (contra, e. g., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), which argues in its note on 1 Corinthians 12:13 that present tense verbs would be expected if baptism and the Supper were under consideration). Each member of the church at Corinth had only been baptized once, so the use of tenses common for durative action, such as the present or the imperfect, would not well fit the verse. The parallelism between the two ordinances makes the use of the same tense for both verbs expected, so a requisite requirement of an aorist e˙bapti÷sqhmen would lead one to expect the aorist for e˙poti÷sqhmen. Furthermore, the summary nature of the presentation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 expects aorist tense verbs. The emphasis is not upon the repetition (or lack thereof) of the acts of baptism and communion, but upon the simple fact that the members of the church shared in unifying fellowship around these ordinances derived from the Holy Spirit.
[vi] The variant reading po/ma e˙poti/sqhmen, making the phrase “we have been all made to drink into one drink,” found in around 15% of the MSS of 1 Corinthians 12:13 (while the TR reading has 85% of MSS, including those preferred by the CT, such as a and B), although certainly not original, indicates that scribes copying 1 Corinthians 12:13 thought its latter portion referred to the Lord’s Supper.
[vii] The more common verb pi÷nw appears 75 times in the NT and is simply “to drink” in contrast to poti÷zw, which appears 15 times and is “to cause/give to drink.” The “give to drink,” rather than a simple “drink” sense for poti÷zw is very clear in Matthew 25:35, 42. Pi÷nw is used elsewhere for the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:18), including six references in 1 Corinthians (11:25-29), while no other poti÷zw reference specifically refers to communion. This is a formidable argument against a reference to the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, there are considerable counterarguments to this linguistic challenge.
First, as mentioned in the text, the related noun poth/rion is used in connection with the Supper—indeed, it is used exclusively in connection with the Supper in 1 Corinthians, where it appears eight times.
Second, in 1 Corinthians 12:13 poti÷zw is an aorist passive indicative verb. There are no passive forms of pi÷nw in the New Testament—the verb appears in the active voice 71 times, and in the middle 4 times (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:39; Luke 17:8; Revelation 14:10), and the middle possesses a genuine middle sense, not a passive one (while some might argue that some or all of the middle references are deponent, that would, in any case, make the sense equivalent to the active, not to the passive). The NT middle voice references are also universally in the future tense. One notices a similar extreme paucity of passive pi÷nw forms in the LXX—the verb appears there in the active 206 times, 61 times in the middle (all future again and at least some deponent), and only 3 times in the passive voice (Leviticus 11:34; Sirach 31:28, 29), in each case a present passive. The apostolic patristic writers employed pi÷nw 7 times in the active, once in the (future) middle, and never in the passive. Various works of the Apologists Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch (as found in the respective modules for Accordance Bible software; so for all the studies in this endnote; it should be noted that the classifications in Accordance have been accepted, so that middle/passive forms recorded as middles or as passives have here been reckoned as such) contain 13 uses pi÷nw of in the active, 4 uses in the middle, and no uses in the passive. Various Apocryphal Gospel texts (as found in Accordance) employ the verb in the active 9 times, and never in the middle or passive. Josephus employs pi÷nw in the active voice 37 times, never in the middle, and only once in the passive, a present infinitive. Philo employs the verb 49 times in the active voice, 6 times in the middle (always a future middle), and only once in the passive (an aorist passive participle). The pseudepigrapha employ pi÷nw 45 times in the active, 15 times in the middle, and never in the passive. Thus, the passive voice of pi÷nw is absent from the inspired Greek text and extremely rare in related Koiné Greek literature, while the aorist passive, as employed for poti÷zw in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is not found in any range of literature examined outside of a single participial text in Philo. No aorist passive indicatives were found in any text. Thus, one could conclude that the constraints of the Koiné usage impelled Paul to employ poti÷zw to express the aorist passive idea he wished, such a tense and voice for pi÷nw not being a live option.
While poti÷zw is in the passive voice only in 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the New Testament, the other 14 references possessing the active voice, the verb is found in the passive twice, in the present and future tenses, in the LXX (Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 32:6), along with 63 active voice uses. In the apostolic patristic writers, two active voice forms, 4 middle, and one passive, an aorist, (Shepherd 68:9) are found. The Apologists examined above employ poti÷zw in the active 7 times, the middle once, and do not employ the passive. Josephus does not employ the verb at all. Philo has it in the active 33 times, the middle 7 times, and the passive twice, both aorists (Alleg 2:86; Post (Cain) 151). The pseudepigrapha have the word in the active 6 times and the passive (an aorist) once (Abraham 19:16).
A consideration of these data points toward the idea that the passive voice of poti÷zw was much more in live play than the passive of pi÷nw in the Koiné milieu. Thus, it appears possible that poti÷zw would have been the verb of choice for Paul when he wanted to express a passive concept, and especially an aorist passive idea.
A third and considerably simpler further consideration lies in the parallel with the aorist passive e˙bapti÷sqhmen. As passivity, not active agency, is expressed in the verb for the church ordinance of baptism, so it is reasonable to see Paul maintain parallel passive, rather than active agency in the reference to the second church ordinance. As the Corinthians, led by the Holy Spirit, “were baptized,” so they “were given to drink” of the cup in the Supper. An active voice reference to the church members drinking would violate the parallelism, and once one was shut up to the passive voice, the sense of “were made to drink” expressed by poti÷zw would be more natural than a use of pi÷nw as simply “drink.” Furthermore, as discussed in the text, since He who “made [the Corinthians] to drink” in the Supper was that same Spirit who led them to the waters of baptism, the use of poti÷zw to emphasize the unifying Spirit’s active work in the Supper provided Paul another argument to exhort the church, divided as it was specifically over the practice of the Supper (11:17-34) while it boasted in its pneumatic gifts, to unity.
These considerations eliminate the force of the objection to viewing the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a references to something other than the Supper from the use of pi÷nw, rather than poti÷zw, in the passage.
[viii] Note also the repeated (though not exclusive; cf. 9:7, 13; 11:24-34) connection in the previous context of the verb to eat in connection with meat offered to idols (8:7, 8, 10, 13; 10:7, 18, 25, 27, 28, 31). This also could contribute to Paul’s choice of drinking as the verb of choice to refer to the Supper rather than eating. Drinking would contextually more certainly reference the church ordinance, rather than to meat eaten to glorify false gods.