Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 3:1

Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
New American Standard Version
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Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - John;   Judea;   Scofield Reference Index - Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Thompson Chain Reference - John the Baptist;   Leaders;   Ministers;   Preaching;   Religious;   Wildernesses;   The Topic Concordance - Baptism;   John the Baptist;   Kingdom of God;   Repentance;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Deserts;   Judea, Modern;   Prophecies Respecting Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Judea;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the baptist;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - John the Baptist;   Messiah;   Preach, Proclaim;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Holy Ghost;   Hutchinsonians;   Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - John the Baptist;   Judah, Tribe of;   Judea;   Wilderness;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   King, Christ as;   Machaerus;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Wilderness;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Baptism;   Jesus Christ;   John the Baptist;   Jordan;   Judaea;   Mss;   Preaching;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Baptism;   Day;   John the Baptist;   Judaea;   Surname;   Wilderness (2);   Winter ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - John the Baptist;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Judaea wilderness of;   Kingdom of christ of heaven;   Kingdom of god;   Kingdom of heaven;   Levi;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - John, the Baptize;   Jesus of Nazareth;   Kingdom or Church of Christ, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Chronology of the New Testament;   Judaea;   Judaea, Wilderness of;   Kingdom of God (of Heaven), the;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Preacher;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Baptism;   Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

John the Baptist - John, surnamed The Baptist, because he required those to be baptized who professed to be contrite because of their sins, was the son of a priest named Zacharias, and his wife Elisabeth, and was born about A. M. 3999, and about six months before our blessed Lord. Of his almost miraculous conception and birth, we have a circumstantial account in the Gospel of Luke, chap. 1: to which, and the notes there, the reader is requested to refer. For his fidelity in reproving Herod for his incest with his brother Philip's wife, he was cast into prison, no doubt at the suggestion of Herodias, the profligate woman in question. He was at last beheaded at her instigation, and his head given as a present to Salome, her daughter, who, by her elegant dancing, had highly gratified Herod, the paramour of her incestuous mother. His ministry was short; for he appears to have been put to death in the 27th or 28th year of the Christian era.

Came - preaching - Κηρυσσων, proclaiming, as a herald, a matter of great and solemn importance to men; the subject not his own, nor of himself, but from that God from whom alone he had received his commission. See on the nature and importance of the herald's office, at the end of this chapter. Κηρυσσειν, says Rosenmuller, de iis dicitur, qui in Plateis, in Campis, in Aere aperto, ut a multis audiantur, vocem tollunt, etc. "The verb κηρυσσειν is applied to those who, in the streets, fields, and open air, lift up their voice, that they may be heard by many, and proclaim what has been committed to them by regal or public authority; as the Kerukes among the Greeks, and the Precones among the Romans."

The wilderness of Judea - That is, the country parts, as distinguished from the city; for in this sense the word wilderness, מדבר midbar or מדבריות midbarioth, is used among the rabbins. John's manner of life gives no countenance to the eremite or hermit's life, so strongly recommended and applauded by the Roman Church.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/matthew-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In those days - The days here referred to cannot be those mentioned in the preceding chapter, for John was but six months older than Christ. Perhaps Matthew intended to embrace in his narrative the whole time that Jesus lived at Nazareth; and the meaning is, “in those days while Jesus still dwelt at Nazareth,” John began to preach. It is not probable that John began to baptize or preach long before the Saviour entered on his ministry; and, consequently, from the time that is mentioned in the close of the second chapter to that mentioned in the beginning of the third, an interval of twenty-five years or more elapsed.

John the Baptist - Or John the baptizer - so called from his principal office, that of baptizing. Baptism, or the application of water, was a rite well known to the Jews, and practiced when they admitted proselytes to their religion from paganism. - Lightfoot.

Preaching - The word rendered “preach” means to proclaim in the manner of a public crier; to make proclamation. The discourses recorded in the New Testament are mostly brief, sometimes consisting only of a single sentence. They were public proclamations of some great truth. Such appear to have been the discourses of John, calling people to repentance.

In the wilderness of Judea - This country was situated along the Jordan and the Dead Sea, to the east of Jerusalem. The word translated “wilderness” does not denote, as with us, a place of boundless forests, entirely destitute of inhabitants; but a mountainous, rough, and thinly settled country, covered to some considerable extent with forests and rocks, and better suited for pasture than for tilling. There were inhabitants in those places, and even villages, but they were the comparatively unsettled portions of the country, 1 Samuel 25:1-2. In the time of Joshua there were six cities in what was then called a wilderness, Joshua 15:61-62.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Matthew 3:1

John the Baptist.

I. The special mission of the Baptist.

1. He wag the herald of the Messiah.

2. He belonged, properly, neither to the Mosaic nor to the Christian dispensation. His was a transition ministry.

3. He was appointed to prepare for, as well as to announce, the introduction of the Gospel. A spiritual economy, demanding a process of moral and religious preparation.

4. His character corresponded with his office-stern.

II. The chief subject of his preaching.

1. The nature of repentance.

2. The duty of repentance.

3. The connection of repentance with faith in Christ.

4. The evidences of repentance. Learn

John the Baptist

1. His work.

2. His qualifications.

3. His message.

4. His Divine appointment.

5. His un-worldliness.

6. His popularity.

7. His courageous utterances. (D. C. Hughes,M. A.)

Wilderness

I. In his solitude he did breathe more pure inspiration.

1. Heaven was more open.

2. God was more familiar and frequent in His visitations.

3. In the wilderness his company was angels.

4. His employment, meditation and prayer.

5. His temptations, simple and from within.

6. His occasions of sin as few as his examples.

7. His condition such, that if his soul were at all busy, his life could not easily be other than the life of angels.

II. In solitude pious persons may go to heaven by the way of prayers and devotion’.

1. In society, by the way of mercy, charity, and dispensations to others.

2. In solitude there are fewer occasions of vices.

3. But also the exercise of fewer virtues.

4. Temptations though they be not from many objects, yet are in some circumstances more dangerous.

5. Because the worst of evils, spiritual pride seldom misses to creep upon those goodly oaks, like ivy, and suck their heart out.

6. As they communicate less with the world, so they do less charity and fewer offices of mercy.

III. Many holy persons have left their wilderness and sweetnesses of devotion in retirement to serve god in public, by the ways of charity and exterior offices.

IV. John the Baptist united both these lives; and our blessed Saviour … for He lived a life:

From both we are taught that-

I. Solitude is a good school.

II. The world is the best theatre.

III. The institution is best there, but the practice here.

IV. The wilderness hath one advantage of discipline.

V. Society hath opportunities of perfection.

VI. Privacy is best for devotion.

VII. Publicity for charity. (Jeremy Taylor.)

Wilderness of Judaea

Everything in this desert is of one colour-a tawny yellow. The rocks, the partridges, the camels, the foxes, the ibex, are all of this shade, and only the dark Bedawin and their black tents are distinguishable in the general glare From a very early period this horrible wilderness appears to have had an attraction for ascetics, who sought a retreat from the busy world of their fellowmen, and who thought to please God by torturing the bodies which He had given them. Thus the Essenes, the Jewish sect whose habits and tenets resembled so closely those of the first Christians, retired into this wilderness and lived in caves. Christian hermits, from the earliest period, were also numerous in all the country between Jerusalem and Jericho, and the rocks are riddled with caves in inaccessible places where they lived Lifeless and treeless though it be, nature prepares every day a glorious picture, quickly-fading but matchless in brilliance of colour; the distant ranges seem stained with purple and pink; in autumn the great bands of cloud sweep over the mountains with long bars of gleaming light between; and for a few minutes, as the sun sets, the deep crimson blush comes over the rocks and glorifies the whole landscape with an indescribable glow. (Lieut. Condor, R. E.)

Solitude sometimes conducive to usefulness

The Baptist did not rush from the society of his species into the solitudes of Judaea to hide his candle for ever under a bushel, as modern and ancient asceticism has done; but he resorted thither only from an unselfish and most expanded motive, namely, in order that his candle alight all the more brightly, and widely, and publicly shine, when he issued forth at length to preach, in the midst of mixed crowds, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (B. Jones.)

Solitude necessary to inward realization

Only in quiet, in solitude with God, in unbroken questioning with his own soul, can a prophet of God discover what God is saying to his spirit. (S. Brooke, M. A.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 3:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/matthew-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

DIVISION II

PREPARATION FOR HIS MESSIANIC WORK; THE HERALD; BAPTISM; TEMPTATION; AND HIS PUBLIC IDENTIFICATION BY JOHN THE BAPTIST

Matthew 3:1-4:11

MATT. 3

And in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2)

In those days ... that is, some thirty years after the events recorded in the previous chapter. This is typical of Matthew's slight attention to chronology. Jesus was about 30 years of age when he was baptized (Luke 3:23). The date of John's ministry is also given by Luke as occurring in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1).

