Matthew 3:11
I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) With water unto repentance.—The “I” is emphasized, as also the baptism with water, as contrasted with that which was to follow. The result of John’s baptism, even for those who received it faithfully, did not go beyond the change of character and life implied in “repentance.” The higher powers of the unseen world were to be manifested afterwards.

He that cometh after me.—The words as spoken by the Baptist could only refer to the expected Christ, the Lord, whose way he had been sent to prepare.

Mightier.i.e., as the words that follow show, stronger both to save and to punish; at once the Deliverer and the Judge.

Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.—In Luke 3:16 we have the yet stronger expression, “The latchet (or thong) of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” Among Jews, Greeks, and Romans alike, this office, that of untying and carrying the shoes of the master of the house or of a guest, was the well-known function of the lowest slave of the household. When our Lord washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5), He was taking upon Himself a like menial task which, of course, actually involved the other. The remembrance of the Baptist’s words may in part account for St. Peter’s indignant refusal to accept such services.

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.—As heard and understood at the time, the baptism with the Holy Ghost would imply that the souls thus baptised would be plunged, as it were, in that creative and informing Spirit which was the source of life and holiness and wisdom. The baptism “with fire” would convey, in its turn, the thought of a power at once destroying evil and purifying good; not, in any case, without the suffering that attends the contact of the sinner’s soul with the “consuming fire” of the holiness of God, yet for those who had received the earlier baptism, and what it was meant to convey, consuming only what was evil, and leaving that which was precious brighter than before. The appearance of the “tongues like as of fire” that accompanied the gift of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was an outward visible sign, an extension of the symbolism, rather than the actual fulfilment of the promise.

Matthew 3:11. I indeed baptize you with water — I call you to repentance: and admit the penitent to the baptism of water, as a sign and token of their being washed from their past sins, and of their engaging to walk henceforward in newness of life. He answers the question put to him, John 1:19; John 1:25, by the priests and Levites sent from Jerusalem. But he that cometh after me — That succeeds me in preaching and baptizing, is mightier than I — Is endued with unspeakably greater authority and power; Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear — That is, for whom I am unworthy to perform the humblest office of menial service: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire — He shall not only administer the outward element, or sign, to his disciples, but the thing signified thereby, viz., the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which, in their operations and effects, are like fire, enlightening, quickening, and purifying men’s souls, and kindling therein pious and devout affections; inflaming their hearts with love to God and all mankind, and with a degree of zeal for his glory and the salvation of sinners which all the waters of difficulty and danger, of persecution and tribulation, which they may be called to pass through, shall not be able to quench. And this baptism he will communicate in so abundant a measure, that you shall seem to be overflowed therewith. Now this promise was fulfilled, even with a visible appearance, as of fire, on the day of pentecost; and it is fulfilled without that appearance to this day, with respect to all that believe in Christ with a faith that worketh by love.3:7-12 To make application to the souls of the hearers, is the life of preaching; so it was of John's preaching. The Pharisees laid their chief stress on outward observances, neglecting the weightier matters of the moral law, and the spiritual meaning of their legal ceremonies. Others of them were detestable hypocrites, making their pretences to holiness a cloak for iniquity. The Sadducees ran into the opposite extreme, denying the existence of spirits, and a future state. They were the scornful infidels of that time and country. There is a wrath to come. It is the great concern of every one to flee from that wrath. God, who delights not in our ruin, has warned us; he warns by the written word, by ministers, by conscience. And those are not worthy of the name of penitents, or their privileges, who say they are sorry for their sins, yet persist in them. It becomes penitents to be humble and low in their own eyes, to be thankful for the least mercy, patient under the greatest affliction, to be watchful against all appearances of sin, to abound in every duty, and to be charitable in judging others. Here is a word of caution, not to trust in outward privileges. There is a great deal which carnal hearts are apt to say within themselves, to put aside the convincing, commanding power of the word of God. Multitudes, by resting in the honours and mere advantages of their being members of an outward church, come short of heaven. Here is a word of terror to the careless and secure. Our corrupt hearts cannot be made to produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ graft the good word of God upon them. And every tree, however high in gifts and honours, however green in outward professions and performances, if it bring not forth good fruit, the fruits meet for repentance, is hewn down and cast into the fire of God's wrath, the fittest place for barren trees: what else are they good for? If not fit for fruit, they are fit for fuel. John shows the design and intention of Christ's appearing, which they were now speedily to expect. No outward forms can make us clean. No ordinances, by whomsoever administered, or after whatever mode, can supply the want of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. The purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit alone can produce that purity of heart, and those holy affections, which accompany salvation. It is Christ who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. This he did in the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit sent upon the apostles, Ac 2:4. This he does in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, given to those that ask him, Lu 11:13; Joh 7:38,39; see Ac 11:16. Observe here, the outward church is Christ's floor, Isa 21:10. True believers are as wheat, substantial, useful, and valuable; hypocrites are as chaff, light and empty, useless and worthless, carried about with every wind; these are mixed, good and bad, in the same outward communion. There is a day coming when the wheat and chaff shall be separated. The last judgment will be the distinguishing day, when saints and sinners shall be parted for ever. In heaven the saints are brought together, and no longer scattered; they are safe, and no longer exposed; separated from corrupt neighbours without, and corrupt affections within, and there is no chaff among them. Hell is the unquenchable fire, which will certainly be the portion and punishment of hypocrites and unbelievers. Here life and death, good and evil, are set before us: according as we now are in the field, we shall be then in the floor.Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear - The word translated here as "shoes" has a signification different from what it has in our language. At first, in order to keep the feet from the sharp stones or the burning sand, small pieces of wood were fastened to the soles of the feet, called "sandals." Leather, or skins of beasts dressed, afterward were used. The foot was not covered at all, but the sandal, or piece of leather or wood, was bound by thongs. The people put off these when they enter a house, and put them on when they leave it. To unloose and bind on sandals, on such occasions, was formerly the business of the lowest servants. The expression in this place, therefore, denotes great humility, and John says that he was nor worthy to be the servant of him who should come after him.

