Chapter 3

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3:1-6 The scriptures prophesied that there would be a forerunner to the Messiah, coming in the spirit of Elijah. Before a king would travel to a region, a fore runner would go ahead of him and make sure everything was ready. This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus’ relative [Luke 1:36], John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He was known as the Baptizer because God commissioned him to baptize (21:23-27). John’s baptism was different from New Testament baptism in four ways. 1) It was under the Old covenant. 2) It was not into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3) It was looking forward to Christ. 4) It was not for receiving the Holy Spirit. John’s message was simple: Repent. This is the word Metanoeite and means a change of mind which results in a change of action. The motivation for repentance was a kingdom close at hand.
3:7-12 Why would the Pharisees and Sadducees want John to baptize them? They were looking to join in the latest religious craze. John calls them a bunch of snakes. Then he demands to see signs of repentance. There is nothing wrong with looking for the fruits (visible signs) of repentance before baptizing someone. When someone truly repents, it is noticeable. Baptism without repentance is pointless, and can even be counter-productive. A false baptism gives one a false sense of spiritual security. John explains that relying on one’s national descent is no longer going to be a cause for salvation. John explains that his baptism is only a foretaste of what Christ will do. He will baptize (immerse) some people with the Holy Spirit. Others will be immersed in fire. This is a reference to the unquenchable fire of hell.
3:13-17 It was clear to John that Jesus did not need his baptism of repentance, since Jesus did not need to repent of any sin. He instead felt like he needed to be baptized by Jesus. The reason Jesus gave for it being this way was, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus did not need to wash his sins away, but He did need to show by example what He would expect others to do in following Him. It is not right for leaders to ask others to go where they are not willing to go.

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