John 1:26
(26) I baptize with water.--The passage of Ezekiel is probably present to the mind, with its contrast between water and spirit.

Verses 26, 27. - The answer is not very explicit. John answered them and said, I baptize with water; not as Messiah, or Elijah, or a resuscitated prophet, not as making proselytes to the faith of Abraham's sons, not as an Essene admitting the children of the kingdom to a close spiritual corporation, but because the Messiah has come. Some have laid great emphasis on the limitation which John assigns to his baptism. It is said he thus anticipated the contrast afterwards expressed between it and the Spirit baptism of Jesus. This is. however, reserved for a later utterance. The baptism with water inaugurated the Messianic kingdom, prepared the people to receive the Lord. If, then, Messiah were reasonably expected thus to create a fellowship of those, who, substituted this simple lustration for a cumbrous cycle of ceremonial purifications, John, as the "voice," the "herald," the "crier" in the wilderness, was justified in administering the rite. I baptize with water, seeing that there standeth in the midst of you one (whom you know not) who is coming after me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to loose. This standing in the very crowd before him of the Mightier than John, now being searched out as it were by the glances of the Baptist, and recognized by him as One over whom the heavens had opened, gave ample support to the Baptist in his baptismal functions. The One coming after John, i.e. "after," because of John's chronological precedence in showing himself to Israel, is yet of such lofty rank and mighty power that John is not fit in his own opinion to be his humblest slave. This solemn assurance justifies to the Sanhedrin the preparatory rite. This closes the first great testimony. Before proceeding to the second, the evangelist supplies a geographical hint, which up to the present day has not been satisfactorily interpreted.

1:19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was now expected and waited for. He came in the spirit and power of Elias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not that Prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of their brethren, like unto him. He was not such a prophet as they expected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such an account of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearken to him. He baptized the people with water as a profession of repentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings to be conferred on them by the Messiah, who was in the midst of them, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy to render the meanest service.John answered them, saying, I baptize with water,.... Or in water, so the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions render it. The sense of the answer is, that he indeed baptized persons in water, which was all that he could do, or pretended to do; and he owned, that this was a new rite, and that he was the administrator of a new ordinance; but he suggests, as may be supplied from Matthew 3:11 that there was one at hand, and even now among them, that should baptize, and so it is read in one of Stephens's copies here, in the Holy Ghost, and in fire; and it was by his authority, by a commission he had received from him, that he baptized in water; and that his speedy manifestation and appearance as the Messiah, which would be confirmed by his power of baptizing in the Holy Ghost, and by his ministry and miracles, would be a sufficient vindication of his conduct, and support him in his administration of water baptism:

but there standeth one among you; or "hath stood", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; referring, not to his being among them at twelve years of age, but a few days ago when he came to John to be baptized, and was baptized by him; for from John 1:29 it is plain he was not now, or "today", as Nounus expresses it, standing in the midst of them. The Ethiopic version renders it, there is one about to stand among you, as he did the next day: though the meaning of the phrase may only be, that he was then in being, and dwelt somewhere among them, and not that he was personally present at that time:

whom ye know not; neither from whence he is, nor who he is, or what is his work and office; neither the dignity of his person, nor the end of his coming into the world, nor the nature of his business in it.

John 1:25
Top of Page
Top of Page