Shall baptize you - Shall send upon you the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is frequently represented as being poured out upon his people, Proverbs 1:23; Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same, therefore, as the sending of his influences to convert, purify, and guide the soul.

The Holy Ghost - The third person of the adorable Trinity, whose office it is to enlighten, renew, sanctify, and comfort the soul He was promised by the Saviour to convince of sin, John 16:8; to enlighten or teach the disciples, John 14:26; John 16:13; to comfort them in the absence of the Savior, John 14:18; John 16:7; to change the heart. Titus 3:5. To be baptized with the Holy Spirit means that the Messiah would send upon the world a far more powerful and mighty influence than had attended the preaching of John. Many more would be converted. A mighty change would take place. His ministry would not affect the external life only, but the heart. the motives, the soul; and would produce rapid and permanent changes in the lives of people. See Acts 2:17-18.

With fire - This expression has been variously understood. Some have supposed that John refers to the afflictions and persecutions with which men would be tried under the Gospel; others, that the word "fire" means judgment or wrath. According to this latter interpretation, the meaning is that he would baptize a portion of mankind - those who were willing to be his followers - with the Holy Spirit, but the rest of mankind - the wicked - with fire; that is, with judgment and wrath. Fire is a symbol of vengeance. See Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 66:24. If this is the meaning, as seems to be probable, then John says that the ministry of the Messiah would be far more powerful than his was. It would be more searching and testing; and they who were not suited to abide the test would be cast into eternal fire. Others have supposed, however, that by fire, here, John intends to express the idea that the preaching of the Messiah would be refining, powerful, purifying, as fire is sometimes an emblem of purity, Malachi 3:2. It is difficult to ascertain the precise meaning further than that his ministry would be very trying, purifying, searching. Multitudes would be converted; and those who were not true penitents would not be able to abide the trial, and would be driven away.

11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance—(See on [1216]Mt 3:6);

but he that cometh after me is mightier than I—In Mark and Luke this is more emphatic—"But there cometh the Mightier than I" (Mr 1:7; Lu 3:16).

whose shoes—sandals.

