Disciples of John the Baptist
January 24th, 1954 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-24-54 10:50 a.m.
You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message from the first part of the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts. In our preaching through the Word, last Sunday we closed, we stopped, with the first part of the first verse of the nineteenth chapter: "And it came to pass that while Apollos was at Corinth" [Acts 19:1]. That’s where we stopped – while Apollos was at Corinth.
Now we continue in the nineteenth chapter:
. . . while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper coast, came to Ephesus
– the capital city of proconsular Asia, the Roman province of Asia –
came to Ephesus. And finding certain disciples
He said unto them, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?" And they said unto him, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit."
And he said unto them, "Unto what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Unto John’s baptism."
Then said Paul, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on Him which should come after Him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied.
And all the men were about twelve.
That possibly is one of the most difficult passages to understand in the whole New Testament. For example, you have here, a generation after John the Baptist is dead, you have disciples of John the Baptist. John has been martyred for more than thirty years [Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29], and yet here are disciples of John the Baptist; and not only that, but these disciples of John the Baptist in this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts are not on the banks of the Jordan River nor are they even in the wilderness of Judea, but they are in Ephesus – far, far away in the capital city of Asia. And if you remember in the few verses just above, you have another disciple of John the Baptist – the eloquent Apollos [Acts 18:24-28] who hailed from Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, on the other side of the Mediterranean world.
That posits an unusual question. Disciples of John the Baptist – a Baptist movement that had its origins in the great forerunner [Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-5] that continues on through the years and the years. Where’d they come from? Who are they and what became of them?
Then you have another problem here – the baptism of John. That was the only baptism that Jesus had. It was the only baptism that the apostles had. In fact, the qualification for a man to be an apostle were two. One, he had to be baptized by John the Baptist, and second, he had to be a personal witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ [Acts 1:12-26]. Yet in this passage are disciples of John the Baptist who said they were baptized in John’s baptism whom Paul baptized again. That was as if you were casting aspersion and discredit upon the baptism of John. Now that’s just some of the problems that lie in this passage. So let’s start out on them because in finding an answer, there is in it a marvelous truth for us who are Christian.
The first startling fact when you began to pull back into those days, the first startling fact you will discover is this, that there was a movement – the John the Baptist movement – that was parallel to and alongside the Christian movement. They two were side by side. They simultaneously developed.
You and I think of the great forerunner as announcing the coming of the Lord, preparing disciples for the Lord, and that his movement was enmeshed and amalgamated with and finally encompassed by the Christian movement. That’s not true at all. The John the Baptist movement continued alongside the Christian movement, and John made disciples, and those disciples made disciples. And Jesus made disciples, and those disciples made disciples. And the two movements went along side by side. And almost from the beginning, there was a bitter antipathy and antagonism between the disciples of John the Baptist and the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have time this morning barely to refer to that conflict, but you look at it. In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, beginning at the twenty-second verse it says: "After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea, and they tarried there and baptized" [John 3:22]. So Jesus is there in the land of Judea baptizing. "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there" [John 3:23]. Whatever baptism John was using, he had to have lots of water – not a cup full, not a glass full, not a pot full, but lots of water; a tub full, a baptistery full, a river full, a pond full.
Now, "John also was baptizing in Aenon . . . because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. Because John was not yet cast into prison" [John 3:23-24]. The two are side by side making disciples, baptizing those disciples, making converts.
"Then there arose an altercation between John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying" [John 3:25]. Now, what was that "purifying"? Look at it: "And they came unto John and said unto him, ‘Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness – behold, the same baptizeth’ [John 3:26], and He’s more popular than You. You’ve lost your rabbit’s foot! It’s Jesus that is the song on the lip and the praise from the heart: ‘and all men come to Him’" [John 3:26]. And the disciples of John the Baptist were taking it hard; they were taking it hard. That altercation over purifying was over baptizing.
Baptism is a purification. It is a sign of purification. It is a sign of washing and of cleansing [Romans 6:4-6]. The cleansing of the soul and of the heart: a sign of it is the washing of the body [Hebrews 10:19-22].
