The Clear Word 

A Ministry Of Mid-State Ministries  


Matthew Chapter Three


[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
WILDERNESS:  Bible terminiology for a desert
JUDAEA: The "land of the Jews," the Greco-Roman equivalent of Judah. As most of the Israelites returning from the captivity belonged to the tribe of Judah, they came to be called Jews and their land Judea. In Tobit 1:18 the name is applied to the old kingdom of Judah. For a general description of the physical geography and early history of this region The limits of this district varied greatly, extending as the Jewish population increased, but in many periods with very indefinite boundaries.


[2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
REPENTENCE:  One of the Greek words which gives us the English word repentance is the Greek word  metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas in Matthew 27:3.
Another Greek word which gives to us the English word repentance is the Greek word  Metanoeo, meaning to change one's mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life to which remission of sin is promised.
Repentance is the act of turning around an improper behavior; sorrow for what one has done; especially, contrition for sin.


[3] For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Here you have John the Baptist calling out with a very plaintiff and tearful voice to Israel for them to prepare for the arrival of their long awaited Messiah. 

ISAIAH 11:1-16...And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  [2] And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;  [3] And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
[4] But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.  [5] And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.  [6] The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  [7] And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
[8] And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.  [9] They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.  [10] And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.  [11] And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  [12] And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.  [13] The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.  [14] But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.  [15] And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.  [16] And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.


[4] And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

JOHN THE BAPTIST:  John the Baptist was the "forerunner of our Lord." We have but fragmentary and imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels.

He was of priestly descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of Abia in I Chronicles 24:10, and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron in Luke 1:5.
The mission of John was the subject of prophecy in  Isaiah  40:3; Malachi 3:1 & Matthew 3:3..
His birth, which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision in Luke 1:64.
After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what is mentioned in Luke 1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth as per Luke 1:15 & Numbers 6:1-12.  He spent his early years in the mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea in Matthew 3:1-12. 
At length he came forth into public life, and great multitudes from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them of the folly of trusting to external privileges in Luke 3:8.   "As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating. Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and consideration for others.
The publicans he cautioned against extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine and manner of life roused the entire south of Palestine, and the people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto repentance. The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth in Matthew 3:5.  And he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John, on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all righteousness."
John's special office ceased with the baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry was suddenly, after about six months probably, brought to a close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his brother Philip in Luke 3:19.  He was shut up in the castle of Machaerus, a fortress on the southern extremity of Peraea which is about nine miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded. His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave.  After which they  went and told Jesus all that had occurred in Matthew 4:3-12.
John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him that he was a "burning and a shining light" in  John 5:35.
John the Baptist, was officially, for the record, the last Old Testament Prophet.  The era of the Old Testament prophets ended with his death at the hand of Herod.


[5] Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

I am reminded of a verse in I Samuel:
I Samuel 3:1...And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
When one considers the turnout which John the Baptist had, we must see that to his hearers, the word of God was quite precious to so many people.  The mode of transportation in those days, for the most part, was walking.  The regions listed in this verse, compared to where John the Baptist was, many of these people would have to have walked for days, one way, just to get to where John was.



[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

PHARISEES:  The Pharisees were a religious separatists sect.  They were probably the successors of the Assideans, who were known for being pious, a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three sects or schools into which the Jews were divided in 145 B.C.  The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the time of our Lord they were the popular party John 7:48.  They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses Matthew 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39 & 18:12.  Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee Acts 23:6-8 & 26:4-5.   

There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality Matthew 5:20; 15:4-8; 23:3-25 & John 8:7. On the first notice of them in the New Testament Matthew 3:7,   they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a "generation of vipers." They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride Matthew 9:11; Luke 7:39 & 18:11-12.   They were frequently rebuked by our Lord Matthew 12:39 & 16:1-4.

From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.


SADDUCEES: The origin of this Jewish sect cannot definitely be traced. It was probably the outcome of the influence of Grecian customs and philosophy during the period of Greek domination. The first time they are met with is in connection with John the Baptist's ministry. They came out to him when on the banks of the Jordan, and he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"  Matthew 3:7.  The next time they are spoken of they are represented as coming to our Lord tempting him. He calls them "hypocrites" and "a wicked and adulterous generation"  Matthew 16:1-4 & 22:23.  The only reference to them in the Gospels of Mark 12:18-27 & Luke 20:27-38, is their attempting to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection, which they denied, as they also denied the existence of angels. They are never mentioned in John's Gospel.

There were many Sadducees among the "elders" of the Sanhedrin. They seem, indeed, to have been as numerous as the Pharisees Acts 23:6.  They showed their hatred of Jesus in taking part in his condemnation Matthew 16:21; 26:1-59; Mark 8:31; 15:1; Luke 9:22 & 22:66.  They endeavoured to prohibit the apostles from preaching the resurrection of Christ Acts 2:24-32; 4:1-2 & 5:17-28.  They were the deists or sceptics of that age. They do not appear as a separate sect after the destruction of Jerusalem.


