Sunday, March 31, 2013
Did the Holy Ghost Function Differently During Christ's Mortal Ministry? And Other New Testament Questions.
Question #1: I read that Jesus never baptized people, only his disciples did. John 3:22 & 4:1-2. Why?
Answer: KJV John 4:1-2 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,)
This passage in its current form (as it is preserved in the King James Translation and other subsequent English translations of the Bible) is somewhat obscure, but fortunately the Joseph Smith translation of this section of text sheds a bit more light on the subject.
JST John 4:1-4 When therefore the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, They sought more diligently some means that they might put him to death; for many received John as a prophet, but they believed not on Jesus. Now the Lord knew this, though he himself baptized not so many as his disciples; For he suffered them for an example, preferring one another.
According to Joseph Smith's inspired translation Christ did indeed perform baptismal ordinances personally, therefore the current form of the scripture as we read it in modern Bibles is likely the result of an error or deliberate change in scribal transcription, or an error in subsequent translation. Elder Bruce R. McConkie is emphatic in affirming this truth:
“Contrary to the false teachings and traditions of sectarianism, Jesus personally performed water baptisms so that in all things he might be the great Exemplar. Without question he also performed all other ordinances essential to salvation and exaltation.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:148.)
Note however that even in the JST passage Christ did not baptize "so many as his disciples." Aside from being busy, Christ may have had some more interesting reasons for personally performing less actual baptismal ordinances than his disciples did. Matthew Henry (1622-1714) speculates that this is: "Because...He would honour his disciples, and so train them up to further services. He would teach us that what is done by his ministers, according to His direction, He acknowledges as done by Himself" (Matthew Henry (Ed. Rev. Dr. Leslie F. Church), The NIV Matthew Henry Commentary, 327).