John baptizes with water (Lk 3:16-3:16)

“John answered

All of them.

‘I baptize you

With water.

But one who is

More powerful

Than I

Is coming.

I am not worthy

To untie

The thong

Of his sandals.’”

 

ἀπεκρίνατο λέγων πᾶσιν ὁ Ἰωάνης Ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδατι βαπτίζω ὑμᾶς· ἔρχεται δὲ ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ·

 

This citation of John seems to be a response to an unasked question, although it is similar to Matthew, chapter 3:11, Mark, chapter 1:7, and John, chapter 1:26, where there was an explicit question.  Luke seemed closer to Mark, as he indicated that John answered all of the people (ἀπεκρίνατο λέγων πᾶσιν ὁ Ἰωάνης).  He said that he baptized them with water (Ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδατι βαπτίζω ὑμᾶς).  However, one more powerful than him was coming (ἔρχεται δὲ ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου).  John was not worthy (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς) to untie the thong or the strap of his sandals (λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ).  John the Baptist said that he was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself.  He clearly baptized in water.  However, after him there would be a messianic one more powerful than him.  Matthew had John unfit to carry the sandal of Jesus rather than untie the sandal.  Mark, John, and Luke here had John speak about being unfit to untie the tong or strap of his sandals.  John the Baptist saw himself as subservient or unworthy as compared to the Messiah to come.

The preaching of John the Baptist (Mk 1:7-1:7)

“John proclaimed.

‘The one who is

More powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To stoop down

And untie

The tong

Of his sandals.’”

 

καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:11, are similar in their exposition of the preaching of John the Baptist.  However, there was no mention of a baptism of repentance here as in Matthew.  Also, Matthew had John unfit to carry the sandal rather than untie the sandal.  Luke, chapter 3:16-17, had John the Baptist not preaching, but responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah.  Luke, as well as John, chapter 1:27, also had John speak about being unfit to untie the tong or strap of his sandals.  John the Baptist was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself.  He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah.  Mark said that John proclaimed (καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων) with a messianic tone that one more powerful than him was coming after him (Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου).  He was not worthy or fit to stoop down (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας) and untie the tong or the strap of his sandals (λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ).  John saw himself as subservient to the Messiah to come.

The powerful one to come (Mt 3:11-3:11)

“I baptize you

With water

For repentance.

But one,

Who is more powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To carry his sandals.

He will baptize you

With the Holy Spirit,

And with fire.”

 

ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·

 

The wording here is the same as in Mark, chapter 1:7-8 and Luke, chapter 3:16-17, indicating a common source. However, in Luke, John the Baptist was responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah. Instead, John said that he was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself. He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah. John the Baptist was clear in this utterance (ἐγὼ μὲν). He baptized in water for repentance (βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν). However, after him (ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου), there would be a messianic one more powerful than him (ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν,). He felt that he was not fit or worthy to carry his sandals (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι). This one to come was going to baptize them (αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει) in the Holy Spirit (ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ) and fire (καὶ πυρί). Mark, chapter 1:8, also said that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit, did not mention any fire. This is the second mention of the Holy Spirit in Matthew since he was also the originator of Jesus in the womb of Mary. Now he was going to use purifying fire in the baptismal washing.

The naked Isaiah (Isa 20:2-20:2)

“At that time,

Yahweh had spoken

To Isaiah,

Son of Amoz,

Saying.

‘Go!

Loose the sackcloth

From your loins!

Take your sandals

Off your feet!’

He had done so.

He was walking naked.

He was walking barefooted.”

The time frame is between 722-705 BCE, perhaps around 711 BCE, when Yahweh spoke to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. He told him to go out and loosen his loin cloth and take off his sandals. Isaiah was to walk around naked and barefooted. Quite often prophets were asked by God to do strange things as a symbol and witness for the other Israelites.