The Gospel of John
"The Ministry of John The Baptist"

J. Deering,
From:  Matthew Chapter Three

1.  The Baptism of Jesus The Christ 3.  Matthew Outline of Chapters 1-3
2.  Matthew Chapter 3 Summary 4.  The Preaching of John The Baptist
5.  Addendum on Repentance  

The Water Baptism of Jesus
The Hesitancy of John
The Insistence of Jesus
The Voice of God - "My Beloved"

Chapter Summary

John the Baptist, the Herald of the King, is now introduced.  See Luke 1:15-17 for the angelic announcement of His birth and mission.  He is predicted in the Old Testament.  Isaiah 40:3-5, Malachi 3:1.  He appeared like Elijah the Prophet (2 Kings 1:8).  But He was not Elijah.  See also Matthew 17:12.  And before the King comes the second time there will be once more a forerunner.  Malachi 4:5-6 will then be fulfilled.  John knew his mission (John 1:23).  His testimony as reported by Matthew concerns the nation.  In the Gospel of John we find the record of another testimony given by the forerunner.  He knew the King also as the Lamb of God.

He calls the nation to repentance, because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew Outline To This Point
I.                       The Person of the King, 1:1-4:25
    A.                     His Background, 1:1-17
    B.                      His Birth, 1:18-2:23
            1.                      The announcement of the birth, 1:18-25
            2.                      The adoration of the baby, 2:1-12
            3.                      The advancement of the boy, 2:13-23
    C.                      His Baptism, 3:1-17
            1.                      The Preaching of John the Baptist  3:1-12
                    a.                       John's message
                    b.                      The Scriptures are Fulfilled
                    c.                       The Baptism of John
                    d.                      The condition of Sadducees and Pharisees
                    e.                       Baptism by Water
                    f.                       Wheat VS. Chaff
             2.                     The Baptism of Jesus Christ  3:13-17
                    a.                       The water baptism of Jesus Christ
                    b.                      The hesitancy of John
                    c.                       The insistence of Jesus Christ
                    d.                      The voice of God - "My Beloved"

John's Message
The Scriptures are Fulfilled
The Baptism of John
The Sadducees and the Pharisees (Vipers)
Water Baptism
Wheat VS Chaff

The Preaching of the Baptist.
John the Baptist, as predicted in the O.T. (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1), now appears as the King's forerunner.  John's birth and mission are described by Luke (Luke 1:5-80).

His message, "Repent ye:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," was an announcement of the messianic kingdom as foretold by O.T. prophets to be set up on the earth over which David's son and Lord is to reign.  It was "at hand" from the commencement of John's announcement here to the rejection of the King (Matthew 12:1-45), and the announcement of a new brotherhood (Matthew 12:46-50).

It is the "kingdom of heaven (the heavens)"  because it is the administration of the heavens upon the earth (Matthew 6:10), being a term derived from Daniel (Daniel 2:34-35, 44; 7:23-27)..

Now in those days John the Baptizer came (making his public appearance) preaching (in such a manner as to be obeyed) in the Judean desert, saying,

"Repent (turn around in your ways, be having a change of mind), for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand (has arrived)."
John's message was soul-searching, and frightening.  He was a preacher of imminent doom (see verses 7 and 10), a catastrophe that could be avoided only by a radical turnabout of mind and heart (Hendriksen).

For this is the one referred to through Isaiah, the prophet, saying,
"The voice of one crying (shouting out) in the wilderness,
Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!"

John the Baptist had come to the nation of Israel, much like Jonah had come to the city of Nineveh.  He was preaching "in the wilderness," the image being that he was preaching in a spiritually dry place, a place where there was no visible life.  But much like a real wilderness or desert there is much life that is hidden.  There are creatures whose activities are not evident, and there are plants and seeds that are just waiting for the smallest drop of water so they can come to life and blossom.

John brought a message of repentance to the Covenant people of Israel.  A Message that was to warn them of God's impending visit to them.  A warning  to return to His ways, and to His word.  A message of a nation returning to their God.  John brought this message to the nation as a whole.  The Covenant was brought about for a Nation of People, not single individuals.  If the Nation, as a whole, did not receive John's words and message then the Covenant was not at that time effective.  We will see in a later chapter that because the NATION rejected their COVENANT relationship with Almighty God, then He would have to set the NATION aside as His people and make a NEW COVENANT that was inclusive of all humanity.

