33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
JOHN 1: 33-34 ESV
33 κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν, ἀλλʼ ὁ πέμψας με βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι ἐκεῖνός μοι εἶπεν· Ἐφʼ ὃν ἂν ἴδῃς τὸ πνεῦμα καταβαῖνον καὶ μένον ἐπʼ αὐτόν, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ· 34 κἀγὼ ἑώρακα, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκα ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐκλεκτὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.
JOHN 1: 33-34 SBLGNT
The verse opens with a disclaimer from The Baptist, “and I did not know him, but……,” which is a repeat from verse 31, which follows by a reference to his work of “baptizing with water,” and verse 26. Three times The Baptist talks about baptizing with water and what is different in this verse is that he concludes by revealing that the “Lamb of God” will baptize by the Holy Spirit. Within the same context, he also reveals who the person who reveals this proclamation is no other than “he who sent me was.”
This complete links with verse 31, the nation of Israel that must now stand as witness to the truth. Something we know was never meant to be, even before creation, our Creator has predestined the unfolding story that John the Baptist and all who witness to be the truth unveiled.
Only twice in the entire Gospel, we are given the precise words of God, here and in John 12:28, where “ a voice from heaven” responds to Jesus’ prayer, “Father, glorify your name” with the assurance, “ I have both glorified, and I will glorify again.” As J. Ramsey Micheal outlines in his book, “The Gospel of John: The New International Commentary in the New Testament,” writes
“Here, “the One who sent me”, both John and Jesus tells John, the author “, Whoever it is on whom you see the Spirit coming down and remaining on him, this is one who baptizes in Holy Spirit.” The divine vocabulary matches John’s own vocabulary (v32) almost word for word. In real time, God’s promise comes first and John’s testimony echoes what God has told him, but in narrative time it is the other way round: John’s word’s come first (v32) and the words of God echo and confirm his testimony (v33)”
Through all the formal introduction in the earlier verses to John’s testimony, “ And I have seen, and have testified,” set the stage for the climax of the prologue of who Jesus Christ is. Again Micheals offers this insight,
“ The voice of God. “This is he who baptizes in Holy Spirit”, echoing John’s words. “This is whom I said” (v30) is reecohed in turn by John Himself: “This is the Son of God.” The effect of the repeated presentation formula (vv 30,33,34) is to give John’s testimony the same authority and status that the voice from heaven has in the synoptic tradition (in Matthean form, Matt 3:17 -This is my beloved Son, in whom I take pleasure.”)
The reaffirmation of the Baptist role as witness precludes any attempt to display the significance of the difference between The Baptist’s role and Jesus’s role in baptism. The true nature of baptism is from Jesus Christ. From the wilderness, our souls are called to repentance, and hence we are called into Jesus Christ’s presence, through whom we are cleansed from sin in the death of our old ways and sinful nature by His blood on the cross and reborn in His resurrection. The question of the time-frame in the three days before resurrection will be answered later in this study, but for now, we must understand that only in faith and empowerment of the Holy Spirit can we be glorified. Jesus Christ’s death cleansed us of all sins, but sanctification, glorification, and righteousness are far from conclusions only in a subjective manner and not by our objectivity, which stand witness to our character within us.
The nature of our spirit must be grounded in God, and unless we are dead to our ‘self” and objectively anchored in God, can we love in a manner which only God does. Each step of The Baptist’s revelation is testified by truth, and each time the results are proven in revelation.
D A Carson, in his book “The Gospel According to John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary”, states it beautifully,
“The early church preached that ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power’ (Acts 10:38). When Christians read their Bibles (what we call the ‘Old Testament’), they saw in Jesus the fulfilment of God’s promises to pour out his Spirit on the coming Davidic king (Is. 11:1ff.), on the Servant of the Lord (Is. 42:1) and on the prophet-figure who announces, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor’ (Is. 61:1). Small wonder, then, that some visible descent of the Spirit on Jesus served as the God-given sign by which the Baptist would know that this was the long-awaited Coming One. The choice of a dove to symbolize the Spirit’s descent is not obvious, though there is some evidence in Jewish sources for a connection between ‘dove’ and ‘Holy Spirit’.
The Spirit not only descends on Jesus, but remains (vv. 32, 33) on him. To Jesus ‘God gives the Spirit without limit’ (3:34). Some, like King Saul, experienced the Spirit’s presence and power temporarily; Jesus, the great antitype of David, never displeases his Father (8:29), whose love and whose Spirit rest on him permanently (cf. 1 Sa. 16:13; 2 Sa. 7:15). Small wonder, then, that Jesus is equipped to baptize others, not merely (as did John the Baptist) in the medium of water, but in the Holy Spirit. This too, anticipates the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, which looked forward to the time when God’s people would have the Spirit poured out on them (e.g. Ezk. 36:25–26). That Jesus would baptize his people in the Holy Spirit is therefore simultaneously an attestation of who he is, and an announcement that the promised age is dawning.”
Our journey with Christ calls us to be vigilant and full of perseverance. The nature of our faith cannot be testified by ‘self,’ but by those around us. As time passes, we see the world changes, but our immediate surroundings accustom us, and only when an outsider views it will change be seen? It is the nature of our senses that as things change around us, we are the last to notice it. The same relates to our spiritual change, as days melt away into weeks, weeks into months into years, our spiritual journey is moulded within a framework that is ultimately being led forward by the Holy Spirit, and every challenge we face becomes a journey of spiritual walk in the shadow of our comforter and indwelled by our Creator.
The strength lies in His Word, and through His word, written as a witness for all seeking salvation, can only be found.
Read, understand and listen to God as he speaks to you through scripture.