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I indeed baptize you with water unto 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 Ghost, and with fire:   Matthew 3:11









779 A.U.C;  A.M. 4030;  A.D.  27



Lectionary   Advent 2A Advent 2B Advent 3C &
Epiphany 1C



Quotes & Notes on:    Matthew 3:11

  • John Wesley's Notes:
    He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire-He shall fill you with the Holy Ghost, inflaming your hearts with that fire of love, which many waters cannot quench. And this was done, even with a visible appearance as of fire, on the day of pentecost.

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

    * baptize. Mt 3:6; Mr 1:4,8; Lu 3:3,16; Joh 1:26,33; Ac 1:5; 11:16; 13:24; 19:4
    * but. Lu 1:17; Joh 1:15,26,27,30; 3:23-36
    * whose. Mr 1:7; Lu 7:6,7; Ac 13:25; Eph 3:8; 1Pe 5:5
    * he shall. Isa 4:4; 44:3; 59:20,21; Zec 13:9; Mal 3:2-4; Mr 1:8; Lu 3:16 Joh 1:33; Ac 1:5; 2:2-4; 11:15,16; 1Co 12:13; Ga 3:27,28

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

     But he that cometh after me] Or, I coming after me, who is now on his way, and will shortly make his appearance. Jesus Christ began his ministry when he was thirty years of age, Lu 3:23, which was the age appointed by the law, Nu 4:3. John the Baptist was born about six months before Christ; and, as he began his public ministry when thirty years of age, then this coming after refers to six months after the commencement of John's public preaching, at which time Christ entered upon his.

    Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear] This saying is expressive of the most profound humility and reverence. To put on, take off, and carry the shoes of their masters, was, not only among the Jews, but also among the Greeks and Romans, the work of the vilest slaves. This is amply proved by Kypke, from Arrian, Plutarch, and the Babylonian Talmud.

    With the Holy Ghost, and with fire] That the influences of the Spirit of God are here designed, needs but little proof. Christ's religion was to be a spiritual religion, and was to have its seat in the heart. Outward precepts, however well they might describe, could not produce inward spirituality. This was the province of the Spirit of God, and of it alone; therefore he is represented here under the similitude of fire, because he was to illuminate and invigorate the soul, penetrate every part, and assimilate the whole to the image of the God of glory. See on Joh 3:5.

    With fire] kai puri. This is wanting in E. S. (two MSS. one of the ninth, the other of the tenth century) eight others, and many Evangelistaria, and in some versions and printed editions; but it is found in the parallel place, Lu 3:16, and in the most authentic MSS. and versions. It was probably the different interpretations given of it by the fathers that caused some transcribers to leave it out of their copies.

    The baptism of fire has been differently understood among the primitive fathers. Some say, it means the tribulations, crosses, and afflictions, which believers in Christ are called to pass through. Hence the author of the Opus Imperfectum, on Matthew, says, that there are three sorts of baptism, 1. that of water; 2. that of the Holy Ghost; and, 3. that of tribulations and afflictions, represented under the notion of fire. He observes farther, that our blessed Lord went through these three baptisms: 1. That of water, he received from the hands of John. 2. That of the Holy Spirit he received from the Father. And, 3. That of fire, he had in his contest with Satan in the desert. St. Chrysostom says; it means the superabundant graces of the Spirit. Basil and Theophilus explain it of the fire of hell. Cyril, Jerome, and others, understand by it the descent of the Holy Spirit, on the day of pentecost.

    Hilary says, it means a fire that the righteous must pass through in the day of judgment, to purify them from such defilements as necessarily cleaved to them here, and with which they could not be admitted into glory.

    Ambrose says, this baptism shall be administered at the gate of paradise, by John Baptist; and he thinks that this is what is meant by the flaming sword, Ge 3:24.

