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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 3

 

 

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Verses 1-12

Matthew 3:1-12. John the Baptist (Mark 1:2-8*, Luke 3:1-17)—The common Synoptic material begins here. The chief difference from Mk. is the addition of Matthew 3:7-10 from Q (p. 672), cf. Luke 3:7-9, where the words are addressed not to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but to the crowd. In Mt.'s view the Pharisees thought to escape the coming judgment by the mere rite of baptism, and he makes John ask who indicated to (not "warned") them that such escape was possible. More than outward repentance is needed—a better life, and more than a claim to Abrahamic descent (cf. John 8:33-59). Judgment goes by character, not by race; for unrighteousness there is no escape. Matthew 3:11 f. expands Mark 1:7 f. and intensifies the idea of judgment. Mt. combines Mk.'s "Holy Ghost" and Q's "fire." For the figure in Matthew 3:12 cf. Jeremiah 15:7.

Matthew 3:3. kingdom of heaven: lit. "of the heavens." Mt. in accordance with the Jewish practice of avoiding the Divine name, uses this phrase, as Jesus probably did. Mk. and Lk., writing rather for Gentile readers, employ "kingdom of God." Both phrases have the same meaning (cf. p. 662; also Matthew 21:43*)

Matthew 3:7. Pharisees (Matthew 5:20*) and Sadducees (cf. p. 624).—brood of vipers: scorpions and snakes are frequently driven from their holes by moorland and forest fires in Palestine.

Matthew 3:11. bear: better "take off" (cf. John 12:6).


Verses 13-17

Matthew 3:13-17. The Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11*, Luke 3:21 f.).

Matthew 3:14 f. (Mt. only) meets the objection to the acceptance by a sinless Jesus of a baptism connected with repentance (p. 661). Jesus maintains ("suffer it now") that a temporary necessity must be acknowledged. Until the new revelation is ready, all righteousness, i.e. Divine ordinances, must be duly observed. For John's sense of unworthiness cf. Luke 5:8 (Peter). The message of the voice (Matthew 3:17) is a combination of Psalms 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1 (the Gr. word for "servant" also means "child"), where the context speaks of the spirit. Read, therefore, "This is my Son, the Beloved," the Beloved being a Messianic title (Ephesians 1:6). There is some reason for holding that the original announcement was simply, "Thou art my Son" (cf. Cod. Bez in Luke 3:22), and that we have here the influence of the Transfiguration narrative, an influence much expanded in the Ebionite Gospel and Justin (Tryph. 88) by reference to a light. Jesus Himself probably realised His Sonship before His Messiahship. There is nothing in Mt. (especially if we omit Matthew 3:14 f; cf. Matthew 11:2-6*), as there is nothing in Mk. and Lk., to suggest that vision or voice came to anyone but Jesus.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/matthew-3.html. 1919.

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