I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 3:11‭-‬12 ASV

Seven baptisms are mentioned in the New Testament, three of which are mentioned in this verse.

They are:

  1. The baptism unto Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2).
  2. The baptism of sufferings (Mark 10:38,39).
  3. The baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).
  4. The baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, see above).
  5. The baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11, see above).
  6. The baptism of John the Baptist (Acts 19:3).
  7. The baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15,16; Matthew 28:18-20).

In spite of the fact that all these baptisms find mention in the New Testament, there is, nevertheless, but ONE baptism in force. See Ephesians 4:4.

To determine which baptism is in force, or which one is IT, one only needs to observe these facts:

No. 1, above, applied only to Jews.

No. 2 is altogether figurative, being in no sense a ceremony.

No. 3 was a practice of non-Christians as witnessed by the third person pronouns and was never connected in any way with the Christian religion.

Nos. 4,5 are both promises of what God will do and cannot be obeyed in any sense.

No. 6, John’s baptism, was clearly and categorically set aside by the baptism of him that is greater than John, even Christ. See Acts 19:3.

Thus, the ONE baptism of Ephesians can be none other than the baptism of the Great Commission.

In the Holy Spirit and in fire … is seen as a reference to two baptisms, rather than merely one, because John emphatically divided his hearers into two classes, reinforcing the point with a double metaphor, first of the unfruitful tree, and again of the threshing floor.

Both at Pentecost and at the household of Cornelius was the baptism of the Spirit received (Acts 1:5; 2:4; 11:15,16).

It is significant that both Jews and Gentiles are represented in these two groups and that there are no other examples of this baptism in the New Testament.

It is also possible to construe “baptism in the Spirit” as a reference to the overwhelming guidance and direction of God’s people through the office of the Holy Comforter. In this sense, it applies to all believers.

In fire … likely refers to the overwhelming of the wicked at last in hell.

This is based on the fact that the term “fire” is the same as that used for the unfruitful tree and for the chaff in John’s great metaphors.

It is clearly the wicked who are to be baptized in fire, and the fulfillment of the prediction will be realized when they are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8)

Verse 12
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshingfloor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Whose fan is in his hand, etc. … Note the following analogies in this remarkable metaphor: the fan is the judgment; the wheat refers to the just; the chaff stands for the wicked; the fire is the Gehenna in which the wicked shall perish; the threshingfloor is Palestine or the world; the one with the winnowing fan in his hand is the Lord, Judge of all the earth.

Significantly, God classifies people in only two categories, good and bad, wheat and chaff, sheep and goats.

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.
John 1:33 ASV
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