    Origen and Lactantius conceive it to be a river of fire, at the gate of heaven, something similar to the Phlegethon of the heathens; but they observe, that when the righteous come to pass over, the liquid flames shall divide, and give them a free passage: that Christ shall stand on the brink of it, and receive through the flames all those, and none but those, who have received in this world the baptism of water in his name: and that this baptism is for those who, having received the faith of Christ, have not, in every respect, lived conformably to it; for, though they laid the good foundation, yet they built hay, straw, and stubble upon it, and this work of theirs must be tried, and destroyed by this fire. This, they think, is St. Paul's meaning, 1Co 3:13-15. If any man build on this foundation (viz. Jesus Christ) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.-If any man's work be burnt, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as BY FIRE. From this fire, understood in this way, the fathers of the following ages, and the schoolmen, formed the famous and lucrative doctrine of PURGATORY. Some in the primitive Church thought that fire should be, in some way or other, joined to the water in baptism; and it is supposed that they administered it by causing the person to pass between two fires, or to leap through the flame; or by having a torch, or lighted candle, present. Thus have those called Doctors of the Church trifled. The exposition which I have given, I believe to be the only genuine one.

  • Family Bible Notes:

    He; Jesus Christ. Not worthy; though among all who were born of women none were greater in condition and honor than John. Mt 11:11, yet so much greater was Jesus Christ, even in his deepest humiliation, that John was not worthy to untie, or carry his shoe. Holy Ghost; by his Spirit he will purify all who believe in him, as gold is purified by the fire. The greatest and most honorable among men are so much less honorable than the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are not worthy to perform for him the most lowly service

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
    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.

  • People's New Testament Commentary:

      I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. His baptism was only a water baptism. The King could send the Holy Spirit, and give a mightier baptism, in addition to the outward baptism.

    Mightier than I. In that he can perform all that I only promise.

    Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. The duty of a slave, or one greatly inferior in rank. In the Orient sandals are generally removed on entering a house, and left in charge of a servant, who brings them again when needed. So humble was John, compared with the King, that he was hardly worthy to be his servant.

    He shall baptize with the Holy Spirit. In order to know what is meant we must refer to the fulfillment. On the day of Pentecost occurred such a baptism, the first so recognized in the New Testament. Then the spirits of the apostles were overwhelmed by the Divine Spirit, so that they spoke as he gave them utterance. It was Christ who "shed forth" the baptism of that occasion. This would be plainer had the Greek en, here rendered "with," has been rendered "in," after the word baptize. Of the 2,600 occurrences of en in the Greek New Testament, it is rendered "in" in the Common Version 2,045 times. The American Committee of Revisers in the Revised Version (see margin) so render it in connection with the word baptize, and are doubtless right. These great scholars, mostly learned Pedo-baptists, would say, "Baptize in water," "Baptize in the Holy Spirit."

    And with fire. The term fire is used in Mt 3:10, and there means a destroying agency; it is used again in Mt 3:12 in the same sense; it is used in Mt 3:11, also, the intervening verse, and must be used in exactly the same sense as in the other two verses. It cannot mean a curse in Mt 3:10,12, and a blessing in Mt 3:11, without a word of explanation. It is strange, therefore, that all commentators should not agree that the baptism of fire is a baptism of trial and suffering. There were two classes before John. Some would repent and be baptized finally in the Holy Spirit; there were others who would remain impenitent, and be baptized in the awful trials that would come upon Israel. Mt 3:12 explains this. John says in it that there is the wheat and the chaff; one shall be gathered into the garner and the other burned.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
      Mightier than I (ischuroteros mou). Ablative after the comparative adjective. His baptism is water baptism, but the Coming One "will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire." "Life in the coming age is in the sphere of the Spirit. Spirit and fire are coupled with one preposition as a double baptism" (McNeile). Broadus takes "fire" in the sense of separation like the use of the fan. As the humblest of servants John felt unworthy to take off the sandals of the Coming One. About bastazô see on Mt 8:17.

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

     Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. The word here translated 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, afterwards were used. The foot was not covered at all; but the sandal, or piece of leather or wood, was bound by thongs.

    The wooden sandal is much worn in Arabia, Judea, and Egypt. It has a raised heel and toe, as represented in some of the preceding cuts; and, though often expensive and neat, it was usually a cheap, coarse, and very clumsy article.