I am not worthy to bear—The sandals were tied and untied, and borne about by the meanest servants.

he shall baptize you—the emphatic "He": "He it is," to the exclusion of all others, "that shall baptize you."

with the Holy Ghost—"So far from entertaining such a thought as laying claim to the honors of Messiahship, the meanest services I can render to that 'Mightier than I that is coming after me' are too high an honor for me; I am but the servant, but the Master is coming; I administer but the outward symbol of purification; His it is, as His sole prerogative, to dispense the inward reality." Beautiful spirit, distinguishing this servant of Christ throughout!

and with fire—To take this as a distinct baptism from that of the Spirit—a baptism of the impenitent with hell-fire—is exceedingly unnatural. Yet this was the view of Origen among the Fathers; and among moderns, of Neander, Meyer, De Wette, and Lange. Nor is it much better to refer it to the fire of the great day, by which the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Clearly, as we think, it is but the fiery character of the Spirit's operations upon the soul—searching, consuming, refining, sublimating—as nearly all good interpreters understand the words. And thus, in two successive clauses, the two most familiar emblems—water and fire—are employed to set forth the same purifying operations of the Holy Ghost upon the soul.

I am not the Christ, Mark 1:8 Luke 3:15,16 Joh 1:15,26, I am but the messenger and forerunner of Christ, sent before him to baptize men with the baptism of water, in testimony of their repentance; but there is one immediately coming after me, who is infinitely to be preferred before me, so much, that I am not worthy to carry his shoes, or unloose his shoe latchet. He shall baptize men with another kind of baptism, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.

With the Holy Ghost, inwardly washing away their sins with his blood, and sanctifying their hearts: the Holy Ghost working in their hearts like fire, purging out their lusts and corruptions, warming and inflaming their hearts with the sense of his love, and kindling in them all spiritual habits. Or, with the Holy Ghost, as in the days of Pentecost, there appearing to them cloven tongues like as of fire, as Acts 2:3: thus the term fire is made exegetical of the term the Holy Ghost. Or, with the Holy Ghost, and with fire; changing and renewing the hearts of those that believe in him, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and consuming and destroying others, that will not believe, as with fire. I indeed baptize you with water,.... These words, at first view, look as if they were a continuation of John's discourse with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and as though he had baptized them; whereas by comparing them with what the other Evangelists relate, see Mark 1:5 they are spoken to the people, who, confessing their sins, had been baptized by him; to whom he gives an account of the ordinance of water baptism, of which he was the administrator, in what manner, and on what account he performed it:

I indeed baptize you; or, as Mark says, "I have baptized you"; I have authority from God so to do; my commission reaches thus far, and no farther; I can administer, and have administered the outward ordinance to you; but the inward grace and increase of it, together with the ordinary and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, I cannot confer. I can, and do baptize, upon a profession of repentance, and I can threaten impenitent sinners with divine vengeance; but I cannot bestow the grace of repentance on any, nor punish for impenitence, either here or hereafter; these things are out of my power, and belong to another person hereafter named: all that I do, and pretend to do, is to baptize

with water, or rather in water, as should be rendered. Our version seems to be calculated in favour of pouring, or sprinkling water upon, or application of it to the person baptized, in opposition to immersion in it; whereas the "preposition" is not instrumental, but local, and denotes the place, the river Jordan, and the element of water there, in which John was baptizing: and this he did

unto repentance, or "at", or upon "repentance": for so may be rendered, as it is in Matthew 12:41 for the meaning is not that John baptized them, in order to bring them to repentance; since he required repentance and fruits meet for it, previous to baptism; but that he had baptized them upon the foot of their repentance; and so the learned Grotius observes, that the phrase may be very aptly explained thus: "I baptize you upon the `profession' of repentance which ye make." John gives a hint of the person whose forerunner he was, and of his superior excellency to him: he indeed first speaks of him as one behind him, not in nature or dignity, but in order of time as man;