John the Baptist ... John is called "the baptist" because he baptized people. McGarvey identified John as the originator, under God, of the ordinance of baptism.[1] Dummelow commented on the immense popularity of John the Baptist, "The public appearance of the Baptist marked a new era. He came forward in the two-fold capacity of a prophet and forerunner of the Messiah. Since prophecy had been silent for 400 years, and all patriotic Jews were longing for the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from the Roman yoke, it is not surprising that he was welcomed with enthusiasm; and that those who ventured to doubt his mission found it expedient to dissemble (Matthew 21:26)."[2] Jesus had the highest opinion of John (Luke 7:28). The Jewish priests said he was possessed by a demon (Matthew 11:18), but this poor opinion of John was a reflection upon themselves and sprang out of the evil in which they were engrossed.

The wilderness of Judaea ... was a strip of waste land also called a desert (Luke 1:80), lying west of the Dead Sea near the mouth of the Jordan. This wilderness platform of John's preaching served to identify him as "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." That John the Baptist was most certainly the person spoken of by the prophet, Isaiah, "is evident from the fact that he alone, of all the great preachers known to history, chose a wilderness as his place of preaching."[3]

Repent ye ... John's message was one of repentance. Benjamin Franklin, pioneer Restoration preacher, proclaimed that God appointed three changes in conversion and three actions designed to effect those three changes. These are FAITH to change the heart (mind); REPENTANCE to change the will; and BAPTISM to change the status. Repentance involving a change of the will is far more than mere sorrow for sin (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance is an instantaneous change of the will, induced by godly sorrow, and issuing forth in a reformation of life, and marked by restitution wherever possible. See under Matthew 18:3.

The kingdom of heaven ... This is the kingdom of Daniel 2:44. John was the herald of this approaching king, Christ, in his kingdom. That this wonderful new kingdom was not to be a kingdom of this world in the ordinary and secular sense was a fact unknown to the Jews and only dimly appreciated by the Twelve themselves, especially at first. The kingdom of God and the church are one and the same institution, and this fact is more and more apparent. See under Matthew 16:13-19.

Is at hand ... With the ministry of John the Baptist, the kingdom was near but not yet established. Moffatt's translation of this place is: "The reign of heaven is near." In Mark 9:1, Christ emphatically declared that the kingdom of God would be established with power within the lifetime of the apostles, saying, "Verily, I say unto you, There are some here of them who stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power." Both Christ and Judas Iscariot were to taste of death before the kingdom began; and, therefore, the words "some of them" are most precisely accurate.

[1] J. W. McGarvey, New Testament Commentary (Delight, Arkansas: Gospel Light Publishing Co.), p. 33.

[2] J. R. Dummelow, One Volume Commentary (New York: Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 629.

[3] J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 34.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/matthew-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

In those days came John the Baptist,.... The Evangelist having given an account of the genealogy and birth of Christ; of the coming of the wise men from the east to him; of his preservation from Herod's bloody design against him, when all the infants at Bethlehem were slain; of the flight of Joseph with Mary and Jesus into Egypt, and of their return from thence, and settlement in Nazareth, where Christ continued till near the time of his baptism, and entrance on his public ministry; proceeds to give a brief relation of John, the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, and the administrator of baptism to him: and he describes him by his name John, in Hebrew יוחנן, "Jochanan", which signifies "gracious", or "the grace of the Lord", or "the Lord has given grace"; which agrees with him, both as a good man, on whom the Lord had bestowed much grace, and as a preacher, whose business it was to publish the grace of God in Christ, Luke 16:16. This name was given him by an angel before his conception, and by his parents at his birth, contrary to the mind of their relations and neighbours, Luke 1:13. He is called by some of the Jewish writersF13Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2. Chronicon Regum, fol. 54. 4. , John the "high priest"; his father Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia, and he might succeed him therein, and be the head of that course, and for that reason be called a "high" or "chief priest"; as we find such were called, who were the principal among the priests, as were those who were chosen into the sanhedrim, or were the heads of these courses; and therefore we read of many chief priests, Matthew 2:4. From his being the first administrator of the ordinance of baptism, he is called John the Baptist; and this was a well known title and character of him. JosephusF14Antiq. l. 18. c. 7. calls him "John", who is surnamed ο βαπτιστης, "the Baptist"; and Ben Gorion having spoken of him, saysF15L. 5. c. 45. , this is that John who עשה טבילה, "made", instituted, or practised "baptism"; and which, by the way, shows that this was not in use among the Jews before, but that John was the first practiser this way. He is described by his work and office as a preacher, he "came" or "was preaching" the doctrines of repentance and baptism; he published and declared that the kingdom of the Messiah was at hand, that he would quickly be revealed; and exhorted the people to believe on him, which should come after him. The place where he preached is mentioned,

in the wilderness of Judea; not that he preached to trees and to the wild beasts of the desert; for the wilderness of Judea was an habitable place, and had in it many cities, towns, and villages, in which we must suppose John came preaching, at least to persons which came out from thence. There were in Joshua's time six cities in this wilderness, namely Betharabah, Middin, and Secacah, and Nibshan, and the city of Salt, and Engedi, Joshua 15:61. Mention is made in the TalmudF16T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol, 79. 9. 2. of this wilderness of Judea, as distinct from the land of Israel, when the doctors say, that

"they do not bring up small cattle in the land of Israel, but they bring them up במדבר שביהודה, "in the wilderness which is in Judea".'

The Jews have an observationF17Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 13. 3. of many things coming from the wilderness;

"the law, they say, came from the wilderness; the tabernacle from the wilderness; the sanhedrim from the wilderness; the priesthood from the wilderness; the office of the Levites from the wilderness; the kingdom from the wilderness; and all the good gifts which God gave to Israel were from the wilderness.'

So John came preaching here, and Christ was tempted here. The time of his appearance and preaching was in those days: not when Christ was newly born; or when the wise men paid their adoration to him; or when Herod slew the infants; or when he was just dead, and Archelaus reigned in his room; or when Christ first went to Nazareth; though it was whilst he dwelt there as a private person; but when John was about thirty years of age, and Christ was near unto it, Luke 3:23 an age in which ecclesiastical persons entered into service, Numbers 4:3. It was indeed, as Luke says, Luke 3:1 in the "fifteenth" year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar; Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea; and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee; and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea; and of the region of Trachonitis; and Lysanias, the tetrarch of Abilene; Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

In a those days came 1 John the Baptist, preaching in the b wilderness of Judaea,

(a) Not when Joseph went to dwell at Nazareth, but a great while after, about fifteen years: for in the 30th year of his life Jesus was baptized by John: therefore "those days" means the time when Jesus remained as an inhabitant of the town of Nazareth. {(1)} John, who through his singular holiness and rare austerity of life caused men to cast their eyes on him, prepares the way for Christ who is following fast on his heels, as the prophet Isaiah foretold, and delivers the sum of the gospel, which a short time later would be delivered more fully.

(b) In a hilly country, which was nonetheless inhabited, for Zacharias dwelt there, (Luke 1:39-40), and there was Joab's house, (1 Kings 2:34); and besides these, Joshua makes mention of six towns that were in the wilderness, (Joshua 15:61-62).

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/matthew-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Matthew 3:1-12. Preaching and Ministry of John. (= Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18).

For the proper introduction to this section, we must go to Luke 3:1, Luke 3:2. Here, as Bengel well observes, the curtain of the New Testament is, as it were, drawn up, and the greatest of all epochs of the Church commences. Even our Lord‘s own age is determined by it (Luke 3:23). No such elaborate chronological precision is to be found elsewhere in the New Testament, and it comes fitly from him who claims it as the peculiar recommendation of his Gospel, that “he had traced down all things with precision from the very first” (Matthew 1:3). Here evidently commences his proper narrative.
Luke 3:1:

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar - not the fifteenth from his full accession on the death of Augustus, but from the period when he was associated with him in the government of the empire, three years earlier, about the end of the year of Rome 779, or about four years before the usual reckoning.
Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea - His proper title was procurator, but with more than the usual powers of that office. After holding it for about ten years, he was summoned to Rome to answer to charges brought against him; but ere he arrived, Tiberius died (a.d. 35), and soon after miserable Pilate committed suicide.

