Summa Th. III EN Qu.38 a.2
Objection: 1. It would seem that the baptism of John was not from God. For nothing sacramental that is from God is named after a mere man: thus the baptism of the New Law is not named after Peter or Paul, but after Christ. But that baptism is named after John, according to Mt 21,25: "The baptism of John . . . was it from heaven or from men?" Therefore the baptism of John was not from God.
2. Further, every doctrine that proceeds from God anew is confirmed by some signs: thus the Lord (Ex 4) gave Moses the power of working signs; and it is written (He 2,3-4) that our faith "having begun to be declared by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him, God also bearing them witness by signs and wonders." But it is written of John the Baptist (Jn 10,41) that "John did no sign." Therefore it seems that the baptism wherewith he baptized was not from God.
3. Further, those sacraments which are instituted by God are contained in certain precepts of Holy Scripture. But there is no precept of Holy Writ commanding the baptism of John. Therefore it seems that it was not from God.
On the contrary It is written (Jn 1,33): "He who sent me to baptize with water said to me: 'He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit,'" etc.
I answer that Two things may be considered in the baptism of John---namely, the rite of baptism and the effect of baptism. The rite of baptism was not from men, but from God, who by an interior revelation of the Holy Ghost sent John to baptize. But the effect of that baptism was from man, because it effected nothing that man could not accomplish. Wherefore it was not from God alone, except in as far as God works in man.
Reply to Objection: 1. By the baptism of the New Law men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Ghost, and this is accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was cleansed by the water. Wherefore it is written (Mt 3,11): "I baptize you in water; but . . . He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost." For this reason the baptism of John was named after him, because it effected nothing that he did not accomplish. But the baptism of the New Law is not named after the minister thereof, because he does not accomplish its principal effect, which is the inward cleansing.
2. The whole teaching and work of John was ordered unto Christ, who, by many miracles confirmed both His own teaching and that of John. But if John had worked signs, men would have paid equal attention to John and to Christ. Wherefore, in order that men might pay greater attention to Christ, it was not given to John to work a sign. Yet when the Jews asked him why he baptized, he confirmed his office by the authority of Scripture, saying: "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness," etc. as related, Jn 1,23 (Is 40,3). Moreover, the very austerity of his life was a commendation of his office, because, as Chrysostom says, commenting on Matthew (Hom. x in Matth.), "it was wonderful to witness such endurance in a human body."
3. The baptism of John was intended by God to last only for a short time, for the reasons given above (Article ). Therefore it was not the subject of a general commandment set down in Sacred Writ, but of a certain interior revelation of the Holy Ghost, as stated above.
Objection: 1. It would seem that grace was given in the baptism of John. For it is written (Mc 1,4): "John was in the desert baptizing and preaching the baptism of penance unto remission of sins." But penance and remission of sins are the effect of grace. Therefore the baptism of John conferred grace.
2. Further, those who were about to be baptized by John "confessed their sins," as related Mt 3,6 and Mc 1,5. But the confession of sins is ordered to their remission, which is effected by grace. Therefore grace was conferred in the baptism of John.
3. Further, the baptism of John was more akin than circumcision to the baptism of Christ. But original sin was remitted through circumcision: because, as Bede says (Hom. x in Circumcis.), "under the Law, circumcision brought the same saving aid to heal the wound of original sin as baptism is wont to bring now that grace is revealed." Much more, therefore, did the baptism of John effect the remission of sins, which cannot be accomplished without grace.
On the contrary It is written (Mt 3,11): "I indeed baptize you in water unto penance." Which words Gregory thus expounds in a certain homily (Hom. vii in Evang.): "John baptized, not in the Spirit, but in water: because he could not forgive sins." But grace is given by the Holy Ghost, and by means thereof sins are taken away. Therefore the baptism of John did not confer grace.
