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Matthew Chapter Three


I. Content of the Chapter


I. The preachment of John the Baptist

A. The ministry of John (1-3)

 B. The life of John (4)

 C. The acceptance of men (5-6)

 E. The talk about the true repentance (7-10)

 F. The guidance to Christ (11-12)


II. The Baptism of the king

  A. The humility of the Lord (13)

  B. The testimony of John (14-15)

  C. The testimony of God the Father (16-17)


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Matt. 3:1 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

   YLT: “And in those days cometh John the Baptist, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea,

   Meaning of Words: “Baptist”: to plunge …entirely into the water; “preach”: to proclaim, to inform publicly.

   The Background: after the ancestors of the Jews had left Egypt, they had wandered “in the wilderness” for forty years. Therefore, in the eyes of the Jews, “the wilderness” means a place with God’s guidance and blessing.

Literal Meaning: “in those days” is the time that Jesus Himself, when began to preach, was about thirty years old (Luke. 3:23). It implies this was a key time.

In “John the Baptist”, the post title------“the Baptist” added after John is to make a distinction from John the Apostle.

“The wilderness of Judea” lies in the North and West of the Dead Sea, including the vast land of the valley of Jordan River.

John, the forerunner of the Lord Jesus (see v.2-12), “preached” the information about the kingdom of heaven. 

   Spiritual Meaning: “baptism” is to plunge those who repent entirely into the water. By this way it declares the one who was baptized had changed his view towards himself: he was only fitted to die and he was buried.

  “The wilderness” symbolizes the distinction from the world. John the Baptist was the one who made others repent and prepared the way of the Lord (v.2-3). Therefore he stood in his place opposite to the world and made his dwelling “in the wilderness”.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) We should be separated from the world so that we may testify Christ (preach).

         2) If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1John. 2:15). Anyone who is willing to serve the Lord has to come out of the world at first and then live a life looking upon God by faith.

    3) John grew up in the wilderness (Luke. 1:80) and also preached in the wilderness. It shows that what he preaches accord with his life.


Matt. 3:2 “and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’”

   YLT: “and saying, `Reform, for come nigh hath the reign of the heavens,'

   Meaning of Words: “the kingdom of heaven”: the kingdom of the heavens; “at hand”: easy to reach (concerning the place), coming soon (concerning the time); “repent”: to think differently.

   Literal Meaning: “the kingdom of heaven” is the area where God reigns over.

  “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” God was “the possessor of heavens and the earth” (Gen. 14:22). But after men on earth had betrayed God, God’s will could be done only in heavens but not upon the earth (Matt. 6:10). As a result of that, God was called the “the God of heaven” (Ezra. 1:2, Neh. 2:4). Now, God will show His authorities of heavens on earth through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

  “Repent” shows men’s thoughts were originally against God and far away from God. Today, in order to enter into the kingdom, men have to turn to God in their hearts. “Repent” in original means the change of views and thoughts instead of the change of behaviors.

  Men should “repent” because of the fact that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. It is not true that only if men repent, the kingdom of heaven will be at hand.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The place where men do not obey the authority of heaven is not the kingdom of heaven.

         2) Repentance does not mean the change of behavior. Therefore it is not to forsake evil to do goodness. Repentance, the change of thoughts, is to turn one’s thoughts to God from all the others besides God.

3) Men’s greatest sin before God is the disobedience to Him. That’s the “sin” we have to confess when we repent. All sins of men start from the disobedience to God.

4) The moment we turn to God in our heats, the kingdom of heaven will be brought down.

5) We should repent when we only pay attention to the religion, doctrines, letters and services and neglect the Lord Himself.

6) We should be ruled by God and then may make others be under the reign of God.


Matt. 3:3 “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."'

   YLT: for this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, `A voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye His paths.'

   The Background: when the king was on a tour of inspection in ancient times, there were a group of people being sent forward to prepare the way by crying. If the road was rugged or crooked, they would make the road straight before the king came. 

Meaning of Words: “this” was John the Baptist;

“He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah.” The saying below was quoted from Is. 40:3.

