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Jacob W. Kapp writes,
(en pneumati hagio kai puri): This expression is used in Matt. 3:11. The copulative kai requires that the baptism “in the Holy Spirit and in fire,” should be regarded as one and the same thing. It does violence to the construction, therefore, to make this statement refer to the fire Of judgment. The difficulty has always been in associating fire with the person of the Holy Ghost. But in the connection of fire with the work or influence of the Holy Ghost the difficulty disappears. The thought of John is that the Savior would give them the Divine Sanctifier as purifying water to wash away their sins and as a refining fire to consume their dross; to kindle in their hearts the holy flame of Divine love and zeal; to illuminate their souls with heavenly wisdom. The statement, therefore, in this verse indicates the manner in which Christ will admit them to discipleship and prepare them for His service.
What Happens When One is Baptized with Fire?
Matthew 3:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to remove; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Luke 3:16-17: “the one [Jesus Christ] will baptize you people with . . . fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clean up his threshing floor completely . . . The chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.”
This is referring to eternal destruction.
Matt. 13:49-50: “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous, and throw them into the fiery furnace; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Luke 17:29-30: “but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
Baptism with Fire. When John the Baptist saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” John the Baptist spoke of the One coming after him, to which he said, “He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matt. 3:7, 11; Lu 3:16) E. Ray Clendenen writes, “The fact that there is only one Greek article governing the two nouns, “Spirit” and “fire” indicates that only one baptism is in view and the addition of “and fire” further defines the character of the Messiah’s baptism. Whereas water temporarily cleanses the outside, fire permanently purifies the whole.” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 169.) Certainly, this is possible but for this author, Edward D. Andrews, it would seem that the being baptized with Holy Spirit is not the same as being baptized with fire. (see below)
The “explanation [by some] is that the Holy Spirit and fire are here equated. In the development of this interpretation, it is argued (1) that the copulative demands equation; (2) that the Spirit is linked with tongues like as of fire in Acts 2:3; and (3) that fire may equally well symbolize the purifying, energizing, and even enlightening work of the Spirit.” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 426.) The context is that John the Baptist was telling his listeners that there was going to be a division, that Jesus “will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” John further pointed out that the Baptism with fire was not going to be some blessing or reward but rather because “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” – Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9.
We have to keep in mind the context of what happened when the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to see what was going on with John the Baptizer, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” He spoke of the coming One and said: “the one who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to remove; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt. 3:7, 11; Lu 3:16) Clearly, the baptism with fire cannot be interpreted as being the same as baptism with the Holy Spirit. Some have claimed that the tongues of fire at Pentecost is the same as baptism with fire. This is not true. There is nothing to show that the disciples on Pentecost were immersed in fire. Rather it says, “tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” (Ac 2:3) John told those who were listening to him that there would be a division, two different groups. John said, “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 3:10; Lu 3:9) Then, he went on and said, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor; and he will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:11) This fire was not some blessing or reward, but rather, it was because ‘the tree did not produce fine fruit.’ (Matt. 3:10) Jesus himself would say,
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
The ‘tree that did not produce good fruit’ was illustrative of the person ‘not doing the will of the Father,’ to which Jesus was to say, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matt. 7:23) The apostle John even touched on this when he wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world [wicked humans] is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) What was the good fruit that these ones were not doing that was the will of the Father that they were not doing. Notice that Jesus said, these ones would be doing their own will but believing they were doing the will of the Father, saying, ‘didn’t we do this ________,’ and ‘didn’t we do that _______?’ Notice that John says that these ones were not producing fruit, not doing the will of God because they ‘loved the world and the things in the world.’ What was this good fruit that they were not doing because they were too busy loving the world and the things in the world? Jesus tells us,
Matthew 24:14; 28:8-20; Acts 1:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We are to be proclaiming, reasoning, explaining, proving, persuading, overturning false doctrine, defending, as we teach, with the end goal of making disciples for Jesus Christ.
Jesus used fire as a symbol of destruction. Jesus said to his disciples concerning the execution of the wicked upon his return, “but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.” (Lu 17:29-30; Matt. 13:49-50) Of course, there are other examples where fire is represented as a destructive force, not a saving one, such as 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Jude 7; and 2 Peter 3:7, 10.
Baptism with Fire Is not the Same as Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Christian baptism was a required mark of the Christian community, done in the name of Christ, on the basis of faith in that name, who got baptized in symbol of that, and entered into the congregation. (Italics will be added throughout for emphasis)
Acts 1:5; 11:16; Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
Luke 3:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than I is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and with fire.
In the above Acts 1:5, we have Jesus paraphrasing the Words of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 3:16, minus the “with fire.” In Acts 11:16, we have an allusion to Acts 1:5. There is a contrast going on here, but it is not between water baptism and baptism with the Holy Spirit; no it is between the baptism of John (minus the Holy Spirit) and Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit. To further this, the reader of Acts 1:8 is told that Jesus promised these ones would ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them.’ While waiting for this moment, they were moved to pick a replacement for Judas, and the qualification was that he must who ‘have accompanied them during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from them.’
Acts 2:1-4, 33, 41 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 When the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled, they [120 disciples] were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
It was obvious for those who were in attendance on this day that there was a new way to God, yet the opportunity to the Jewish people throughout the Roman Empire had yet to be completely closed. Water baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19) was different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was also a new expression involving the Holy Spirit.
 Darrell L. Bock, Acts, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 57-8.
 Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, vol. 17, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 77.