I answer that As stated above (Article , ad 2), the whole teaching and work of John was in preparation for Christ: just as it is the duty of the servant and of the under-craftsman to prepare the matter for the form which is accomplished by the head-craftsman. Now grace was to be conferred on men through Christ, according to Jn 1,17: "Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Therefore the baptism of John did not confer grace, but only prepared the way for grace; and this in three ways: first, by John's teaching, which led men to faith in Christ; secondly, by accustoming men to the rite of Christ's baptism; thirdly, by penance, preparing men to receive the effect of Christ's baptism.
Reply to Objection: 1. In these words, as Bede says (on Mc 1,4), a twofold baptism of penance may be understood. one is that which John conferred by baptizing, which is called "a baptism of penance," etc., by reason of its inducing men to do penance, and of its being a kind of protestation by which men avowed their purpose of doing penance. The other is the baptism of Christ, by which sins are remitted, and which John could not give, but only preach, saying: "He will baptize you in the Holy Ghost."Or it may be said that he preached the "baptism of penance," i.e. which induced men to do penance, which penance leads men on to "the remission of sins."Or again, it may be said with Jerome [*Another author on Mc 1 (inter op. Hier.)] that "by the baptism of Christ grace is given, by which sins are remitted gratis; and that what is accomplished by the bridegroom is begun by the bridesman," i.e. by John. Consequently it is said that "he baptized and preached the baptism of penance unto remission of sins," not as though he accomplished this himself, but because he began it by preparing the way for it.
2. That confession of sins was not made unto the remission of sins, to be realized immediately through the baptism of John, but to be obtained through subsequent penance and through the baptism of Christ, for which that penance was a preparation.
3. Circumcision was instituted as a remedy for original sin. Whereas the baptism of John was not instituted for this purpose, but was merely in preparation for the baptism of Christ, as stated above; whereas the sacraments attain their effect through the force of their institution.
Objection: 1. It would seem that Christ alone should have been baptized with the baptism of John. For, as stated above (Article ), "the reason why John baptized was that Christ might receive baptism," as Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. xiii). But what is proper to Christ should not be applicable to others. Therefore no others should have received that baptism.
2. Further, whoever is baptized either receives something from the baptism or confers something on the baptism. But no one could receive anything from the baptism of John, because thereby grace was not conferred, as stated above (Article ). On the other hand, no one could confer anything on baptism save Christ, who "sanctified the waters by the touch of His most pure flesh" [*Mag. Sent. iv, 3]. Therefore it seems that Christ alone should have been baptized with the baptism of John.
3. Further, if others were baptized with that baptism, this was only in order that they might be prepared for the baptism of Christ: and thus it would seem fitting that the baptism of John should be conferred on all, old and young, Gentile and Jew, just as the baptism of Christ. But we do not read that either children or Gentiles were baptized by the latter; for it is written (Mc 1,5) that "there went out to him . . . all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him." Therefore it seems that Christ alone should have been baptized by John.
On the contrary It is written (Lc 3,21): "It came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized and praying, heaven was opened."
I answer that For two reasons it behooved others besides Christ to be baptized with the baptism of John. First, as Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. iv, v), "if Christ alone had been baptized with the baptism of John, some would have said that John's baptism, with which Christ was baptized, was more excellent than that of Christ, with which others are baptized."Secondly, because, as above stated, it behooved others to be prepared by John's baptism for the baptism of Christ.
Reply to Objection: 1. The baptism of John was instituted not only that Christ might be baptized, but also for other reasons, as stated above (Article ). And yet, even if it were instituted merely in order that Christ might be baptized therewith, it was still necessary for others to receive this baptism, in order to avoid the objection mentioned above.
2. Others who approached to be baptized by John could not, indeed, confer anything on his baptism: yet neither did they receive anything therefrom, save only the sign of penance.
