being such?” Paul’s words following this statement may shed light on the matter. He goes on to say that he and his companions were in peril every hour, and that he himself faced death daily. (1 Cor. 15:30, 31) Again this brings to mind Paul’s statements at Romans 6:3-5 and Philippians 3:10, 11, when he points out that he is submitting himself to a death like Christ’s, being buried through baptism into his death with the hope of a resurrection like his.
GOD DETERMINES THE BAPTIZED ONE’S PLACE IN HIS PURPOSE
It should be noted that the one being baptized in water enters a special relationship as Jehovah’s servant, to do His will. The individual does not determine what the will of God is for him, but it is God who makes the decision as to the use of the individual and the placing of such one in the framework of His purposes. For example, in times past, the entire nation of Israel was in special relationship with God; they were Jehovah’s property. (Ex. 19:5) But only the tribe of Levi was selected to perform the services at the sanctuary, and out of this tribe only Aaron’s family constituted the priesthood. (Num. 1:48-51; Ex. 28:1; 40:13-15) The kingship came to be established exclusively in the line of David’s family by Jehovah God.—2 Sam. 7:15, 16.
Likewise those who undergo Christian baptism become God’s property, his slaves, to employ as he sees fit. (1 Cor. 6:20) An example of God’s direction of such matters is found at Revelation chapter 7, where it is stated that there is a definite number of persons “sealed,” namely, 144,000. (Rev. 7:4-8) Paul explained that that seal is God’s holy spirit and that it gives those sealed a token in advance of their inheritance, a heavenly one. (Eph. 1:13, 14; 2 Cor. 5:1-5) He also told these having such a hope: “God has set the members in the body [of Christ], each one of them, just as he pleased.”—1 Cor. 12:18, 27.
Jesus called attention to another group when he said: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) These not of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) are gathered as the work of making disciples of people of all the nations progresses “until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:20) These must approach Jehovah through Jesus Christ and be baptized in water.
The vision given to the apostle John, as recorded in Revelation chapter 7, harmonizes with this when, after showing John the 144,000 “sealed” ones, it turns his eyes to “a great crowd, which no man was able to number.” These are shown as having “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” indicating faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. (Rev. 7:9, 14) They are therefore given favorable recognition, “standing before [God’s] throne,” but are not those whom God selects to be the “sealed” 144,000. As to this “great crowd,” the vision goes on to point out that they serve God day and night, and will be protected and cared for by him.—Rev. 7:15-17.
BAPTISM WITH FIRE
John the Baptist, when many Pharisees and Sadducees came out to his baptism, called them “offspring of vipers.” He spoke of the coming One and said: “That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire.” (Matt. 3:7, 11; Luke 3:16) The baptism with holy spirit took place as described earlier. The fiery baptism could not be, as some say, the tongues of fire at Pentecost, for the disciples there were not immersed in fire. (Acts 2:3) John told his listeners that there would be a division, there would be a gathering of the wheat, after which the chaff would be burned up with fire that could not be put out. (Matt. 3:12) He pointed out that the fire would be, not a blessing or a reward, but because ‘the tree did not produce fine fruit.’—Matt. 3:10; Luke 3:9.
Using fire as a symbol of destruction, Jesus foretold the execution of the wicked to take place during his second presence, saying: “On the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” (Luke 17:29, 30; Matt. 13:49, 50) Other instances of fire representing, not a saving force, but a destructive one, are found at 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Jude 7 and 2 Peter 3:7, 10.
(Bar·abʹbas) [son of the father, master or teacher].
The imprisoned criminal guilty of robbery, sedition and murder whom Pilate set free in place of Jesus. Pilate did this, “wishing to satisfy the crowd” who clamored for his release at the insistence of the chief priests and older men. The name Barabbas suggests that he may possibly have been the son of a rabbi or Jewish leader.—Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:16-25; John 18:39, 40; Acts 3:14.
This unique custom of releasing a prisoner on the eve of the Passover every year finds no basis or precedent in the Hebrew Scriptures and little support, if any, in Roman or other pagan practices. However, certain Rabbinical writings indicate that this custom may have been from a Jewish source that predated the Roman occupation of Palestine. This explains why Pilate said to the Jews: “You have a custom that I should release a man to you at the passover.”—John 18:39.
(Bar·a·chiʹah) [Jah blesses].
As to the words “son of Barachiah,” they are not found in Luke’s account and they are omitted from Matthew’s account in the Codex Sinaiticus. Some scholars believe that they are possibly an addition to the text made by a “corrector” who confused this Zechariah with Zechariah the prophet “the son of Berechiah.” (Zech. 1:1) However, there is no evidence that the latter prophet was murdered. Another suggestion is that Jehoiada, the father of a Zechariah who was murdered, may have had two names, as is the case with other Bible characters. (Compare Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14; Matthew 10:2, 3.) The meaning of Barachiah is much like that of Jehoiada, which means “Jehovah knows.”
It is generally understood that Jesus here referred to Zechariah “the son of Jehoiada the priest.” (2 Chron. 24:20-22) This is the most logical conclusion, since Chronicles is listed last in the traditional Jewish canon, thereby making Abel the first and Zechariah the last righteous man recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures as murdered. According to 2 Chronicles 24:21, Zechariah was murdered “in the courtyard of Jehovah’s house.” The altar of burnt offering was in the inner courtyard, outside of and in front of the entrance to the sanctuary. This would correspond with Jesus’ location of the incident “between the sanctuary and the altar.”
In the cases of both Abel and Zechariah a reckoning for shedding of blood was foretold. (Gen. 4:10; 2 Chron. 24:22) Also, there is a strong parallel between the circumstances and events in the days of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada and those of the generation living when Jesus spoke these words. As Zechariah was dying he said: “Let Jehovah see to it and ask it back.” Very soon his prophetic words began to be fulfilled. A small Syrian force came up and Jehovah delivered a great military force of Judah into their hand, the princes of Judah being greatly ruined and despoiled. The Syrians executed acts of judgment on Jehoash and left him with many diseases, after which he was murdered by his servants. (2 Chron. 24:23-25) After describing the bloodguilt of those to whom he