Matthew Chapter 3 – The Deity Of Christ

Matthew Chapter 3 – The Deity Of Christ

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Matthew Chapter 3 New King James Version (NKJV)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

John Baptizes Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Study notes.

3:1 John the Baptist. Cf. Mark 1:2–14; Luke 1:5–25, 57–80; 3:3–20; John 1:6–8, 19–39. the wilderness of Judea. The region to the immediate W of the Dead Sea—an utterly barren desert. The Jewish sect of the Essenes had significant communities in this region. But there is no biblical evidence to suggest that John was in any way connected with that sect. John seems to have preached near the northern end of this region, close by where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea (v. 6). This was a full day’s journey from Jerusalem and seems an odd location to announce the arrival of a King. But it is perfectly in keeping with God’s ways (1 Cor. 1:26–29).

3:2 Repent. This is no mere academic change of mind, nor mere regret or remorse. John the Baptist spoke of repentance as a radical turning from sin that inevitably became manifest in the fruit of righteousness (v. 8). Jesus’ first sermon began with the same imperative (4:17). For a discussion of the nature of repentance, see notes on 2 Cor. 7:8–11. the kingdom of heaven. This is an expression unique to Matthew’s gospel. Matthew uses the word “heaven” as a euphemism for God’s name—to accommodate his Jewish readers’ sensitivities (cf. 23:22). Throughout the rest of Scripture, the kingdom is called “the kingdom of God.” Both expressions refer to the sphere of God’s dominion over those who belong to Him. The kingdom is now manifest in heaven’s spiritual rule over the hearts of believers (Luke 17:21); and one day it will be established in a literal earthly kingdom (Rev. 20:4–6). is at hand. In one sense the kingdom is a present reality, but in its fullest sense it awaits a yet-future fulfillment.

3:3 spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. John’s mission had long ago been described in Is. 40:3–5 (see notes there). All 4 of the gospels cite this passage as a prophecy pointing to John the Baptist (see note on Luke 3:6).

3:4 clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt. Practical and long-wearing clothes, but far from comfortable or fashionable. John evokes the image of Elijah (2 Kin. 1:8)—and the Israelites were expecting Elijah before the Day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5). locusts. These were an allowed food (Lev. 11:22).

3:6 baptized. The symbolism of John’s baptism likely had its roots in OT purification rituals (cf. Lev. 15:13). Baptism had also long been administered to Gentile proselytes coming into Judaism. The baptism of John thus powerfully and dramatically symbolized repentance. Jews accepting John’s baptism were admitting they had been as Gentiles and needed to become the people of God genuinely, inwardly (an amazing admission, given their hatred of Gentiles). The people were repenting in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival. The meaning of John’s baptism differs somewhat from Christian baptism (cf. Acts 18:25). Actually, Christian baptism altered the significance of the ritual, symbolizing the believer’s identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3–5; Col. 2:12).

3:7 Pharisees and Sadducees. See note on John 3:1. The Pharisees were a small (about 6,000), legalistic sect of the Jews who were known for their rigid adherence to the ceremonial fine points of the law. Their name means “separated ones.” Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees was usually adversarial. He rebuked them for using human tradition to nullify Scripture (15:3–9), and especially for rank hypocrisy (15:7, 8; 22:18; 23:13, 23, 25, 29; Luke 12:1). The Sadducees were known for their denial of things supernatural. They denied the resurrection of the dead (22:23) and the existence of angels (Acts 23:8). Unlike the Pharisees, they rejected human tradition and scorned legalism. They accepted only the Pentateuch as authoritative. They tended to be wealthy, aristocratic members of the priestly tribe, and in the days of Herod their sect controlled the temple (see note on 2:4), though they were fewer in number than the Pharisees. Pharisees and Sadducees had little in common. Pharisees were ritualists; Sadducees were rationalists. Pharisees were legalists; Sadducees were liberals. Pharisees were separatists; Sadducees were compromisers and political opportunists. Yet they united together in their opposition to Christ (22:15, 16, 23, 34, 35). John publicly addressed them as deadly snakes. the wrath to come.See note on Luke 3:7. John’s preaching echoed the familiar OT theme of promised wrath in the Day of the Lord (e.g., Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:18; see Introduction to Joel: Historical and Theological Themes). This must have been a particularly stinging rebuke to the Jewish leaders, who imagined that divine wrath was reserved only for non-Jews.

3:8 fruits worthy of repentance. See note on v. 2. Repentance itself is not a work, but works are its inevitable fruit. Repentance and faith are inextricably linked in Scripture. Repentance means turning from one’s sin, and faith is turning to God (cf. 1 Thess. 1:9). They are like opposite sides of the same coin. That is why both are linked to conversion (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19; 20:21). Note that the works John demanded to see were “fruits” of repentance. But repentance itself is no more a “work” than faith is (see note on 2 Tim. 2:25).

3:9 Abraham as our father. See John 8:39–44. They believed that merely being descendants of Abraham, members of God’s chosen race, made them spiritually secure. But Abraham’s real descendants are those who share his faith (cf. Rom. 4:16). And “only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7, 29). See note on Luke 3:8.

3:10 the ax is laid to the root. Irreversible judgment was imminent (see note on 11:3).

3:11 Three types of baptism are referred to here: 1) with water unto repentance. John’s baptism symbolized cleansing (see note on v. 6); 2) with the Holy Spirit. All believers in Christ are Spirit-baptized (1 Cor. 12:13); and 3) with…fire. Because fire is used throughout this context as a means of judgment (vv. 10, 12), this must speak of a baptism of judgment upon the unrepentant.

3:12 winnowing fan. A tool for tossing grain into the wind so that the chaff is blown away.

3:14 John tried to prevent Him. John’s baptism symbolized repentance, and John saw this as inappropriate for the One he knew was the spotless Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29).

3:15 it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Christ was here identifying Himself with sinners. He will ultimately bear their sins; His perfect righteousness will be imputed to them (2 Cor. 5:21). This act of baptism was a necessary part of the righteousness He secured for sinners. This first public event of His ministry is also rich in meaning: 1) it pictured His death and resurrection (cf. Luke 12:50); 2) it therefore prefigured the significance of Christian baptism (see note on v. 6); 3) it marked His first public identification with those whose sins He would bear (Is. 53:11; 1 Pet. 3:18); and 4) it was a public affirmation of His messiahship by testimony directly from heaven (see note on v. 17).

3:16, 17 Jesus…the Spirit of God…a voice came from heaven. Here all 3 Persons of the Trinity are clearly delineated. See note on Luke 3:22. The Father’s command to hear His Son and the Spirit’s vindication and empowerment (see note on 12:31) officially inaugurated Christ’s ministry.

3:17 My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This heavenly pronouncement combines language from Ps. 2:7 and Is. 42:1—prophecies that would have been well known to those with messianic expectations. Cf. 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35.

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The scripture text was taken from Biblegateway.com

The translation of the text is from The New King James Version.

Scripture notes were taken from The MacArthur Study Bible notes that are contained in Biblegateway.com

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