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The Gospel of Matthew: Chapter Three

A verse-by-verse commentary by Max Klein

2 Chronicles 7:14, “And if my people [a client nation] who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven; will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We need to pray for our president, our military and civilian leaders every day.


3:1 In those days John the Baptizer came proclaiming [as a herald] in the desert of Judea.  


Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡµέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήµῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας


“In those days:” We left Jesus Christ in chapter two as a young boy, now he is about 30 or 31 years old.  It is now circa 29 A.D. during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, 14-37 AD (Luke 3:1, 2, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. . . . the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias in the desert.).  John is toward the end of his ministry and soon will be murdered.


John was descended from Aaron, the original high priest of Israel.  So, John could have functioned as a true priest in the temple.  His father was a priest from the family of Abijah (Luke 1:5; 1 Chronicles 24:10).  His wife was also descended from Aaron (Luke 1:5).

A king always had his heralds.  These heralds would precede a king and announce his coming in order that proper preparations were made and that homage would be rendered to a king as he came through.  Jesus Christ has two advents, one is historical (1st Advent) the other is prophetical (2nd Advent).  He came the first time to provide salvation; he will come the second time in order to establish his personal reign on the earth, to consummate the angelic conflict and human history.  On both occasions prior to his coming, he is announced by heralds.


Since the ministry of Jesus Christ is both related to the angelic conflict and human history, he has both angelic and human heralds.  In the first advent of Christ his angelic herald made his proclamation before the shepherds. (This was most likely Gabriel since he also delivered messages to both Zacharias and to Mary as found in Luke 1:19, 26.)  The human herald is John the Baptist (Luke 1:17) and in the first part of Matthew chapter 3. In the Second Advent, His angelic herald is the Mighty Angel of Revelation 10:1-3.  The two human heralds (Moses and Elijah) are called the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12).  


The angelic herald: Revelation 10:1-3: verse 1: Then I saw [Revelation 10:1-11:14] another powerful angel, [also mentioned in Revelation 5:2] coming down from heaven, and he was wearing a cloud, and a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire.


Since he is the Lord’s herald, his appearance namely the cloud, the face like the sun, the rainbow and the feet like pillars of fire are designed to portray the greatness of the Lord. The cloud represents the glory, power and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ; the rainbow over his head is a sign of the integrity of our Lord in the perpetuation of human history; The face like the sun depicts the Lord’s provision of logistical grace blessing and the greater blessings for the mature believers; his feet like columns of fire depict the Lord’s provision of the wall of fire - the divine protection for the growing believer in personal or historical disaster.


10:2: And he had a small opened book [the title-deed of the earth from which he made his proclamation] in his hand.  Then he placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land [claiming planet earth for the Lord Jesus Christ].


The angel put his right foot (the more important foot) on the sea indicating the importance of controlling the sea.  (One cannot control land-mass unless he controls the sea.) This angelic herald is getting ready to proclaim planet earth for the Lord.  


10:3: Then he [the powerful angel, the King of Arms] shouted with a loud voice [made his proclamation that Jesus Christ is the legitimate ruler of the world], just as a lion roars [can be heard at a great distance] and when he had shouted [made his announcement], the seven thunders [angels who rank below the powerful angel; referred to as pursuivant messengers] relayed the proclamation with their voices.


When a lion roars it has a note of confidence so as with this angel. The Seven Thunders who accompany this powerful angel rebroadcast the proclamation throughout the world.  So, the entire universe knows of the coming of Christ made by the proclamation of the powerful angel [the King of Arms.]


Note: The terms ‘King of Arms’ and ‘Pursuivant Messengers’ are terms related to English Heraldry.


The human heralds: Revelation 11:3-12:


11:3: And I will give to My two witnesses [human heralds: Moses & Elijah] power [from the Holy Spirit], and they will prophesy [evangelize and teach Bible Doctrine] for one thousand two hundred and sixty days [a little shy of the last 3 1/2 years of Tribulation], wearing sackcloth [a mesh, a course texture of cloth made from goat's hair and finely woven: not something sloppy; Moses and Elijah will be well dressed and groomed].


We must identify these two witnesses. Matthew 17:2-3, “And He was transfigured [appeared before them in his glorified resurrection body as it would be at the 2nd Advent] before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as snow.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” Malachi 4:5, “Behold I am going to send to you [in the middle of the Tribulation] Elijah, the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord [the last 3.5 years of the Tribulation].  Luke 1:17, “It is he [John the Baptizer] who will go as a herald before him [Christ] in the spirit [the filling of the Spirit] and in the power of Elijah . . .” Thus, Elijah will also in the Tribulation have the power of the Holy Spirit. John 1:19-21, “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent him the priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” verse 20: And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ [Messiah].” Verse 21: They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah [then are you his herald since they all understood that Elijah would function as a herald at the 2nd Advent]? And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet [The Lord Jesus Christ: Deuteronomy 18:15, 18]?” And he answered, “No.”