And they were in an altercation, and the disciples of John the Baptist said, "The true baptism is from John. He got it from heaven," and the disciples of Jesus were saying, "The true baptism is from Christ. He is the great Messiah promised." They were having a lot of trouble there among those Jewish people [John 3:25].
Now, you take one other. The disciples of John the Baptist made a direct frontal attack upon the Lord Jesus in the days of His ministry. Here in the fifth chapter of the Book of [Luke] and the thirty-third verse: "And they said unto Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers . . . but Thine? Brother, all You’re doing is eating and drinking and having a good time’" [Luke 5:33]. "You’re over there skating with that bunch of kids, and You ought to be praying. You’re up there with these men in those bowling lanes, and you ought to be fasting! Then You wouldn’t have enough strength to bowl. You’re around there with this crowd out at Mount Lebanon, in a camp out there with these young idiots, and You ought to be there down on your knees. Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers and You, You eat and drink?"
You’ll find the same thing in the second chapter of the Book of Luke – I mean of Mark. And the disciples of John came to Him and said, "Here we are fasting and look at You. Look at You" [Mark 2:18-22]. Now, I haven’t time to go into that. Let’s continue on. I am pointing out to you that even in the days of the flesh of our Lord, there was antipathy and jealousy and conflicts and antagonism between the disciples of John and the disciples of the Lord Jesus.
I kind of hate to preach like this because I haven’t the beginning of time to encompass it all, and there’s a lot more to this than I’m saying. John the Baptist was loyal [Mark 1:1-8; 18; John 3:19-36], and he died loyal to the Savior [Luke 7:28]. John the Baptist was raised of God to introduce the Lord Jesus [Luke 1:76-79], and he did it; and the true disciples of John the Baptist entered the Christian movement: John, the man who wrote the fourth gospel, Simon Peter, Andrew – all of the apostles of the Lord Jesus were disciples of John the Baptist [John 1:35-42]. But there was a difference in them. Some of the disciples of John entered the Christian movement, but a great host of them didn’t. And as we go on, that will appear. But in no sense must you get the idea that John was not faithful to his witness and loyal to the Lord Jesus, and he died that [Luke 7:24-28; John 3:27].
Now, let me go back. From the beginning, I say, there was conflict and altercation and jealousy and enmity between many of the disciples of John and the popularity and prestige and growing fame of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, when John died, that did not in any wise take away from his prophetic stature. Even in his prison, the disciples of John loved their master, and Herod gave them opportunity to visit him and to minister to him [Matthew 11:2-4; Luke 7:19-23]. And when John was beheaded, it just made him a greater prophet in their eyes.
You remember the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Matthew and the other synoptic gospels. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "John’s baptism – was it of men or was it from heaven?" [Matthew 21:25]. And the Jews said, "If we say it’s from heaven, why, the Lord will say, ‘Well then, why didn’t you believe him and accept Me as the Messiah?’ But if we say, ‘It’s from men, why the people will stone us because" – the Bible says – "all men took John for a prophet" [Matthew 21:25-26]. And he’s been dead, been beheaded [Matthew 14:3-11; Mark 6:17-28]; and yet, beheaded and dead, he was still the stature of a great prophet before the people. So the death of John the Baptist made no difference in the worship of the disciples as they remembered their glorious master.
Now, that John the Baptist movement continued like the rippling out of the waves when you drop a rock in the lake. The John the Baptist movement went out and out and out until it covered the entire civilized world. For one thing, many pilgrims came to Judea to the feast and they heard the great prophet preach, and they repented of their sins and they were baptized by John [Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:4-5; John 3:23]. And when they went back home, they took the message of the great forerunner with them, and they made converts and the movement went on. You will find over here in Alexandria, I say, Apollos is a disciple of John the Baptist [Acts 18:23-28]. And here in Ephesus, you will find these twelve men who are disciples of disciples of John the Baptist [Acts 19:1-7].
Then when you go beyond the veil of the Holy Scriptures, you will find these church fathers – those early ecclesiastical historians – you will find them mentioning the disciples of John the Baptist. One author is Justin Martyr. He refers to the disciples of John, and Justin was martyred in about 110 AD. Then you will find it in Hegesippus. Hegesippus was an early church historian, and he lived about 150 AD, and he mentions the disciples of John the Baptist. Then there is a pseudo literature called the Clementine Homilies and the Clementine Recognitions [The Recognitions of Clement.] They are purported to have been written by Clement who was purported to have been a bishop in the church at Rome, and they are an unusual collection of literature.
