In Mark 1:8, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33, John the Baptist declares that Jesus will baptize people in the Holy Spirit.

For example, Matthew 3:11 says,

“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, NKJV)

However, the Greek says

“Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·” (Matthew 3:11, SBLGNT)

Likewise, the other passages all refer to the Holy Spirit without the article. What's to keep this passage from being translated:

"...He will baptize you with holy wind and fire"

It seems to me that, all things equal, it ought to be translated as "holy wind [a metaphorical/spiritual object] and fire [a metaphorical/spiritual object]" since that would be more parallel than, "the Holy Spirit [a person] and fire [a metaphorical object]" Is there any reason that this is translated as "the Holy Spirit" rather than "holy wind" or "holy breath"?

  • The word πνεῦμα Strong 4151 can be rendered wind, breath or spirit. It is context that determines which it is. The baptism is something that is experienced. Those who have experienced it will know which noun to use, in context.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 10 '19 at 8:05
  • I answered this question at this related page.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 12 '19 at 15:53

Jesus teaching was apocalyptic so "wind" would be evocative of the end-times, i.e. the events that follow up the crucifixion.

To put things into perspective: there is no evidence that Jesus ever "baptized" in an express manner. Baptism is an earthly thing. It does not come from Jesus, it comes from John. It means to disseminate, dismantle, overcome.

The people were appalled by Jesus, and John neither understood Jesus' mission. John tried to extract a testimony of some sort, i.e. he "touched" Jesus.

The idea of "baptism" covers up the embarrassment that Jesus was touched without a second guess. It adds up to the people's desperation and animosity at the time. However, to say that Jesus consequently baptized with fire or "wind" doesn't make sense, unless it had something to do with John's beheading.

  • "It does not come from Jesus, it comes from John." Matthew 28:19: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Cf. Acts 19:2-5: "...And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John's baptism. 4 Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of repentance, saying: That they should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus. 5 Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Nov 12 '19 at 17:46
  • Welcome to BHSX, abra, so glad to have you with us. Please take the tour to get yourself familiar with the site. Enjoy ! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour
    – sara
    Nov 17 '19 at 13:43

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