[B-Greek] PNEUMA and PYR in Matthew 3:11

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Oct 9 14:27:05 EDT 2009


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Samuel Cripps" <crippssamuel at yahoo.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 9. oktober 2009 20:23
Subject: [B-Greek] PNEUMA and PYR in Matthew 3:11


B-Greekers,

I have long been under the impression that the phrase EN HAGIOS PNEUMA KAI PYR 
( "with the holy spirit and fire" ) is to be understood to mean that the spirit 
and fire are one and the same. I've lately come across a few articles online 
where the claim has been made that the text in question indicates that there are 
two different baptisms in view - one a baptism with spirit, the other with fire. 
Can someone help me out wiht this?

Sincerely,

Sam Cripps (layman)
------------------------

It is helpful to compare the places where the NT talks about this:

Mat 3:11
αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί
AUTOS hUMAS BAPTISEI EN PNEUMATI hAGIWI KAI PURI

Mrk 1:8
αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.
AUTOS DE BAPTISEI hUMAS EN PNEUMATI hAGIWi

Luk 3:16
αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί
AUTOS hUMAS BAPTISEI EN PNEUMATI hAGIWi KAI PURI

Jhn 1:33
οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
hOUTOS ESTIN hO BAPTIZWN EN PNEUMATI hAGIWi

Act 1:5
ὑμεῖς δὲ ἐν πνεύματι βαπτισθήσεσθε ἁγίῳ
hUMEIS DE EN PNEUMATI BAPTISQHSESQE hAGIWI

Act 11:16
ὑμεῖς δὲ βαπτισθήσεσθε ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
hUMEIS DE BAPTISQHSESQE EN PNEUMATI hAGIWi

Note also that Act 1:5 was fulfilled in Acts 2:1-4 where this baptism with the 
Holy Spirit is described by "tongues of fire". They belong together as a unit.

There are several reasons for taking "baptism in Holy Spirit and fire" as a 
unit:

There is no repeated EN before PURI in the two places where the phrase occurs.

If they were two separate things, one would expect "fire" to occur in the 
parallel passages also. It is clear that Luke has copied Matthew. Whether you 
think Matthew has added "fire" to Mark's account or Mark has deleted "fire" from 
Matthew depends on your theory of which is the first of the two. Or they could 
both depend on other sources.

The "baptism by fire as a separate event" hypothesis may be based on the fact 
that "baptism by fire" is a common idiom in English. Wikipedia says: "The phrase 
baptism by fire or baptism of fire, known in English since 1822, is a 
translation of the French phrase baptême du feu and is a reference to a 
soldier's first experience under fire in battle." (In Danish we say 
"firebaptism" for this meaning and it could not be confused with "baptism with 
fire").

There is no example anywhere in the NT of a "baptism by fire" or "baptism in 
fire" without mentioning of Spirit also, but several references to a baptism "in 
Holy Spirit and fire".

Another reason for seeing it as two different events is the hypothesis that when 
PUR in v. 10 and v 12 is used as a metaphor for punishment and destruction, then 
PUR in v. 11 should be used in the same metaphorical sense. I am pretty sure 
this is a mistake, because it ignores the immediate context for the wider 
context. Fire is commonly used with two metaphorical senses: destroying what is 
bad and cannot be redeemed, and cleansing a mixture to make it pure(r) by 
eliminating the bad part. The context of verses 10 and 12 clearly indicates 
punishment on the rebellious enemies of God, whereas v. 11 talks about the 
believers. It was those who repented who were baptized in water, and it is the 
believers who are to be baptized with "spirit and fire".

Iver Larsen




More information about the B-Greek mailing list