John answered, saying to them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes…
When John the Baptist was going round Judaea, shaking the hearts of the people with a call to repent, they said, "Surely this must be the Messiah for whom we have waited so long." "No," said the strong-spoken man, "I am not; the Christ but One mightier than I cometh; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." This last expression might have conveyed some idea of material burning to any people but Jews; but in their minds it would awaken other thoughts. It would recall the scene when their father Abraham asked Him who promised that he should inherit the land, "Lord, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" The answer came thus: he was standing under the open sky at night, watching by chosen sacrifices, when, "Behold a smoking furnace," &c. (Genesis 15:17). It would recall the fire which Moses saw in the bush; the fire which came in the day of Israel's deliverance, as a light on their way; the fire which descended on the Tabernacle; which shone in the Shekinah; which touched the lips of Isaiah; which flamed in the visions of Ezekiel; and which was again promised to Zion, not only in her public, but in her family, shrines, when "the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon all her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night." In the promise of a baptism of fire they would at once recognize the approach of new manifestations of the power and presence of God; for that was ever the purport of this appearance in "the days of the right hand of the Most High."
(W. Arthur, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
WEB: John answered them all, "I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire,