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Baptism in the Gospels and Acts

Posted by on Jul 21, 2007 in ordinances/sacraments, scripture | 3 comments

Everyone knows that there are some things that each gospel writer included in his respective account of the life of Jesus. For example, each author records the passion narratives. Similarly, each of the Gospel writers and the book of Acts records some form of the “Great Commission” (assuming Mark 16:15-16 is original, or at least canonical). But, this week, I learned something new. Now, probably everyone else already knows this, but I did not.

I want to study “baptism” in the New Testament. But, before I could get past the four Gospels and Acts, I had already learned something. Did you know that each of the four Gospels and Acts includes a passage where something similar to this is said concerning John the Baptist and Jesus: “John baptizes you with water, but Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”? Here are the passages:

I baptize you with water for 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 with fire. (Matthew 3:11 ESV)

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8 ESV)

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16 ESV)

John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'” (John 1:26-33 ESV)

…for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:5 ESV)

I’m not ready to comment further on these passages, or the implications concerning this repetition in each of the four Gospels and Acts. However, I do believe it is very interesting and perhaps significant to our understanding of baptism in the New Testament.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-21-2007

    I’ve never really noticed that those descriptions were in all these letters, but I was aware of these descriptions.

    I look forward to see where you are going with this.

    God’s Glory,

  2. 7-21-2007


    I honestly don’t know where I’m going with this. I started reading all of the passages about baptism. Since there are not many in the Gospels, I quickly noticed those repetitions. Then, when I got to Acts, that was also the first thing that I saw. I haven’t gone beyond that observation.


  3. 7-21-2007


    This is a very interesting observation. I think repetition is very important in scripture, but I had not noticed this particular repetition.

    I’m with Lew on this in that I want to see what you find out concerning these passages. I agree that it seems that it would have some impact on how we view baptism.