Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#42 - Did Jesus baptize anyone?

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's puzzlement:

"After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized." John 3:22
"Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." John 4:2

There are two different explanations to arrive at in the case of Jesus’ baptisms. Either He baptized believers personally, in the beginning, and then delegated the responsibility to His disciples later; or, His disciples had done all of the baptizing “in His name”.

For the former possibility, notice that John 4:2 says “baptized not”, not “never did baptize”, so the matter is uncertain based on this verse.

If He did indeed never baptize anyone personally, then John 4:1 as well will give us more comprehension of that position:
“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)” John 4:1-2
In this passage, first it says He baptized, then it says that He Himself didn’t. These statements together infer that to say “Jesus baptized” meant “the disciples of Jesus baptized”. It is somewhat like saying “The U.S. won the war” even though it was specifically won by the individual soldiers operating as part of the military unit.

Taking John 3 in its entirety into consideration, it is highly probable that Jesus Himself at least baptized some people in the beginning of His ministry.