Unbelieving Jews who have rejected Christ have always looked for the 2nd Advent; never the 1st Advent.  John 12:12, 13 “On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast [of the Passover], when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna [‘deliver us’ from the Romans] ! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord [God the Father], even the King of Israel.” They wanted the crown without the cross. If the Jews had accepted Christ as their savior and Messiah, there would have been no need for John the Baptizer, Matthew 11:14, “And if you were willing to accept it [the gospel], John himself is Elijah who was to come.” There would have been only one advent and no Church Age and Elijah would have been the herald along with Moses (Matthew 17:1-3; 17:10-13).  


11:4: These are the two olive trees [Moses and Elijah analogous to Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:3, 11], and the two lampstands [Moses and Elijah giving light from their teaching of Bible Doctrine regarding the Tribulational Temple] who are standing [as heralds and meet the crisis] before the Lord of the earth [Jesus Christ as ruler of the world at the 2nd Advent].


After the Babylonian captivity, Joshua the High Priest was the spiritual leader, and Zerubbabel was the political leader. These are analogous to Elijah and Moses who are the human heralds of the 2nd Advent and who will be the great teachers during the last three and half years of the Tribulation.  


11:5: Furthermore, if anyone [demonized population of the Tribulation: unbelievers and believers in reversionism] desires to harm them [Moses and Elijah], fire shoots out [pictorial present] of their mouths and destroys [basic meaning: chew-up, masticate and completely digest and came to mean to destroy] their enemies; also if anyone would desire to harm them in this manner, he must be killed.


These two teachers never abuse their weapon, but kill only in self-defense.  If they would not kill, they would have been killed and would have failed in their mission. Whether this fire comes literally out of their mouths or not is inconsequential.  They do have effective weapons for defense.  They need weapons since the police system in Jerusalem will not protect them.  No one will offer them protection; they are on their own. Those who have integrity have a right to possess weapons, and so God gave them a weapon to kill.      


11:6: These [Moses and Elijah] have the power to shut up the sky [economic disaster to bring people back to reality] so that rain may not fall [related to Elijah’s ministry] during the days of their prophetic ministry [teaching of God’s word]; furthermore, they have power over the waters to turn them into blood [related to Moses’s ministry], in fact, to strike the land with every plague [a reference to the plaques that Moses had performed in the past] as often as they desire.


Economic disaster tends to bring people back to reality in an objective way.  Hopelessness and helplessness tend to open up the volition of an individual. Moses and Elijah will function in this ministry as they had in the past.   


11:7: Now when they [Moses and Elijah] had finished their testimony [ministry], the beast-monster [Abaddon of Revelation 9:11: an evil and powerful fallen angel] who comes up from the abyss will make war [fight] against them and will both overpower and kill them [the permissive will of God].


Abaddon is Satan’s number two fallen angel who is the head of Satan’s terrorist activities.  Moses and Elijah came from the court room of heaven to testify regarding God’s plan for the people of the Tribulation. Neither had completed their ministries on the earth.  For Moses it was self-righteousness which removed him “must we bring water from this rock”; for Elijah it was the arrogance of self-pity “I only I am left and they seek my life to take it away”. Their messages in the latter half of the Tribulation are probably broadcast throughout the world through some media-technology.


11:8: And their corpses will be exhibited in the street of the great city [Jerusalem is called great because of David, Bible doctrine and the cross] [of a sort] which is called figuratively Sodom [for its moral and social degeneration] and Egypt [for its demonization and religion], even where their [Moses’ and Elijah’s] Lord was crucified.


In the Tribulation, Israel will take on the characteristics of Sodom and ancient Egypt as it did during the 1st Advent.  Moral, social and spiritual degeneration is always associated with religion.  All religions are authored by the degenerate Satan, and so can only produce degeneration. The figurative can be understood and determined from context.  In this verse, Jerusalem is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt because of social degeneration demonism.       


By displaying their corpses they were saying in effect we have won: self-deception.  However, these future murders will not cancel the messages of Moses and Elijah.   


Worldwide news coverage of the event: a worldwide gloating because of the antagonism of the 4th estate (the news media). No sympathy or outrage is reported by the press. While this is going on, Moses and Elijah are celebrating in heaven.


11:9: And they from the masses [Jews in Jerusalem] and tribes [Jews throughout the Middle East and the world], and many foreign languages [broadcast in all the languages of the world] and gentile nations [possibly via satellite] will view their corpses for three and one half days, furthermore they [the political authority] will not permit their corpses to be placed in a tomb.


11:10: And the inhabitant of the earth [believers and unbelievers] will gloat over them [their dead bodies]; they will both celebrate and exchange gifts [to commemorate their deaths], because these two prophets had tormented the inhabitants of the earth.


The gospel, establishment truth and Bible doctrine taught by Moses and Elijah tormented the souls of these unbelievers who had rejected the truth.  When a person (believer or unbeliever) reacts to truth he is tormented in his soul, and no one likes to be tormented in his soul.  Now they no longer fear God for his two messengers are dead in the street. So, their negative volition toward truth will be intensified and so will call for much celebration.  


11:11: And after three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them [into their interim bodies]; then they [Moses and Elijah] stood on their feet; and great fear fell on those who were viewing them. [These people were either viewing them as they walked by or via some media.]


11:12: And they [Moses and Elijah] heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And so they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies observed them [Moses and Elijah ascended in their interim bodies].


