Spirit Baptism in the Gospels, part 3:
Baptism "with" the Holy Ghost, not "in" the Holy Ghost
The translation of the Authorized Version that Christ “shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 3:11, etc.) is superior in its particular context to a rendering of baptisei en Pneumati Hagio as “he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost.” A comparison of the gospel texts on Spirit baptism indicate that both the simple dative and the dative with en specify the same category of usage in the text. For example, in Luke 3:16 the dative hudati parallels en Pneumati kai puri. Acts 1:5 likewise parallels John’s baptism hudati with baptism en Pneumati Hagio. Note also the simple dative puri in Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17. The simple datives are best taken as examples of a “dative of means/instrument [by, by means of, with] . . . [where] the dative substantive is used to indicate the means or instrument by which the verbal action is accomplished. This is a very common use of the dative, embracing as it does one of the root ideas of the dative case (viz., instrumentality) . . . before the noun in the dative, [one should] supply the words by means of, or simply with.”[i] While the instrumental dative is very common, there is a great “scarcity of . . . usage [for the] . . . locative of place without a preposition . . . [so that the grammarian] Blass indeed remarks that the ‘local dative’ does not occur in the N. T.”[ii] If there are few simple datives representing a dative or locative of place in New Testament Greek, or perhaps none at all, but the instrumental idea for the dative form without a preposition is very common, the presumption that the baptisms in Matthew 3 and the parallel passages are “with” water, “with” the Holy Ghost, and “with” fire, rather than “in” these three, is very strong. Similarly, en Pneumati constitutes a use of en with the dative indicating instrument or means.[iii] Thus, in Spirit baptism “Christ is the agent . . . and the Holy Spirit is the means . . . that the Lord uses to baptize . . . Pneumati Hagio clearly indicates means in Mark 1:8 (as in several other passages dealing with Spirit-baptism).”[iv] Furthermore, en pneumati regularly possesses the sense of means or instrumentality in the LXX—the locative idea of sphere is significantly less common.[v] Indeed, the locative sense is not clearly present in any passage in the Greek Old Testament where en pneumati refers to the Holy Spirit.[vi] The related en puri (cf. Matthew 3:11, baptisei en Pneumati Hagio kai puri) also very frequently possesses the sense of instrumentality or means in the LXX.[vii] However, such metaphorical language for Spirit baptism does not exclude any locative sense in Spirit baptism, nor does Christ’s pouring out the Holy Ghost from heaven, which resulted in Spirit baptism, exclude the Spirit’s “fill[ing] all the house where [the 120 in the church] were sitting” (Acts 2:2) and thus immersing the church in His overwhelmingly powerful presence.[viii] Nevertheless, syntax and context demonstrate that the rendering of the Authorized Version and of English Bibles back to Tyndale[ix] is correct in affirming that Christ performs Holy Ghost baptism with the Spirit.
Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series, is available by clicking here.
[i] Pgs. 162-3, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
[ii] Pg. 521, A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934.
[iii] Cf. pgs. 372ff. of Wallace, Greek Grammar, and BDAG definition #5 for e˙n as a “marker introducing means or instrument, with, a construction that begins w. Homer [and with] . . . wide currency in [the New Testament and early Christian] lit[erature].” Note that in Revelation 17:14, a verse listed in BDAG under definition #5, the destruction of a city by an army is said to be by “burn[ing the city] with fire” (katakau/sousin e˙n puri÷), a usage very similar to the instrumental e˙n with puri÷ for burning cities in Baruch 1:2; 1 Esdras 1:52; 1 Maccabees 5:5.
[iv] Pg. 374, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace. Wallace thought that “perhaps” the preposition indicated sphere as well, but it definitely signified means. He thus translated the passages as “with,” not “in” the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that the affirmation that baptism “with” the Holy Ghost is the correct translation does not exclude the idea that the Spirit is indeed the medium of Christ’s baptism with the third member of the Trinity, as water is the medium in the ordinance of believer’s immersion. Rather, the rendering with simply emphasizes the substance in which the baptism takes place; that is, the substance employed in baptism is water, the Spirit, or fire. This fact does not in any way change the fact that a baptism is by definition an immersion, since baptidzo signifies immersion without the aid of any preposition.