    The people put off these when they entered a house, and put them on when they left it. To loose and bind on sandals, on such occasions, was the business of the lowest servants; and their office was to loose and carry about their masters' sandals. The expression here, then, was an expression of great humility; and John says that he was not 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, Pr 1:23; Isa 44:3; Joe 2:28,29; Ac 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, Joh 16:8. To enlighten or teach the disciples, Joh 14:26; 16:13. To comfort them in the absence of the Saviour, Joh 14:18; 16:7. To change the heart, Tit 3:5. To be baptized with the Holy Ghost 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 produce rapid and permanent changes in the lives of men. See Ac 2:17,18.

    With fire. This expression has been very variously understood. Some have supposed that he refers to the afflictions and persecutions with which men would be tried under the gospel; others, that the word fire means judgment or wrath. A part of his hearers he would baptize with the Holy Ghost, but the wicked with fire and vengeance. Fire is a symbol of vengeance. See Isa 5:24; 61:2; 66:24. If this be 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 trying; and they who were not fitted to abide the test, would be cast into eternal fire. Some have supposed, however, that by fire, here, he intends to denote that his ministry would be refining, powerful, purifying, as fire is sometimes an emblem of purity, Mal 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 should not be able to abide the trial, and should be driven away.

    {u} "with the Holy Ghost" Ac 1:5


  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

     I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance--(See on JFB for 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.

  • Spurgeon Commentary:

    John could plunge the penitent into water; but a greater than he must baptize men into the Holy Ghost and into fire. Repentance is well attended by washing in water; but the true baptism of the believer by the Lord Jesus himself brings us into spiritual floods of holy fire. John considered himself to be nothing more than a household slave, unworthy of the office of removing his Master’s sandals; and his baptism in water was as much inferior to the Spirit-baptism as a slave to his lord. Jesus is the divine Lord who covers us with the fiery influences of the Holy Spirit. Do we know this baptism? What is water-baptism without it? What are all the Johns in the world, with their baptisms in water, when compared with Jesus and his baptism into fire!

  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    In these words John declares the excellency of Christ's person and ministry above his own.

    As to his person, he owns that he was not worthy to carry his shoes after him, or to perform the lowest offices of service for him.

    And as to his office, he declares that Christ should not baptize as he did, with water, but with the Holy Ghost and with fire; that is, should plentifully pour down of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit upon his proselytes, which, like fire, in their operation should purify their hearts from sin, consuming their lusts, and corruptions: but at the same time he has a fiery indignation, and flaming judgments, to destroy and burn up impenitent sinners like combustible stubble.

    Where Observe, How Christ is represented by one and the same metaphor of the fire, in a way of comfort to his children, and in a way of terror unto his enemies, he is a fire unto both: He sits in his church as a refiner's fire; he is amongst his enemies as a consuming fire: a fire for his church to tke comfort in, a fire for his enemies to perish by.

  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

    (No comment on this verse)

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

     I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance. That is, unto the completion of your repentance. Repentance had to begin before the baptism was administered. After the sinner repented, baptism consummated his repentance, being the symbolic washing away of that from which he had repented and the bringing of the candidate into the blessings granted to the repentant (Mr 1:4; Lu 3:3).

    But he that cometh after me, etc. See TFG for Mr 1:7.

    He shall baptize you, etc. See TFG for Mr 1:8.

    And in fire. Many learned commentators regard the expression "in fire" as a mere amplification of the spiritual baptism added to express the purging and purifying effects of that baptism, but the context forbids this, for, in Mt 3:10, casting the unfruitful trees into the fire represents the punishment of the wicked, and, in Mt 3:12 the burning of the chaff with fire does the same, and consequently the baptizing in fire of the intervening verse must, according to the force of the context have the same reference. True, the expression "he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire," does not separate the persons addressed into two parties, and, if the context is disregarded, might be understood as meaning that the same persons were to be baptized in both; yet the context must not be disregarded, and it clearly separates them.





Updated:   Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 03:52 AM



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