“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
King James Version (KJV)
3:11 He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire - He shall fill you with the Holy Ghost, inflaming your hearts with that fire of love, which many waters cannot quench. And this was done, even with a visible appearance as of fire, on the day of pentecost.
Mt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. His baptism was only a water baptism. The King could send the Holy Spirit, and give a mightier baptism, in addition to the outward baptism. Mightier than I. In that he can "perform" all that I only "promise". Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. The duty of a slave, or one greatly inferior in rank. In the Orient sandals are generally removed on entering a house, and left in charge of a servant, who brings them again when needed. So humble was John, compared with the King, that he was hardly worthy to be his servant. He shall baptize with the Holy Ghost. In order to know what is meant we must refer to the fulfillment. On the day of Pentecost occurred such a baptism, the first so recognized in the New Testament. Then the spirits of the apostles were overwhelmed by the Divine Spirit, so that they spoke as he gave them utterance. It was Christ who "shed forth" the baptism of that occasion. This would be plainer had the Greek "en", here rendered "with", has been rendered "in", after the word "baptize". Of the 2,600 occurrences of "en" in the Greek New Testament, it is rendered "in" in the Common Version 2,045 times. The American Commitee of Revisers in the Revised Version (see margin) so renders it in connection with the word "baptize", and is doubtless right. These great scholars, mostly learned Pedo-baptists, would say, "Baptize 'in' water", "Baptize 'in' the Holy Spirit". And [with] fire. The term "fire" is used in Mt 3:10, and there means a destroying agency; it is used again in Mt 3:12 in the same sense; it is used in Mt 3:11, also, the intervening verse, and must be used in exactly the same sense as in the other two verses. It cannot mean a curse in Mt 3:10,12, and a blessing in Mt 3:11, without a word of explanation. It is strange, therefore, that all commentators should not agree that the baptism of fire is a baptism of trial and suffering. There were two classes before John. Some would repent and be baptized finally in the Holy Spirit; there were others who would remain impenitent, and be baptized in the awful trials that would come upon Israel. Mt 3:12 explains this. John says in it that there is the wheat and the chaff; one shall be gathered into the garner and the other burned.