Barry Newman's Blog

February 3, 2012

Baptising in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (part V)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 10:26 pm

“Immersed” in – with reference to “in” (continued)

               Things to note

Where “baptizo” is involved with a prepositional phrase, the following are worthy of note:  A reference to the Holy Spirit, whether in the Gospels or in Acts, is always such that it is governed by the preposition “en”. Paul only ever uses “eis”.  The simple dative, without a preposition is used on four occasions (Mark 1: 8; Luke 3: 16; Acts 1: 5, 11: 16), each being a reference to the water into which John the “immerser” “immersed”, with translations often employing the word, “with”.  The writers of Mark and Luke seem to employ the simple dative when the reference is to water as opposed to “en” followed by the dative when the reference is to the Holy Spirit.  This is in contrast with the four instances recorded in Matthew and John where again the reference is to John’s ministry and the same comparison is being made between “immersing” in water and “immersing” in the Holy Spirit.  In these instances “en” is employed with water as its object. It is also noteworthy that there is only the one usage of “epi” and it is used in association with “the name of …”, with “en” also being used in association with “the name of …” once and “eis” being used in association with “the name of …” five times.  But see later.

What has just been noted suggests that one should be careful not to try to draw too strong a conclusion about the significance of one preposition being used rather than another or that no preposition has been used. Paul, for instance, might simply prefer “eis” as a personal choice. Mark and Luke might have chosen to heighten the difference between “water” and “the Holy Spirit” by not using a preposition in the case of the former but in using one in the case of the latter whereas Matthew and John did not see that as necessary.  That “en” is always used and used by all four Gospel writers, when referring to the Holy Spirit may be significant. “En” might have been regarded as more appropriate when the object was a neuter noun. It may have been because the idea of being “immersed” “in” the Spirit, he who is sometimes spoken of as coming upon a person, is more appropriate than the notion of being “immersed “into” implying “within” the Spirit.  There may have been another reason or no special reason at all! That when the object is water and a preposition is used it is always “en” may be because the similar expression but regarding the Holy Spirit also involved that preposition.

One could make some comments about when “eis” is used as the preposition with Christ Jesus, Moses, Christ, the death of Jesus and the “one body”.  Suffice it to say at this stage that one should not lightly dismiss the idea that in each of these instances the “baptism”, the “immersion” is metaphorical in nature, with overtones of the water ceremony possibly being in the background or not at all.  See later.

What is also noteworthy is that when used in connection with, “the name of …” “eis” is the most common preposition, with “epi” and “en” each being used only once.

The “into what were you immersed” question of Acts 19: 3 is interesting.  At the beginning of the episode, Paul asked some Ephesian disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit.  Upon the reply being in the negative he then asked “into” (“eis”) what then they had been baptised, employing “eis” rather than “en” though he had just referred to the Holy Spirit.  They replied that it had been into (“eis”) the “baptism” of John.  Paul then related how John told people to believe in (“eis”) him who was to come, that is, in (“eis”) Jesus the Christ.  They were then “immersed” in (“eis”) the name of the Lord Jesus.  In this passage “eis” is employed five times however only once in connection with the words with which we are most concerned, “the name of”.

Though in the New Testament “en” appears a slightly greater number of times than “eis” when they accompany the verb “baptizo”, “eis” is obviously still an appropriate preposition to be used in conjunction with that verb in many circumstances.  It may be that simple personal choice predominates, regardless, but when the reference is to “immersing” followed by “eis” the overall idea of “immersing into” would seem to come to the fore, particularly if “immersing” and the medium into which the “immersion” occurs are both considered to be significant.  By contrast “en” does not have the sense of “into”.


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