but he that comes after me. John was born before Jesus, and began his ministry before he did; he was his harbinger; Jesus was now coming after him to Jordan from Galilee, to be baptized by him, and then enter on his public ministry: but though he came after him in this sense, he was not beneath, but above him in character; which he freely declares, saying,

is mightier than I; not only as he is the mighty God, and so infinitely mightier than he; but in his office and ministry, which was exercised with greater power and authority, and attended with mighty works and miracles, and was followed with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. Not to mention the mighty work of redemption performed by him; the resurrection of his own body from the dead; and his exaltation in human nature, above all power, might, and dominion. The Baptist was so sensible of the inequality between them, and of his unworthiness to be mentioned with him, that he seems at a loss almost to express his distance from him; and therefore signifies it by his being unfit to perform one of the most servile offices to him,

whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; or as the other Evangelists relate it, "whose shoelatchet I am not worthy to unloose"; which amounts to the same sense, since shoes are unloosed in order to be taken from, or carried before, or after a person; which to do was the work of servants among the Jews. In the Talmud (e) it is asked,

"What is the manner of possessing of servants? or what is their service? He buckles his (master's) shoes; he "unlooses his shoes", and "carries them before him to the bath."''

Or, as is elsewhere (f) said,

"he unlooses his shoes, or carries after him his vessels (whatever he wants) to the bath; he unclothes him, he washes him, he anoints him, he rubs him, he clothes him, he buckles his shoes, and lifts him up.''

This was such a servile work, that it was thought too mean for a scholar or a disciple to do; for it is (g) said,

"all services which a servant does for his master, a disciple does for his master, , "except unloosing his shoes".''

The gloss on it says, "he that sees it, will say, he is a "Canaanitish servant":''

for only a Canaanitish, not an Hebrew servant (h), might be employed in, or obliged to such work; for it was reckoned not only, mean and servile, but even base and reproachful. It is one of their (i) canons;

continued...

{5} I indeed baptize you with water unto {l} repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire:

(5) We may neither dwell upon the signs which God has ordained as means to lead us into our salvation, neither upon those that minister them: but we must climb up to the matter itself, that is to say, to Christ, who inwardly works that effectually, which is outwardly signified to us.

(l) The outward sign reminds us of this, that we must change our lives and become better, assuring us as by a seal, that we are ingrafted into Christ; by which our old man dies and the new man rises up; Ro 6:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 3:11. Yet it is not I who will determine the admission or the exclusion, but He who is greater than I. In Luke 3:16 there is a special reason assigned for this discourse, in keeping with the use of a more developed tradition on the part of the later redactor.

εἰς μετάνοιαν] denotes the telic reference of the baptism (comp. Matthew 28:19), which imposes an obligation to μετάνοια. To the characteristic ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν stands opposed the higher characteristic ἐν πνευματι ἁγίῳ κ. πυρί, the two elements of which together antithetically correspond to that “baptism by water unto repentance;” see subsequently.

ἐν is, agreeably to the conception of βαπτίζω (immersion), not to be taken as instrumental, but as in, in the meaning of the element, in which immersion takes place. Mark 1:5; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 2 Kings 5:14; Polyb. v. 47. 2 : βαπτιζόμενοι ἐν τοῖς τέλμασι; Hom. Od. ix. 392.

ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος] that is, the Messiah. His coming as such is always brought forward with great emphasis in Mark and Luke. The present here also denotes the near and definite beginning of the future.

ἰσχυρότ. μου ἐστίν] In what special relation he is more powerful is stated afterwards by αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει, κ.τ.λ.

οὗ οὐκ εἰμί, κ.τ.λ.] In comparison with Him, I am too humble to be fitted to be one of His lowest slaves. To bear the sandals of their masters (βαστάσαι), that is, to bring and take them away, as well as to fasten them on or take them off (the latter in Mark and Luke), was amongst the Jews, Greeks, and Romans the business of slaves of the lowest rank. See Wetstein, Rosenmüller, Morgenl. in loc.; comp. Talmud, Kiddusch. xxii. 2.

