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.
ministry as Baptizer in the Spirit is postponed until he has been glorified63. However, Dunn’s view is not without difficulties64. First, there is no evidence that when bapti/zw is used as a metaphor it ever carried the sense "to initiate"65. Second, we suggested that, according to 1,32-34 and its allusion to Isaiah 11,2, Jesus’ anointing at the Jordan was not an initiation into the new age and covenant but an empowerment of the Spirit to fulfil his messianic task as Spirit-Baptizer. Third, from a Johannine perspective, Jesus did not need to be cleansed and purified himself first in order to baptize with the Holy Spirit, and therefore, Jesus’ experience at the Jordan cannot be equated with a baptism in the Spirit. Thus, Jesus’ anointing with the Spirit is not paradigmatic for later believers66. Fourth, concerning the start of Jesus’ ministry as Spirit-Baptizer, we argued that Jesus’ activity as the Spirit-Baptizer had already started during his ministry.
Excursus: A Comparison of Spirit-Baptism
in John and the Synoptics
Comparing the saying in John 1,33 with that in the Synoptics we find that John 1,33 and Mark 1,8 have bapti/zw e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w|, whereas Matthew 3,11 and Luke 3,16 contain bapti/zw e)n pneu/mati a(gi/w| kai_ puri/67. From a source-critical perspective it seems that Matthew and Luke reflect their dependence on the Q tradition, which is most probably the original saying68. We believe that Turner has made a good case for Luke’s understanding of the metaphor: he argues that the purpose of Jesus’ Spirit-baptism is to cleanse