And Herod being tetrarch of Galilee - (See on Mark 6:14).

and his brother Philip - a very different and very superior Philip to the one whose name was Herod Philip, and whose wife, Herodias, went to live with Herod Antipas (see on Mark 6:17).

tetrarch of Ituraea - lying to the northeast of Palestine, and so called from Itur or Jetur, Ishmael‘s son (1 Chronicles 1:31), and anciently belonging to the half-tribe of Manasseh.

and of the region of Trachonitis - lying farther to the northeast, between Iturea and Damascus; a rocky district infested by robbers, and committed by Augustus to Herod the Great to keep in order.
and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene - still more to the northeast; so called, says Robinson, from Abila, eighteen miles from Damascus.
Luke 3:2:

Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests - The former, though deposed, retained much of his influence, and, probably, as sagan or deputy, exercised much of the power of the high priesthood along with Caiaphas, his son-in-law (John 18:13; Acts 4:6). In David‘s time both Zadok and Abiathar acted as high priests (2 Samuel 15:35), and it seems to have been the fixed practice to have two (2 Kings 25:18).
the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness - Such a way of speaking is never once used when speaking of Jesus, because He was Himself The Living Word; whereas to all merely creature-messengers of God, the word they spoke was a foreign element. See on John 3:31. We are now prepared for the opening words of Matthew.

In those days — of Christ‘s secluded life at Nazareth, where the last chapter left Him.

came John the Baptist, preaching — about six months before his Master.

in the wilderness of Judea — the desert valley of the Jordan, thinly peopled and bare in pasture, a little north of Jerusalem.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/matthew-3.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

1. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

[John The Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea.] That John was born in Hebron, one may not unfitly conjecture by comparing Luke 1:39 with Joshua 21:11; and that he was born about the feast of the Passover, namely, half a year before the nativity of our Saviour, Luke 1:36. So the conceptions and births of the Baptist and our Saviour ennobled the four famous tekuphas [revolutions] of the year: one being conceived at the summer solstice, the other at the winter; one born at the vernal equinox, the other at the autumnal.

"John lived in the deserts, until he made himself known unto Israel," Luke 1:80. That is, if the pope's school may be interpreter, he led the life of a hermit. But,

I. Be ashamed, O papist, to be so ignorant of the sense of the word wilderness, or desert; which in the common dialect sounds all one as if it had been said, "He lived in the country, not in the city; his education was more coarse and plain in the country, without the breeding of the university, or court at Jerusalem." An oblation for thanksgiving consists of five Jerusalem seahs, which were in value six seahs of the wilderness; that is, six country seahs.

"A Jerusalem seah exceeds a seah of the wilderness by a sixth part."

"The trees of the wilderness are those which are common, and not appropriate to one master": that is, trees in groves and common meadows.

So 2 Corinthians 11:26: "in perils in the city, and in perils in the country."

II. The wildernesses of the land of Canaan were not without towns and cities; nor was he presently to be called an Eremite who dwelt in the wilderness. The hill-country of Judea, John's native soil, is called by the Talmudists, The royal mountain, or hill; and by the Psalmist, The desert hill-country, Psalm 75:6; and yet "in the royal mountain were a myriad of cities."

III. David passed much of his youth in the wilderness, 1 Samuel 17:28: but yet, who will call him an eremite? In the like sense I conceive John living in the deserts, not only spending his time in leisure and contemplation, but employing himself in some work, or studies. For when I read, that the youth of our Saviour was taken up in the carpenter's trade, I scarcely believe his forerunner employed his youth in no calling at all.

Beginning now the thirtieth year of his age, when, according to the custom of the priests, he ought to have come to the chief Sanhedrim to undergo their examination, and to be entered into the priesthood by them, "the word of God coming unto him," Luke 3:2, as it had done before to the prophets, he is diverted to another ministry.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/matthew-3.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

In those days. Many years after the incidents of the last chapter; somewhere from twenty-five to thirty.

Came John the Baptist. Called the Baptist or {Baptizer} because he baptized the people. He came forth as a preacher and reformer. He was the subject of prophecy (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1); his birth was announced by an angel; he was of a priestly family, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary. He was now about thirty years old.

Preaching in the wilderness of Judea. A region thinly inhabited, used mostly for pasture, a rocky tract in the eastern part of Judea and west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/matthew-3.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

And in those days cometh John the Baptist (εν δε ταις ημεραις παραγινεται Ιωανης ο απτιστηςen de tais hēmerais paraginetai Iōanēs ho Baptistēs). Here the synoptic narrative begins with the baptism of John (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:2; Luke 3:1) as given by Peter in Acts 1:22, “from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us” (cf. also Acts 10:37-43, Peter‘s summary to Cornelius very much like the outline of Mark‘s Gospel). Matthew does not indicate the date when John appeared as Luke does in ch. 3 (the fifteenth year of Tiberius‘s reign). It was some thirty years after the birth of John, precisely how long after the return of Joseph and Mary to Nazareth we do not know. Moffatt translates the verb (παραγινεταιparaginetai) “came on the scene,” but it is the historical present and calls for a vivid imagination on the part of the reader. There he is as he comes forward, makes his appearance. His name John means “Gift of Jehovah” (cf. German Gotthold) and is a shortened form of Johanan. He is described as “the Baptist,” “the Baptizer” for that is the rite that distinguishes him. The Jews probably had proselyte baptism as I. Abrahams shows (Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, p. 37). But this rite was meant for the Gentiles who accepted Judaism. John is treating the Jews as Gentiles in demanding baptism at their hands on the basis of repentance.

Preaching in the wilderness of Judea (Κηρυσσων εν τηι ερημωι της ΙουδαιαςKērussōn en tēi erēmōi tēs Ioudaias). It was the rough region in the hills toward the Jordan and the Dead Sea. There were some people scattered over the barren cliffs. Here John came in close touch with the rocks, the trees, the goats, the sheep, and the shepherds, the snakes that slipped before the burning grass over the rocks. He was the Baptizer, but he was also the Preacher, heralding his message out in the barren hills at first where few people were, but soon his startling message drew crowds from far and near. Some preachers start with crowds and drive them away.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/matthew-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

In those days

The phrase is indefinite, but always points back to a preceding date; in this case to the date of the settlement of the family at Nazareth. “In those days,” i.e., some time during the nearly thirty years since that settlement.

John

Hebrew, meaning God has dealt graciously. Compare the German Gotthold.

Came ( παραγίνεται )

Rev., cometh. The verb is used in what is called the historical present, giving vividness to the narrative, as Carlyle (“French Revolution”). “But now also the National Deputies from all ends of France are in Paris with their commissions.” “In those days appears John the Baptist.”

Preaching ( κηρύσσων )

See on 2 Peter 2:5.

Wilderness ( τῇ ἐήμω )

Not suggesting absolute barrenness but unappropriated territory affording free range for shepherds and their flocks. Hepworth Dixon (“The Holy Land”) says, “Even in the wilderness nature is not so stern as man. Here and there, in clefts and basins, and on the hillsides, grade on grade, you observe a patch of corn, a clump of olives, a single palm.”

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/matthew-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

In those days - that is, while Jesus dwelt there. In the wilderness of Judea - This was a wilderness properly so called, a wild, barren, desolate place as was that also where our Lord was tempted. But, generally speaking, a wilderness in the New Testament means only a common, or less cultivated place, in opposition to pasture and arable land. Mark 1:1 ; Luke 3:1 .
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/matthew-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And in those days1 cometh John2 the Baptist3, preaching4 in the wilderness of Judaea5, saying,
    JOHN THE BAPTIST'S PERSON AND PREACHING. (In the wilderness of Judea, and on the banks of the Jordan, occupying several months, probably A.D. 25 or 26.) Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18

  1. In those days. Some take this expression as referring to the years when Jesus dwelt at Nazareth. But it is better to regard it as a Hebraism equivalent to "that age" or "that era" (Exodus 2:11). It contrasts the era when the Baptist lived with the era when Matthew wrote his Gospel, just as we say "in these days of enlightenment" when we wish to contrast the present time with the days of the American Revolution.

  2. John. He was cousin to Jesus.

  3. The Baptist. So called because God first gave through him the ordinance of baptism. It has been erroneously thought by some that John borrowed this ordinance from the Jewish practice of proselyte baptism. This could not be, for John baptized his converts, but Jewish proselytes baptized themselves. The law required such self-baptism of all persons who were unclean (Leviticus 14:9; Numbers 19:19; Numbers 8:7). More than twenty distinct cases are specified in which the law required bathing or self-baptism, and it is to these Paul refers when he states that the law consisted in part of "various washings" (Hebrews 9:10). But the law did not require this of proselytes, and proselyte baptism was a human appendage to the divinely given Jewish ritual, just as infant baptism is to the true Christian ritual. Proselyte baptism is not mentioned in history till the third century of the Christian era. Neither Josephus, nor Philo, nor the Apocrypha, nor the Targums say anything about it, though they all mention proselytes. In fact, the oldest mention of it in Jewish writings is in the Babylonian Gemara, which was completed about 500 years after Christ. The New Testament implies the non-existence of proselyte baptism (Matthew 21:25; John 1:25,33). John could hardly have been called the "Baptist" had he used an old- time rite in the accustomed manner. The Baptist was a link between the Old and New Testament. Belonging to the Old, he announced the New.

