Baptism of Fire

by Bryant Evans on March 23, 2010

Many people earnestly seek for the baptism of fire as part of the salvation process. They read the statement of John the baptist who said Jesus would come and baptize with fire and  the Holy Spirit (). They trust that this baptism of fire is synonymous with the reception of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Jesus  and by Peter on the day of Pentecost in .(1)(2) I think they are terribly mistaken.

Here’s the entire passage:

I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Stopping here we might think that being baptized by fire is a good thing and much to be desired. But we cannot stop. As with all Bible study we must consider the full context of the passage.

In , “fire” is mentioned three times. We find it in , and . In and 12 the reference is undeniably to judgment or punishment. , which is the key verse for our particular interest, is not so clear. At least not until you look at the other two verses.

Does it make sense that the middle occurrence of the word means something good when the other two immediately surrounding verses mean something else.

Jesus will judge his people () and some will be cast into a lake of fire (; c.f. ). There is far too much linkage between fire and judgment for this passage to mean something desirable.

There is a good study on this subject at www.layhands.com. I do not endorse everything on the site but his study is especially powerful as he is a pentecostal. Many who hold to the idea of the baptism of fire are pentecostal in their view.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment here on the blog._____

  1. c.f. ()
  2. These two “receptions” of the Holy Spirit are not necessarily the same inasmuch as the measure of the Holy Spirit received by the apostles was far greater than that others would receive.()
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11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (ESV)

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV)

10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (ESV)

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (ESV)

12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (ESV)

10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (ESV)

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (ESV)

4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (ESV)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)

And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. (ESV)

{ 33 comments }

mlkom August 9, 2011 at 2:08 am

purification of hard metals like gold is being done not by washing with water but with the use of fire. water baptism is symbolic of being cleanse with when we are purified with holy spirit our inner self has been purified and cleansed hence baptism by fire itself can be equate as baptism by holy spirit.
since sins in other religion are cleansed by water..but the sins in christian can be purified by the blood of christ.

Bryant Evans August 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

Thanks for the visit. I’m glad you stopped by and left your comment. Baptism of fire is not a good thing. I think the article makes plain the reasons why. However you are correct that the holy spirit is essential in the Christian’s life. Water itself is not what cleanses sins in a literal way. It is a act of obedience – essential obedience – to God. You are also correct that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. We must keep in mind that we can never say that one thing saves alone. God uses many things to bring us to salvation.

Colin Lambert June 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Perhaps you need to explain more as to what saves. You might be right I know this is in summary form. Salvation = Grace + nothing Eph 2:8-10.
What do you think?

Bryant Evans June 9, 2012 at 8:01 am

Yes, it is in summary and not intended as a full discussion of salvation.

Let’s think about Ephesians 2:8. Does it really say salvation is grace only? First, let me say that grace is undeniably essential. No one can be saved apart from the grace of God. Can a person be saved without the blood of Jesus? Would anyone argue that? But some might say that the blood of Jesus is a part of the grace of God. But what about faith? Can a person be saved apart from faith? Verse 8 makes faith a part of that equation. A man cannot be pleasing to God apart from faith. Hebrews 11:6 is quite clear on that point. Faith is a necessity on my part. I could on an on but I think you see what I am driving at.

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

True. It is only where people attempt to extend the meaning of grace that problems arise. Our sanctification and the life we live is our response to grace. There is nothing that we can add to the saving work of Christ. The fact of the matter is that the old man of flesh in us more likely than not is going to sin. This old man will die with the flesh. However, the new man of the spirit will live for ever with Christ. Praise God for that. Some people try to add to salvation perfectionism which is never going to happen. That is through works of righeousness. Frankly in my flesh is no goog thing.
Colin

mlkom August 10, 2011 at 2:11 am

Yes, you are right. there are many ways of calling. Baptism with water has rather become symbolic..like acceptance of christ and christianity. But the words of God has to be chewed, eaten,digested like vitamins..it should run in our blood, enter in our brain through our ears in the notes of music. so that when any attacks come even when we aren’t aware it will automatically work by itself.. like the WBC activates/fight the bacterias attacking our body system..even while we are asleep. Many Hindus equate Baptism as their holy dips in Ganges river to wash away their sins. Baptism by holy spirit alone is the ultimate. “Baptism by fire” as many have pointed about the warning of hell may be true..but my view is that the literary meaning of “FIRE “may not be the same as we see. Those days the pharisees/seduccees hearts were hardened like metals..where only fire power might had been required to purify those hardened leaders…

