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III. 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching
Egypt. 23. that it might be fulfilled] three Evangelists) begins, its extent being These words refer to the divine purpose in the same as that specified by Peter in Acts the event, not to that of Joseph in bring. i. 22, ‘from the baptism of John unto that ing it about. which was spoken by same day that He was taken up from us.' the prophets] These words are nowhere For a comparison of the narratives in the verbatim to be found, nor is this asserted various sections, see notes on St. Mark. by the Evangelist; but that the sense of In this Gospel, I have generally confined the prophets is such. In searching for myself to the subject-matter. 1. In such sense, the following hypotheses have those days] The last matter mentioned was been made--none of them satisfactory :- the dwelling at Nazareth; and though we (1) Euthymius says, “ Do not enquire what must not take the connexion strictly as prophets said this : for you will not find implying that Joseph dwelt there all the out: because many of the prophetic books intermediate thirty years,
“ those days” have perished, some in the captivities, some must be understood to mean that we take by neglect of the Jews, some also by foul up the persons of the narrative where we play' So also Chrysostom and others. left them ; i. e. dwelling at Nazareth. But the expression" by the prophets”. came] literally, comes forward — makes seems to have a wider bearing than is thus his appearance.' Euthymius asks the quesimplied. (2) Others say, the general sense tion, whence ? and answers it, from the of the prophets is, that Christ should be recesses of the wilderness. But this can a despised person, as the inhabitants of hardly be, owing to the “in the wilder. Nazareth were (John i. 47). But surely ness” following. The verb is used absothis part of the Messiah's prophetic cha- lutely. The title “John the Baptist” shews racter is not general or prominent enough, that St. Matthew was writing for those in the absence of any direct verbal con. who well knew John the Baptist as an nexion with the word in our text, to found historical personage. Josephus, in mensuch an interpretation on:
nor, on the
tioning him, calls him “ John who is called other hand, does it appear that an inha- the Baptist.” John was strictly speaking bitant of Nazareth, as such, was despised ; a prophet; belonging to the legal dispensaonly that the obscurity of the town was, tion; a rebuker of sin, and preacher of both by Nathanael and the Jews, cou- repentance. The expression in St. Luke, trasted with our Lord's claims. (3) The “The word of God came to John,” is the Nazarites of old were men holy and con- usual formula for the divine commission of secrated to God; e.g. Samson (Judg. xiii. the Prophets (Jer. i. 1: Ezek. vi. 1; vii. 1, 5), Samuel (1 Sam. i. 11), and to this the &c.). And the effect of the Holy Spirit on words are referred by Tertullian, Jerome, John was more in accordance with the 0. T. and others. But (a) our Lord did not (like than the N. T. inspiration; more of a Johu the Baptist) lead a life in accordance sudden overpowering influence, as in the with the Nazarite vow, but drank wine, Prophets, than a gentle indwelling mani&c., and set himself in marked contrast fested through the individual character, with John in this very particular (ch. xi. as in the Apostles and Evangelists.— The 18, 19); and (b) the word here is not baptism of John was of a deeper signiNazarite, but Nazarene, denoting an in- ficance than that usual among the Jews habitant of Nazareth. (4) There may be in the case of proselytes, and formed an an allusion to the Hebrew “ Netser," a integral part of his divinely appointed branch, by which name our Lord is called office. It was emphatically the baptism of in Isa. xi. 1, and from which word it ap- repentance (Luke iii. 3), but not that of pears that the name Nazareth is probably regeneration (Titus iii. 5). We find in derived. So learned Hebrews” men. Acts xviii. 24 - 26; xix. 1–7, accounts of tioned by Jerome on Isa. xi. 1, and others. persons who had received the baptism of But this word is only used in the place John, who believed, and (in Apollos's case) cited; and in by far the more precise pro- taught accurately the things (i. e. facts) phecies of the Branch, Zech. iii. 8; vi. 12: concerning the Lord; but required inJer. xxiii. 5; xxxiii. 15, and Isa. iv. 2, the struction doctrine), and rebaptizing in word “ Tsemach” is used.-I leave it, there- the name of the Lord Jesus. Whether the fore, as an unsolved difficulty.
baptism practised by the disciples before CHAP. III. 1 - 12.] PREACHING AND the Resurrection was of the same kind, and BAPTISM OF Joux. Mark i. 1-8: Luke iii. required this renewal, is uncertain. The 1-17 (John i. 6--28). Here the synoptic fact of our Lord Himself having received narrative (i. e. the narrative common to the baptism from John, is decisive against the
k ISA. xl. 3.