And the heart of the Clementine literature is this: they are struggling with problems in their own day – say about 200 AD. So Clement, the early bishop, pastor of the church at Rome, is writing back there what happened in the apostolic day. And so they have Peter and John and the rest of them giving answers to problems that they are meeting in 200 AD. It’s a pseudoepigraphic literature. It is a soft literature. It’s not authentic, but it shows you the times. And in these Clementine Recognitions, I’m going to read a passage, just a little brief passage. Look at it.
And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus himself declared that John was greater than all men and all prophets. "If, then," said he, "he be greater than all, he must be held to be greater than Moses, and than Jesus himself. But if he be the greatest of all, then must he be the Christ."
["Against the Claims that John the Baptist was the Messiah," The Recognitions of Clement 1.60, by Clement or Pseudo-Clement, C. 200 A.D.]
The disciples of John the Baptist, two hundred years now after the Lord Jesus, the disciples of John the Baptist are declaring that the great forerunner is the Christ, the Messiah, Himself.
Now, I can find that thing here in the Bible. John, the sainted author of the fourth gospel: John lived to be about a hundred years old; and in 100 AD, John was still living, and he was in Ephesus. He’s in Ephesus, this city of Ephesus, and he pastored the church in Ephesus for many, many years. Now, John said that if he were to try to write down everything that the Lord Jesus did, the world itself could not contain the book that should be written [John 21:25]. So John says that he’s picked out this little bit – what little bit that he’s written here in the gospel – he has chosen that in order that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God [John 20:30-31].
Now, it is purposive selection of what he’s going to write about the Lord Jesus. John in Ephesus is careful to write down, even in the little bit that he chooses, he is careful to write down the testimony of John the Baptist concerning his being the Christ. John 1:20: "And John confessed – John the Baptist confessed – and denied not, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’"
Well, who said he was the Christ? There were lots of people saying John was the Christ [Luke 3:15; John 1:19-28]. There were many disciples of disciples of John the Baptist who were saying the forerunner was the promised Messiah. So here in the Gospel of John, John took pains to turn aside to write down the testimony of the Baptist; and the whole chapter there, that whole section there – which I haven’t time to read – is the testimony of John. And that’s the strongest way he could say it: "And He confessed and denied not, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ’" [John 1:20].
Now, the reason that Luke wrote this passage here in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, where we’re preaching from this morning, it was a live issue in the first Christian century – these disciples of John the Baptist. So Luke was writing here how Paul dealt with the problem and gave that illustration.
Now let me tell you something that is one of the most unusual things you could ever dig out. There are disciples of John the Baptist today. In the Mesopotamian Valley, there are about two thousand souls who call themselves "Mandaeans" or "Disciples of John the Baptist;" and they have a John book, and they look upon John as the promised teacher and Messiah who was to come into the world.
Now, what kind of a religion was that John the Baptist movement? What kind of a people were they? Well, it is easy to answer that question. The John the Baptist religion – the disciples of John the Baptist and the kind of people they were – they were severe and ascetic.
John the Baptist himself was one of the most impressive of all of the men who have ever appeared across the stage of human history. He looked like and he talked like a prophet that had stepped out of the pages of the Old Testament [John 1:6-8]. His beard was unkempt. His hair had never been cut for over thirty years and hanged in shaggy – and hung in shaggy locks around his shoulders [Luke 1:80]. He was dressed in coarse, camel-type cloth with a leather girdle around his waist [Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6], and he thundered the repentance, and the judgment, and the coming fury of the kingdom of God [Matthew 3:1-2; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:1-18]. And he was bold and impressive in his implacable and inflexible countenance [Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:19-20]. And John and his disciples were amazed at the conviviality of Jesus and the disciples of the Lord.
They were rigorous; they were monastic; they were continent; they were severe; and the movement had in it a tremendous appeal to people who are attracted by an ascetic, other-worldly religion. So as time went on, people who thought that the Christian movement was dilettante – it was effeminate; it was effete; it was too much here down in the world – and they liked the fury and the judgment and the preaching of the fire and the brimstone of John the Baptist, why they just kept on in that religion; and the thing echoed and reverberated and made converts and continued through the years and the centuries.
