Thursday, August 27, 2015
In John 3 we have the night time meeting of Nicodemus with Jesus. This is when Jesus tells this Jewish leader, “If a person is not born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “tIf a person is not born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter he kingdom of God!” (John 3:3, 5 IEB). After the apostle John tells us about this encounter, he writes, “After this, Jesus and his followers went to the land of Judea. He stayed there with them and he was immersing some people.” (John 3:22 IEB).
Following this, John writes, “The Pharisees heard that Jesus was making more followers and immersing more people than John.” (John 4:1 IEB).
John proclaimed to the people, “Change your hearts and be immersed for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3 IEB). His baptism was performed without the expression, “in the name of Jesus” or “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” His baptism was for Jews who were already in covenant relationship with God and not to put them into one. His baptism was preceded by repentance. The “remission of sins” followed that baptism. John’s baptism was to prepare people for the coming kingdom (Matthew 3:2). Submitting to John’s baptism did not have the candidate receiving the Holy Spirit. Jesus submitted to John’s baptism, not to receive remission of sins, but said, “Please do it, for I must do all that is right” (Matthew 3:15 NLT – “because this is the proper way for us to fulfill all righteousness” IEB). The baptized were being prepared for the coming kingdom during their lifetime. Once it came, John’s baptism would expire. After Jesus’ ascension that baptism was no longer valid, so twelve men were rebaptized in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7).
This brings us to Jesus’ baptism. What was its purpose? Was it for the same reason as John’s? If so, the number of people who were immersed would be in the hundreds, if not thousands. If one of the purposes of these two baptisms was to prepare people for the coming kingdom, and they were grandfathered into it (they did not have to submit to the baptism taught and practiced from Acts 2:38 onward), why are only 120 mentioned in Acts 1:15? Although John said the kingdom was very near (Matthew 3:2 IEB – “at hand” KJV), the wording doesn’t necessarily carry our idea of “grandfathering.” After Peter spoke Luke records, “Then those people who accepted what Peter said were immersed. On that day, about 3,000 people were added to the group of believers” (Acts 2:41 IEB). Yet, nothing is said, either about the 120 nor the hundreds or thousands who submitted to the baptisms of John the Baptist and Jesus.
The similarities between the two baptisms prior to Pentecost and the one afterwards are:
1. All were an immersion in water.
2. All were to obey a command given by God.
3. All repented of their sins prior to being immersed.
4. All were for the purpose of fulfilling what was right.
5. All were for the remission of sins (if we assume that Jesus’ baptism was parallel to John’s).
The differences between the baptisms prior to Pentecost and the one after are:
1. (a) One was not baptized into any name before. (b) After Pentecost baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or in the name of the Lord, or Jesus (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48;8:16).
2. (a) One was being prepared for the kingdom “at hand” prior to Pentecost. (b) Afterwards they are added to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47) which is comparable to the kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14).
3. (a) The Holy Spirit was not received at those baptisms. (b) Afterwards, one receives him after his baptism (Acts 2:39).
4. (a) The one before is for Jews who are in covenant relationship as children of God by birth and circumcision. (b) On Pentecost, Jews are lost and they are to submit to the baptism which is “for the forgiveness of sins” and to be “added to the saved” (Acts 2:38-41).
5. (a) Before Pentecost it is not to “put on Christ.” (b) After that day, it was (Galatians 3:26-27).
6. (a) Before Pentecost it is not to be buried and raised with Christ. (b) Afterwards it is (Romans 6:3-6).
7. (a) Before Pentecost it is to make a Jew a better one. (b) After Pentecost it is to make a Jew a Christian (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16) since he puts on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus is closely followed by the mention of Jesus beginning to baptize. In fact, The apostles were immersing more than John was. We are not actually informed on the details of the purpose of Jesus’ baptism. Neither is anything said about folks knowing only the baptism of Jesus, even though Jesus’ disciples immersed more people than John. Is there any correlation between candidates coming to Jesus and the discussion prior to that of being born again?