in the wilderness of Judæa, 2 and saying, · Repent ye: 'Gospels,
jin three for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he neither verb that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, k The titres are used voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a 'leathern 12 Kings i. 8. girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 and were bap
identity of the two rites, as also against then came forward, as described in ver. 1, the idea derived from Acts xix. 4, that 2, viz. because it had been thus predicted. John used the formula “I baptize thee in - The primary and literal application of the name of Him who is to come.” His this prophecy to the return from captivity whole mission was calculated, in accord- is very doubtful. If it ever had such an ance with the office of the law, which gives application, we may safely say that its prethe knowledge of sin (Rom. iii. 20), to dictions were so imperfectly and sparingly bring men's minds into that state in which fulfilled in that return, or any thing which the Redeemer invites them (cli. xi. 28), followed it, that we are necessarily directed as weary and heavy laden, to come to Him. onward to its greater fulfilment—the an
in the wilderness] Where also he nouncement of the kingdom of Christ. bad been brought up, Luke i. 80. This Euthymius remarks, that the ways and tract was not strictly a desert, but thinly paths of the Lord are men's souls, which peopled, and abounding in pastures for must be cleared of the thorns of passion flocks. This wilderness answers to "all and the stones of sin, and thus made the country round about Jordan" in Luke straight and level for His approach. iii. 3. See note on ch. iv.1. 2. Repent] 4. And the same John] rather, now John Used by the Baptist in the 0. T. sense of himself, recalling the reader from the proturning to God as His people, from the phetic testimony, to the person of John. spiritual idolatry and typical adultery in As John was the Elias of prophecy, so we which the faithless among the Jews were find in his outward attire a striking simiinvolved. This, of course, included personal larity to Elias, who was “an hairy man, amendment in individuals. See Luke iii. and girt with a girdle of leather about his 10–14. Josephus describes John as loins.” 2 Kings i. 8. The garment of manding the Jews to practise virtue, and camel's hair was not the camel's skin with justice to their neighbour, and piety towards the hair on, which would be too heavy to God, and thus to receive his baptism.” wear, but raiment woven of camel's hair.
the kingdom of heaven] An expres. From Zech. xiii. 4, it seems that such a sion peculiar in the N. T. to St. Matthew. dress was known as the prophetic garb : The more usual one is "the Kingdom of “neither shall they (the prophets) wear a God :" but "the Kingdom of heaven” is rough garment to deceive.'
locusts] common in the Rabbinical writers, who do There is no difficulty here. The locust, not however, except in one or two places, permitted to be eaten, Levit. xi. 22, was mean by it the reign of the Messiah, but used as food by the lower orders in Judæa, the Jewish religion—the theocracy. Still, and mentioned by Strabo and Pliny as from the use of it by St. Matthew here, eaten by the Æthiopians, and by many and in ch. iv. 17, x. 7, we may conclude other authors, as articles of food. Jerome that it was used by the Jews, and under- mentions it as the custom in the East and stood, to mean the advent of the Christ, Libya: and Shaw found locusts caten by probably from the prophecy in Dan. ii. 44; the Moors in Barbary. (Travels, p. 164.) vii. 13, 14, 27. 3. For this is he]
wild honey] See 1 Sam. xiv. 25. Not the words of the Baptist, meaning Here again there is no need to suppose "for I am he,” as in John i. 23, but of the any thing else meant but honey made by Evangelist; and “is" is not for “was," wild bees. Schulz found such honey in but is the prophetic present, representing this very wilderness in our own time. See to us the place which the Baptist fills in Psalm lxxxi. 16: Judg. xiv. 8: Deut. the divine purposes. Of for, Bengel says xxxii. 13. 5.] all the region round about well, that it gives the cause why John Jordan means all the neighbourhood of
tized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when
he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his m.c. 34: baptism, he said unto them, mon generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring
n render, offspring
Jordan not included in Jerusalem and people, and are numbered by Josephus, as Judæa” before mentioned. Parts of Peræa, being, about the time of the death of Herod Samaria, Galilee, and Gaulonitis come under the Great, above 6000. We find in the this denomination.—There need be no sur- Gospels the Pharisees the most constant prise at such inultitudes going out to opponents of our Lord, and His discourses John. The nature of his announcement, frequently directed against them. The coupled with the prevalent expectation of character of the sect as a whole was hypothe time, was enough to produce this crisy; the outside acknowledgment and effect. See, as strictly consistent with this honouring of God and his law, but inward account, chap. xi. 7--15.
and practical denial of Him; which renbaptized] When men were admitted as dered them the enemies of the simplicity proselytes, three rites were performed and genuineness which characterized our circumcision, baptism, and oblation ; when Lord's teaching. Still, among them were women, two-baptism and oblation. The undoubtedly pious and worthy men, honourbaptisin was adıninistered in the day-time, ably distinguished from the mass of the by immersion of the whole person; and sect; John iii. 1: Acts v. 34. The various while standing in the water the proselyte points of their religious and moral belief was instructed in certain portions of the will be treated of as they occur in the text law. The whole families of proselytes, in- of the Gospels.
