Lesson I.A.1: The Reaffirmation of the Promise Part 4
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
For John truly baptized with water;
As I read these words of our Lord it reminds me of a story I read. “Little Charlie was accustomed to having his grandmother read the Bible whenever he visited. As they sat together and looked at God’s Word, Mrs. Babb reminded her grandson that the red words were those spoken by Jesus. One night when he and his parents were on vacation at a motel, Charlie found a Gideon Bible that was not a red-letter edition. He thumbed through the pages, then gently laid it back on the table and said, ‘Jesus didn’t say nothing in that Bible!’” Well, I have made Jesus’ words red just in case little Charley might read this article someday.
“For John truly baptized with water,”.... Or "in water", as reported in Matthew’s gospel: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matt 3:11; KJV). John's (John the Baptist) baptism was water baptism; it was an immersion of persons in water. He was the first one mentioned in the New Testament to perform baptism, and his baptism was “unto repentance.” He did not ask anyone to profess faith in Jesus, but to admit their sin and need of forgiveness. His baptism and the baptism of the Spirit, are different; for there were others, including the disciples of Christ and the disciples of John, that baptized in water as well as John: and these words, “For John truly baptized with water” are not the words of the Lord, as reported by John, which the disciples heard first hand, because Jesus had not called His disciples when John spoke the words in Matthew 3:11; but these are the words of Christ himself which the apostles heard from his own mouth, which is clearly stated in Acts 11:16—“Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. This is enough to prove that he is describing the impact of the Holy Spirit. Christ's religion was to be a spiritual religion and was to have its center of operations in the heart. Outward acts, however, well they might depict the spiritual, could not produce inward spirituality. This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of Him alone; therefore He is represented here as resembling fire because he was to illuminate and invigorate the soul, penetrate every part, and adapt the whole person—body, soul, and spirit— to the image of the God of glory.
The risen Jesus appeared to the apostles and gave them these instructions. He tells them that something is going to happen to them. They are going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. This baptism of the Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father, and Jesus had previously told them about it.
It is very important to point out that this is not talking about water baptism, which is ritual baptism or John’s baptism. This is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is real baptism. It is this baptism of the Holy Spirit which places a believer into the body of believers, which we sometimes refer to as the church.
When we get to the second chapter, which tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, we will learn that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Filling was necessary in order that they might serve. The fact that they were filled with the Holy Spirit for service indicates that the other ministries of the Holy Spirit had been performed.
but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost
Baptism was not invented by John the Baptist, as the uninformed may think. Baptism was a rite of initiation, by which disciples were admitted not only among the Jews but also among other nations. John the Baptist adopted this rite from the Jewish manner of baptism, making use of water for this purpose: but Christ's disciples were appointed to an office of a superior nature. They were called to spread the gospel all over the world, and to govern the church of Christ after His departure, so they were installed and initiated into their office in a superior manner; God himself sent the Holy Ghost from heaven to earth on the Day of Pentecost in a visible form for this purpose. But something more than the mere consecration of the apostles was intended by this miraculous appearance; and much more was accomplished; He testified to the truth of all that Christ had said to the apostles: he declared, that whatsoever they should teach was the effect of immediate and infallible inspiration; and he gave them both knowledge of the divine will, and courage to preach it, in opposition to every obstacle which power, or wealth, or learning, or danger, or death, could throw in their way.
The idea of being “baptized” is to be immersed or covered over in something; even as John baptized people in water, so these disciples would be “immersed” in the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is more useful to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit more like a condition than an experience. We should perhaps ask, “Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?” instead of asking, “Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit?”
A question arises as to the baptism of the apostles themselves. When were they baptized, and by whom? Chrysostom says, "They were baptized by John." But it is evident, from scripture (See John 3:22; John 4:1, John 4.2), that converts, in our Lord's lifetime, were baptized with Christian baptism, as distinct from John's baptism, which, as previously stated was unto repentance instead of unto salvation (Apart from Christ there can be no salvation.). The apostles were baptized by Christ, according to John 4:2, and they were the only ones He baptized. All converts were baptized by His disciples. Therefore, as far as the disciples are concerned, the baptism with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was the complement of water baptism, not a substitute for it. In our case, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit and born again the moment we are saved; water baptism follows as an act of obedience and a public statement of faith in Christ.
John 3:22 (NKJV) “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized.”
John 4:1 (NKJV) “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John”
John 4.2 (NKJV) “(though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples)”
not many days hence.
This was on the fortieth day after Christ’s resurrection, and Pentecost was only ten days away.