Thursday, 3 September 2021
for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5
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The words now complete the thought of the previous verse where Jesus spoke to the apostles concerning “the Promise of the Father.” He had already told them of the Promise to come on several occasions. Two such times are found in John 14 –
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16, 17
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
References to the coming, indwelling, and work of the Spirit are also found in John 16 and 17. In these descriptions, the Spirit’s role is more fully understood, but Jesus next explains that the Spirit’s coming is an antitype that was anticipated in typology previously set forth, saying, “for John truly baptized with water.”
To understand what Jesus is referring to, a few verses from the gospels should be considered –
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
“I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” Luke 3:16
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.’
32 And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:29-34
John’s baptism was one in water and of repentance. But more, his ministry was one directing the people to Another who was to come (see Acts 19:4). His typological baptism anticipated the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John baptized the people, immersing them in water, based on repentance. In contrast, Jesus (see above, “He will baptize you”) baptizes the people into the “Holy Spirit and fire” based upon belief in His accomplished work.
The “water” of John’s baptism was an outward washing of the body. It was a ritual purification intended to demonstrate an inward change in the person. The “fire” of Jesus’ baptism is an internal purification of the soul. Fire in this case is not literal fire, but what fire symbolizes, meaning purification. Peter refers to this internal purification in 1 Peter 3 –
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:21, 22
The promised baptism that John spoke of is now repeated by Jesus. This is “the Promise of the Father” referred to in verse 1:4. He next explicitly states this, saying, “but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Just as John immersed the people in the waters of Israel, turning them again to the Law of Moses (his words “unto repentance” signify a change in mind), so Christ would immerse the people in the Holy Spirit of God, based on their acceptance of His completed work under (and in fulfillment of) that same Law of Moses. The Spirit is to be given to those who accept that He has accomplished all things, died in fulfillment of them (thereby establishing the New Covenant in His blood), and was raised again – thus confirming the validity and doctrine of the New Covenant.
This coming of the Holy Spirit was to be God’s stamp of approval concerning the work of Christ, His evidence of it, to the people of Israel. With that understood, Jesus next says that it will be “not many days from now.”
No set time is given. The apostles only knew that they were to wait in Jerusalem. Having already seen Christ’s fulfillment of the Feast of Passover (Leviticus 23:5), and the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14), if they were attentive, they could have logically guessed that this Promise would be coming in just a few more days. Whether they deduced this or not is unstated, but certainly when the time came, they would understand the event as the fulfillment of the typology set forth in the law. That will be seen in Acts 2.
Life application: There is a very poor doctrine set forth concerning baptism based on the heresy of hyperdispensationalism. This says that believers today do not need to perform water baptism, but that was only intended for Israel. Though it is true that John’s baptism was in water and a baptism of repentance, this does not negate the requirement for water baptism for believers under the New Covenant. In fact, it is after the establishment of the New Covenant that Christ mandates water baptism for believers –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus says nothing of repentance there. He gives this not as a part of the salvation process, but as an ordinance to those who have believed already. They have been baptized into the Holy Spirit. As such, the ordinance is an outward display of the inward change that has taken place. It is a public acknowledgment of the act of God upon the believer. Though none of the accounts in Acts are prescriptive, time and again, those who believe the gospel in the book of Acts – Jew and Gentile – are baptized in accord with the word of the Lord stated in Matthew. The precedent is given to highlight the precept. And the precept is a command of the risen Christ.
The same people who deny that baptism is expected of believers will faithfully proclaim that believers are to take the Lord’s Supper. That was an ordinance also commanded by the Lord, even before He was crucified and rose. It, like baptism, is a public acknowledgement concerning what the Lord has already accomplished as well as an anticipation of His return someday.
It is the epitome of confused theology to say that the Lord’s Supper is an expected ordinance of the Lord, but that water baptism is not. The antisemitic undertones of saying that one ordinance applies to the church and the other only applies to Jews are evident. But more, it destroys the purpose and intent of the Lord’s words that are directed to “all the nations.”
Followers of the Lord Jesus do not baptize others into the Holy Spirit. Only Christ immerses His believers in the Holy Spirit. Followers of Christ (well, faithful followers of Christ) baptize converts into the typology of what Christ has accomplished. Such baptism is not only for the believer, but it is also for those who see the rite and understand the commitment to Christ. The twisting of Scripture by this heretical ideology is to be rejected and spoken against.
Glorious God, how good it is to share in the wonder and marvel of what Christ Jesus has done for us. Not only are we freed from the stain of sin upon our souls, but we are also given the absolute guarantee that it is so through the sealing of Your Holy Spirit when we have faith in what He has done. We have moved from death to life, even life eternal! Hallelujah and Amen!