The SADDUCEES are cluding infants, were baptized. It is most said to have derived their name from one probable that John's baptism in outward Sadok, about the time of Alexander the form resembled that of proselytes. See Great (B.c. 323): but they were named above, on ver. 1. Some deny that the pro. from the Hebrew Tsaddik, righteousness, selyte baptism was in use before the time more probably. They rejected all tradiof John: but the contrary has been gene. tion, but did not, as some have supposed, rally supposed, and maintained. Indeed confine their canon of Scripture to the the baptisın or lustration of a proselyte on Pentateuch. The denial of a future state admission would follow, as a matter of does not appear to have been an original course, by analogy from the constant legal tenet of Sadduceisin, but to have sprung practice of lustration after all unclean- from its abuse. The particular side of nesses : and it is difficult to imagine a religionism represented by the Sadducees time when it would not be in use. Be- was bare literal moral conformity, without sides, it is highly improbable that the any higher views or hopes. They thus Jews should have borrowed the rite from escaped the dangers of tradition, but fell the Christians, or the Jewish hierarchy into deadness and worldliness, and a denial from John. confessing their sins] of spiritual influence. While our Lord was From the form and expression, this does on earth, this state of mind was very prenot seem to have been merely shewing a valent among the educated classes throughcontrite spirit,''confessing themselves sin- out the Roman empire; and most of the ners,' but a particular and individual con- Jews of rank and station were Sadducees. fession; not, however, made privately to — The two sects, mutually hostile, are John, but before the people : see his ex- found frequently in the Gospels united hortation to the various classes in Luke iii. in opposition to our Lord (see ch. xvi. 1, 10–15: nor in every case, but in those 6, 11 ; xxii. 23, 34; also Acts iv. 1); the which required it.
7. Pharisees and Pharisees representing hypocritical superSadducees] These two sects, according to stition; the Sadducees, carnal unbelief. Josephus, Antt. xii. 5. 9, originated at the
come] It would appear here as same period, under Jonathan the High if these Pharisees and Sadducees came Priest (B.c. 159-144). The PAARISEES, with others, and because others did, withderiving their name probably from “ Pa- out any worthy motive, and they were rash,”
," he separated,' took for their dis. probably deterred by his rebuke from tinctive practice the strict observance of undergoing baptisın at his hands. We the law and all its requirements, written know, from Luke vii. 30, that the Phari. and oral. They had great power over the sees in general ‘were not baptized of him.'
forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our n father : 1 John viii. 23, for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up
children unto Abraham. 10 And now ° [also] the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore o every tree which combi 1. bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 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: 12 whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather
the wrath to come] The reference all the Gospels amount to the same. of John's ministry to the prophecy con. with the Holy Ghost, and with fire] This cerning Elias, Mal. iii. 1; iv.5 (Mark i. 2), was literally fulfilled at the day of Pentewould naturally suggest to men's minds cost: but Origen and others refer the ‘the wrath to come' there also foretold. words to the baptism of the righteous by It was the general expectation of the the Holy Spirit, and of the wicked by fire. Jews that troublous times would accom- I have no doubt that this is a mistake in pany the appearance of the Messiah. the present case, though apparently (to John is now speaking in the true cha- the superficial reader) borne out by ver. 12. racter of a prophet, foretelling the wrath The double symbolic reference of fire, elsesoon to be poured on the Jewish nation. where found, e. g. Mark ix. 50, as purify8.) therefore expresses an inference from ing the good and consuming the evil, their apparent intention of fleeing from though illustrated by these verses, is the wrath to coine : q. d. “if you are hardly to be pressed into the interpretareally so minded,' ... 9. think not tion of fire in this verse, the prophecy to say] Not merely equivalent to "say not :” here being solely of that higher and more but, Do not fancy you may say, &c. The ex- perfect baptism to which that of John was pression to say within yourselves, as simi- mere introduction. To separate off lar expressions in Scripture (e.g. Ps. x. “with the Holy Ghost ” as belonging to one 6, 11; xiv. 1: Eccl. i. 16; ii. 15, al. fr.), is set of persons, and “with fire” as belonging used to signify the act by which outward to another, when both are united in “you,' circumstances are turned into thoughts is in the last degree harsh, besides introof the mind. of these stones] The ducing confusion into the whole. The pebbles or shingle on the beach of the members of comparison in this verse are Jordan. He possibly referred to Isa. li. strictly parallel to one another : the bap1, 2. This also is prophetic, of the ad- tism by water, the end of which is "re. mission of the Gentile church. See Rom. pentance," a mere transition state, a note iv. 16: Gal. iii. 29. Or we may take the of preparation,--and the baptism by the interpretation which Chrysostom prefers, Holy Ghost and fire, the end of which is also referring to Isa. li. i, 2: Think not (ver. 12) sanctification, the entire aim that your perishing will leave Abraham and purpose of man's creation and rewithout children : for God is able to newal. Thus the official superiority of raise him up children even from stones, as the Redeemer (which is all that our Evan. He created man out of dust at the begin- gelist here deals with) is fully brought ning. The present tenses, “is laid,” out. The superiority of nature and pre“is cut down,” imply the law, or babit, existence is reserved for the fuller and more which now and henceforward, in the dogmatic account in John i.