As you may remember, on pages 41-52, The Abrahamic Covenant (The nation of Israel) had no aspect of individual or national SALVATION.

The promises of the Abrahamic Covenant were:
1.                       "I will make of thee a great nation,"
2.                       "And I will bless thee,"
3.                       "And make thy name great,"
4.                       "And thou shalt be a blessing,"
5.                       "And I will bless them that bless thee,"
6.                       "And curse him that curseth thee,"
7.                       "And in thee shall all families of the earth be   blessed."  Genesis 12:1-3

All these, certainly, were great blessings, but there was no mention of SALVATION either national or individual.  That was just the nature of that covenant (SALVATION has always been based upon the NEW COVENANT, that is, based upon the effective finished work of Jesus Christ through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.  The NEW COVENANT is, as the Bible puts it, based upon His BLOOD).

The point being, without (I hope) beating the proverbial dead horse, is that John's message and his appeal to the people of Israel is not a message personal salvation (i.e., these are NOT Salvation verses).

And now, John was telling them to get their things in order for "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND." And quite literally it was at hand.  They did not know, except as they heard and received John's words, that God had become flesh and was dwelling upon the earth WITH THEM.  That He (God) had been walking with them, talking with them, and observing them for the past thirty years.  And He was about to make Himself known to them.

Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Such a garment may be symbolic of the prophet's office.  The main point is that by means of his simple mode of life, evident with respect to both food and clothing, he was a living protest against all selfishness and self-indulgence, hence also against that frivolousness, carelessness, and false security with which many people were rushing toward their doom, and were doing this with the judgment so near at hand.

Then Jerusalem was going out to him (in a steady stream), and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;

Evidently the Holy Spirit was extremely active in the lives of those who heard John's message.  The season was at its peak, and the hearts and minds of God's people were selectively readied for repentance.  The words indicate that John had many converts.  It would seem that God had prepared many to at as witnesses to the waywardness of the Nation of Israel.  There were many, perhaps many thousands, who's hearts had been touched toward repentance and a returning to The Almighty's ways, precepts, laws, and word.  But still, as we will see, even with the message of John and the testimony of his witnesses, when they are presented with the claims of Jesus Christ, when they are presented with GOD AMONG US, they will absolutely and without hesitancy REJECT HIM as their Messiah and Lord, and shout for His death by crucifixion instead.

and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they (publicly) confessed their sins.

John's baptism was a Jewish baptism, not a Christian baptism (cf. Acts 19:1-7).  It did not signify the washing away of sin, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,  but, instead, an outward act of washing signifying the repentance of the candidate and identification with John's message (national repentance to the principles of the Abrahamic Covenant).  Baptism, no matter what form it takes, has long been the standard practice of the people of Israel when a change of heart (of spiritual or great importance) has taken place and the candidate wants to make that change public (i.e., The Priests were required, on a regular basis, to undergo ceremonial, symbolic, public washing before they were allowed to perform their ministries).

It should be stressed that although John attached considerable importance to baptism, baptized many, and was therefore called "the Baptist," he did not consider this rite to have any saving significance apart from the fundamental change of life indicated by conversion (change of mind, not Salvation).  It is on the latter, fundamental change of life (putting God at the top), that he placed the greatest emphasis.  His desires were to create public witnesses to God's desire to return the nation of Israel to the Abrahamic Covenant and the blessings therein foretold.

The exact manner in which, and the exact date when, these parties rose is obscure.  There is reason to believe, however, that the Pharisees were the successors of the "Hasidim", i.e., the Pious or Saints.  The later were those Jews who, during and even prior to the Maccabean revolt, had opposed the adoption of Greek culture and customs (Hellenism).  It is understandable that as long as the Maccabeans in their heroic struggle were chiefly motivated by religious principles they would have the full support of the "Hasidim."  The Pharisees, meaning Separatists, may well have been, in their origin, the reformed or reorganized "Hasidim."  They separated themselves not only from the heathen, from publicans, and from sinners, but even in general, from the indifferent Jewish multitudes, whom they derisively dubbed "the people who do not know the law" (John 7:49).  They tried hard not to become contaminated or defiled by associating with anyone or anything that would render them ceremonially unclean.