3. This was the baptism of "penance," for which children were not suited; wherefore they were not baptized therewith. But to bring the nations into the way of salvation was reserved to Christ alone, who is the "expectation of the nations," as we read Gn 49,10. Indeed, Christ forbade the apostles to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles before His Passion and Resurrection. Much less fitting, therefore, was it for the Gentiles to be baptized by John.
Objection: 1. It would seem that John's baptism should have ceased after Christ was baptized. For it is written (Jn 1,31): "That He may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing in water." But when Christ had been baptized, He was made sufficiently manifest, both by the testimony of John and by the dove coming down upon Him, and again by the voice of the Father bearing witness to Him. Therefore it seems that John's baptism should not have endured thereafter.
2. Further, Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. iv): "Christ was baptized, and John's baptism ceased to avail." Therefore it seems that, after Christ's baptism, John should not have continued to baptize.
3. Further, John's baptism prepared the way for Christ's. But Christ's baptism began as soon as He had been baptized; because "by the touch of His most pure flesh He endowed the waters with a regenerating virtue," as Bede asserts (Mag. Sent. iv, 3). Therefore it seems that John's baptism ceased when Christ had been baptized.
On the contrary It is written (Jn 3,22-23): "Jesus . . . came into the land of Judea . . . and baptized: and John also was baptizing." But Christ did not baptize before being baptized. Therefore it seems that John continued to baptize after Christ had been baptized.
I answer that It was not fitting for the baptism of John to cease when Christ had been baptized. First, because, as Chrysostom says (Hom. xxix in Joan.), "if John had ceased to baptize" when Christ had been baptized, "men would think that he was moved by jealousy or anger." Secondly, if he had ceased to baptize when Christ baptized, "he would have given His disciples a motive for yet greater envy." Thirdly, because, by continuing to baptize, "he sent his hearers to Christ" (Hom. xxix in Joan.). Fourthly, because, as Bede [*Scot. Erig. Comment. in Joan.] says, "there still remained a shadow of the Old Law: nor should the forerunner withdraw until the truth be made manifest."
Reply to Objection: 1. When Christ was baptized, He was not as yet fully manifested: consequently there was still need for John to continue baptizing.
2. The baptism of John ceased after Christ had been baptized, not immediately, but when the former was cast into prison. Thus Chrysostom says (Hom. xxix in Joan.): "I consider that John's death was allowed to take place, and that Christ's preaching began in a great measure after John had died, so that the undivided allegiance of the multitude was transferred to Christ, and there was no further motive for the divergence of opinions concerning both of them."
3. John's baptism prepared the way not only for Christ to be baptized, but also for others to approach to Christ's baptism: and this did not take place as soon as Christ was baptized.
Objection: 1. It would seem that those who had been baptized with John's baptism had not to be baptized with the baptism of Christ. For John was not less than the apostles, since of him is it written (Mt 11,11): "There hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist." But those who were baptized by the apostles were not baptized again, but only received the imposition of hands; for it is written (Ac 8,16-17) that some were "only baptized" by Philip "in the name of the Lord Jesus": then the apostles---namely, Peter and John---"laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost." Therefore it seems that those who had been baptized by John had not to be baptized with the baptism of Christ.
2. Further, the apostles were baptized with John's baptism, since some of them were his disciples, as is clear from Jn 1,37. But the apostles do not seem to have been baptized with the baptism of Christ: for it is written (Jn 4,2) that "Jesus did not baptize, but His disciples." Therefore it seems that those who had been baptized with John's baptism had not to be baptized with the baptism of Christ.
3. Further, he who is baptized is less than he who baptizes. But we are not told that John himself was baptized with the baptism of Christ. Therefore much less did those who had been baptized by John need to receive the baptism of Christ.
4. Further, it is written (Ac 19,1-5) that "Paul . . . found certain disciples; and he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John's baptism." Wherefore "they were" again "baptized in the name of our [Vulg.: 'the'] Lord Jesus Christ." Hence it seems that they needed to be baptized again, because they did not know of the Holy Ghost: as Jerome says on Joel 2:28 and in an epistle (lxix De Viro unius uxoris), and likewise Ambrose (De Spiritu Sancto). But some were baptized with John's baptism who had full knowledge of the Trinity. Therefore these had no need to be baptized again with Christ's baptism.