  4. Preaching. Not sermonizing, but crying out a message as a king's herald making a proclamation, or a policeman crying "Fire!" in a slumbering time. His discourse was brief and unembellished. Its force lay in the importance of the truth announced. It promised to the Hebrew the fulfillment of two thousand years of longing. It demanded repentance, but for a new reason. The old call to repentance had wooed with the promise of earthly blessings, and warned with the threat of earthly judgments; but John's repentance had to do with the kingdom of heaven and things eternal. It suggested the Holy Spirit as a reward, and unquenchable fire as punishment.

  5. In the wilderness of Judaea. That part of the wilderness which John chose for the scene of his ministry is a desert plain, lying along the western bank of the Jordan, between Jericho and the Dead Sea.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/matthew-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

In those days; during the remaining period of his infancy and youth, Jesus resided at Nazareth. As John was but six months older than our Savior, and as Jesus was about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23) when he commenced his public ministry, a long period must have elapsed between the events mentioned at the close of the last chapter, and those described in this and the succeeding verses.--Wilderness; a solitary country region, remote from the villages and towns.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/matthew-3.html. 1878.

Scofield's Reference Notes

He shall be called

Probably referring to Isaiah 11:1 where Christ is spoken of as "a netzer (or, 'rod') out of the stem of Jesse."

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Matthew 3:1". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/matthew-3.html. 1917.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Chapter opens with an account of the ministry of .John the Baptist. The description of his office and ministry. The Chapter closeth with an account of his baptizing the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the glorious manifestations on the occasion.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/matthew-3.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

Ver. 1. In those days came John the Baptist] Whom Chrysologus fitly calleth fibulam legis et gratiae, the bond or buckle of both Testaments. He standeth as that angel, with one foot on the sea (the law), and with the other foot on the land (the gospel), Revelation 10:1.

Preaching in the wilderness of Judea] A place wherein we find six cities with their villages, Joshua 15:62, but called a wilderness, because more thinly inhabited. In which sense we may say of Germany, that Aceldama or field of blood, and many other once rich and fertile countries, that they are become a wilderness, war being a tragedy that always destroys the stage whereon it is acted; but for the wickedness of them that dwell therein it is that a fruitful land is turned into a wilderness, saith David, Psalms 107:34. And the heathen historian, Herodotus, saith little less, when he tells us that the ruin and rubbish of Troy are set by God before the eyes of men, for an example of that rule, that great sins have great punishments. Iam seges est ubi Troia fuit. Now grain grows where Troy was. (Ovid.) Now alterius perditio sit tua cautio, saith an ancient: not to be warned by others is a sure presage of ruin. (Isidore soliloq.) Scipio beheld and bewailed the downfall of Rome in the destruction of Carthage. And when Hannibal was beleaguering Saguntum in Spain, the Romans were as sensible thereof as if he had been then beating upon the walls of their Capitol. (Livy.) A storm often times begins in one place and ends in another. When the sword rides circuit (as a judge) it is in commission, Ezekiel 14:17; Jeremiah 47:6-7. And, "When I begin" (saith God) "I will make an end," 1 Samuel 3:12. We cannot but foresee a storm, unless we be of those in Bernard, who seek straws to put out their eyes with. {a} If we break not off our sins by repentance (that there may be a lengthening of our tranquillity, Daniel 4:27), a removal of our candlestick may be as certainly foreseen and foretold as if visions and letters were sent us from heaven, as once to the Church of Ephesus. God may well say to us, as to them of old, "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of darkness?" Jeremiah 2:31; or, as Themistocles to his Athenians, Are ye weary of receiving so many benefits by one man? Bona a tergo formosissima. Our sins have long since solicited an utter dissolution and desolation of all; and that we should be made a heap and a hissing, a waste and a wilderness. Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 49:2. Quod Deus avertat. Because God left.

{a} Qui festucam quaerunt, unde oculos sibi eruant.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/matthew-3.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Ministry of John the Baptist.

v. 1. In those days came John the Baptist.

The method here used by Matthew to introduce a new section in his history of the Savior is one employed by the holy writers to refer to a preceding date or occurrence, Exo_2:11-23; Isa_38:1. It was during the residence of Jesus in Nazareth, during the period of His obscurity, when He was quietly growing in wisdom and age, and in favor with God and man, Luk_2:52. Luke's narrative is here characterized by a most careful fixing of time, Luk_3:1-2 as befits so exact an historian, but our present passage is dramatically most effective. Those were memorable days and years to which our wistful, Revelation rent gaze turns back, which the eyes of our spirit do not tire to behold. John, surnamed the Baptist, came in those days; he entered upon his ministry, for which he had been intended and prepared even before his birth, Luk_1:15-17. He is distinguished from John the Apostle and bears the name Baptist from the outstanding feature of his public work, since he baptized those that confessed their sins. It was necessary, to this end, that the hearts of the people be properly prepared, and therefore John came,

v. 1. preaching in the wilderness of Judea.

Not primarily as a teacher, but as a preacher and exhorter he came, solemnly proclaiming, heralding the approach of the kingdom of heaven. And this with all the greater impressiveness, since his abode was in the wilderness of Judea, away from the usual haunts of men, in the mountainous, rugged country toward the Dead Sea, and in the steppes, or pasture lands, sloping down from there to the valley of the Jordan. Interesting, because different!

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/matthew-3.html. 1921-23.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Matthew 3:1

I. John was the finisher of one, and the introducer of a new dispensation. His words found an echo in all hearts, for what had stirred in him had been stirring in the Jews, only they could not give it clear expression. The new epoch of thoughts took substance as the Baptist spoke. He threw into words, and in doing so interpreted, the wordless passion of a thousand souls. That it is to be a preacher.

II. Of all the blessed works which God gives to man to do in this life, there is none more blessed than that of the awakener—of the interpreter. It is the work which I would that all who see beyond the present, and whose eyes God has opened, would now undertake in England; for there is a movement abroad in society which ought to be made constant, and which needs an interpreter of its meaning. Old thoughts, old institutions are ready to perish; the old forms do not fit the new thought, the new wants, the new aspirations of men. New wine has been poured into old bottles, and the old bottles are bursting on every side. There is a stirring of all the surface waters of English life and thought, but no one can tell why they are stirred; there is something at work beneath which no man sees, which causes all these conflicting and commingling currents, all this trouble on the upper waters.

III. There is, however, in it all that which is inexpressibly cheering. It tells us plainly that Christ is coming, not in final judgment, but in some great revolution of life and thought. We are waiting for the Sun of Righteousness to rise, and to illumine the new way on which we are entering. Let us be ready for our John the Baptist when He comes; let us pray for the Interpreter and the Awaker, who will come and say to us, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Let us live in prayer, and progress, and patient watching for His presence.

S. A. Brooke, Sermons, 1st series, p. 148.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/matthew-3.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Matthew 3:1. In those days That is, while Jesus was yet at Nazareth, where he dwelt till he entered on his public ministry, in the thirtieth year of his age. It is usual with authors to denote the times they are speaking of in an indeterminate manner. St. Luke, chap. Matthew 3:2 has specified this period very particularly; and as he has given us a morefull and exact account of John the Baptist than St. Matthew, we shall refer our readers to the notes on his Gospel. The wilderness of Judea was not a place wholly void of inhabitants; but hilly, and not so fruitful or so well inhabited as the rest of Judaea; though there were several cities in it. Joshua reckons six. See Joshua 15:61-62. St John was born and had been brought up in this wilderness. Compare Luke 1:39-40.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/matthew-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The preacher sent by God, John the Baptist, a pattern of mortification, and a preacher of repentance.

Observe, 2. The place he is sent to preach in, The wilderness of Judea; not in populous Jerusalem, but in a barren wilderness, where the inhabitants are few, and probably very ignorant and rude.

Learn hence, That it is God's prerogative to send forth the preachers of the gospel, when and whither, and to what people he pleases; and none must assume the office before they be sent.

Observe, 3. The doctrine that he preaches; namely, the doctrine of repentance, Repent ye. This was to prepare the people for the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel.