 “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” shows that the mission of John the Baptist is to prepare the way of the Lord ------ to prepare men to turn to God and let the Lord enter into men’s heart and reign over men through straight paths. Note that the “way of the Lord” and “His paths” do not mean “paths of righteousness” (Ps. 23:3) which we should walk in after we believe in Him.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Voice fleets and vanishes without a trace. John, the messenger of the Lord, kept nothing for himself. We should bear witness of the Lord instead of ourselves.

         2) Anyone who serves the Lord should do his utmost to bring others to the Lord regardless of his own gain, lose, status, and fame. He should not intend to bring others to follow himself.

3) “Crying” shows that John was full of burden in his heart so that he couldn’t help crying. It is the burden that makes us serve the Lord. We should endeavor to pour out the burden inside. 

4) Our hearts was originally rugged and crooked. The true “repentance” is to bring it low and make it straight i.e. “to prepare the way of the Lord, to make His paths straight.”

5) Not only we should turn to the Lord, but also we should prepare our hearts as straight paths for the Lord to enter in and reign over our hearts.

6) The primary mission of the servants of the Lord is to prepare the way of the Lord. Anything that does not prepare the Lord’s way in men’s hearts could not be regarded as the work for the Lord.

7) The way of the Lord is “men” instead of the teachings, speculations, methods or systems. Only when men are well-prepared, the Lord will have a way to enter into men’s hearts.


Matt. 3:4 “Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

   YLT: And this John had his clothing of camel's hair, and a girdle of skin round his loins, and his nourishment was locusts and honey of the field.

   The Background: the father of John the Baptist was a priest (Luke. 1:8-13). Priests should serve in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and there were strict rules regulating their food and clothing (Lev. 8:6-9, 10:12-15). A Jewish son usually inherits the ministry of his father. However, John lived in the wilderness and his food and clothing were totally against the regulations to a priest. Therefore he was not a priest but a prophet. That’s the reason why the Lord Jesus called him “the Elias to come” (Matt. 11:14). Note that the clothing of John was similar with that of Elias (2Kings. 1:8). 

   Spiritual Meaning: “clothes” symbolizes righteousness of men (Rev. 19:8); “food” symbolizes source of power of life and provision of life.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The core of the information from John the Baptist is to make men repent. Therefore, he stood in a position opposite to the world and his food and clothing were different from the world. Today we, as Christians, should not literally learn from John the Baptist about his food and clothing, lest we may be misunderstood as strange ones. What we should do is to learn from him spiritually.

         2) A camel features in kneeling down before the master to carry on and take away heavy burdens and making long journeys in the wilderness with heavy burdens. We should kneel down before the Lord to receive burdens from the Lord and serve Him diligently.

3) The servants of God should not only endure humiliation in order to carry out the important task but also kneel down before God to have intimate fellowship with God. The servants of God should give themselves up to prayer (Acts. 6:4). Nothing should be done before prayer.

4) The bondsmen of the Lord should constrain their own behaviors (gird their loins) in order to serve the Lord acceptably (Luke. 12:35, 17:8). They should especially bind on humility before men (1Pet. 5:5).

5) “With a leather belt around his waist” symbolizes that the cross has put our natural life to death and becomes our constraint.

6) “Locusts and wild honey” are natural products. We should live a life only trusting in God instead of men (1Tim. 6:17).

7) The servants of the Lord should live a simple life instead of a luxury one. The simpler one’s food and clothing is, the more powerful one’s servant to the Lord is. Today, some of the ministers lead a luxury life but offer unacceptable service to the Lord.

8) It is the witness bore by the forerunner: he stood in an unconventional position (in “the wilderness” instead of the city), did not wear sumptuous clothes (“in camel’s hair”), constrained his behavior (“with a leather belt around his waist”) and did not rely on the provision of men (“his food was locusts and wild honey”).


Matt. 3:5 “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him

   YLT: Then were going forth unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about the Jordan,

   Literal Meaning: this verse describes the general situation. “All” means many people instead of all the people. But what we could make sure is that the preaching of John the Baptist had drew the attention of the masses. The reasons may be as below:

1) He had the word of God (Luke. 3:2).