5. Further, on Rm 10,8, "This is the word of faith, which we preach," the gloss of Augustine says: "Whence this virtue in the water, that it touches the body and cleanses the heart, save by the efficacy of the word, not because it is uttered, but because it is believed?" Whence it is clear that the virtue of baptism depends on faith. But the form of John's baptism signified the faith in which we are baptized; for Paul says (Ac 19,4): "John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying: That they should believe in Him who was to come after him---that is to say, in Jesus." Therefore it seems that those who had been baptized with John's baptism had no need to be baptized again with the baptism of Christ.
On the contrary Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. v): "Those who were baptized with John's baptism needed to be baptized with the baptism of our Lord."
I answer that According to the opinion of the Master (Sent. iv, D, 2), "those who had been baptized by John without knowing of the existence of the Holy Ghost, and who based their hopes on his baptism, were afterwards baptized with the baptism of Christ: but those who did not base their hope on John's baptism, and who believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were not baptized afterwards, but received the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands made over them by the apostles."And this, indeed, is true as to the first part, and is confirmed by many authorities. But as to the second part, the assertion is altogether unreasonable. First, because John's baptism neither conferred grace nor imprinted a character, but was merely "in water," as he says himself (Mt 3,11). Wherefore the faith or hope which the person baptized had in Christ could not supply this defect. Secondly, because, when in a sacrament, that is omitted which belongs of necessity to the sacrament, not only must the omission be supplied, but the whole must be entirely renewed. Now, it belongs of necessity to Christ's baptism that it be given not only in water, but also in the Holy Ghost, according to Jn 3,5: "Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Wherefore in the case of those who had been baptized with John's baptism in water only, not merely had the omission to be supplied by giving them the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands, but they had to be baptized wholly anew "in water and the Holy Ghost."
Reply to Objection: 1. As Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. v): "After John, baptism was administered, and the reason why was because he gave not Christ's baptism, but his own . . . That which Peter gave . . . and if any were given by Judas, that was Christ's. And therefore if Judas baptized anyone, yet were they not rebaptized . . . For the baptism corresponds with him by whose authority it is given, not with him by whose ministry it is given." For the same reason those who were baptized by the deacon Philip, who gave the baptism of Christ, were not baptized again, but received the imposition of hands by the apostles, just as those who are baptized by priests are confirmed by bishops.
2. As Augustine says to Seleucianus (Ep. cclxv), "we deem that Christ's disciples were baptized either with John's baptism, as some maintain, or with Christ's baptism, which is more probable. For He would not fail to administer baptism so as to have baptized servants through whom He baptized others, since He did not fail in His humble service to wash their feet."
3. As Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth. [*From the supposititious Opus Imperfectum]): "Since, when John said, 'I ought to be baptized by Thee,' Christ answered, 'Suffer it to be so now': it follows that afterwards Christ did baptize John." Moreover, he asserts that "this is distinctly set down in some of the apocryphal books." At any rate, it is certain, as Jerome says on Mt 3,13, that, "as Christ was baptized in water by John, so had John to be baptized in the Spirit by Christ."
4. The reason why these persons were baptized after being baptized by John was not only because they knew not of the Holy Ghost, but also because they had not received the baptism of Christ.
5. As Augustine says (Contra Faust. xix), our sacraments are signs of present grace, whereas the sacraments of the Old Law were signs of future grace. Wherefore the very fact that John baptized in the name of one who was to come, shows that he did not give the baptism of Christ, which is a sacrament of the New Law.
We have now to consider the baptizing of Christ, concerning which there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether Christ should have been baptized?
(2) Whether He should have been baptized with the baptism of John?
