Cornelis Bennema, «Spirit-Baptism in the Fourth Gospel. A Messianic Reading of John 1,33», Vol. 84 (2003) 35-60
The various ways of understanding "baptism in the Holy Spirit" has caused much division in both academic scholarship and the church. Most theories have been based on the Synoptics and Acts, but the phrase o( bapti/zwn e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| is also present in the Fourth Gospel (1,33). However, Johannine scholarship has hardly given attention to this concept. This paper will seek to establish that o( bapti/zwn e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| is a programmatic statement for Jesus’ nexus of soteriological activities in relation to people by means of the Spirit. "To baptize with Holy Spirit" refers to Jesus’ programme of cleansing people through revelation by means of the Spirit. Moreover, this concept is rooted in Jewish messianic traditions, which were able to expect a messiah who would judge, restore and cleanse by means of his Spirit-imbued word.
The concept of "Spirit-baptism" has been a contested issue for a long time — both in NT scholarship and in the church as a whole. Is "the baptism in the Holy Spirit" a "second blessing", an empowerment for Christian service distinct from and subsequent to conversion (so, for example, classical Pentecostalism)1? Or does it refer to (the high point in) conversion-initiation, that is, to becoming a Christian (so Dunn)2? The greatest efforts of NT scholarship concerning this topic have been put into the examination of the Synoptic material and Acts3. However, the concept also occurs in the Fourth Gospel — ou|to/j [Jesus] e)stin o( bapti/zwn e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| (1,33) — yet, it has hardly received attention from Johannine scholarship4. As a result, the meaning and significance of the concept of Jesus’ Spirit-baptism in this Gospel seem to have been overlooked. Hence, the aim of the present article is to elucidate the concept of Spirit-baptism and Jesus as the Spirit-Baptizer in the Fourth Gospel. Although the phrase o( bapti/zwn e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| is a hapax legomenon in Johannine literature, we expect that the concept will be evoked and unfolded in the rest of the Fourth Gospel5. In this paper, I will attempt to