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.
of judgement and restoration. Another, complementary reason may be a particular Sitz im Leben, such as the Roman occupation or the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty. These documents can all be dated between 100 BCE and 100 CE, and the presence of messianic ideas in them is (with the exception of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs) virtually agreed on by all scholars.
Psalms of Solomon (composed in the first century BCE) is most prominent for its messianic concept. This document envisages a Davidic messiah who is endowed with the Spirit, wisdom, understanding and might (17, 21.37; 18.7), which echoes Isaiah 11,2. This messiah will destroy the wicked, judge the nations, restore Israel and rule over her as God’s appointed king (17,21-46; cf. Isa 11,4-9). It is important to observe how the Messiah will accomplish his task. First, he will exercise judgement by the word of his mouth (17,24.35), which reflects the LXX translation of Isaiah 11,4. If we recognize the connection of ideas employed by "word", "might" and "Spirit" in 17,36-37 (e)n i)sxu/i lo/gou; dunato_n e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w|), in combination with Isaiah 11,2 (pneu=ma i)sxu/oj [LXX]) and Isaiah 11,4 (e)n pneu/mati xeile/wn [LXX]), then we may suggest that the Messiah’s words have such powerful effect because they are Spirit-imbued words. Second, he will cleanse (kaqari/zw) Jerusalem (i.e., Israel) and make her people holy (17,22.30), and he can do this because he himself is kaqaro_j a)po_ a(marti/aj (17,36). Third, he will gather a holy people whom he will lead in righteousness, i.e., he will reveal to them God’s righteousness so that they can live accordingly (17,26; cf. 17,40-41; 18,8)30. Fourth, connecting these second and third aspects of the Messiah, the Messiah will cleanse Israel, make her holy and guide her in righteousness precisely through his revelatory word/teaching. The Messiah himself is taught by God (17,32), and in turn he is expected to instruct/discipline Israel (paideu/w [17,42]; cf. the knowledge and teaching that the Messiah is expected to bring in Isa 11,9; 42,4). In fact, 17,43 indicates that his words are aimed at having a purifying effect (ta_ r(h/mata au)tou= pepurwme/na u(pe_r xrusi/on to_ prw=ton ti/mion) and are used to discern/"judge" (diakri/nw) among Israel. Moreover, the Messiah will not only destroy the wicked with the word of his mouth, but will also instruct/discipline Israel with this same word (lo/goj sto/matoj au)tou= in 17,24.35 and r(a/bdoj paidei/aj in 18,7 are parallel terms; cf. Isa 11,4 to which is alluded and