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Baptism with Fire?


Baptism with Fire?

What is the baptism of fire?

There are two accounts of the “baptism with fire” they are both basically identical so we will just quote one.

John answered and said to them all. “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  Luke 3: 16

And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat in His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.   Luke 3: 17

To whom was this statement made?

It was addressed to a large group of Jews who came out to be baptized by John.

Was it addressed to the apostles?

No some of them may have been in the audience as disciples of John, but this cannot be proven.  This statement was made before Jesus was baptized, before the 40 days of the wilderness temptation and before Jesus encountered some who would later be called to be Apostles

What does “baptism with fire” mean?

If you take verse 16 by itself the term is ambiguous.  You could say one of two things:

How does verse 17 help us resolve the problem?

The first rule of interpretation of any piece of literature is to “stay within the context”.   The second rule is to “stay within the context.”  And the third rule is to “stay within the context.”  The context, verse 17, establishes that there are two categories, the wheat and the chaff, the saved and the lost.  The fire is identified, the unquenchable fire of judgment.  The meaning is clear the saved will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and the lost will be baptized with fire.

Does this statement find fulfillment at Pentecost?

Partially.  The apostles and 3000 additional souls received the Holy Spirit that day but of course there was no baptism with fire the day.

Do the “tongues as fire” indicate the baptism with fire?

No, I don’t believe they did:

Was the statement about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire addressed to the apostles?

No, it was not.  They had not been selected at the time.  The disregard of the addressee seems particularly strange because I have heard some chase the antecedent of “they” in Acts 2: 1 half way around the world.


The baptism with fire has reference to eternal judgment.  The baptism with the Holy Spirit has reference to receiving the Spirit.


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Last Update   09/26/12