Archive for Baptism

Galatians 3:23-29

3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, confined for the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 3:24 So that the law has become our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 3:26 For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 3:29 If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.

(WEB)

So nice to be back. I’d like to develop a habit to post a verse here every morning on arriving at work. Let’s see.

These bits of Scripture that appeal to me: I want to stay with them, look into the Greek or the Hebrew, learn them and carry them with me, have them sink into me properly. All in time.

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Matthew 3:7-12

Matthew 3:11

I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit (some version add: and with fire).

Luke 3:16:

John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.

(World English Bible)

Matthew and Luke add fire and a bit of Wrath of God to the cooler John the Baptist in Mark. Personally, I don’t think the Matthew & Luke versions add anything. The point is surely to be baptised in the Holy Spirit; the rest is just decoration.

Mark might not be a “passionate” read, but I like the cool simplicity and directness of the message.

For trainspotters: at Biblos.com all Greek texts for the Luke include the “and fire” (“και πυρι”), and for the Matthew all but one has it, the “Greek NT: Byzantine / Majority Text (2000).” So the Majority Text is in the minority. I found some explanation of what the Majority Text is here (I didn’t read it all because I am not a trainspotter ;).

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Mark 1:7-8

1:7 He preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen. 1:8 I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

(WEB)

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Mark 1:4

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.

(World English Bible)

My pocket Bible (a Revised English Bible) says:

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism in token of repentance, for the forgiveness of sins.

Generally I’m not going to try and hunt down the “perfect” translation.

Baptism seems to be an immersion or a washing in water. Perhaps a metaphor for the washing away of sins.

Does the ritual symbolise a process that is then complete? Your sins have been washed away, and now you’re free of sin for the rest of your life, with no need to worry about it. That doesn’t sound right, but on the other hand people (even in the New Testament) seem to be baptised just once.

If temptation and sin are always with us, then repentance and forgiveness are always needed, and baptism makes more sense (to me) as a regular thing. Baptism then becomes a symbol of a continuing process of washing and cleansing as one approaches the light.

So who can baptise who? Nowadays it seems anyone can baptise anyone else. To baptise you just have to be a priest, which is just a job; to be baptised you just have to go somewhere where they’re dishing them out. But the question isn’t really about who can participate in a formal ritual.

Perhaps baptism presupposes some kind of relationship between baptiser and baptisee. Further, the baptiser must have some kind of “real” authority (from God? But how would you know?). Most of all, the baptisee must recognise that authority, and participating in the ritual must be an outward mark of something that is really going on inside.

Finally, can one baptise oneself? For example, when I wash in the morning, as well as physical cleansing, can I take that as a spiritual refreshing, ready to start a new day repented and forgiven? And would that be a kind of baptism? When I wash in the evening (sometimes I even get washed during the day!) can I take that as a spiritual soothing, washing (repenting and forgiving) the sins of the day, ready to face the night calmly? Or am I just being silly?

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