Bryant Evans August 10, 2011 at 6:16 am

It is accepted that a passage be interpreted in its plainest meaning unless something in the text requires a symbolic meaning. Here it does not. Would you offer an example of Holy Spirit baptism?

Lloyd Duncan November 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

If I may, I will: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or in my circles, the Holy Ghost is a complete in-filling of God, the Holy Spirit. Not that God is completely in you but, just that you are completely filled with Him. And, most importantly, you must be aware that if this happens, there is one sign that MUST happen. No matter how good you feel or what anybody tells you, this must happen. PLEASE study this! If you are filled, you will begin, while your praying for the in-filling, to pray in another tongue, another language. Baptism is complete immersion; once in water, once in Spirit, and once in fire; you won’t get out of that last one! but, you can get thru it, if you have the first two. Please get them both! Lord Bless You.

Colin Lambert June 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I agree with the majority. However, Jesus tells us to be filled daily with the Holy Spirit.
Blessings,
Colin

Bryant Evans June 9, 2012 at 8:06 am

Yes he does. But is that a miraculous filling? Can the Spirit fill me through some means such as his word?

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 4:07 am

I need to add though, that the baptism in the Holy Spirit (only as evidenced by speaking in tongues), is not a requisite to salvation which is the born again experience. The two are mutually exclusive events.
Colin

Bryant Evans June 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

I wish you would explain something to me here that I do not know. Why is speaking in tongues the only evidence of Holy Spirit baptism?

Again, thanks for your comments.

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Hi Bryant,
In nearly all the occasions that people were baptised in the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, speaking in tongues accompanied the experience. Is it the only evidence. Probably not. All I can do is use the book of Acts as an example or pattern for the New Testament church and not as a mere histroy book and say that speaking in tongues is usually what happened.
Blessings and thanks for your response. I appreciate you.
Colin

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Can the Spirit of God fill me with His word?

Sorry missed an answer to this. Depends on what you mean by fill.
If you mean can the Holy Spirit instruct us about our inheritance in Christ and being filled in that sense. Yes we can be filled. However, if you are speaking about empowerment for service the extension of the meaning is far greater within the context of the book of Acts. In that instance the specific area of infilling didn’t happen when the disciples were reading the word of God. They were waiting in a room for the promise of God. They were filled and empowered for service and then proceeded to change the world as many are doing today who have been baptised in the Holy Spirit just like the original disciples. God is no respecter of persons and wants His kingdom advanced as in the days of the first apostles. But I better not preach here.
Your loving brother Colin

Colin Lambert June 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Yeah I agree Bryant,
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for empowerment not for salvation. You can only baptise something that is already alive. The disciples were saved when Jesus breathed on them on the first day of the week and then were baptised in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost some 49 days later. The Holy Spirit couldn’t have come in His fulness until Jesus had gone away. Also a seal, is different to being filled imersed imbued with, penetrated by.
Colin

Bryant Evans June 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

As I have have previously stated, I do not believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all. It was a special measure of the Spirit given to the apostles.zsome of your comments are actually trending toward a series of articles I am working on concerning works and faith. I’ll leave those for the article. But for now, I would say that we were dead in sin and that the power of the Holy Spirit through the word, awakens men to come to a knowledge of the truth. I hate to put you off but it is coming.

