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John 3:22 (KJV)

22 “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.”

John 4:1-2 (KJV)

1 “When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)”

In John's account in chapter 3 we have Jesus baptizing whereas not long afterward John explicitly mentions that Jesus did not baptize. Why is this?

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5 Answers 5

It is obvious from the text of John 4:22 that Jesus was not the one actually performing the dipping, but his apostles.

The idea here is that the apostles were baptizing on his behalf. Because they were baptizing in his name, it was, in essence, Jesus baptizing.

We, today, have the power to do the same thing:

Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

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Jesus' disciples were taking converts into the water and baptizing them, but it was counted as though they were Jesus' converts (as opposed to John's).

It is probable that after Jesus preached for some time, many converts came forward to be baptized, and the disciples met them and took them to the water. Even though Jesus did not physically baptize anyone, they were still counted to him when comparing with how many John had baptized.

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This might not be a contradiction. John 3:22 doesn't say who Jesus baptized at that time. It might mean that he baptized his disciples at that time.

We also might consider that possibility that Jesus performed baptisms at first, until the number of people arriving for baptism became so great that he was required to delegate the baptism to his disciples.

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What if Jesus Christ did baptize any one? How would this act contradict the scripture? This is what we have to analyze.

John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. KJV

So the question of Jesus baptizing people with water does not arise. Who baptized the disciples of Jesus Christ?

John 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; John 1:36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! John 1:37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

The disciples of john who are baptized by John, not by Jesus Christ. The true baptism of the disciples occurred on Pentecost.

Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The conclusion is True baptism actually is accepting Christ as Saviour and receiving the Holy Ghost to live a spiritual Life. Dipping in water or stop committing sin, or doing good is not baptism.

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Jesus did indeed baptize, just as the scripture states.

In John 3:22, it is written,

After these things, Jesus came, and his disciples, into the land of Judea, and he stayed with them there, and he baptized.

μετὰ ταῦτα ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν γῆν καὶ ἐκεῖ διέτριβεν μετ᾽ αὐτῶν καὶ ἐβάπτιζεν

However, Jesus himself did not baptize. Jesus baptized because his apostles baptized in his name.

In John 4:1-3, it is written,

1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees heard that Yeshu'a makes and baptizes more disciples than Yochanan 2 (although Yeshu'a himself did not baptize, but rather, his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again into Galil.

1 ὡς οὖν ἔγνω ὁ Κύριος ὅτι ἤκουσαν οἱ φαρισαῖοι ὅτι Ἰησοῦς πλείονας μαθητὰς ποιεῖ καὶ βαπτίζει ἢ Ἰωάννης 2 καίτοιγε Ἰησοῦς αὐτὸς οὐκ ἐβάπτιζεν ἀλλ᾽ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ 3 ἀφῆκεν τὴν Ἰουδαίαν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν πάλιν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν

To act or speak "in the name of" another means to effectively be acting or speaking as though that individual himself was acting or speaking.

There’s an example of this in the Book of Esther. In Est. 3:12, the author writes that a group of scribes were instructed to write a letter by Haman. This letter was addressed to the governors and rulers of the provinces. The letter is said to be written “in the name of King Achashverosh” (בְּשֵׁם הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹשׁ). We know for certain that King Achashverosh did not write the letter himself; rather, his scribes did, being instructed by Haman. However, the king’s scribes wrote the letter with the authority of the king himself. Thus, it was as though the king himself had written it.

Thus, when the apostles baptized "in the name of Jesus," the act of baptism is as though Jesus himself performed it. This is important because individuals baptized became slaves of Jesus Christ.

In the Mishneh Torah, Moshe ben Maimon (רמב"ם) describes the practice of immersing (baptizing) converts and slaves (servants).

Just as we circumcise and immerse ("baptize") the converts, likewise we circumcise and immerse the slaves who are acquired from the Gentiles for the sake of servitude… Therefore, his master needs to overcome him in water, until he arises and he is under his servitude.

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמּוֹלִין וּמַטְבִּילִין אֶת הַגֵּרִים, כָּךְ מוֹלִין וּמַטְבִּילִין אֶת הָעֲבָדִים הַנִּלְקָחִים מִן הַגּוֹיִים לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת… לְפִיכָּךְ צָרִיךְ רִבּוֹ לְתָקְפוֹ בַּמַּיִם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה וְהוּא תַּחַת שִׁעְבּוּדוֹ

For more information on "baptism in the name of Jesus," see my blog.


Moshe ben Maimon, Sefer Kedusha, Hilkhot Issurei Bi'ah, Chapter 13, Halakha 11

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