Learn thence, that the preaching of the doctrine of repentance is absolutely necessary, in order to the preparing of the hearts of sinners for the receivimg Christ Jesus and his holy doctrine.

Observe, 4. The motives which St. John uses to enforce the exhortation to repentance. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

That is, now is the so-much-expected time of the appearing of the Messiah come; the Old Testament dispensation is now to be abolished, and the mercy and grace of the gospel is now to be revealed; therefore repent, and amend your lives.

Note thence, That the free and full tenders of grace and mercy in the gospel, are the most alluring arguments to move a sinner to repent, and to convert to God.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/matthew-3.html. 1700-1703.

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels

Ver

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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/matthew-3.html.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1. ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμ. ἐκ.] The last matter mentioned was the dwelling at Nazareth: and though we must not take the connexion strictly as implying that Joseph dwelt there all the intermediate thirty years, the ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι must be understood to mean that we take up the persons of the narrative where we left them; i.e. dwelling at Nazareth. See Exodus 2:11, LXX.

παραγίνεται] Comes forward—‘makes his appearance.’ Euthym(19) asks the question, πόθεν; and answers it, ἀπὸ τῆς ἐνδοτέρας ἐρήμου. But this can hardly be, owing to the ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ following. The verb is used absolutely. The title ἰω. ὁ βαπτ. shews that St. Matthew was writing for those who well knew John the Baptist as an historical personage. Josephus, in mentioning him (Antt. xviii. 5. 2), calls him ἰωάννης ὁ ἐπικαλούμενος βαπτιστής. John was strictly speaking a prophet; belonging to the legal dispensation; a rebuker of sin, and preacher of repentance. The expression in St. Luke, ἐγένετο ῥῆμα θεοῦ ἐπὶ ἰωάννην, is the usual formula for the Divine commission of the Prophets (Jeremiah 1:1; Ezekiel 6:1; Ezekiel 7:1, &c.). And the effect of the Holy Spirit on John was more in accordance with the O.T. than the N.T. inspiration; more of a sudden overpowering influence, as in the Prophets, than a gentle indwelling manifested through the individual character, as in the Apostles and Evangelists.

The baptism of John was of a deeper significance than that usual among the Jews in the case of proselytes, and formed an integral part of his divinely appointed office. It was emphatically the baptism of repentance ( λουτρὸν μετανοίας, says Olshausen (cf. Luke 3:3), but not λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας, Titus 3:5). We find in Acts 18:24-26; Acts 19:1-7, accounts of persons who had received the baptism of John, who believed and (in Apollos’s case) taught accurately the things (i.e. facts) concerning the Lord; but required instruction (in doctrine) and rebaptizing in the name of the Lord Jesus. Whether the baptism practised by the disciples before the Resurrection was of the same kind, and required this renewal, is uncertain. The fact of our Lord Himself having received baptism from John, is decisive against the identity of the two rites, as also against the idea (Olsh. i. 154, note) derived from Acts 19:4, that John used the formula βαπτίζω σε εἰς τὸν ἐρχόμενον. His whole mission, as Olsh. well observes, was calculated, in accordance with the office of the law which gives the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), to bring men’s minds into that state in which the Redeemer invites them (ch. Matthew 11:28), as weary and heavy laden, to come to him.

ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ] where also he had been brought up, Luke 1:80. This tract was not strictly a desert, but thinly peopled, and abounding in pastures for flocks. Josephus, B. J. iii. 10. 7, says, that the Jordan διατέμνει τὴν γεννήσαρ μέσην, ἔπειτα πολλὴν ἀναμετρούμενος ἐρημίαν εἰς τὴν ἀσφαλτῖτιν ἔξεισι λίμνην. See Judges 1:16; 1 Kings 2:34. This ἔρημος answers to πᾶσα περίχωρος τοῦ ἰορδάνου in Luke 3:3. See note on ch. Matthew 4:1.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/matthew-3.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 3:1. ἐνἐκείναις] בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, Exodus 2:11; Exodus 2:23; Isaiah 38:1. Indefinite determination of time, which, however, always points back to a date which has preceded it. Mark 1:9; Luke 2:1. Here: at the time when Jesus still sojourned at Nazareth. The evangelist passes over the history of the youth of Jesus, and at once goes onwards to the forerunner of the Messiah; for he might not have had at his command any written documents, and sufficiently trustworthy traditions regarding it, since the oldest manner of presenting the gospel history, as still retained in Mark, began first with John the Baptist, to which beginning our evangelist also turns without further delay. It employs in so doing only the very indefinite transition with the same simplicity of unstudied historical writing, as in Exodus 2:11, where by the same expression is meant the time when Moses still sojourned at the court of Egypt, though not the time of his childhood (Matthew 3:10), but of his manhood. Accordingly, the following hypotheses are unnecessary; that of Paulus: in the original document, from which Matthew borrowed the following narrative, something about John the Baptist may have preceded, to which this note of time was appended, which Matthew retained, without adopting that preliminary matter; of Holtzmann: that a look forward to Mark 1:9 here betrays itself; of Schneckenburger (üb. d. erste kanon. Ev. p. 120): that in the gospel according to the Hebrews ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἡρώδου erroneously stood, instead of which Matthew put the indefinite statement before us; of Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 55: in the older narrative, which lay at the foundation of our Matthew, the genealogical tree of Jesus was perhaps followed by ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἡρώδου τοῦ βασιλέως τῆς ἰουδαίας ἦλθεν (or ἐγένετο) ἰωάννης; compare also Keim, Gesch. J. I. p. 61. The correct view was already adopted by Chrysostom and his followers, Beza, Camerarius, Bengel: “Jesu habitante Nazarethae, Matthew 2:23; notatur non breve, sed nulla majori mutatione notabile intervallum.” It is Luke 3:1 which first gives the more precise determination of time, and that very minutely.

παραγίνεται] Historic present, as in Matthew 2:13. Euth. Zigabenus: πόθεν ἰωάννης παραγέγονεν; ἀπὸ τῆς ἐνδοτέρας ʼρήμου. Opposed to this is the ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ that follows. Matthew has only the more general and indefinite expression: he arrives, he appears. Luke 12:51; Hebrews 9:11.

βαπτιστ.] Josephus, Antt. xviii. 5. 2 : ἰωάνν. ἐπικαλούμενος βαπτιστής.

ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς ἰουδαίας] מִדְבַּר יְהוּדָה, Judges 1:16, Joshua 15:61, a level plain adapted for the feeding of cattle, sparsely cultivated and inhabited,(375) which begins at Tekoa, and extends as far as the Dead Sea. Winer, Realwörterb. s.v. Wüste; Tobler, Denkblätter aus Jerus. p. 682; Keim, Gesch. J. I. p. 484 f. The mention of the locality is more precise in Luke 3:2 f.; but that in Matthew, in which the wilderness is not marked off geographically from the valley of the Jordan, which was justified by the nature of the soil (Josephus, Bell. iii. 10. 7, iv. 8. 2 f.), and involuntarily called forth by the following prophecy, is not incorrect. Comp. Ebrard (in answer to Strauss); Keim, l.c. p. 494.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/matthew-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 3:1. ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, in those days) In the Evangelistaries1(112) this formula merely denotes the commencement of an extract; but in the Gospels it has a more definite meaning. In the present case it signifies, “whilst Jesus was dwelling at Nazareth.”—See ch. Matthew 2:23.(113) An interval of time is denoted between the events last recorded and those now mentioned, not short, yet not remarkable for any great change.— παραγίνεται, cometh) This word is pleasantly repeated at Matthew 3:13 : the LXX. frequently introduce it in the present tense.— κηρύσσων, preaching) sc. loudly. The expression in Matthew 3:3, φωνὴ βοῶντος (the voice of one crying), agrees with this. The words βαπτιστὴς, the Baptist, and κηρύσσων, preaching, declare the two parts of John’s office.— ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, in the wilderness) See Matthew 3:3.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/matthew-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

MATTHEW CHAPTER 3

Matthew 3:1-4 The preaching of John the Baptist; his office, and

manner of living.

Matthew 3:5,6 He baptizeth in Jordan,

Matthew 3:7-12 and rebuketh the Pharisees.

Matthew 3:13-17 Christ is baptized, and receiveth a witness from heaven.

That is, in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, (as Luke expounds it, Luke 3:1) when John the Baptist and Christ also were about thirty years of age, Luke 3:23, for there was no great difference betwixt the age of Christ and John, as may be learned from Luke 1:31,41,57.