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hi Bryant,
I’m sad that you believe the Holy Spirit baptism isn’t for every believer. Following the logic and scriptural base for that position has a very shaky foundation. The book of Acts becomes a history book and not a pattern for every New Testament church. It implies that God is a respecter of persons in that some people have a status in God higher than others when some people are baptised in the Holy Spirit and some aren’t. If as preachers we teach that it is for some and yet it is for all, then we restrict the power of God’s kingdom moving in the lives of God’s people. It is like telling others to go and fight the devil with one hand tied behind their backs.
It is the Acts of the apostles and signs and wonders followed the preaching and teaching of the word and in particular when the ressurected Christ was preached. It is the measuring stick for the New Testament church and it is a pattern for every church that follows. Do you really think that God would take away His power from His church and that it was only given to start off the first church? I don’t know what you think just asking the question.
I’ve seen what God can do first hand and my experience doesn’t seem to fit with your theology. In saying this our theology should be shaped firstly by the word of God, then our experience, our logic and church background. However, it is shaped by all those things with the overriding factor of the word of God. In particular we can’t allow our experience to be the first instance of our theology, because God might have more for us that what we have experienced. I hope you can see what I’m saying.
It seems we often fail to understand that although Jesus left this earth we are not orphans. God the Holy Spirit is now here with His fullness availbale to every believer.
Dear brother and friend read the book of Acts again without the blinkers on.
Love you heaps.
Colin

LLoyd Duncan November 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

My God, My God! Why have you given me this cup of frustration? But, I thank you and desire to do your will! And to do His will this day is to warn you, all of you above, that you still don’t get it!!! I am about to post on my site, next month I think, a study of the Three Baptisms. Yes, I said three. I know about One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and I fully agree but, that’s not in context with my study. Water, Spirit, Fire; those are the three and and most importantly it makes you aware of the third, Fire Baptism. But, for now, in brief, I must say that some of you missed it completely, some got it half right while speaking against the other half. The first two baptisms are ones of choice. The third one is NOT! Everyone on the planet will go thru the fire baptism! It’s not the Spirit, not the Holy Ghost, not trials, not anything other than actual flame burning FIRE! I will give you that it’s not a wood fire but, a fire created by God, so, You, nor I, can imagine the heat and feirseness(sp?) of the flame and pain!! Oh, I can’t wait to put up the whole study, I urge you to look for it, please! Anyway, the process is this, you WILL go thru the fire AND, if you have the first two baptisms, you will imerge from the fire into and finally reaching eternity in Heavin with God! But, if you do not have the first two, you shall not emerge. It’s both good and bad, the choice is yours! For you who think it’s one sided for bad, try to rember the verse that says – And WHEN you go thru the fire, not if, I will be with you. God ain’t goen’ to hell, again. Pray when you read your Bible, ask for knowledge that leads to wisdom. Never read your Bible without making a prayerful connection to God first, have the teacher in the room! I don’t mean to anger anyone it’s just that this was one of the first lesssons God gave me and told me to, commanded me, to get this lesson, among others, out to the people. I am human and have failed miserably but, I’m working on it. Lord Bless you all.

Bryant Evans November 27, 2011 at 5:05 am

Lloyd,

Thanks for coming by. There are many things I am curious about from your post and I will read what you say. But I am always concerned when someone tells me that God gave them some sort of private revelation. I am anxious to see what you offer.

Colin Lambert June 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Hi, I don’t know that it necessarily means judgement as much as tribulation. I like your point at looking at it in context of the chapter. The fire in chapter 10 refers to hell fire, but Jesus had to die to go there and yes the judgement of God on sin was poured out upon our Saviour. Same is applicable to v12. It is the Holy Spirit that refines us like fire, so the passage I suspect does relate to the baptism in the Holy Spirit because you can’t just look at the chapter in Matthew in isolation. Yes tongues of fire sat upon the heads of the disciples. What is similar about all the experiences of Jesus and the original disciples was that they gave their very lives. I suspect this is what Jesus was talking about when He was talking about the baptism by fire. Fire is also used in other scripture about refining.
Sealed with the Holy Spirit when born again. Baptised in water as our seal on God’s contract. Don’t just go fishing like the disciples before Pentecost. Get baptised in the Holy Spirit for powerful witnessing and change the world.
AGApE,
Colin Lambert

Bryant Evans June 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

Thanks for your comment Colin. But I stand with my comment that the immediate context makes it impossible for the baptism of fire to be a good thing. It’s the same moment, same conversation.