[8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

John Baptist is telling the religiosity that being baptized and wearing pretty religious garb is not what he is preaching about.  He is preaching about a life changed from the devil, to a life changed unto Christ.  If you act like the world, the flesh and the devil, then that means you are of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  However,  if you are truly saved and born again, then you will act saved and born again. 


[9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

The people are astonished at the doctrine of Both John the Baptist and Jesus.  For both John the Baptist and Jesus are teaching the absolute necessity of a personal relationship with God based on true repentance.  The Jewish people had always been led to believe that since they were the offspring of Abraham, that they automatically had such a relationship with God.


[10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
In the Bible, the casting off of fruit is a
metaphor of one who was judged of God and failed.
Fruits are good only if they grow and ripen on this basis of divine repentance, and they can ripen on in the ma for whom this repentance has become through baptism the divine norm and power of his growth, so that he is converted in this sense.  This same decisive view underlies the saying of Jesus. These images do not merely present us with good and band trees and fruits.  They area summons to man to participate in the kingdom of God and thus to be4 a good tree with good fruit.  The statements in the parables are to be viewed from same standpoint. In Matthew 13:24-38, the fruit sown in the fields is the Word of God.  As the value of a tree is estimated b y it products, so the righteousness displayed in acts is a decisive standard for divine judgment.  As we see in Luke 13:6-10, it is the unfruitful man, or better known as the one who rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior, who will be rejected. 
Luke 13:6-10...He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. [7] Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? [8] And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: [9] And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. [10] And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
In the preaching of John the Baptist here in Matthew 3:10, the expectation of judgement of urgent and immediate.  No one is exempt from the judgement of God.  The only escape is true heartfelt repentance of the sinful.
Now that Jesus was on the earth, He Himself would be the one to be the supreme sacrifice for sin.  Jesus came to lay the axe to the root of sin.  And all who would reject Him would be consigned to the literal flames of Hell.
In Matthew 3:9, the Jews felt that since they were of the seed of Abraham, that this was sufficient enough for repentance.  John the Baptist is telling them in verse 10 that it is a matter of true, heartfelt repentance, and the receiving of Jesus into their hearts.


[11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John the Baptist does not feel worthy to pick up and carry Jesus' shoes, or to even loosen the shoe strings of Jesus' shoes.
Christ baptizes believers in the Spirit into the body of Christ.  This baptism takes place at the moment of salvation.  The rite of water baptism symbolizes Spirit baptism.
Mark 1:8...I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy
Luke 3:16...John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
John 1:33...And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 1:5...For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 11:15...And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Romans 6:3...Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Ephesians 4:5...One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Colossians 2:12...Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
I Corinthians 12:13...For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
The Baptism of John the Baptist was man saying that he needed a Savior and that when the Messiah would arrive that he would accept this Messiah as his own Savior.  However, Jesus would baptize with Holy Spirit.  That being that when a person would come to Christ for Salvation, that Jesus would then and there fill the new convert with all of Himself.  And baptize with fire or with the entirety of God's power.


[12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
A fan is a wooden shovel used to toss the grain against the wind in order for the wind to blow out the chaff and other useless grasses so that the true wheat would drop to the floor.
After all of this, any other useless grasses which may still be around would be placed into a fire to be burned up.  In the final end, the farmer could have only pure wheat and nothing else.


[13] Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

We see that John the Baptist also wondered about baptizing Jesus in Matthew 3:14. John's baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Luke 3:3. However, Jesus had no need for repentance or forgiveness as per II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15 & I John 3:5. Why then did Jesus seek to be baptized by John?
There may be a clue in how Jesus responds in Matthew 3:15: "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Baptism is a form of identification. Although Jesus had no sin to repent of, He seems to have wanted to be identified with John's message of the need for repentance. This seems to be supported by Jesus' own message Matthew 4:17 & Mark 2:15.  Also, Jesus probably wanted to be identified with those receiving John's baptism, namely, sinners. After all, Jesus came to be identified with us, and to die as a substitute for our sins in I Corinthians 15:3 & II Corinthians 5:21.  Interestingly, Jesus' death and resurrection, which is the basis for our forgiveness, is linked with baptism in passages like Romans 6:3-4.


[14] But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
In verse 14, the English word forbid comes from the Greek word diakoluo.   It means to forbid to the point of stopping the person/action in question.  John felt that he needed to be baptized by Jesus, not Jesus being baptized by John.
This is proof that John the Baptist knew in advance of who and what Jesus was.  The fact that Jesus wanted John the Baptist to baptize Him made John the Baptist quite uncomfortable.  John the Baptist felt that if anyone is getting baptized, it should be Jesus baptizing John the Baptist.


[15] And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Jesus fulfilled all the righteous requirements to be Israel's Messiah.  By allowing John the Baptist to baptize Him, Jesus is identifying with sinners who He came to save.  Jesus Himself had no sin to repent of.


[16] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
This is the first absolute expression of the of concept of the Trinity.  The advent of the Spirit falling upon Christ.  The Holy Spirit which would empower Christ for His public ministry.


[17] And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Isaiah 42:1...Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Matthew 3:17...And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 17:5...While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mark 1:11...And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Mark 9:7...And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Luke 3:222...And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well
Luke 9:35...And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him