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John 4:2

(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), (ESV)

Blue Harris says:

Dear List,

I have a question I hope someone can answer. John the Baptist, we know, would baptize anyone that came to him in repentance, whether they wished to become his disciple or not. However, with Jesus, is there any grammatical rule that would allow the thought to be communicated that Jesus was not baptizing any and all that came to him, but only those persons who wished to be his disciples? If MAQHTAI was in the accusative, I think such a thought could be sustained, but in the nominative???

Sincerely, Blue Harris

George F Somsel gfsomsel at says:

John 4:2 – καίτοιγε Ἰησοῦς αὐτὸς οὐκ ἐβάπτιζεν ἀλλʼ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

Raymond Brown in his 2 vol commentary on the GoJ translated this as “n fact, however, it was not Jesus himself who baptized, but his disciples” and notes regarding the passage:

“2. not Jesus himself. This is clearly an attempt to modify 3:22, where it is said that Jesus did baptize, and serves as almost indisputable evidence of the presence of several hands in the composition of John. Perhaps the final redactor was afraid that the sectarians of John the Baptist would use Jesus’ baptizing as an argument that he was only an imitator of John the Baptist. The unusual word for “however” (kaitoi ge) may be another indication of a different hand.”

I don’t wish to get into the discussion of whether there was or was not more than one hand involved in the GoJ, but it seems clear that the idea contained in the passage is that it was the disciples who baptised (nominative case) and not the disciples who were baptised. george gfsomsel