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John 1:33 (NASB):

I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'

What is this verse directly referring to, when talking about Jesus baptizing in the Holy Spirit? Is this referring to the future baptism of the Spirit that will come at Pentecost in Acts, or is it referring to Jesus baptizing His followers in the Holy Spirit before His death and resurrection? I think the directness of this sentence (Jesus actively baptizing in the Holy Spirit) makes me wonder if He baptized those with the Holy Spirti pre-Pentecost.

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  • Hi Gremosa, it seems to me that you would like to know about the Holy Spirit prior to Jesus sending Him. This article may give you the understanding that you seek, it teaches the difference between the Holy Spirit before and after Jesus' ascension: neverthirsty.org/bible-qa/qa-archives/question/…
    – snoopy
    Mar 24 at 22:06
  • It is also important to understand that spirits are something that people can have within them, even more than just one spirit. in Jesus' ministry He cast out many unclean spirits. What these spirits can do in a person is a great topic to understand. It is also good to understand how the Holy Spirit communicates to people from within them and His gifts to people.
    – snoopy
    Mar 24 at 22:13
  • @snoopy - The link you provided quotes Num 11:25 where it is said, "the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him [Moses], and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders". This clearly shows that the Spirit is a power of God, that can even be apportioned differently to different people. Certainly not a person. Jul 19 at 7:49
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It is talking about Jesus after His ressurrection and ascension sending the Holy Spirit from heaven to those who believe.

And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. Luke 24:49

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. Acts 10:44

Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17

It is Jesus who sends the Spirit (i.e, baptizes).

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  • How do you know this? It could refer to this, but it could refer to something else.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 25 at 0:20
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I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' John 1:33

And so we read that John was given a witness to this promised event so he would know who is the one God had sent. We only need to read in context to see the connections. John was 'preparing the way' (John 1:23) for someone who would follow him - he was doing so without knowing exactly who was going to follow, but understood it was of God.

And I knew him not, but so that He would be revealed to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32And John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon Him. 33And I knew him not, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:31-34

This isn't about John 'not recognising' Jesus - as if he was disguising himself. John didn't know who Jesus was - God had to point him out and confirm His chosen one with the sign of the dove.

This passage simply describes the matter of Jesus being given the Holy Spirit at his baptism by his God and Father. This is in preparation for the first of the temptations with the devil, and then to begin his ministry.

Jesus would baptise with the spirit at some later event and this hints vaguely of that time but is intended primarily to differentiate between John's baptism of water and Jesus' of the spirit. Other than that, this verse speak nothing more about the time or significance of the better baptism.

Jesus would give the spirit to those he had prepared to begin the church after his resurrection. It is only after he is risen and exalted with new spirit life that he could give them this provision of the Father.

Therefore, since He has been exalted at the right hand of God, and has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He has poured out this which you both see and hear. Acts 2:33

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  • This passage [John 1:31-34] simply describes the matter of Jesus being given the Holy Spirit at his baptism by his God and Father. No, this passage simply describes how God indicated to John that Jesus is the Son of God, empowered with His Holy Spirit. Jul 19 at 18:02
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See the following parallel references:

  • Matt 3:11 - [John said] I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
  • Mark 1:8 - And he [John the Baptist] began to proclaim: “After me will come One more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
  • Luke 3:16 - John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
  • John 1:33 - And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

Thus, John is saying two things here:

  1. John the Baptist had never met Jesus
  2. The Holy Spirit told John that he would recognize Jesus when he say the Holy Spirit descend upon Him.
  3. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit

It appears that this was fulfilled in two steps:

Step 1: (shortly after the resurrection) - John 20:21, 22,

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Step 2: (at Pentecost) Acts 1:4, 5, 2:2-4

And while they were gathered together, He commanded them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard Me discuss. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

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