Friday, April 15, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 3:7-12 - John the Baptist

Matthew 3:7 - Brood of Vipers

Believers came to be baptized, as did the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were the ultra-religious group following the Mosaic Law to the letter in lifeless ritual. The Sadducees were a less religious group that mainly focused on politics and social issues. Both of these groups came to John looking for baptism which reveals that they believed that John was a true prophet of God (Mat 21:24-26). The Pharisees and Sadducees were not sincere, interested in rituals rather than heart change, and they led the people astray. They were as spiritually deadly as a viper's bite, and calling them a brood of vipers was a fitting description of them. Jesus also referred to them as a brood of vipers (Mat 12:34, Mat 23:33).

Matt 3:8-9 - Abraham and Stones

The Pharisees and Sadducees believed and taught that all of the Jewish people were saved and would enter the Kingdom by virtue of being descendants of Abraham. John was warning them that this sort of thinking would not produce true repentance and baptism would be useless for them. If the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to by baptized, John required them to show evidence or fruit of repentance. It was not enough that they were descendants of Abraham (Joh 8:39-44).

Matt 3:10 - The Ax at the Tree Root

This figure of speech refers to impending judgment on the part of unbelieving Israel. The ax being at the root refers to judgment being at the door. An Old Testament example is in Isa 10:33-34, where the judgment being spoken of is against the Assyrian army. The message being conveyed is that God is getting ready to rid His program of Israel's dead religion.

Matt 3:11-12 - Contrasting John and Jesus

John started attracting a lot of attention, and attempted to redirect the attention to Jesus. He compares his ministry of baptism with that of Jesus. John says that he is here to getting the nation ready to receive their Messiah. Jesus's baptism will be of the Spirit and of fire. Fire, being joined to baptism in this passage speaks of judgment and purification. The baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequently become a reality on the day of Pentecost (1Co 12:13). Since Israel ultimately rejected their Messiah, fire and judgment will come in the future.

In Mat 3:12 John speaks of judgment. Judgment will come before the Millennial Kingdom, in what is called the Sheep and Goat judgment that determines who goes into the Kingdom following the Tribulation (Mat 24:36-42). Jesus illustrates this in the parable of the Wheat and Tares (Mat 13:24-30, Mat 13:41-43). The Old Testament prophets referred to this time of judgment as "the day of the Lord", during which the Tribulation period will take place. John, having spoken of the "ax already at the root of the trees" believed this judgment to be at hand and that there would be wrath, fire and a winnowing (separating) fork (Isa 1:27, Isa 4:4, Isa 42:1, Jer 33:14-16).

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