How did John become the Lord’s herald?  John could have had a ministry in Jerusalem working with the Levitical priesthood.  However, if one is going to have a successful ministry before the Lord, he must separate from religion (a system of works) and established denominations (always contain some false teaching).  (All great teaching is accomplished by individuals who do not compromise the word of God, and the only way that can be done is to remain independent.)  John was under the authority of the Lord, not some legalistic organization.  Thus, he was given the privilege of being the Lord’s herald.    


3:2. Saying, “Change your thinking [regarding Christ] for the kingdom of heaven is near.” [The future king was already on the earth]


[καὶ] λέγων,  Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.


This phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven’ occurs 32 times in the book of Matthew. The kingdom refers to the kingdom of believers and it was near since the Lord was on the earth.    


3:3. For this is what was communicated through Isaiah, the prophet saying, “The voice of one [John the Baptizer] proclaiming loudly in the desert [of Judea].  Prepare [the aorist tense is a one time-decision] the way of the Lord [an idiomatic expression for salvation].  Keep on making upright [Rebound followed by the development of experiential righteousness] His paths!’” (Isaiah 40:3)


οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήµῳ, Ἑτοιµάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.


These are a couple of sentences from his messages to let us know the categorical content of John’s teaching [the gospel and the spiritual life].  Since John the Baptizer was the herald, he would inform the Jewish people that the Messiah had arrived.  They must prepare themselves by first believing in Him and then to begin living the spiritual life.


Isaiah 40:3: A voice [John the Baptizer] proclaiming in the desert [of Judea], prepare the way of the Lord [believe in Him]; make straight in the desert a highway to our God [after salvation execute the spiritual life].


Acts 19:4: “Then Paul said, John baptized with a baptism characterized by [a cognate accusative with the genitive] a change of thinking [John only baptized those who had changed their mind about Christ and had believed], saying to the people that they should believe in the One coming after him [John, the Baptist], that is, in Jesus.”


3:4. Now John himself kept on having a garment of camel’s hair [very uncomfortable] and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.


Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Ἰωάννης εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυµα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τριχῶν καµήλου καὶ
ζώνην δερµατίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, ἡ δὲ τροφὴ ἦν αὐτοῦ ἀκρίδες καὶ µέλι ἄγριον.


The imperfect tense characterizes his entire life out in the desert.  There was nothing in this man’s dress, diet or personality that demanded a hearing from the people.  John was operating under the law of supreme sacrifice, a city boy who is now living in the primitive desert.   


3:5. Then [after John went where God wanted him to be] Jerusalem kept on going out to him [face to face] and all Judea and all the districts around the Jordan.


τότε ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἱεροσόλυµα καὶ πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία καὶ πᾶσα ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου,


Many people came to listen to him because they were not getting the truth in the temples (where the priests taught) or synagogues (where the scribes and Pharisees taught).   


3:6. and they were being baptized [identified with the kingdom] by him [under his authority] in the Jordan River [where Israel crossed when they entered the land], and they kept on confessing their sins [post-salvation confession of sins].


καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταµῷ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐξοµολογούµενοι τὰς ἁµαρτίας αὐτῶν.


 John had both a gospel ministry (“prepare the way of the Lord”), and a ministry of teaching the spiritual life (“keep on making upright his paths”).  After their salvation John taught about their identification with the Millennial and Eternal Kingdom via water baptism and about the mechanics of confessing their sins. These are both post-salvation functions.   


John lived in the ritual age of Israel and so it should not be surprising that he used ritual to teach (Matthew 3:1-10; John 1:25-33).   There had to be a ceremony never used before to identify a person, the new believer of the 1st Advent with the kingdom of God since the King was present. The kingdom could have immediately followed the cross.  However, since the majority of the Jews of Israel had rejected Christ and his work on the cross, the Millennial Kingdom had to be postponed.


Since John was the herald of Christ in his 1st Advent, it was his responsibility to assist in manifesting Christ to Israel, “I did not recognize Him [at first], but so that He might be manifest to Israel, I [John only] came baptizing by water.” (John 1:31)  This responsibility was delegated to him alone by God the Father for John 1:33 states, “. . . but he [God the Father] who sent me [not anyone else] to baptize by water. . .” (In order to identify ritually the new converts of the 1st Advent with the Messiah and his kingdom).  (John 1:33).


To help us understand the meaning of his baptism, John picked the exact location where the Jews crossed the Jordan upon entering the land.  After crossing the Jordan, “Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing, and they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:9)  This represented identification with Christ’s death and burial.  Then Joshua commanded twelve men to take large stones from where the priests were standing and carry them to Gilgal (meaning circle, a picture of eternal life).  “So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, ‘Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. (Joshua 4:4, 5)  “Thus, the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan just as the Lord spoke to Joshua according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, and carried them over with them to the lodging place [Gilgal] and put them down there.”(Joshua 4:8, 19, 20)  Thus, when John would immerse the new converts, they would be identified with His substitutionary death on the cross; coming out from the water foretells their receiving their resurrection bodies at the 2nd Advent (as believers living and dying in the 1st Advent, in the age of Israel) followed by their participation in the Millennial and eternal kingdom.  


