John the Baptist Preaches

Luke 3:1-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

John the Baptist Preaches
1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;

From Zondervan KJV Study Bible

  • Historians frequently dated an event by giving the year of the ruler’s reign in which the event happened.
  • v1:fifteenth year = Several possible dates could be indicated by this, but the date A.D. 25-26(Tiberius had authority in the provinces beginning in A.D. 11) best fits the chronology of the life of Christ. The other rulers named do not help pinpoint the beginning of John’s ministry, but only serve to indicate general time period.
  • v2: word of God = The source of John’s preaching and authority for his baptizing. God’s message(word) came to John as it came to the OT prophets(Jer 1:2;Ezek 1:3;Hos 1:1;Joel 1:1)
  • v3: baptism of repentance = John’s baptism represented a change of heart, which includes sorrow for sin and a determination to lead a holy life.
    => Mt 3:11: John’s baptism with water unto repentance, presupposed repentance. He would not baptise the Pharisees and Sadducees because they failed to give any evidence of repentance(Mt 3:7-11)
    => Mt 3:7: Pharisees and Sadducees = The Pharisees were a legalistic group who strictly, but often hypocritically, kept the law of Moses and the “unwritten traditions of the elders”. The Sadducees were more worldly and politically minded. They were unorthodox, denying among other things, the resurrection, angels and spirits(Acts 23:8)
  • v3: forgiveness of sins = remission of sins. Christ would deliver the repentant person from sin’s penalty by dying on the cross.

 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5 ‘Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be brought low;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6 And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”

From Zondervan KJV Study Bible

  • v4: Prepare make ready the way = Before a king made a journey, the roads he would travel were improved. Similarly, preparation for the Messiah was made in a moral and spiritual  way by the ministry of John, which focused on repentance, forgiveness of sin and the need for a Savior.
  • v6: all flesh = Salvation available to all is a major theme in Luke
  • A quote from  Isa 40:3-5 

7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

From Zondervan KJV Study Bible

  • v7: wrath to come = A reference to both the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Lk 21:20-23) and the final judgement(Jn 3:36). Jesus is our deliverer from the coming wrath(1Thes 1:10,5:9).
  • v9: axe to the root = symbolic way of saying that judgement is near for those who give no evidence of repentance

10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, 16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

From Zondervan KJV Study Bible

  • v16: fire = judgement(v17), also associated with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost(Acts 2:3) and testing(1Co 3:13)
  • v17: winnowing fork = The chaff represents the unrepentant and wheat the righteous. Many Jews thought that only pagans would be judged when the Messiah came, but John declared all unrepentant would be judged – including the Jews.

18 So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. 19 But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20 Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.