2) He preached the epochal information (v.2).

3) He had distinct feature and witness of life (v.4).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) John preached in the uninhabited wilderness and he had attracted the attention of the masses. The place where one works for the Lord does not matter. What matters is that whether the work comes from the Lord. The work coming from the Lord will attract people’s attention.

         2) John preached simple information and lived a simple life. But he had affected all Judea. That’s because his words matched with deeds------what he preached is what he had experienced and done. Therefore his information was living and powerful.


Matt. 3:6 “and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

   YLT: and they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins.

   Literal Meaning: “confessing their sins” is to confess the sin that their hearts departed from God. All the sins of men originate from their departing from God.

  “And were baptized by him in the Jordan.” The baptism of John was different from the baptism by the name of the Lord Jesus to the Christians. The baptism to Christians emphasized on the union with the Lord including the negative aspect------burial which means that we are dead with Christ and the positive aspect------resurrection which means that we shall also live with Him (Rom. 6:3-5). The baptism of John is to bring others to believe into the one who is coming after him (see v.11). It merely emphasized on the negative aspect------they ended their past sins that they departed from God through the baptism with water. So it is also called “the baptism of repentance” (Acts. 19:3-4). “The baptism of repentance” does not mean the one who was baptized was united into Christ, but he had changed his view towards himself. Men come to be baptized by John confessing their sins. The wage of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore they declared through the baptism that they were only worthy of death.

  Some ministers advised men to confess their sins publicly according to this verse. However, the baptism of that time was personal behavior showing that the confessing was also personal. As a result of that, we should not agree the advice of confessing sins publicly.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Those who repented came to John: firstly they “confessed their sins” and secondly “they were baptized by him”. Everyone who truly repents should know that he is a sinner and he should be put to death.

         2) Confession should be done before baptism. If a man does not confess his sins or its fact that he should die, he has never changed his view towards himself i.e. he has never repented. A baptism without repentance is only a ceremony of no effect.

    3) We should hate ourselves and find no place to hid e ourselves for shame before God. Therefore we come to the baptism to be buried with water.


Matt. 3:7 “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?

   YLT: And having seen many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming about his baptism, he said to them, `Brood of vipers! who did shew you to flee from the coming wrath?

   Meaning of Words: “Pharisees”: separate; “Sadducees”: just, right.

   The Background: “Pharisees” originally were those who kept the letter of the law and were separate from the world. But later they turned to stick to the conventions and traditions (Matt. 15:1-9). They only paid attention to the outer forms and ignore the inner reality (Matt. 23). Most of the scribes at that time were Pharisees.

  “Sadducees” were the Jewish hereditary nobles and most of them were priests. They were open only admitting the Law of Moses and opposing the oral regulations kept by Pharisees. They did not believe in souls, angels, resurrection and so on (Matt. 22:23-32).

Literal Meaning: “Pharisees and Sadducees” were leaders at that time in religious world. It shows that the information preached by John has greatly shocked the Judaism.

“Coming to his baptism.” Many of them pretended to repent because they thought that as long as they come to John’s baptism, they would flee from the judge from God.

“Brood of vipers” were sinners with evil hearts (Matt. 12:34).

“The wrath to come.” Sinners treasured up to themselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5)

The words used by John to blame the Pharisees and Sadducees may be quoted from the warm of Jeremiah the prophet. They were described as snakes stayed in the forests, fled away when men come to hew and burn the trees (Jer. 46:22). When the judgment of Jehovah was to come, they intended to come to John’s baptism to flee from the wrath of God.

   Spiritual Meaning: “Pharisees” represents orthodox Christians who lay stress on letters, commandments and words. “Sadducees” represents liberal Christians who lay stress on minds, intellects and reasons.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The liberalists believe in nothing and the orthodox Christians only believe in creeds and know nothing about the mighty power of God. As a result of that both of them were “brood of vipers”.

         2) We are “brood of vipers” according to our nature. If we have not seen this, we may not behave like Christians and may fail in the end.