3:7. but when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, “You brood of vipers [poisonous snakes], who warned you to flee from the wrath to come [Baptism of Fire: identification with the fire of Torments and then the Lake of Fire]?


Ἰδὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχοµένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισµα αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Γεννήµατα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑµῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς µελλούσης ὀργῆς;


Unbelievers came to listen to John for two reasons.  Many came to hear the gospel clearly presented.  Others came, namely the religious unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees because they were impressed with the large crowds that John was drawing and possibly thought that there was some magic or power related to his baptizing.  Thus, they wanted to participate in his baptism and to use it in some evil way.


When a viper bites an individual, he injects his killing toxins.  By analogy, these religious unbelievers, the Pharisees and Sadducees inject their toxic lies into the Jewish unbelievers which lies blind the unbeliever so that he does not seek the truth.  


Baptism of Fire: The baptism of fire is defined as the judgment of the Tribulational unbelievers both Jew and gentile at the Second Advent. They are removed from the earth and placed in fire for 1000 years until the Last Judgment, Luke 3:16-17; Mathew 25:31, 33. The analogy to the baptism of fire is found in Mt 24:36-41.  The one left in the field is the mature believer; the one taken is the unbeliever.


Parables of the Baptism of Fire.

1.  The wheat and the tares, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-40.

2.  The good and bad fish, Matthew 13:47-50.

3.  The ten virgins: five wise, five foolish, Matthew 25:1-13.

4.  The sheep and the goats, Mathew 25:31-46.

5.  The talent test, Matthew 25:14-30.  The one talent man represents the unbeliever.


If Jesus Christ had not been rejected by the Jewish people, then the age of Israel would have continued until its completion (the Tribulation completes the age of Israel).  (However, they did reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Messiah and so the client nation was destroyed, and the Church age was intercalated that is inserted before the age of Israel was complete.)  After the completion of the age of Israel at the end of the Tribulation, comes the wrath of God namely the Baptism of Fire when the Lord removes both Jewish and gentile unbelievers from the earth and identifies them with fire forever.  After which the Millennial reign begins.  


3:8. “Therefore, produce fruit [believe in the Lord Jesus Christ] in keeping with a change of thinking [Before anyone believes in Christ, he changes his mind about Him.  Once having become believers, they would have been qualified to participate in Baptism],


 ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς µετανοίας·


Water baptism doesn’t save.  If it did, John would have baptized these religious unbelievers immediately.  The water baptism of John was only a ritual that he used to fulfill his responsibility as Christ’s herald.  After John’s death, it was never used again.


3:9. Now, do not presume [subjective thinking] by saying in yourselves [by thinking], we have Abraham as our father [and so we are genetically God’s children].  [However, no one becomes a child of God through genetics only.]  For I say to you that God is able to raise-up [a constantive aorist] children to Abraham from these stones [pointing to stones along the bank of the Jordan].


καὶ µὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, Πατέρα ἔχοµεν τὸν Ἀβραάµ, λέγω γὰρ ὑµῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάµ.


Using Abraham’s and Sarah’s genetic code, God could have raised-up descendants with biological life since biological life requires only chemicals and these chemicals could have been obtained from the rocks.  However, biological life without the two births (physical and spiritual) is meaningless (One has to be born again (twice)).  The first birth takes place at physical birth when God creates and imputes soul-life to biological life resulting in human life and the second birth occurs at faith in Christ at which time God the Father imputes eternal life to the newly created human spirit (created by the Holy Spirit) at salvation.  


3:10. Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees [the apostate religious types in the land will be destroyed when the 5th cycle of discipline (Leviticus 26:27-33) is administered in August of 70 AD].  Therefore, every tree which [individual who] does not produce good fruit [salvation] is cut down and thrown into fire [a reference to the Baptism of Fire: unbelievers identified with eternal fire].  


ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον µὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.


Leviticus 26:27-33, “If, in spite of this, you do not listen to Me but continue to be hostile toward Me [toward the message of Bible doctrine]," 26:28, "then in My anger I will be hostile toward you [administer the 5th Cycle of Discipline], and I will punish you seven times more for your sins." 26:29, "then you will eat the flesh of your sons, and you will eat the flesh of your daughters." 26:30, "Then I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars, and stack your corpses on the dumb corpses of your idols; for My soul will despise you." 26:31, "I will turn your cities into ruins, and lay waste to your sanctuaries [where they worshipped the true God before]; I will take no delight in the fact that you suddenly start offering sacrifices." 26:32-33, "I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled by its condition.  You, however, I will scatter among the nations, and I will draw out My sword and pursue you, and your cities will lie in ruins."


3:11. On the one hand I baptize you [believers] by means of water because of a change of thinking [about Christ], but the one coming after me is mightier than I whose sandals I am not worthy to lace [loosen, remove].  He himself will baptize by means of the Holy Spirit [a reference to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Church Age] and by means of fire [a reference to the Baptism of Fire at the 2nd Advent].  