(3) Of the time when He was baptized;
(4) Of the place;
(5) Of the heavens being opened unto Him;
(6) Of the apparition of the Holy Ghost under the form of a dove;
(7) Whether that dove was a real animal?
(8) Of the voice of the Father witnessing unto Him.
Objection: 1. It would seem that it was not fitting for Christ to be baptized. For to be baptized is to be washed. But it was not fitting for Christ to be washed, since there was no uncleanness in Him. Therefore it seems unfitting for Christ to be baptized.
2. Further, Christ was circumcised in order to fulfil the law. But baptism was not prescribed by the law. Therefore He should not have been baptized.
3. Further, the first mover in every genus is unmoved in regard to that movement; thus the heaven, which is the first cause of alteration, is unalterable. But Christ is the first principle of baptism, according to Jn 1,33: "He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, He it is that baptizeth." Therefore it was unfitting for Christ to be baptized.
On the contrary It is written (Mt 3,13) that "Jesus cometh from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him."
I answer that It was fitting for Christ to be baptized. First, because, as Ambrose says on Lc 3,21: "Our Lord was baptized because He wished, not to be cleansed, but to cleanse the waters, that, being purified by the flesh of Christ that knew no sin, they might have the virtue of baptism"; and, as Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth.), "that He might bequeath the sanctified waters to those who were to be baptized afterwards." Secondly, as Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth.), "although Christ was not a sinner, yet did He take a sinful nature and 'the likeness of sinful flesh.' Wherefore, though He needed not baptism for His own sake, yet carnal nature in others had need thereof." And, as Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xxxix) "Christ was baptized that He might plunge the old Adam entirely in the water." Thirdly, He wished to be baptized, as Augustine says in a sermon on the Epiphany (cxxxvi), "because He wished to do what He had commanded all to do." And this is what He means by saying: "So it becometh us to fulfil all justice" (Mt 3,15). For, as Ambrose says (on Lc 3,21), "this is justice, to do first thyself that which thou wishest another to do, and so encourage others by thy example."
Reply to Objection: 1. Christ was baptized, not that He might be cleansed, but that He might cleanse, as stated above.
2. It was fitting that Christ should not only fulfil what was prescribed by the Old Law, but also begin what appertained to the New Law. Therefore He wished not only to be circumcised, but also to be baptized.
3. Christ is the first principle of baptism's spiritual effect. Unto this He was not baptized, but only in water.
Objection: 1. It would seem that it was unfitting for Christ to be baptized with John's baptism. For John's baptism was the "baptism of penance." But penance is unbecoming to Christ, since He had no sin. Therefore it seems that He should not have been baptized with John's baptism.
2. Further, John's baptism, as Chrysostom says (Hom. de Bapt. Christi), "was a mean between the baptism of the Jews and that of Christ." But "the mean savors of the nature of the extremes" (Aristotle, De Partib. Animal.). Since, therefore, Christ was not baptized with the Jewish baptism, nor yet with His own, on the same grounds He should not have been baptized with the baptism of John.
3. Further, whatever is best in human things should be ascribed to Christ. But John's baptism does not hold the first place among baptisms. Therefore it was not fitting for Christ to be baptized with John's baptism.
On the contrary It is written (Mt 3,13) that "Jesus cometh to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him."
I answer that As Augustine says (Super Joan., Tract. xiii): "After being baptized, the Lord baptized, not with that baptism wherewith He was baptized." Wherefore, since He Himself baptized with His own baptism, it follows that He was not baptized with His own, but with John's baptism. And this was befitting: first, because John's baptism was peculiar in this, that he baptized, not in the Spirit, but only "in water"; while Christ did not need spiritual baptism, since He was filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost from the beginning of His conception, as we have made clear above (Question , Article ). And this is the reason given by Chrysostom (Hom. de Bapt. Christi). Secondly, as Bede says on Mc 1,9, He was baptized with the baptism of John, that, "by being thus baptized, He might show His approval of John's baptism." Thirdly, as Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xxxix), "by going to John to be baptized by him, He sanctified baptism."