αὐτός] He and no other, Matthew 1:21.

ὑμᾶς] was spoken indeed to the Pharisees and Sadducees; but it is not these only who are meant, but the people of Israel in general, who were represented to the eye of the prophet in them, and in the multitude who were present.

ἐν πν. ἁγ. κ. πυρί] in the Holy Spirit, those who have repented; in fire (by which that of Gehenna is meant), the unrepentant. Both are figuratively designated as βαπτίζειν, in so far as both are the two opposite sides of the Messianic lustration, by which the one are sprinkled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:5), the others with hell-fire, as persons baptized are with water. It is explained as referring to the fire of everlasting punishment, after Origen and several Fathers, by Kuinoel, Schott (Opusc. II. p. 198), Fritzsche, Neander, de Wette, Paulus, Ammon, B. Crusius, Arnoldi, Hofmann, Bleek, Keim, Volkmar, Hengstenberg, Weber, vom Zorne Gottes, p. 219 f.; Gess, Christi Vers. u. Werk, I. p. 310. But, after Chrysostom and most Catholic expositors, others (Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Clericus, Wetstein, Storr, Eichhorn, Kauffer, Olshausen, Glöckler, Kuhn, Ewald) understand it of the fire of the Holy Spirit, which inflames and purifies the spirits of men. Comp. Isaiah 4:4. These and other explanations, which take πυρί as not referring to the punishments of Gehenna, are refuted by John’s own decisive explanation in Matthew 3:12 : τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ. It is wrong, accordingly, to refer the πυρί to the fiery tongues in Acts 2. (Euth. Zigabenus, Maldonatus, Elsner, Er. Schmid, Bengel, Ebrard). The omission of καὶ πυρί is much too weakly attested to delete it, with Matthaei and Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 248. See Griesbach, Comm. crit. p. 25 f.Matthew 3:11-12. John defines his relation to the Messiah (Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:15-17). This prophetic word would come late in the day when the Baptist’s fame was at its height, and men began to think it possible he might be the Christ (Luke 3:15). His answer to inquiries plainly expressed or hinted was unhesitating. No, not the Christ, there is a Coming One. He will be here soon. I have my place, important in its own way, but quite secondary and subordinate. John frankly accepts the position of herald and forerunner, assigned to him in Matthew 3:3 by the citation of the prophetic oracle as descriptive of his ministry.—ἐγὼ μὲν, etc. ἐγὼ emphatic, but with the emphasis of subordination. My function is to baptise with water, symbolic of repentance.—ὁ δὲ ό. μ. ἐρχόμενος. He who is just coming (present participle). How did John know the Messiah was just coming? It was an inference from his judgment on the moral condition of the time. Messiah was needed; His work was ready for Him; the nation was ripe for judgment. Judgment observe, for that was the function uppermost in his mind in connection with the Messianic advent. These two verses give us John’s idea of the Christ, based not on personal knowledge, but on religious preconceptions. It differs widely from the reality. John can have known little of Jesus on the outer side, but he knew less of His spirit. We cannot understand his words unless we grasp this fact. Note the attributes he ascribes to the Coming One. The main one is strengthἰσχυρότερος fully unfolded in the sequel. Along with strength goes dignityοὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ, etc. He is so great, august a personage, I am not fit to be His slave, carrying to and from Him, for and after use, His sandals (a slave’s office in Judaea, Greece and Rome). An Oriental magnificent exaggeration.—αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει: returns to the Power of Messiah, as revealed in His work, which is described as a baptism, the better to bring out the contrast between Him and His humble forerunner.—ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί. Notable here are the words, ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. They must be interpreted in harmony with John’s standpoint, not from what Jesus proved to be, or in the light of St. Paul’s teaching on the Holy Spirit as the immanent source of sanctification. The whole baptism of the Messiah, as John conceives it, is a baptism of judgment. It has been generally supposed that the Holy Spirit here represents the grace of Christ, and the fire His judicial function; not a few holding that even the fire is gracious as purifying. I think that the grace of the Christ is not here at all. The πνεῦμα ἅγιον is a stormy wind of judgment; holy, as sweeping away all that is light and worthless in the nation (which, after the O. T. manner, is conceived of as the subject of Messiah’s action, rather than the individual). The fire destroys what the wind leaves. John, with his wild prophetic imagination, thinks of three elements as representing the functions of himself and of Messiah: water, wind, fire. He baptises with water, in the running stream of Jordan, to emblem the only way of escape, amendment. Messiah will baptise with wind and fire, sweeping away and consuming the impenitent, leaving behind only the righteous. Possibly John had in mind the prophetic word, “our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away,” Isaiah 64:6; or, as Furrer, who I find also takes πνεῦμα in the sense of “wind,” suggests, the “wind of God,” spoken of in Isaiah 40:7 : the strong east wind which blights the grass (Zeitschrift für Missionskunde und Religionswissenschaft, 1890). Carr, Cambridge G. T., inclines to the same view, and refers to Isaiah 41:16 : “Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away”. Vide also Isaiah 4:4.11. unto repentance] i. e. to be a symbol of the changed life.