So when Paul came to Ephesus, he looked at those twelve men [Acts 19:1-7]. How did he know there was something wrong with their religion? Why, to the discerning eye of the apostle – I can tell you exactly how Paul saw it, was sensitive to it, and in solicitude and in love and anxiety searched it out. Whenever you see a people who have lost the swinging optimism of their religion, when you see a people that have lost the triumph of their religion, when you see people who have lost the glory and the happiness and the joy and the fullness and the look and the life and the gladness and the ecstasy of their religion, there’s something wrong. There’s something wrong because religion puts a song in a man’s heart [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16]. Religion puts a smile on his face. Religion puts a persuasion, a feeling of triumph, in his life. Whether we live or whether we die, whether we have or we haven’t, whether we’re sick or whether we’re well, whether we’re here or there, true religion in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ has a song even in the night [Acts 16:22-25].
So Paul looked at those twelve disciples [Acts 19:1-7]. There were twelve men [Acts 19:7]: twelve heads bowed, twelve faces lined with austerity, and the monasticism and the severity of a religion of fear and subservience and repentance. They were pulled out of the world: the world wretched and vile. "And we mustn’t touch it. The violin is an instrument of the devil, and we must never bring it into the church," so said the Monastic. And they – the whole set up of this creation is vile and iniquitous and villainous, and we must pull out from it.
Now, how do I preach and not be misunderstood again? We ought to pull out from the compromise and iniquity of the world [2 Corinthians 6:17], but we ought to stay down there in the world where the folks are [John 17:14-21]. If they live on the brink of hell, our church ought to be on the brink of hell trying to minister to the people who walk around on its verge. Where the people are, your church ought to be [1 Corinthians 9:19]. Where your young people are, your church ought to be. Where the folks are, you ought to be! Brother, you’ll have all eternity to live up there in glory; God needs somebody down here just like you – just like you. That’s the Christian faith. The Christian religion is a down-to-earth religion; it walks in the dust of the ground. It lives by the side of the people. It knocks at the door, the Lord Jesus saying, "I’ve come to break bread at your house this day" [Luke 19:5].
So Paul looked at them, and they were those lugubrious, solemn, sad, ascetic, monastic religionists; and Paul looked at them and said, "My soul, my soul. Does religion affect you that way? That way? The judgment of God’s coming, that’s right, but we’re delivered, and we’ve got a message of hope" [Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10].
So he asked them a question: "Tell me, did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? [Acts 19:2] Was there a gladness of regeneration in your heart? When you found religion, did you find God and victory and triumph? Did you?" They said, "Listen. Holy Spirit? All we know is monastic aestheticism. We never heard whether there be any Holy Spirit or not" [Acts 19:2]. Now, there’s a key that I can see what kind of people they were.
Now, I cannot pass by the little comment on the movement of John the Baptist. As the movement progressed, some of it was good, like Apollos. He wasn’t re-baptized; Apollos had the same baptism Jesus did and the apostles did, and he was a true disciple of the John the Baptist, made ready for the coming of the Lord [Acts 18:24-25]. And when Aquila and Priscilla told him about the Lord Jesus, immediately he was ready and received Him [Acts 18:24-28]. That’s the true John the Baptist movement, John the lawyer himself.
But these men, the disciples of John the Baptist, made disciples; and these disciples made disciples; and these disciples made converts; and those converts made disciples; and finally they got away from the original intention and meaning and purpose of the Baptist movement altogether. So these men here never heard of the Holy Spirit [Acts 19:2], and yet they said they were disciples of John the Baptist [Acts 19:3]. Why, they didn’t know anything about John.
Tell me, when John the Baptist preached, didn’t he preach like this? "I baptize you in water . . . but He that cometh after me who is greater than I . . . He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" [Matthew 3:11]. Did he do that? Yet these men say, "We never heard about the Holy Spirit. We never heard about the Holy Spirit" [Acts 19:2]. They got away altogether from the true meaning of the movement of John the Baptist. So Paul, when he looked at them he said, "Listen here, that baptism that you have is nothing, and that religion that you have is worse than nothing." So he told them the truth of the faith of the Lord Jesus, and then they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [Acts 19:4-5].