In those days, while Joseph and Mary, and our blessed Lord, dwelt in Nazareth. See Exodus 2:11. This phrase in those days is the same with in those years. It is an ordinary thing in the Hebrew to confound the words signifying a day and a year, and the Greeks did the same, as appears by the seventy interpreters, 1 Samuel 1:3,7. The evangelists pass over with a great deal of silence our Saviour’s minority, only mentioning his disputing with the doctors in the temple, Luke 2:46.

Came John the Baptist; John the son of Zacharias, Luke 3:2, called the Baptist, either because he baptized Christ, or because by him God instituted the ordinance of baptism, which before that time the Jews used in the admission of their proselytes.

Preaching according to his commission, Luke 3:2, where it is said the word of the Lord came to him.

In the wilderness of Judea; some parts of Judea, where houses and inhabitants were very few. None must think that the history of the second chapter is continued in this, there was a distance of twenty-eight or twenty-nine years; the evangelist designing not to satisfy men’s curiosity, but only to give us that part of Christ’s story which might be profitable to us to know.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/matthew-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Иоанн Креститель Ср. Мк.1:2-14; Лк.1:5-25, 57-80; 3:3-20; Ин.1:6-8, 19-39.

пустыне Иудейской Это абсолютно бесплодная пустыня, располагавшаяся к западу от Мертвого моря. Там находились общины иудейской секты ессеев. Но в Библии нет подтверждений того, что Иоанн каким-либо образом был связан с этой сектой. Иоанн, вероятно, проповедовал в северной части этого региона, ближе к месту, где Иордан впадает в Мертвое море (ст. 6). Эта местность находилась на расстоянии одного дня пути от Иерусалима и, на первый взгляд, была не совсем подходящим местом для возвещения о прибытии Царя. Но это полностью соответствует Божиим планам (1Кор.1:26-29).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/matthew-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Baptist; the baptizer, a title given to John because he baptized.

The wilderness of Judea; bordering on the Jordan and the Dead sea. It was a rough and thinly settled region, occupied chiefly as a place for pasturage.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/matthew-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

§ 15. — COMING AND MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, Matthew 3:1-13.

1.In those days — The days in which our Saviour dwelt at Nazareth, as is detailed in the last chapter.

Yet between the two chapters an interval of near thirty years has transpired. The infant Saviour has grown to manhood, and the period when the main work of his mission must be accomplished has arrived. His reputed father, Joseph, after living for some years as a carpenter at Nazareth, had died. His maternal brothers and sisters had grown up around him. The prodigies which attended his birth had almost passed from memory. His younger brothers, ignorant of the occurrence, doubted his claims to the Messiahship. His mother almost alone retained the remembrance undimmed; so that when the time for his first miracle arrived (John 2:3) she erred, not by want of faith, but by impatience for the mighty work.

Why did the brethren of our Lord, and his Nazarene townsmen, not recognize in his perfection of childhood his divine nature? This is not wonderful. It is probable that his innocent goodness appeared tame and insipid to their depraved tastes. It attracted less notice than the flaring smartness of many a boyish genius, or the precocity of any boyish bully. The sinless man was despised and rejected; no wonder the sinless child. Of the personal appearance of Jesus, not the slightest description is given in the New Testament. Pictures of him were in existence as early as the fourth century; but they are rather representatives of the ideal of Jesus in the mind of a man of pictorial genius, than an authentic likeness of his person.

Came — The evangelist says not that John lived; or that he appeared or flourished; but emphatically he came. The beginning of the explanation of the word is found in Matthew 17:10-13, where our Lord declares that John the Baptist is Elias (Elijah) that should come. And by this we are referred to the fourth chapter of Malachi, which chapter should be well studied, in connection with the history of Elijah the prophet, by all who would get the key to the character of John. For John was the antitype of Elias, and in him Malachi 4:5 was fulfilled.

John the Baptist — His miraculous birth, with its attendant wonders, is narrated by Luke, chap. 1. John was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, devout persons and of priestly rank. His mother was cousin of Mary, the blessed virgin mother. His birth was six months previous to that of the Messiah. It was pre-announced by the angel Gabriel, was attended by marked miracles, and celebrated by his father in an inspired song. He waxed strong in spirit, and preparatory to his stern mission “he was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.” While our Saviour was maturing to manhood in Galilee, John was growing up to be his forerunner in the hill country of Judea; so totally unacquainted, that when Jesus came into John’s presence for baptism, the Baptizer knew him not.

The Baptist — That is, the Baptizer. Many learned men have maintained that the baptism of proselytes existed among the Jews before the coming of John. After a critical review of the question of its existence, (Bib. Rep., April, 1853,) Prof. Stuart decides that “the probability, on the ground of evidence, is strong against it.” John then was probably called the baptist as being the first baptizer. Passages like John 1:25 and Matthew 21:24-27 are most naturally explained under the view that John originated baptism proper by divine appointment, but in accordance with a Jewish expectation, that something of the sort would be established, suggested by passages like Isaiah 52:13; Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1.

Preaching — That is, proclaiming; or still more literally, heralding, or crying forth as a herald who goes forth to make proclamation. Heralds were anciently kings’ criers, who went forth to proclaim their mandates.

Wilderness of Judea — In the deserts near the Jordan. John appears to have begun his ministry first in the rural districts near Hebron. Afterward he removed nearer to the wild tract between Jerusalem, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea; and finally took his position at Bethabara. This spot he selected from the need of plenty of water. Along the western margin of the Jordan and Dead Sea the country was wild, and covered with but a thin population. Bethabara was traditionally believed to be the place where Joshua and the tribes entered the land of Canaan. Hence its name signifies the ford of the Jordan.

It is proper here to point out some of the special traits in which Elijah was the historical type of John.

Elijah was the founder or introducer of the prophets, as Moses was of the law, and as John was the introducer of the kingdom of Christ. He preceded the coming and indwelling of God with the prophetic order; as John preceded the coming and indwelling of God in Christ. He dwelt apart, as John did, in the desert, as a rebuke of the corruption of the social mass. He had his Ahab and his Jezebel, by whom he was murdered in intention; as John had his Herod and his Herodias, by whom he was murdered in reality.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/matthew-3.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And in those days comes John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying,’

‘In those days’ is a loose connection timewise with what has gone before. ‘Those days’ in context probably refer to the pre-Messiah days, the days of preparation prior to the revealing of the Messiah, which commenced with His birth and continued with what followed, and has culminated in John’s ministry. It indicates the ‘then’ and ‘now’ idea so common in the New Testament. Note in this regard how later in Matthew Jesus distinguishes the time of His own ministry from all that has gone before, thus thinking in terms of ‘these days’ and ‘those days’ - Matthew 11:11-13). Thus ‘in those days’ deliberately connects with the central themes which have gone before, indicating that they were a part of the preparations for the presentation of the Messiah which were now well on their way to fruition.

‘John the Baptist.’ John stands out from all others because he ‘baptises’, drenches people with water. This is so regularly connected in the present day with Old Testament ‘washings’, (and was so even by Josephus who also did not understand it), that it is difficult to remove the impression. Nevertheless we must seek to do so. There is in fact no hint anywhere in John’s preaching of ritual washing (which in the Old Testament never cleansed, but only preceded cleaning), nor indeed of being washed. The thought is all of fruitfulness and growth, (or otherwise), resulting from the pouring out of rain, (or the lack of it) (Matthew 3:8; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 3:12). Thus John’s baptism is a symbolic acting out of the promises about the pouring out like rain of the Holy Spirit as described by the prophets, promising the soon coming pouring out of the Holy Spirit through the Messiah on those who come for baptism in genuine repentance (Matthew 3:11; compare Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:1-5; Isaiah 55:10-13; Ezekiel 36:25-28). His baptism therefore depicted the spiritual rain, and was administered by him personally (baptised by him - Matthew 3:6; Matthew 3:11), something never true of ritual washings. It is noteworthy in this regard that the Pharisees never raised any objection to his actual practise of baptism, only to what he was claiming to be by doing it (John 1:25). They would certainly have raised an objection to the practise if they had thought that he was depicting proselyte washing for Jews, which they would have found offensive, or was saying that their own washings were insufficient.

While not wishing to go into the matter in depth here, we should note that the vast majority of references to baptism in the New Testament have nothing to do with ‘ritual washing’. They have to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit on men, and on the idea of dying and rising again to a new life (Romans 6:3-4), in a similar way to seeds springing up into fruitfulness (John 12:24). They have to do with the washing of new birth and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). Indeed Peter denies that baptism should be seen in terms of ritual washing, connecting it rather with spiritual change and with the resurrection (1 Peter 3:21).

