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Bible Insights

Two Kinds of Baptism

John Baptizes with Water and Jesus Baptizes with the Holy Spirit

The third chapter in the book of Matthew focuses on John the Baptist and makes the transition to Jesus, the star of the rest of the book. This chapter also contains some teaching from John. He quotes Isaiah and calls for the Jewish people to repent.

Then he tells us some information about himself in contrast to Jesus. He says Jesus is more powerful than he, and that he’s not even worthy to carry Jesus’s shoes (Matthew 3:11). Later on Matthew quotes Jesus as he talks about John.

Jesus says no man has ever lived who is greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). When we combine these two verses, we see John the Baptist as the most important man ever, yet he is nothing compared to Jesus.

Reading that John isn’t worthy to carry Jesus’s shoes has always grabbed my attention. However, this causes me to miss something more significant in this verse.

John says he is baptizing people with water to signify the repentance, that is, their sorrow for the wrongs they have done and their commitment to turn things around and make a fresh start. Many churches treat baptism this way. This isn’t bad, but they could do better.

John the Baptist says Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Click To Tweet

This is because John talks about a second type of baptism, it comes from Jesus. John says Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. We later see the Holy Spirit connected with fire, tongues of fire, in Acts 2:3–4, the baptism from Jesus.

Jesus’s baptism is a Holy Spirit baptism. Too many churches miss this in their sacrament of baptism. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s easier and less confronting to focus on the baptism of John the Baptist instead of the more confusing, risky, and powerful Holy Spirit baptism from Jesus.

It’s time we give more attention to Jesus’s Holy Spirit baptism and consider what it means to the way we understand our faith and apply it to our lives.

When we baptize people, we must baptize them with Holy Spirit fire.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 1-4, and today’s post is on Matthew 3:11.]

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Joel and the Locust

The book of Joel is classified as one of the Bible’s prophetic books, as it contains a foretelling of the future. After multiple reads, however, this short, 3-chapter book begins to emerge more as poetry than prophecy, revealing multiple levels of meaning awaiting the patient reader to unveil and discover.

The name of the book is the same as the prophet who received God’s oracle—Joel. The nemesis of Joel’s story is a swarm of locust.

Joel’s message is one of unprecedented destruction via this army of locust, which eats everything in sight, devastating all plants—and the sustenance they produce. Both men and animals suffer as a result. However, there is also a grand and glorious redemption that follows, with God promising to restore the years that the locust ate.

Perhaps the most notable mention of locusts in the Bible is as one of the plagues that befall Egypt during Moses’ day. Another is that of locust—along with honey—comprising the unique dietary stylings of John the Baptist.

Aside from the life-nourishment that the locust provides to John, all the other Biblical references of locust relate to plague and destruction—and death—be it literal or figurative.

Regardless, I wouldn’t what them to eat my food or to eat them as food — I’m happy to take my locust as a metaphor.

[See Joel 1:2, Joel 1:4, Joel 2:1, Joel 2:25, Exodus 10:1-20, Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s new book, Dear Theophilus, Minor Prophets: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What Does Baptize Mean? Where Did Baptism Come From?

Where Did Baptism Come From?

In Baptism, We Turn from Sin, Follow Jesus, and Receive the Holy Spirit

Another concept that only appears in the New Testament is baptize and baptism. Baptize occurs fifty times, and its counterpart baptism appears twenty-one times.

These two words often show up in the Bible’s four biographies of Jesus and especially in the book of Acts, as well as a few times in Paul’s letters and once in Peter’s.

Some Bible scholars attempt to connect New Testament baptism with the ceremonial washings of the Old Testament. But this comes across as a weak explanation.

We first see these words in John’s ministry, when they pop up out of nowhere. The Bible gives no historical understanding for the basis of baptism. And it doesn’t explain the significance of the practice. However, the people act as though they comprehend what baptism is.