ἐγὼ µὲν ὑµᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς µετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω µου ἐρχόµενος ἰσχυρότερός µού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰµὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήµατα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑµᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύµατι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·


According to Dana & Mantey in their grammar, ‘A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament’ on pages 103, 104 the Greek preposition ‘eis’ with the accusative case has the remote meaning of with reference to or because of as it does here.  


At salvation, in the Church age God the Holy Spirit identifies (baptizes) every believer with Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father.  This sets apart the believer from the rest of humanity (positional sanctification).  Being set apart he is called a saint (a set apart one: 1 Corinthians 1:2).  In union with Christ, he takes on many of the characteristics of Christ; clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).  Taking on these positional characteristics makes the believer a new spiritual species, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ and he is, [he is] a new spiritual species” (2 Corinthians 5:17a).


The Characteristics of the Baptism of the Spirit:


  1. It is not a personal experience.  So, it is not an emotional activity such as human feelings or ecstasy.  Also, it is not related to speaking in tongues (foreign languages for the purpose of communicating the gospel).  In the early church certain believers were given this gift which functioned from 30 to 70 AD.


2.  It is not progressive.  Therefore, it cannot be improved in either time or eternity.  Our union with Christ at salvation is perfect and complete.


3.  It is not related to sin.  In Christ, the believer cannot sin since his volition does not function in that state.  1 John 5:18 must be interpreted in the light of 1 John 5:20 which is talking about the believer in Him (positional union in Christ), the interpretive phrase.  Also in this same book, John has already made it quite clear that experientially believers do sin (1 John 1:8, 10).


“We know that anyone who has been born [reference to regeneration] from God does not sin [in union with Christ], but He [Jesus] who has been born from God [the Holy Spirit provided the 23 chromosomes to fertilize the egg), guards him [the believer], and the evil one [Satan] does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).  


“And we know that the Son of God has come and he has given to us [spiritual] understanding [spiritual I.Q] in order that we might know the true one [the Lord] and we are in him [positional sanctification] who is true, in his son Jesus Christ.  This one is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).  


4.  It is not related to any human merit, ability, or works.  There is nothing you can do to merit the Baptism of the Spirit.


5.  It is obtained at the moment of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone.  It is not a post-salvation experience.  So, it is not the "second blessing," so called by the emotional types.  Union with Christ is a completed ministry by the Holy Spirit.  Hence, it cannot be reversed by any human failure.


6.  It is eternal and unchangeable in nature.  It cannot be canceled or changed by God, angels, or man.  It is a part of your eternal security.  No renunciation; no sin, human good, or evil; no moral or immoral degeneracy can cancel this ministry of the Holy Spirit.


7.  It is known and understood only through perception of the mystery doctrine of the Church Age.  Therefore, it cannot be applied in a state of ignorance.  It is invisible, not learned through empiricism; it is perceived through cognition of Bible doctrine only.


3:12. “His winnowing-shovel is in his hand, and He [the Lord Jesus Christ at the 2nd Advent] will thoroughly clean [separating the unbelievers from the believers] his threshing floor [analogous to the earth], and he will gather his wheat [believers] into his granary [the Millennium], but he will burn up the chaff [the unbelievers] with unquenchable fire.” [The Baptism of Fire]


οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ διακαθαριεῖ τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ, καὶ συνάξει τὸν σῖτον αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην [αὐτοῦ], τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ.



3:13. Then [while John was talking about the coming of Christ at the 2nd Advent] Jesus arrived [made his public appearance] from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John to be baptized by him.


Τότε παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰορδάνην πρὸς τὸν Ἰωάννην τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ.


Before Jesus Christ began his public ministry, he would have to declare ritually that he would fulfill the Father’s plan.  This ritual would be accomplished through water. Jesus by going into the water was making a public declaration that he would go to the cross in order to fulfill the Father’s plan during His 1st Advent.  Coming out of the water represented his resurrection, ascension and session.


3:14. But John tried to prevent him saying, “I have need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”


ὁ δὲ Ἰωάννης διεκώλυεν αὐτὸν λέγων, Ἐγὼ χρείαν ἔχω ὑπὸ σοῦ βαπτισθῆναι, καὶ σὺ ἔρχῃ πρός µε;


John understood that Jesus was coming to participate in the baptism that he had been performing for his converts, but this was not the case.  (The baptism of Jesus Christ would be unique.)  If Jesus had come to participate in John’s baptism, it would not have made any sense.    


3:15. But Jesus replied to him, “Permit it now for in this way it is fitting for us [John is supporting the humanity of Christ by being the herald] to fulfill all righteousness [at the cross].”  Then he permitted him [since he now understood that the baptism of Jesus would be unique].


ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἄφες ἄρτι, οὕτως γὰρ πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡµῖν πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην. τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτόν.


Jesus went into the water of the Jordan demonstrating through this ritual that he would go to the cross; his coming out of the represented his resurrection, ascension and session.   


3:16. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water and behold the heavens were opened unto him, and he [the deity of Jesus Christ] saw the Spirit of God [the Holy Spirit] descending as a dove and lighting on Him,


βαπτισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εὐθὺς ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἠνεῴχθησαν [αὐτῷ] οἱ οὐρανοί, καὶ εἶδεν [τὸ] πνεῦµα [τοῦ] θεοῦ καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν [καὶ] ἐρχόµενον ἐπ’αὐτόν·


The only visible member of the Trinity at any time is the Lord Jesus Christ.  So, it was the deity of Christ who saw the Spirit as a dove.  


