He Will Baptise with Fire

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt 3:11)

Baptism of fire.

“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matt 3:10

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matt 3: 12

Also repeated in Luke 3.

These verses give the context of the only references to baptism in fire in scripture. Note the references given above are NOT repeated in the other gospel accounts that only mention Jesus baptising in the Holy Spirit, with no reference baptising in fire.

From that evidence I’d suggest there’s been a common misunderstanding and misapplication of the idea of “baptism of fire” throughout Charismatic/Pentecostal communities.

Some may point out the Pentecost “tongues of fire” in Acts 2 – but that description is hardly a baptism (immersion), any more than a sprinkling of water is a genuine baptism in water.

3 thoughts on “He Will Baptise with Fire

  1. Thank you, Tim ! I’ve often pondered that phrase, “baptism with fire,” without coming to any understanding of it, beyond linking it to Pentecost’s “tongues of fire” you reference.

    Your cogent comment on the latter verse makes me think that isn’t the linkage God intends us to make: at least, not entirely.

    Being forced to go back, and re-think, is (counterintuitively) PROGRESS toward understanding: and thank you for it !

    (Glad to see your comment illustrated as well with a painting. It’s been a while since you’d posted any, and I was wondering about their absence…though I was sure it didn’t mean you’d quit painting.)

    BLESSING to you, and all who read here ! Steve

  2. Hi Steve, I didn’t do any painting for a few years, but have started a slow return. I currently have two in progress. A very small one on a board and a larger one on canvas. It’s a slow process and I’ll have to see how they go.

    Yes, the baptism with fire has puzzled me – apart from that Acts 2 description I recall no other link between the Holy Spirit and fire. And it is surely significant that the only two times that ‘baptism’ in fire is mentioned, it is ‘bookended’ references to being thrown in fire as a judgement.

  3. Hebrews 12:29 possibly? Or the OT Deu. 4:24, Ex. 24:17, Deu. 9:3. I’ve considered the baptism of fire as being more a reference to fire that purifies rather than merely the gift of tongues. I think in Acts 2 there was more than ”tongues” going on, there was something deeper taking place in that baptism. Not trying to link the reference to baptism in fire to Acts 2 in particular, just thinking out loud that fire is a purifying agent, possibly more about holiness and being made holy? If God is a consuming fire to be immersed in His Presence will consume something of us, i.e. the dross, the flesh/self life. Again, just thinking out loud here as this baptism of fire is something that has always intringued me and I agree I don’t think it is linked to a gift of tongues. Interesting topic, thanks Tim!

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