Matthew 3

John the Baptizer Preaches

MATT 3:1-6         MARK 1:1-6        LUKE 3:1-6


MATT 3:1 – In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,  {Similar to Luke 3:1-2 & John 1:28}

[In those days] – About 30 years after Jesus was born (Luke 3:23).

[John the Baptist] – Son of a priest named Zechariah (Luke 1:5), he was also Jesus’ older cousin by half a year (Luke 1:36).  For info on his birth, see all of Luke 1.

[the wilderness of Judaea] – “in Bethabara beyond Jordan” (John 1:28).



MATT 3:2 – And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  {Similar to Luke 3:3}

[repent] – G3340 = to change your mind, to hate your past sins.  I say, “To turn to God”.

[kingdom of heaven] – Literally, kingdom of the sky (which includes the whole universe).  This phrase is only used in Matthew.  The Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are the same.  Compare Matt 4:17 with Mark 1:14-15, or check out Matt 19:23-24.  Some people say that the KOH and KOG are different; that the KOG consists of everything and belongs to the Father, while the KOH consists of only the physical universe and belongs to The Son, and because Matthew is the “Gospel of Jehovah’s King”.  That doesn’t make sense to me, and I can’t find evidence to support it.  Why would Jesus preach two different kingdoms that are coincidently interchangeable?

[at hand] – G1448 = near, approach, close.  In other words, it’s here.



MATT 3:3 – For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  {Similar to Mark 1:2-3, Luke 3:4-6, & John 1:23}

[spoken of by the prophet Esaias] – In Isaiah 40:3



MATT 3:4 –  And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.  {Similar to Mark 1:6}

[his raiment was camel’s hair] – Rough clothes were the mark of a prophet (Matt 11:8, Zech 13:4).  Richer people would wear soft clothes.  Earthly riches aren’t a common mark of a prophet.

[a leathern girdle] – Also worn by Elijah (2Ki 1:8).  John had the spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

[locusts] – Allowed to be eaten in Leviticus 11:22.  Not exactly food that rich people would eat.

[wild honey] – Honey from the wilderness.  John put honey on his locusts.  Yummy…



MATT 3:5 –  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, {Similar to Mark 1:5 & Luke 3:3}

[went out to him] – John attracted those nearby.  Jesus attracted those near and far (Matt 4:24-25).



MATT 3:6 –  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.  {Similar to Mark 1:4-5 & Luke 3:3}

[baptized] – G0907 = to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (fully wet).  It NEVER means to get partially wet, therefore “sprinkling” is not “baptizing”.  Why does it matter?  Because being immersed into water symbolizes death and burial with Christ (Rom 6:4 & Col 2:12), sprinkling doesn’t.

Why Only Immersion Is Correct – Immersion is the only way that people were ever baptized in the New Testament.  In Acts 8:27-39, a rich eunuch traveled on a chariot and learned the gospel from Phillip, and though it’s not written, it’s understood that Phillip explained that to be saved, the eunuch must be baptized.  The rich eunuch must have been carrying food and water on his chariot for the journey since he was traveling all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem.  So when he learned of the requirement to be baptized, why didn’t he say to Phillip, “Hey, I’ve got some jugs of water in the chariot that you could sprinkle me with”?  BECAUSE THAT’S NOT BAPTISM!  He saw a body of water (Acts 8:36), they went DOWN INTO the water (Acts 8:38), Phillip “immersed – G0907” the eunuch, then they CAME UP OUT OF the water (Acts 8:39).  The language and situation all imply submersion and never even hint of sprinkling or that sprinkling is acceptable even once.

Self Baptism is Wrong – We can’t baptize ourselves.  If we could, I guess Jesus would have.

Forced Baptism Is Wrong – As you see, the people John baptized came to him of their own choice and confessed their sins.  A person can’t receive the “baptism of repentance” (Acts 19:4) if they don’t sincerely repent.  To be baptized, you must “believe with all your heart” (Acts 8:37).

Baptizing Infants Is Wrong – Is like forced baptism and is unscriptural.  Circumcision was done when a boy was 8 days old (Lev 12:3), but the new covenant is different in that a Christian must preach/teach the gospel before he baptizes, which means a person must learn the gospel and understand it before they’re baptized (Matt 28:19-20 & Mark 16:15).  An infant, who has nothing to repent of and practically no understanding of anything can’t receive the gospel and therefore shouldn’t be baptized.  An infant can’t “confess the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), much less say anything.  Plus, Jesus said we ought to “be converted and become like little children” to enter the Kingdom (Matt 18:3).  If we are supposed to repent and become like little children, what are little children supposed to repent of and become like?  Not even Jesus was baptized until he was about 30 (Luke 3:23), so let that be an example to us.

Why the Thief on the Cross Didn’t Need Baptism – Baptism is necessary for salvation; it saves us (1Pet 3:21).  Baptism is symbolic of dying & being buried with Christ, and also raised back to life with Christ (Col 2:12 & Gal 2:20).  We only symbolically die with Christ but the thief on the cross literally died with Christ (Luke 23:32 & Luke 23:42-43).  That’s why the thief on the cross didn’t require baptism.

Compare Baptism & Sacrifice – There is a correct and an incorrect way of being baptized, just like there were right and wrong ways to sacrifice animals in the OT.  Take Cain and Able’s sacrifice for example.  Cain scarified food that came out of the cursed ground (Gen 3:17), which God didn’t respect (Gen 4:5) because there can’t be a remission for sins without blood (Heb 9:22).  The point is that if God didn’t respect Cain’s sacrifice, which wasn’t how people are taught to sacrifice, is it safe to believe that God will respect another form of baptism that we weren’t taught to perform, no matter if the heart is right?

[confessing their sins] – Why confess sins at baptism?  Because our “old man” or former self, is crucified with Him, which is how Jesus paid for our sins (Gal 3:13), and then from that point on, we don’t sin anymore (Rom 6:1-6).  If you don’t confess your sins at baptism, when do you?  If you have repented from your sins, you don’t continue sinning or you have turned back to your old ways (2Pet 2:22).  Why ask for forgiveness from past sins that are already forgiven which He doesn’t remember (Heb 8:12)?


Go back to Matthew – Owen’s Bible Study Notes

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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