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Mat 3:11-12 Is baptism an Old Covenant rite?  Is the rite of baptism ever mentioned in the Old Testament Scriptures?  Where did it come from?  See Lev 11:32, 14:49-53, Num 19:17-21, Joh 2:6, 3:22-26, Mar 7:1-4, Heb 6:2, 9:10.[1] Was John’s baptism basically the same as what we know as Christian baptism?  See Act 19:1-6.  How does John say the baptism of the one coming after him would differ from his baptism?  What was John’s estimation of himself in comparison to the One who would come after him?  What does Mat 3:11 teach us that the water of Christian baptism symbolizes?  When was the promise of the baptism with the Holy Spirit fulfilled corporately to the Church?  See Act 2:1-4.  When is one baptized individually with the Holy Spirit?  See Rom 8:9,14-16, 1Co 12:13.  As Christian baptism with water was a symbol of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, when did it typically take place?  See Act 2:38-41, 8:35-38, 9:17-18, 10:47-48, 16:30-33.  What does John mean that “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”?  In what way are these two inseparable aspects of the same baptism?  See Act 2:3, Zec 13:9, Mal 3:3.  In what way do they represent the differing baptisms received by those who either accept or reject Christ?  See Mat 3:12, 25:41.  In what way do they represent the differing aspects of Christ’s first and second coming?  See 2Th 1:6-10, 2Pe 3:7.

Mat 3:13-17 As “there is an appointed time for everything” (Ecc 3:1, cf. Mar 1:15, Gal 4:4) so was there an appointed time for Jesus to begin His ministry; what marked that beginning?  See also Act 1:22.  What was John’s reaction to Jesus coming to him for baptism?  See Mat 3:14.  Did Jesus come to John for baptism because he had sins to confess before beginning His ministry?  See again Mat 3:14, and 2Co 5:21, Heb 4:15, 1Pe 2:22, 1Jo 3:5.  Why did Jesus say in Mat 3:15 that John should permit the baptism “at this time”?  What did He mean that it was thus fitting to “fulfill all righteousness”?  See again Mar 1:15, Gal 4:4 and consider: In what way did Jesus’ public baptism by John identify Him as the one John was preparing the way for?  Prior to His baptism, did even John recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah?  See Joh 1:31,33.  Considering also the complete misconception of the nation in regard to the nature of the salvation the Messiah would bring, why was it important that Jesus identify Himself with John and his ministry?  In what way would Jesus’ baptism by John have communicated His esteem for the law and the prophets, and why was that important?  See Deut 18:15,18, Joh 1:21,45, Act 3:22, 7:37, Mat 11:7-14 (esp. Mat 11:13), and Mat 5:17.  In what way did Jesus’ baptism set Him apart as a priest to minister to the people?  See Ex 40:12-13.  What sign immediately following his baptism marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, identified Jesus as the One for whom John was preparing the way, and was His anointing to minister as High Priest?  See also Joh 1:29-34.  What does it mean that the Spirit descended as a dove?  Cf. Luk 3:22.  How was that different from the way the Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost?  See Acts 2:2-3.  What two additional signs accompanied the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus, and why are they significant?  Cf. Act 7:56; Psa 2:7, Isa 42:1.

1. In the Mark and Hebrews passages the Greek word used is baptismos and refers to various ritual washings that the Jews in the empty formalism of their traditions had come to observe; it is related to, but not the Greek word used for baptism, which is baptisma.  These ritual washings were distinctly different from the rite of baptism.  For while the dead formalism of such rituals came to epitomize the fleshly religious traditions that so many Jews supposed would save them, the rite of baptism came to epitomize the exact opposite: that true religion was religion of the heart and if one wished to truly be saved he needed not just a cleansing of the flesh but a cleansing of the heart that comes from the heartfelt repentance that John the Baptist preached to prepare the way for the Lord (see also 1 Pet 3:21).  It was in thus preparing the way for the Lord that John the Baptist transformed the empty formalism of the Jewish baptismos into the New Testament rite of baptisma that became the sign of the new covenant.  Both of these words derive from the Greek verb bapto that means “to dip” and is the word found in the LXX of the Leviticus and Numbers passages mentioned.

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