[v] It is, however, still present, e. g. Ecclesiastes 7:9: Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger will rest in the bosom of fools. mh\ speu/shØß e˙n pneu/mati÷ sou touv qumouvsqai o¢ti qumo\ß e˙n ko/lpwˆ aÓfro/nwn aÓnapau/setai.
[vi] 1 Chronicles 28:12: And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: kai« to\ para¿deigma o§ ei•cen e˙n pneu/mati aujtouv tw◊n aujlw◊n oi¶kou kuri÷ou kai« pa¿ntwn tw◊n pastofori÷wn tw◊n ku/klwˆ tw◊n ei˙ß ta»ß aÓpoqh/kaß oi¶kou kuri÷ou kai« tw◊n aÓpoqhkw◊n tw◊n agi÷wn.
Nehemiah 9:30: Yet thou didst bear long with them many years, and didst testify to them by thy Spirit by the hand of thy prophets: but they hearkened not; so thou gavest them into the hand of the nations of the land. kai« eiºlkusaß e˙p∆ aujtou\ß e¶th polla» kai« e˙pemartu/rw aujtoi√ß e˙n pneu/mati÷ sou e˙n ceiri« profhtw◊n sou kai« oujk hjnwti÷santo kai« e¶dwkaß aujtou\ß e˙n ceiri« law◊n thvß ghvß.
Isaiah 4:4: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. o¢ti e˙kplunei√ ku/rioß to\n rJu/pon tw◊n ui˚w◊n kai« tw◊n qugate÷rwn Siwn kai« to\ ai–ma e˙kkaqariei√ e˙k me÷sou aujtw◊n e˙n pneu/mati kri÷sewß kai« pneu/mati kau/sewß.
Ezekiel 11:24: And the Spirit took me up, and brought me to the land of the Chaldeans, to the captivity, in a vision by the Spirit of God: and I went up after the vision which I saw. kai« aÓne÷labe÷n me pneuvma kai« h¡gage÷n me ei˙ß ghvn Caldai÷wn ei˙ß th\n ai˙cmalwsi÷an e˙n oJra¿sei e˙n pneu/mati qeouv kai« aÓne÷bhn aÓpo\ thvß oJra¿sewß h∞ß ei•don.
Ezekiel 37:1: And the hand of the Lord came upon me, and the Lord brought me forth by the Spirit, and set me in the midst of the plain, and it was full of human bones. kai« e˙ge÷neto e˙p∆ e˙me« cei«r kuri÷ou kai« e˙xh/gage÷n me e˙n pneu/mati ku/rioß kai« e¶qhke÷n me e˙n me÷swˆ touv pedi÷ou kai« touvto h™n mesto\n ojste÷wn aÓnqrwpi÷nwn.
Micah 3:8: But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. e˙a»n mh\ e˙gw» e˙mplh/sw i˙scu\n e˙n pneu/mati kuri÷ou kai« kri÷matoß kai« dunastei÷aß touv aÓpaggei√lai tw◊ˆ Iakwb aÓsebei÷aß aujtouv kai« tw◊ˆ Israhl amarti÷aß aujtouv.
Zechariah 1:6: But do ye receive my words and mine ordinances, all that I command by my Spirit to my servants the prophets, who lived in the days of your fathers; and they answered and said, As the Lord Almighty determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our practices, so has he done to us. plh\n tou\ß lo/gouß mou kai« ta» no/mima¿ mou de÷cesqe o¢sa e˙gw» e˙nte÷llomai e˙n pneu/mati÷ mou toi√ß dou/loiß mou toi√ß profh/taiß oi≠ katela¿bosan tou\ß pate÷raß uJmw◊n kai« aÓpekri÷qhsan kai« ei•pan kaqw»ß parate÷taktai ku/rioß pantokra¿twr touv poihvsai kata» ta»ß oJdou\ß uJmw◊n kai« kata» ta» e˙pithdeu/mata uJmw◊n ou¢twß e˙poi÷hsen uJmi√n.