John comes in the wilderness of Judaea. The ‘wilderness’ is not desert, but is nevertheless not fruitful land. Here it is the hot, dry land by the River Jordan. Both Moses and Elijah were also closely connected with the wilderness, so that John is being depicted as in the true prophetic line, leaving the distractions of the world, and coming to a place where men can hear the voice of God. And if men wanted to hear that voice, they too must come out into the wilderness in order to hear what he has to say. It is there that God will speak with them.

Furthermore it was in the wilderness that God was to plead with the people once their trial by exile was over (Ezekiel 20:35-36; Hosea 2:14). Thus there is in this an indication that God is now seeking to speak to His people. But the chiasmus also suggests that we may see an indication in this that Judaea is itself ‘a wilderness’ because of the state of its people, a wilderness that needs to be transformed in order to become fruitful (Matthew 3:4; Matthew 3:6).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/matthew-3.html. 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 3:1. In those days. Nearly thirty years after the events mentioned in the last chapter (comp. Luke 3:23). Of that long period of private discipline and preparation in Nazareth, only one incident is preserved in the Gospels (Luke 42-52). The Apocryphal histories ‘of the Infancy’ are as foolish as false. This silence of Scripture suggests lessons of obedience and reverence to parents, of patience and perseverance in the long processes of education for our life-work.

Cometh, makes his appearance as a public personage; probably at the Levitical age of thirty years, as in the case of our Lord (Luke 23). This chapter is then the history of six months.

John, Hebrew: Johanan (the Lord graciously gave) allied to the Phenician name Hannibal (German, Gottlieb). On the remarkable circumstances attending his birth and naming, see Luke 1. He was related to the holy family, through his mother (Luke 1:36).

The Baptist, well known as such. This title is transferred from the Greek. Mark (Mark 6:14; Mark 6:24) twice calls him ‘the Baptizer’ (‘he who baptized’). Baptism was a prominent and, as far as previous usage was concerned, a distinctive rite in his ministry.

Preaching. Proclaiming, or publishing, as a herald does; so throughout the New Testament. Not so much the act of formal religious instruction, as the announcing of facts, the heralding of a person. Preaching should still be thus distinguished from lecturing, catechising, etc. John was emphatically a herald (comp. Matthew 3:2-3), and in the truest sense a prophet

In the wilderness, i.e. a region ‘not regularly cultivated and inhabited, but used for pasturage, being generally without wood, and deficient in water, but not entirely destitute of vegetation.’ This wilderness was a rocky tract in the eastern part of Judea, toward the Dead Sea. This appearance in the wilderness was not only a fulfilment of prophecy, but characteristic of the mission of John: whom men should go out to see (Matthew 11:7-9), and symbolical of the isolation of the Jews under the old covenant.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/matthew-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 3:1. : the time when most vaguely indicated. Luke’s narrative here (Matthew 3:1) presents a great contrast, as if with conscious intent to supply a want. John’s ministry is there dated with reference to the general history of the world, and Christ’s age at His baptism is given. Luke’s method is more satisfactory in a historical point of view, but Matthew’s manner of narration is dramatically effective. He passes abruptly to the new theme, and leaves you to guess the length of the interval. A similarly indefinite phrase occurs in the story of Moses (Exodus 2:11). There has been much discussion as to what period of time the evangelist had in view. Some say none, except that of the events to be related. “In those days,” means simply, “in the days when the following events happened” (so Euthy. Zig.). Others suggest explanations based on the relation of our Gospel to its sources, e.g., use of a source in which more was told about John, or anticipation of Mark 1:9, where the phrase is used in reference to Christ’s coming to be baptised. Probably the best course is to take it as referring back from the apostolic age to the great creative epoch of the evangelic history = “In those memorable years to which we look back with wistful reverent gaze”.— .: John appears on the stage of history—historical present, used “to give a more animated statement of past events” (Goodwin’s Syntax, p. 11). John , well known by this epithet, and referred to under that designation by Josephus (Antiq., xviii. 5, 2, on which vide Schürer; Jewish History, div. i., vol. ii., p. 23). Its currency naturally suggests that John’s baptism was partly or wholly an originality, not to be confounded with proselyte baptism, which perhaps did not even exist at that time.— , preaching, as well as baptising, heralding the approach of the Kingdom of Heaven, standing especially in N. T. for proclamation of the good news of God, distinct from (Matthew 4:23): a solemn word for a momentous matter.— . : scene of the ministry, the pasture lands lying between the central range of hills and the Jordan and the Dead Sea, not all belonging to Judaea, but of the same character; suitable scene for such a ministry.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/matthew-3.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 3:1. In those days — That is, in those years. For, as these events happened near thirty years after those recorded in the former chapter, this phrase is to be taken, in a very extensive sense, for that age of which he had spoken in the preceding words. And it is here used with the greater propriety, because John did indeed appear in his public character while Christ continued to dwell at Nazareth, which was the event that Matthew had last mentioned. Christ was now about thirty years of age, before which time of life no priest, teacher, or prophet was allowed to perform his office, as the Hebrews tell us, and as may be collected from the Scripture, 1 Chronicles 23:3. Hence we learn that great preparation is necessary for sacred offices. The evangelists, therefore, pass over almost in entire silence our Saviour’s minority, only mentioning his disputing with the doctors in the temple, Luke 2:46. And yet it is probable many other remarkable things happened during that period, which, if they had been recorded, we should have read with pleasure and profit. But as the Holy Ghost has not been pleased to favour us in this respect, let us be thankful for, and duly improve, what is made known to us. Came John — The son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who had lived for several years retired in the wilderness of Judea: the Baptist — So called, either because he was the first who, by God’s command, baptized penitents, or because by him God instituted the ordinance of baptism. For, admitting that the Jews received proselytes by baptism, yet he baptized Jews themselves, and from his time the ordinance of baptism must be dated. Before Christ’s entering upon the first part of his work, that of declaring the will of God, was recorded, it was necessary that the office of John should be spoken of, because he was his harbinger, or forerunner, and proclaimed his coming beforehand; and because, at the time of John’s baptizing Jesus, the Holy Ghost visibly descended on him, and consecrated him to his prophetic office. Preaching — The original word, κηρυσσων, means proclaiming, or crying aloud. It is properly used of those who make proclamation in the streets or camps, or who lift up their voice in the open air, and declare the things which are to be promulgated by public or royal authority, and which they have in charge from another. In the wilderness of Judea — That is, in the uncultivated and thinly-inhabited parts of Judea, where, it seems, his father Zacharias lived, Luke 1:39-40. For we are not to suppose that John shunned the society of men, as those afterward did, who, on that account, were called hermits; but he had been brought up and had always lived in the country, and not in the city, and had had a plain country education, and not an academical or courtly one, at Jerusalem. We must observe, that the term wilderness, among the Jews, did not signify a place wholly void of inhabitants, but a place in which they were fewer, and their habitations more dispersed, than in villages and cities. Hence we read of six cities with their villages, in the wilderness, Joshua 15:61-62; that Nabal dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, 1 Samuel 25:1-2; and Joab had his house in the wilderness, 1 Kings 2:34. John began his preaching in the desert, in which he had been brought up, Luke 1:80, as Jesus, in like manner, began his in Galilee, Acts 10:37. There was, however, this difference between them, that Christ preached in Galilee, a country the most populous of any in that neighbourhood, but John in the desert, that is, in a place but thinly inhabited, and little cultivated. The former of which was suitable to the benignity of our Saviour, and the latter to the austerity of his forerunner. Lastly, John, who had begun to preach in Judea, is imprisoned and put to death in the dominions of Herod; Christ, on the other hand, who entered upon his ministry in the tetrarchy of Herod, is crucified at Jerusalem, in Judea.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/matthew-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

"In those days," i.e. at the time of Jesus Christ, whose history this book contains. This expression does not always mean that what is going to be narrated, happened immediately after that which precedes. (Bible de Vence) --- 'Tis a way of speaking used by the Hebrews, even when there is no connection of time, as here are passed over 30 years of Christ's life. John the Baptist was so called from his baptizing the people in water. The Jews took this for some token of their Messias: for they said to him, (John i. 25,) why dost thou baptize if thou art not the Christ? --- In the desert, not in the house of his Father Zacharias, as some pretend, but in a true wilderness, as appears by the circumstances of his food, apparel, &c. (Witham) --- The Baptist was about 30 years of age. He, as well as our Lord, in conformity with the Jewish law, did not enter upon his public ministry before that age. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/matthew-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

In = And in. Greek. en de. See App-104.