Now, the best I can, may I encompass a whole hour’s appeal in a few sentences?
One, one: baptism. This baptism, the baptism in water, this baptism they’re talking about here – baptism and the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as any meaning in baptism apart from the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. You might as well go out there and let the president of the Chamber of Commerce dunk you in a pool as to say, "My baptism has meaning apart from the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit." It has no meaning at all. It has to be upon a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 8:34-38], and you must be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. An unconscious infant, somebody who’s not converted, one who’s not prepared: a baptism is nothing. It is nothing, nothing, nothing! Apart from the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, a baptism in water is nothing – nothing.
And now this other word regarding the baptism itself – the baptizing itself. Paul then said, "Then you must be baptized again," or re-baptized. "You must be baptized again" [Acts 19:4-5]. There are three things that you’ll find here in that action of Paul. One is Paul refused to allow Christianity to devolve – to fall – into the empty, vain, hollow ceremonialism of the Jews’ religion of Judaism. There’s no rite. There’s no ceremony, baptism, or any other rite – there’s no rite in the earth that has any effect or any meaning or any spiritual power aside from a regeneration in the heart, the movement of God in the spirit and in the soul. And the rite on the outside is nothing at all – nothing at all. Because you’ve been baptized means nothing at all. Nothing at all!
"But, Preacher, I’ve been baptized, and I belong to such and such church." It means nothing at all! You have to believe with a moving in the soul and the Spirit on the inside [John 3:1-21]. This thing is genuine or real according to the inside, and the outside is just a token, a symbol, a pronouncement, a heralding.
All right, first, Paul refused to allow the Christian faith just to descend into hollow ceremony: "I’m baptized; therefore, I’m saved. I’m in the church; therefore, I’m on my way to heaven." "Not so," says Paul, "not so!" You may be good, and you may keep the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, but you are lost [Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-31] no matter how many times you’ve been baptized or how many churches to which you belong unless there is something that is moved on the inside of the soul and the heart [Matthew 7:21-23].
All right, a second thing here: Paul also insisted on the right administration of the ordinance. You’ve been baptized, yes; but were you baptized for the right motive? Were you baptized for the right purpose? Were you baptized by the right administrator? Were you? Were you? Paul insists – he insists that a true baptism to be a baptism must be for the right purpose, the right cause, the right meaning, the right person, and the right administrator.
And last, you have here the Scripture for the insistence of your present pastor and many, many men who stand by his side – or with whom I stand – you have the Scripture here why we insist on the re-baptizing or the real baptizing of these who come to us and say – and now may I make illustration for just a moment? I do not know how many – and this’ll be typical – will come to me and say, "Pastor, I want to join the church, the First Baptist Church. We love this church, and we love to go hear the Word preached; and I want to join the church."
Well, I say, "Welcome. A thousand times, welcome. Have you given your heart to God?"
"Yes, sir, I’ve been saved. I’ve been converted."
"Have you been baptized?"
"Yes, I’ve been baptized."
"Who baptized you and where?"
"Well, I was baptized at such and such place into such and such fellowship."
And I say, "You were baptized in order for that your sins might be washed away. That’s your baptism. That’s what it represented; that was what it was for. The pastor that baptized you and the church into whose fellowship you were baptized believes that in the baptistery, in the washing of water, your sins are washed away and that without that baptism you’d be lost."
That’s a false baptism. It is a false doctrine; and it is hateful, I think, in the sight of God. There’s not anything these hands could do for you that could ever suffice to the washing of the sin out of the soul. It is only the blood, the atoning sacrifice of Christ, that could ever wash a man’s soul [Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22], and to say that I can do it in that baptistry is a false doctrine. So I say, "You must be baptized again – a true baptism."
And then sometimes they will say, "But I don’t want to be. I’ve been baptized one time, and I don’t want to be baptized again."