3) Today in the world of Christianity, many so-called ministers are “brood of vipers”. They have committed sins and they even preach evil teachings which could poison and affect others.

4) After we have seen that we are not better than others under the great light of God, we would fall down to look upon God’s grace. A cup has to be put under the kettle if being poured with water. The one who receives the grace should fall down into dust to receive God’s grace.

5) To hypocritical ones, John the Baptist resisted them openly and convicted their sins bluntly. This is the attitude a servant of the Lord should have.

6) John, with the spiritual sight of a prophet, could see the intentions of men. Today those who serve the Lord lack spiritual discernment and it is no wonder there are mixed multitude in the assembly.

7) Today, if a man wants to be baptized, he will be accepted regardless of whether he does it sincerely or not. Consequently, the quantity of people increases and the spiritual quality decreases in the assembly.


Matt. 3:8Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,”

   YLT: bear, therefore, fruits worthy of the reformation,

   Literal Meaning: what John meant is that if a man wants to flee from the wrath of God, he should not only be outwardly baptized but also prove his inner repentance by the change of life and behavior.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Jehovah regards spiritual reality as important instead of outward forms.

         2) The true Christian should prove his inner repentance by real life and behavior. Therefore, a man after he was saved should conduct himself worthily of the glad tidings of Christ (Pill. 1:27), and be different from the nations (Eph. 4:17-22).


Matt. 3:9 “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.

   YLT: and do not think to say in yourselves, A father we have -- Abraham, for I say to you, that God is able out of these stones to raise children to Abraham,

   Meaning of Words: “Abraham”: father; “arise”: rouse from death, rise up, and rouse from nonexistence.

The Background: the Jews highly esteem Abraham their ancestor and hold that they are the only legal inheritors of blessings which God had promised to Abraham and the other races (including the descendants of Ishmael, Esau and so on.) have nothing with God’s blessing.

“And do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.'  “Abraham our ancestor sat on the gate of the hell and did not allow anyone of his descendants to go to hell”, as the old Jewish saying goes. They hold that God will treat the Jews kindly because of Abraham.

   Literal Meaning: “for I say to you.” This tone is expressed with authority by the working of the Holy Spirit.

  “Stones” are lifeless things. Though Abraham’s body already became dead, he received God’s blessing by faith and many descendants were raised up (Rom. 4:17-20).

  The word of John the Baptist in this verse indicates that: the fleshly offspring have nothing with Abraham. Those who were fleshly descendants of Abraham may not be children of Abraham. Those who were not fleshly descendants of Abraham may be children of Abraham. Here it implies the effect of faith. Only through faith men can be acceptable by God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) What God values is our inner reality instead of our status. What God values is present spiritual state instead of our spiritual genealogy.

         2) Repentance and turning to the Lord are quite personal and have nothing with tradition. All spiritual things should be counted until we have personal experience and the experience of others could never be counted as ours.

3) Christians should never live an aimless and self-indulgent life, holding that we have been saved and will never perish. What we have to know is that the situation after one was saved will also be judged by God.

4) The Jews boast that they are descendants of Abraham so that they have nothing to worry about. In the same way, many Christians boast that they belong to some groups or they are the students of some Godly servants so that they are all overcomers.


Matt. 3:10 “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.

   YLT: and now also, the axe unto the root of the trees is laid, every tree therefore not bearing good fruit is hewn down, and to fire is cast.

   Literal Meaning: “And now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” It is a metaphor indicating that the tree may be cut down at any time, warning that one should seize chance to repent for there is a little time.

  “Every tree which does not bear good fruit” was the one who repent insincerely. They have not manifested the life of God because they have not been born from above.

  “Is cut down and thrown into the fire” indicates that they will be judged in future and abandoned by God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) What kind of tree (life) would bear what kind of fruits (behavior). A good tree cannot produce bad fruits, nor a worthless tree produce good fruits. (Matt. 7:18)

         2) Any fruit borne from the tree of natural life would never be acceptable to God and the tree will be cut down. The nations are “estranged from the life of God”, so that they “work all uncleanness with greedy unsatisfied lust” (Eph. 4: 17-19).