In those days. Hebrew idiom for an indefinite time (Exodus 2:11, Exodus 2:23. Isaiah 38:1, &c): while the Lord, being grown up, was still dwelling in Nazareth. App-169. Compare Matthew 2:23.

came. Greek comes: i.e. presenteth himself.

came John, &c. Because "the word of God" had come to him (Luke 3:2).

John the Baptist = John the baptizer.

preaching = proclaiming as a herald. App-121.

in. Greek. en. App-104.

wilderness = country parts, which were not without towns or villages. David passed much of his time there. So John, probably in some occupation also; John now thirty years old. He was the last and greatest of the prophets, and would have been reckoned as Elijah himself, or as an Elijah (Matthew 11:14. Compare Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5) had the nation obeyed his proclamation.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/matthew-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

For the proper introduction to this section, we must go to --

Luke 3:1-2. Here, as Bengel well observes, the curtain of the New Testament is, as it were, drawn up, and the greatest of all epochs of the Church commences. Even our Lord's own age is determined by it (3:23). No such elaborate chronological precision is to be found elsewhere in the New Testament, and it comes fitly from him who claims it as the special recommendation of his Gospel, that 'he had traced down all things with precision from the very first' (Matthew 1:3). Here evidently commences his proper narrative. Matthew 3:1. "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" - not the fifteenth from his full accession on the death of Augustus, but from the period when he was associated with him in the government of the empire, three years earlier, about the end of the year of Rome 779, or about four years before the usual reckoning. "Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea." His proper title was Procurator, but with more than the usual powers of that office.

After holding it for about ten years, he was summoned to Rome to answer to charges brought against him; but before he arrived Tiberius died (35 AD), and soon after miserable Pilate committed suicide. "and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee (see the note at Mark 6:14), and his brother Philip" - a very different and very superior Philip to the one whose name was Herod Philip, and whose wife, Herodias, went to live with Herod Antipas (see the note at Mark 6:17) - "tetrarch of Iturea" - lying to the northeast of Palestine, and so called from Itur or Jetur, Ishmael's son (1 Chronicles 1:31), and anciently belonging to the half-tribe of Manasseh, "and of the region of Trachonitis" - lying further to the northeast, between Iturea and Damascus; a rocky district infected by robbers, and committed by Augustus to Herod the Great to keep in order, "and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene" - still more to the northeast; so called, says Robinson, from Abila, eighteen miles from Damascus. Abilene" - still more to the northeast; so called, says Robinson, from Abila, eighteen miles from Damascus. Matthew 3:2. "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests."

The former, though deposed, retained much of his influence, and, probably, as Sagan or deputy, exercised much of the power of the high priesthood along with Caiaphas his son-in-law (John 18:13; Acts 4:6). In David's time both Zadok and Abiathar acted as high priests (2 Samuel 15:35), and it seems to have been the fixed practice to have two (2 Kings 25:18). "the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness." Such a way of speaking is never once used when speaking of Jesus, because He was himself The Living Word; whereas to all merely creature-messengers of God, the word they spake was a foreign element. See the note at John 3:31, and Remark 5 at the close of that Section. We are now prepared for the opening words of Matthew.

In those days - of Christ's secluded life at Nazareth, where the last chapter left Him.

Came John the Baptist, preaching - about six months before his Master.

In the wilderness of Judea - the desert valley of the Jordan, thinly populated and bare in pasture, a little north of Jerusalem.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/matthew-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

III.

(1) John the Baptist.—For the birth and early life of the forerunner of the Christ, see Notes on. Luke 1. The manner in which he is mentioned here shows that his name was already well known to all readers of the Gospel. So, in like manner, Josephus names him as popularly known by the same title (Ant. xviii. 5, § 2), and describes his work as that of a preacher of repentance in nearly the same terms as St. Matthew. The symbolism of ablution as the outward sign of inward purification was, of course, derived from the Mosaic ritual. It was ordered for the consecration of the priests (Exodus 29:4; Leviticus 8:6), for the purification of the leper and other unclean persons (Leviticus 14:8; Leviticus 15:31-32). It had received a fresh prominence from the language of Isaiah 1:16, of Ezekiel 36:25, of Zechariah 13:1, and probably (though the date of the practice cannot be fixed with certainty) from its being used on the admission of proselytes, male or female, from heathenism. The question asked by the priests and Levites in John 1:25 implies that it was expected as one of the signs of the coming of the Messiah, probably as the result of the prophecies just referred to. That which distinguished the baptism of John from all previous forms of the same symbolism was, that it was not for those only who were affected by a special uncleanness, nor for the heathen only, but for all. All were alike unclean, and needed purification, and their coming to the baptism was in itself a confession that they were so. The baptism was, as the name implied, an immersion, and commonly, though not necessarily, in running water.

The abrupt way in which the narrative is introduced “in those days,” after an interval of thirty years from the close of Matthew 2, may be explained as referring to the well-known period of the commencement of John’s ministry; or it may loosely refer to Matthew 1:23, and imply that time had gone on with no change in the general circumstances. (Comp. Exodus 2:11. See Excursus on the intervening History in the Notes on this Gospel.)

Came.—Literally, with the vividness of the historic present, cometh.

Preaching.—Here, as everywhere in the New Testament, the word implies proclaiming after the manner of a herald.

In the wilderness of Judæa.—The name was commonly applied to the thinly populated region in the southern valley of the Jordan, and so was equivalent to “the country about Jordan” of Luke 3:3, including even part of the district east of the river. In this region John had grown up (Luke 1:80).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/matthew-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
those
Luke 3:1,2
John
11:11; 14:2-14; 16:14; 17:12,13; 21:25-27,32; Mark 1:4,15; 6:16-29; Luke 1:13-17,76; 3:2-20; John 1:6-8,15-36; 3:27-36; Acts 1:22; 13:24,25; Acts 19:3,4
preaching
Isaiah 40:3-6; Mark 1:7; Luke 1:17
the wilderness
11:7; Joshua 14:10; 15:61,62; Luke 7:24
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 15:23 - the wilderness;  1 Kings 2:34 - in the;  Ezra 1:1 - made a proclamation;  Malachi 3:1 - and he;  Matthew 24:26 - he is in the desert;  Mark 9:12 - restoreth;  Mark 11:30 - GeneralLuke 1:16 - GeneralLuke 1:80 - and was;  Luke 14:17 - his;  John 4:38 - other;  Acts 8:26 - desert;  Acts 10:37 - after;  Acts 18:25 - knowing

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/matthew-3.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

1. At that time. Between 25 and 30 years have passed since the end of chapter 2. John the Baptist came. Called the “Baptist” because he baptized. He was a reformer and preacher, who led the religious “revival” in preparation for the work of Jesus. Prophecy mentions him (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1). His birth was announced by an angel (Luke 1:13); he was from a priestly (Levitical) family, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth (who was the cousin of Mary). Desert of Judea. A rocky area in the eastern part of Judea, west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Few people lived there, and it was mostly used for pasture.

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/matthew-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

In those days is indefinite and it is at least a quarter of a century after the close or the preceding chapter. In that chapter (Matthew 2:21) Jesus was but a "young child" while now he is about30 years old (Luke 3:23) . Baptist Is from the Greek word BAPTISTES which Thayer defines, "a baptizer; one who administers the rite of baptism," hence the name John the Baptist. It Is sometimes asked why a man would come to baptize in a wilderness where there are no people to baptize nor any water available tor such a purpose. Both assumptions are wrong, for while the territory was not settled or inhabited, there was nothing to prevent the people of the settlements going out to him, wbich they did (verse5). Also the word does not mean a place where there would be no water. Wilderness is trom EREMOS which Thayer defines. "an uncultivated reglon .fit for pasturage," There would not likely be much pasturage where there was no water. Besides, Judea was not so large a region but that the river of Jordan could be reached for the purpose of baptizing.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/matthew-3.html. 1952.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 3:1Now in those days Luke 3:1.And in the fifteenth year It could not be gathered from Matthew and Mark in what year of his age John began to preach: but Luke shows sufficiently, that he was about thirty years of age. The ancient writers of the Church are almost unanimously agreed, that he was born fifteen years before the death of Augustus. His successor Tiberius had held the government of the Roman Empire for fifteen years, when the same John began to preach. In this way are made up the thirty years which I have mentioned. Hence it follows, that he did not long discharge the office of teacher, but, in a short time, gave way to Christ; for we shall soon find, that Christ also was baptized in the thirtieth year of his age, when he was immediately installed into the discharge of his public office. Now as John, the morning-star, or dawn, was immediately followed by Christ, “the Sun of Righteousness,” (Malachi 4:2,) there is no reason to wonder, that John disappeared, in order that Christ might shine alone in greater brightness.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/matthew-3.html. 1840-57.