Zechariah 4:6: And he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the Lord to Zorobabel, saying, not by mighty power, nor by strength, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord Almighty. kai« aÓpekri÷qh kai« ei•pen pro/ß me le÷gwn ou∞toß oJ lo/goß kuri÷ou pro\ß Zorobabel le÷gwn oujk e˙n duna¿mei mega¿lhØ oujde« e˙n i˙scu/i aÓll∆ h· e˙n pneu/mati÷ mou le÷gei ku/rioß pantokra¿twr.
Zechariah 7:12: And they made their heart disobedient, so as not to hearken to my law, and the words which the Lord Almighty sent forth by his Spirit by the former prophets: so there was great wrath from the Lord Almighty. kai« th\n kardi÷an aujtw◊n e¶taxan aÓpeiqhv touv mh\ ei˙sakou/ein touv no/mou mou kai« tou\ß lo/gouß ou§ß e˙xape÷steilen ku/rioß pantokra¿twr e˙n pneu/mati aujtouv e˙n cersi«n tw◊n profhtw◊n tw◊n e¶mprosqen kai« e˙ge÷neto ojrgh\ mega¿lh para» kuri÷ou pantokra¿toroß.
(Note: English renderings above come either from the 1851 translation of the LXX by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton or from the KJV. Note also Solomon 17:37 in the Apocrypha, kai« oujk aÓsqenh/sei e˙n tai√ß hJme÷raiß aujtouv e˙pi« qew◊ˆ aujtouv o¢ti oJ qeo\ß kateirga¿sato aujto\n dunato\n e˙n pneu/mati aJgi÷wˆ kai« sofo\n e˙n boulhvØ sune÷sewß meta» i˙scu/oß kai« dikaiosu/nhß).
[vii] Three examples out of the 110 verses with the phrase are:
Numbers 31:10: And they burnt with fire all their cities in the places of their habitation and they burnt their villages with fire. kai« pa¿saß ta»ß po/leiß aujtw◊n ta»ß e˙n tai√ß oi˙ki÷aiß aujtw◊n kai« ta»ß e˙pau/leiß aujtw◊n e˙ne÷prhsan e˙n puri÷.
Judges 9:52: And Abimelech drew near to the tower, and they besieged it; and Abimelech drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. kai« h™lqen Abimelec eºwß touv pu/rgou kai« e˙xepole÷mhsan aujto/n kai« h¡ggisen Abimelec eºwß thvß qu/raß touv pu/rgou e˙mprhvsai aujto\n e˙n puri÷.
1 Kings 16:18: And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died. kai« e˙genh/qh wß ei•den Zambri o¢ti prokatei÷lhmptai aujtouv hJ po/liß kai« ei˙sporeu/etai ei˙ß a‡ntron touv oi¶kou touv basile÷wß kai« e˙nepu/risen e˙p∆ aujto\n to\n oi•kon touv basile÷wß e˙n puri« kai« aÓpe÷qanen.
The complete list of references is: Exodus 12:10; 19:18; 32:20; 34:13; Leviticus 4:12; 6:23; 7:17, 19; 8:32; 13:52, 55, 57; 16:27; 19:6; 20:14; Numbers 31:10, 23; Deuteronomy 1:33; 9:21; 12:31; 13:17; 18:10; Joshua 7:15; 8:19, 28; 11:6, 9, 11; 16:10; Judges 1:8; 9:49, 52; 12:1; 14:15; 15:6; 20:48; 1 Samuel 30:1, 3, 14; 2 Samuel 14:30-31; 23:7; 1 Kings 16:18; 18:24, 36-37; 2 Kings 8:12; 16:3; 17:17, 31; 21:6; 23:10; 1 Chronicles 14:12; 21:26; 2 Chronicles 33:6; 35:13; 36:19; Nehemiah 1:3; 2:3; Psalm 45:10; 73:7; 139:11; Amos 4:10; 7:4; Micah 1:7; Nahum 2:4; Habakkuk 2:13; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8; Zechariah 9:4; Isaiah 10:17; 44:16, 19; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 21:10; 28:32; 30:18; 36:22; 39:29; 41:2, 22; 44:8, 10; 45:17-18; 50:13; 52:13; Ezekiel 5:2, 4; 21:36-37; 22:21, 31; 36:5; 38:19; 1 Esdras 1:52; 1 Maccabees 1:56; 5:5, 35, 44; 11:61; 16:10; 4 Maccabees 9:22; 18:12 Sirach 2:5; 8:10; 45:19; Solomon 12:4; Baruch 1:2.
