The Pronoun Game

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Luke 3:16 (KJV)

You – Let’s play the pronoun game. Looking at the two instances of the pronoun “you,” which one identifies 21st century Christians and which one refers to the people that are currently standing in the presence of John during the 1st century?

Well many of us believe that the first “you” refers to the people in John’s presence, and the second “you” refers to us, the spiritual Christians. This theology suggests that John baptized those people (the first ‘you’) with water, and at some point in time during Yeshua’s walk on earth, this changed and Yeshua now baptizes us all (the second ‘you’) with Spirit and fire.

I’d wager that both instances of “you” are identifying the same people — the 1st century people gathered around John.

So what does this mean for us? For one thing, we need to refrain from imposing our own paradigm on the text. We need to define the pronouns, especially in the same verse, properly. And lastly, we should understand that the Bible was not written about us, or to us. It was not written from our cultural perspective, nor was it written in our language.

But, the Bible was written for us. Written for the purpose that we might learn from the experiences and instruction therein.

So our next question concerning the verse above should be… If John is only referring to the people of the day as being baptized in water and later in Spirit and fire, then when did that later event happen?

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (Acts 2:1-3)

Ahhh, so the people that were being baptized with water for repentance could very well be the same people baptized with Spirit and fire in the book of Acts. This works nicely when we interpret the pronouns in their proper context.

Let’s work within the text. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of 1st century Jews and increase our understanding of Hebrew. Every step that we draw close to God, He too draws close to us.

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