2 (and) saying, ＂Repent, 3 for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!＂
3 4 It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: ＂A voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'＂
4 5 John wore clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
6 and were being baptized by him in the
7 When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees 7 coming to his baptism, he said to them, ＂You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
11 I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. 8
12 9 His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.＂
14 11 John tried to prevent him, saying, ＂I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?＂
16 12 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.
17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ＂This is my beloved Son, 13 with whom I am well pleased.＂
1  Unlike Luke, Matthew says nothing of the Baptist's origins and does not make him a relative of Jesus. The
2 [1-12] Here Matthew takes up the order of Jesus' ministry found in the gospel of Mark, beginning with the preparatory preaching of John the Baptist.
3  Repent: the Baptist calls for a change of heart and conduct, a turning of one's life from rebellion to obedience towards God. The kingdom of heaven is at hand: ＂heaven＂ (literally, ＂the heavens＂) is a substitute for the name ＂God＂ that was avoided by devout Jews of the time out of reverence. The expression ＂the kingdom of heaven＂ occurs only in the gospel of Matthew. It means the effective rule of God over his people. In its fullness it includes not only human obedience to God's word, but the triumph of God over physical evils, supremely over death. In the expectation found in Jewish apocalyptic, the kingdom was to be ushered in by a judgment in which sinners would be condemned and perish, an expectation shared by the Baptist. This was modified in Christian understanding where the kingdom was seen as being established in stages, culminating with the parousia of Jesus.
5  The clothing of John recalls the austere dress of the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). The expectation of the return of Elijah from heaven to prepare
6  Ritual washing was practiced by various groups in
7  Pharisees and Sadducees: the former were marked by devotion to the law, written and oral, and the scribes, experts in the law, belonged predominantly to this group. The Sadducees were the priestly aristocratic party, centered in
8  Baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire: the water baptism of John will be followed by an ＂immersion＂ of the repentant in the cleansing power of the Spirit of God, and of the unrepentant in the destroying power of God's judgment. However, some see the holy Spirit and fire as synonymous, and the effect of this ＂baptism＂ as either purification or destruction. See the note on Luke 3:16
9  The discrimination between the good and the bad is compared to the procedure by which a farmer separates wheat and chaff. The winnowing fan was a forklike shovel with which the threshed wheat was thrown into the air. The kernels fell to the ground; the light chaff, blown off by the wind, was gathered and burned up.
10 [13-17] The baptism of Jesus is the occasion on which he is equipped for his ministry by the holy Spirit and proclaimed to be the Son of God.
11 [14-15] This dialogue, peculiar to Matthew, reveals John's awareness of Jesus' superiority to him as the mightier one who is coming and who will baptize with the holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). His reluctance to admit Jesus among the sinners whom he is baptizing with water is overcome by Jesus' response. To fulfill all righteousness: in this gospel to fulfill usually refers to fulfillment of prophecy, and righteousness to moral conduct in conformity with God's will. Here, however, as in Matthew 5:6; 6:33, righteousness seems to mean the saving activity of God. To fulfill all righteousness is to submit to the plan of God for the salvation of the human race. This involves Jesus' identification with sinners; hence the propriety of his accepting John's baptism.