Luke 3:3 MEANING

Luke 3:3
(3-9) And he came into all the country . . .--The words paint the mission-work of John somewhat more vividly than those of St. Matthew and St. Mark, who represent the people flocking to Him from Jerusalem and Judaea. The two facts together complete the picture.

The baptism of repentance.--See Notes on Matthew 3:1-11, and Mark 1:4-6. In his description of the Baptism, St. Luke agrees verbally with the latter.

(3) Going upward from Zerubbabel and Salathiel, which are common to both genealogies, we come again across a different succession--St. Luke leading us to Nathan as the son of David, and St. Matthew to Solomon. Here again we have in St. Luke twenty-two generations from Salathiel to David, inclusive, while in St. Matthew we have but sixteen.

(3) There is, in the appearance in St. Matthew's list of Jeconias (as in 1 Chronicles 3:17), and in St. Luke's of Neri, as the father of Salathiel, a problem to be solved; but an adequate, though necessarily conjectural, solution is not far to seek. To assume that the Salathiel of the one list is not identical with that in the other, is to cut the knot instead of disentangling it. But it may be noticed that in the earlier registers connected with the name of the historical Salathiel, father of the Zerubbabel who was the leader of the Jews on their return from Babylon, there is an obvious complication. In 1 Chronicles 3:19, Zerubbabel is the son of Pedaiah, the brother of Salathiel. The language in Jeremiah 22:30 at least suggests the thought that Jeconiah died without an heir. What seems probable accordingly is that the royal line descended from Solomon, expired in Jeconiah, and that Salathiel, the son of Neri, the representative of the line of Nathan, took his place in the line of inheritance. It is not without significance that in the contemporary prophecy of Zechariah, the house of Nathan appears, for the first time in the history of Judah, as invested with a special pre-eminence (Zechariah 12:12). The difference in the number of the names admits of the same explanation as before.

Verse 3. - And he came into all the country about Jordan. The reputation of John probably preceded the Divine summons. His family - the son of a well-known priestly family - the marvellous circumstances attendant on his birth, his ascetic manner of life from the beginning, - all this had contributed to make him a marked personage; so, when he left his solitude, we read in the other evangelists how multitudes came forth to hear the strange burning words, the Divine eloquence of one long looked upon by the people as set apart for a great work. He seems to have principally preached and taught in the Jordan valley - no doubt for the convenience of his candidates for baptism. But he evidently did not confine his preaching to one spot or even to one neighborhood. The district here alluded to was about a hundred and fifty miles in length. The expectation of Messiah for centuries had been the root of all true life in Israel; gradually, as the clouds of evil fortune gathered thick over the people, the figure of the coming Messiah assumed a different aspect. At first a holier Monarch than their loved David, a grander Sovereign and a mightier than the Solomon of whom they were so proud, a King whose dominions should be broader far than even the wide realm ruled over by the son of Jesse and his greater son, was the ideal dreamed of by the Hebrew. In the long period of misfortune which succeeded the golden days of the monarchy, the people at first longed for a deliverer, and then - as never a ray of sunlight pierced the clouds which surrounded them - an avenger took the place of a deliverer. The Messiah of the future must be One who should restore his people certainly, but in the restoration must exact a sharp and severe reckoning from those who had so long oppressed his Israel. They had no conception of their true state, - their hypocrisy, their formalism, their total ignorance of all true spiritual religion. Their higher and cultured classes were selfish, grasping, impure, untrue. The mass of the people were ignorant and degraded, cruel fanatics, excited and untutored, zealots. From this mistaken notion of Messiah and his work it was necessary that a prophet, eminent and gifted like those mighty men who had wrought great things in times past among the people, should arise among them, and with strong, powerful, inspired words convince them of their fatal error - one who, in the language of the greatest of the order, should prepare the way of the Lord. How imperatively necessary, for the work of the Redeemer, this work of the pioneer was, is seen from the extreme difficulty which Jesus Christ himself found in persuading even his own little faithful band to realize anything of the nature of his work; in good truth they never, not even the noblest spirits among them, really grasped the secret of their Master's mission till the cross and the Passion belonged to history, and the Crucified had become the Risen, and the Risen the ascended God. The baptism of repentance. What, first, did John mean by repentance? The word translates the Greek μετάοεῖτε, which signifies "change of mind." In the Gospel of St. Matthew, where John's work is told in slightly different language, he is represented as saying, "Repent ye" (μετανοεῖτε). There his words might be paraphrased, "Turn ye from your old thoughts, from your state of self-content, self-satisfaction; mend your ways; reform." Here, then, the baptism (what that signified we shall discuss presently) which he preached and summoned men to, must be accompanied with a change of mind; the baptized must be no longer content with their present state or conduct; they must change their ways and reform their lives. Let them, those who were convinced that he was indeed a man of God, that his words were right and true - let them come to him, determined to change their conduct in life, and receive from his hands a baptism, a washing - the symbol of the means of purification; for John's baptism was nothing more. Now, baptism, it is clear, was not at this time practiced among the Jews. It was not, as far as we can trace, even used in the case of pagan proselytes to Judaism. This apparently only became a national custom after the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, forty years later. His very title, "the Baptist," in some way shows us that he practiced an unusual, if not a novel, rite in the course of his preaching and teaching. John's baptism (to use Dr. Morrison's vivid expressions, Commentary on Matthew 3:6) was just the embodiment, in significant optical symbolism, of the significant audible symbolism of the Old Testament prophets, when they cried aloud and said, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes" (Isaiah 1:16); "In float day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:l); "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you. and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you" (Ezekiel 36:25, 26). This view of John's baptism, viz. that it was a symbol, and nothing more, was suggested by Josephus writing for the Jews. "John," he says, "enjoined upon the Jews first to cultivate virtue and to put in practice righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and then to come to his baptism, for thus only would the baptism be acceptable to God" ('Ant.,' 18:05, 2).

3:1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.And he came into all the country about Jordan,.... He came out of the wilderness of Judea, where he first began his ministry, to some parts of the country that bordered on Jordan, and was near unto it, on either side the river; sometimes he was at Bethabara, and sometimes at Aenon, near Salim; for he did not take a tour round about all, the country that encompassed Jordan, but being at it, or in places adjacent to it, all the country round about came to him; see Matthew 3:5.

Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins: this was the work and office of John, as signified by Elias, in Malachi 4:5 the Jews say (n),

"the Israelites will not repent, till Elias comes; as it is said, Malachi 4:5 in the land of Israel repentance delights.''

John came into this land, preaching this doctrine; See Gill on Mark 1:4.

(n) Pirke Eliezer, c. 44.

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