We get the best clue about the origin of baptism when Jesus poses a question to his detractors. He asks them if John’s baptism came from heaven or was of human origin.

The chief priests and elders discuss the question. Knowing that either answer will be problematic for them, they tell Jesus they don’t know (Matthew 21:25).

The Bible gives us three forms of baptism:

John’s Baptism

John, who we call John the Baptist—because he baptized people—precedes Jesus in ministry. He points the people to Jesus and preaches a message of repentance (Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5, Luke 7:29-30, Acts 19:4). We can think of repentance as to stop doing wrong, to make a U-turn from our errors (our sins).

Jesus’s Baptism

John paves the way for Jesus and for his baptism. John says that Jesus will baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, and Luke 3:16).

However, we get a sense of an intermediate step where Jesus’s disciples baptize people who believe in him and are committed to following him John 4:1-2. It’s a baptism of salvation (Mark 16:16). Holy Spirit baptism doesn’t occur until after Jesus dies, resurrects, and returns to heaven.

In baptism, we turn from sin, follow Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet

Holy Spirit Baptism

Before Jesus leaves the earth, he tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit that Papa promised to send them (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, and Acts 2:38). This completes what John had foretold, that Jesus will baptize with Holy Spirit fire.

Today’s Baptism

Today our baptism can include all three aspects of these New Testament baptisms: turning from sin, following Jesus, and receiving the Holy Spirit.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

New Testament Words

Some of the Bible’s Most Significant Words Don’t Appear in the Old Testament

I use the Bible to study the Bible. That is, I tap one passage to help breathe understanding into another. Sometimes when investigating a specific term, I do a word search to find out where else and how else Scripture uses it.

Some Bible scholars give extra attention to the first time a word appears in the Bible, asserting that the initial usage frames subsequent occurrences.

To give a complete picture of how I study the Bible, I also rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me into a deeper, fuller, and more holistic understanding of what I’m studying.

In studying the Bible, I’ve come across some words, important words, that only appear in the New Testament. I can’t go back to the Old Testament to consider a deeper context or give me a basis for understanding.

Here are some of the key New Testament words that don’t appear in the Old Testament:

Pharisee and Sadducee

Two New Testament words are Pharisee and Sadducee. Pharisee, appearing ninety-nine times, and Sadducee, coming up fifteen times, don’t show up at all in the Old Testament. Pharisees and Sadducees are both factions of Judaism, which implicitly enjoyed more unity in the Old Testament than in the New.

Learn more about Pharisees and Sadducees.

Pentecost

Pentecost is a significant event in the early church. It occurs fifty days after Resurrection Sunday (Easter), when the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus’s followers in dramatic fashion. The Holy Spirit empowers team Jesus to share his good news with others with amazing power.

This is a gift Jesus promised to give them, which he told them to wait for in Jerusalem. Interestingly, Pentecost only pops up three times in the Bible, and this New Testament word doesn’t appear at all in the Old Testament.

Discover more about Pentecost.

Breaking Bread and Break Bread

Though not a New Testament word, but a phrase, breaking bread and break bread only appear in the New Testament. And then they show up just a total of four times. Should we understand this as a euphemism for Communion or for any time people share a meal? Could it be both?

Discover more about breaking bread.

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper when he taught it to his disciples at Passover. So it’s not surprising that the phrase isn’t found in the Old Testament. Two common words for the Lord’s Supper are Communion and the Eucharist.

Neither of these words appear in the Bible. In fact, the Lord’s Supper only appears once in the biblical text.

Learn more about communion.

Rabbi

Another New Testament word is Rabbi. Though we might expect Rabbi to be a common Old Testament term, it isn’t. Rabbi only appears in the Gospels and then just three of them: Matthew, Mark, and John. Most of its sixteen occurrences are a title of respect used to address Jesus.

Discover more about Rabbi.

Synagogue

Appearing sixty-nine times in the Bible, synagogue is another New Testament word. It’s in the four Gospels, appears often in Acts, and pops up twice in Revelation. That’s it.