3) Any one who could not manifest Christ (“good fruits”) will lose value in the eternity.


Matt. 3:11 “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.

   YLT: “‘I indeed do baptize you with water to reformation, but he who after me is coming is mightier than I, of whom I am not worthy to bear the sandals, he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,

   The Background: the Jews put on sandals without uppers when they go out, and take off the sandals when they enter into their houses. One of the works of the lowest bondmen was to loose the sandal straps, take off and carry the sandals for their hosts and guests, and then pour water into a basin to wash their feet.

Literal Meaning: “He who is coming after me” is Jesus Christ.

  “Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” shows that John considered himself not worthy to be His servant.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We should not explain “fire” spiritually according to “parted tongues, as of fire” (Acts. 2:3) and “fervent in spirit” (Rom. 12:11). According to “and”------the conjunction in original, it shows that the words before and after the conjunction should be of the same class. Therefore, if “the Holy Spirit” was explained literally, “fire” would be explained literally. Here it declares the two sides of the work of the Lord Jesus:

  1) To those who repent sincerely and believe in Him, He will baptize them into the Holy Spirit to make them have the life of God and become the body of Christ------the assembly (1Cor. 12:13, Acts. 2:2-4)

  2) To those who do not repent and believe in Him and the nominal Christians, He will baptize them with fire which is the fire of judgment (Rev. 20:15).

     Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) John the Baptism, the forerunner of the Lord, was to bring others to repent and direct others to Christ. We should also bring others to the Lord.

         2) The repentance is only a way, instead of an end, to bring men to Christ (“He who is coming after me”). Repentance enables men to lose themselves and faith enables men to obtain Christ. The former is negative and the latter positive. Repentance should be with faith. Repentance alone is of no effect because repentance only makes men pay attention to their failures. It is just like what they do before repentance to pay attention to their goodness.

3) Christ, the king of the kingdom of heaven, owns heavenly and exceeding might (“He is mightier than I”).

4) Those who serve the Lord should have the same humble and gentle attitude with John the Baptist (“whose sandals I am not worthy to carry”).

5) If men do not repent and receive the baptism of water, they will be baptized with fire in future. Today anyone who repents and receives the baptism of water will be baptized in the Holy Spirit at the same time (1Cor. 12:13).

6) If someone does not live in the spirit today, his work will be burned by fire (1Cor. 3:13).


Matt. 3:12 “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.

   YLT: whose fan in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor, and will gather his wheat to the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.'

   The Background: in ancient times, after the Jews had reaped wheat, they dried wheat in the sun and grinded wheat to make grain separate from chaff. Then they threw the wheat mixed with chaff into the air with dustpan and the heavier wheat would fall down around and the lighter chaff would be blown away by the wind. By this way the wheat and chaff were separated. They gathered the clean wheat into the barn and burned the chaff as burning materials.

Literal Meaning: When the Lord Jesus comes back, He will do the work of separation and judgment. He will judge who is the wheat with God’s life and who is the chaff with vain appearance. The former will be gathered into the barn in the heaven (i.e. into the eternity) and the latter will be thrown into the lake of fire (i.e. the eternal perdition).

     Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Satan wants to sift men as wheat (Luke. 22:31). But our Lord will “thoroughly clean out” His threshing floor. If we were the heavier “wheat”, we would only suffer at this time. If we were the lighter “chaff”, we would suffer forever.

         2) The aim of the judgment of the Lord is to “clean out”, to pure and to separate. Anyone who is willing to receive the judgment of the Lord today will stand before the judgment in future.

3) The nominal Christians are “chaff”. They have the similar appearance with “wheat” but not the life in them.

4) The Lord does not want His believers to stay in the original world for a lifetime. One day, the believers and unbelievers will be separated forever.

5) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The cross will do the work of separating in us all the time.

6) The cross would root out the life of old creation. Anything that is of nature will perish.


Matt. 3:13 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

   YLT: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee upon the Jordan, unto John to be baptized by him,

   Literal Meaning: “then” means the time when John the Baptist baptized others at the Jordan.

