And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
The people mused whether John were the Christ or not. An unreal and self-seeking man would have turned this doubtfulness to his own account. This was John's temptation. Jesus was tempted in one direction and John in another; but in each case the temptation was direct and real. Every ministry must be tempted, as must every Christian. Have you ever been tempted to regard yourself as some great one? Have you not covered up your poor and withering name with the reputation of strong and brilliant men? Have you not received applause for originalities which you have but quoted from others? John's declaration concerning Christ is most remarkable. He says nothing about preaching the gospel or dying for the sins of the world, nor about the great evangelical mission; the declaration relates solely to baptism, and to the discrimination of character. But what a baptism! and what a discrimination! There can be no mistake about any man who has received the baptism of fire; the fire will either illuminate or consume him, so that he will be either a light shining afar, or a scorched and barren soul that has quenched the Spirit. Baptism by water can only be initial or symbolical; baptism by fire is the great testimony of God to the soul's purification and acceptance. John points to two distinct uses of fire: Jesus will baptize with fire, and with fire unquenchable will He burn the chaff. This is precisely what the gospel does. It is a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;