In the Old Testament, the people had the tabernacle and later the temple as their only place to worship God. In the New Testament we still have the temple, but we also have synagogues sprinkled throughout the area, I suspect one in each city.

Though the people built these synagogues, it wasn’t God’s idea, and he gave no biblical command for them to do so.

Discover more about Synagogues.

Baptize and Baptism

For our final New Testament word, we’ll consider baptize, which occurs fifty times, and its counterpart baptism, which occurs twenty-one times. These two words appear often in the four Gospels and especially in the book of Acts, as well as a few times in Paul’s letters and once in Peter’s.

We first see these words in John’s ministry, when they seem to pop up out of nowhere. The Bible doesn’t explain the significance of baptism, but the people understand what it is.

Discover more about Baptism.

Key New Testament Words

There may be other important words that only appear in the New Testament. When I come across more New Testament words, I’ll add them to this list. In upcoming weeks, we’ll dive into these New Testament words and explain them in greater detail. Come back to learn more.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Four Johns but One Mark

Who Is John Mark?

In “Another Man with Two Names” we talked about a guy known as John Mark. Although no one knows why he’s called John Mark, it does distinguish him from other men in the Bible named John.

John

In addition to John Mark, I count four guys in the Bible with the name of John:

John Mark

It seems there is only one guy called Mark. Mark is mentioned eight times in the New Testament (three times as John Mark, twice as Mark, but referring to John Mark, and three times as Mark, likely referencing John Mark.)

Mark

Lastly, John Mark (sometimes called Mark) may have been the author of the book of Mark. Wouldn’t it be confusing if we called his book John-Mark, instead?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 1-4 and today’s post is on Acts 4:6.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Who is Jesus?

Learn about Jesus through the Testimony of Others in the Bible

Who is Jesus? C. S. Lewis attempted to answer this question when he popularized a trilemma (a dilemma with 50 percent more content) about Jesus. He argued that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. If you’ve read many of my posts, you know that I pick the third option.

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is my Lord.

Of course others deride Jesus, calling him a charlatan or a crazy man. And other people have other characterizations of Jesus too. But let’s set all these perspectives aside and look at what the Bible provides as an answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

We’ll start and end with what father God says about his only Son, but we’ll also consider many other biblical voices as well. This list isn’t extensive, but it is what I could quickly come up with.

Interestingly, I found the most input from my outspoken namesake, the disciple Peter. (These are all taken from the NIV.)

Who Is Jesus?

  • “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” -God, Luke 3:22
  • “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” -Peter, Luke 9:19
  • “the Son of God” -religious leaders (incredulously), Luke 22:70
  • “the King of the Jews” -Pilate (questioningly), Luke 23:3
  • “a righteous man” -the Centurion (confidently), Luke 23:47
  • “God’s Messiah,” -Peter, Luke 9:20
  • A man who has “done nothing wrong” –the criminal on the cross, Luke 23:41
  • “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” -Peter, Matthew 16:16
  • Jesus is “a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people,” -the pair on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:19
  • “My Lord and my God!” -Thomas, John 20:28
  • “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher) -Mary Magdalene, John 20:16
  • “Rabbi” -Peter, Mark 11:21, along with many others, including Judas who eventually betrays him
  • “the Son of God; you are the king of Israel” -Nathanael, John 1:47
  • “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” -God, Matthew 17:5
Jesus is the Son of God and we should listen to him. Click To Tweet

So Then, Who is Jesus?

Putting these together gives us a composite understanding of who Jesus is and how we can relate to him. Most importantly, we can focus on God’s own testimony: Jesus is the Son of God and we should listen to him.

May we do exactly that.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Elizabeth

Childless, Elizabeth and husband Zechariah are getting old; their chance for kids is slim. Still they pray for the improbable. Despite not receiving what they yearn for, their faith remains strong. They are a righteous couple who honor God.