  “To be baptized by him” It does not mean that He confesses the sins and should receive the baptism of repentance. But it means that he stands in the position of men to fulfill the commandments from God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) In the Gospel of John, the baptism of the Lord was not recorded because John declared that He is God. The other three Gospels all recorded the baptism of the Lord, showing that He is man. Everyman should be put to death.

         2) The Lord was baptized at the Jordan. It shows that anything of man, whether good or not, should be put to death at first and then may be used by God.

    3) The Lord came from the Gentile place Galilee instead of the Jewish place Jerusalem. It shows that grace is not only come to the Jews, but also come to the whole world.


Matt. 3:14 “And John tried to prevent Him, saying, I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’”

   YLT: but John was forbidding him, saying, `I have need by thee to be baptized -- and thou dost come unto me!'

   Literal Meaning: “And John tried to prevent Him.” John did not refuse Him. He felt that he is not worth baptizing Him. Only the Book of Matthew in four Gospels recorded this, showing that He is the king.

  “I need to be baptized by You.” It shows that John turned to the Lord, admitting that Jesus is the one who is mightier than him.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the bondman above his lord (Matt. 10:24). We, as bondmen of the Lord, should be humble forever.


Matt. 3:15 “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.

   YLT: But Jesus answering said to him, `Suffer now, for thus it is becoming to us to fulfill all righteousness,' then he doth suffer him.

   Meaning of Words: “now”: present; “fulfill”: achieve, complete and carry out; “righteousness”: justification, reasonableness.

   Literal Meaning: “Permit it to be so now.” Jesus did not hold that the attitude of John was wrong. But for the expedience of procedure, He still asked to be baptized by John.

  “For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” “Righteousness” was the justification manifested by obeying the commandments of God. The Lord, standing in the position of men, had obeyed the commandments of God and fulfilled the duty of men. It was righteous both to God and to men.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The Lord is sinless and He did not need to repent and be baptized. However, He stood in the position of men to turn to God and admitted that men are worthy of death. Do not we need to repent and turn to God?

         2) The Lord started His work on earth from the baptism. It shows that the principle of service is to provide life through death.

3) The Lord put Himself to death through the baptism to fulfill all righteousness. It shows that the Lord fulfill the commandments of the law through His death on the cross.

4) We, the believers, should put ourselves to death------do not walk according to flesh but according to Spirit. Thus, the righteousness of the law shall be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4).


Matt. 3:16 “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.

   YLT: And having been baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water, and lo, opened to him were the heavens, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him,

   Literal Meaning: “came up immediately from the water.” It shows that when He was baptized, His whole body was immersed into water.

  “The heavens were opened to Him.” “The heavens were opened” shows that men are able to see the scenes in the heavens with their eyes (Acts. 7:56). “To Him.” It does not show that only He could see the heavens open. It also shows that because of Him the heavens were opened and through Him men are able to know the heavenly mysteries (John. 1:51).  

   Spiritual Meaning: “dove”, sign of the Holy Spirit, symbolizes the gentleness, meekness and simplicity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God descended upon Him, showing that He is Christ (the anointed one) anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) The Lord had been baptized with water and the Holy Spirit before the assembly received the baptism of water and the Spirit. It shows that all spiritual reality and principles are firstly in the head. The full Christ is the fountain of all spiritual abundance.

         2) The heavens are only opened for those who were dead and have come to life again. If we the believers stand in the position that we were dead and rose up with the Lord, the heavens will be opened to us.

3) The heavens, used to be shut up because of men’s betrayal, were opened to Him for His obedience to the authority of the heavens. Then all the heavenly abundance was brought down-------the Spirit of God, the words of God and the delight of God.

4) He has inherited every spiritual blessing. We could become partakers of the heavens and all that of the heavens only through the union with Him.

5) We should ask the Lord to pour the Holy Spirit out on us richly (Tit. 3:6) to receive power and bear good witness of the Lord (Acts. 1:8, 2:18-21).

6) The one who is full of the Holy Spirit will be, like a dove, gentle towards men and sincere and full towards God.

