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.
question of how the mission of the Paraclete and the disciples will then be one of revelation and cleansing. If the disciples were cleansed by Jesus’ revelatory word (15,3; 17,17), then further revelation of Jesus’ teaching (provided by the Paraclete) will be expected to result in further cleansing (cf. "truth" being the cleansing content of Jesus’ word [17,17] that is mediated to people by the Spirit of truth [16,13]). Moreover, the disciples’ witness is informed by and based on Jesus’ words as the result of the Paraclete’s revelatory teaching activity. Hence, if other people may believe in Jesus through the disciples’ Paraclete-imbued words (15,26-27; 17,20), then they will also be cleansed by these words. People who are confronted with the combined witness of the Paraclete and the disciples are essentially confronted with the revelatory life-giving teaching of Jesus himself. In fact, the disciples’ words are "Paraclete" and "life" (cf. 6,63), and therefore are expected to have the same revelatory and cleansing quality/effect as Jesus’ words. Thus, the glorified Jesus will continue his work of revelation and cleansing by means of the Spirit-Paraclete through the disciples, and hence Jesus will continue to baptize people with Holy Spirit, in that people will be confronted with the disciples’ Paraclete-imbued witness.
The final text we need to look at is 20,22, concerning the giving of the Spirit. We have argued elsewhere that the "giving" of the Spirit in 20,22 denotes the disciples’ reception or experience of a new relationship with the Spirit that secures and sustains their salvation, and that the coming of the Spirit as Paraclete refers to an event beyond the chronological horizon of the Fourth Gospel54. If "to baptize with Holy Spirit" refers to Jesus’ confrontation of, for instance, his disciples with his life-giving teaching (in and through which the Spirit is active), and if the giving of the Spirit by Jesus secures and sustains the disciples’ saving relationship with Jesus, then the disciples’ reception of the Spirit in 20,22 should probably also be included in the concept of Jesus baptizing with Holy Spirit55. Moreover, if "to baptize with Holy Spirit"