The Sadducees were in many ways the very opposites of the Pharisees.  They were the compromisers, the men who, though ostensibly still clinging to the law of God, were not really hostile to the spread of Hellenism.  They were the sacerdotal party, the party to which the high priest generally belonged.

The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angel or spirit, but the Pharisees accept them all.  From Josephus we learn that the Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul along with the resurrection of the body.  They held that the soul perished when the body died.

Another point on which the two went in opposite directions had to do with the canon.  The Pharisees recognized two criteria or standards for doctrine and discipline:  the written Old Testament and the oral traditions.  They made so much of these oral traditions that often, by means of their emphasis upon them, they "made the word of God of no effect" (Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13).  The Sadducees, on the contrary, accepted nothing but Scripture.  They esteemed the Pentateuch above the prophets, etc.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood (offspring) of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

They must have received their warning from other's already baptized, intimation is that they did not know because "they knew the Scriptures."  The reference to Offspring of Vipers is to the young of Satan himself.

Therefore bring forth fruit in worthy of your repentance; (Produce therefore fruit weighing as much as the repentance you profess)

"Since I don't believe you are here for any reason except to take advantage of a public event, you're just here to identify with a popular movement, now show me your changed lives and works.  If little, show me little, if much show me much, if NONE ...".

and do not suppose that you can PRESUME to say within yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father;' for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

The sin of presumption - "Leaning on the Lord"
Here's an interesting study that will change your lives, or at least it should!

Micah 3:9-11
Acts 5:1-11
Luke 11:42-47 + 52
Matthew 23:13-31
Matthew 18:6-7
Isaiah 5:8-23

And consider these questions:

I'm a Christian now, and can I do anything I please?
What should the character of a Christian be?

Then Conclude with:
Isaiah 5:25-26

And the axe is already placed at the root of the trees (and lies there ready for use); every tree therefore that is not producing good fruit is being cut down, and is being thrown into the fire (which never can be put out).

John is telling the Pharisees and the Sadducees that they are about to be cut off.  Their fruit has long ago stopped being good fruit.  Those who are responsible for the nation going away from her God and becoming "as the Gentiles are" are receiving their notice that God is about to send them into God's hell forever for leading an entire people away from their God.

As for myself, I indeed baptize you in water because of your repentance; but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not even worthy to bear His sandals;  He himself will baptize you with (in the sphere of and by means of) the Holy Spirit and by fire.

And His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean His threshing-floor; and He will gather His wheat into the granary, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

A "New" baptism is foretold where those who have their mind changed about this new issue of Jesus Christ, will be washed and made public by The Holy Spirit of God, not just water.  They will also have their lives thoroughly changed by the conviction and repentance work of the Holy Spirit.  They will be changed by Fire.  The good will be skimmed off and the Chaff, the dross, will be burned away.  God's Holy Spirit will come into their lives like He has never been in the lives of human beings before.  He will come to STAY, not just to visit as in the Old Testament.  He will come and SEAL the believer and keep him until God's plan of salvation is absolutely complete.  There is also a reference here (verse :12) to the second advent of The Lord Jesus Christ.  When He shall Judge the nation of Israel and those found worthy will be kept in His Kingdom, and those who are not found worthy will be sent into everlasting fire.

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

But John tried to hinder Him, saying, "as for myself, I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?"

But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."  then he permitted Him.

Please remember that John had prior knowledge of his cousin Jesus and a growing awareness of just who this Jesus was.  Don't be confused with the meaning of Jesus coming for baptism.  He was not seeking the Baptism of Repentance, whereby he had changed His mind about the nation of Israel in its covenant relationship with God the Father.  He was instead receiving the Baptism of a Priest upon His coming of age for service.

Let me place here words from the Friends of Israel "Israel My Glory" magazine, on the Priesthood.