Reply to Objection: 1. As stated above (Article ), Christ wished to be baptized in order by His example to lead us to baptism. And so, in order that He might lead us thereto more efficaciously, He wished to be baptized with a baptism which He clearly needed not, that men who needed it might approach unto it. Wherefore Ambrose says on Lc 3,21: "Let none decline the laver of grace, since Christ did not refuse the laver of penance."
2. The Jewish baptism prescribed by the law was merely figurative, whereas John's baptism, in a measure, was real, inasmuch as it induced men to refrain from sin; but Christ's baptism is efficacious unto the remission of sin and the conferring of grace. Now Christ needed neither the remission of sin, which was not in Him, nor the bestowal of grace, with which He was filled. Moreover, since He is "the Truth," it was not fitting that He should receive that which was no more than a figure. Consequently it was more fitting that He should receive the intermediate baptism than one of the extremes.
3. Baptism is a spiritual remedy. Now, the more perfect a thing is, the less remedy does it need. Consequently, from the very fact that Christ is most perfect, it follows that it was fitting that He should not receive the most perfect baptism: just as one who is healthy does not need a strong medicine.
Objection: 1. It would seem that Christ was baptized at an unfitting time. For Christ was baptized in order that He might lead others to baptism by His example. But it is commendable that the faithful of Christ should be baptized, not merely before their thirtieth year, but even in infancy. Therefore it seems that Christ should not have been baptized at the age of thirty.
2. Further, we do not read that Christ taught or worked miracles before being baptized. But it would have been more profitable to the world if He had taught for a longer time, beginning at the age of twenty, or even before. Therefore it seems that Christ, who came for man's profit, should have been baptized before His thirtieth year.
3. Further, the sign of wisdom infused by God should have been especially manifest in Christ. But in the case of Daniel this was manifested at the time of his boyhood; according to : "The Lord raised up the holy spirit of a young boy, whose name was Daniel." Much more, therefore, should Christ have been baptized or have taught in His boyhood.
4. Further, John's baptism was ordered to that of Christ as to its end. But "the end is first in intention and last in execution." Therefore He should have been baptized by John either before all the others, or after them.
On the contrary It is written (Lc 3,21): "It came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying;" and further on (Lc 3,23): "And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years."
I answer that Christ was fittingly baptized in His thirtieth year. First, because Christ was baptized as though for the reason that He was about forthwith to begin to teach and preach: for which purpose perfect age is required, such as is the age of thirty. Thus we read (Gn 41,46) that "Joseph was thirty" years old when he undertook the government of Egypt. In like manner we read (2R 5,4) that "David was thirty years old when he began to reign." Again, Ezechiel began to prophesy in "his thirtieth year," as we read Ez 1,1.Secondly, because, as Chrysostom says (Hom. x in Matth.), "the law was about to pass away after Christ's baptism: wherefore Christ came to be baptized at this age which admits of all sins; in order that by His observing the law, no one might say that because He Himself could not fulfil it, He did away with it."Thirdly, because by Christ's being baptized at the perfect age, we are given to understand that baptism brings forth perfect men, according to Ep 4,13: "Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ." Hence the very property of the number seems to point to this. For thirty is product of three and ten: and by the number three is implied faith in the Trinity, while ten signifies the fulfilment of the commandments of the Law: in which two things the perfection of Christian life consists.
Reply to Objection: 1. As Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xl), Christ was baptized, not "as though He needed to be cleansed, or as though some peril threatened Him if He delayed to be baptized. But no small danger besets any other man who departs from this life without being clothed with the garment of incorruptibility"---namely, grace. And though it be a good thing to remain clean after baptism, "yet is it still better," as he says, "to be slightly sullied now and then than to be altogether deprived of grace."