And this is my reply: "My dear, bless your heart for loving us and for coming to us and talking to me, but I feel this way about it. We’re trying to preach the truth. We’re trying to stay near the Book. We’re trying to keep these ordinances just as God delivered them to us according to Paul’s appeal in the eleventh chapter of Corinthians, the first Corinthians, in the [second] verse: ‘Keep the ordinances. Keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you’ [1 Corinthians 11:2] said Paul. And we’re trying to do it. And if you don’t love us enough to take a bath in our behalf, then you don’t love us enough to be a Baptist and to come into the fellowship of the church."
What is it to be baptized? No more than taking a bath. Bring a towel. Bring a towel; and you’re put under the water and raised up from the water, and it’s no more than taking a bath. And a man or a woman who would not be willing to take a bath for the truth we’re trying to hold up before the world doesn’t love us enough to come and be by our side.
Oh, I hate to close! There’s so much. There’s the truth of God. The Lord help us to grasp it and to see it and to give our lives to it.
In my appeal, may I say this one word? I think there are lots of people who ought to be re-baptized. When you were baptized, you weren’t saved. You weren’t saved. You weren’t saved. You weren’t a Christian. You weren’t converted. You hadn’t given your heart to God when you were baptized.
Since that day, you’ve been saved. Why don’t you come? I’ll tell you why. You don’t because you’re proud. "Why, Pastor, do you think I’d walk down that aisle and let you baptize me – I who’ve been here for these years in the church?" So pride keeps you away from the whole full will of God, and there’s a shadow on your life all the days you live. There’s a shadow there. When you get close to God, when you pray to the Lord, when you talk to God about the things of the kingdom, there’s always that shadow there.
"I want to be baptized. On my confession of faith, I ought to be baptized. I ought to keep that rite like it says in the Book," but pride keeps you away. Ah, pride: the flimsiest, cheapest, sorriest thing that a man can hold up to God.
Pride. Pride. Lord, we are worms. We are made out of dust. We are lost and nothing in Thy sight. O God, deliver us from false pride.
I must close. However the Lord bid you, come. Brother Souther, let’s change our invitation hymn this morning. Let’s sing "Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow."
Where He leads me, I will follow.
I can hear my Savior calling,
"Take thy cross and follow Me."
Where He leads me, I’ll follow.
I’ll go with Him
All the way. All the way.
[From "Where He Leads Me," by E.W. Blandy, 1890]
And while we sing it, in that topmost balcony and from side to side and anywhere, somebody you, while we sing the song today, would you come? Today, would you come?
I can hear my Savior calling,
"Take thy cross and follow Me"
"And here I come, pastor. Here I am." A family of you; one somebody you; a child; a you in this great host today, while we sing and while we make appeal, would you come? Would you come? "I’ll make it now, preacher. I’ll make it now," and stand by my side while we stand and while we sing.
DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. A most difficult passage
A. A generation after his death, far from Jordan River
B. Baptism of John was only baptism Jesus had, and was an apostolic qualification – yet these are re-baptized
II. A startling fact
A. John the Baptist movement continued alongside Christian movement(John 1:33, 3:29-30)
B. Bitter antipathy and antagonism between disciples of John the Baptist and disciples of Jesus
1. Quarrel over baptism(John 3:22-26)
2. Attack upon Jesus about fasting (Luke 5:33, Mark 2:18-22)
3. Tremendous influence of John(Matthew 21:25-26, Mark 6:14)
C. The movement spreads over the Roman world
D. Aged Apostle John careful to write down John’s testimony(John 1:19-20)
E. Movement continued to today – Mandaeans in Mesopotamia
III. What was the John the Baptist movement like?
A. Severe, ascetic
1. John the Baptist much like an Elijah
2. Amazed at convivial attitude of Jesus
B. It greatly differed
1. Paul saw the lack in these twelve – solemn, sad, monastic religionists
a. Paul told them truth of the faith by Jesus; they were baptized in His name
2. Apollos – carefully taught and trained; he was not re-baptized
IV. Baptism of John and Christian baptism
A. Christian baptism is always associated with Holy Spirit of God
1. Immersion in itself is meaningless
B. True meaning of Christian baptism
1. Paul refused to let Christian faith fall into dead ritual and ceremony
2. Paul insisted on the right administration of the ordinance
3. Apostolic precedent for the repetition of baptism(1 Corinthians 11:1)