When John the baptist was preaching, he used a term not mentioned by Jesus anywhere nor was it mentioned elsewhere. It’s called, “Baptism of Holy Spirit and Fire”. What exactly does it mean?
Matt 3:10-12 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto 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. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
It is worth noting that the baptism of Holy Spirit and fire is only found in the gospel of Matthew and Luke but not in the gospel of Mark and John.
Mark 1:8 “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John 1:33 “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
Jesus during His ministry gave a lot of details about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but never about the baptism of “fire”.
Acts 1:5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Even after resurrection, Jesus only mentions about baptism of Holy Spirit but nothing about the baptism of fire. Is baptism of fire even exists? What exactly is John referring to?
The word ‘Baptism’ is not a word translated but transliterated Greek word ‘baptizo’. So, what exactly does it mean and/or how it is translated elsewhere?
Mark 7:4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash [G907 βαπτίζω baptizo]. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing [G909 βαπτισμός baptismos] of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
Luke 11:38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed [G907 βαπτίζω baptizo] before dinner.
While baptism literally means immersion, it is always used to refer washing or cleansing by immersion in the Bible. Translators chose to transliterate because sprinkling of water was used for baptism when these were translated into English. Hence, the baptism verses can be correctly translated as follows:
Matt 3:11-12 I indeed wash you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will wash you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
As we can clearly see, baptism of Holy Spirit and fire were clearly explained by John himself in the very next verse.
It is the cleaning of His threshing floor. The wheat that are washed by obedience to the Holy Spirit will be gathered into His barn. However, He will clean the chaff by burning it with unquenchable fire.
Isa 4:4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning
The same theme is mentioned by God the Father that He will clean the filth of Israel by the spirit of judgment and fire. Hence, baptism of fire is the cleansing by fire in judgment.