A dove will not light on dead bodies (analogous to unrighteousness] nor upon water (as illustrated by the dove of Noah).  It will only light on something clean (analogous to righteous).  Thus, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus like a dove means that Jesus was perfectly righteous and qualified to begin his ministry.    


3:17. and behold a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.”


καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λέγουσα, Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός µου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα


At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus had to make a formal declaration that he would execute the Father’s plan.  The ritual of going into the water was Christ identifying with and agreeing to fulfill the Father’s plan namely live a perfect life under the greatest possible pressure, go to the cross  with maximum integrity and humility and be judged for the sins of the world.  His coming out of the water represented his resurrection, ascension and session where he would be glorified at the right hand of the Father.  


Immediately after his baptism, Jesus Christ, being spiritual mature a reference to his humanity, received evidence testing administered by Satan.   Evidence testing is Satan's cross-examination of every witness presented by God in the historical trial of all fallen angels.  In human history, man's thoughts, motives, decisions, and actions are entered as evidence, exhibits, precedents, and arguments in Satan's appeal trial. Every believer who attains maturity is an argument or witness for the Prosecution (the Lord) against Satan.  The greatest witness against Satan was the humanity of Christ who received both the evidence testing related to the plan of God (Matthew 4:1-10) followed three years later by the cross, a suffering which defeated Satan strategically.


Herod the Great and his Dynasty:


There was a good reason why Herod was called the Great. He was a business, building and political genius. He was an inventor, a world champion wrestler, a great soldier and one of the greatest conversationalists in the world at that time. He was described as tall, strong and athletic, with small ears, well molded nose, black hair, brown eyes and golden skin. He was one of the greatest horsemen and hunters of his day. He killed more lions and other wild game than any one at that time. Of himself, he never had a statue made or a picture painted that he may not offend the Jews. To Rome and to his friends, he always remained loyal.


How he became a Jew:


Simon Hasmon, the younger brother of Judas Maccabee, a Hasmonaean ruled Judea from 143-134 BC. After Simon’s death his son John Hyrcanus (134-104) conquered Idumaea (the land south of Judah including such cities as Hebron in the north and Beersheba in the south, Sumaria and part of Galilee and added them to his realm. After his death his two sons ruled, Aristobolus I for one year followed by his brother, the unscrupulous Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 BC. After the death of Jannaeus, his wife, Solome Alexandra took the helm for nine years until 67 BC, a brief golden age. After her demise, strangled by her son, Aristobulus II, civil war occurred between her two sons, the ambitious Aristobolus II, and the weak Hyrcanus II supported by Antipater the Idumean, the father of Herod. ((Antipater and his sons, Herod and Phasael born in Idumaea, a land belonging to Judaea and having become Jews through accepting and fulfilling the religious requirements of Judaism (the main requirement being circumcision), were qualified to enter Jewish politics)). Aristobolus II and Antipater via Hyrcanus II both sought the support of Pompey who at that time was conquering Syria and making it a Roman province. After interviewing both in 63 BC, Pompey came to the conclusion that Antipater was a man that Rome could trust. However, Aristobolus II rejected this decision and so took up a defensive position in Jerusalem against the Romans. However, after a three month siege Pompey stormed the well-fortified temple area and Judaea fell into his hands. While Aristobulus II as a captive was taken to Rome, Hyrcanus II was made the high-priest and given titular leadership of Judea, but Antipater possessed the real power.


As a Politician:


Pompey (Pompeius Magnus) in 60 BC entered into a rulership-agreement with Julius Ceasar and Marcus Licinius Crassus, called the First Triumvirate. Since Crassus was the only one of the three without a great military record, he set out for Parthia to gain a reputation. On his way there, he sacked the temple and pillaged Jerusalem in 53 BC. (This occurred while Antipater and Herod were trying to convince the Jews that the Romans were great people. This incident will not be forgotten by the Jews and will be used as an excuse to revolt in 40 BC.). At the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, Crassus was defeated and captured by the Parthians. Crassus being one of the wealthiest men of his day tried to buy his release with a large amount of gold. The Parthians answered that they didn’t need gold, but since Crassus appreciated gold so much, they would give him even more. So, they poured molten gold down his throat. This left only Caesar and Pompey. Eventually, Pompey maneuvered with the Senate to strip Caesar of his army and power. Caesar, realizing this betrayal, disregarded Pompey and the Senate and crossed the Rubicon with his army in January of 49 BC. Crossing the Rubicon meant civil war with Pompey and the Senate. Realizing this, Caesar remarked as he was about to cross, “The die has been cast” meaning there is no turning back. Herod being a genius and a good military man himself obviously realized that Caesar was by far the greater general. All the same, both he and his father supported financially their friend, Pompey. (Antipater and Herod believed strongly in the principle of loyalty, and so they always remained loyal to Rome and to their friends). After Pompey was defeated in 48 BC at the Battle of Pharsalus, Antipater and Herod found themselves in a difficult political situation. However, soon after, an opportunity to resolve this difficulty occurred. In 48 BC, Caesar had entered Egypt with a force of only 4000 soldiers and soon found himself surrounded by 20,000 Egyptians. Antipater and Herod immediately raised an army and rescued Caesar. In gratitude, Caesar made Antipater the procurator of Judea, and gave Roman citizenship to Antipater and his heirs. Just when all was going well, Caesar was assassinated by the Roman senators on March 15, 44 BC and the year after, Antipater by the Jewish priesthood.


