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.
eschatological giving or outpouring of the Spirit to be an act of God himself (Isa 32,15; 44,3; Ezek 36,26-27; 39,29; Joel 2,28; Zech 12,10). It is much more likely then that bapti/zw e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| refers to the effect on Israel of the coming of the Messiah mightily endowed with the Spirit, than that it anticipates Jesus giving the Spirit to Israel8.
In order to understand what the phrase bapti/zw e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| refers to, it is necessary to determine what kind of language the Evangelist is using. Unlike John the Baptist’s baptism in or with water, the baptism with which Jesus will baptize should be understood metaphorically. A literal interpretation (someone being immersed literally in the liquid medium of Spirit) is absurd, and hence invites or points to a metaphorical interpretation9. Moreover, if metaphorical language is used, what correspondence with reality is intended10? What is the point of contact, for example, between Jesus’ metaphorical Spirit-baptism and the Baptist’s literal water-baptism? How are the two baptisms similar and dissimilar? Some basic linguistic insights may assist in answering these questions.
The obvious starting point for comparing the two baptisms is to investigate the meaning of the verb bapti/zw. The use of bapti/zw in John’s baptism (1,26.33) is literal, meaning "to dip" or "to immerse", whereas in Jesus’ baptism bapti/zw is used metaphorically11. We shall elucidate the main explanations of interpreting bapti/zw metaphorically, as given by Dunn, Marshall and Turner12. Dunn proposes an imagery of