The Priest: Consecrated for service.
David Levy

"A hush fell over the congregation of Israel as they gathered before the Tabernacle.  One could sense the unspoken excitement which pounded deep in the heart of each Israelite as he anticipated the events which were about to unfold.  Patiently they waited for the emergence of the man whom God had called to represent them as high priest.  Muffled sounds of excitement were heard as Aaron appeared for the first time clothed in the beautiful garments of the high priest.  Unlike the hidden rites of the pagan religions surrounding Israel, Moses would consecrate Aaron and his sons to the priesthood in full view of all to witness (Leviticus 8:3-5).

Cleansed for Service

The consecration began with Moses thoroughly washing Aaron and his sons at the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 29:4; Leviticus 8:6).  This would be the only time that the priest was washed by another, henceforth he washed himself in preparation for daily service (Exodus 30:19-20).

Why should the Sinless One insist on a ceremony that signified confession of sin and repentance?  The answer was, "to fulfill all righteousness," i.e., the righteousness requirements of the Mosaic law.  Since Jesus was here being consecrated to His public ministry of King, Prophet and Priest, the essence of which was to center in His priestly work of redemption, it is His setting apart to His work as Priest that here comes into clearest focus.  The Levitical law required that all priests be consecrated when they "began to be about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23; cf. Numbers 4:3) by washing, then anointing (Exodus 29:4-7; Leviticus 8:6-36).  Aaron shared in the washing, being a sinner and needing it, and thus furnishes the type of the baptism of Christ, who not being a sinner Himself and not needing it nevertheless identified Himself with sinners and fulfilled the Aaronic type.  Jesus' baptism (washing), was followed by His anointing, when the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit came upon Him, the Father's voice sealing His threefold ministry.  This was the priestly anointing (cf. Exodus 29:5-7), where the anointing followed the washing) of Him who was thus divinely consecrated for the work of redemption (Acts 4:27; 10:38), as well as that of King and Prophet.

And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove (would descend), and coming upon Him;

and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My Son, the beloved one, in whom I take pleasure (Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1)."

The Trinity seen at the Baptism of Jesus Christ
Verse :16  The Trinity of God

By the Trinity of God we mean His tri-personal existence as Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- Three distinct persons, one God.  It has often been said that the relationship of the Three to the One should be thought of in terms of Tri-Unity, rather than Trinity.  It is too bad that the expression has never caught on, for it more aptly describes the relationship.

(1.)                    God is recognized as Father, (1 Peter 1:2) and is all the fullness of the Godhead invisible (John 1:14).  Man will never be able to comprehend the fullness of God the Father.  No matter how much we grow spiritually, of even when we acquire our new bodies in the heavens, we will still never be God and there will always be more of Him to learn of and love.

(2.)                    God is recognized as The Son here (Hebrews 1:8) and is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested in human flesh (John 1:14).  Jesus, the Christ, is God to us, God with us.  When we reach eternity it will be Jesus Christ that we can see and touch and know.  He will be our head and we will be His body, His bride forever.

(3.)                    God is recognized as The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3, 4) and is all the fullness of the Godhead acting upon man, convicting him of sin (John 16:7-11) and guiding the believer into all truth (John 16:12-15).

The doctrine of the Trinity is not explicit in the Old Testament, but is rather implied, "And God said, Let US make man... " (Genesis 1:26).

The doctrine of the Trinity is revealed in the New Testament.  In the above Scripture (Matthew 3:16, 17) we have Christ being baptized in water, the Father speaking from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descending.  We are to baptize in the "name (not names) of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). [3]

1.  The Baptism of Jesus The Christ 3.  Matthew Outline of Chapters 1-3
2.  Matthew Chapter 3 Summary 4.  The Preaching of John The Baptist
5.  Addendum on Repentance  



[i]             The Gospel of Matthew, The Annotated Bible, Arno C. Gaebelien, Moody Press, Loizeaux Brothers
[ii]            The Parallel New Testament and Unger's Bible Handbook, Page 13, Produced for MOODY MONTHLY, 820 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois, By:, The Iversen-Norman Associates
[3]     The Open Bible, Page 888, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

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