whose shoes I am not worthy to bear] The work of the meanest slaves. John, great prophet as he was, with influence sufficient to make even Herod tremble for his throne, is unworthy to be the meanest slave of the Stronger One—the Son of God.

with the Holy Ghost] Lit. in the Holy Ghost. This preposition is used in Greek and especially in Hellenistic Greek to signify the instrument, but it also expresses the surrounding influence or element in which an act takes place. With water=in water; with the Holy Ghost=surrounded by, influenced by the Holy Ghost.

The matured Christian conception of the Holy Ghost would not be present to the mind of John. Some of his disciples at Ephesus said to Paul “we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Acts 19:2.

fire] This metaphor implies: (1) Purification, (2) Fiery zeal or enthusiasm, (3) Enlightenment; all which are gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the ancient hymn by Robert II. of France the third point is brought out:

“Et emitte cælitus

Lucis tuæ radium

Veni lumen cordium.”Matthew 3:11. ὑμᾶς, you) John, therefore, did not exclude the Pharisees from baptism.—ἐν ὕδατι, in water) The conclusion of the verse corresponds with this part of it. John, however, depreciates not so much his baptism as himself. And again, in this place alone, is that fire mentioned in contradistinction to water, whereas the Holy Spirit is mentioned in every case.—εἰς μετανόιαν, for repentance) This portion of the verse corresponds with Matthew 3:12.—δὲ, but) The contrast does not apply only to those who confer, but to those also who receive baptism (See Acts 1:5, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost), and also to the different times.—ὀπίσω μου, after me) It was fitting that John should be born a little before the Messiah.—ἐρχομένος, that cometh) sc. immediately; see Matthew 3:13.—ἰσχυρότερός μου, mightier than I) One whom you ought to fear and to worship, rather than me, who am feeble. John teaches, both here and in Matthew 3:12, that his power is not great; whereas that of Christ, as God, is infinite.[127] He does not say directly, “Messiah cometh after me,” but expresses it by a paraphrase more obscurely, and yet more augustly. John, moreover, said this at the time when he possessed the greatest power; see Acts 13:25.—Βαστάσαι, to bear) As a servant bears the shoes, which his master has either called for, or commanded to be taken away.—Cf. Psalm 60:8.—Αὐτος, He) Believe on Him: see Acts 19:4.—ὑμᾶς, you) sc. as many as shall receive Him.—βαπτίσει, shall baptize) i.e. abundantly impart; see Titus 3:6; Acts 2:3-4; Acts 2:17; Acts 10:44; and shall thereby show Himself the mightier. The Holy Spirit and fire have the greatest power.—ἐν, κ.τ.λ., in, etc.) This was the difference between John and Christ; see John 1:33.—Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ, the Holy Ghost) See Gnomon on Luke 3:16.—καὶ πυρὶ, and with fire) St Luke has these words, though St Mark has not: even, therefore, were the reading doubtful in St Matthew, there would be no danger;[128] it is certain, however, that he also wrote καὶ πυρὶ. The Holy Spirit, with which Christ baptizes, has a fiery power, and that fiery power was manifested to the eyes of men; see Acts 2:3.