Colin Lambert June 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I think you are probably right. To my way of thinking the baptism of fire really is likely to be a harsh thing. All I am saying is that tongues of fire appeared above the disciples at Pentecost. It is He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire. And with fire added for emphasis again. However, I don’t think you can discount the meaning that it refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In the long run when you think about it what does it really matter? I am sure like you that the literal meaning seems to be a hash thing. Fire refines.
Colin

greg July 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I recieved the baptism of the holy ghoast in a group that believes in the fire baptism as a thrid baptism .I personally believe that the holy ghoast baptism and with fire are the same.That fire can be both a blessing and a curse depending on your choices in your walk.

Bryant Evans July 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thanks for your comment Greg. I hope you will come again.
I wonder, a third baptism? I believe Paul says there is but one baptism in Ephesians 4. Which is it?

Colin Lambert December 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Hi Bryant,

I imagine the baptism referred to could be one of the three baptisms mentioned in the bible in other scriptures outside Ephesians. Naturally I’m sure that we all read the bible within the context of verse, chapter, book whole bible to obtain the full meaning of any verse.

Baptism by immersion, baptsim in the Holy Spirit and (as your article focuses on baptism by fire). You certainly seem to acknowledge at least two baptims that of fire and water.

Blessings,

Colin Lambert

Bryant Evans December 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

Hi Colin, as I said to Lloyd, I will have to defer for the moment but I will reply. I have a mountain awaiting me for a couple of days.

Peace,
Bryant

Lloyd Duncan December 17, 2012 at 12:39 am

Praise the Lord, Bryant, how are you?

So sorry I’ve let my site go for so long. I thought this conversation died months ago. I’m not sure why I got an email for the recent comments, but I’m glad I did. In response to the one baptism thought, I did point out in one of my original posts in this string that Paul’s one baptism verse is out of context in this conversation, and therefore out of place. I fully agree with what Paul said, but only when considered within its’ correct meaning. When Paul said there’s only one, He meant that because their is only one true God then that God is the only One that you can be baptised into, baptism toward any other simply would not be a baptism. And, not to be too simple, but I know you belive in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and you believe in the commanded water baptism, how many is that? I don’t think Paul or God is upset with this contradiction, because there’s not one. Lord Bless!

Bryant Evans December 17, 2012 at 9:31 am

Thanks again for you comment. Let me defer my answer at the moment because of demands here. I will respond more fully shortly.

Bryant

Ilene Falzone August 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I believe the Baptism of Fire is purifacation. We are purified like Gold. When Gold is purified the scum comes to the top. It is the same with us our Sins are made known so we can ask God to forgive us! We all have idols in our lives we cover up or don’t know about, It isn’t something that is hard it is good for us and The Lord is with us. His word says He will never leave us.

Bryant Evans August 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hello IIene,

Thank you for visiting. I hope you will be a regular reader and commentor. I certainly agree that we are purified. I think the Bible is clear on that point. God chastens those he loves, right? But I am not sure that the baptism of fire is that purification. I believe I set that out in the article. Could you explain your answer in light of the context as discussed in the article. I look forward to your reply.
Bryant

niva December 9, 2012 at 6:47 am

hi there just read your article and so confirmed our pastors message tonight. Our pastor advised that the word baptism confirms submersion so as per John the baptist there is submersion in water..then by the Holy Spjrit as in dwelling in us then submersion in fire meaning judgement to those who are not saved..eternity of fire. Referred also how charasmatics have taken this out of context but im glad to read a 2nd opinion is the same as i heard. Thank yoy

Bryant Evans December 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

Thank you for visiting. I’m glad we were able to contribute to your studies.

Saccloth March 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Nice article! I quoted your on my site here: http://whatisthebaptismoffire.blogspot.com/p/links.html

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