One day at work, an angel shows up and tells Zechariah that he and his barren wife will finally have a son—not just any son, but a special one. He is to be set apart for service to God, the Holy Spirit will empower him, and he will spark a nationwide revival. They are to name him John.

Elizabeth does indeed get pregnant. In her sixth month, Mary—who will later give birth to Jesus—comes for a visit. Inside Elizabeth, John jumps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Then the Holy Spirit comes upon Elizabeth and she prophesizes, blessing Mary and her unborn baby.

When John is born, Elizabeth and Zechariah’s friends and family celebrate with them. They praise God and share in her joy for finally having a baby.

Elizabeth and Zechariah prayed for a child even when it no longer made sense; God answered their prayers by giving them a son named John, John the Baptist.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 1-3, and today’s post is on Luke 1:57-60.]

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What is the Origin of Baptism?

The word baptize is only found in the New Testament of the Bible. Prior to John the Baptist preforming this water ceremony, it is never mentioned. John, by the way, baptizes Jesus.

The Old Testament doesn’t mention baptism and there is no biblical account of its origin. It seems to have just started on its own, beginning with John the Baptist. Did John invent it? Perhaps God told John to do this new thing, pointing people to a new way—Jesus.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, even though I ponder them a lot. And I can’t find much of a clue in the Bible. Though some people attempt to connect New Testament baptism with Old Testament uses of water in religious ceremonies and rituals, I think any correlation is weak.

The dictionary describes baptism using the words cleanse, purify, and initiate. This helps some, since the first few books of the Old Testament talk a lot about cleansing and purification. Yet pulling the ceremony of baptism from them seems a stretch.

However, in a curious passage in Corinthians, Paul talks about the Old Testament Israelites being “baptized into Moses.” Since I can’t find an actual Old Testament account of this happening, I assume it is a figurative baptism, not actual.

None of this, however, gets me any closer to learning the basis for baptism. But what’s important to know is that Jesus tells us to do it.

[Luke 3:21, 1 Corinthians 10:2, Matthew 28:19]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Realizing Holy Spirit Power

Although the terminology and even the timing vary between the various Christian traditions and perspectives, a generality is that first, someone decides to follow Jesus and then the Holy Spirit is given to guide and direct them.

While each stream of Christian thought assigns different terms to these events and has a diversity of understanding as to how and why this is the generally prescribed order.

So how then does this square with John the Baptist being “filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born?” Things certainly seem out of sequence for him.

Not everyone’s journey to God is exactly the same. Click To Tweet

True, it would be unwise to rewrite our theology on the basis of one verse that seems to offer an exception to our understanding of the normal order of how things are done.

However, at the least, this verse should give us pause before we adamantly assert there is a specific way and time for one to receive the Holy Spirit.

Apparently, not everyone’s journey to God is exactly the same.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 1-3, and today’s post is on Luke 1:15.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are You the One?

John the Baptist sits in jail, about to be executed. In a dark moment, his faith begins to waiver. Seeking assurance, he sends his followers to Jesus, with the simple question, “Are you the one?

This question reminds me of the movie The Matrix where people keep asking Neo, “Are you the one?” Some think he is, some aren’t sure, and some doubt, but all are wondering. All that is, except for Morpheus, who plainly proclaims to Neo, “You are the one.”

Morpheus’s simple statement of faith to Neo reminds me of Peter’s confident confession to Jesus, when he plainly proclaims, “You are the Christ.”

Tapping movie references to illuminate a biblical passages are frequently done and helpfully presented. However, if someone were to consider an illustration like this 2,000 years in the future, or even a couple of centuries hence, they would be confused.

They would not know of Neo or Morpheus. They would not have watched The Matrix and our modern cinema would likely be a mystery to them.

What clarifies today would be confusing later, just as some of Jude’s cryptic references in his letter where helpful back then, but are confusing today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.