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.
and is rooted in Jewish messianic expectations, we shall now investigate to what extent the Evangelist adheres to this understanding and throws more light on the metaphor. Bearing in mind that the literal term "to baptize with Spirit" is a hapax legomenon in the Fourth Gospel, the Evangelist has probably captured or unfolded this concept of Jesus’ baptizing with Holy Spirit by using other images or even metaphors. For even if the literal phrase "to baptize with Holy Spirit" does not occur, the concept can still be evoked. The question then is: how is the concept of Spirit-baptism manifested in the Fourth Gospel? Our strategy in answering this question is twofold. First, we will look at Jesus’ ministry and investigate his predominant activity. Second, we will elucidate the role of the Spirit in Jesus’ mission. We will dismiss the concept of Jesus’ baptizing with water (3,22.26; 4,1) as a clue for interpreting Jesus’ Spirit-baptism because the correction of the narrator in 4,2 explains that it was actually not Jesus himself who baptized, and hence it would be unlikely that the water-baptism by Jesus’ disciples has suddenly become an interpretation of the Spirit-baptism by Jesus41.
1. The Nature of Jesus’ Ministry
Jesus’ main activity in the Fourth Gospel is teaching (cf. the use of dida/skw and didaxh/ in 6,59; 7,14-17.28.35; 8,2.20; 18,19-20) and he is frequently addressed as "Teacher" (1,38; 3,2; 8,4; 11,28; 13,13-14; 20,16). The Johannine presentations of Jesus’ teaching are essentially the public discourses in John 1-12 and the private discourses to the disciples in John 13-17. This teaching is revelatory in that it comes from God and is about God whom no one has seen (1,18; 3,34; 7,16-17). In fact, Jesus’ revelation and teaching are identical, i.e., Jesus reveals through his teaching and he teaches through revelation. The aim of his revelatory teaching is to reveal the identity and work of the Father and Son and the nature of their relationship (1,18; 3,11-13.31-36; 8,19; 14,9-11; 15,15; 17,6-8.26)42. Jesus encounters people with his revelatory teaching, which carries an intrinsic demand for a response; Jesus confronts people with the choice of accepting or rejecting him and his revelation. Moreover, this revelation/teaching leads to life/salvation if accepted but to judgement and death if rejected (e.g., 3,15-18.36; 5,24; 6,35; 9,41).