8-10 Baptism of Jesus in the Four Gospels


Each of the four Gospels gives an account of the baptism of Jesus, and further information is added by the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew. Most of the details are consistent among these accounts concerning where and how Jesus was baptized. Because of minor differences, however, major questions have arisen. Was the Spirit that descended that of God himself (Matthew) or the Holy Ghost (Luke) or just “the Spirit” (Mark, John)? Did the Spirit perhaps descend only once, or perhaps twice: once before the baptism (John) and again right after? Did the voice from heaven come right after the baptism, or apparently afterward as Jesus was praying (Luke)? Did the voice say to John, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew), with the added words “Hear ye him” (Matthew JST), or did the voice say to Jesus, “Thou art my beloved Son” (Mark, Luke), or did only the Baptist testify, “This is the Son of God” (John)?

The purpose of this chart is not to create confusion but to display the source of considerable scholarly inquiry. The solution to these problems may rest in the fact that concurrent recipients of a spiritual experience may each receive a version of that divine manifestation suited to their own vantage point. Thus, John the Baptist could have heard “This is my beloved Son,” at precisely the same time that Jesus heard “Thou art my beloved Son.” Jesus could have been offering up a prayer while John was baptizing him. If God can listen simultaneously to prayers from multiple people, he can also respond to them both simultaneously and individually.


S. Brent Farley, “The Baptism and Temptations of Jesus,” in Studies in Scripture Vol. 5: The Gospels, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986), 175-87.