Let's Go Back to the Bible

Baptism of Fire?  No, Thank You!

It is critically important to understand things in the Bible in the way that they were written to be understood.  There are some religious teachers who would suggest that the baptism of fire is a good thing and something for which we should long.  However, that is not what Scripture teaches.  Let’s study what the Bible says in Matthew 3:11.

The Bible student should notice the setting.  The preaching of John was leading many people to be baptized.  When “many of the Pharisees and Sadducees” came to his baptism, John warned them of the dangers that awaited them if they did not repent (Matt. 3:7-12).  In the midst of this warning, John made this statement about Jesus: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (3:11).

The Bible student should define terms.  The Greek word baptizo means to “dip, submerge, immerse.”  Jesus was going to immerse individuals in the Holy Spirit and in fire.  The definitions themselves draw into question one being BOTH immersed in the Holy Spirit and immersed in fire. 

The Bible student should keep the verse in its context.  There are some who believe that the “baptism of fire” is a desirable activity, and they tie it to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  They speak about the purifying nature of fire and suggest that is what happens when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

First, regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Scripture only accounts for two occasions when that took place: in Acts 2, when the Jewish apostles were immersed in the Holy Spirit; and in Acts 10, when the Gentiles were immersed in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 11:15).  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not available to man today, as it is not the “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).  And the “baptism of fire” is not the fire associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as that fire merely “sat upon” them (Acts 2:3), rather than immersing them.

Second, put “baptize you with fire” (Matt. 3:11) into its immediate context.  In the verse before it, unfruitful tress would be cast into the “fire.”  That’s the eternal judgment of God against evil.  In the verse after it, the chaff would be burned up with unquenchable “fire.”  That’s the eternal judgment of God against evil.  If the “fire” in the verse before is God’s judgment and the “fire” in the verse after is God’s judgment, then the fire of the “baptism of fire” must also be God’s judgment.

The Bible student will conclude that the baptism of (i.e., the immersion in) fire is not anything that any righteous person would want to experience, when God “casts” the unrighteous “into the furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:42, 50).  Let’s make sure to study and understand the Bible in the way God intended, and let us flee from the wrath of baptism in fire.