The assassination of Caesar in 44 BC brought about civil war in Rome. Eventually, Caesar’s nephew, Octavian and Caesar’s cavalry commander, Mark Anthony ally, go to battle against and defeat the two armies led by Brutus and Cassius (two of the assassinators of Caesar) at the Battle of Philippi in October of 42 BC. Herod who was a good friend with Cassius had supported him financially in this war against Octavian and Mark Anthony. This was the second time that Herod had helped finance the losing side of a civil war in Rome. This again placed Herod in a difficult political situation with the Romans. Fortunately for Herod, there was a power struggle between Octavius, Mark Anthony and Sextus Pompey. Thus, there was no opportunity for Rome to deal with Herod. Then in October of 41 BC the Peace of Brundisium took place between Octavian and Mark Anthony. By this agreement, Octavian was given the western portion of the empire and Anthony was given the eastern portion. With the eastern part of the empire under his control, Anthony who also was an old friend of Herod, a friendship which began during Caesar’s reign, made Herod and Phasael joint rulers over Judea. So, even though Herod had supported Cassius against Anthony and Octavius, he was able to bring about reconciliation with his old friend, Mark Anthony.


However, instability in Rome and the lack of truth in the souls of the Jewish people at that time led to dissatisfaction and unrest. So, Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus II (of the Hasmonian family), taking advantage of this situation, conspired with the Parthians to overthrow Roman government in the Middle East. As a result of this conspiracy, the Parthians invaded in 40 BC and overran the provinces of Syria and Judea and made Antigonus a priest-king; Phasael was captured and murdered; Herod barely escaped to Rome. In Rome, Herod on the motion of Octavius and Mark Anthony was declared the King of the Jews and was given a Roman army to drive out the Parthians which he did after 3 difficult years of fighting.


It was now 37 BC and Herod had only five years to relax before another major civil would occur in Rome. This war would be between the western part of the Roman Empire and its leader, Octavius Caesar and Mark Anthony, the ruler of the eastern portion. Again Herod found himself in a very difficult situation.  Who should he support? The decision to support Mark Anthony was based upon his strong belief in loyalty. So, when Mark Anthony was defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Herod found himself in danger of losing his kingdom. After the battle, Octavian went to Rhodes to refit his ships; Herod sailed to Rhodes and confronted Octavian. There Herod was reconciled to Octavian; they become friends for life.


As an Entrepreneur:


He was in control of much trade that existed between east and west. At that time he had as many as 100 caravans. Several times he had given much of his money away, but was always able to make another fortune. Because of the civil wars in Rome, he supplied on three different occasion large sums of money first to Pompey, then to Cassius and finally to Mark Anthony. In 25 BC there was a famine in Palestine: Herod fed the Jews for a year or so with Egyptian grain. This he purchased with some tax money, but mostly with his own funds. The Olympian Games at this time were defunct in Rome. So, he restarted these games paying for the first two with his own fortune.


As an Engineer and Builder:


As the greatest engineer and builder of his age, he built not only the city of Caesarea, but its harbor as well. The harbor alone was such an engineering marvel, that some said it should have been the 8th wonder of the world. In order to secure water for his new city, he had to construct an aqueduct bringing water from the foothills of Mount Carmel. In this new city he built many building including a hippodrome. On Mount Zion he built the famous Temple of Herod (began in 20 BC). One ancient remarked that if a person had not seen this temple, he has not seen a beautiful building. The sun rays struck the white and yellow marble in such a way giving it a heavenly appearance. He not only constructed the temple in Jerusalem but also built a hippodrome, a theater, amphitheater (28 BC) as well as the sewage system for the city. He rebuilt Samaria (27 BC) and renamed it Sebaste; he built the city Caesarea Philippi, north of the Sea of Galilee and started many building projects in the Galilee area as well which provided many contracting opportunities for Joseph. In Palestine he built many palaces and numerous forts. Fort Masada for example brings awe to people even today. Outside of Israel he built many structures in Athens and Rhodes. His building projects kept the Jewish people well employed and brought great prosperity to Judea.


