Who did Jesus Baptize with the Holy Spirit and with Fire?
In Mathew 3, verse 11, the bible records these words of John the baptist; “As for me, I baptize you with water, for repentance; But He who is coming after me, is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
What did John mean by that? We know what it meant for John to baptize in water. The word “baptize” means to immerse, or overwhelm. Also to dip or to plunge. When John baptized someone, he immersed them into the water. When Jesus commanded us to be baptized, in Mark 16:16, He meant the same thing; To be fully immersed in water. Romans 6:4 describes the action with these words; “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism, into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
So then to be baptized in water is to be immersed, or you might say, overwhelmed by water. The baptism that we are commanded to partake of in the new testament, is designed to simulate a “burial” of our old sinful self. And then when we arise to “walk in newness of life”, that is the “new birth” that Jesus spoke of in John 3:3 & 5, when he said; “Unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
So, all of that is easy enough to understand, but what did John mean when he said that Jesus would baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire? How was Jesus going to immerse us, or overwhelm us in the Holy Spirit, and in fire?
Obviously, the part about fire must be taken figuratively, unless we believe that Jesus is going to burn us all up alive, by overwhelming us with fire. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves; What does the bible use the word “fire” to represent? I can think of two things off the top of my head, that are represented by the word “fire”. One of the things that fire represents, is “testing”.
For example, it says in 1 Corinthians 3:13; “Each man’s work will become evident, for the day will show it, because it is revealed with fire. And the fire itself will TEST the quality of each man’s work.” The KJV says; “The fire will TRY each man’s work..” So then the idea is a “testing” and a “trying”, and an “examining”, and a “proving”.
Verse 15 says; “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet as through fire.” In other words, even if those who you’ve tried to convert, or have helped convert, don’t remain faithful, you’ll suffer the loss of that good work that you did, but you will still be saved, provided YOUR deeds pass the TEST of the word of God. The word of God would be the “fire” that we’re tested by.
Hebrews 12:29 says; “Our God is a consuming fire”.
Besides God and His word being referred to as “fire”, here’s one more thing that the bible describes as fire. This is gonna be from 1 Peter 1:6 & 7. But I’ve got to give you the background for what’s going to be said. Peter is talking about our faith, and our inheritance in heaven.
So, listen to what he says in verses 3, 4, and 5; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again, to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, imperishable and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God, through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
That’s a mouthful right there, all in one sentence. So let me break it down into two sentences, by paraphrasing just a little bit. “Our God and Father, who according to His great mercy, has begotten us again, from above, to a living hope, made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
We couldn’t have been begotten again, or “born again”, as it says in John 3, verses 3 & 5, if God hadn’t made it possible, by resurrecting Jesus from the dead. We can never minimize the importance of Christ’s resurrection. His death, and the shedding of His blood are of utmost importance, but so is His resurrection. That’s why it says in 1 Corinthians 15:17; “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins.” His death, and His burial, and His resurrection, that’s what makes up the foundation of the gospel.
But God has made it all possible. Even though we ourselves have to assertively obey God’s commands, before we actually ARE born again, it’s God who made it all possible through Jesus Christ. And that’s why it says in Ephesians 2, verse 8; “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Now let’s look at the second part of what I was paraphrasing, from 1 Peter 1, verses 3, 4, and 5. God has begotten us again, to a living hope.. “And He has begotten us to an inheritance, imperishable, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in the heavens for you, who because of your faith, are being guarded by the power of God, for salvation ready to be revealed, in the last time.” Remember what the bible says that the gospel is? In Romans 1:16, it says; “For it is the power of God, for salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The gospel is the power of God for salvation. It has the power to cause us to be born again from above, if we have faith in it. And when we are born again, we are born into an inheritance which is reserved for us in heaven. And again, it is because of our faith in God, and in His gospel, that we are being guarded by the power of God, that lies within that gospel.
I just think that those are really good verses, to explain in very easy to understand language, just how salvation works. I wish more people would study verses like these.
Now let’s look at verses 6 & 7. this where the bible again uses that metaphor, of being tested with fire.
Here it is; “In this you greatly rejoice..” He’s referring to that salvation we were just reading about. So, “In this salvation, you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith (that word “proof” means the “genuineness” of your faith) So then, “..you have been distressed by various trials, in order that the genuineness of your faith, (more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire) may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Being “tested by fire” in this verse, is used as a metaphor, for the “various trials” that “distress” us. And God is saying that our “genuine faith”, is more precious that gold, which is perishable, even though IT is tested by fire. Genuine faith is not perishable, is it? Genuine faith will endure forever. Gold won’t endure forever, even if it’s the purest gold “tested”, or “refined” by fire. It will still someday perish. That’s why genuine faith is more precious than gold.
That’s not hard to understand is it? The various trials that we go through, are as if we are being tested by fire, just like the gold is tested by fire. That’s the metaphor; The trials are likened to fire.
So now we have three things in the bible, that are likened to “fire”. We have the trials that we go through, which actually serve to “test” our faithfulness. We have God Himself, who is likened to “fire”. And we have God’s word that is also likened to “fire”.
We’re the apostles “baptized with fire”? In other words, we’re the apostles overwhelmed with trials? Here’s what Jesus told them would occur, in Mathew 24, verse 9; “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.”
Here’s what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:24 thru 27; “Five times I received from the Jews, thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. A night and a day I spent in the deep. On frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the cities, dangers in the sea, dangers among false brethren. In labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights. In hunger and thirst, often without food, in the cold and exposure.”
I’d say that Paul and the other apostles were “baptized with fire”. How about you and I, are we sometimes “baptized with fire”? Let me read 1 Peter 1, verses 6 & 7 again; “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, in order that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor, at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Do the scriptures specifically state that we are baptized with fire? No they don’t. But the scriptures don’t specify anyone by name, as being baptized with fire. The statement, that Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, is found twice in the bible. It’s found in Mathew 3:11, and again in Luke 3:16. But listen to what that refers to in both cases.
The very next verse, in both Mathew and Luke says this; “And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor. And He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” No what does that obviously refer to? Obviously that refers to the judgment. At the judgment, all people will be baptized with fire, so to speak. And in this context, the metaphor of fire, is once again used with reference to the fact that we will be judged by the word of God.
But we could still say that when we go through trials in this life, that we are undergoing a “baptism” of sorts. Jesus said it in Luke 12:50. He said; “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished.”
And surely we know that the apostles underwent similar “baptisms” of trials, as we’ve already read about in Mathew 24:9. Remember.. “They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you!”
One more thing that “fire” is used to signify, in the new testament, is a “purification”. Jesus said in Revelation 3:18; “I advise you to buy from Me, gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you my see.” All of those things mentioned there by Jesus, are metaphors used to indicate that we need to purify ourselves through Jesus.
Now, I haven’t spent any time talking about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. And that’s because it really doesn’t require much time at all, to see the meaning of that. Jesus told His apostles, just before He ascended back to heaven, in Acts 1, verse 5; “For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with (or In) the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” And then Jesus said in verse 8; “But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
When the Holy Spirit came upon the twelve apostles on the day of Pentecost, they were then “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2, verse 4 says; “They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit was giving them utterance.” The only other people who were baptized with the Holy Spirit, were those of the household of Cornelius. It says in Acts 10:44 & 45; “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the gentiles also.”
The household of Cornelius had the exact same experience that the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. And Jesus specified that the apostles were being “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I believe that we would be safe to consider Cornelius and his household, to also have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. But there is absolutely NO other example of this in the entire bible.
So you can easily see, that baptism of the Holy Spirit was for a very select group of people, NOT for everyone!