7) The anointing oil declares the ownership of God (Lev. 8:12, 30). If we want to be possessed by God, we must go through the procedure of rising up from the dead.


Matt. 3:17 “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

   YLT: and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, `This is My Son -- the Beloved, in whom I did delight.'

   Literal Meaning: “a voice came from heaven” is the voice of God our Father (2Pet. 1:17).

  “This is My beloved Son.” It is God’s proclamation and introduction to Jesus, showing the divinity of Jesus who came to the world to declare God the Father (John. 1:18).

  “In whom I am well pleased.” God admitted what He is and what He has done all well pleased God the Father. It implies that we should hear Him (Matt. 17:5). 

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Jesus is God’s Beloved Son------son is the manifestation and declaration of father------only through the Lord Jesus could we see and know God.

         2) In Christ God is well pleased------if we want to please God, we should listen to the Lord only and abide in the Lord.

3) The praise from God the Father to the Lord shows that:

  a) The thirty years of the life of the Lord Jesus before the baptism well pleased God.

  b) The obedience of the Lord Jesus shown by the baptism was well acceptable to God.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Ministry of the Forerunner

I. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v.2) ------he declared the authority of heaven;

II. “He who is coming after me.” (v.11) ------He directed men to Christ;

III. “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” (v.3) ------He prepared men’s hearts for the Lord.


The Repentance

I. The reason of repentance------for “the kingdom is at hand” (v.2);

II. The behavior of repentance------to confess one’s sins and be baptized (v.6);

III. The benefit of repentance------to “flee from the wrath to come” (v.7);

IV. The effect of repentance------to bear fruits worthy of repentance (v.8);

V. The aim of repentance------to believe in Jesus Christ who is coming after (v.11).


The Life of the Forerunner as a Testimony

I. “In the wilderness” (v.3) -----he stood in an unconventional position;

II. “John was clothed in camel’s hair” (v.4) ------he did not have sumptuous appearance;

III. “With a leather belt around his waist” (v.4) ------he constrained his behavior;

IV. “His food was locusts and wild honey” (v.4) ------he did not receive men’s provision.


The Spirit of the Forerunner

I. He was a “voice”, not seeking for glory for himself (v.3);

II. “Crying” (v.3) ------he was full of burdens in his heart;

III. He convicted others’ sins bluntly without hesitation (v.7);

IV. He directed others the right way (v.8);

V. He bore witness of the Lord (v.11-12);

VI. He was humble and kept his own position (v.11, 14).


How to Become Partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven

I. One should repent (v.2);

II. One should prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight (v.3);

III. One should confess his sins and be baptized (v.6);

IV. One should bear fruits worthy of repentance (v.8).


The Nature of the Kingdom of Heaven

I. It is a situation which enables men to flee from the wrath to come (v.7);

II. It is a life which enables men to bear holy and righteous fruits (v.8);

III. It is a heavenly connection which has nothing with fleshly parentage (v.9);

IV. It is a separation. Anyone who has no connection with the kingdom of heaven will be thrown into the fire (v.10);

V. It is a guidance which leads men to know Christ (v.11);

VI. It is a destination. Anyone of Him will be with Him forever (v.12);

VII. It is a state in which the heavenly blessings were brought down (v.16-17).


Three Kinds of Baptisms (v.11)

I. The baptism of John with water------enables men to repent and confess their sins;

II. The baptism of the Lord with the Holy Spirit ------enables men to obtain the life of Spirit;

III. The baptism of the Lord with fire ------is the judgment to burn everything that is not of God.


Two Kinds of People (v.12)

I. “Wheat” -----with life------will be gathered “into the barn”;

II. “Chaff” ------with vain appearance------will be “burned up with unquenchable fire”.


Teachings about the Baptism of the Lord Jesus (v.15)

I. The natural life of men (the old men) must be ended and buried;

II. Everyman has his own righteousness to fulfill and nobody could ignore his duty as a man.


The Result of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus (v.16-17)

I. The heavens were opened to Him;

II. The Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighted upon Him;

III. The heavenly voice of praise from God the Father bore witness of Him.


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren