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Read Introduction to Matthew

 

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

 

3:11

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.

John set forth the worthiness of the Messiah. First-century people viewed carrying sandals as menial. There was no comparison between the Baptist and the Messiah. John was not worthy to untie the Messiah’s sandals. Jesus was “mightier” than John.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

There is an important distinction between the baptism of John and that of Jesus. John’s baptism was ritual water baptism identifying his followers with the coming Messiah. Jesus’ baptism would wholly surpass John’s baptism. The prophet Joel (2:28-29) gave the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is a baptism of blessing benefiting true believers. The word “fire” refers to judgment of those entering the kingdom (Malachi 3:2-5; 4:1). That will occur at the Second Coming, not the Rapture.

There are two baptisms in this passage: (1) John’s and (2) Jesus’. John’s baptism was a baptism to prepare for the coming Messiah. Jesus’ baptism was a baptism of separation of true believers from pretenders at His Second Coming after the Tribulation. Jesus’ baptism was a baptism of judgment.

Jesus’ baptism of fire is not the same as what happened on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2). It is also not the same as the baptism of the Spirit for believers (1 Co 12:12, 13).

The word “with” governs both “Holy Spirit” and “fire,” giving the one baptism of Jesus two elements. There were not two baptisms in mind here: “Holy Spirit” and “fire” were two aspects of Jesus’ one baptism.

3:12

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

There is a separation that occurs when the winnowing fork (a large wooden shovel) tosses up grain. While the grain is in the air, the wind removes the chaff from the wheat. Wheat (believers) separates from chaff (unbelievers). The harvesters put the wheat in the barn but burn the chaff. When the Messiah comes, He will separate true believers from pretenders.

Those rejected at the Second Coming will go into everlasting judgment of “unquenchable” fire. This fire will never stop; it is the “lake of fire” of the book of Revelation.

PRINCIPLE: Our estimation of Jesus’ worth shapes our attitude of humility towards Him.

APPLICATION: Do we hold Jesus in distinction? How much worth is He in our estimation? Our estimate of Jesus shapes humility towards Him.

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