It interesting to note a few things here in the second half of John 3. We see John baptising, and Jesus doing the same just across the river. Now consider the following texts…
Acts 18:29- Apollos knew only the baptism of John
Beginning of Acts 19- Disciples in Ephesus only received the baptism of John
The baptism John did was not enough, there was another baptism necessary. Baptism in the name of Jesus was the entrance into the New Covenant. But we bring that back to our text here in John’s gospel, and we have a curious situation. Why, if John’s baptism was to become void and Jesus’ baptism was necessary, was John still baptising?
Also consider what John says to a fellow Jew in this passage. The man was speaking to the fact that many were going to Jesus instead of John. John replies by telling him it’s the way it ought to be. He’s not upset at all, in fact John says his own joy is now complete.
So why continue baptising at all then? Why not send them to Jesus?
We must also consider a couple other things at this point. One, the New Covenant was still years away. The people were not meeting the blood of Christ at this point. They were proclaiming a belief that Jesus was the Christ. But even with that, the understanding of His blood being the only way for them to be forgiven their sins was an understanding that they didn’t yet have. It was a belief they did not yet have, and therefore could not profess (let alone live out). No baptism before the death, burial & resurrection of Christ gave access to His blood.
The second thing to examine at this point is John’s purpose. We can see clearly John’s heart in this passage. If Jesus was indeed baptising people into salvation, John would have surely sent everyone to Jesus. John would have stopped baptising… he would, as he himself said, “decrease that He (Jesus) might increase.” So we can therefore conclude that John was not keeping anyone from Christ. His purpose was to direct all men to Jesus.
The evidence points to a conclusion that the baptism Jesus was giving at this point was not the baptism He would later give after his death. And therefore, John’s baptism at that time was on par with the baptism Jesus was doing just across the river. When John said Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire, he was referring obviously to a later time.
And we see the that fulfilled on two separate occasions. Once for the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and once for the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10). These two examples also would have obviously imparted the salvation that all New Testament baptism grants, that being the access to the blood of Christ.
For there is one baptism. Thank God that He has told us how we can be covered by the blood of Christ!!!