As a Madman:


In 29 BC Herod puts Mariamne, the only woman he ever loved on trial on a trumped-up charge of adultery. She was found guilty and executed. At that time Mariamne was 25 and had born him 5 children after 7 years of marriage. Alexandra, Mariamne’s mother declared Herod mentally unfit to rule and so declared herself queen and was swiftly executed by Herod without a trial. The following year Herod executed his brother-in-law, Kostobar for conspiracy. Because of his paranoia, in 6 BC., Herod accused his two favorite son, Alexander and Aristobulos, his sons from Mariamne, of conspiracy and had them executed. This left Antipater, his eldest son as his heir whom he also killed just five days before his death. Circa 5 BC, he ordered the death of all boys two and under to be killed in and around the Bethlehem area (Matthew 2:16)). Also about this time, there were a couple of Pharisees who did not like the Roman Golden Eagle hanging over the temple gate so they persuaded forty young men to tear it down. Herod’s troops caught these men and even though Herod was dying, he crawled into court and unto his throne and sentenced them to death. To dramatize the executions, they were killed in different way: some by bow and arrow, some by decapitation, some were dropped into boiling oil, several were hung, several crucified, some rolled over a fire like a rotisserie. Since these were some of the key young men of the land, the word got around. Then while he was dying, he ordered all the Jewish nobility to be locked into the hippodrome and for the building to be burned down at his death.


All during Herod’s life, he faced tremendous pressure and stress. This stress eventually produced mental illness in Herod and possible had an effect on his physical health as well. So, toward the last few years of his life, ancient historians described his illness as rapid mood changes, delusions of persecutions, uncontrolled outbursts, hypertensive cerebral attacks, attempted suicide, heart and kidney function deteriorated, poisons accumulated in the blood stream. His mouth had become ulcerated, his breath foul; there were constant pains in the stomach accompanied by near constant diarrhea for the last three years of his life; his scrotum had become gangrenous and filled with maggots.


The Dynasty of Herod the Great:


At his death, his kingdom was split into two tetrarchies and one ethnarchy. Antipas and Philip II both received a tetrarchy while Archelaus received an ethnarchy. Antipas’ domain was composed of both Galilee and Perea. Since Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a city of Galilee he lived under the jurisdiction of Antipas. This explains why Pontius Pilot sent Jesus Christ to Herod Antipas for trial and sentencing, but when the Lord would not entertain him with miracles, Antipas sent him back to Pilot. Since Perea was located on the east side of the southern portion of the Jordan River, Antipas also had jurisdiction over John the Baptizer. On one occasion John questioned how Antipas could rule the Jewish people and at the same time be in violation of the Jewish laws regarding marriage. This offended Herodias who had eloped with Antipas while being the wife of Philip I. For this reason, Herodias conspired to have John the Baptist executed. On the other hand, Philip II benevolently ruled his lands north and east of Galilee and remained in power until his death in 34 AD. His tetrarchy consisted of Syrians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs and a few Jewish people. Archelaus, the full brother of Antipas, was given half of Herod’s kingdom, an ethnarchy (ruler of a nation) consisting of Samaria, Judea and Idumea. Archelaus had a reputation for great cruelty, and this fact was known by Joseph. So, when Joseph had come out of Egypt he decided not to return to Bethlehem, a city in the ethnarchy of Archelaus but to live in the tetrarchy of Antipas the fox, a nickname given to him by the Lord himself. Both Archelaus and Antipas were removed by Roman Emperors: Archelaus in 6 AD was removed by Octavian for murdering too many of his subjects and Antipas was banished by the mad emperor Caligula in 39 AD for allegedly conspiring against Rome. Archelaus was sent to a pathetic little town on the other side of the Alps, Vienna Gaul (France); Antipas and Herodias to Lyons, Gaul another undesirable town not far from Vienna.


Whereas Herod Antipas, Herod Archelaus and Herod Philip II affected the lives of John the Baptist, Joseph and the Lord Jesus Christ, the grandson and great grandson of Herod the Great, Agrippa I and his son, Agrippa II affected the lives of the apostles. Agrippa I, not a friend of Tiberius, found himself in a Roman Dungeon in 36 AD. Fortunately for him, Tiberius died the very next year. Caligula the next ruler and close friend of Agrippa I not only released him from prison, but also gave him the former tetrarch of Philip II. Galilee also was added to his domain by Caligula after the banishment of Antipas in 39 AD. When Caligula was assassinated in 41 AD, Agrippa I was in Rome. Upon his recommendation to the Senate, Claudius was made the next Roman Empire. In gratitude, Claudius gave Agrippa also the lands of Samaria and Judea. Thus, upon receiving these lands, he almost controlled as much as Herod the Great. However, it was about this time that Agrippa I murdered James, the brother of John and tried to provide the same fate for Peter. Justice sometimes comes quickly as it did in his case for in 44 AD while he was in Caesarea and there receiving the adulation of a god, he was struck down by an angel of the Lord. He was the last powerful ruler of Herod’s dynasty. When Herod of Chalcis, a brother of Agrippa I died, Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I was given Chalcis, a small area between Phoenicia and Syria and responsibility over the temple and priesthood. In 53 AD Emperor Claudius also gave him the former kingdom of Philip II. When Nero succeeded Claudius, he added some other small properties to Agrippa II’s domain. The temple in Jerusalem was both completed (63 AD) and destroyed (70 AD) during his reign. It was this last Agrippa that Paul had met. Paul was not only well known among the Christian community, but also was known by all the powerful people in the Roman Empire. This being the case Festus, the Roman governor of Judea arranged for Agrippa to meet Paul who was at this time (circa 60AD) imprisoned in Caesarea. Paul used this opportunity to present the gospel to Agrippa II, but to no avail.  


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