[viii] Commenting on the connection of the fact that baptidzo signifies immersion and the baptism of the Spirit, B. H. Carroll wrote:
The baptism in the Spirit was a figurative baptism. I mean the word baptism is used in a figurative and not in a literal sense. . . . If I immerse one in a creek or baptistery, that is a literal baptism; but if I see a friend of mine in distress, in deep anxiety, groaning, sighing, weeping, full of pain, no ease, no peace, no hope, I say he is baptized in suffering. That is figurative. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have a baptism to be baptized in, and now am I straitened till it be accomplished[!]’ I have suffering to pass through so deep and overwhelming that you may compare the suffering to an immersion in suffering. That is a figurative use of the word. If one dip another in a tank of oil, that is a literal baptism, a literal use of the word. But if it be one whose notes of hand are all over the community, whose property is all mortgaged, who has no realty that is not already encumbered, I say that man is baptized in debt, that is a figurative use of the word. He is overwhelmed in debt.
Now when John the Baptist says, ‘I baptize you in water,’ that is a literal baptism, ‘but Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Ghost,’ that is a figurative use of the word. The Holy Ghost is not a liquid element, but you may use the word figuratively; when they are in the house, and the sound that indicates His presence fills that house, and they themselves are filled with the Spirit, permeated throughout by the indwelling Spirit of God, figuratively you say that is a baptism in the Holy Ghost. That figurative use of the word is one of the commonest known to the Greek classics. I could cite you a hundred instances of it. So that the baptism in water, that is the literal; the other, that is the figurative. And because the literal is a burial, a sinking out of sight, so an overwhelming influence may figuratively be said to be a baptism in that influence.” (pgs. 42-43, The Three Baptisms, B. H. Carroll, elec. acc. in the AGES Christian Library Series, Vol. 11, B. H. Carroll Collection. Rio, WI: 2006).
Some paedobaptists argue that baptidzo can signify pouring because the Spirit’s being poured out is allegedly a synonym with Spirit baptism, thus equating pouring and baptism. This argument has severe problems. If the Holy Ghost’s being “poured out” or “shed forth” on men (e˙kce÷w, Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45) demonstrates that baptidzo means pour, then the references, in association with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, to the Spirit “coming upon” (e˙pe÷rcomai, Acts 1:8) people, “falling” on them (e˙pipi÷ptw, Acts 8:16; 10:44; 11:15-17), “coming” upon them (e¶rcomai. . . e˙pi÷, 19:6), and being “received” (lamba¿nw, Acts 10:47; 19:2) by them would prove that baptidzo also means come upon, fall, receive, and come—the word would be a veritable nose of wax which could be twisted any which way at will, and would mean so much that it meant nothing at all. The Scriptural distinction in prepositions, where the Spirit falls “upon” (e˙pi÷) and is poured “out” (e˙k) while baptism/immersion is en (e˙n) water and the Spirit, but one is never “baptized out” or “baptized upon,” for example, would also be neglected. Finally, the Spirit’s being poured out from heaven is synonymous with His being sent by the ascended Christ after He sat down at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; John 15:26; 16:7). The Spirit’s being poured out or sent from heaven had, as its result on earth, the church’s receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That is, the result of the heavenly sending or pouring out was the earthly baptism or immersion. The baptism is not a synonym of the sending or pouring, but a consequence of it. To attempt to invalidate the simple fact of the Greek language that baptidzo means immerse, and never pour or sprinkle, by confusing the terms that are employed in association with Spirit baptism, is entirely invalid. For conclusive evidence that to baptize means to immerse, see pgs. 386-444, “Christian Baptism,” in Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches, Edward T. Hiscox (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, orig. pub. 1894); pgs. 18-167, Baptism in its Mode and Subjects, Alexander Carson, (5th rev. ed., Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society, 1860; elec. acc. http://books.google.com).
[ix] Cf. Matthew 3:11 in the Tyndale Bible, “He shall baptise you with ye holy gost and with fyre.”