Did Jesus or His disciples do most of the baptizing?
Both the King James Version (KJV) and New International Version (NIV) translations of John 4:1-2 state that Jesus’ disciples did all of the baptizing.
Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were) . . . (NASB) 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,) . . . (KJV) John 4:1-2
However, the Greek word that is translated as baptizing in both the KJV and NASB Bible is ebaptizen. The verb ebaptizen is in the imperfect tense. The word means “to dip or immerse.” The imperfect tense implies that repeated action occurred on separate occasions. That is, Jesus was not repeatedly baptizing people. He was not doing all of the baptizing. The well-known Greek scholar A. T. Robertson when commenting about this passage said the following,
The “Imperfect tense means that it was not the habit of Jesus.”
That is, Jesus’ disciples normally did the baptizing. This implies that Jesus most likely did baptize individuals on occasions.
John 4:1-2 reveals that Jesus did only some of the baptizing; His disciples did most of it.
1. A.T. Robertson. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Baker Book House. Grand Rapids, MI. 1960. p. 59.
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