Jesus Christ’s Baptism and the Holy Spirit

Throughout Scripture, we see various references to the Holy Spirit in different circumstances appearing in different forms. In this post, as our focus is only in the Gospels, we look at the baptism story of Jesus and how the Spirit was involved in it. The next post will examine what happens after the baptism.

Jesus Christ’s Baptism and the Holy Spirit

“John the Baptist’s announcement of Jesus’ ministry also highlights the place of the Holy Spirit.”[1] John the Baptist emphasized that his baptism was with water, but the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8) and attributes the Messiah with the giving of the Spirit.[2] “The Spirit is present in dramatic form from the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, when there was a perceivable coming of the Holy Spirit upon him at his baptism (Matt 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). John makes clear that John the Baptist also saw the Spirit and bore witness to the fact.”[3] All four Gospels record this momentous event that signaled the start of his public ministry and confirm Jesus as God the Father’s Messiah at His baptism. “The purpose of the baptism was to anoint Jesus with the Spirit and to authenticate Him by the Father for beginning His ministry. Each Person of the Godhead was involved in the activity of the Son on earth, including His baptism.”[4] As the Spirit descended on Christ as a dove and remained on Him, this identified Jesus as the Messiah to John the Baptist. John the Baptist made mention of the Spirit “remaining” on Jesus (John 1:32-33) twice, which is important as it describes the Spirit’s relationship to Jesus because permanence is implied.[5]

Furthermore, these narratives contrasts John the Baptist’s baptizing activity with the Christ, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; Mark 1:8; John 1:33).[6] Only a divine Person could baptize with the Holy Spirit, so that John not only spoke of the might of Jesus, but of His deity.


[1] Erickson, Christian Theology, 793.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 794.

[4] J. A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 212.

[5] W. Hall Harris, “A Theology of John’s Writings,” in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, ed. Roy B. Zuck, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 197.

[6] C. Zoccali, “Spiritual Gifts.”


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