Mark 1:4 Commentary - Mr. D's Notes on Selected New Testament Books by Stanley Derickson4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
In this passage we want to look at two items, John baptizing in the wilderness and his baptism.
IN THE WILDERNESS: Vine mentions of this word "desolate, deserted, lonely" while another mentions "desert." Not a real pleasant place to be. It was not the Ritz and it was not where one would go for a time of refreshment. I looked at a satellite map of the area and it looks as barren as Vine describes it.
BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS:
Now, right away we should note that his baptism is not the same as church baptism. Church baptism is never called a baptism of repentance, nor is it linked directly to the remission of sins but rather is an outward sign of inward regeneration. We have already, as church age believers repented of our sins and found forgiveness of our sins, and THEN we seek baptism as a sign of what God has done in our lives.
Acts mentions John's baptism several times. Once in relation to a time line of Christ's life in Act 1:21 "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."
Again in 10.36 where it mentions John's preaching: "The word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, [I say], ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Here we see that there seems to be a finish to the baptism of John, "after the baptism which John preached" seems to be a break between John's ministry and the Lord's ministry.
In Act 13:24 ff we see that John ministered to the "people of Israel." This is of great note. He preached to the Jews, not to the Gentiles, nor to the church. "When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not [he]. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of [his] feet I am not worthy to loose."The text also mentions "John fulfilled his course" indicating that there was a finish to what he was sent to do.
Act 19:1 ff is key. It again shows a difference between John's baptism and the baptism of the early church. They immediately knew there was a difference, and were properly baptized when they heard from Paul. "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
We are not given a 25 minute sermon on the difference between John's baptism and the baptism of the church, but it is clear that the difference exists.
For the most part, John was preaching to the Jewish folks that were looking for a king and kingdom. He was assisting them in preparation for that kingdom, though they soon rejected it because they did not like the teaching of the King. Christian baptism is an outward sign of an inward change of life that is due to belief and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
There is a large controversy about the "remission of sins" as well, but we won't deal with it here. Those that believe that baptism is required to be saved, camp on this phraseology both in Acts and Mark the last chapter. It will suffice to say that even the Jewish Historian Josephus did not believe in the idea that baptism was not an integrated part of salvation.
"Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and was a very just punishment for what he did against John called the Baptist [the dipper]. For Herod had him killed, although he was a good man and had urged the Jews to exert themselves to virtue both as to justice toward one another and reverence towards God, and having done so join together in washing. For immersion in water, it was clear to him, could not be used for the forgiveness of sins, but as a sanctification of the body, and only if the soul was already thoroughly purified by right actions." (Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119 copied from http://members.aol.com/fljosephus/JohnTBaptist.htm#Baptism 3-18-07)
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Mr. D's Notes on Selected New Testament Books by Stanley Derickson
Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. Copyright 2006
Used by Permission.