[127] A power, which there is no one who shall not experience, either exercised for salvation, or else in terrible vengeance.—Vers. Germ.

[128] Orig. 4, 131e, 132c, Iren. 321, Cypr. Hil. Vulg. have καὶ πυρί. It is only some more recent uncial MSS. (ESV in Tischend. Gr. Test.) and Syr. of Jerus., which have omitted the words.—ED.Verse 11. - (Cf, especially John 1:27; Acts 13:25; also Acts 19:4.) After our ver. 10 St. Luke inserts details of the various kinds of fruit that repentance ought to produce, suggested by the questions of different portions of the Baptist's audience; and then, with an explanatory note that John's words were due to a misconception having arisen that he was himself the Messiah, he adds what we have in vers. 11, 12. But even if vers. 0-12 were, in fact, not said consecutively, yet their juxtaposition here may be defended by the real connexion between the statements. In ver. 10 John has spoken of the present danger of his audience; he therefore now urges repentance, and that in view of the coming of One who will sift them to the uttermost. With water; in, Revised Version margin (ἐν), and so in the second part of the verse. The thought is not of the instrument by which the baptism is effected, but of the element in which it takes place. "In" suggests more complete submergence of the personality. But he that cometh after me. The expression would recall the thought of" the Coming One" - a common designation of Messiah (Matthew 11:3; Matthew 21:9). Is mightier than I. Not in authority (the next clause), nor in honour (John 1:30), but in inherent strength and power. Whose shoes. Though shoes or boots were usual in the winter, at all events later, and probably also now (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:621), yet sandals are doubtless meant. "In the LXX. and Josephus σανδάλιον (Mark 6:9; Acts 12:8) and ὑπόδημα [here] are used indiscriminately" (Thayer). Worthy. In moral sufficiency (ἱκανός) , and so in the parallels, but (ἄξιος) in moral desert in John 1:27. To bear; complementary to "loosen" in the parallel passages. The duty of slaves of the lowest rank. The distance of superiority here attributed by John to "him that cometh after me," must be reckoned even greater than it usually is; for most of the slaves then held by Jewish masters would not be Jews, but Gentiles. The thought is, "I am further removed from my successor than the meanest Gentile slave is from his Jewish master." Some have seen in this expression a reference to the practice of disciples carrying the shoes of their teachers (Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:272), but this can hardly have been general so early. He. The emphasis is made the more evident by the absence of any connecting particle. Shall baptize you. "The transference of the image of baptism to the impartment of the Holy Spirit was prepared by such passages as Joel 2:28 (Acts 2:17)" (Bishop Westcott, on John 1:33); comp. also Ezekiel 36:25-27, where the symbol of cleansing by water and the gift of the Holy Spirit are closely connected. With the Holy Ghost, and with fire (ἐν Πνεύματιυ Ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί). To the visible John contrasts the invisible, to the symbol of water the reality of the Spirit; adding (here and in the parallel passage in Luke) to this, which forms the main point of the contrast (cf. Mark 1:8; John 1:33), the thought of Malachi 3:2, purification as by fire; and, by not placing it under the government of another preposition (which would have necessitated the conception of it as a distinct element) implying that it is only another aspect of one and the same baptism. It has been questioned, indeed, whether "fire" here refers to the purification of the godly who truly accept the baptism of the Spirit, or to the destruction of the wicked, as in vers. 10, 12. But the thought is one. The Divine presence will in fact, as is recognized by Isaiah (Isaiah 33:14; Isaiah 31:9), be twofold in its working, according as it is yielded to or the reverse. It burns away sin out of the godly, and it consumes the ungodly if they cleave to their sin. To bear

Compare to unloose, Mark 1:7. John puts himself in the position of the meanest of servants. To bear the sandals of their masters, that is, to bring and take them away, as well as to fasten or to take them off, was, among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, the business of slaves of the lowest rank.

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