12. kingdom of heaven prevails : ‘from this whose fan, &c.] In the Rabbinical work time it is so.' 11. whose shoes, &c.] Midrash Tehillim, on Ps. ii., the saine Lightfoot shews that it was the token figure is found: “The winnowing is at of a slave having become his master's pro. hand : they throw the straw into the fire, perty, to loose his shoe, to tie the same, the chaff to the wind, but preserve the or to carry the necessary articles for him wheat in the floor ; so the nations of the to the bath. The expressions therefore in world shall be the conflagration of a fur.
p ch. ii. 22,
his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
13 Then cometh Jesus P from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
nace: but Israel alone shall be preserved.” here the triple baptism of water, fire, and
his floor) i.e. the contents of the barn- blood, two parts of which were now acfloor. Thus in Job xxxix. 12, “ he will complished, and of the third of which He bring home thy seed, and gather thy himself speaks, Luke xii. 50, and the bebarn” (literally). Or perhaps owing to loved Apostle, 1 John v. 8.--His baptism, the verb (shall cleanse from one end to the as it was our Lord's closing act of obeother), the floor itself, which was an open dience under the Law, in His hitherto hard-trodden space in the middle of the concealed life of legal submission, His field. See “The Land and the Book,” p. fulfilling all righteousness, so
was His 538 ff., where there is an illustration. solemn inauguration and anointing for the “ Very little use is now made of the fan, higher official life of mediatorial satisfacbut I have seen it employed to purge the tion which was now opening upon Him. floor of the refuse dust, which the owner See Rom. i. 3, 4. We must not forget throws away as useless,” p. 540. that the working out of perfect righteous. chaff] Not only the chaff, but also the ness in our flesh by the entire and spotless slraw : see reff. : 'all that is not wheat.' keeping of God's law (Deut. vi. 25), was,
13—17.) JESUS HIMSELF BAPTIZED BY in the main, accomplished during the HIM. Mark i. 9-11: Luke iii. 21, 22. thirty years previous to our Lord's official It does not appear exactly when the bap- ministry. 14. forbad] Rather, tried tism of our Lord took place. If the coin- to hinder: the word implies the active parative age of the Baptist is taken into and earnest preventing, with the gesture, account, we should suppose it to have been or hand, or voice. There is only an apabout six months after this latter began parent inconsistency between the speech his ministry. But this is no sure guide. of John in this sense, and the assertion The place was Bethany (the older read- made by him in John i. 33, 'I knew him ing), beyond Jordan; John. i. 28.
not.' Let us regard the matter in this 13. to be baptized] Why should our Lord, light :-John begins his ministry by a who was without sin, have come to a commission from God, who also admobaptism of repentance ? Because He was nishes him, that He, whose Forerunner he made sin for us : for which reason also was, would be in time revealed to him hy He suffered the curse of the law. It be. a special sign. Jesus comes to be bapcame Him, being in the likeness of sinful tized by him. From the nature of his flesh, to go through those appointed rites relationship to our Lord, he could not but and purifications which belonged to that know those events which had accompanied flesh. There is no more strangeness in his birth, and his subsequent life of holy His having been baptized by John, than and unblamable purity and sanctity. My in His keeping the Passovers. The one impression from the words of this verse rite, as the other, belonged to sinners- certainly is, that he regarded Him as the and among the transgressors He was Messiah. Still, his belief wanted that numbered. The prophetic words in Ps. xl. full and entire assurance which the occur. 12, spoken in the person of our Lord, indi- rence of the predicted sign gave him, cate, in the midst of sinlessness, the most which the word knew implies, and which profound apprehension of the sins of that would justify him in announcing Him to nature which He took upon him. I cannot his disciples as the Lamb of God. suppose the baptism to have been sought 15. now] The exact meaning is difficult. by our Lord merely to honour John, or as It cannot well be that which the A, V. at knowing that it would be the occasion of a first sight gives, that something was to be divine recognition of his Messiahship, and done now, inconsistent with the actual and thus pre-ordained by God: but bonâ fide, hereafter-to-be-manifested relation of the as bearing the infirunities and carrying the two persons. Rather-though what has sorrows of mankind, and thus beginning been said (ver. 14) is true, yet the time is