2. The profit which accrues to men from Christ is chiefly through faith and humility: to both of which He conduced by beginning to teach not in His boyhood or youth, but at the perfect age. To faith, because in this manner His human nature is shown to be real, by its making bodily progress with the advance of time; and lest this progress should be deemed imaginary, He did not wish to show His wisdom and power before His body had reached the perfect age: to humility, lest anyone should presume to govern or teach others before attaining to perfect age.
3. Christ was set before men as an example to all. Wherefore it behooved that to be shown forth in Him, which is becoming to all according to the common law---namely, that He should teach after reaching the perfect age. But, as Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xxxix), that which seldom occurs is not the law of the Church; as "neither does one swallow make the spring." For by special dispensation, in accordance with the ruling of Divine wisdom, it has been granted to some, contrary to the common law, to exercise the functions of governing or teaching. such as Solomon, Daniel, and Jeremias.
4. It was not fitting that Christ should be baptized by John either before or after all others. Because, as Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth. [*From the supposititious Opus Imperfectum]), for this was Christ baptized, "that He might confirm the preaching and the baptism of John, and that John might bear witness to Him." Now, men would not have had faith in John's testimony except after many had been baptized by him. Consequently it was not fitting that John should baptize Him before baptizing anyone else. In like manner, neither was it fitting that he should baptize Him last. For as he (Chrysostom) says in the same passage: "As the light of the sun does not wait for the setting of the morning star, but comes forth while the latter is still above the horizon, and by its brilliance dims its shining: so Christ did not wait till John had run his course, but appeared while he was yet teaching and baptizing."
Objection: 1. It would seem that Christ should not have been baptized in the Jordan. For the reality should correspond to the figure. But baptism was prefigured in the crossing of the Red Sea, where the Egyptians were drowned, just as our sins are blotted out in baptism. Therefore it seems that Christ should rather have been baptized in the sea than in the river Jordan.
2. Further, "Jordan" is interpreted a "going down." But by baptism a man goes up rather than down: wherefore it is written (Mt 3,16) that "Jesus being baptized, forthwith came up [Douay: 'out'] from the water." Therefore it seems unfitting that Christ should be baptized in the Jordan.
3. Further, while the children of Israel were crossing, the waters of the Jordan "were turned back," as it is related Jos. 4, and as it is written Ps 113,3 Ps 113,5. But those who are baptized go forward, not back. Therefore it was not fitting that Christ should be baptized in the Jordan.
On the contrary It is written (Mc 1,9) that "Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan."
I answer that It was through the river Jordan that the children of Israel entered into the land of promise. Now, this is the prerogative of Christ's baptism over all other baptisms: that it is the entrance to the kingdom of God, which is signified by the land of promise; wherefore it is said (Jn 3,5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." To this also is to be referred the dividing of the water of the Jordan by Elias, who was to be snatched up into heaven in a fiery chariot, as it is related 2R 2: because, to wit, the approach to heaven is laid open by the fire of the Holy Ghost, to those who pass through the waters of baptism. Therefore it was fitting that Christ should be baptized in the Jordan.
Reply to Objection: 1. The crossing of the Red Sea foreshadowed baptism in this---that baptism washes away sin: whereas the crossing of the Jordan foreshadows it in this---that it opens the gate to the heavenly kingdom: and this is the principal effect of baptism, and accomplished through Christ alone. And therefore it was fitting that Christ should be baptized in the Jordan rather than in the sea.
2. In baptism we "go up" by advancing in grace: for which we need to "go down" by humility, according to Jc 4,6: "He giveth grace to the humble." And to this "going down" must the name of the Jordan be referred.
3. As Augustine says in a sermon for the Epiphany (x): "As of yore the waters of the Jordan were held back, so now, when Christ was baptized, the torrent of sin was held back." Or else this may signify that against the downward flow of the waters the river of blessings flowed upwards.
Summa Th. III EN Qu.38 a.2